Legends of Runeterra is Riot Games’ collectible card game, set in the same universe as League of Legends. A large part of the champions found in League of Legends have been split across six factions in Legends of Runeterra, namely: Demacia, Freljord, Ionia, Noxus, Piltover and Zaun, Shadow Isles, and Bilgewater. In this article we’ll take a look at the four champions from the Shadow Isles, their second level, their Champion Spells and any other cards related to them.
On the official map of Runeterra, the Shadow Isles’ description reads: “The Shadow Isles were once a beautiful realm, long since shattered by a magical cataclysm. Now, Black Mist permanently shrouds the land, tainting and corrupting with its malevolent sorcery. Those who perish within it are condemned to become part of it for all eternity… and worse still, each year the Mist extends its grasp to reap more souls across Runeterra.”
Elise’s stats are pretty decent for her cost. With for two mana you get a unit on the board with two attack and three health—reasonable to begin with. With Fearsome as a keyword, Elise can only be blocked by units with three attack or more, giving her dominant presence on the board from early on. To further increase her grip on the board state Elise summons a 1/1 Spiderling in an attacking position whenever she is on the offense. This happens simultaneously to Elise being placed in the attacking position, so your opponent does have a chance to line up a blocking unit against the Spiderling.
To level up Elise and get her to turn into her Spider Queen form, the Spiderlings are a key asset. When a round starts and you have three or more other Spider types on your side of the board, Elise levels up and gains two extra attack power. She also gains the Challenger trait, making her pick her opponents when on the offense, and grants Fearsome as well as Challenger to all allied Spiders in play. Note: the Spiderlings Elise summons aren’t the only Spider type units in the game. From the Shadow Isles’ set you can add Arachnoid Horror and Frenzied Skitterer, and Noxus has Precious Pet, House Spider, Arachnoid Sentry and Arachnoid Host.
Elise fits most in a classic token deck—a deck that generates a lot of small units on the board and then buffs them. Since the Spiderlings are fairly squishy, it’s likely that a couple of them will be killed easily. Thankfully, Elise’s Champion Spell helps mitigate the loss: Crawling Sensation summons two Spiderlings right back. Given that it’s a Slow spell, it can only be cast outside of combat. So make sure to play the card only in the post-combat phase.
Kalista is also one of the more aggressive champions in Legends of Runeterra. Her four attack and three health, coming at a cost of three mana, make it clear that she's meant to hit the enemy Nexus a few times to wear it down. Her Fearsome trait helps her with that goal, as it prevents any enemy with less than three attack power from blocking her.
Once four allies have died while you have Kalista in play, she reaches her second level. Alongside a +1/+1 buff in stats, level two Kalista reaches for her inner necromancer. First, she bonds with an ally and grants it two more attack power. If the ally Kalista bonded with has died, and you later decide to attack with Kalista, the ally is revived and the bond is restored. Simply said: if you play it strategically, you'll always have a strong offensive boost. It pairs exceptionally well with a unit like Cursed Keeper, the Shadow Isles two mana 1/1 unit who summons a 4/4 unit when he dies. However, other Last Breath synergies, and units with great raw stats, also work well with Kalista.
Seeing friendly units die doesn’t just work in Kalista’s favor—her Champion Spell, Black Spear, also feeds off it. For three mana Black Spear deals three damage, which is decent value. The caveat is that it does require an ally to have died earlier in the same round, whether it be through targeted spells/abilities or in the combat phase. It’s a Fast spell so your opponent does have a moment to respond to it.
Maokai is one of the most unique champions in Legends of Runeterra. Contrary to most other champions, he doesn't support a playstyle that aims to damage the enemy Nexus. Instead, he supports the 'discard' playstyle. It aims to delete most of the opponent's deck, making the opponent run out of cards in their deck, and therefore automatically losing the game. You have to make sacrifices yourself first, however. Every first time you play an ally while Maokai is on the board, you Toss (discard non-champion cards) two cards from your deck. As a small payback, a Sapling is summoned to help you clear the enemy board.
Maokai is difficult to level up. 25 times, you need to either Toss a card from your deck, or have an ally die. Thankfully, those two objectives count towards the same goal—Maokai will also level up if you've Tossed 20 cards and only 5 allies have died. Upon leveling up, Maokai immediately deletes the vast majority of the enemy deck, putting your opponent on a clock. Either they finish the game in four turns, or they run out of cards in their deck and lose.
Sap Magic, Maokai's Champion Spell, helps Maokai reach his objective by Tossing cards while simultaneously offering sustain by healing all allies, including your Nexus, for three health. It's a pretty straightforward card, but three health can make an important difference. Given that it's a burst spell, your enemy cannot prevent its effect from triggering either, making the card even stronger.
Like most cards in Legends of Runeterra with the Challenger trait, Thresh is about controlling the board. With his hook he can pick and choose which enemy unit will block him when he’s on the offense. Three attack power is a reasonable amount to pick off small enemies, and six health gives him enough life to work with for a while.
Thresh’s hook comes in handy when you’re trying to reach his second level. When six units—friendly or not—have died with Thresh on board, he gets the usual +1/+1 stat upgrade. But level two Thresh has more tricks up his ragged sleeves. The first time upgraded Thresh attacks, he pulls a champion directly from your deck or hand, and slings it into battle. This, of course, works exceptionally well with the stronger champions in the game like Darius, Garen and Tryndamere.
The control style Thresh promotes is reflected in his Champion Spell as well. The Box, a four mana Fast spell, instantly punishes enemy board development. All enemies that were played during the round receive a significant blow. The Box is the way to swing the board or further secure your grip on it.
Hecarim is the most expensive champion from the Shadow Isles in Legends of Runeterra, sitting at a six mana cost. Although he has a lower attack value than he has health, he is quite an aggressive champion who seizes the opportunity to close out the game when you’ve established control over the board. Hecarim summons two Spectral Riders when on the offense, making it even more difficult for your opponent to decide which incoming damage to block. These 2/2 units do disappear after they’ve attacked, but four damage for free is nothing to scoff at. Hecarim himself deals any excess damage straight to the enemy Nexus with his Overwhelm keyword.
You’ll need to finely tune your deck if you decide to build it around Hecarim, as reaching his second level takes quite some commitment. Not only do you need to have summoned seven or more Ephemeral units, they need to have attacked as well. Hecarim’s passive ability does help of course, but you need more Ephemeral units in your deck to reach level two Hecarim. Once you do that, though, your Ephemerals get even stronger: Hecarim’s newly gained aura provides all friendly Ephemerals with a two attack bonus.
Although it is a Slow spell, meaning it can only be cast outside of combat, Hecarim’s Champion Spell isn’t to be underestimated. Onslaught of Shadows puts six attack power into play, spread across two units, for just three mana. Yes, those units disappear at the end of the round too, but they’re perfect to fend off some incoming damage or make an even bigger board. Just don’t play this after the combat phase—the Spectral Riders won’t do anything and will simply die without having done anything.
Images via Riot Games.
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