Zilean Meta Incoming? | Assessing All The Buffs In Patch 3.13!

In this article, Raphterra shares his thoughts on all the buffs in Legends of Runeterra Patch 3.13.

Introduction

Hey there, Raphterra here! Yesterday, I released an article on my personal assessment of all the nerfs in Patch 3.13. In today’s article, I share my thoughts on all the buffs in the latest patch. Similar to my previous article, I will classify each buff in the following categories:

  • Low Impact: Will not affect the card / deck’s power level and play patterns.
  • Medium Impact: Will matter in certain situations, but not high enough impact to strengthen the card / deck’s overall power level.
  • High Impact: Affects many scenarios and strengthens the power level of the card / deck.
  • Meta Defining: Significantly strengthens the power level of the card / deck. May result in new high-tier decks.

Zilean: Champion spell changed to Careful Preparation

This is a meta-defining change.

Chronoshift as Zilean‘s champion spell always felt out of place in Zilean decks, since these lists usually revolve around either predicts or landmarks. Changing Zilean‘s champion spell to Careful Preparation adds more consistency to decks that are already decent prior to the change: Xerath Zilean, Akshan Zilean Shellfolk, Mono Zilean Timebombs, etc.

This change elevates Zilean’s strength as an individual champion. I believe there’s a big possibility that a Tier 1 Zilean deck will come out in Patch 3.13!

Kennen‘s Mark of the Storm: Damage +1

This is a high-impact change, potentially meta-defining.

Damage increases are significant upgrades especially for cheap spells like Kennen‘s Mark of the Storm. Ionia is very excellent at disruption plays ( Will of Ionia, Homecoming, Deny, Nopeify! ), but the region usually lacks strong removal tools. This buff will allow Kennen recall decks to remove and control a much wider range of opposing units.

I’m hesitant to say that this change is meta-defining because I have a very limited experience playing with or against Kennen decks; I was on break from Legends of Runeterra in the patches where Kinkou Wayfinder Kennen decks were dominating. Although this buff is potentially scary, I’m excited to possibly experience a Kennen meta for the first time!

Gnar: Reduce Pokey Stick‘s cost by 2 upon striking if you already have one in hand

This is a medium-impact change.

This change is a nice quality-of-life change for Gnar, a champion who has not seen much competitive play since the nerf to his Power in Patch 3.4. After this buff in Patch 3.13, it won’t feel as bad to strike with Gnar while already having a Pokey Stick in hand. The change will matter in many scenarios, but it probably isn’t too significant to affect the power level of Gnar decks.

Karma: Health +1

This is a medium-impact change.

Karma‘s health increasing to 4 will make it safer to play her in the mid game. This puts her out of range of some removal spells (Get Excited!, Aftershock) and gives her better trading potential against smaller units.

This is a nice change, but Karma‘s competitive viability will ultimately depend on the speed of meta. The powercreep nature of card games often lead to games going faster with each expansion. This makes it harder for slower decks like Karma Control or Karma Combo to keep up with the speed of the top tier decks.

Thunder Fist: Power +1; Masa, Crashing Thunder: Health +1;
Rissu, The Silent Storm: Health +2; Stormcloud: Triple Impact

The buff to Thunder Fist is a medium-impact change, the rest are small-impact changes.

Thunder Fist now has the standard statline for 3-cost units which allows him to trade evenly against most early units. Stat buffs on low-cost units are very significant for establishing board control, but I don’t believe this change affects the power level of Thunder Fist’s intended deck (Bandle City Recall).

The stat changes to Masa, Crashing Thunder, Rissu, The Silent Storm, and Stormcloud are nice to have, but I think the payoff for these cards are not worth their expensive deckbuilding cost. Impact as a keyword just doesn’t have a huge impact *heh!* on the game.

I definitely hope to be proven wrong on this one; a Bandle City Recall Yordle deck sounds so interesting to play with!

Twisted Catalyzer: Power +1

This is a high-impact change.

Darkness is one of my all-time favorite decks, and seeing this revert was the main highlight of the patch for me! Veigar Senna has not seen successful competitive play since Patch 3.4 when Twisted Catalyzer‘s Power was reduced to 2. The deck requires a lot of setup and it can struggle to maintain board presence since most of it’s units are poorly-statted ( Veigar, Stilted Robemaker, Conchologist, etc.)

Without significant board presence in a fast-paced meta, the tempo loss from playing Veigar slows down the deck too much to win games. Bringing back Twisted Catalyzer‘s Power to 3 gives the deck a unit that can contest the board in the early game and hopefully give Darkness more time to execute its gameplan.

I’m hopeful that this change brings Darkness back to relevance!

Benemone: Health +1

This is a small-impact change.

Benemone gets a better statline and can now trade more efficiently. This card might see play as a 1-of in Shellfolk Prank decks, but there seems to be better options to make the most out Curious Shellfolk‘s effect.

Squeaker: Power +1

This is a medium-impact change.

As I’ve mentioned many times, stat changes are very impactful on low-cost units. This is an amazing buff to Squeaker! I’m doubtful that this will be enough to make Mecha-Yordles viable competitively, but this change gives the deck better options in the early game. We might just be a few changes away from seeing the deck become competitive!

Bandle City Mayor: Health +1

This is a small-impact change.

This is a good change that slightly helps Bandle City swarm strategies, but I don’t see this affecting those decks too much. Bandle City Mayor can now trade better against most early drops, but it still loses trades into most 3 drops. After the huge nerf to The Bandle Tree, I certainly think that small buffs to the multi-region archetype are warranted!

Harsh Winds: Cost -1

This change is meta-defining.

In my opinion, this is the most impactful buff in this patch. Harsh Winds will likely become a staple spell for many Freljord decks, similar to how Quicksand elevated the power level of multiple Shurima decks.

Ashe Leblanc Frostbite has been receiving many buffs and support cards for the past patches, and this just might be what the deck needs to get back on top. Slower decks like Feel The Rush Control, Anivia Control, and Targon’s Peak will also use Harsh Winds as a tool to stall games. I’d even consider running this card in midrange decks since it can secure two good combat trades.

Be prepared to see Harsh Winds a lot in Patch 3.13!

Battle Bonds: Cost +1, Slow > Burst

This is a small-impact change.

Battle Bonds can now be used at Burst speed, but 5 mana might still be too expensive for this effect. This might see some experimentation in Fated or Targon swarm decks, but outside of that I don’t think this card will see any competitive play.

Starbone: Activates if you Behold a Celestial and creates The Messenger in your deck; Starshaping: Heal 5; The Traveler: Power +1

These are meta-defining changes.

I’ve faced a Starbone deck once in ranked ladder, and I was destroyed hard once they got off Starbone‘s effect. I believe the Starbone change alone might be enough to bring Invoke strategies back in the meta. Starbone is like a cheaper version of Cosmic Inspiration; the board presence of buffed up Celestials can be very hard to contest. I’m expecting Targon invoke decks to shine if the patch stabilizes into a slower, grindy meta.

The Traveler‘s Power buff might seem insignificant at first. However, if you take into account the stats granted by Starbone, this change will allow The Traveler to trade into many high-cost units. Starshaping‘s revert would help Invoke decks stabilize against decks with Burn tools, but Celestial Trifecta might just be the better option in most scenarios.

This might just be hopeful thinking, but I think there will be Tier 1 deck running Starbone!

Cosmic Binding: Chimes +3

This is a small-impact change.

This is Riot’s compensation buff to Bard decks. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is enough to stop the previously popular Bard decks from falling out of the meta.

Scarmaiden Reaver: Health +1

This is a small-impact change.

Health buffs are very impactful for units with Regeneration. Scarmaiden Reaver definitely enjoys this buff, but I don’t see any decks where the card will be a good fit. 4 Power for 5 mana isn’t really what Overwhelm decks are looking for, and Scargrounds decks would rather run Vladimir or Tarkaz the Tribeless as their 5-cost unit.

Bloody Business: Costs 2 with Reputation

High Impact, potentially Meta Defining

Reputation gets another buff! This time, they get a new powerful payoff with the Bloody Business. Bloody Business will probably see play in several Noxus decks: Ashe Leblanc, Sivir Leblanc, Noxus Yeti Midrange, Rumble Mecha Yordles, Rumble Combo, etc. Any deck running multiple 5-power units could use a one-sided Single Combat!

At some point, the buffs to the Reputation will accumulate and the archetype will eventually become Tier 1.. Right? When that time comes, Bloody Business will be a key component of that deck.

Hate Spike: Cost -1

This is a high-impact change.

Evelynn has not seen any relevant competitive play since her release; her archetype definitely needed a buff! Hate Spike is now a must-run card in Evelynn decks. Hopefully this change would be enough for at least a Tier 2 Evelynn deck to rise. Dealing 2 damage for 1 mana is a powerful effect even outside of Evelynn decks. Slay decks running Kindred, The Undying, Cursed Keeper, or Minion can utilize Hate Spike as well.

Neverglade Collector: Health +1

This is a medium-impact change.

Neverglade Collector gets a health increase, putting it out of range of Ravenous Flock. It can now block more efficiently instead of just being a pure backline unit. This is a small buff to some niche decks: Evelynn Burn, Prankster Burn, and Hecarim Ephemerals. I don’t expect any high-tier decks to run Neverglade Collector, because at the end of the day, it’s still a huge tempo loss.

Duskpetal Dusk: Discounts all Nightfall cards including spells

This is a medium-impact change.

This is a nice quality of life change for Nightfall decks! Here are all the Nightfall spells in the game: Heavens Aligned, Pale Cascade, Unspeakable Horror, Unto Dusk, and Moonlight Affliction. I don’t see this change elevating Nightfall decks to Tier 1 status, but it can unclog some awkward hand states.

Kadregrin The Ruined: Grant Any Ally Challenger and +1/+1

This is a small-impact change.

This change makes Kadregrin The Ruined actually playable, but the card is still too expensive for it’s effect. In most cases, you’d probably just be better off playing Cithria the Bold or Genevieve Elmheart.


Closing Words

Buffs can be a lot harder to evaluate compared to nerfs, but I think some of the changes in this patch could potentially result to new high-tier decks. Personally, I’m looking forward to trying out Kennen control and Darkness control decks!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on YouTube, Discord, or Twitter!

Raphterra
Raphterra
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