Following our review of the 4.4.0 nerf batch, let’s finally talk about the good stuff: buffs! Reminder that all imagery used in today’s articles is courtesy of The Runeterra Report – go check them out on twitter if you haven’t already!
Helping the Orphans of the Rotation
Starting off with Targon, my favorite region, the buffs are super interesting and leave a lot of room for experimentation. Cygnus’ change into a permanently elusive body makes him able to chip away damage from the opponent or just more reliably finish the game, costing one less mana and offering the recurring damage from being a natural elusive. The Cloven Way’s buff is in basically the same regard, trading one point of damage and health for the ability to come down a round earlier and affect the board. Having Overwhelm itself on top of the targeted stun is really useful, since you can stun the biggest unit and make sure your overwhelm damage goes through.
Moondreamer’s change is really, really interesting. Maybe it enables some variation of control or tempo Targon be played due to the fact you can Duskpetal Dust her and make use of the effect on round 4 – and the same is applied to all three cards, Lunari Duskbringer can force them out on the board even sooner then normal. I don’t think Moondreamer will help nightfall aggro a lot, but some variation of Eclipse control with Leona, Diana and maybe ASol on the top-end can be enabled by this and the next change.
Giving Targon a Swiss Army Knife
The new Targonian Tellstones is finally a playable card! It’s weird to see how Blessing of Targon went from being the only remotely playable card of the trio to the blatantly worse of the new three. The ability to tap into Hush and potentially use it in a different way to gain value against slower decks with Behold the Infinite is super interesting, and maybe allows some targonian strategies to flourish, especially because Hush can hit the meta so well, and having access to multiple copies of it really improves your ability to tech into the field.
Hush can hit cards like Fizz, Buffed up Samira, can remove Varus’ overwhelm, can silence Mischievous Marai, Mighted units, there’s many, many different things to be hit by Hush and I’m coping about some Targon decks being playable, especially some versions of Karma Sett, where you can run Targonian Tellstones as your win condition instead of Starshaping. Sure, maybe you want SS in your deck for the healing, but Targonian Tellstones with leveled up Karma can just Invoke four times for five mana, giving you access to various good cards and win conditions. Add Coins on top of it and you have a really promising deck – in theory. There’s no way to tell if Karma Sett Targon will be a better deck then the Piltover version, because it looks like Aftershock is the big winner of the patch, but we’ll have to wait and see how the meta plays out.
It looks like riot wants for Sun Disc to be a playable strategy, but gladly they’re not pushing it too far like they did in the past. Xerath rotating was too big of a loss for the archetype, since he’s both board clear and face burn, and it looks like they want Nasus to be the replacement for him. Glory's Call’s buff looks fine in a vacuum, and paying 1 mana to discover a card from the emperor’s deck is indeed really strong. Sadly it can’t discover the spell that summons both Nasus and Renekton, but that’s life. Generating just one card from the emperor’s deck can be a tempo boost big enough to convert a board state or be the extra gas you needed to reach ascension and flip the disc.
Random Buffs that Do either Nothing or A Lot
Priestess’ and Kadregrin’s buffs here are pretty negligible. It’s pretty obvious why but I’ll take the time to explain my reasoning.
Kadregrin: Nine mana is too much mana to pay for a card that does nothing on play. At that point you want to either close out the game with Dragon's Clutch and a bit of interaction or you’re too late to get over the finish line and decks have either ran you over or are simply just greedier then yours. This poor guy is both a dead draw and a dead drop until at least round 10 or at best you can make use of the +4/+4 buff on one or two random dragons that survived to tell the story of the match. I don’t see this making Dragons anywhere near viable
Priestess: +2/+2 is nice, but you’re already shooting at bringing a late game bomb with her – that’s the sole reason she’s in the deck, the ability to cheat out an expensive high impact champion. Maybe this buff will make the times you randomly pull Akshan out of the deck slightly better, but paying 6 mana for a 4/4 Akshan isn’t really the thing you’re aiming for, and is a pretty bad end-result. To me it feels like she’d use a stat change from 4/4 to 3/5 a little bit better, but that’s just me – I’m sure devs have playtested her with 5 or more health and there’s definitely a reason why they didn’t go for this change and opted for the +2/+2 on the pulled card instead.
Now let’s talk about Soul Harvest
As one of Shadow Isles’ premium backrow threat removal tools, Soul Harvest was already a very good card at dealing with things like Shelly, Inferna, Heimerdinger, Seraphine, Veigar, and many more. Now it’s even better at doing so, for various reasons – the main one being that you don’t need to go off-curve to use the champion kill part of the card. The ability to double float and be able to represent Soul Harvest on a high impact low attack champion for the rest of the game is massive and Shadow Isles control desperately needed either that good piece of removal or a decent win condition.
Interesting Functional Changes
Mirror Image’s buff is super nice not only for Ashe noxus decks, but for decks that just want to use Leblanc to print an extra card with no condition. Right now, the most important thing about this card is its ability to be used on a 4/3 Trifarian Assessor for when you don’t land the deck buff on her but still need to use Mirror Image to regain some gas. You could theoretically start running Leblanc on existing old archetypes to abuse the mirror image change for high-synergy cards like Gwen’s package or maybe even spawn new archetypes on her own. It’s an interesting change that will definitely see experimentation and I’m all for it.
Bandle Gunners becoming a giant-like card is something we didn’t expect, but also a very welcomed change. The current way to make them drop as soon as possible is at round five, if you draw double Grandfather Fae and another multi-region follower (two from grandfather, two from owlcats, one from extra unit). Bandle City also historically never had the ability to just play a 5/5 body outside of the times when Bandle City Mayor generated Poro Sled. It’s a nice change and we’ll have to see which direction Bandle swarm strategies will go now, but my wild guess is that they’ll stay on noxus for Might and potentially Ionian Hookmaster.
Advanced Intel’s mini-rework can do wonders for Piltover, especially after the Drum Solo nerfs. You have actual reasons to maindeck this card now and the flashbomb archetype just became a little bit more reliable, as you’re just adding more flashbomb cards to the main deck. The added in cycle is very welcomed and the fact that this pretty good cantrip is now a part of Seraphine and Sputtering Songspinner’s card pool is amazing for the decks these cards are played in.
Buffs That Won’t Change the Meta
I’m willing to be wrong on Retired Reckoner here, since 6 health is a lot of health and there’s actually a lot of self-targeting going on in Noxus lately, but losing Oblivious Islander to the standard rotation was just too much for Deathless Knight strategies. We’ll have to see if Samira Varus decks will find a way to squeeze a copy of Retired Reckoner or two, but I doubt that’ll happen. As for Deathless Knight, I’ll be extremely (although pleasantly) surprised if the card ever sees the light of day in the meta.
Now you’d be better off listening to the dev’s explanation for the Prank changes, but in summary, the changes were made now that Curious Shellfolk has been rotated and this allows for more interesting choices when pranking your opponent, instead of always defaulting to “pick the mana prank”. The main reason you’re pranking is still hitting spell costs and that’s unchanged, but the unit pranks were changed to be a little bit more appealing for you, as there’s no -1/-0 anymore, and the vulnerable hit will always come with a -2/-0 debuff – and that’s pretty big! This might help some bandle city strategies that are more aggressive tap into pranking a bit better and not feel bad about hitting units with their pranks, as they can always be pulled to the side and allow better units to go for face damage. All in all, I’m happy to see these changes and think they’re overall positive for the game.
But Yang, where are the nerfs?
My thoughts on nerfs can be found in this article! Check it out and let me know your thoughts on the winners and losers of the 4.4 patch and what you think will be the next tournament meta, as I’ll share my thoughts about this tomorrow, before the patch hits the live servers!