Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins, and today, I’m very happy to bring you a competitive-oriented analysis of Viktor and the other cards Riot revealed over the past two days! 😄
Here is our rating scale:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Pre-nerf Vi…).
- 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…)
Augment is a quite straightforward keyword. Creatures with this keyword tend to be understatted but will grow as you play created cards.
The first thing to notice is that there are already many ways of creating cards: Shrooms, Gems, Invoke; but also more specific cases like Draven’s Axes, Karma’s generated spells, Ezreal’s Mystic Shots, Heimerdinger’s turrets; “repeatable” cards like Noxian Guillotine, Vault Breaker and many more… Among those, there are plenty of ways to create cheap cards specifically, so triggering Augment would not be too hard.
Now that we know that this effect is easily enabled, let’s focus on what it does. We should take into account that units with Augment are understated in attack to compensate for the keyword. Hence, overall it doesn’t sound like a very aggressive mechanic outright because it takes time before becoming really threatening. It feels more like a snowball mechanic: if you let Augment units stick onto the board, they’ll grow and accumulate a large amounts of attack.
However, getting attack without also getting health isn’t that impressive by itself – a unit with high attack and low health will often trade with a smaller and cheaper unit. Granted, a unit with a high attack can be used defensively to stop the opponent from attacking with a big unit, but that tactic won’t be as effective if the enemy unit has an evasion keyword like Elusive or Overwhelm.
The cases when getting more attack is really valuable are when:
- The Augmented unit has also a lot of health. This way, giving it more attack will make it into an all-around good unit;
- The Augmented unit has a strong keyword(s) to pair its high attack with. Evasive keywords like Elusive, Overwhelm, or – to a lesser extent – Fearsome, can pose a real threat here and finish games quickly. But other keywords can also have a strong synergy with high attack values. For example, Lifesteal is a defensive keyword that befits very well from attack, Challenger can allow choosing to trade into the opponent’s big unit…
A mechanized heart never misses a beat, and never falters with emotion. So why would anyone trust their life to a fragile muscle of flesh and blood?Viktor
Viktor – 3.5
Viktor is a great example of what a strong Augment unit looks like. He has solid health value, which means you can grow his attack without fear for him to die to the first blocker or removal. He can also pile up keywords to really make great use of that big scaling attack! You can really stack Viktor up like crazy and make a very dangerous unit out of him.
Hex Core Upgrade says ‘random keyword’. I went into details to know if Viktor could randomly get a ‘bad’ keyword like Ephemeral, Immobile, Vulnerable… and it turns out that Viktor’s random keyword generation should work the same ways as it does with Plunder Poro, which can only gain a keyword with a selected list.
Complete list of keywords that Viktor can gain from Hex Core Upgrade: Challenger, Elusive, Fearsome, Fury, Lifesteal, Overwhelm, Quick Attack, Regeneration, Scout, SpellShield, Tough.
While there are some random defensive keywords Viktor can acquire by himself (Regeneration, SpellShield, Tough), Viktor still looks like the kind of champion you want to give some extra protection. Remember, if your first Viktor dies you will have to start the stacking process for your next Viktor all over again – he will lose both the Augment buffs and the keywords you granted to him. Viktor is a very snowball-oriented champion and making sure he survives and doesn’t reset your whole work will be a key to success.
Hex Core Upgrade is the core identity of Viktor – it gives him random keywords but also doing a lot more than that. It also triggers Viktor’s (and other units’) Augments, helps with Viktor’s level-up progress, and can be used to trigger spell synergies. It is also useful for cards that need discard fodder – but be aware that Viktor himself will be lacking if you never stack him up with keywords.
About his level-up, Viktor’s requirement of playing 8 created cards sounds like a lot but is still very realistic. He should be able to level up in most games, but I don’t think you should expect him to level up fast. Viktor fuels his own quest with the Hex Core Upgrade, and it is also pretty easy to create cards for most decks in one way or another, especially in Piltover & Zaun. So, even without building the entire deck to make him level up, he should still be able to get there. It is very important that Viktor doesn’t need to be on board to collect progress towards his level-up condition, and can level-up before being played.
Once he levels-up, Viktor doesn’t change a lot, but the added health stat will help him survive. The cost reduction on created spells can really make things easier, especially when taking into account that a lot of created cards cost exactly 1 mana – Hex Core Upgrade, Shrooms, Gems… It is also interesting to mention that cost discount is something that generally tends to be very abusable in LoR and can allow for crazy combos. Players have already thought about some fun interaction like creating 2 copies of Viktor with Dawn and Dusk and then playing an infinity amount of Vault Breakers, or using Shards of the Mountain with a leveled-up Viktor.
Viktor’s champion spell, Viktor’s Death Ray – MK 1, synergizes with Viktor by creating cards. However I am not convinced that this card is very good, and I’ll explain why in the review of that card just below.
All in all, Viktor looks like a great champion that could create archetypes around himself and the Augment keyword, being both an enabler and a payoff. He could also fit in less dedicated decks because of how easy it actually is to get created cards and because he is quite self-sufficient. However, he is also an asset that you want to protect, as you don’t want to invest resources into him just to see him die and have to start back again on the next Viktor. It is also important to mention that Viktor can be pretty slow of a card. He won’t be strong at all the moment you play him and will need some turns and mana before he gets online.
Death Ray – MK 1 – 2.0
Death Ray is a fine removal – a 1 mana ping at fast speed often finds good uses (killing a fragile unit, finishing off a bigger one, breaking a Barrier or a SpellShield, setting up for a Ravenous Flock or Noxian Guillotine…). The MK 2 and MK 3 versions are both also good removal, and I think it is pretty interesting to have the spell that scales up in damage as the opponent plays bigger and bigger units.
There are also several synergies available for Death Ray – in particular, with the Augment keyword and Viktor. It also helps out PnZ cards like Subpursible and Purrsuit of Perfection that require you to play cards with different names.
However, a new card that is being created among the top 3 cards of your deck will essentially ‘replace’ your draw. So, if the created Death Ray is drawn instead of a card that would have also helped to activate your synergies – it doesn’t really help anything. There are also some other flaws with this card. It will slow down your cycling through the deck and could make it harder for you to find the cards you need due to Death Ray “polluting” your draws. For example, you might not want to play this card at all in the late game in a top deck war. Last but not least, the opponent knows it’s coming and will play around it -this is something that can be especially detrimental for a removal card.
Iterative Improvement – 4.0
A spell that creates a copy of any follower is quite interesting and allows for some flexibility. Don’t forget that this card can also copy an opponent’s follower.
This card isn’t lacking in synergies: it enables Augment, spell synergies. It is also valuable for archetypes that rely a lot on a specific follower and value a redundancy.
You can also abuse it even further by casting it on ‘overpowered’ tokens like Enraged Yeti or Catastrophe. But even without casting it on something very specific, Iterative Improvement still is a good card.
The +1/+1 is very useful when copying an opponent’s best unit. You add the same follower to the board as your opponent – but end up dominating the original unit in combat thanks to the buff.
Mechanized Mimic – 3.0
Discussing the Augment, I wrote earlier that this keyword benefits from pairing it with other keywords – and this unit really emphasizes that! You can give her any keyword and make her into a killing machine. This can grow into a dangerous threat that finishes games fast with evasive keywords like Elusive or Overwhelm. Mimic can also gain keywords that will help in other ways, like Lifesteal, Regeneration, or Challenger. (However, be aware that Challenger won’t “work” on the first attack because she will only acquire it after you’ve declared the attack. Still, it is a “grant” effect so she will have it ready for her next combat).
As always, power comes at a price. To make this unit work, you need to have other units on the board with the desirable keywords – and you also need her to attack. Even with good keywords, you would still really want to trigger Augment to make her actually strong. Mimic doesn’t do much by herself and is very snowball-oriented.
This unit should really benefit a lot from Viktor, who’ll give her both Augment triggers and access to a variety of keywords to copy. Overall, Mechanized Mimic does indeed mimic Viktor in its purpose a lot, looking to stacking a lot of keywords and attack. This follower is more ‘egoistic’ though as she doesn’t help enable anything. Mimic also needs you to already have a board with strong keywords present and is not self-sufficient in any way at all. On the bright side, she is much faster once you have everything set up. It also looks easier to give her a specific keyword you need – with Viktor you often are praying to RNG gods.
The 4 health is great, and most removals have trouble getting read of 4+ health units. This is pretty important for snowball-oriented units like Mechanized Mimic.
All in all, this follower looks like a massive payoff for decks with a lot of units with powerful keywords and ways to trigger Augment. You really need to reach a critical mass of units with keywords to run Mimic, because it is really bad if you can’t give her any kind of an interesting keyword. You’ll also need the deck to be strong overall because you won’t be able to start a snowball if you’re getting beat up at every corner before playing this unit.
The requirements to make Mechanized Mimic shine are demanding, but if you happen to meet them, she looks like a very good payoff.
Armed Gearhead – 2.0
Quick Attack is a solid pairing to Augment. As the game goes on, this unit grows, making it harder and harder to block. However, this unit has two problems.
First – 1 health is very bad. Recently we have even seen some Fiora/Shen lists cutting one of the most powerful 1-drops, Fleetfeather Tracker, despite great synergies, just because having 1-health units is just too much of a disadvantage.
Second – this unit suffers a bit from an identity crisis. Hyper-aggro decks love 1-drop units to start dealing damage before the opponent can react, but this unit is pretty weak on turn 1 and needs time before it can shine. On the other side, slower decks are often less interested in 1-drops (especially 1-health ones). 1-drops, because of their fragility, are often more useful as enablers than payoffs, and Armed Gearhead wants to be a payoff.
All in all, this unit is not bad per se, but I fear that it will struggle to find shells interested to play it.
Ballistic Bot – 3.5
Augment here doesn’t have another keyword to synergize with, but instead offers a good amount of health for a 2-drop, making for a very annoying blocker.
However, Augment is not the main appeal of this unit – it’s the Round Start ability. Creating an Ignition every turn has tons of synergies: Augment, Plunder, Discard, spell synergies and burn win condition – Ignition does it all! This unit can be an enabler for many archetypes.
This unit is quite slow due to its weak statline and value-over-time nature – plus, Ignition isn’t free to cast. You really need to have good payoff-synergies to run Ballistic Bot in your deck. Still, I’m not too worried for him – there are plenty of decks interested. Just looking at the current Tier 1, Ezreal/Draven archetype could be a candidate – it generates a lot of cards (Draven’s Axes, Shrooms, Ezreal’s Mystic Shots, Guillotine copies…), makes great uses of discard fodder, has a burn win condition, and spell synergies with leveled-up Ezreal.
Nyandroid – 3.5
Elusive is one of the best offensive keywords, what can possibly go wrong when giving it to a unit with a scaling attack?
Nyandroid looks like a very powerful offensive option for decks with ways to make use of Augment. If you can grow it to a 3/3 Elusive rapidly you are already very satisfied – and this can grow even more. However, it is pretty terrible while being a base 1/3, so you want your deck to be able to grow it rapidly, else it will lose its aggressive purpose.
Archetypes that make a lot of cheap created cards (Gems, Draven’s Axes, Poro Cannon…) should be able to find uses for this card.
Calculated Creations – 1.5
Unfortunately, this card looks to be a pretty mediocre one. Choosing between 3 cards when none of them are actually situational isn’t that valuable, and doesn’t make up for the 2 mana cost of the spell at all.
It has some synergies with Augment or spell-casting but it really doesn’t look like it would be enough to justify running this card as we have a lot of better ways to activate these synergies.
It is not in the same region, but when you compare this spell to a card like Behold the Infinite – which is not even a very strong card – Calculated Creations looks really underwhelming.
Aftershock – 2.5
Aftershock is a card that is very flexible but at a cost of power. It can get rid of units, landmarks, or even be used as burn. However, being a slow speed is a huge drawback for both a removal and a burn spell. Unless we’re in a landmark meta, this card will suffer from a comparison with Get Excited, which is cheaper, at a fast speed, easy to cast with tons of discard fodder laying around.
In the current meta, Landmarks aren’t too popular. If that changes, Aftershock will be able to compete with other PnZ removal spells, thanks to having a more unique role.
Note that with burn, you often don’t need to compare the spells, but rather think in terms of critical mass. It doesn’t really matter if a spell is the best in the slot because you’ll run all of them. What matters is that you have enough burn to set the opponent’s Nexus health to zero. In that regard, any new decent burn spell can be an interesting inclusion for burn decks.
Hexcore Foundry – 2.5
Historically, symmetrical effects in card games would always get very interesting once you’ve managed to somehow break the symmetry.
You need to find a way to gain more advantage than your opponent from the effect – only in this case it is justifiable to run ‘symmetrical’ cards.
For example, The Ruination is essentially this kind of a symmetrical effect – it kills both the units of your opponent and those of your own. However, you can break the symmetry by simply casting The Ruination when your enemy controls much more units than you do.
However, the new Piltover and Zaun landmark Hexcore Foundry has a symmetry that is a bit trickier to break. Here are a few possible ways how one can do it:
- Run a deck that has cheaper cards. Normal decks aren’t build to play with 2 cards drawn at each Round Start, so they will struggle to make use of the cards because of the mana bottle-neck. Playing cheap cards will solve this problem for you while your opponent will have to confront it. However, be aware that even if the opponent can’t make use of the extra draws immediately, they will still give him more options – for now and future. Having cheap cards is an easy way to break the symmetry, but it is not a very powerful one.
- Run draw synergies. Cards like Twisted Fate and Slotbot will benefit from that effect and will net you an additional value while your opponent won’t have those extra synergies. In the same vein, you can look for an archetype that looks to cycle very fast. For example, Go Hard can really make use of drawing at a faster pace to get to Pack your Bags faster.
- Make drawing a problem for your opponent. Mushrooms, or any mill win condition, can make drawing a lot less desirable for the opposing player.
All in all, this landmark doesn’t look very easy to abuse right now, especially considering that paying three mana for zero gain in terms of board presence is a pretty significant tempo loss.
That’s all for today, I hope you enjoyed the reveals and the article! Personally, I really liked that reveal because the cards are not only strong together and could form an interesting Augment archetype, but could also find uses elsewhere thanks to creating cards being such a common theme. Having both a thematic deck ready for these cards AND ways to be more creative is really all we could have asked for. What a way to start the spoiler season! 😊
If you have any comments, questions, or want to share your takes on these new cards, I would love to read and answer you on this dedicated Reddit post! 😄
If you like my content and don’t want to miss any of it, you can check my Twitter, where I share my best performing decks, my performances, and my new articles and guides!