Hey, Agigas here! Only a week has passed since the release of the Rise of the Underworlds and we’re already getting some new spoilers for the Ruination event! Viego, The Ruined King, comes to immerse the world in shadows, which sounds like great news for players! In this article, I’m going to rate these cards and theorycraft a deck around the new champion.
Here’s our rating scale for new cards:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, should prove itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes.
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes.
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes.
- 2.0: Could be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
- 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.
Viego – 3.5
Unlike recently released Ekko, Pyke, and Rek’Sai, Viego is a versatile champion that doesn’t automatically fit in one and only one particular archetype. The death of allies is a natural synergy point for a lot of decks, especially in the Shadow Isles region.
In his level 1 form, Viego is a large Fearsome unit that summons Encroaching Mists the first time an ally dies each turn. It is important to note that Encroaching Mists buff other Encroaching Mists and also your Viego, making him into a very effective snowball unit that is hard to remove.
While Viego doesn’t grow nearly as fast as Nasus, he applies quite a lot of pressure. The Encroaching Mists add to this pressure, forcing the opponent to block them or lose more and more Nexus health. They can also help on defense if the opponent didn’t go for an open-attack.
Viego really does become interesting in his level 2. While continuing to do what his level 1 form did, he now steals the strongest enemy for the turn on each round start – or straight-up kills the strongest enemy if it is a champion. This ability will make it very hard for the opponent to keep up on the board as long as Viego is there. And because Viego is interested in seeing allies dying, his decks should have access to unit-sacrificing effects, like Glimpse Beyond or Ravenous Butcher, which makes the unit-stealing even more back-breaking for the opponent.
While Viego does have quite a lot going for him, he also has his limitations. First of all, turn 5 is pretty late for a champion that doesn’t have an immediate, powerful effect. Viego takes time to pay you back on the investment unless you can level him up really quickly.
When evaluating Viego, Kindred instantly comes up to mind. They were a very hyped-up champion many thought would be amazing – but Kindred ended up too clunky and slow to make its mark on the meta. While Viego is a lot less clunky, his level 1 form effect is not overly impactful, and he certainly can feel slow to the same degree as Kindred. Overall, Viego’s level 1 seems decent, but not enough to make him a strong champion by itself.
To make Viego more interesting, we want to level him up. While his level-up condition can be met by pretty much any archetype given enough time, and Viego can enable himself with Encroaching Mists, you should look for ways to level him up faster. Some decks, like Mistwraiths, can produce some pretty high attack numbers rapidly. But still, the fact that Viego needs to see the units die makes it a pretty hard level-up to reach.
Overall, Viego is looking like a decent but not amazing level 1 champion, with a hard-to-reach but strong leveled form. I think his strength will depend a lot on whether or not he can find a strong shell that can enable both his level 1 effect and his level-up condition, while not relying too much on him as a centerpiece of the whole game plan.
Viego will certainly satisfy all the deck-builders out there, unlike the champions from Rise of the Underworlds who kind of left them hang out to dry because of their “auto-build” archetypes.
Viego is quite the opposite, with many paths available, and it is quite hard to guess which will be his best shell. Endure, Mistwraith, and Cithria Matron have been discussed so far as the most popular and obvious archetypes Viego could fit in, and there are many more we could theorize about.
I personally chose to theorycraft an Endure deck with Viego. I think this archetype has the highest potential among the already known shells for the new SI champion. Endure is quite an old archetype that has lost popularity over time, but it is still quite decent and Viego is coming in as a very strong addition.
Endure’s game plan is to fight on the board with the numerous strong SI units and sacrifice synergies. Its powerful board presence makes it hard for the opponent to fight through it and allows this deck to quickly go on the offensive against slower lists. They Who Endure is a very effective finisher with big stats (similar to Nasus) and the Overwhelm keyword – especially dangerous if you have Atrocity as a backup.
In this shell, Viego will be able to generate Encroaching Mists turn after turn – and they will further fuel They Who Endure. The aggressive power of the deck also supports Encroaching Mists well, forcing the opponent to block and trade into them to avoid losing health.
Viego will force some key removal out of the opponent because of the threat of his level-up, and that would free the way for They Who Endure. If the opponent chooses to keep his removal and use it on They Who Endure instead, Viego’s level-up progress will be accelerated significantly when it will see the big TWE die.
Endure was already a pretty good shell and Viego looks like the perfect fit for it. My worry though is that the deck seems to be slow, and it will be hard for it to beat combo decks like Lee Sin or Turbo Thralls. This archetype will also have an inherent weakness to Targon.
The Kalista Kindred is the most recent – and a pretty strong – iteration of Endure, and while Viego does seem like a sizeable upgrade compared to Kindred in the deck, he doesn’t really solve the current version’s problems.
Camavoran Soldier – 3.5
On its own, Camavoran Soldier is a great unit, bringing good stats to the board. It can punish the opponent for not open-attacking by spawning a free additional blocker, and in the same way, it gives you a free attacker when you’re on the offensive.
Camavoran Soldier also finds synergies with Ephemeral and effects that benefit from units dying. He also helps Viego, making him more resilient even before he enters the board. Overall, it’s a very solid unit with good synergies.
Despair – 2.0
4-mana removal is good, but this card has some very big downsides.
First, the Slow speed makes it hard to counter the opponent’s plans and makes you vulnerable to open-attacks.
Letting the unit strike your Nexus before killing it can make Despair really bad in a lot of situations. For example, you almost never want to be casting this card against Pirate Burn.
I do think this card has some good targets (most notably, Lee Sin, Azir, Shen, and Thresh), and it could shine against slower decks, but overall, this spell has too many bad-case scenarios. Maybe as reveals continue we’ll get to see some effects that reward us for damaging your own Nexus – which would make a lot of sense with the other cards revealed so far. In that case, we’ll have to re-evaluate the card.
Ruined Dragonguard – 2.5
The stats are pretty good, and Dragonguard’s ability is nice. The fact that it helps your Dragons grow faster will make it very hard for the opponent to contest the board with smaller units.
However, I am unsure if this card will win against its direct competition for deck slots – Laurent Protege. Ruined Dragonguard’s upside is not necessarily worth losing the Challenger keyword – whether this card sees play or not will depend on how consistent the new Dragon decks will be at triggering Fury.
Kadregrin the Ruined – 3.0
Dragons benefit a lot from the Challenger keyword thanks to their large stats and Fury – just look at how efficient Screeching Dragon is.
Kadregrin the Ruined goes particularly well with Shyvana, but he is good with almost any Dragon. The fact that he curves directly behind Screeching Dragon makes it a bit awkward, but I like this card in decks playing enough turn 4 and 5 dragons.
Crawling Viperwyrm – 2.5
This card can fit into a sacrifice package and apply some early pressure. It will be hard for the opponent to block it on turn 2 because it will likely be a 4/3 after striking one of your disposable one-drops, and because it has the Fury keyword.
However, I’m not convinced it will be enough for this card to see play, as the sacrifice package is already filled with impressive cards. Maybe we’ll get a payoff for damaging our own Nexus in later reveals and this card will get better. The strike does synergize well with Shyvana’s level-up condition, so if a deck mixes Dragons and sacrifice synergies well enough – Crawling Viperwyrm will be a part of it.
Camavoran Dragon – 2.5
However, the sacrifice package is already filled with strong payoffs, and I’m not convinced this card will be able to compete with them. And as I already said previously about Viperwyrm, if an archetype combining Dragons and sacrifice emerges, or if we get payoffs for damaging your Nexus, then this card could become more interesting.
Ruined Rex – 3.5
However, if you are not able to set it up well, the variance in the random targeting of your 1-2 Barrages will sometimes yield disappointing results.
There is a lot of draw in Bilgewater, including delayed draw, like Pick a Card or Pool Shark, which synergize very well with Ruined Rex. With the recent buff to Slotbot, it sounds like there could be an interesting path to explore in draw synergies.
Rimefang Denmother – 3.0
Having 2 bodies in one card is strong, as it allows the player to either punish the opponent for not open-attacking or to create a strong attack faster than the opponent can build defenses.
However, this card does not provide enough on its own and needs its Frostbite synergy to really be effective as a 6-cost unit. For decks with a lot of Frostbite effects, this is a really cool payoff finisher – the Rimefang Pack can outgrow the mother and be a real Overwhelm threat.
I suspect Rimefang Denmother won’t make its way into Ashe LeBlanc because they already have strong ways to finish and don’t need an extra one. However, it could enable some other Frostbite decks that are lacking a finisher, like the Tahm Kench Frostbite archetype for example.
Thrumming Swarm – 2.0
This ability is really good against very slow and grindy decks, as it gives you an infinite supply of high-attack Overwhelm finishers as long as you’ve leveled a champion.
Unfortunately for Thrumming Swarm, all meta decks have the ability to close out games very decisively nowadays. The “if you leveled a champion this game” clause makes it even harder to find a shell for this card. Frejlord Shurima Overwhelm, for example, won’t be interested in it even for very slow matchups, because this deck rarely gets to level a champion.
Overall, the reveals we’ve seen so far don’t look like they will break the meta, but they do offer a bunch of options to some struggling archetypes, which is really good news.
The Dragon archetype received a lot of love, but it is unclear if these new cards will be able to improve the archetype, especially because they’ve split the tribe among 3 regions now by adding Dragons to Shadow Isles.
Viego doesn’t look overpowered, but he does seem strong enough to generate interest and enable some archetypes.
Thanks for reading!