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Legends of Runeterra (LoR) Custom Set - Shadows of the Sands

Hello everyone! About 12 years ago, I dipped my toe into the world of Game Design without even realizing it. At the age of 10, I started making a card game for my friends and I. It had no name and the cards were just drawn with pencil on small sheets of paper. I remember fondly making my first "cycle." It was known as the "Winged Cycle" and included such masterpieces like "Winged Pyramid" and "Winged Box."

This hobby eventually turned into me making board games through middle and high school, then eventually going to college for Game Design. Card Game design, if you can even call what I did back then "design," was what brought me down this road to where I am today.

And that is why now, after 12 years, I arrive here and realize I would love to design cards once again. But, instead of applying and waiting, I decided to start making my own set based off the part of Runeterra that always has amazed me - Shurima.

The set is called Shadows of the Sands, and it focuses on the ascension of the Shuriman empire and the rise of the beings they once Ascended to protect them - the Darkin.

To start things off, I wanted to create the Champions or Shurima to solidify this region's identity. For this set, I'm mimicking Rising Tides's card pool. That is 62 cards of the new faction - 5 champions, 9 epics, 24 rares, and 24 commons - and 10 cards for each other faction - 1 legendary, 2 epics, 3 rares, and 4 commons. And so, below are the 5 champions I decided to start off with.

Currently in the game, there isn't a payoff for killing enemy units. I would guess that the reason for this is it becomes very meta-game dependent, where this is much better in metas that like to flood the board. As such, I decided to make Aatrox a bit more of a generically good minion, so that even in the wrong meta, he's not useless and still functions as a solid unit.

Aatrox is the first Darkin unit I created. The Darkin, for those that don't know, were originally the most devout Shuriman soldiers that were ascended through something known as the Sun Disk. This grants them a ton of power and elongates their life span, though doesn't quite make them immortal. When the Shuriman empire fell, these warriors were faced with nothing to follow, and some fell into darkness.

These Darkin eventually fought in the Darkin War, where many of them were sealed inside weapons and forgotten by history. However, some hubristic or unknowing people have come across these weapons, only for the Darkin to - or at least attempt to - take their body as their own new body.

When I created Azir, I imagined what he is in League of Legends - an aoe master that manipulates positioning. As such, I wanted to focus Azir on both aoe and positioning. The order units attack in in LoR is often very important since, unlike in Magic, not all damage happens simultaneously. This should emphasize the importance of card positioning when attacking.

Furthermore, this created one of Shurima's first identities - board control. Azir, in some ways, reminds me of chess, where he wants to rely on positioning to strategically take apart the opponent's board. As such, board control and positioning will be a large part of Shurima's identity.

Cassiopeia was technically born in Noxus alongside her sister Katarina. However, she got her powers from Shurima, so I'm including her in this region.

Like with Azir, I wanted Cassiopeia to embody board control, but through more non-combat based means. The new keyword - poison - is honestly hard for me to evaluate. On one hand, usually you want your damage spells to outright kill a unit or have the ability to damage the opponent's nexus. This does neither. It's slow, but can deal more damage than other damage spells at its mana cost can.

There's always something fun about cards like Tryndamere and Nautilus that are just big heavy beaters that are efficient. And so, I wanted to give Shurima access to one as well. She's not as big, but she's like a soup of keywords, looking to decimate your opponent's board and show everybody why the Void was responsible for Shurima's downfall.

Sivir honestly holds a special place in my heart as the champion that first got me to enjoy AD Carry in League of Legends. But furthermore, she is the descendant of Azir himself, and as such is a very important character to Shurima.

I wanted Sivir to embody what she was in game - an AD Carry with a lot of support and AOE potential. And, being in Shurima, that meant I could continue to push the board control identity as well.

I also originally had Skarner (shown below) as a champion in this region. But, he got cut for Aatrox. I just felt that out of the champions I had, he was one of the least interesting and was a bit more on the niche side, only to be played really alongside Yasuo.

There are certainly noteable excludes from the region of Shurima, such as the Ascended brothers Nasus and Renekton along with the fearsome Xerath. At this moment though, these are the 5 champions I made for this region.

Next, I'm looking to make the other 2 known Darkin - Kayn and Varus - along with some of the other champions in the other regions.

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