As usual, we'll analyze and comment on the new cards which will come to the game with the Variety Patch 4.5.0.
This kind of update intends to bring new ideas to Runeterra, as well as reinforce certain archetypes. It might even bring solutions to problematic metas without the need of nerfing or buffing cards. Most changes are made through adding new cards to the game, and, in this article, I'll comment on each of those cards and the possible impact they might have on Runeterra in the next few days.
Each card will be graded from ★☆☆☆☆ (one star) to ★★★★★ (five stars):
★☆☆☆☆ = Terrible card, there is no reason to include this card in any deck.
★★☆☆☆ = A bad card that only works in specific situations in specific archetypes.
★★★☆☆ = Good card, but only in specific situations.
★★★★☆ = Very good card which works in more than one deck.
★★★★★ = Extremely good card, possibly an "autoinclude" in most decks.
New Cards from the Variety Patch 4.5.0
Before we being, I need to say: besides new cards, some cards in the game, including the new cards, will get new subtypes. We will now have cards which are *Cats, Dogs, Reptiles and Birds.
This card, as much as it is interesting in aggressive lists, is a tool that doesn't fit the current state of Aggro decks in the game currently all that well. After rotation, aggressive lists went through a review when it comes to how "aggression" is interpreted in the game itself.
Today, in the Standard format, Aggro decks are very dynamic and have interactive elements to converse with the enemy board, when compared to old lists from the Eternal format. Blowback intends to be this spell which puts pressure and also acts as a removal, but, with the cost of discarding up to two cards to deal the damage declared by the card.
And there is where the problem lies: currently, lists that benefit from discarding cards don't take advantage of this slower and responsive game style. This card would match well a Big Discard archetype such as Sion, which we know is very hard to work currently, as most support cards from this archetype were rotated.
What was left of Discard in Standard is what we see today in Jinx and Samira lists, which are extremely fast decks. The mana cost of this card is too heavy for the current discard archetype, and, for that reason, this card won't see as much play as it could see.
The Captain came to stay. This card goes in aggressive decks as a win condition and a very strong unit. Currently, aggressive strategies can very easily activate Plunder most turns, and, as a result, I believe it is even quite easy to benefit from this Captain's effect.
Besides, it Improvises, which means, you'll be bringing into the board, for free, an equipment and a keyword which can change the course of the game.
Captain Indari can share many stats, both offensive and defensive, to all allied followers on board, and also get a keyword which can be an extra win condition. There are just a few answers in the game which are efficient when compared to this card, as Vengeance isn't enough, once you'll be sharing your win condition across the board, instead of concentrating it on a single card.
As a result, good removals against Captain Indari are spells that affect the whole enemy board, which in turn are quite expensive, as it is the case of The Ruination. I believe this card will be in many aggressive Plunder archetypes, and also Midrange lists which benefit from taking Noxus as their region.
I need to state that this card's grade is low currently because she is currently the only card in its subtype. In the next set, however, its grade can go up, and by a lot.
Riot is bringing alongside this variety pack the new subtypes in units, and we can expect to see these subtypes being further explored in the next set.
But, as of now, this card belongs to an archetype that doesn't exist yet, and certainly, there isn't much support to make it work currently. That's why I believe Royal Shimmerwing won't see play until next month, when possibly the idea of a Bird archetype will be strong in the game, in fact.
This follower is by far the hardest to assess in the new package. In theory, it is a strong card that works well with any deck that benefits from summoning units, but, the problem is that, currently, Ionia isn't a region which is focused on doing that.
Possibly, the Coin mechanic will always be a much more consistent concept for the region, and will constantly steal the spotlight from any other archetype that tries to sprout from it. As a result, I think this card will go into oblivion as soon as it releases, particularly because the focus of the big portion of players, particularly competitive, will probably not be interested in betting on an aggressive board strategy in a Control region.
Even then, I believe it is a unit that has a lot of potential, and in some late stage of a meta, it might come up as a main win condition in a deck, as so many other forgotten cards have done in the past.
This card has an effect which historically is not well-explored in Runeterra, and, in general, players tend to shy away from cards which have "Random" written on them.
But, Perfidious Promoter comes in as a blessing in the current meta, which is filled with Coin interactions. As it is relatively easy to activate its effect, or benefit from it, I believe this card will be a very happy addition to Control and value lists that bring Bilgewater. We're talking decks such as Jack Seraphine, or Jack Sett, and even Nami lists. All those can benefit from Promoter.
Bilgewater is also in the need of 4 cost units which are strong and have a board presence. One of the weaknesses in this region is the lack of solid stats in its units, and this card brings a certain safety regarding that, as it carries a body with 4 points of health and attack for 4 mana.
Freljord is going through bad times, and Blacksmith can be the answer to drag this region out of the mud. This card has everything a current Midrange Freljord deck wants.
Besides healing your Nexus, you'll be placing on board a unit which brings an equipment which will be recycled among your units. This style of play is quite modern and converses well with the current deck states which this region supports, and, for that reason, there is no point in not using it in most Freljord lists.
It is a follower with a simple, direct, and impactful effect on the game, and I believe its mana cost isn't high for what this card tries to do. As Freljord desperately needs good cards, Blacksmith won't have problems with retiring some cards that are currently not performing all that well in Freljord lists.
Unfortunately, Shadow Isles has gone through a very incisive review after rotation and now there are no longer aggressive decks which bring the colors of this region. Drawing cards by killing units each turn is an investment which doesn't pay as well nowadays, considering that in this region there are much more efficient ways of drawing cards which don't include Grave Companion.
This follower has very odd stats and a very high mana cost, and units with constant effect tend to be strong only if the cards that combo with their effects are also strong. For that reason, Grave Companion will never enable an archetype on its own; it will always need to be enabled by an archetype instead.
As currently the archetype which summons units and constantly kills them is in no need for a card such as Companion, this card will probably go into limbo very soon.
This card is strong, and very dangerous. This spell is too cheap with an extremely strong effect. Copying units has always been a usable tool in Runeterra, and before it was very common to use cards such as Iterative Improvement in Piltover&Zaun lists, even as a value-based defensive resource in Control decks.
Bandlecity is now allowed to have that resource as well, with the added effect that the generated copy will cost only 1 mana, and there are countless strong followers on their own just for their effects, with no need to have actual stats. We're talking The Rekindler, Ixtali Sentinel, Albus Ferros, Ferros Financier, Conchologist, and many others.
The combo possibilities with this card are endless, and its consistency can be very worrying. Possibly, this spell alone will be responsible for bringing back this region's unstoppable strength when it comes to value resource generation in their lists.
Only time will tell how relevant this card will really be in the meta, but I can affirm with certainty that this card will possibly define the meta in Patch 4.5.0.
Scholar is possibly the new face of Targon, and this card seals completely the permanence of Pantheon lists in the meta. This follower resolves many problems that Pantheon lists had when they lost their units in combat or through removals: the lack of eminent value. Now, you can recycle all you want your spells and fill your hand with resources in case your board is eventually solved.
This card escapes the grading metrics I stipulated at the beginning of the article a bit, as I don't believe Sacrificial Scholar will be played in lists other than Pantheon decks. But I'm sure it will be the most important card in that deck, besides Pantheon, of course.
Altar to Unity
I spent a long time trying to evaluate this card fairly, and trying to think of reasons to not give such a low grade to this Demacia landmark. But I reached a sad conclusion: really, there is no other grade for this card unless it's the lowest possible grade.
Unfortunately, Altar to Unity is one of the worst cards in Demacia. To better understand why, I need you to pay attention to this card's effect, because it is a bit confusing:
"When I'm summoned, draw a unit. When you summon an ally, grow its stats to equal its cost."
That means the units can only grow UNTIL their cost, which means, a 4 mana unit, will only grow until it has 4 health or attack, if this same unit has another stat which is lower than 4 health or attack.
But, if we stop to analyze and observe Demacia units, the great majority of them have stats which are already identical to their mana cost, or even bigger. For that reason, this landmark only truly works if you pair Demaica with some other region that suffers from the lack of consistent stats, such as Ionia, Targon or Bilgewater. But, even then, paying 4 mana to have this effect, which can only work well in a limited number of cards that we can count on our own two hands in full, isn't interesting.
That is why, even if you build a list which makes this card work, it won't work consistently, and will hardly be a win condition.
That is without mentioning that playing a landmark usually makes you lose a turn immediately. To sum up, I could be here all day giving more reasons to reaffirm and assure you this card is terrible, and why it deserves such a low grade, and why it could be a strong contender for the title of "worst card in the game".
If you've read this far, now you're ready for the Variety Patch 4.5.0!
If you liked this article, don't forget to share and comment on social media. Don't forget to leave in the comments which will be the first card you'll test as soon as the patch comes out!