There are many cards in Legends of Runeterra, and each have their own stats and effects to make them unique. It can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the card game genre, to learn all these effects. That’s why we’re dissecting all the keywords in a series of guides. In this one we’re taking a look at Ephemeral.
Ephemeral units are a temporary entity on the board. Once played from hand they last at most until the very end of the round: Ephemeral units die after attacking in the combat phase, or when the round is over and you and your opponent switch the attack/defend roles. This means that you cannot recall an Ephemeral unit after it has attacked and then play it again later on.
It’s important to make the distinction between Ephemeral and Fleeting clear. Fleeting cards are always generated by another card, are added to your hand, and disappear from your hand if they’re not used in the same round they’re generated. Ephemeral cards won’t disappear from your hand if you don’t use them.
Most Ephemeral units are created by other cards, but there are a couple of them that you can add to your deck. Below you can find a few examples of them.
Caustic Cask is the simplest Ephemeral unit there is. It doesn’t cost any mana, doesn’t have attack power, and only has one health. Its use is just to die and deal damage. The Piltover and Zaun card isn’t very exciting, especially because you have to give up a card slot in your deck to play it—there are far more exciting cards to choose from. Perhaps at some point in time there will be a One Turn Kill deck with Caustic Cask.
If you’re in need of some emergency healing, Darkwater Scourge is there to provide it. The Shadow Isles octopus (who wears a helmet?) has exceptionally good stats for its three mana cost: five attack power and five health make a big impact. With Lifesteal, Darkwater Scourge returns any damage it does as health to your Nexus. The card having Ephemeral ensures it’s just a one-time-trick, although it’s quite a powerful trick.
Ephemeral isn’t just a keyword used on units, as Shadow Flare proves. The Ionian spell is quite expensive at six mana, but its effect is powerful. When played well it has the potential to wipe out the entire board of the opponent. You can either play it straight after the opponent has committed their attackers or, when you are on the offense, queue your weakest units for an attack and draw out your opponent’s strongest blockers. Just make sure that the enemy doesn’t have a way to counter the spell.
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