Call of the Mountain: Diana | Early Impressions Part 6
It's so close! We can now see the very top of the mountain! A little further, and we may yet gain true Enlightenment... And in the meantime, we can take a breather while watching a bunch of cultists worship the Moon. It's not as bad as it sounds, I promise.
The Moon Rises
I'm surprised Riot has managed to capture Diana's theme as an assassin so well over from League of Legends. And she looks solid here too! At 2/2, Diana is fragile to say the least, but the combination of Quick Attack and Challenger is an explosive duo, unprecedented in fact. Diana is able to dispatch an enemy for free when she is played, and once she levels up, which should not take much effort, can keep assassinating targets she would die against under normal conditions. She is not invincible however, as Frostbite effects like Brittle Steel or the simple use of a Mystic shot are enough to dispose of her. That's of course without accounting for any number of combat tricks she could benefit from, including Pale Cascade, her very own spell. Diana is looking like a solid option for aggro decks as she can become a terror unless swiftly dealt with.
Diana's Pale Cascade
Let's put the Nightfall bonus aside for a moment. We have a 2 mana +2/+1 at Burst speed. Serviceable buff, obviously meant for Diana or other units benefitting from Quick Attack, though the health bonus can come in handy for a bit of survivability. Would it see play? I think it would. In an aggro deck that is supposed to win within the first six turns of the game, 1 health bonus is a big deal and is usually enough for a crucial unit to survive an otherwise deadly encounter. Adding to this, the draw effect makes the card better for certain, though I wonder how awkward Nightfall will be to trigger without any value loss. The lack of efficient combo enablers is what I'm most concerned about for the Nightfall archetype, though Pale Cascade will perform well regardless of the other Nightfall cards' status.
Cygnus the Moonstalker
Cygnus is... awkward. I've talked in another article about Fae Guide, and how they might see play, but Cygnus is different. First he costs 2 more mana, representing a much bigger investment. The bigger cost is to compensate for his own Elusive tag, but with a brittle 2 health, how is he actually going to make use of it? I have trouble seeing a world where Cygnus hits the board and isn't immediately dealt with, though that still leaves the unit who was gifted Elusive. He is somewhat counterintuitive, as Cygnus benefits more from being included in a non-Elusive deck so he can have a wealth of units to target. Cygnus has potential, but his high cost, low health, and awkward place in deckbuilding is going to be problematic, certainly hampering his success, but he could still find a place as the top-end for an aggro deck.
Silence is rare, as Purify will attest to, though Hush is distincly different in several ways. First, Hush is only temporary, lasting only as long as the current round. Second, Hush is obviously more costly than Purify, though that is compensated by its two major upsides. Firslty, Hush creates a Fleeting copy in hand which can either be played or discarded, and secondly, it can target champions. I could find no certain clarification, but it appears to reset the progression of champions who can level up in hand, and while it doesn't reset champions who must be on the board to progress, it still prevents their progress while Hush lasts. If that is indeed how the interaction work, it is a very big deal as it could prevent champions, which most decks are usually built around, to have their big swing turns. Ezreal, Lux, Karma, Swain, Yasuo, Anivia, Tryndamere... The list goes on. Hush is a strong card, perhaps not a staple of Targon, but still able to shut down certain strategies quite thoroughly without losing much consistency.
Hey, a random Piltover & Zaun card! Poro Cannon looks immensely cute, but also pretty awful by itself. Having to discard a card to gain two Daring Poros can be less of a downside by discarding a generated card like Spinning Axe or Mushroom Cloud, but the gained value is neglibile as with all Poros. Still, Poro Cannon is a combo piece and will never look good on its own, however its mere existence is one more step towards legitimising currently inconsistent archetypes surrounding the likes of Professor Von Yipp or Poro Snax.
With a standard statline for a 1-drop, Lunari Duskbringer is what I was waiting for: a decent enabler for the Nightfall archetype. More concretely, she compares well to Shellshocker, achieving a similar payoff of banking mana, though the Duskpetal Dust can be instead used to "cheat" the mana curve and play a unit a turn earlier than normal while also benefitting Nightfall cards and potential spell synergies. Though she is not the single redeeming factor for Nightfall as a whole, Lunari Duskbringer is certainly a welcome sight for anyone aiming to make use of Nightfall cards, and surely will be a staple in aggro Nightfall decks.
Lunari Shadestalker has a good statline for her cost, especially compared to other Elusive units who suffer drawbacks. While she might be awkward to get full value out of in a standard elusive deck, any aggro deck geared to facilitate Nightfall activation would be happy to include her as her high health makes removing her a costly affair at this stage of the game.
On average, Crescent Guardian is a carbon copy of Iron Ballista. Of course, in a deck full of Nightfall facilitators, it should be easy enough to find maximum value out of them, making them better, in most cases, than their Noxus counterpart. With how useful Iron Ballista has been in the past, betting on Crescent Guardian to see play is one of the safest bets we can place.
This was great! Besides Cygnus the Moonstalker, every card here fills a role. Diana as a build-around piece for aggro, Pale Cascade as a survivability and trading tool, Hush as a tech card against specific strategies, and the rest of the Nightfall units as enablers or payoff. Even Poro Cannon, though it doesn't look like much currently, is sure to become a building block for more obscure archetypes, bringing them ever closer to viability. Good stuff!
Card game enthusiast since childhood, Asher has played as many CCGs as he could lay his hands on which kickstarted his competitive streak. Achieving high ranks in Hearthstone, Duelyst, and TES: Legends, his goal is now to do the same in Legends of Runeterra where he's achieved consistent top Master rankings, and compete in all possible tournaments. With a drive to always improve, Asher is looking to brew the best decks and help new and experienced players alike.
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