We’ve released the third iteration of our Expedition Resources,
with the most updated winrates, ratings and tools.
The reasoning and examples in this article are still on point (since the Expeditions mechanics have not changed), but you’ll find the most complete & updated data in the above link.
This article will provide a Tier List aimed at helping you decide which Champions to pick when you start drafting an Expeditions’ deck. We’ll also shed some light on how we arrived at this list from the sources we consulted, and provide links to said sources when appropriate for those that would like to dig deeper for a more nuanced approach.
In following articles, we’ll tackle subtler layers of complexity (of which Expeditions have legion) — this Tier List is the most compact way we found to pack as many insights as possible while not losing too much nuance in the process, but there’s certainly several more factors at play that we will explore in the future.
How to Use this Tier List
When drafting, the player is always confronted with three choices. Expert drafters agree on one point: The first rule of Draft Club is you do not take the bad card.
In other words: Rather than stressing out about always picking the best choice, focus on making sure you don’t pick the worst choice.
“A comforting note I heard the other day,” says one of our experts, arthurmauk, “from Ryan Spain in the Limited Resources Podcast [that deals with MtG Drafting] is that the closer the pick, the less it matters. When the power differential is large enough to be obvious, picking the wrong/weaker card is the most impactful. But when we agonise over close decisions–those 53% vs 54% picks–they actually matter least. That starts to deteriorate when the pick impacts more decisions down the line, but certainly card-by-card it holds true, so don’t worry too much about whether you’re right on close picks.”
With that in mind, we distributed Champs in three broad tiers (Top, Playables, and Trash), with the most important for our what-to-pick heuristics being Top (pick these!) and Trash (avoid these!). Our main focus will be making sure we don’t pick the clearly worst choice, while (trying! =) not to fret too much when the power-level is similar.
A note for Seasoned Expeditioneers: as explained in the “Mindsplitter Challenge” section later below, the main focus of these lists is to ease rookies and new players into the sometimes muddy waters of an Expeditions’ draft. Veterans and experts do take several factors into account (mainly strength of the cards that the Champs come with, and their Region & Archetype) and not only the Champion itself, but for these lists we went for a simpler, more streamlined approach. In short, we wanted to avoid making these lists too cumbersome and intimidating. We have every intention to delve deeper into said factors in later articles, and below you’ll also find a link to the spreadsheet with all the detailed ratings & calculations (including cases where different sources rate a champion differently).
With that being said, the Top/Trash/Playable Tiers should:
Make more than half of our choices “snap picks” (the best choice/worst choice are fairly obvious), and
Provide a clear roadmap for the remaining “tough spots” (a good chunk of which should be, depending on the champs, actually fairly straightforward).
Last but not least, these Tiers were crafted during Week 2 of patch 2.18.0. Remember to take this into account if you’re reading this from the future, above all if balance & content patches have happened between now and then.
Top Tier Champs in Expeditions
If you see exactly one Champ from this list (which should happen roughly 40% of the time–the exact number depends on how Riot tweaks the bonus offering rate), you pick it, and that’s it. Expeditions made easy! =)
About 10% of the time though, choices will be a bit tougher and you’ll see two or more of these god-tiered fellows. In that case, choose the leftmost champ — if both champs are in the same column, choose the one placed highest.
Roughly 50% of the time you will see none from the Top Tier; in these cases you next check for…
Trash Tier Champs
It may sound a bit counterintuitive (above all if you’re used to Constructed Tier lists) to find the Trash right after the Top… shouldn’t we look at the mid-tier Playables first, before we scrape the barrel’s bottom?
Thing is, right now we are looking at what not to pick. That’s to say, avoid the bad/weak choices.
Again, making things simple: you see two of these cards, you pick the third one. End of the story. This should happen about 30% of the time, in total (again, the exact number depends on how Riot tweaks offering rates).
“It looks like, overall, the data supporting whom we can mostly all agree is the worst,” says ShadesRealm, another of our consulting experts. “Things do get a little bit more sketchy when talking about who are the best Champions, but about what to avoid there’s little doubt.” Stay away from trashy champs and your 7-wins will become more frequent.
Of course, sometimes there are low rolls. 8% of the time (that’s about one Trial per month, if you just draft with the weekly Token), our unfathomably Algorithmic Overlords will toss three of these trashy champs in front of you. Life sucks, and as Lucian would say: “Looking grim.” Choose the leftmost champ from the above Tier list, and if in the same column, pick the one higher up. If the champs are very close, lean towards the champ you are most familiar with (either because you’ve drafted them a few times, or because you play them in Constructed a ton).
If you see one or none of these, then it’s time to move to…
Playable Tier Champs
If you’ve been following the heuristics detailed above, there are no Top tier champs in your draft, and you’ve weeded out the trash. Therefore, there should remain two or three Playable champs for you to choose from in your Draft.
In that case, proceed as outlined for other tiers: pick leftmost champ, if champs are in the same column then pick the highest. If very close, lean towards champs you’re familiar with.
And that’s it! =)
Needless to say, for seasoned Expeditioneers there are other factors that influence their choices. Some of our experts would rather take a medium champ with two great followers, instead of a great champ with two medium followers. Other experts also take into account the Archetypes (also known as “buckets”) and consider what future picks may bring…
… but, as an introductory (and not Bible-length!) guide, then just go:
Pick Top champ if available,
Avoid Trash champ if possible,
Choose from Playable champs,
and you should be good to go.
Having said that, in case you want to dig deeper into how we arrived at the above Tiers…
The Mindsplitter Challenge
We merged seven different sources in the making of our Top, Trash and Playable groups, and the champ distribution for each group.
Our backbone and foundation was the expert opinion of four top-level drafters from the Drafter’s Club Discord Channel (LINK), namely:
arthurmauk, currently #8 in LoR Guardian’s Leaderboard (LINK), with also one of the highest Wins Average in said leaderboard. arthurmauk favors a very stats-heavy approach to drafting, tracking winrate stats from all cards to gauge how they fit the deck he’s currently drafting, based on curve and the deck’s gameplan.
Conansson, #18 in LoR Guardian’s Leaderboard. Conansson knows the Expedition Archetypes inside out, and tends to factor them more than other experts for his picks (a topic about which he can debate all day long with ShadesRealm, see below). He maintains a YouTube channel with instructional Expeditions videos.
ShadesRealm, a prolific Expeditions-only YouTuber and Twitch streamer who plays around three Trials per day and has uploaded more than one hundred 7-wins runs on his channel. Never pays attention to Archetypes, goes for a “good cards” strategy. Has a soft spot for shiny Epics.
ThePedroJay, ranked #28 in LoR Guardian’s Leaderboard, Founder of the Drafter’s Club Discord. Loves experimental builds for content-creating purposes, which tends to tarnish his WR a bit. When learning that other experts didn’t rate Elise as Top tier, he’s known to have yelled: “Blasphemy!”
When requesting them to gauge the Champions, I proposed: “Imagine Riot answers our prayers and throws us die-hard Token-slingers a competitive bone. Imagine it’s the First Expeditions Seasonal… How would you rate each champ, based on who you’d rather pick over who?” In other words: Rate them in the most competitive environment you can imagine.
Their first reaction was along the lines of there being no way to compare champions without taking into account a multitude of other factors (regions, Archetypes, other cards in their bucket…), at which point I half-jokingly suggested to them the Mindsplitter Challenge…
… of trying to pack as much of their insights as possible, in as simple a medium as possible. They agreed to rate all champs on a 1 to 10 scale, to keep things manageable enough for newcomers to not be mind-splitted.
Jokes aside, we also took into account two hard-data sources: Balco, and LoR Guardian.
LoR Guardian (LINK) is currently the only deck tracker that focuses on Expeditions, providing a Player Leaderboard and tracking winrate of all cards. Their data is not a random sample, since it only takes into account players that have installed their tracker. In particular, if you sort Champions by winrate, and check the playrates of the worst-performing Champs (that’s to say, those that have a winrate below 50%), you’ll notice that the eight champs (out of seventy-four) with below-50% win rates amount to just a total 0.5% play rate… not 50%, nor 5%, but 0.5% of the total sample! In other words, LoRG data is heavily biased towards seasoned Expeditioneers that, overwhelmingly more often than not, win the games they track.
Balco, on his part (LINK), tracks data from Master Constructed players (that is to say, he tracks Expedition games only if played by a Constructed Master player — as detailed in our recent article about Leaderboards for Expeditions, the reason is that Balco is mostly interested in the Constructed Meta at Masters). Balco’s data can indeed be considered a random sample, therefore probably showcasing less experienced Expedition players when compared to LoR Guardian (as some high-playrate, low-win rate champs in his data may suggest).
Note for the data-driven among you: If you’d rather follow the hard data instead of expert opinion, then either Balco or LoRG are probably your best sources, instead of our Tiers. Since they sometimes disagree, my suggestion for a rule of thumb to follow is “go with whichever sample you think you best fit in.” If you have a ton of Constructed experience but are new to Expeditions, go with Balco — If you know fairly well your way to a 7-win run, go with Guardian.
Finally, I asked three of the Drafter’s Club “Students” (seasoned players from the Discord) to rate the champs they were familiar with.
And where, pray tell, are those numbers pooled together?
Well, glad you asked. Here, click [LINK] for Mother Spreadsheet. If numbers are not your thing, then a Mindsplitter warning may be appropriate here! =)
If you do like lots of numbers, in the above link you’ll find:
Ratings from each source (win rates from Balco & LoRG converted linearly to a 1-10 scale),
The “Teachers” Average (which is the backbone of our list),
The Tier List as you’ve seen above.
The Tier list was made largely by following the Teacher’s Average, and moving some champs up or down a few spots when other sources disagreed.
Take Kindred, for example:
Kindred is highly valued by our experts (the “Teachers”) and also highly rated in LoR Guardian’s data, but both Balco and the “Students” seem to have trouble drafting this champ. We’ll explore the reasons for why that may be the case in future articles, but for this list we pushed Kindred a bit lower, while still keeping them in the Top Tier.
An opposite example is Vi:
Vi tends to be panned by both our experts and LoR Guardian (she has a very poor bucket, according to Conansson), but performs quite well for Balco, suggesting a Champ that Constructed-focused players may put to good use. Therefore we pushed her up a few spots.
If detailed spreadsheets are not your thing and you’re here for the practical, actionable info…
… here you go: the Tier List in a single, compact image for your drafting pleasure. You’re welcome! 😄
(You’ll find a copy of the above single list in the second tab of the Mother Spreadsheet [LINK], by the way. With a bit of luck, we’ll update it regularly.)
As mentioned above, we’ll delve into more nuanced factors in future articles (how to rate cards, how to tackle the Archetypes, drafting for synergy versus drafting for raw power, etc), but with a bit of luck the above tiers will make your life easier (and your runs longer!)
Any comments or questions, feel free to poke me on Twitter (Link), or jump into the Drafter’s Club Discord (Link), where you’ll get a chance to either interact with the experts named above, or just sit back and watch them draft (and watch me pester them infinitely, for projects like this Tier list!), as you prefer.
Draft Club Rules
Above all if you’re starting out in your Expeditions path, and unless the power gap is large, playing with what you feel comfortable is usually a plus. That’s to say, if you usually jam Darkness in the Ranked ladder, but have never played a deck with Jarvan IV, then Veigar may work better for you in Expeditions than the Demacian prince. You’ll know every niche case and will be able to push the Champ and its associated cards to their full potential (extremely experienced drafters have missed lethal due to forgetting Veigar makes Darkness hit face when levelled-up, just saying). If champs are very close together, go with whichever champ you feel more comfortable with.
That’s why the second rule of Draft Club is: You do not take the worst card…
…. but as Ryan Spain says, don’t fret too much about close decisions. If two cards are very close in power, then picking the least powerful won’t change the final outcome too much.
And, of course, there’s Draft Club rule number three: It’s a game! Have fun! =)
Go with whatever definition of “fun” your gut tells you to go with today (Trying a champ you’ve never played before? Trying to make a sub-par champ work? Filling your foe’s deck with shrooms?), and just roll with it.
You’ve won? Grand.
You’ve lost? That ain’t losing: That’s learning.
Which is no small part of the fun.
Cheers, and good drafting! 😄
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