Aatrox, Kayle and Ryze: First Impressions
12/01/22 0 comments
In the World Ender expansion, we have 3 new champions coming: Aatrox, Kayle and Ryze. They all look a lot of fun and it seems they will bring new decks using old cards.
With the new expansion, World Ender, we will have three new champions. Riot this time released all cards at once so that players and Worlds spectators can prepare themselves, so we can already speculate about the new decks.
We will have three big characters coming into the ga,e: Aatrox, Kayle and Ryze. They all look like a lot of fun and promise to create new decks and even revive a few old ones.
Aatrox, World Ender
Aatrox was one of the most respected Shurima Ascended. He was known for his ability and his wisdom, and was called the personification of light and reason. But, just like many others, when he went to war against Icathia, he had to face the Void. The horrors he faced tormented him deeply and he never fully recovered, even after they won the war.
With the end of the Empire after Azir's failed attempt to ascend, the Ascended who fought in Shurima were purposeless and, with their traumas, started to fight each other, now as Darkin, destroying the little of Shurima that was left and threatening the rest of the continent. With that, Targon started to draw a plan to eliminate the Darkin threat. Misha, the Aspect of Twilight, develops a way to seal the Darkin in their weapons. And like so, during the war, she manages to do it.
However, the prison wasn't perfect and they would be able to possess the weapons' users, and due to that, they were spread across the world and protected. But with time, some of them were re-found, as it happened with Varus and Kayn. Aaatrox was one of the found ones, but as he was too powerful, he very quickly consumed his hosts, destroying their physical form and once again being trapped in his sword.
For him, the time spent trapped was agonizing and he fought to be free. He started to learn how to use a host to slay another, absorbing them to himself and keeping their physical form and, because of that, he started many massacres and acquired to himself the gigantic form he has.
Incapable of dominating perfectly the required magic to free himself, he decided to destroy the whole world through oblivion and won the title of World Ender.
In League of Legends, Aatrox is a melee fighter that keeps himself in combat by recovering health when attacking enemies. His passive is Deathbringer Stance, which allows him to, from time to time, deal extra damage and heal himself when he strikes. His skills are The Darkin Blade which allows him to deal three different strikes, Infernal Chains which ensnare an enemy and, if they don't scape, it pulls the enemy back to the spot, and Umbral Dash, in which he dashes in a direction and passively enhances his healing against other champions. His Ultimate, World Ender, unleashes his most powerful form enhancing his damage, movement speed and healing.
For Legends of Runeterra, Aatrox came mainly as the most powerful Darkin and their biggest leader. His origin allows you to use any of the Darkin weapons in your deck, just like any darkin follower and it guarantees you draw this champion as soon as you play or summon the 3rd card of this subtype.
At level 1 he brings his weapon, The Darkin Blade, which has Regeneration and he heals your Nexus by 2 when he strikes and when he is summoned, which is his League passive represented. He is made to be played on board and keep striking threats, protecting your Nexus until it's time to cast World Ender, a spell he creates and that levels him up, which is reduced each time an equipped unit or a Darkin strikes.
At first, World Ender will transform all your followers equipped with Darkin equipment into their Darkin form. It will also level up any Darkin champion on board. Afterwards, at his level 2, Aatrox grows in stats, gains Overwhelm and now reduces the cost of the Darkin units you play, allowing you to develop powerful units, if you don't have them on board already.
Aatrox came without many new cards, as almost all Darkin were already present so there's not much to comment on, but we can evaluate the utility of some of them.
The Darkin Aegis besides being a great equipment is the cheapest Darkin when it becomes Joraal, so it must be included in the deck to fulfill the lack of units in this region. The Darkin Fan is a new card with a bit of potential, as it allows you to survive a bit better until you can level up this champion.
The Darkin Harp allows you to strike when attacking without losing the equipped unit. We also have The Darkin Spear which is less useful in its first phase, but in its Anaakca form it enjoys the presence of many other weapons in the deck. Finally, we have a new Darkin card too, but Xolaani the Bloodweaver matches other champions better.
Aatrox is a champion that wants to see a Midrange match, but he acts as a finisher as he creates a lot of value to your simple cards. With the words equip and strike in his kit, the first obvious partner he can have is Vayne, which has the perfect kit for that with Tumble and Fish Fight.
But it might be that he has other pairs. Akshan or Sivir can be interesting, as Shurima has great support for Darkin with The Altar of Blood and Forsaken Baccai, just like the tools to strike through Desert Duel and Grappling Hook.
Another option that can be interesting is with Kayn in a deck with only Runeterra champions. Though it seems limiting, both complement each other really well with the cultists in need of equipment and the Darkin equipment in need of their future hosts.
Aatrox seems to be a very strong champion, just for his region alone. With a high cost and guaranteed draw through his Origin, he can be used as 1 or 2 copies and even then he can be a win condition. He must see play throughout the season as he matches cards that are strong today.
Kayle, the Righteous
During the Runic Wars, the event that put Runeterra under threat, one couple went to Mount Targon in search of refuge. Kilam and Mihira climbed the top of the mountain, even with a pregnant Mihira. At the peak, Mihira was accepted as a receptacle for the Aspect of Justice and got a celestial sword. A bit after that, she had twin daughters, Kayle and Morgana. As an Aspect, Mihira had many enemies and, with the end of the wars, she set off to a new kingdom in search of a safe place.
This kingdom allowed for protection against the sorcery that took over the rest of the world, and in the future it would be known as Demacia. There, the children grew up without knowing the whole truth about their mother. Kayle was always very inquisitive, always asking about the settlement rules and recognizing its importance.
One day when they were teenagers, a streak of flame split the sky and a celestial blade struck the ground, breaking in two. Kilam recognized it as Mihira's sword. Kayle took one of the swords and got her power and wings and Morgana did the same. Kayle felt connected to her mother, knew she was alive and wanted them to follow the same path to Justice. After this event, the people in the settlement recognized both of them as chosen by the stars and fated to protect their people.
And that was what both of them did, guiding the people with truth and justice, until Kayle started to be consumed by the desire for unconditional Justice. Whereas Morgana preached for the rehabilitation of those who wished to redeem themselves. One of Kayle's followers tried to trap Morgana for what he considered to be a weakness and the conflict ends up with him dead after trying to attack Morgana's followers. Without being sure of what happened and looking for a guilty party, Kayle flies to the sky and threatens to destroy the village in search of the killer and Morgana goes to her in the sky and they start to battle.
The conflict between them causes a lot of destruction to the settlement and it is interrupted when Morgana notices her father to be mortally wounded by the wreckage. Blaming her aspect heritage, Morgana throws her sword to her sister, who receives it. Kayle blames her mortal feelings for the violence and leaves the mortal world, setting off for Targon in search of celestial perfection and her mother.
In League of Legends, Kayle is a fighter that becomes stronger throughout the game. The more time passes, the bigger the threat she represents. That happens through her passive, Divine Ascent, which increases her power at each level.
Her skills are Radiant Blast, which summons a celestial sword to strike and weaken enemies, Celestial Blessing which heals and increases her and an ally's movement speed, and Starfire Spellblade, which passively deals magic damage through her attacks, and actively gives extra damage to her next attack. Her Ultimate, Divine Judgment, protects an ally or herself of any damage and in an instant, causes AoE damage.
In LoR they brought the aspect of this champion getting stronger throughout the game. Her passive became the card's basic ability, in which she gains benefits when allies with any buffs attack. Besides that, she gets enhancements through Empower, the new keyword that guarantees a bonus when the card reaches the stated power value.
In Kayle's case, with 6 power she gets Quick Attack. To help her allies, when she is summoned she also increases the power of the other cards. She reaches level two when she starts the round with 11 power, buffing all allies again. To finish the game she gets Overwhelm, which takes advantage of her increased attack and, with 16 power she gets a new Empower buff which grants her Double Attack to really finish the enemy Nexus.
This champion's other skills that were passed down to her cards are Celestial Blessing, which increases the stats of allies on board and in hand and Divine Judgment which, just like the original game, guarantees temporary immortality and also increases allies' power.
Kayle came along with many other cards that take advantage or activate the Empower of the other cards. It is important to notice that to activate most of these cards' potential it is only needed one extra damage. Divine Clerk is a great option as an excellent 1 mana cost against aggro decks, but it works almost against anything. Winged Messenger gets elusive when Empowered and that with a lot of attack power represents a big threat.
Lawkeeper represents a good finisher or a great defense to more control versions of this deck which can hit higher power values. Seraphic Wyvern is another threatening card, with the Empower buff being Overwhelm. It must see play in decks which aren't Kayle focused, as Fury itself guarantees an increase in its attack.
Mihira, Aspect of Justice is Kayle's mother and it is for sure a great addition to any deck. Though slow, its benefits should overcome its weaknesses through excellent keywords when she is Empowered and because it benefits all your other cards. Purifying Flames also seems usable in slower versions of this deck, as it guarantees a great benefit but at a high cost.
Finally, we also have Xolaani the Bloodweaver which guarantees a different win condition than Kayle's, as it increases in attack according to the amount of units that have died, not that have attacked. Against a removal deck it is her that will win you the game.
Kayle wants to play in decks that use buffs to hit her followers' Empower requirement and level her up. The first possible example is Gwen, which guarantees you to have a unit enhanced by every attack. Another candidate is Bard which got nerfed in his faster deck forms, but has a lot of potential in slow decks, especially since Empower units only need 1 chime to get their benefits.
Kayle seems very strong, starring in Midrange decks, but with access to healing through Lifesteal and Guiding Touch, so a good option against aggro. Besides creating a lot of value and protection, it is very strong against other Midranges.
Ryze, the Rune Mage
Ryze was a young apprentice to a mage called Tyrus from Helia, still at the time of the Blessed Isles. At this time, Helia tried to protect the continent by keeping and protecting artifacts and powerful magic. Because of that, Ryze ended up hearing about the Global Runes, which had great powers and were capable of a lot of destruction. As the knowledge about the Runes spread through the world, paranoia started to build among kingdoms. Ryze and his master started to travel the world trying to ease the growing tensions, but it wasn't possible.
In Ryze's native village, the conflict started. Tyrus tried to prevent nations from going into war, but it wasn't possible. He could only escape in time, with his apprentice. From afar they watched the destruction that followed. The earth and even the skies were split from the magic that was released. After that, war waged through Runeterra in a conflict called the Runic Wars. Ryze wanted to take a side in the war, but Tyrus told him the most important thing was to remediate and guide people to peace.
They traveled through a lot of places and Tyrus would try and take the runes away from the leaders, and many did agree to surrender the artifacts to him, but no one wanted to be the first to do so. Frustrated, he started to step away from Ryze and reunite with the other Archmages, which raised suspicion in the apprentice. When he confronted the master about his weird demeanor, Ryze found out that he had acquired two runes. Irritated by the leaders that were in possession of Runes, Tyrus planned to attack to retake their powers and prevent them from continuing on the destruction. Ryze tried to argue, but he made the decision to protect the world against his master, using all his magic to slay his old friend.
Ryze was horrified by his own action and reflected upon his new mission. If not even Tyrus was able to resist the power of the Runes, would he be able to? After all nations destroyed each other with the Runic Powers, Ryze set out to look for the artifacts so he could keep them safely, always afraid of falling into the temptation that they offered, but with a prolonged life due to carrying so much magic.
Ryze is a classic mage from League of Legends, having gone through many reworks, but always keep the same idea of him being a mage that casts pure magic and combos with his abilities. In his current version he has as his passive Arcane Mastery, which increases his damage according to how much mana he has and vice-versa.
His other skills are Spell Flux, which alters the function of his other target abilities and, when recast, spreads to nearby targets, Overload which throws a energy sphere which can be used again after using all other skills and can affect more than one target if Flux is active and finally Rune Prison, which reduces the target's movement speed or prevents them from movement if Flux is active. His ultimate, Realm Warp, creates an area that teleports himself and allies to another spot.
His LoR version brought some of his skills, but was built focused on the potential of the Global Runes and their devastating powers. Ryse is still a mage, with an Origin that allows for the addition of any Focus or Burst spell in his deck that doesn't have a target. That gives his region a lot of flexibility, as we have many different effects with these requirements, including all Tellstones.
His playability swirls around the spell Delve into the Past, created by his origin and by this champion being on board. The spell creates one of the five runes in hand and each of them has an effect when summoned. By playing a new rune, all others are reactivated, creating a cascade effect each time more powerful. With 3 on board, Ryze levels up and reactivates the runes when attacking. With 5 on board, Ryze wins the game when attacking, as an alternative win condition.
As a Runeterra champion, Ryze has an exclusive spell: Ryze's Realm Warp, which allows an excellent card draw, but with the negative con of discarding followers. Thankfully, Ryze's deck cares a lot more about spells, so this card draw should be excellent.
Ryze's Origin is already wide enough for it to be necessary to bring new cards, but I will list some which have a lot of potential. Firstly we have the Tellstones, maybe with Three Sisters guaranteeing protection and Piltovan Tellstones for removal and card draw, but other promising Tellstones are the Ionian Tellstones and Demacian Tellstones.
Besides them, we can include almost any card draw, with the highlight going to Eye of Nagakabouros which creates a unit and Drum Solo. Deep Meditation is an option, but with the amount of spells we have, Drum solo should work better.
As useful options we have Entreat which will be necessary in decks that go deeper into the strategy of this champion as an alternative win condition, The Unforgiving Cold if you use equipment, as it doesn't target anything, Gifts from Beyond to open up the choice of many effects and Rite of Passage to recover a Rune in case it is destroyed. It is very important to keep in mind that they can't have targets, so some wonders such as Troll Chant, Pale Cascade and Twin Disciplines can't be included.
Besides the champion itself, Ryze offers up an amazing region that is composed of many valuable spells. Because of that, he is a great match to Seraphine, which can take advantage of the diverse spells. Another option that takes advantage of a lot of spells is Master Yi, which uses the region to acquire more Flow activators, such as the Tellstones, Gifts from Beyond or the new spell Encore.
If you want to play with the alternative win condition in mind, maybe the best options are Zilean which allows for Predictions and can take advantage of Time Trick without being in Piltover&Zaun, or Viktor which will lower the cost of both Delve into the Past and the Runes themselves, besides benefiting a lot from Ryze's spells.
It's hard to say how good Ryze will be. As a region he will definitely see a lot of play, as it guarantees a lot of possibilities. But as an independent champion it might be too early to tell. But considering the old win conditions such as Fiora and The Bandle Tree, he can be something that soon we will be asking nerfs for.
The three new champions offer a lot of new stuff, but they also propose matches with cards of the past. Unfortunately it seems we don't have many interactions among the trio itself, but that also means we will see more decks being created. All points to these champions being the biggest stars of this season.
In 2023 we will once more get new cards and new champions. According to Riot, we will even have more exclusive champions such as Norra coming, so it must be a very promising year.
But what about you? What did you think of the champions? Which will you want to try out first?
Gabriel "Aerebi" Meyer
Legends of Runeterra player for the WINGS team, in love with the Runeterra universe and really like games in general, including board games. I don't play with the best decks, I play with the decks I like.