This article is the first chapter of the series of first impressions reviews of the new cards in the new set, Fates Voyage: Onward.
We'll analyze and discuss each card in Nilah's package of new cards, which was just revealed! We'll grade them from ★☆☆☆☆ (One Star) to ★★★★★ (Five Stars), considering that:
★★★★★ = Very strong card, which can appear in many different decks, and define the metagame.
★★★★☆ = Strong card, which can appear frequently in meta decks.
★★★☆☆ = Good card, which can complement a list well, and show up in certain meta decks.
★★☆☆☆ = Bad card, which can perform badly in meta decks, and should appear only in very specific lists.
★☆☆☆☆ = Very bad card. This card doesn't make any sense in any deck, and can even make a list worse in case it is included in an archetype.
Remember that my review is based on my 3-year experience competing and casting LoR grassroots tournaments and official Riot tournaments.
Nilah's Package of Cards!
Before we begin, a brief comment on the new cards.
It was thought that Nilah would be a Runeterra or Targon champion, because we already had, this year, the release of a Bilgewater champion, Jack. However, she is indeed a Bilgewater card, which can lead us to believe that it is possible one region won't get a new champion this year. We'll have to wait and see if that will indeed become true until the end of the year.
In this package of new cards, we had the introduction of two new mechanics: the Elemental "tag", and the Updraft keyword.
Elemental - Some spells and skills will get the Elemental "tag" on September 13th.
Updraft - “Shuffle a card into your deck and reduce its cost by 1.”
New Cards Analysis
Nilah - ★★★★☆
The latest champion, Nilah, has arrived in LoR as a very safe option of an aggressive unit, with defensive stats, carrying the keyword Brash. The first comparison we can draw is with Elise, which also carries those same stats, but brings with herself Fearsome, which is nothing more than Brash, only the other way around. So, we can say Nilah, if played on curve, can have a board presence similar to Elise's.
Everything indicates that the new champion archetype will focus on dealing non-lethal damage to enemy units, with the goal of making it easier for Brash units to attack the enemy Nexus. Notice that level 2 Nilah deals damage against the entire enemy board, without killing the units. This effect resolves before the enemy can block, possibly removing Brash blockers from play.
Nilah's deck archetype will be a deck filled with cheap spells, lots of card draw, and Brash units.
Slipstream - ★★★★★
This card is the one Nilah and some of her followers create in the deck. This is an extremely strong spell, because drawing two cards for just 1 cost is very strong, even if the cards drawn are fleeting.
Considering that most cards in Nilah's deck are extremely cheap, it is possible that you'll hardly ever draw unwanted cards out of this deck with this card.
Formless Blade - ★★★★★
This is Nilah's signature spell, and this card's effect basically exemplifies the new archetype's entire profile: dealing non-lethal damage to open the way for Brash units to attack.
This is the only burst speed spell in the game which deals damage to enemy units, and, for just 1 cost, I'd say that's very strong. Prize Fight was already a non-lethal damage spell which saw a reasonable amount of play, and it was fast speed.
Imagine that this card, when paired with other removal spells, creates infinite possibilities. This card might burst Nilah's archetype bubble, and will be easily played in many Control and Combo archetypes.
Vikrash The Exuberant - ★★★★☆
Elusive and Attune are two keywords which have historically matched well with each other in LoR. Considering that Nilah's archetype is full of spells, this one extra spell mana will always make a difference.
The stats in this card are fair, and its cost is as well, but the biggest icing on the cake is its effect of shuffling a Slipstream in your deck, which, as we've seen, is the main combo tool in Nilah's lists.
Wizened Helmsman - ★★★★★
This card is extremely strong. Without a shadow of a doubt, it will be present in any deck which abuses Elemental spells, which doesn't necessarily use Nilah's champion mechanics.
7 is a mana range which has been explored quite thoroughly by Riot in the latest sets, and cards such as Big Game Tycoon were very popular. It might be that Wizened Helmsman is the new trendy 7-cost card, depending on the Elemental spells which will still be released. This card can carry the entire meta alone on its back.
Playing two spells at 0 cost is an interaction which can be a bit too abusive, considering that such spells deal direct damage to the Nexus and to units, as we'll see soon.
Deluge - ★★★★☆
The cost of this spell is quite fair, and playing Deluge is an investment which can be too expensive. But, as we know today that there are spells such as Siren Song, and Spirits Unleashed, which are also expensive investments, this card might be the newest addition to this flavor of spell, the combo openers.
This card, if played, and then copied by a Wizened Helmsman, has the power of creating an unstoppable snowball in the match.
Master Lookout - ★★★☆☆
So far, this is the weakest card in the entire package of new cards which were revealed. This unit can be compared to Chip and Bristlehog, as "early game units which are granted stats until they're 3/3". Despite Master Lookout's 3/2 body, it might be better than Chip and Bristlehog, because the nature of Nilah's archetype combo really matches card draw. For that reason, it is relatively easy to fulfill the requirements of this card's effect.
Not to mention it is a unit which carries in itself the Brash keyword, which is very valuable.
Dedicant of the Challenge - ★★★★★
Another extremely strong card in Nilah's archetype, which will possibly be used in other decks.
This card is the only one so far which has brought us the Updraft effect, with which you'll shuffle cards in your hand, and reduce their cost.
Knowing that, it is possible that this card, as it Updrafts your entire hand, besides possibly being the most important card in Nilah's deck, is also a very strong unit in other combo lists.
We all know that reducing the cost of spells is a very strong interaction in LoR, so imagine that for all cards in your hand, and moreover, you'll be playing on board a gigantic unit. In the Eternal format, this card can possibly be the best card in the game, when played with Twisted Fate, and all other spells and interactions in this format.
The Tidedancer - ★★★★☆
Nilah's Boat is here!!
This card alone addresses the problem of drawing fleeting cards which you can't play because you don't have the mana for them, besides also being the deck's finisher. Which means, the archetype's own finisher, can't be discarded accidentally, can you imagine something better than that?
This card is only 4 stars because it only plays in Nilah's archetype. Otherwise, this card would easily be among one of the best in the game. Nilah's boat will be responsible for finishing the game for you, sharing attack stats with your entire board, while you play countless low-cost spells and end your opponent's whole career.
Joy Unending - ★★★★☆
This spell is also useful as the archetype's finisher, and will be that resource you'll keep in hand and only play after your very last turn, when you want to finish the game.
Wildfire - ★★★☆☆
In this card reveal, we had the presence of Wildfire to show players what is possible to have with Elemental spells outside Bilgewater.
We're still without a region to pair with Nilah's archetype, and Noxus might just be one of the great contenders after we see what this spell does.
This interaction of increasing the spell's damage is quite interesting, considering this card's cost. It might be the newest combo identity for Noxus for the beginning of this new season.
If you read this far, now you know everything about my first impressions of the new cards of Nilah's package.
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