Legends of Runeterra: Balance Patch & Meta Shift

Posted by SiRgr3x February 20, 2020 in Patches and Hotfixes

Introduction

On February 18th Riot finally released the first patch since the official beta beginning deliberately focused on gameplay.
Based on smooth changes and soft tweaks this balance could open new horizons to the players in order to mitigate the domain of shadow of Isle and Ionian factions in the competitive scenario and boost variety in deck building.

Reviewed card updates

Champions

Lux (Level 1):

  • Power:   3 → 4
  • Health:  4 →  5

Lux (Level 2):

  • Power: 4 → 5
  • Health:  5 → 6

 This champion always suffered high cost and even when played struggled to survive. Being designed as a “built around” engine LoR Team improved her stats to make opponents more susceptible to the threat she represents.

Yasuo:

  • Level up: You Stun or Recall 6+ units → You Stun or Recall 5+ units 

As a result of severe disempowerment of the Ionia’s handbuff mechanic and the deny spell mana cost increase, Yasuo could have been affected negatively especially in decks heavily built on him. The tweak aims to increase the windwalker’s chances to level up.

Spells

Back to Back:

  • Mana cost: 5 → 6

Due to the tricky nature of Burst spells, being almost non interactive in many situations, in particular after block assignments, it has been necessary to polish the impact of this spell on the game.

Deny:

  • Mana cost: 3 → 4

Deny has been debated to be one of the most effective resources to nullify and disrupt the development of expensive high risk-high reward strategies and strictly limited the meta to few competitive solutions. Those reasons combined with its widespread diffusion in every kind of deck have led developers to make it a bit harder to play even spending excess mana and a more weighty early game card.

Followers

Inspiring Mentor:

  • Health: 1 → 2
  • Old Text:   Play: Grant an ally in hand + 1|1
    New Text: Play: Grant an ally in hand + 1|0

This powerful handbuff provided excessive survivability and consistency in terms of curve efficiency for elusive pack (in particular Navori Conspirator and Kinkou Lifeblade) and some threatful champions like Zed or Fiora and made unlikely to exploit their natural weaknesses. Now they should keep their threat potential while, on the other hand, being vulnerable to removals.

Arena Battlecaster:

  • Health: 1 → 2

Arena Battlecaster has not seen much play prepatch, now it might be a prospective and mighty choice for aggro decks.

Jewelled Protector:

  • Power:  3 → 4 
  • Health:  3 → 4 

A boost to offset the handbuff nerf that includes this card as a solid choice for Ionia like a more manageable and less oppressive option.

Crimson Curator:

  • Health: 2 → 3

Underperforming and rarely used, Curator might now have a role in self wound packs.

Kinkou Lifeblade:

  • Health:  3 → 2

In line with other adjustments to elusives, a reduction of the trade and block capability of Lifeblade is healthy mostly since it was intended for the “stealth units” to develop more slowly than aggro ones with the purpose to grant a fair race in this matchup.

Tortured Prodigy:

  • Power:  3 → 4

Scuttlegeist:

  • Keywords: None → [Fearsome] 

A viable pick to benefit from the synergies of the Shadow Isle faction.

Wraithcaller:

  • Keywords: [Fearsome] → None

This card has been targeted being the most efficient in the game in terms of consistency and tempo. Confident that might still be considered a priority in fearsome pack even if its capability to dodge blocks has been reduced.

Rhasa, The Sunderer: 

  • Mana cost: 7 → 8

Another extremely powerful tool, has been detuned. Rhasa could often threat the opponent board not letting the opponent a play around in many matchups and was too cheap and easy to set up. After the patch it will be more difficult to play it effectively and probably will have a spot in fewer decks.

Commander Ledros:

  • Mana cost: 8 → 9
  • Power:  8 → 9
  • Old Text:   Cut the enemy Nexus Health in half. 
    New Text: Cut the enemy Nexus Health in half, rounded up.

This recursive end game follower served like finisher in most Shadow Isle decks. Due to his nature the game must come to an end in few turns as he joins the board, however, being now more expensive, very aggressive decks should not easily exploit his strength to close the game, while remaining not so different in control or late game strategies.

Meta Overview

Overall the patch hit the gameplay positively, favoring diffusion of control decks and several kinds of aggro decks in this first phase as an answer. 

Piltover and Zaun imposes itself in the meta with its wide range of removal options and powerful spells, useful to get control of the board or to deal lethal damage. From Jinx to Heimerdinger and Ezreal, even Teemo find competitive space and decks in which they are able to shine. 

Freljord can count on massive control, the notorious Elnuk pack, able to fill the board with a huge tempo play and the strongest late game (warmother’s call and anivia)

Despite of the significant changes, Shadow of Isle should firmly consolidate between strongest factions due to versatility and consistency of its packs and spells.

Although Ionia has been less present in the ladder, it continues to have popularity in the form of Karma decks, bringing amazing sustain and late game potential. 

Noxus is often seen in aggressive decks which try to exploit the early game mostly thanks to its high damage low cost units and spells.

Demacia which has not yet fully explored, through can still be a worthy option for mid range decks and aggro, in the next days might reveal unexpected outcomes.

Conclusions

LoR promises to be exciting and full of variety after this patch. Every faction will be able to find his identity and aim for the competitive, fully in line with what the developers expect from this game, still maintaining that playful component that makes it truly enjoyable. An enviable balance for being only a beta!

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