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Expeditions Tier List: Win Rates for (nearly) All Cards, Ratings for All Archetypes.

Combining Balco's winrate data and Conansson's bucket ratings, here's a by-the-numbers LoR Expeditions Tier List -- all archetypes, nearly all cards!

UPDATE:

We've released the third iteration of our Expedition Resources,

with the most updated winrates, ratings and tools.

You can found it in the latest Expeditions article, here:

[Link]


The Constructed meta is in a great spot right now (there's even Control decks at the top!), but if you're in the mood for some Tokens and Trials, we have a treat for you today…

… or, actually, two treats!

  • Bucketloads of hard facts: win rates for nearly every card you can put in Expeditions deck, collected from 34.000+ decks, and
  • Expert ratings for every Expeditions archetype.

If you're new to Expeditions and want a data-based approach to drafting, we'll detail below all that you need to realize when you're in front of a "snap pick", and to dig a bit further whenever you are confronted with a tough pick.

If you already know your way to a seven-win Trial, these two sources should be helpful to gather some insights about which cards/buckets you may be over- or under-drafting.

By the way: the "nearly" caveat before "all cards" has to do with the fact that not all collectible cards are included in Expeditions (for example, currently you cannot draft Jayce, nor his support cards), but we don't have an exact, exhaustive list of all the cards that have been left out -- then again, if a card has not been seen in 17K+ matches, it's safe to say you don't need to worry about it. =)

Bucketloads of Hard Facts

Distinguished datamancer Balco -- whom we recently interviewed (link) -- has once again dug deep into the data, this time to produce detailed win rates for nearly all cards currently in Expeditions.

For those eager to just jump into the numbers, here you go!

Context for the above data:

  • 17829 matches:
    • 16456 are between two humans (92.3%),
    • 1373 are against a bot (in Expeditions, if you don't find a human opponent in about two minutes, you get matched against the Poro Bot -- humans beat bots 79.3% of the time)
    • In total, Balco analyzed 34285 decks (2*16456 + 1373)
  • The majority of the games were played between Dec 06 and Jan 07. Specifically by patch:
    • 2.18: 9 games
    • 2.19: 9 games
    • 2.20: 1855 games
    • 2.21: 14864 games
    • 3.0: 1092 games
  • There are 2 champions not found in the data, namely Tryndamere and Jayce:
    • Tryndamere was removed from Expeditions some months ago (for unclear reasons) and never added again (for unclear reasons).
    • Jayce was never added to Expeditions (for unclear reasons).
    • We have no information about if/when they will be added.
  • All data taken directly from Riot, via Riot's API.
  • Data is from all players that were Master in Constructed last season, or are Master this season -- that's due to how Balco collects his data via Riot's API, as he explains in his interview (link).
    • That means, in all of the 16456 human vs. human games above, at least one of the players was ranked Master in Constructed either this season, or last season.
    • The overall win rate for Master players in this sample is around 63%.

Expedition Buckets: Expert Opinion & Hard Facts

While drafting, you'll be offered cards from different archetypes (also usually called "buckets"). Here's Riot official information about said archetypes/buckets (link).

As you progress through the draft, the algorithm will offer you three choices from different buckets -- there's a lot of moving parts here, and some of them are opaque to us (as in, Riot hasn't disclosed exactly how they work), but the gist of it is:

  • Some buckets are stronger (and sometimes much stronger) than others, and
  • Whenever you pick a certain bucket, you are more likely to get it offered again later on.

(You can check this guide (link) for a detailed introduction about how the Expeditions algorithm works)

If you need to choose between card A and card B, and A has a much higher win rate than B in Balco's data, then that's it, that's the choice you want. It's either a very powerful card if played, belongs to a strong bucket, or both.

But!

Whenever Balco's data doesn't provide a clear winner, the next best indicator/tiebreaker is bucket strength.

In this article, we'll present you with two options:

How to Use the Data & Ratings

First, the caveat: Data & Ratings are not some Divine Law to be followed blindly. Drafting is about deck-building, so concepts like card synergy, a solid spells/followers ratio, a good curve, etc, are all crucial.

On the other hand, though, with so many moving parts, drafting can be a daunting experience; the rules of thumb provided below are aimed at helping newcomers in need of some directions.

So, here we go!

Pick #1: First Champ Pick

In the first pick of an Expedition, you get to choose one Champion and two other cards, from among three choices.

  • Check the Champions' win rates in Balco's data (search for the Champ either in Balco's link, or on Toeofdoom's spreadsheet).
  • If one Champ is clearly stronger than the others (a 5% gap or larger), that's the Champ you probably want.
  • If the choice is not so clear (that's to say, when Champs have similar win rates in Balco's data), check the buckets' perfomance either on Toeofdoom's spreadsheet, or Conan's spreadsheet. If one bucket is the clear winner, then that's your champ.
  • If you still need a tiebreaker, check the rest of the cards' win rates on Balco.

Let's see an example! =)

Say we have to choose between Irelia, Twisted Fate and Miss Fortune

Balco says Irelia's horrible, so she's out.

But Fate and Fortune, on the other hand…

… they are very, very close.

So, we'll have to take a look at the buckets, to break the tie.

If you trust expert advice, then we look at Conansson's ratings:

If Twisted Fate happens to be on Smash and Grab (rating: 7), and Miss Fortune on either Opportunity Attacks or Moonlit Heist (both rated as 4), then it's Fate time.

If Fortune is on Scout it Out or Vulnerable (both rated 6), and Fate is on First to the Draw (rated 4), go with Fortune.

In the rest of the cases, you probably want to dig into Balco's data for the rest of the cards the Champs come with. Don't sweat it too much, though: if the difference is small, then mistakes are going to be small too (since there's not much difference between choices anyway!).

If we look at Toeofdoom's spreadsheet:

Twisted Fate is in a 47.5% win rate bucket when he is in First to the Draw...

... and 45.1% bucket when in Smash and Grab...

... which is not an uncommon discrepancy! (note how average performance is different to how an expert like Conansson rates the buckets). My personal advice here is follow the expert, but if you'd rather stick to hard data, that's what Toeofdoom shows.

Do the same for Miss Fortune, and pick the strongest bucket -- if still a tie, then check individual cards.

Pick #2: Second Champ Pick

The simple version: see Pick #1.

Some 2nd Champs do have specific synergies which make them more desirable if you happened to pick a certain 1st Champ, but those subtleties exceed this guide -- stay tuned for next week though! =)

Pick #3: First Synergy Pick

Here is where the plot thickens.

There are (veeery broadly speaking) two "Schools", if you will, among expert drafters. Let's call them the Path of Here and Now, and The Way of Looking Forward.

Those following the Path of Here and Now usually focus on the current pick, without trying to nudge the algorithm into what it may bring later. In other words, if they have to choose between a good card from a bad bucket, and a bad card from a good bucket, they'll pick the good card.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, so to speak!

Those following the Way of Looking Forward believe it's optimal to try to nudge the algorithm into the stronger buckets. In other words, they are willing to pick a bad card from a good bucket early on, so they get more cards from the good bucket down the line.

Conansson belongs to this latter "School"...

… yet, if you're still learning your way into Expeditions, he strongly advises following the Path of Here and Now (in other words, Balco before buckets' ratings).

Therefore, for this quick guide, our recommendation is:

  • Check the cards' ratings on Balco,
  • If there is a clear winner (one of the three choices has the two best cards), go with that,
  • In case of doubt, check the buckets in either Conan's or Toeofdoom's spreadsheet, and go from there.

Pick #4: First Wild Pick

Similar to Pick #3.

Pick #5, #6, and later picks

Similar with picks 3 and 4, although:

  • As a rule of thumb, try to stay in two regions (Expeditions decks can have up to three Regions). Past pick 6, you won't get offered regions you don't already have in your deck.
  • The more you progress into the draft, the least ratings & win rates matter, and the more your deck building skills start to shine. This is another very lengthy topic (about which we've written a very lengthy guide, which you can check at this link!), but in general:
    • try to aim for a 2:1 unit:spell ratio,
    • make sure your deck will have a play on turn three (either by having enough one- and two-drops, or enough three-drops, or having some strong six-mana spell like Remembrance).

First and foremost, if you've found Balco's data useful then somebody, please, get that man a Ko-fi! =)

For a more nuanced take on Balco's data, here's the 50 Shades of Draft podcast (link) with Conansson, arthurmauk (another top level drafter according to the LoR Guardian Leaderboard) and Myzrael, where they talk about Balco's data, and how it matches to their own experience. By the way, you can usually find us on the Draft Club Discord -- if you feel like doing a draft together, that's the best place in Runeterra: here's the Discord link.

If you'd like to watch more Expeditions videos, I'd recommend Conansson's Deckbuild Basics (link), and an Abridged Expedition Run (a full Trial, compacted to just a handful of minutes).

I hope the above was both interesting and useful -- Expeditions is perhaps a bit of a hard mode to get into (drafting adds a thick layer of complexity, it's more time-consuming, and the fact that it has an entry fee certainly doesn't help), but once you get the hang of it, it's the game mode with the most variety, and arguably the most skill-intensive (since you cannot separate deck-building from piloting). Any questions, comments or feedback you have, feel free to poke me on Twitter (@HerkoKerghans).

Cheers, and good luck in your Trials! =)