Hail, Champions! It's Friday and we wanted to do something a little fun for the weekend. Content creator Control posted an amusing YouTube video last week listing his "Top 10 Worst Cards", inspiring us to think about which cards we think fall short of their marks. He laid out his selection criteria at the very start of his video.
Hey it's Control here, talking about the top 10 worst cards in Legends of Runeterra today.
Now, not necessarily the worst in the sense of a card like Caustic Cask where it's a one-mana 0|1 that just does one damage to both players. Terrible to play. That's a card that doesn't make sense right? [It's really just a token card]. So for Used Cask Salesman to work, that does need to be card. I understand that, that's fine so I'm not going to be talking about stuff like that.
And I'm also not really going to be talking about cards like Back Alley Barkeep, where you get a 4-mana 3|2 that gets you a bunch of random stuff if you play a bunch of them. That's not a very good card, but it's not the worst because I think it's design is fine. It's supposed to be a fun card it feels a niche for players who want to have those kind of cool wacky experiences. Definitely good, nothing wrong with that. There's nothing bad about it, but it still isn't a very good card.
The worst cards we're going to talk about are cards that don't only perform poorly, but they also just aren't fun, have very boring design, and need to be reworked to make them interesting.
Just to keep things fresh, we're also intentionally omitting any cards he listed in his video. Let's jump right into it!
It's a little ironic that Jury-Rig, a 1-mana spell to summon 1 Scrap Scuttler, is so popular while it's older brother, Scrapdash Assembly, is ostensibly twice as good yet receives no play. The difference of course is that Jury-Rig has inherent synergies with popular Discard archetypes while Scrapdash Assembly has no synergies outside memey Professor von Yipp decks. Even successful Give It All decks, the archetype that could potentially most benefit from cheap token generation, aren't interested in this spell.
Ah, how the mighty have fallen! For newer players: Solitary Monk used to be a 4|3 Elusive, making her inclusion in a deck an interesting gamble: if you have an empty board she's fantastic, but if you have a full board her When I'm Summoned ability might mean you have a worse board than before you played her. Her doom came when players started building their entire deck around her, with the gameplan of landing an early Solitary Monk, combining it with pre-nerf Stand Alone, swinging in with a 7|6 Elusive, and following up with Relentless Pursuit to quickly swing in a few more times during the next few Rounds. Now with both her native attack and Stand Alone's cost nerfed, the potential to play a slightly-larger Lunari Shadestalker just doesn't justify her potential drawbacks.
Disclaimer: the author of this article actually crafted Encroaching Shadows during the first week of Call of the Mountain. I like Ephemeral, I like Hearthstone's Embiggen Druid, and this seemed like it would be the best of both worlds. Of course, the spell doesn't function like that at all -- paying 4 mana for no impact on board state is a huge tempo loss than aggro decks can afford, and a control playstyle is virtually impossible when all your units die at the end of each round. Sure, we've seen Swim's early Ionia + SI videos and Silverfuse's more recent Bilgewater + SI video, both combining ES with Elusives, but in practice both decks are too inconsistent for anything more than memes and loss-edited YouTube videos. We expected more from an epic from a recent expansion that is asking for the entire deck to be tailored to it.
Call the Wild
This is the one card on this list that might make us eat our words because it might only be 1-2 new cards away from being broken. As the card library currently stands, though, it's extremely unimpressive. Troop of Elnuks has already proven that limiting a search to the top 4 cards just whiffs way too often when there's only 2 unique Elnuk cards. Yetis have a little more potential thanks to Avarosan Trapper's and Tall Tales' abilities to put an Enraged Yeti in the top 3 cards. In practice, though, both Yetis and Poro decks just haven't found a spot for this card -- the 3 mana cost is fairly expensive, and if you're not consistently drawing at least 2 cards then you're probably better off just running another unit in this card's slot instead.
Blood for Blood
After Iterative Improvement was first revealed, lots of fans compared it to Blood for Blood and harped on how Improvement gives +1|+1 while Blood instead deals 1 damage to an ally; Shawn Main defended this pointing out the need for cards to have a range of power. What we can't let go of, however, is that while Iterative Improvement, Fading Memories, and Blood for Blood are all spells that create a duplicate of a follower in play, Blood is the only one of the trio that is A) Fast Speed instead of Burst, B) limited to only allied followers, and C) only conditionally generates a card -- i.e., if the unit doesn't survive, the spell kills off your follower without providing any benefit. We can understand the desire to prevent dealing damage to enemy followers at burst speed, but having all 3 additional restrictions seems overly punitive.
This card has the nicest flavor out of any of our list. Unfortunately, it's almost always a disappointment in practice. Sure, the potential to "upgrade" an early 1-3 drop into a random 5-cost follower sounds like a great value proposition. In practice, however, there are a ton of 5-mana lemons that dilute your prospects -- followers with their price in tied to a "Play" effect that you won't gain (Troop of Elnuks and Jeweled Protector) and synergy-dependent followers like Arachnoid Host and Midenstokke Henchmen. And if you don't have a disposable unit on board, you're either paying 4 mana for just a vanilla 2|2 or possibly even being forced to "downgrade" a unit, since the Play effect isn't optional.
Zephyr Sage is such an awkward card to actually play. It's original intention was to enable handbuff-style decks -- e.g., you play a Round 5 Jeweled Protector to give a special unit +3|+3, then play a Round 6 Zephyr Sage to duplicate it. But onto what exactly? If you duplicate a buff-loving champion like Zed or Braum, the copy will convert to their signature spell as soon as you play the first. Not to mention that Zephyr's 6 mana cost makes it incredibly slow to play with -- Round 7 is the earliest you can actually take advantage of the card you just generated. Perhaps this card made sense back when Ionia Elusives were stronger, but as it stands right now it just feels awful.
Honorable Mentions: Golden Crushbot & Scaled Snapper
The gold standard in crappy cards! Golden Crushbot and Scaled Snapper are as close to "pack filler" as Runeterra gets: vanilla 3 mana units with no abilities and no tribal synergies. People like to argue that Snapper is marginally better than Crushbot because you have the option to play it as a 5|2, but that's like arguing Draven is marginally more humble than Aurelion Sol. That said, these are actually our favorite "bad" cards. We're giving both passes because there's a very good reason they're weak: some cards simply need to be less powerful to allow the powerful ones stand out. Golden Crushbot and Scaled Snapper are both Commons from the Foundation set that you're given 2x copies/each in your starting "Spells and Stealth" deck. It's like Riot is implicitly guiding new players: "You can do better than this -- go unlock some better cards and replace these jokers ASAP!"
Here's Control's original video with his Top 10.
That's our addendum to Control's list. Where there any you didn't agree with? Any that weren't on either list that you thought should be? Tell us your favorite bad cards below!