What is Ephemeral in Legends of Runeterra?
Legends of Runeterra has many card effects that are common enough that they get their own keyword - a word or two that immediately tells you how the card works. Let's take a look at the Ephemeral keyword.
This unit dies when it strikes or when the round ends.
Ephemeral is an effect that seems strictly negative in a vacuum by having your own minions die, when you normally want them to be alive. It however has some unique properties that you can take advantage of, which can end up being quite powerful in the right hands. Ephemeral units are largely found in the Shadow Isles, although a few of them can also be found in Ionia.
Ephemeral units can combined with cards that have effects that take advantage of ally deaths such as Phantom Prankster, Dawnspeakers, or Rhasa the Sunderer. Ephemeral units also tend to have very high stats for the cost, making them very efficient.
Keywords that Work Great with Ephemeral
Because of the very nature of the keyword with how short Ephemeral units stay alive on the field, it's hard to find keywords that specifically work well with them. Granting them Elusive (via Ghost, Sumpworks Map, or Intrepid Mariner) can give you a cheap source of heavy Nexus damage that is hard to prevent. Silent Shadowseer is an Ephemeral unit that naturally has Elusive as well, and will keep adding copies of itself to your hand, which can make it annoying for your opponent to deal with.
Playing Against Ephemeral in Legends of Runeterra
Playing against an Ephemeral unit can provide some interesting decisions. Since the units will die after they attack anyway, you might sometimes consider not blocking them and tanking the damage instead. If you do need to block an Ephemeral unit, remember that your blocking unit doesn't need to kill the attacking Ephemeral unit since it will do that to itself.
Example Legends of Runeterra Ephemeral Cards
Shark Chariot is a unit that innately starts with Ephemeral. In addition, it also synergizes with other Ephemeral units. If a Shark Chariot you control has died previously this game, you will resummon it when you attack with another Ephemeral unit which can quickly flood the board.
Soul Shepherd is a unit that doesn't have Ephemeral itself, but will give any Ephemeral units you summon a +1|+1 buff. The Health buff is not as useful as it may initially seem as the units will die that turn anyway.
Dawn and Dusk is a spell that will summon two copies of an ally and those copies will be Ephemeral. This can be useful for gaining some quick, threatening board presence which can do lots of damage to the enemy Nexus and can sometimes place them in an awkward position.
Hecarim is a champion that levels up when you attack with 8 Ephemeral allies. It doesn’t even need to be on the board for the progression to count. In its Leveled Up form, it will grant your Ephemeral allies +2|+0.