Legends of Runeterra Patch 0.9.4 Discussion
Patch 0.9.4 is the final patch of the open beta of Legends of Runeterra, and with it comes some pretty serious changes. We can look forward to buffs to some of our personal favorite cards/champions: Draven, Katerina, and Yasuo! Expeditions are going to get tweaked, and some UI changes as well. As always, we’re here to help you get a leg up on what’s on the way in the next big update for Riot’s latest card game.
Patch 0.9.4 Card Changes
Riot’s focused on tying up some loose ends in the balance end of things, as well as some improvements of card clarity, nerfs, and champion adjustments. They want players to be excited about new champions coming up, but also want them to keep using the cards that came before. Some interesting changes are coming.
While they’re happy where Noxus is as a faction/region, in terms of card usage, the Noxian champions are sadly under-utilized. That accounts for the Katerina and Draven changes, at least. I already thought Draven was pretty good. Katerina I used, but she didn’t do a lot in the deck other than let me swing every turn. She didn’t feel very impactful.
Draven: No, not Draven. Draaaaaaaaven! Patch 0.9.4 for Legends of Runeterra sees some changes, and for the better. Draven now levels up when striking with two Axes at the same time! This will make leveling up Draven significantly easier, and far more enjoyable. His playrate has been pretty low and only used in certain strategies (Jinx-discard, for example). They want players to have more windows to use Draven and his annoying spinning axes. So what does it do now?
- Level-Up: I’ve struck twice with a [Spinning Axe] -> I’ve struck with two total [Spinning Axe].
It may seem like a small thing, but the ability to level him up in one play is very smart and will make Draven far more enjoyable to utilize overall. I’m hoping it will make him more viable, perhaps in Noxus aggro decks, instead of just being a discard machine.
Katarina: The whirling dervish of death is not quite the same in Legends of Runeterra as she is in League of Legends. In League, she hard carries all on her own, with nothing to stop her. One of the major downsides to Katarina is her self-recall. Using it early can put you behind, because you play her, use her, and then she leaves again. That’s not as enjoyable! However, you gain something useful when playing her now. So let’s discuss the change to her text!
- Old Text: Level Up: I’ve struck once. When I level up, recall me.
- New Text: Play: Create a [Fleeting] Blade’s Edge in hand. Level Up: I’ve struck once. When I level up, recall me.
If you get that Blade’s Edge on level up also (when you play her again), that’s a free 1 damage for 1 that you might not have had before. With the concept of the Spell Mana, this could be amazing. I don’t know how this may make her OP, but I do think it’s a solid move in the right direction, in Legends of Runeterra patch 0.9.4.
Yasuo: Ahhh, Yasuo. He’s one of my absolute favorite champions in Legends of Runeterra so far. But what makes him so hard to use? He’s. Squishy. So squishy. His combos are amazing, but the major problem is that he’s very easy to kill. His stats make it difficult to utilize them as much as we’d like to see. We’re getting a minor change, but one for the better.
- Yasuo Level 1: Health: 3 -> 4
- Yasuo Level 2: Health: 4 -> 5
It’s not a massive health boost, but that one point is just what he might need to put him on the map.
Kalista: That’s right, it’s the Shadow Isles own Kalista, she’s on the list too! Since the last update, she’s seen a skyrocketing amount of play, but she’s not very strong despite that. It’s mostly her Level Up ability though. They’re going to make it easier to do, but hopefully, that doesn’t wind up making her too strong. She’s already played often.
- Kalista Level Up: I’ve seen 4+ allies die -> I’ve seen 3+ allies die.
That’s way easier, even if it’s one less, as long as she’s not focused down, 3 is easier. This ought to make her more consistent without having to be too powerful. But only time will tell!
Followers & Spells
Quite a few followers and spells are seeing minor changes in the Legends of Runeterra patch 0.9.4! Some of these are really good moves, in my estimation. So I want to focus on some of these that are most interesting. Of course, you can check out the full official patch notes here.
Vanguard Bannerman: Vanguard Bannermen got out of hand with one simple word. Originally, it granted all allies +1/+1 for its “Allegiance” keyword. So that included itself, buffing himself simply for existing. The Bannerman makes deck diversity in Demacia pretty weak. They took some of the power away from him, while still holding true to the importance of Allegiance:
- Old Text: Allegiance: Grant all allies +1/+1
- New Text: Allegiance: Grant other allies +1/+1
Kato the Arm: One of the downsides in Noxus Aggro is that many decks don’t play the more expensive cards. Why would you? The cheap ones do what you need them to do. Later in the game. Playing those high-cost, large units can be risky, as opposed to playing the other stuff, which leaves mana open for responses. The higher cost cards can have some serious payoff when they work out, and Kato the Arm is getting a health buff to hopefully make him more reliable overall. This should let him attack more frequently and make him a useful, worthwhile pick.
- Health: 3 -> 4
Avarosan Trapper/Starlit Seerr: Freljord doesn’t feel like it has a bunch of choices with what to build in the early/mid-game. Riot also wants to boost their overall regional identity across its archetypes. With this buff, they have aimed some buffs at their Yetis, Deck Buffs, and overall ramp. So with that in mind, a few cards are being looked at. The first of these is Avarosan Trapper and Starlit Seer.
- Avarosan Trapper: Health: 2 -> 3, Power: 2 -> 3
- Starlit Seer: Health: 2 -> 3
Wyrding Stones: One of the biggest, most enjoyable parts of Freljord decks is mana ramp! Wyrding Stones are often overlooked though because they’re pretty easy to deal with. Instead, people go with Catalyst of Aeons as a safer option. This change is hoping to fix that so that the “Big Number Freljord” decks will start using more Wyrding Stones. They’re undoing a nerf from the beginning of the open beta!
- Health: 3 -> 4
Shady Character: Having 1 health made Shady character far too easy to deal with as soon as it hit the table, with a variety of damage options in response to the Impersonate. So, it’s getting a serious health buff to make it stay around longer.
- Health: 1 -> 3
So, two champions are currently being looked at, for the Watchlist. Neither of them is frankly a surprise. Karma and Ezreal are my least-favorite champions to see on the other side of the table, so here is their reasoning for putting them on the watchlist.
Ezreal: Ezreal’s an exciting build-around, but his current design poses challenges when it comes to the deep interactive gameplay we strive for in LoR. His one-turn kill capability using Burst spells inclines Ezreal decks towards what we call “consumptive” play patterns, where the focus is more on removing all of your opponent’s plans than advancing your own. Ezreal’s superb finishing ability also lets control decks circumvent the usual need to thoroughly control a game before winning, and can create incredibly frustrating and demoralizing cases where you know you’ve lost before it happens, but can’t effectively do anything about it. While the win rate performance of Ezreal decks isn’t quite hitting must-change levels, we know we may need to make adjustments for gameplay health reasons. We’re investigating and testing possible tweaks that improve on Ezreal’s more frustrating aspects while retaining his excitement and build-around potential.
Karma: While Karma is one of the most flashy and exciting cards in LoR, some of the strategies we’ve seen built around her push the limits of what should be consistently possible in terms of insane comebacks or one-turn kills. We love the crazy stuff Karma can enable, as long as it’s not too easily attainable or meta-warping. For now, we’re just closely monitoring her power level and the different variants being built around her.
Patch-by-patch, Riot Games is going to be tuning Expeditions, based on the data they receive. Their goal is to make all archetypes feel viable so that the decisions you make in expeditions can be based on the packs you’re shown rather than a strategy simply being overpowered.
Every combination of one or two regions has its primary archetype, but they also can support additional archetypes that are a bit off the beaten path. These are Bonus Archetypes. Currently, these are Fluft and Tuft, and Cataclysm, but there’s a new one below. We also have some new “stats” of sorts for expedition combinations. Cohesiveness Rating, and Wild Pick Bonus Chance.
- Cohesiveness Rating: Some archetypes are useful all around, while others, like Shadows and Dust, have cards that are dependent on one another for success. Cohesiveness Rating is a tuning value that lets them control how quickly a particular archetype will be disallowed from showing up in your Wild Picks when your deck doesn’t include cards from that archetype.
- Wild Pick Bonus Chance: This is another new tuning value. This lets them increase the frequency with which you see archetypes during your Wild PIcks, but only during drafts where it’s your primary archetype. EG: An archetype like Shroom and Boom that’s dependent on having plenty of mushroom-related cards, taking a couple of packs from it early will ensure you’ll see lots more of it in your draft.
They’re happy (more or less) with the archetypes right now, so in this patch, they are going to mix things up some and refine some of the expedition archetypes to be more satisfying. There is also a new bonus archetype to briefly discuss, known as Crimson Guard.
Crimson Guard: This new archetype pairs self-damaging effects and bonuses for surviving damage from Noxus, with the Barriers/Tough/Regeneration units in Demacia. A good example is, “Did you know that protecting Crimson Curator with a Barrier in combat counts as surviving damage?” Well, it does!
Demacia: Garen, Chain Vest, Brightsteel Protector, Vanguard Defender, Laurent Duelist, Prismatic Barrier, Silverwing Scout, Vanguard Cavalry, En Garde, Laurent Bladekeeper, Riposte, Remembrance, Redoubled Valor, Tianna Crownguard, Brightsteel Formation
Noxus: Vladimir, Crimson Aristocrat, Transfusion, Crimson Curator, Might, Crimson Disciple, Death Lotus, Culling Strike, Crimson Awakener, Savage Reckoner, Legion Veteran, Battering Ram
- Cohesiveness Rating: Medium
- Wild Pick Bonus Chance: Medium
And there’s much more to come next patch when Expeditions will be updated to include the new set and seventh region. We’ll add new primary archetypes for each of the new region pairings, so at least seven more archetypes added to the current total of 24, bringing the mode to over 30. When you take tri-region into account, there will be 63 different region combinations possible in Expeditions decks! There are a few changes and adjustments to the expeditions regions, which you can see in the full patch notes.
Clarity and Final Thoughts
This is a solid patch if you ask us! I’m glad several cards are seeing some “clarity” changes, too. These aren’t nerfs or buffs, but are for the sake of clarity, so the cards do what they are intended or help it make sense. For example, Brightsteel Formation is “losing” Barrier. This is because it still gives itself and all allies Barrier on play, so it having “Barrier” already is redundant and does nothing. Barrier doesn’t stack, after all.
This is a clean-up patch if nothing else, making several things make sense that might not have before. Shark Chariot’s another great example. It used to read:
- Old Text: When an Ephemeral ally attacks and I’m dead, return me to play attacking. Now it says:
- New Text: [Last Breath]: The next time an Ephemeral ally attacks, revive me attacking.
The card plays almost identically to normal. The way it was worded, it was the only card that came back to play after being dead. Now it “revives”, meaning it instead makes a copy of itself, which is more consistent with how Legends of Runeterra operates. This is “mostly” a change for the sake of clarity, but they point out three gameplay implications to highlight:
- Iceborn Legacy will now work more effectively with Chariot—revived copies of Shark Chariot will now gain the buff.
- And of course, Chariot will now be affected by cards that affect Last Breath units (Warden’s Prey, for example).
All in all, this is a really solid patch of things that make sense. We didn’t cover everything, but nearly all of it! Most of this patch is pretty darn important, after all. We linked the official patch notes above, so you can get all the details as they go live. Legends of Runeterra is continuing to grow, and we can’t wait to see what comes with the next major changes after Legends of Runeterra patch 0.9.4!