LoR Custom Set (Part 2) - Updates to Shurima and the rest of the Champions!

First of all, I have to give credit to the Lead Designer for League of Legends: Wild Rift, Brian Feeney. I posted a link to my first blog along with pictures of my first cards on LinkedIn and he gave his feedback on each of the cards I created. He prefaced this feedback saying, "I do not work on LoR or have any involvement on the team, nor have I worked on a professional card game." But, regardless, his feedback was insightful and helped me tackle my designs from different angles and think critically about some things I hadn't thought of prior to his feedback.

So first, I want to go through both the feedback I received and the changes. There's a common theme between my changes because there were similar problems among them. Mainly, I made Level Ups underwhelming largely because of how safe I was playing it. I was attempting to balance the cards while creating them, which of course can lead to problems.

First, there's Aatrox. He lost his unique ability and got keywords in return. Losing what makes you interesting was not a good way to go about designing a Level Up. However, I still wanted to cap similar to how Vi eventually reaches a cap.

But, Vi gets a cool ability that closes out games - she deals 5 damage to the enemy nexus when striking an enemy while attacking. I wanted to push Aatrox towards a game-ending ability as well, but more towards one that reflected his apocalypse-seeking attribute. I believe this Nexus Strike achieves the feeling of him wreaking destruction upon the battlefield.

I also made the small change of making Insatiable Violence Fast. This was just to make it so the opponent didn't get 2 attacks in before you even got 1, as that could just be far too much of a downside.

Piercing went through a small change that just makes it flow better. As opposed to hitting to the left, it hits to the right. Brian brought up that the natural flow of combat is left-to-right, so it made sense to not interrupt that flow.

I also decided to make Azir cost less and have less attack. The lower attack reflects his dependence on his Sand Soldiers, but unlike Braum (who has 0 attack), he's willing to attack if needed. Lowering his cost also allowed him to operate more as an engine throughout the early game to get the board control starting as early as possible. It also incentivizes the player playing an Azir deck to run even more 1-cost spells to be able to use his ability right on turn 2.

Then furthermore, I changed Shurima Shuffle. Though I liked the idea of it pivoting from a defensive spell to an offensive spell, I realized it could be very clunky when in practice. To use it effectively, you want both the narrow combat trick of swapping units along with the semi-narrow Rally ability that isn't always worth it. There would be very few situations where you can get both halves of this ability to matter a lot. So instead, I changed it to being purely defensive while also working better with the Piercing ability.

Challenger was originally put onto Cassiopeia originally because she almost needed it from a gameplay perspective. However, it didn't reflect on who she actually is lore-wise. So, I changed her instead to poisoning enemies at round start. This both helps her survive as an engine and makes more sense to her character.

I also spiced up her Level Up by amping it up quite a lot. Just increasing the damage by spells is pretty narrow and incentivizes players to use her primarily with P&Z since they have access to the most damage spells. +1 damage is also very lackluster for a Level Up that you have to build around. So, instead, I changed it to doubling damage from all sources, which also makes Poison deal twice as much damage as well.

Rek'sai started out as just an efficient beater. In my previous blog, I cited that she's similar to Tryndamere and Nautilus in that she's just meant to be an efficient beater, but it was brought to my attention that Tryndamere and Nautilus have interesting and synergistic level up conditions, while Rek'sai just wanted to kill things herself. Her previous spell as well just had an ally strike an enemy, which is pretty uninspired. So, I did a completely rework on her.

And so, I centered on Rek'sai's tremor sense from LoL. Tremor sense lets Rek'sai see enemies that are moving while she's burrowed. From a flavor standpoint especially, this lets her know where moving enemies are so she can pounce on them and destroy them. And so, I made that into her current ability - enemies that attack gain vulnerable.

I still wanted to keep her level up condition of killing units to really have her focus on being a queen of destruction. 3+ units is hard without further synergies, which I think is a fine place to be. Her payoff makes her a scary, hard-to-hit predator, where as soon as she attacks, she burrows back into the ground for the rest of the round where she can't be targeted.

Lastly, I wanted her skill to help her hit anybody. What if they're not attacking and they're just keeping their unit protected on the backline? Well, that won't stop Rek'sai from seeking them out and hunting them down.

The feedback I received for Sivir was that her bouncing blades are a central and defining feature to her kit in game and perhaps her aoe should be part of her first part. While I agree that it is her defining feature, I didn't want her to feel like 2 other champions in 2 other regions - Miss Fortune in Bilgewater and Anivia in Freljord. Having 3 different champions in 3 different regions with a very similar attack trigger just felt wrong to me, so I instead focused more on her ult.

Going past that, though, I increased how much damage she deals to make for a better payoff for leveling her up and changed it to only hitting battling enemies instead of all enemies. This puts more the focus on winning and gaining advantages through board advantages and combat.

Lastly, I made a small change to her Boomerang Blade to make it fit more with Shurima's theme of board positioning by making her hit two adjacent battling enemies. I had to make them battling because there is no clean way to reposition backline units in this game besides pulling them in and out of combat. And so, I would assume they don't want backline positioning to really ever be an important factor in this game. Combat positioning, on the other hand, has always been a major part and is central to Shurima's design.

Those are all the changes I made to the Shuriman champions. for this set, I also wanted to give a new champion to each region, much like Bilgewater did. Below are the champions I developed for the other regions.

Okay, I know Kayn is known for being Ionian, as he's in the Shadow Order with Zed. However, I wanted to include all 3 Darkin currently in LoL, and Varus (or at least the hunters whose body he possesses) is only really affiliated with Ionia or Shurima (like the rest of the Darkin). Meanwhile, Kayn was at least born in Noxus and was trained to be a child soldier for the region, allowing him to be affiliated with another region.

Kayn started originally as an Elusive unit who would start cutting apart the opponent's board once he leveled up. However, I wanted to make this feel more Noxus. Every Noxus champion currently in the game wants to attack, so I made Kayn want to attack as well. Much like Draven, his unique spell he creates can be used on other targets as well, making the spell he creates a bit more diverse. When he levels up, I still wanted to reflect his ability to tear through enemy lines, but in a very offensive matter, so I made him have to strike the enemy nexus to start board clearing.

With Shadowstep, I went back and forth on whether I wanted the champion to strike the enemy nexus or not. In the end, I decided not because I think it could make Nexus Strikes in the game a bit too easy alongside Kayn. However, this could definitely be wrong.

Kayn's Death Rend felt flavorful to me when it came to Kayn. He marks his target for assassination, much like he has to in LoL in order to activate his ult on the target. However, neither Vulnerable or Ephemeral are currently anywhere in the Noxian region. In that way, it's a bit of a region-mechanics break, but I also think this specific card works with Noxus in that it requires something to attack to kill the marked enemy.

And lastly, you can't have Kayn without Rhaast. There were two ways of doing this really - either have Kayn have two different level ups depending on certain conditions or have two separate cards (like Lucian and Senna) that work together. I decided to be similar to Lucian and Senna, but I wanted to do my own spin on it. First of all, they're different regions. Lucian and Senna should pretty much always see play together. However, much like in League of Legends, you have a choice whether you want Rhaast to win or Kayn to win in their internal struggle by whether or not you even want them to play together. And furthermore, when you play Rhaast with Kayn out, you are allowing Rhaast to win their internal struggle, literally killing Kayn in the process and gaining strength from it. And, much like Aatrox, when Rhaast "levels up," he becomes a threat that literally obliterates his enemies. (Side note: I imagine the animation for the obliterate to be basically his ult in LoL).

When creating Mordekaiser there were two things I wanted to make sure I got across. One, that he's a juggernaut through and through. Second is that he's a master of death.

Much like in LoL, as he does damage, he sustains himself. In LoL, he gains a temporary shield. So, instead of having it just heal him, I decided to make it a permanent health buff, which I feel still reflects the fact that he is a juggernaut. I then made his Level Up condition reflect his juggernaut-nature.

Then, when he levels up, I wanted to make sure the card accurately reflects that he's a master of death. And since he's part of Shadow Isles, it's fairly easy to make this flavorful. Much like in LoL yet again, he creates a clone of the enemy he killed.

And lastly, Realm of Death is, in my opinion, his most defining ability in LoL. In game, it sends both him and an enemy into the Realm of Death, where they fight it out 1-on-1. Of course, he can't let them have a fair fight, so he takes some of their stats during the fight. And so again, I took pretty much from that and created the same thing. I will say, the one thing I'm not sure of is the cost because 5 does feel high and this card has a lot more variance in its effectiveness than most combat tricks.

Nunu & Willump - the boy and his yeti. Nunu by himself would be fairly underwhelming in game since it's really his yeti that does all of the abilities. So, I wanted him to be a bit more on the lackluster side to start off with while still having some nice utility that could help in a pinch. Willump is a fine minion, though nothing spectacular. He's just a big oaf of a beat stick really.

When they're together is when their real power unlocks. And what is their real power? Hurling snowballs of course! This can be a hard Level Up to achieve, but the payoff can really... snowball... out of control (buh dum tss).

When designing the cards, a lot when in particular towards making them a bit easier to achieve than Lucian and Senna since it is a bit more expensive and it doesn't have the natural flow of going "Turn 2: Lucian. Turn 3: Senna." Freljord has two important pieces in making this duo work - Entreat and Battling Bjerg. Entreat draws a champion. Simple enough, it draws Nunu. Battling Bjerg, on the other hand, draws a unit with 5+ power. If you so choose, you can make it so you have no other 5+ power units in your deck so it always draws Willump.

Unfortunately, however, this duo doesn't work great with Yeti synergies. Part of the Yeti synergy is shuffling Enraged Yetis into your deck, which are 5/5s. Not only does that make it so Battling Bjerg may not draw Willump, but it also dilutes the deck to make you less likely to draw either half of this duo.

For this set, I have decided to unbench the Kench! Tahm Kench is a demon who preys upon people's desires. A central part to what makes him unique in League is the ability to eat enemies and allies alike before spitting them back out. So, this was the perfect opportunity to finally have another card that utilizes the Capture mechanic that is only featured on the card Detain from Demacia. Basically, when a unit is captured by another unit, the captured unit is removed from the game. When the captor is removed from play in any way, whether this be through death or through recall, the captured unit is returned to play.

But, of course, I didn't want Tahm Kench to just capture units and hold onto them, so I instead did a bit of a twist on it with his Spit mechanic. He captures units, spits them out, then eats up the next one that's too weak to resist getting captured by him. He also has an extra bit of diversity put onto him, since he can opt to not attack if you want to keep a unit captured. And, furthermore, there's the extra utility that he can capture allies and spit them at the enemy nexus if that means more damage, or you can just not toss them at all to keep them protected from a future board wipe.

But, leveling him up will require his game plan to go forward and spitting and recapturing units. When he's just starting out, he has a problem - the opponent can just have him eat a 1/1 spider over and over again. But when he levels up, he starts killing the enemies he captures, meaning he'll go up that food chain to kill the next biggest thing.

I also wanted to make a clarification on the card. If you have him capture another through Detain, he will spit all captured units at the enemy nexus. Also, having him capture units through Detain helps level him up. That means, if you want, you can run Detains if you're looking to really center around his Spit mechanic.

And lastly, his ability is Abyssal Voyage. In LoL, he brings an ally with him a long distance across the map. And so, I wanted to go for the same thing. Abyssal Voyage is a weird spell with a lot of different parts. A, it can cheat anything into play, but you won't get any "Play" abilities, only "When I'm summoned" abilities. B, it does further the capture synergy with Tahm Kench, as it levels him up and he can spit them out immediately rather than having to wait the turn. And C, if they kill the unit doing the capturing, your 6-mana card just discarded you a unit and did nothing, ending in huge blowout potential. As such, it's a card with one of the lowest floors in the game but with a potentially very high ceiling and should be a fun card to brew around primarily.

For Varus, I wanted to focus on his long range capabilities in game. I felt like having him have a Play ability was a good way of achieving this, because it's like as soon as you see him, it's already too late and he's affecting the battlefield. I also wanted to focus on his Piercing Arrow, which takes time to charge up, so I gave him a similar ability to Vi in that he charges up in hand as you play things. In this case, it's specifically spells, though, to fit more with Ionia's spell-slinging theme.

With his level up, I didn't need to make it too much more impressive. Leveling one up levels them all up, removing all the work you need to do throughout the match to get him to be a potentially devastating board wipe. So, instead, I decided to make him help as a game finisher as well as a board wipe, where he'll start damaging the nexus as well.

Ionia has a small stun theme and I felt like this was a good chance to support that stun theme a bit. Yasuo is still one of the least played champions from my experience, and any little bit of support can help. The Chains of Corruption can be a strong addition to the deck, while also helping the likely more defensive Varus deck from dying before they can play their Varus. And once Varus is out, stunning enemies to get his devastating 10 attack through can push further into finishing the game.

Full disclosure: Vayne is probably the champion I'm the least sure about.

I like giving her elusive since it fits with her invisibility in her kit. Her level up ability also functions well as a representation of wanting to land 3-shots with Vayne to really push her damage. Then, when she levels up, she gets to Condemn enemies, dealing damage and stunning them.

However, she loses her 3-attack ability once she's leveled up. I did this because landing another 3 with her seems, quite frankly, impossible. Either the game would've likely ended by then or she would be dead. But still, it hurts her identity a bit. Her Condemn, unfortunately, is forced to be an attack trigger, since skills always use the "stack" and only attack and play triggers really use skills that use the stack. I think she's one of the more likely one to go through future changes.

I do really like her tumble though. It's a fairly narrow combat trick, but helps in keeping both yourself and your units alive, especially in the face of opposing enemies combat tricks.

Jae Medarda has always been a bit of an oddity to me. He's an 8-mana 6/6 that states that when he's targeted (both by ally and enemy spells), you draw a card. But he's in P&Z where there isn't much that targets your own units. He's seen play in the past alongside Draven for nice card draw, but that's about it from my knowledge.

I wanted to push this archetype further, and I'm looking to with the rest of the cards I make for P&Z in this set, starting with Ziggs. Ziggs wants to lob bombs, and he wants to lob a lot of them. And so, making him function similar to Ezreal in that he just keeps tossing bombs over and over again seemed like the right thing to do for him.

If you're buffing your board, I think it's also a very effective strategy to affect the opponent's board while you're doing it. So, dealing damage to their enemies seemed like the logical choice. At first, it's his single bomb he lobs onto an enemy, but once he levels up, it's his "Hexplosive" minefield that damages the entire board over and over again, including the enemy nexus.

And those are all the champions I have developed thus far! Next up is creating some Followers to fill out some of these archetypes to ensure that all of the archetypes have enough to them to make them interesting and support a deck around them!

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