Its Jasensational, back at it again to review the latest patch together with all of you. With patch 2.18 introducing a whopping 25+ nerfs and buffs to cards, there’s a lot to cover. If you haven’t checked out the previous article on patch note predictions, be sure to check it out here and we can compare together my initial thoughts and how in line they were with Riot’s. In this review, we will use a simple rating system to summarize my thoughts on the impact. So grab a snack and let’s jump into it.
Meta: Will see play in a tier 1-2 deck.
Better: Change has a positive impact. Will at least see more experimentation
Patch Modcheck: Non-impactful change
Worse: It’s in a worse spot, but will still be played. Like a Aphelios or Irelia before their demise
Deleted: Unplayable, or easily replaced by better cards
To no one’s surprise, Draven Sion was one of the main targets for nerfs this patch around. The two changes to this deck were to Draven and Twinblade Revenant
Stats: 3/3 > 3/2
Generally, it’s pretty hard to overstate how impactful of a change this is. We’ve seen it in the past where Fiora, and to a lesser extent Aphelios, lost that one point of toughness and dropped off the map. However, I think this change is less relevant to specifically Draven Sion. Draven still does his job of generating a Spinning Axe on play, and applying pressure with its quick attack keyword. Sure, Draven now dies to a Mystic Shot, but most decks in the current meta still have trouble dealing with a two health unit versus a three health unit outside of combat. Unless we see a surge in more removal based decks, I don’t think Draven’s role in Sion decks has changed much. Still, I didn’t quite expect the LoR team to “axe” Draven this patch.
Stats: 4/3 Challenger > 4/3 Fearsome
Rating: Better or Worse?
Honestly, I’m very careful to say that this is a nerf to the card. It is a huge nerf to Draven Sion’s midrange gameplan, removing their tool to remove key backrow units or engage in value trades for tempo, but it gained the Fearsome keyword in return. Should Bandle City still remain as a large part of the meta, this card becomes a real threat. Risen Rider was already tricky to deal with, and now the deck has an additional 4/3 Fearsome body that can be cycled infinitely. Bandle Tree decks will cower at the sight of this. At the end of the patch, the fearsome sentinels like Demacian Sentinel and Buhru Sentinel were appearing to prey on the lack of fearsome blockers in the Bandle City meta, and Twinblade Revenant is here to add onto it. Without a change to Lost Soul, this card will still be seen in Sion decks to level.
Overall, I predicted that Sion would become slower, but that is not the case. Sion still levels on turn seven, and existing decks still don’t have a great way of dealing with it. I see Draven Sion as still a strong deck that will continue to exist, but may have to shift gears to account for a difference in matchup tables. They could even abandon their midrange strategy and steer towards more of an fearsome aggro with burn style of deck instead.
Next up on most players’ lists was Nami. A super strong elusive engine that could burst out stats on stats as early as turn four, but couldn’t be removed reliably on turn four.
Text: Level up after you’ve gained 7+ spell mana this game > you’ve gained 8+ spell mana this game.
Okay okay, so I was one mana off the level up condition. You got me again Riot. But either way, Nami now starts off one turn slower, needing an additional turn to level up, unless you’re running a one mana attune card like Otterpus or Shellshocker , unless… you’re running Flash of Brilliance. But in Zoe Nami in particular, this will usually mean that Nami will level up on turn five, which is kinda of a big deal. This will delay your ability to come back into the game with a buffed Sparklefly and give the opponent more room to close in. Speaking of Sparklefly…
Cost: 2 > 3
If you wanted to gut the deck, this would be the most crucial change. The biggest effect of this change is that you can no longer tutor out Sparklefly using Crescendum off of Gifts From Beyond. This also means you do not have mana to play out Sparklefly on the turn you level Nami, making the comeback mechanic of this deck essentially two turns slower.
This is a big deal for the deck, but maybe not so much for Nami in particular. Nami has already been seeing experimentation in Bandle City and PNZ, and will still have a home in those regions. Targon unfortunately will no longer be the powerhouse that it used to be. Nami decks might not be tier 1 anymore, but will still retain their explosive strength if they can stabilize for one extra turn.
In the end, they decided to not touch Poppy, which somewhat goes with what I predicted, but maybe for different reasons. But that is not to say that decks with Poppy didn’t get affected slightly.
Cost: 3 > 4
Text: Rally > Grant a unit +1/+1. Rally
Rating: Borderline worse/deleted
Now this doesn’t directly affect Poppy, but many of the existing rally decks used Poppy to apply insane amounts of pressure, such as the Bandle City or Ionia variants. With both rallies, Relentless Pursuit and Golden Aegis taking up the four cost slot, it’s much harder to weave in rallies while maintaining board. A deck like Poppy Ziggs is largely unaffected by this change.
3.Bandle City Changes
As predicted, we also got a few hits to some of the key followers within the Bandle City Region.
Stats: 2/2 Tough > 2/3
Rating: Patch Modcheck
This is probably the least significant of the changes. The strength in Stone Stackers is the ability to attack without contest on turn two, due to the lack of three attack units to stop it. Having three health versus two health and tough doesn’t change anything, besides blocking it with a two attack unit then pinging it. This is still significant, but investing two resources into one, while also still taking impact damage is what makes the card so strong already.
Stats: 3/4 > 2/3
If you’ve been following along with a general trend in this article so far, then you’ll know why this change is much more impactful than simply shaving off some stats. Aloof Travelers was one of Bandle City’s only fearsome blocker follower, and now that it is down to two attack, it loses that as well. The statline is acceptable and this will be a playable card, but now probably won’t see play in Draven Sion or other straight up midrange decks. Depending on the presence of fearsome units in the meta, I could see this card getting significantly less play as well.
Tenor of Terror / Bass of Burden
Stats: 2/3 > 1/3 / 3/2 > 3/1
Tenor of Terror getting hit with a double whammy as much as it double impacts the opponent. Not only does this house of a tempo card deal less damage on the attack, it also creates a very vulnerable target with Bass of Burden that can now be easily pingable by many different regions and decks. Players may look to shift completely to Lecturing Yordle to fill in the four drop slot. Still situational picks off of Bandle City Mayor and Loping Telescope
Overall, hits to Aloof Travelers and Tenor of Terror are great starts, though, I’m a little surprised that they didn’t end up touching Bandle City Mayor or Lecturing Yordle. Bandle City will still remain a strong regain altogether and decks like The Bandle Tree or Poppy Ziggs or Curious Shellfolk will largely remain untouched.
Well, I asked for Targon buffs and I’ve received? Let’s speed through the changes to the region.
Stats: 3/5 > 3/6
Rating: Patch Modcheck
If there was a card on my buff list, this was not one of them. The strength of a card like The Traveler was that it was a flexible pick with a randomly flexible outcome. At one mana cheaper too. A slight buff here does little, as this card was never ran in invoke archetypes regardless.
Lunari Priestess / Solari Priestess
Stats: 2/1 > 2/2 / 1/2 > 2/2
Out of the Targon/Invoke package changes, I think this one shines the brightest. One of Solari Priestess’ main weakness was the loss of tempo when played on curve, and having an additional attack does wonders in allowing it to trade down even in faster matchups. It’s slightly less impactful for Lunari Priestess since it already could trade down with two attack. The range of invoke from Lunari Priestess and it’s poor ability to curve out makes it awkward in slower decks, but it might see more experimentation in Nightfall decks.
Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear
Stats: 5/5 > 5/6
Big statted boy was already hard to kill, which makes a change like this not as impactful. It’s already one of the strongest cards in the Daybreak archetype, and without better buffs/support across the rest of the archetype, it’s unlikely this change holds much significance. Unlikely to splash in other decks purely for its stats.
Text: Challenger > Challenger and Overwhelm
As impactful as this change is, it usually comes off as a win-more. Not only do games have to extend onto turn ten without the Targon player not already winning because they’ve either stabilized or out-valued the opponent, but you also need to not have a board either. As a win condition, it is likely the last option to pick over The Great Beyond or The Immortal Fire. It’s a cool change that confuses why it wasn’t in the original card design, but impact wise to Targon, again I think it’s lacking.
Overall, Targon changes are quite underwhelming. There’s no clear direction where the buffs want to land, and the small invoke buffs might not be enough. I would’ve liked to see the Targon champions included in some capacity so that Zoe isn’t trying to carry all the weight. But, I will say that no matter how big or small a buff is, they will inspire experimentation, and maybe Daybreak is the new midrange counter we all needed in this patch.
So who had Dragons on their 2021 Bingo List? In spite of the Targon changes, it seems that there is one archetype (and region combo) in particular that the LoR team seem to be pushing, and that is Dragons.
Text: Draw 2 Dragons or grant Dragon allies +1/+1 > Draw 2 Dragons or grant Dragon allies +1/+1 and Overwhelm
Probably the most insane card from the patch. In the past, the conditional buff had a very niche use to surprise opponents into value trades, but giving Dragons overwhelm now creates a reliable finisher that Demacia and Targon usually lacked. This is like putting an The Absolver onto a leveled Sivir, but better. Five stars out of five stars.
Stats: 2/4 > 3/4
Three drop with premium stats and archetype synergy? Sign me up. I think this card was already kinda nuts, but never really saw play as Dragons were not represented, but sure we can give it one more attack. Looks like an easy auto-include in any dragon focused deck, that allows early scaling into ending games with Dragon’s Clutch.
Herald of Dragons
Stats: 1/1 > 1/2
Mana discounting cards have historically been quite scary, case examples being Mountain Scryer and the newest Bandle City Mayor. If people were complaining that the mayor was hard to deal with at two health, well step aside because Herald of Dragons comes down one turn earlier. It’s still debatable whether or not this card will make the cut as it’s a very weak tempo play for turn two, and the mana discount isn’t as impactful late game, but being able to curve Shyvana into Screeching Dragon on turn three and four can be huge. In a slower meta, I can see this card thrive in Dragon decks.
Text: Levels with 25+ total ally power > Levels with 20+ total ally power
Aurelion Sol sneaks into this section as the honorary dragon. I’m unsure if Dragons is where Aurelion Sol is going to fit in, as I see Dragons as more of a midrange deck than an out-grind value kind of deck. Not sure if the meta will slow down enough for Aurelion Sol to fit back in, but the reverted level up condition likely won’t change too much for similar reasons as why The Scourge receiving overwhelm is likely not as impactful. When Aurelion Sol comes down on board with a board of 20+ power, you’re most likely already winning the game. Although, Aurelion Sol in a Feel The Rush or Targon’s Peak deck is quite strong, as having a one card “I flip Asol” now is a great way to cheese opponents.
Overall, if LoR was looking to push an archetype into the meta, Dragons look like a promising deck to try out during the first week. With a strong, defined win condition that can come down at a flexible moment and stat buffs across the board, I predict Dragons will rise up to tier two.
5.Champ Buffs Across the Board
Tristana Lvl 2
Text: Grants Impact to Dual-region allies > Grants Impact to Dual-region allies and herself
I always believed that Tristana was criminally underrated and under-experimented, so I’m happy to see her get some love. Stacking up Impact on herself creates a greater threat to the opponent, being forced to trade in a unit to block, while also taking a few points of impact damage. In metas where healing is practically none, this change will be noticeable. In my own brews, this buff has great applications in my Give It All deck, where I can stack up 5+ Impact across my entire board. In other cheese decks, like with conjunction with Shell Game or Ambush, the extra damage can go a long way to destroy the opponent’s nexus.
Nocturne Lvl 2
Text: Nightfall: Grant an enemy Vulnerable and give enemies -1/0 this round
Nightfall Aggro as a deck has always slipped in and out of the meta in the past, but has fallen out once Stalking Shadows got nerfed to three mana. However, the power level of activating Nocturne’s ability now at burst speed with Unto Dusk can prove powerful given the current strength of fearsome in the meta. Doombeast as a card has historically been good against burn based aggro decks, especially when healing is so sparse. I have good hopes for a resurgence in Nightfall given this change.
Text: Level after 5 predicts > Level after 4 predicts
I imagine a change like this tries to give Ekko more room outside of specifically Shurima to actually level up. At the current moment, I don’t see this as a super impactful change, as without more predict support in regions outside of Shurima, it’s hard to build an impactful Ekko deck outside of it. While I’m no Ekko expert, I don’t particularly think being able to level Ekko slightly faster makes the champion better, so we’ll see if someone can make something happen.
Text: Level after I’ve dealt 12+ damage > Level after I’ve dealt 10+ damage
I think this change is quite strong. Renekton being able to level up after an attack and a block can be quite strong, or even in conjunction with strike cards like Whirling Death or Concerted Strike. In a vacuum, leveled Renekton is very powerful, but right now it’s being outshined by Sivir. Quick attack and spellshield are just more impactful and allow better attacks without having to worry about survivability. It’s a good buff, but meta impact is hard to say.
Cost: 6 > 5
Stats: 4/5 > 3/5
Rating: Better, praying for Meta
Mana reductions for Champions is no joke. When you see a Champion becoming cheaper, everyone wonders if it is the next big thing. Lux on five allows you to curve into a six cost spell on turn six, which is great, but Lux still suffers from being in Demacia where spells historically suck. The buffs show great promise, but until Lux takes her spirit journey to PNZ or Targon, there’s no great flexibility in what she can do.
Stats: 3/4 > 3/5
Rating: Patch Modcheck
One of Quinn’s weakness was not being able to attack herself in situations to level her quicker. The extra health point will allow that, but the increase in cost of Relentless Pursuit will have a stronger negative impact than the buff to Quinn’s statline. Still outclassed by Poppy in her own deck, still likely unplayable.
Stats: 0/5 > 0/6
Rating: Patch Modcheck
I’m glad Freljord is getting some attention too, but this ain’t it chief. The issue with Braum was never really about his survivability, and lots of decks right now can race past you if your turn four is so tempo negative. Again Braum folds to fearsome units which are in business at the moment. It’s hard to imagine this buff will push Braum or Freljord into major significance.
Faces of the Old Ones
Stats: 0/2 > 0/3
Being able to come down on turn two and having more survivability is a good sign for this card. Being able to start ramping from turn two can be great, as the mana advantage scales quickly. In conjunction with the Aurelion Sol buff, Targon’s Peak may find a home in the meta.
Stats: 3/3 > 3/4
Rating: Patch Modcheck
I’m unsure if this is supposed to be part of Lux package, but if it is, I’m not sure I want to be running it still. Sure as a blocker it is great now, but the value of this doesn’t seem great.
Dess & Ada
Text: Damage dealt to all enemies now scales with Darkness damage
At the end of the Into the Bandlewood season, Dess & Ada has been a great answer to many of the swarm decks, with a two damage board clear. In conjunction with Twisted Catalyzer and Veigar to scale damage, this can become a reliable board clear against even the beefiest midrange decks. A lot of instances with Darkness against slower matchups, both board states have some units sitting around and not attacking. This card allows for a potential alt win con by swinging board state in one turn, then getting chip damage in, the way Draven Ezreal used to play with Tri-beam Improbulator or like a leveled Malphite.
Manifest, Loping Telescope, Trinket Trade, and The Traveler
The way created cards work now, and going forward is that they can no longer create themselves, so no more Traveler or Telescope chains. Which is a good and healthy change that I expected. So good on them and good on me.