As usual, any time there is a new set, or new cards in Legends of Runeterra, I come here to give them my grading and unwrap some of my thoughts about them.
Each card will get a grade from ★☆☆☆☆ (1 star) to ★★★★★ (5 stars).
★★★★★ = Very strong card; will be played in many decks, and will probably be meta-defining.
★★★★☆ = Strong card; will be great in an archetype or two.
★★★☆☆ = Good card; will be played in a specific deck.
★★☆☆☆ = Bad card; will most likely perform badly or be mediocre in a specific archetype.
★☆☆☆☆ = Very bad card; won't bring anything new to the game, and won't be included in any archetype.
PSA: all grades are based on my opinion, and on my experience playing and casting LoR.
New Cards Assessment: Patch 4.6.0
Before we begin our grading, I need to introduce to you the new mechanics and keywords which will be released in the game. They are:
This new keyword is part of Nidalee's pack of follower cards. Basically, each ally with Ambush can be played on board using 2 mana, but this ally always comes in without any special effects, as a vanilla 2/2 unit, if played this way.
When an ally is played this way, they come on board in the shape of a Shadow in the Brush, and creates a spell in hand, with a cost equivalent to the number linked to the keyword Ambush described in the card.
This spell, when played, automatically transforms your Shadow in the Brush into the card of which the spell is linked to, that is, the card which you transformed into a Brush.
Example: Nidalee costs 4 mana and has Ambush 2. You can play her on board as a Shadow in the Brush for 2 mana, and will get a 2 cost spell in hand to transform your Brush into a Nidalee.
The Transform spell attributed to your Brush is obliterated from your hand as soon as the Brush leaves the board, in case it is destroyed or obliterated as well.
You can only play from your hand one Shadow in the Brush at a time.
In case you copy a Shadow in the Brush on board, you won't get another spell attributed to the card in the brush, and only one of the Brushes on board will transform into the unit in case you play the transformation spell. The other one will remain as a vanilla 2/2 unit without any effects.
I'll make sure to show each transformation spell, and the cards which they are linked too, even though each of these spells, in theory, are part of the same card, but with a different cost. They have different artworks that match the follower to which they are paired with.
This keyword, for now, is only attributed to the new champion, Neeko. Neeko secretly transforms into another unit before she enters the board. The before part is very important, because, in LoR, the Transform mechanic is one of the most complex interactions in game.
Usually, transformed units can't perform Play or Summon effects, but, Neeko goes around that rule, because she transforms before she enters the board. This means play and summon effects work as usual with the Disguise keyword.
The identity of the Disguised unit isn't revealed until it leaves play or levels up.
★★★☆☆ - This unit, despite having received lots of support in this and the latest expansions, and having strong defensive stats, doesn't have what it takes to carry an archetype. This unit would only be better if it had Overwhelm.
I don't believe the archetype which it fits into is competitive enough to be meta, or see any play, at the moment.
Anura & Froop
★★★☆☆ - Cost reduction effects, in general, are very strong in LoR, but this unit possibly goes into the category of followers which needed to be nerfed before they ever were released into the game. And, as a result, it came into the game with very bad stats.
This card is categorized as an engine follower, and most of these kinds of units have 3 health points or more, such as Ballistic Bot, Herald of Dragons, and even Cosmic Youngling. For that reason, I believe this unit can even be good in the Neeko archetype, but will probably be a bit too mediocre.
★★★★☆ - This monument will certainly be surprising, and can be a great tool to neutralize aggressive lists.
This card, in Control lists, can win the game by itself when you only need one more turn, for instance, to level up your Karma, or when you only need one turn to make your combo happen.
I believe it will take some time to fit this landmark in decks, but this card will surely be a great anti-Aggro tool.
★★☆☆☆ - This spell, unfortunately, isn't interesting, because currently it is way too easy to deal with big units or single threats in the game. Even if you play a 6/6 follower on turn 3, it is still possible it gets hit with a Vengeance or a stun.
Besides, even if your opponent doesn't have any removal tools, you'll probably give them time enough to develop an extensive board, which will be declaring a lot of damage to your Nexus soon.
★★★★☆ - This unit is incredible, and matches the Hallowed archetype really well. This follower has an effect way too strong to be ignored, and surely a well-built deck to make him work may be competitive eventually.
What helps this card is the fact that it is in Noxus, which is the strongest region in the game currently, and has many tools and spells that make it easier for Captain Kalrix to hit the enemy Nexus. Keep an eye out for red Gwen lists, because that archetype might reappear from the ashes.
That happens because Annie's archetype is too fast to have time to equip such a tool on one of its units, without losing their game rhythm. That deck is too dynamic and works in between enemy development pauses to fit their stuns. For that reason, the Tome might be too slow for that list.
★★★★☆ - This unit can be a great tool to stabilize the mid-turns in archetypes that abuse units with different subtypes. This follower has very fair stats and an equally fair mana cost.
For that reason, I believe that card will be a very safe addition to the next decks which will benefit from these new subtype mechanics.
The Poro King
★★★★★ - The Poro King is LoR's newest exclusive champion. And you can be sure it will be extremely strong.
In the latest sets and Patch Notes, there was always a Poro card, or a card that supports the Poro archetype, being added to the game. So, it was to be expected that one time or another this deck would be playable.
For that reason, with the arrival of a Poro champion, which already belongs to a deck that is almost mostly built, the grade this champion must get can't be lower than the maximum of 5 stars.
This archetype will be incredibly consistent and filled with strong, gigantic, and very cheap units. Apparently, it is way too easy to raise your Poros' stats, and many cards from this archetype either create or draw them as well, bringing a lot of consistency to this strategy.
Possibly, this list will be very alike what we have nowadays with Yetis, but better, and will definitely be competitive.
★★★★☆ - Neeko arrives in Runeterra bringing very different ways to deckbuild, and new ways to approach the Midrange theme.
Possibly, the Neeko deck will be very unique, diverse, and will also do a bit of everything. The range of cards that can go into her list is gigantic, and there are many combos possible with this new champion.
For that reason, it is easy to say she will probably be very playable, and even competitive. But, it won't be possible to give a grade higher than 4 stars for this champion, once it isn't quite clear yet the deck she fits into, and which is the best way to build that list.
But, even then, I should reaffirm that the Neeko deck will possibly work in a very dynamic way and with several different tools that can easily adapt into any meta. It is very likely that this champion also plays as a side-character to another list or archetype which is already solidified in the meta.
★★★★★ - This card is another Ionia spell that arrives in the game to end the happiness of Aggro players. It comes in as a glove in Ryze archetypes, as that champion lost one of its main spells in rotation, Deep Meditation.
★★★★★ - This card is outstanding and can be the card that will define the meta of this expansion. This unit secretly chooses a spell in your opponent's hand or deck and creates a 1 cost spell that exclusively prevents the chosen spell. That is way too strong in combo matchups, and even against aggressive decks.
This card is too strong and can get nerfed in a nearby future.
★★★★☆ - Nidalee arrives in Runeterra with a new keyword, and unique mechanics, but with effects which are not as interesting.
Though the Ambush mechanic is super interesting, I don't believe this champion's archetype will be that strong. Possibly, forcing a Nidalee deck with her followers won't be very competitive, and, for that reason, I believe this champion will probably play as a side-character in another list that benefits from summoning allies, such as some Norra deck, for instance.
Anyhow, Nidalee is a versatile champion with respectable stats, owner of a mechanic that can benefit players who can bluff well.
★★★★☆ - This is one of the few Nidalee followers that can carry the Ambush archetype on its back. This unit can come in on turn 2, as a Fearsome follower which, if it hits the enemy Nexus, summons a 3/1 unit. And that is extremely strong.
Probably, the existence of this follower in the meta will force players to bring Fearsome blockers in their decks again, or reinforce the use of cheap removal spells, such as Mystic Shot and High Note, in Control lists.
★★★★☆ - This spell is an auto-include in Ambush lists, and other Shurima decks that can benefit from the effect of Ambush followers. This card has a range of unit creation which is very reduced, and, for that reason, it is possibly very consistent in choosing always the Ambush follower you want.
★★★★☆ - This is another strong spell that will help the Ambush archetype, so it can solidify itself in the meta. It is a cheap and simple combat trick that will work as your main defense for your Shadow in the Brush.
★★★★★ - This card is incredibly strong, and can be the most competitive card in Nidalee's entire archetype, because this follower can even play outside Ambush lists, and be one of the best Midrange tools to stop enemy threats, be them from Control or aggressive decks.
This follower, besides everything, has Spellshield, and can hardly be removed from the board.
★★☆☆☆ - This unit will probably be one of the most forgotten ones in the Ambush archetype, just because there are so many better units in Shurima that can do the same as it does, but better, such as the spells Exhaust and Ruthless Predator.
★★★☆☆ - I believe this unit will be quite situational, and will only work as an option to guarantee you two blockers at burst speed. Aside from that, this follower is pretty mediocre and will possibly be played, at most, as a one-off in Ambush lists.
★★★☆☆ - This is another mediocre card in the Ambush archetype which can be extremely situational.
Its problem is that, as much as it is wonderful, depending on how the match is going, a possible weakness of this archetype might be card draw. And, for that reason, it won't be as consistent to always have the Ambush you want, at the exact time you want it. Hence, Ambush cards which are good on their own are much more competitive, and this is certainly not one of them.
★★☆☆☆ - Another mediocre landmark arriving in Runeterra. As much as the Transform mechanic has gotten a lot of support in this latest expansion, I don't think it is enough for this landmark to see any play. And certainly the spells which give Vulnerable to enemies, already quoted in this article, will remain better options for you to bring in your Ambush list.
★★★★☆ - This must be the card that will serve as main win condition for the Ambush archetype, aside from Nidalee herself. The Overwhelm keyword might be the main tool to make the bluff element which Ambush brings be competitive. And, as a result, it is possible that this card can win many games by transforming itself during an attack and dealing a lot of damage out of nowhere.
★★☆☆☆ - This unit is too weak, and probably won't see play. The Transform mechanic isn't as consistent as this card wants it to be, and won't allow you to play this unit on curve.
If this was a 2/2 follower, it might even see play. But the problem is that you'd rather spend your mana in other ways in the archetype that this would play, instead of simply summoning a 1/2.
Big Game Tycoon
★★★☆☆ - This is a unit which is too expensive, but it does have a very strong effect. So, you can expect that this follower will win some games, but will probably not be consistent in the least.
It is very hard to give a grade higher than 3 stars for this card as it is a follower which has stats that are too low for a 7 cost unit. But, it might be a value generation card that can double the stats of one of your units, and that can turn a few matches in your favor.
The Swindler’s Den
★★☆☆☆ - This card is very weird, and can even be sort of incredible, but only in the Eternal format. In Standard, we no longer have the resources which support this card enough to make it work, such as Twisted Fate. And, as a result, this card doesn't fit in any of the combo decks currently in the format, in no way whatsoever.
★★★★☆ - This little kitty can be an auto-include card in Neeko lists, and can be one of the cards which will represent well the whole archetype of different subtype followers.
This card, by itself, can create a lot of value, both early or end game, and will certainly be a very safe choice to add to your competitive Neeko deck. Another very important factor is how this card can potentially be played in other Bilgewater Control lists, which can benefit from this value generation, but don't want to bring Neeko. Such as, for instance, any Jack list.
Dragon Prince Grinzo
★☆☆☆☆ - Unfortunately, the 1 cost unit archetype doesn't benefit from having a follower which refills mana and is a 2 cost unit. This unit is very weird, as it is a Dragon in Bilgewater, without Fury, and with Attune. This card is maybe the worst card in the whole new set. It doesn't come into any archetype and doesn't add anything good in no deck that exists currently.
★★★★☆ - This card is much welcomed in the 1-cost unit archetype. The Aatrox Xolaani deck was almost a very high-tier competitive list, and all that is missing for it to reach that status is a little push to make it just a bit more consistent. This card may be the key that will open the doors to make this list see play again.
Temple to True Ice
★★★☆☆ - This landmark has a problem, which is: it doesn't match the Freljord units which are in the Standard format currently all that well.
But, it matches the Noxian units a lot, and can even be an interesting addition, when paired with a Trifarian Gloryseeker, and some of Riven's followers. But, even then, it can end up a very mediocre and inconsistent card, though it has good synergy with Noxus.
★★★★☆ - This bird can be what was missing to bring back Plunder Overwhelm archetypes into the meta. Some low-cost Freljord cards really match this unit, such as Tusk Speaker. Even elusive units, such as Fizz and Father Fury, can benefit from this effect.
Ingvar the Younger
★★★★☆ - Ingvar will be a great card, but will probably only be played in Poro archetypes. Aside from that, in the Eternal format, it might see play in Iceborn Spiders lists.
We'll hardly see this card be consistent and good outside these decks.
★★★★☆ - This card can be a strong addition in Elite archetypes, as it is no longer necessary to build that deck thinking about the Allegiance mechanic. It might also work for the simple reason that Freljord has been courting Demacia for a while in the meta, as the Udyr Galio lists, which were being played in the last meta, show.
This card can be very consistent, and it is very welcomed to the Freljord region, which is in desperate need of good cards.
★☆☆☆☆ - "A good spider doesn't cost more than 4 mana", as Istivi would say, a great Aggro player and first player in the Americas to reach Master in Eternal last season.
This card is too expensive, and is part of an archetype which was rotated. The Burn Shadow Isles list doesn't exist anymore. Not to mention, the stats on this card are terrible for an 8 mana unit.
★★★★☆ - This small spider can come in as a glove in Neeko lists, and will definitely be one of the safest additions in this archetype. But, I don't think this spider alone will be able to relive the spider archetype, and I believe this card will be played exclusively in Control and Midrange lists.
★★★★☆ - After the nerfs, the Gwen archetypes stopped seeing play, but, in this expansion, many cards can help bring these decks back to life. This card is one of them.
Definitely, the Gwen lists would benefit a lot from having this equipment, once decks with that champion have their game speed a bit reduced, opening up space for these slower plays.
Age of Dragons
★★★☆☆ - This card is great, and can, by itself, end many matches. The greatest problem with it is that Dragons haven't been that great lately. I believe only the champion Aurelion Sol would benefit from this effect in an excellent way.
Another factor that makes this card quite weak is the number of negations that exist in the game currently, and the fact that Ionia is in the meta. That means, you'll probably not be able to play this card ever in the competitive format for as long as Ionia is strong.
★☆☆☆☆ - This unit doesn't make sense. There isn't a card in the Targon region that matches this effect, and the only deck that benefits from the Recall effect, also doesn't play paired with this region.
★★★★☆ - This equipment might just be what the Mechayordles needed to come back into seeing play. Some discard decks are already orbiting the meta, and they certainly can benefit from this card a lot too.
The greatest reason why it is extremely strong is because it is a card that is a target of discard effects that can be recycled back into your hand. The greatest difficulty of these discard lists is because they lose a lot of value after you discard something out of your hand, and this card at least makes you not lose your discard activator as you do it.
★★★★☆ - This unit is extremely consistent and comes in as a glove in Norra lists. This deck needed strong 4 cost units for a while now. After Aloof Travelers were rotated out, the deck ended up using a more aggressive approach by using Yordle Captain.
This card allows for that list to come back into playing more reactively, and have more consistency in its portals.
★★★☆☆ - Though this card works pretty well in Bandle City, and is a great target for the Condense spell, I don't think this unit will be that strong, and it might end up a rather mediocre addition to the Neeko archetype. This card is, possibly, too expensive, and only time will tell if it will truly see play.
★★★☆☆ - This card might be incredible, or horrible. There isn't a middle-ground for it. Even though all of us will obviously build our lists considering activating the effect of this card consistently, it is still very hard to make it work every time.
The new landmark, Altar to Unity, can really help this follower see play, but, even then, this card isn't good on its own, and when a card isn't good on its own in Demacia, it usually doesn't see play.
★★☆☆☆ - This unit suffers from a very big problem. The Control and value archetypes in Demacia were rotated. And, as a result, it is currently not recommended to play slower lists in this region.
This card wants to play very slowly, and it might just be too weird to work even in Neeko lists.
Another great factor is that, Demacia spells, in general, are very weak, or very expensive, and will usually not make a difference on the turn in which this card is played.
★★★★★ - This card is maybe the best card in the whole expansion. This card plays in all Demacia decks, and can, by itself, be responsible for pushing out Seraphine or Nami combo lists out of the meta, along with other lists which benefit from small spells, the "Spellslinger" lists.
This unit is very strong, with an extremely cheap cost, not to mention its stats are good as well. There aren't any faults with this unit, and it can be the next Runeterra meta's big card.
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If you've read this far, now you know absolutely everything about the new cards in the Heart of the Huntress expansion.
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