Legends of Runeterra

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Legends of Runeterra: All the Boats!

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In this article, we'll discuss every card that is considered a "boat" in LoR: that means, any card that draws specific champions. I'll tell you why these units are "boats", and also some facts about each Runeterra boat.

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Introduction

Today, we'll discuss an extremely iconic theme in Runeterra: boats.

In LoR, a "boat" is the name we give to any card that draws a specific champion.

The term "boat" was inspired by the first cards in the game with this effect, which were actual boats for the respective champions they drew. With time, Riot added other cards that drew champions and weren't necessarily actual boats, but we call them "boats" anyway!

In this article, I listed all the "boats" in the game, and brought you a few interesting facts about each one of them!

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The First Boats - The OG Boats

The concept of "boat" came up in the "Rising Tides" expansion, which gave us the 4 original LoR boats. This set also brought Bilgewater to the game as a new region, and, with it, new themes, like Pirates and, consequently, boats.

The Dreadway

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This is one of the most classic boats in the entire game because it was an essential card in combo and some aggressive decks during LoR's first years.

Its artwork shows The Dreadway battling another boat at night. You can see just how massive it is, with its black sails, and the hole below its prow that gives space to two giant cannons. All of this makes this ship just monstrous.

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The Dreadway was the main star in many OTK combos throughout the history of the game, mainly with Commander Ledros as its pair. Their effects complement each other perfectly, and deal the damage you need to finish the game exactly.

The most significant difference from this card to other boats is that most players didn't use it because of its draw effect; instead, they focused on its other effect, which doubles the damage you deal to your enemies. This means there were many The Dreadway decks in the history of LoR, but not with Gangplank.

The Leviathan

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This might be the most played boat of all time. Its artwork shows how massive this ship is as well, docked somewhere in Ionia. We can see many Citybreaker coming out of The Leviathan, and, around them, a small village that was built by the ship's sailors and soldiers.

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The Leviathan is probably the most complete boat of all of them because, besides drawing Swain, its Burn effect is also incredibly strong. Besides this, the fact it deals damage to the enemy Nexus directly complements all Swain decks really well, and is, most times, your main source of "non-combat damage dealt to the enemy Nexus" in decks with him.

As it is one of the most important cards in its lists, The Leviathan is, to this day, one of the most influential boats in the entire game. With Swain, it carries, on its back, the entire Noxus Control archetype.

The Tuskraider

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Sejuani's boat is quite unpopular nowadays. Its artwork shows all Sejuani's, the Warmother of the Winter's Claw, followers.

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This card was played for a very short amount of time in the first Sejuani lists that focused on increasing its units stats, right after "Rising Tides" was released.

After that, "+1/+1" archetypes evolved and moved away from Sejuani. They also became too fast to need an 8-mana card. So, you didn't need The Tuskraider anymore because it was just extremely slow.

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Its effect is quite interesting, but difficult to use nowadays. Even more so because Plunder and "+1/+1" archetypes have parted their ways a long time ago. Currently, "Plunder" decks are almost burn aggro combo decks, and "+1/+1" decks evolved into Elder Dragon lists with Warden of the Tribes that focus on units with subtypes.

The Syren

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Miss Fortune's boat is another classic boat that was forgotten with time. Its artwork shows Miss Fortune's entire crew sailing across the Bilgewater seas as they shoot their cannons at an unknown target.

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Unlike other boats, this card saw almost no play at all, and was only in a few unoptimized versions of the Scouts archetype.

Other than that, we didn't see any popular lists with The Syren, which is a pity because it has one of the best artworks in the entire game, and its effect is quite fun and dynamic.

Buffing how much damage your abilities deal seems fantastic nowadays, as we have cards like Jhin and Annie to support this idea. But, in practice, The Syren struggles with the same issues as The Tuskraider: it is too slow and expensive, and also doesn't do much for the lists it could be in.

The Syren also has one of the best keywords in the game, and the price it pays for having Scout is its terrible stats. They make it nearly impossible to block or keep any board pressure if you play it on curve. The Syren is a 7-mana card that has just 3 attack power, and that's ridiculously low nowadays.

Maybe it would be viable and see play again if we removed its Scout and increased its stats.

Modern Boats

Let's see the modern "boats" that carried on the legacy of still being actual boats and aren't the 4 original boats.

The King's Court

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Released in "Glory in Navori", The King's Court is Jack's boat. Its artwork shows it coming out from the bottom of the sea and docking in an Ionian port. Additionally, its description states that this is, actually, a submarine, as its crew also breathes underwater like Jack himself.

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This card was essential for Impact Tristana Gnar lists in a certain competitive season in LoR: this archetype was the strongest in the entire game then. These lists took advantage of the fact an Impact unit deals Impact damage if you Strike with it as you attack, by using, for instance, several Prize Fights during combat.

Other than that, The King's Court was only popular in Jack Sett lists, which, unfortunately, spent too long as too weak to be playable, and were only considered "meta" very recently.

In any case, The King's Court is an extremely iconic card that is brought back from time to time when Tristana archetypes become meta competitively again.

The Tidedancer

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Introduced in "Fate's Voyage", The Tidedancer is Nilah's boat. Its artwork shows Nilah sailing on The Tidedancer through incredibly hostile waters. This boat has parachute-shaped sails that are vibrant purple, blue, and yellow. It also has 6 visible keels that apparently make it very buoyant, and make it possible for its shell to float entirely above the water.

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This card was in and out of Nilah Janna archetypes for some time, until we got to the "Fate's Voyage" Eternal competitive season. This entire archetype was nerfed, and The Tidedancer was once again popular in its Twisted Fate version.

In versions that focus more on drawing cards and playing lots of them at once, The Tidedancer really stands out. It is even one of the best finishers in these lists because it will give all your units tons of stats.

Currently, Nilah Janna decks are too weak for Standard, and that's why we don't really see much of The Tidedancer around. However, you can be sure that, in Eternal competitive seasons, this card tends to shine much more.

The Kingfisher

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Also released in the Fate's Voyage set, The Kingfisher is every champion's boat. This card embraces the boat "meme", and shows us that Riot knows we call this type of card that way. They brought us a "super boat" that draws all the champions in our deck.

Its artwork features a beautiful Demacian sail boat with white details, probably made with petricite. We can see King Jarvan III standing on it, and, if we look at this boat's name again, it's clear that this is the Demacian's King's fishing boat.

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This was one of the most "hyped up" cards in this entire set, but gave us very little during this season itself. The Kingfisher currently only plays in Elder Dragon lists with Volibear and Braum that focus on ramping mana and playing Titanic units with Sigil of the Storms.

Other than that, we haven't seen much of this card in action throughout this year, and it still needs to prove itself as a finisher. Even more so because Volibear lists aren't that popular or strong right now.

Boats "at Home"

Let's see all champion boats that aren't boats at all; they're someone or "something" that draws you a specific champion.

King Jarvan III

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King Jarvan III was the first boat released to the game that wasn't actually a boat, in the "Empire of the Ascended" set. Its artwork shows us King Jarvan III himself receiving a banner from Penitent Squire. In the background, we can see Tianna Crownguard, Cithria, Lady of Clouds, and Xin Zhao, which, to this day, hasn't been released in Legends of Runeterra.

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King Jarvan III wasn't that popular, and very few players actually explored him during competitive metas. He is a bit too redundant for Demacia archetypes, and was only needed in lists that focused specifically on Jarvan IV and played Shen.

As Jarvan IV is a support champion, we hardly ever focus on him when we build our decks, and, as a result, we don't really need to draw him as fast as possible. This makes King Jarvan III a bit useless, and, as his other effect is quite specific, he was quickly forgotten.

King Jarvan III's effect is a "win more condition", namely a conditional effect that only works if you're already winning the game that helps you win more games, and usually isn't popular among players.

Albus Ferros

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In the "Beyond the Bandlewood" set, we got Albus Ferros as Jayce's boat. Its artwork shows us Albus Ferros speaking to Ferros Financier, probably discussing their business, as Jayce watches on in the background. Albus Ferros' clothes are quite peculiar; they have many extravagant features, like shoulder pads with mini sculptures of Piltovan workers.

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Albus Ferros was once one of the most popular boats because he was one of the best finishers in all of Piltover & Zaun. He was very popular in Heimerdinger Jayce lists, which were meta-defining during LoR's competitive seasons through a whole year.

Nowadays, Albus Ferros is an important card in the combo with Malmutation, which just stresses how important this unit is as one of Piltover & Zaun's main finishers.

Windswept Hillock

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In the "Worldwalker" set, we got Windswept Hillock, Yasuo's boat - which is the only boat that is a landmark. Its artwork shows a house on top of a very tall hill, completely isolated. This is probably a safe place for Yasuo to train on, or just, as its description states, find some peace.

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This is one of the most influential boats of all time because it was an attempt to revive one of the game's champions, and was successful. Yasuo is one of the most iconic characters in the entire League of Legends universe, but, in LoR, he has always been weak and rarely saw any competitive play. Windswept Hillock changed all of that for Yasuo's archetypes. It took some time until his lists stabilized, but now, with the 2024 rotation, he is meta!

Yasuo lists have never been stronger, and are now part of ranked queues and competitive tournaments. This is a "tier 2" deck that focuses on winning specific matchups, and most of its strength and popularity comes from Windswept Hillock.

Shadow

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Shadow is the most recently released card in this list, as it came out in "Dreamlit Paths" as Vex's boat. Its artwork shows Shadow scaring all the Yordles at Vex's birthday party while she Glares at them.

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This unit went by relatively unnoticed when we first saw the "Dreamlit Paths" cards and reviewed them - it mostly got below-average ratings. Well, as it happens, Shadow is actually an extremely strong boat, and can be considered a 5 out of 5 stars, meta-defining unit.

It is currently the strongest boat in the game, and also a finisher for Vex lists. It is also critical for any Vex archetype because it draws her.

Pseudo Boat - Draven's Biggest Fan

Draven's Biggest Fan is the oldest card in this list, as he belongs to the Foundations set. He isn't exactly a boat because he doesn't draw Draven, he just moves Draven to the top of your deck, but most of the community calls him Draven's boat anyway. Its artwork shows a boy pretending to be Draven in front of a mirror, using similar clothes, and there's a poster of Draven in the background as well.

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This card was vital and very popular throughout LoR's history. Draven was also one of the most influential and popular champions in the entire game for a long time, and practically all of his decks used at least one copy of Draven's Biggest Fan.

If you drew this card on the first two turns, you'd always be able to "fix" your hand and have Draven on turn 3. Keep in mind that Draven was the best 3-drop in the entire game until Shurima came along with Azir and Irelia. This means that, for a long time, the best play you could make was playing Draven on turn 3 and dominating the game.

Discard lists, combo decks, and many other archetypes played Draven and his boat, which makes this card one of the most popular cards in this list as well.

Final Words

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If you read this far, thank you! I hope you had fun and enjoyed reading this article.

Don't forget to share.

See you next time!