Call of the Mountain Early Impressions Part 1: Taric
Call of the Mountain:
Part 1 of 7
With the Call of the Mountain Set’s first expansion right around the corner, Legends of Runeterra invites us to visit Mount Targon, its mightiest peak, where only the most determined come to seek its greatest height for a chance at wisdom, enlightenment, or power.
To assist fellow mountain climbers, we are taking a closer look at the revealed cards to get a better idea of their future performance, once released. Note that I will mainly be discussing these cards through the lens of Constructed play and will be leaving Expeditions out.
Here we go, to the top!
At level 1, Taric presents a weak statline for a 4-drop, but should still be hard to remove. His support ability allows for advantageous trading, especially when a spell buff is copied. There are many possible combinations which spring to mind; Fury of the North for 8/8 worth of stats, Might for 6 damage and Overwhelm, Bastion for the new Spellshield mechanic… Taric spreads the love, and even more so at level 2. In a board-centric metagame, Taric would shine thanks to his ability to force advantageous combat trades and generate value. At first, I thought his level up condition would be hard to reach, however ally targeting such as Brightsteel Protector’s Barrier should count towards it, as well as Gems, and Draven’s Spinning Axe. Still, I fear that the payoff may not be worth the opportunity cost to make Taric work.
Taric’s Blessing of Targon
This buff spell gives less stats than Fury of the North does while being more expansive, but compensates by being permanent. Usually, the health given by Fury of the North helps soften the trade and leaves the creature at its initial health or lower, and the added power is rarely needed for later turns. As it is, Blessing of Targon has obvious synergy with Taric, but seems unwieldy as a standalone card, much like Grasp of the Undying. Though it can be used to buff up a unit that benefits from combat and would not survive otherwise, 5 mana is a heavy price to pay.
A solid 1-drop as far as stats go, able to trade with most other units of the same cost. Her potential rests on the shoulders of the created Gem, and whether or not an archetype surrounding them ever emerges. Additionally, the created Gem could be used as discard fuel for cards like Get Excited! or Rummage.
A weak statline for a 2-drop, its single point of health means it will die to any removal before having the chance to strike, and it is unlikely to yield more than a single Gem, though at least its 3 power lets it trade against every other 2-drop. This card seems geared towards a defensive early game, and is valuable especially if our deck’s gameplan revolves around gathering Gems, but is unlikely to be a good choice outside of those parameters.
Mentor of the Stones
In exchange for a horrendous 1/1 statline on a 3-drop, Mentor of the Stones grants a permanent buff to an ally on attack turns. 3 mana is an expensive price in the early game, though the Mentor’s death still yields 3 Gems.
Mentor, much like other Gem-creating units, depends on the viability of a Gem-powered archetype to gain relevancy, but should also be a consideration when playing a deck that wants to attack while buffing a single, supposedly more powerful unit. As underlined before, the created Gems can serve as discard fuel to generate card advantage in PnZ.
Shards of the Mountains
While looking weak on its own, as paying 4 mana to gain Gems, and then having to pay for each individual one is both a slow and low value play, Shards of the Mountains could open up certain tactics related to Gems that have yet to be revealed, and can also be used as discard fuel. The card has potential certainly, but Shards of the Mountains currently doesn’t have enough support to be viable.
Gem is not a card that we can add to our deck, and must instead be generated by other cards. On its own, Gem’s effect is cost-efficient but low impact, and therefore not necessarily something we want to use. I expect to see greater uses for gems than what we can currently see, as the current power level doesn’t bode well for the archetype as a whole, though it could have other applications, the obvious ones being Taric, Fizz, or Lee Sin, and discard fuel.
Tyari the Traveler
As is tradition for Support units, Tyari possesses a weak statline for its cost, which means he’ll likely die in an unfavourable trade while attacking, choosing to protect his ally instead. While this is essentially a zero-sum trade, it could be beneficial if the supported unit somehow benefits from a Strike bonus. There is potential, but Tyari is weak on his own, and has weaker stats than its most direct counterpart from Demacia: War Chefs.
Yet another Support unit with the obligatory weak statline. Hard to remove at 5 health however and should ensure a Support trigger, which brings us to the meat of the card. It has Potential written all over it, with (at most) the ability to permanently buff five other units by +2/+2 in a conga line of Support units. Realistically though, with the current roster of Support units, buffing three other units seems like a best-case scenario, with anything more being a distant dream, and everything else being much closer to reality. With the current roster, this card could work well in midrange decks alongside Shen, Lulu, War Chefs, Legion Drummer, or Kato the Arm. Predicting where this card will end up is a tough affair considering we lack information on the rest of the cards, however we can be sure its viability will depend on the prominence of other Support units, and Mountain Sojourners will either define the meta or remain a distant meme.
Arbiter of the Peak
A solid statline with Overwhelm, much like Plaza Guardian, though Overwhelm works much faster as a win condition than Quick Attack. The need for Support units to reduce its mana cost is lessened by its other cost reduction mechanic of targeting allies throughout the game, and can easily fit into an aggro gameplan where Arbiter would become a cheap finisher, or a way to swarm the board with several cheap 6/6 units.
An interesting spell, and the first revealed SpellShield. It reads “Nullifies the next enemy spell or skill that would affect this unit”. Close in functionality to Deny, the spell can allow a single creature to even weather The Ruination as everything else withers around them. Cool, right? Its Burst speed is actually worse than if it were Fast, as it would let us chain several Bastions together if the opponent were to break it, while at Burst speed, only one Bastion can be active at a time on any given unit. Regardless, Bastion will sell at a premium if you’re looking to protect a specific unit working as your win condition, or even to thwart high-cost removal like Vengeance, gaining tempo in the process.
This set of reveals fails to impress, as most of the cards have limited power on their own, and though Gems can perhaps reinforce the spell-based archetype of Fizz and Lee Sin, it is doubtful that would make Targon the better pairing for them, and that’s without taking into account the relative weakness of these champions in the first place.
All in all, there is potential here but the promise of power is as yet unfulfilled. I remain hopeful that later reveals, either in this expansion or the next, will produce enough tools for these uncut Gems to truly shine, with big hopes for Taric, Mountain Sojourners and Arbiter of the Peaks.
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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