Unload the Toad! Tahm Kench and Bilgewater Cards Analysis and Ratings
It seems like just yesterday I was here writing a review of Leona and Lulu – yet I am back already breaking down the first spoilers from the next Legends of Runeterra expansion, Monuments of Power. First up, we have a new Bilgewater champion! Tahm Kench has finally gotten off the bench and joined the fight, and boy is this card absolutely wild! It is very exciting to start off with Bilgewater spoilers since this is the first champion this region has gotten since it was added to the game in Rising Tides. Enough of the hype building, let’s dive right in. As usual, I am using the scale below to give a rating of these cards and their expected effect on the meta.
Here’s our rating scale:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Sejuani, Riptide Rex…).
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes. (The Harrowing, Twisted Fate, Mystic Shot…).
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes. (Yasuo, Culling Strike, Statikk Shock…).
- 2.0: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks (Vanguard Sergeant, Thorny Toad…)
- 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta (Unstable Voltician, Parade Electrorig…).
Tahm Kench – 3.5
Legends of Runeterra always finds a way to transition LoL champions into playable cards so incredibly well, but they really outdid themselves here. The flavor of this card is just so tasty. Ok, enough puns. Tahm has a really beefy body (seriously last one), coming in at 6 health for just 4 mana. He utilizes the Capture mechanic, and at Round Start, he will generate a Slow spell called Acquired Taste – it can capture enemy units unless their power exceeds Tahm’s health. Once you’ve captured 3 units, you can start obliterating the units you did capture, which will act as permanent removal. They also incorporated into a design his ability from League of Legends to eat allies, which is really sweet.
Overall, I think Tahm really opens up a lot of archetypes especially with all his support cards. I can easily see this going with Noxus for the Crimson package, Freljord for the Scarmother package, Demacia for the extra captures synergy, and a lot more. I think this one will be a competitive card, and also a very versatile card. I haven’t been this excited to build around a champion in a while, and he will land in a few different places.
Bayou Brunch – 2.0
If you really want to lean into the Capture mechanic with Tahm Kench, then you will run this card. Outside of this particular archetype, I don’t see spending 3 mana to merge two of your minions as a great tool. Obviously, you can merge stat lines to buff units with Elusive or Overwhelm to get a bigger unit that can get damage through. However, at Slow speed, it is very counterable, and also there are probably better things to be spending your mana on. On the other hand, in the full-on Capture archetype, going off with Tahm Kench enabled by Bayou Brunch will net you a ton of value.
Wise Fry – 3.0
Vulnerable tag on a unit as part of its design is a very interesting concept, we don’t see that very often. It allows to offset unit’s natural strength, since the keyword is definitely a downside an opponent can utilize. This card in particular I am very excited to play with. On turn 6 you can get a really large body, with 8 health! Depending on your board size at the time of playing this, you can also get quite a lot of power on this unit, and it comes with Overwhelm. If you have units with positive effects triggered by receiving damage, you can get a lot of bang for your buck with this card. Again this is very viable in Noxus, Freljord, and even with Tough units in Demacia.
Shakedown – 4.0
This card to me is the one clear winner out of these new Bilgewater cards. At Burst speed, for the price of just 1 mana and 2 damage to one of your units you can grant 2 opponents Vulnerable. This will give you so much agency during the combat phase. Not only can you trade efficiently with this, but you can also pick specific units on your opponent’s board to be killed. This is useful in so many different situations, and has such a low cost, especially if you deal 2 damage to something you are going to trade with anyway. Also, I have to mention one of my favorite decks here, because The Undying is going to absolutely love this card. In my opinion, we’ll be seeing a whole lot of Shakedown.
Crusty Codger – 2.5
Did Bilgewater seriously get another 2|2 1-drop? And that is not even the best stat line this card can be! This is the unit that we get to see in this batch of creatures that all have the Play effect of dealing damage to itself. Self-inflicted damage on units leads to a lot of potential synergies. It works nicely with Tahm Kench – if he captures these units, upon release, they will come back to the board fully healthy, ignoring their Play effects. The self-damage also benefits Swain’s level up as well. There are other synergies here, and since we also anticipate Soraka to do something with healing, units that come in damaged can be of even greater value. The final important thing to mention here is cards that summon random 1-drops can now high-roll this dude – without triggering Play effect of course! Imagine the Island Navigator or Petty officer dropping in a 2/4! So much value. That scenario can’t really be weighted too much when deck-building though.
Lounging Lizard – 3.0
I love that we get some strong Elusive units in a region that is not Ionia. Piltover and Zaun have a few, Demacia as well – but none ever seem to impress. Getting another one in Bilge might help push the Elusive archetype forward, and this lizard also fits cleanly in the other self-damage decks mentioned above. The big difference here is that the other units have Play effects that will happen once, while the lizard will eventually destroy itself, triggering on every Round Start. But coming in at a 3|5 on turn 3 with Elusive is a ton of value. We have already seen other 3-drop Elusive units in Ionia get nerfed, so these stats look even better now.
Fortune Croaker – 3.5
Drawing cards is immensely important in Runeterra. Followers that do that and provide a decent body are very valuable. The main problem with this unit is you have to already have another unit on board in order to get the draw. This can lead to a clunky starting hands where if you don’t have a 1 drop you don’t really want to play out the Fortune Croaker. That being said, this card has a lot of value in all of the archetypes we’ve talked above as it plays into synergies all the while providing card advantage. Imagine playing this to trigger the Crimson Curator and getting 2 cards out of it… So much value! And remember – this Play effect isn’t a skill, so it happens instantly and your opponent won’t be able to respond. Anything that has a draw clause will probably get a high score from me.
Boxtopus – 2.5
Not taking the Play ability into account for now, is a 3|1 challenger for 2 mana good? In most cases, I would say yes. The best comparison we have here is the Stalking Wolf – it hasn’t seen a ton of play. But this isn’t an exact comparison since the added synergy you get from the self-inflicted damage is a big bonus that will allow Boxtopus to function even better in its dedicated archetype. Regardless, there is also value in adding the Challenger keyword to Bilgewater.
The Slaughter Docks – 2.0
The second revealed Landmark to me is lacking a bit. Firstly, it is very narrow since it really only fits within the Deep archetype. That deck has been mostly super-refined by now, and adding a new tool is fun since it can spice the things up a bit. Let’s look at the good side. In theory, you can get this down on turn three and every turn before you’re Deep you will Toss 1. Once this is complete you’ll get a Sea Monster who already has its Deep bonus stats. The downside however is rough in that you are spending 3 mana for zero board presence and a slow, low-impact Toss ability. When I look at the current refined Deep list, I don’t see where The Slaughter Docks fits in, but we haven’t played with Landmarks yet and maybe this card will surprise me. The biggest thing this has going for it is that it will probably be difficult to remove since there are few cards that can interact with Landmarks.
Crumble – 1.5
Here we have the only non-Bilgewater card in this set, and it’s in Shadow Isles. This Slow spell allows you to sacrifice an ally to kill an enemy unit or even destroy a Landmark. The only reason I am giving this a 1.5 is because it has the ability to destroy a Landmark, and we are not sure how important that will be yet. If it didn’t have this, why not just run Vengeance? Being at Slow speed, costing 5 mana, and having to kill an ally is a pretty steep price to pay for removal. So the only way this becomes playable is if Landmarks become an important part of the meta.
Sunk Cost – 1.5
Shuffling a unit or Landmark into a deck is a really strong effect. It’s a form of removal that has its pros and cons. But 8 mana and at Slow speed just seems weak. Both this and Crumble are costed in my opinion very high because of their ability to interact with Landmarks. It is very hard to judge this function since we have only seen two Landmarks thus far, but overall these last 2 cards seem over-costed, and their slow speed makes them very unappealing.
Well, that will do it for the first batch of spoilers from Monuments of Power! It is awesome to see the direction that Bilgewater is headed. I for one am very surprised at what we have seen here, but that has left me extremely excited. I think the use of these cards can open up quite a few different older archetypes that desperately need some love (looking at your Crimsons and Scarthanes!). So what are your thoughts here? Would have also given Shakedown the highest rating, or am I crazy? Keep the discussion going!