So, Riot Games recently released the Open Beta version of their card game , Legends of Runeterra, on the 25th last month and I’ve been pouring some hours in it to check it out.

Initial impressions? Nice. Most games are quite close and down to the wire and Riot’s spin on the ‘tit for tat’ combat and card play system certainly makes you think harder about each card you play with more than enough mind games in each match.

While there are certainly a few glaring meta decks that are hard to beat *cough* buffs + Braum regeneration stall, elusive units, DENY, Fiora *cough*, I can say for certain that is still far more balanced than the main game.

Anyway, I’ve reached a decent level of Platinum II in constructed decks (I know, very high elo) and thought I’d give my opinion on some of the themed decks so here it is. Since you can mix cards from different regions, I’ll be taking overall power and flexibility into consideration when rating these cards.

Since I’ve been playing with mostly Shadow Isles decks, that will be our primary focus for today.

Glossary

There are some made up words here that I’ll be using to describe certain game states, costs, abilities etc. so just look here if you get confused with the article

Game State

Primary Offensive – The suggested play of this card to play it BEFORE attacking your enemy when you start with an attack token

Secondary Offensive – The suggested play of this card is to play it AFTER attacking your enemy when you start with an attack token

Primary Defensive – The suggested play of this card is to play it BEFORE your enemy attacks when you don’t start with an attack token

Secondary Defensive – The suggested play of this card is to play it AFTER your enemy attacks when you don’t start with an attack token

Damage Phase – Rather self-explanatory, but I’ll add it just in case. It refers to the time when units are attacking or defending in that particular round.

Phantom Blocking – Specific to LoR, the game features a mechanic where during your blocking phase, you can play spells and abilities to remove your own blocking unit from play and still prevent your opponent from attacking with that unit.

Lethal – Another commonly used terminology for card games. It refers to the point in which you can win the game by attacking

Cost

8/8/8 – I’m going to shorten some of the card costs using the guide of COST/POWER/HEALTH (or otherwise just POWER/HEALTH) metric that many card playing fans will be familiar with; just a heads up for those new to the genre.

Default Power Curve(or something similar) – Refers to the value aspect of using this particular card instead of summoning a x/x/x card with respect to its cost.

Should I have this in my deck?

Note: Those cards that are valued based on having a [pretext] will be marked as such i.e Core[Strategy Specific]. Any “or” cards should be recommended from left to right i.e Flex or Situational

Core – (Take 3) This card’s power level and its associated strategy is OVER 9000 and should be good in almost all situations.

Flex – (Take 2) This card is pretty good to have and you’ll be able to use it in the majority of situations without it being a dead draw; you’ll want more than one to increase your chances of drawing this.

Situational – (Take 1 or nothing) This is the ‘Yugi Moto’ category of cards that you wish you’d pull when the situation gets dire. Unfortunately for you IRL, in order to pull one card from your ass, you need to have one card in your ass.

Avoid – (If drawn, discard this card from your hand) This card has too specific uses to be considered viable in most decks and you’d rather pull a 1/1/1 poro (Unless, of course, it is the 1/1/1 poro)

Card Ratings

Card Name: Fading Memories

Suggested Play: Anytime

Verdict: Situational

For being one of the very few 0 cost cards in this game, it certainly has questionable value when you draw this card from your deck. While it certainly is nice to copy effects from your opponent (or yourself), no unit has such significant value that you’ll pay the mana cost to play it and have it destroyed by the end of the round even if it has a good play effect.

It mostly serves as one other way to level up Hecarim and there are better cards to do this with. Sure, you can get some value from using it on last breath units but most effects are not worth spending another card to use.

Card Name: Ravenous Butcher

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational[Strategy Specific] or avoid

I consider “unit kill” a “win more” kind of ordeal, pretty good when you can use it but very limited in scope. At maximum value, it is a free 3/2 unit for the cost of 2 cards. Considering deck draw is at a premium with very little cards offering the ability to do so, its value is diminished even when you use it on a 1/1/1 unit.

Card Name: Absorb Soul

Suggested play: Secondary Defensive or Damage Phase

Verdict: Situational or Flex

Due to phantom blocking, this card actually has pretty high value in keeping your health (and nexus) in good shape. I can’t say I run this myself in my own deck but with so many players running elusive units at the time of writing, it wouldn’t hurt to have more sustain least you want to lose on turn 6.

Card Name: Crawling Sensation

Suggested Play: Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Situational or Flex

This is perhaps my favourite one cost spell in the game, rivalled only perhaps by mark of the isles, rush and ghost. Sure 1/1/1 cost units may not look like much, but they serve as good cannon fodder against high cost units that don’t have fearsome or overwhelm and some strategies can buff them to decent units.

Card Name: Hapless Aristocrat

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive or Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational or Avoid

Your bog standard “Has more value than a vanilla 1/1/1” unit kind of card; has some uses as yet another spiderling to transform your elise but other 1 cost units from other regions are much better than this so there isn’t many situations where you’ll prefer its last breath effect.

Card Name: Mark of the Isles

Suggested Play: Damage Phase

Verdict: Core or Flex

Trading for value is the name of all card games and this card has oodles of it. Turn that 1/1 unit your opponent thinks are just fodder into a 4 damage ping to one of their high value units (or their face) is simply amazing.

Card Name: Oblivious Islander

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive or Primary Offensive

Verdict: Flex[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

Oblivious islander is another one of those cards you have to build around if you ever want to use effectively. Giving Ephemeral to another unit is usually not a good thing and it’s no exception here. Unless your card is already Ephemeral anyway, then consider a 1 cost reduction to be a pretty good value all in all.

Card Name: Sinister Poro

Suggested Play: Don’t play it

Verdict: Avoid

Yes, this is the proverbial 1/1/1 poro that you could potentially draw from that might be better than the cards in this category. Consider putting this card into your deck if you want to give yourself a handicap when having 40 good cards is simply a plebeian idea and 37 is all you need, champ.

Jokes aside, this card has no value at all unless you combine it with other Freljord cards so don’t. Fearsome is pretty good on cards with high stats and this is certainly does not fit that description.

Card Name: Warden’s Prey

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Core[Strategy Specific]

Another one of those questionable value cards that could be useful but only if you build for it. If the RNG Gods smile upon you, you might get something good for your strategy but I wouldn’t count on luck in a card game (Unless you’re Yugi, of course).

Although the great thing about this is card is that you’ll be able to stall for additional turns during the midgame by virtue of having another unit to play for your mana; it’s handy when you draw the better cards like Caustic Flask for either a free block or surprise unblockable 1 damage to the nexus or Arvorisian Guard which has a draw 1 effect on death.

Card Name: Arachnoid Horror

Suggested Play:  Primary Offensive

Verdict: Flex or Avoid

One of the better than average 2 cost cards that you can have. Think of it as an early game card that can’t be defended by 1/1 units and is a good candidate for being buffed into a card with better stats.

Card Name: Black Spear

Suggested Play: Secondary Defensive or Secondary Offensive

Verdict: Flex or Core

I quite like the trading potential of this card; it’s useful in many situations but of course, you might find it to be a dead draw as soon as your hard starts to thin out and run out of expendable units to trigger the pre-requisite.

Luckily, spells that counter this are usually of equivalent or higher cost so I would still recommend a few especially if you rely on low cost cards for better rushing potential.

Card Name: Cursed Keeper

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict:  Avoid or Flex[Strategy Specific]

At first sight, Cursed Keeper seems like really good value; 2/1/1 but if it dies, I get a powerful 4/4 unit for free? Sounds great… until you realize you’ll most likely have to kill this card yourself or give it challenger so that someone else can end its misery which is another card and mana cost all together.

This makes its 1/1 power and health moot so the gains are much less than you think it is; you’ll have to build a deck around this to make this work.

Card Name: Glimpse Beyond

Suggested Play: Damage Phase or Primary Offensive (to trigger beneficial death effects)

Verdict: Core or Flex

Again, due to phantom blocking, this card has more value than at first sight. Being one of the very few draw cards in the game currently, you can’t not have at least one of this in your deck if you run Shadow Isles. It’s not Pot of Greed level, but what is nowadays right? Draw power is a resource and ways to get that resource is always good.

Card Name: Haunted Relic

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Situational or Flex

For something with art that looks very suspiciously like a piece of the millennium puzzle, it certainly doesn’t summon the kind of Egyptian Gods I’m thinking about. Still, 3 1/1 cards will get you out of a pinch when your opponent tries to rush you down.

Card Name: Mistwraith

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Core[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

Mistwraith is one of those cards that you need to take multiple of in order to justify its value. In this case, you’ll need to take 6 (including wraithcaller) to show its true potential. At 2/7/2 for the last Mistwraith, it’s one of the most cost-effective cards you can have.

Card Name: Shark Chariot

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Flex[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

Shark Chariot is one of the mainstays of any deck that revolves around summoning ephemeral units. Being a low-cost unit, it’ll pay for itself if it is even revived once and it only gets better the more you attack; this card is the primary way to level up Hecarim so I highly recommend this card if you have Hecarim in your deck.

Card Name: Soul Shepard

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

Being one of the few cards that can be used to effectively buff Ephemeral units, it certainly isn’t a bad idea to pick up at least one card; however, Ephemeral units are already considered reasonably strong by itself when summoned and the +1 health is basically a waste.

Pick this if you have nothing else better to put in your deck.

Card Name: Stirred Spirits

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

Stirred Spirits is a more flexible and better version of Soul Shepard, in my opinion. Not only does it fulfil the same kind of function, it can also flex into playing more last breath units in your deck. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bad to play more than one of these when attacking due to it triggering the effect on itself if you play 2 at once so I can’t recommend ever having more than 1 in your deck.

Card Name: Vile Feast

Suggested Play: Damage Phase or Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid

I wouldn’t call Vile Feast a dead draw but it certainly doesn’t pan into any strategy when playing this card. A 1 damage ping is usually not enough to kill something you’d want dead with a spell, Black Spear does it better. A 1 damage heal to the nexus is mediocre; drain spirit costs less and is better value. A singular 1/1 spidering for a 2 cost card usually isn’t the play either.

Jack of all trades, master of none; I just don’t see this as a card that is the play to go for in many situations.

Card Name: Darkwater Scourge

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Core

Darkwater Scourge is one of my favourite Shadow Isles card of the bunch and probably one of the few that I can truly say that you should just take it no matter your strategy. Heavy hitting, good deny even when played defensively and provides a nice heal on top of that! (as long as it’s not countered by barrier). I can’t think of a better 3 cost unit to play as long as I’m the one swinging first.

This card is a gem for me without a doubt.

Card Name: Frenzied Skitterer

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Flex or Core[Strategy Specific]

This is one of the few cards in the game that can positively affect your board and negatively affect theirs. Very good for debuffing weaker units below the fearsome threshold and essentially negates any threat potential of enemy 1/1 units for that turn.

Of course, there is more value in combining it in a spider deck as your spiders get +1 for the turn as well but I find myself hovering over this card anyway if I need a 3-mana unit to fill my deck curve.

Card Name: Fresh Offerings

Suggested Play: Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational[Strategy Specific]

Fresh offerings is indeed an iffy card for me. Sure, it’s very powerful when played but the current way to even use it effectively is to combine it with another card like Haunted Relic or any other card that can generate throwaway units.

I find this to be too dependent to run and can be a dead draw when you don’t have a board that allows this card to be played.

Card Name: Iron Harbinger

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational[Strategy Specific]

I can’t say I like this card as a 3 draw, even in decks designed to use mostly ephemeral units. By the time you can effectively use this as a potential 7/4 unit with fearsome, the enemy would most likely have a way to deal with this card by turn 7 or 8.

Still, it is not a bad value card if you can guarantee that you have at least 2 ephemeral units on every attacking turn (like 2 Shark Chariots).

Card Name: Mist’s Call

Suggested Play: Secondary Defensive or Secondary Offensive

Verdict: Situational or Flex

Mist’s call a card that’s really good when combined with other decks; It shines the most when combined with decks can have great value such as in a low unit deck. Combine this card with champions (yes it can revive champions as well) that are already hard to kill or mitigate like Tryndamere, Anivia and Yasuo and you’re golden.

Unfortunately, this card also has anti-synergy with Ephemeral or unit spam decks as your chances of getting back a good unit drastically decreases. There is no greater misfortune than bringing back an ephemeral or 1/1 unit after attacking because RNG didn’t roll in your favour.

Card Name: Onslaught of Shadows

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational

A stronger version of Haunted Relic should not be underestimated when you can still save up spell mana from your previous turn to cast this. I find it complementary to slot this card in when I need to pressure enemy units instead of attacking the Nexus directly if I don’t have the means to summon anything better.

It’s good cost-wise as a 3 cost card (like anything else that summons ephemeral units) but I can’t say that it would be the card I’m looking for as soon as I have the mana to use it.

Card Name: Phantom Prankster

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Avoid or Core[Strategy Specific]

A no-brainer for players that want to rush with their deck but still want a way to affect the board with low cost units in the mid to late game. I find myself running Phantom Prankster only when I’m fielding way too many low cost units or ephemerals in my deck though as it would be lacklustre otherwise.

It’s best to note here that 3 health is still a relatively unsafe amount to have even if you don’t intend on attacking with the unit. It’s still susceptible to general damage spell cards like mystic shot, black spear etc.

Card Name: Scribe of Sorrows

Suggested Play: Secondary Offensive or Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational

Another poro-level card that is difficult to use due to its RNG nature as the game progresses. It lacks 1 attack to be considered against a default power curve unit and doesn’t grant anything special to the unit that it brings back to your hand.

Even in low unit decks, this card will be inconsistent and works like a worse version of Mist’s Call. If you feel lucky, put one of these in your deck and you might just pull out the champion that just died.

Card Name: Splinter Soul

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational[Deck Specific]

Good idea, poor execution. Last breath units are generally low cost so it wouldn’t make sense to play a slow spell, let alone a 3 cost one to have them on the field.

It relies too much on the board setup to have an impact and generally only works well on champions that can revive like Tryndamere or Anivia; that condition is so specific that you would just be winning more when you draw this card in the late game with no hope of this card being useful at all in the early to mid-game.

Card Name: The Undying

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Core[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

This card is the bread and butter of strategies that readily needs a willing sacrifice to trigger effects. There isn’t much to say for this unit except that it can’t block so sacrificing this card after attacking or when you don’t have an attack token is the way to go.

Card Name: Ancient Crocolith

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Flex[Strategy Specific]

Another one of those cards with iffy value. Yes, I understand that this card is technically free if you already have 2 Undying on the board; killing them on your defensive turn is technically a huge net gain of 4 cost for a 7/7 card along with buffing up those said Undying for your next attack turn.

But that kind of situation does not come often and it will be turn 5 at the earliest when you can pull that off.

Also, since you need to sack units before the attack phase, sacking free units like Ephemeral Shark Chariots or Spectral Riders is a no go. Pick this only if you intend to flood your board with low cost units

Card Name: Chronicler of Ruin

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Flex[Strategy Specific]

Once again, the use of Chronicler of Ruin solely depends on whether or not you have things on the board to kill; that is if killing it would be any good at all. It can see some play as a “cleansing” unit to heal a wounded high cost unit (although take note that revived units also lose their buffs) along with doing certain shenanigans such as combining its effect with Possession.

I can’t say that I run last breath strategies very much; I personally wouldn’t take it in a general deck but I do see the multiplier value of using this card and will thus take it when my strategy is centered around it.

Card Name: The Box

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid

Another card that is too conditional to use for the cost of the card. By the time you can play this card, you usually have a way to deal with units with less than 3 health. Of course, it works wonders against low health champions like Zed, Heimerdinger, Ezreal and ephemeral units but that is not too often a situation I find myself in to put this card in my deck.

Card Name: Wraithcaller

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Core[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

As with all Allegiance keyword effects, only take it if you are heavily invested in mostly making a mono region deck. As a companion card to Mistwraith, this card has much better value and should be run as long as your deck consists mainly of shadow Isles units.

Card Name: Ethereal Remitter

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational

An improved version of Chronicler of Ruin at 5 cost. Combines well with units that primarily have value from play effects at the cost of being below the default power curve such as Lauraunt Bladekeeper.

With it being a below-average stat card, it’s entirely up to the RNG whether you’ll get good value from this card or not. Although from experience, I have pretty good luck in summoning 5 or 6 cost cards as most units in that cost range are decently impactful (especially the Freljord ones) in addition to being able to summon the sacrificial units before turn 5.

Still, it is not valuable to use this effect on 1 cost throwaway units like spiders so the card is iffy if you don’t already have board control. I’d take one anyway because that’s how I roll.

Card Name: Grasp of the Undying

Suggested Play: Damage Phase

Verdict: Avoid or Situational or Flex[Strategy Specific]

Another iffy card in my opinion. While it is one of the few spell cards that can allow you to ping for 3 damage unconditionally, a threshold for you to kill elusive units and some champions, I don’t find it to be effective for the cost. In a spell heavy deck, it could be considered a somewhat good cost to buy you a few turns against aggressive deck but that’s about it.

There are very few situations where I’d feel like this would be a better draw against Darkwater Scourge considering that that would combine well with black spear to deliver basically the same effect as this card.

Card Name: Posession

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational

One of the more interesting cards you can play from the Shadow Isles deck. 5 mana to prevent your enemy from attacking or defending with a high cost unit is game changing to say the least. Combine it with cards like Glimpse Beyond for a free Vengeance and 2 card draw makes this card very potent.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on champions and can be a dead card at times when you have more than 2 in hand. Therefore, I can’t recommend having more than 1 in your deck.

Card Name: Tortured Prodigy

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational[Strategy Specific]

Tortured Prodigy is a card put into a weird position: at 5-cost, it is clearly meant to power late game spells such as harrowing, atrocity, vengeance etc. However, since card draw would likely be the bottleneck by late game, you might not even have the chance to draw the cards to properly use its effect more than once or twice.

If I had a unit-centric strategy, the spell mana would come in handy before the unit dies through burst spells during the combat phase, not after it. If I’m playing mainly spells, I wouldn’t have additional units to sack anyway.

The only concession to this is maybe a Heimerdinger deck but I will reserve my judgements when I actually try out this strategy.

Card Name: Withering Wail

Suggested Play: Damage Phase

Verdict: Situational

A 5-cost card that is a more versatile and efficient Grasp of the Undying and definitely helps defend against early game aggression like the meta Elise/Darius deck combination. Unlike Grasp, this heal cannot be denied by damage mitigation such as Barrier or the tough keyword.

I can see people running at least one of these when playing stall decks but is otherwise not too useful in board control as 1 damage isn’t usually enough to take out a significant threat.

Card Name: Atrocity

Suggested Play: Damage Phase

Verdict: Situational

This is the only card in the game that allows you to DIRECT ATTACK THEIR LIFEPOINTS FOR SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE (or your own if you so choose) and is highly amusing when you can play this to win the game.

Synergizes well with Mark of the Isles to bring your attack into lethal range but its only something you’d want to draw when the game is fairly even so I can’t recommend more than 1 even if you’re running an aggressive deck.

Card Name: Brood Awakening

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive or Primary Offensive

Verdict: Avoid or Situational[Strategy Specific]

I used to rate this card highly for its ability to summon a mass amount of blocking units while giving more damage to your spiders. Now that I’m a little bit more experienced with the game, unless you combine it with the spiders from Noxus, 3 2/1 spiders don’t seem that cost-effective from a mana perspective.

Sure, it instantly transforms Elise on the next turn but you can easily do that with even lower cost units anyway (like house spider). I’d stay away from this unless you plan on playing a pure spider deck.

Card Name: Soulgorger

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Avoid

Soulgorger is a fat lifesteal tank that at first appears to be good but then you realize that it costs 6 mana and that Darkwater Scourge exists in the Shadow Isles deck. “Oh but it’ll be good when you buff it!” is what some of you might say, then you realize, once again, that Kinkou Lifeblade from Ionia exists, costs 2 mana less and is elusive.

Play this 6 cost card if you want to lose.

Card Name: The Rekindler

Suggested Play: Depends

Verdict: Situational[Strategy Specific]

A 6-cost card that serves as good bait for opponents that overly commit into killing your champion. Works well with Hecarim or other relatively high cost champions that can be a basis of your strategy.

Consider this an extra champion card for 6-cost which might or might not be worth it for you; depending on your strategy.

Card Name: Rhasa the Sunderer

Suggested Play: Secondary Offensive or Secondary Defensive

Verdict: Flex or Situational

Rhasa is probably everybody’s favourite card to pull when there is a significant threat on the board. At 7-cost, you’ll usually have some things on the board already so the ally lost requirement is easier to trigger at this point in the game.

Since everyone is expected to run this card if one picks Shadow Isles, it’s also a fun ruse to play against your opponent when you try to attack enemies with 7 mana remaining. So, without you knowing it or not, you’ll still be benefitting from this card regardless of whether you have this in your deck or not (you should, of course, run it).

That’s definitely an insane value that I can’t say for the other cards.

Card Name: Vengeance

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Situational or Avoid[Unfavorable Meta]

Kill a unit for 7. For a high value target like champions, playing this is definitely worth it although it suffers from being a valuable deny target which essentially means your opponent gets 4 additional mana to play with.

Due to Deny being prevalent, even I can’t see much use for this card when facing an Ionia deck so you might want to consider this deadweight against an Ionian deck that didn’t already use their 3 (because of course they have 3 in any deck) denies already.

Still, with regeneration in the game this card might be the only counter to buffed units so I’d take one in my deck.

Card Name: Commander Ledros

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: One card

My favourite card from Shadow Isles bar none. When its late game and your hand gets low, this is the only card you would want to draw from your deck. While there are still counters to this card, it serves as a good shield even if you opponent is able to deny him from plunging his flaming sword into their chest.

But eventually, they will falter.

For Commander Ledros, death is only a suggestion and victory is an imminent conclusion.

Card Name: Spectral Matron

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational[Strategy Specific] or Avoid

I can’t say that I like spectral Matron very much. Most of the time, you’d want to avoid drawing (or putting a lot it in your deck) many high-cost units in a row so the unit needs to be impactful by itself. While it may synergize well with summon effects, Commander Ledros is almost certainly the better pick at 8 cost with a better long term effect and higher stats.

It doesn’t make sense to run this card unless you are able to summon a higher cost card in that same turn and it has to already be in your hand. I find this card to be too limited and my experience in constructed decks tells me the same. Nobody is running it!

Card Name: The Ruination

Suggested Play: Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid[Unfavorable Meta] or Situational

Board clear for 9 mana, nothing much to say. Could be useful if you are up in terms of deck draw but losing very hard on the board.

Still, due to Deny being in almost every deck, you might not be able to use this to your advantage in situations where it makes sense to do so. I’d recommend to skip this one and take harrowing instead as that is more situationally useful.

Card Name: Scuttlegeist

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive or Primary Defensive

Verdict: Avoid

For a 10-cost card that has the stats of a 5 cost in the default power curve, this card is lacklustre to say the least. For it to even be a value draw ahead of the power curve, you’d need to have 6 allies die in the entire game or else it is a very dead card.

For others, they may see the value when taking it into Ephemeral decks but for me, a card should always have some impact on your strategy when drawn or played. Having to draw this card early just means one less card I can play for my strategy with not much pay off.

Card Name: The Harrowing

Suggested Play: Primary Offensive

Verdict: Situational or Avoid[Unfavorable Meta]

If you are top decking ruination for turn 9 defensively, consider this a win button if you attack on turn 10.

Unfortunately like many high mana spell cards, deny ruins any chance of playing this like you would Exodia but I still put one in my deck for the epic turn 10 win you get every once in a while.

Deck Verdict

B-

Overall, I’d give Shadow Isles a B- in deck rating.

As a main deck, it suffers from having too little answers to everyone else. There are only one or two strategies you can go and every card revolves around playing that with little deviation.

Their low cost cards have vanilla effects that is only meant to synergize with other cards in their own decks but is not the basis of their strategy (See Inspiring Mentor, Sparring Student and Greenglade Caretaker for good one cost cards).

Their high cost cards and spells are mostly awesome but also conditionally good in the sense that there are easy counters to it (See Augmented Experimenter and Mina Swiftfoot for good effects with no counters).

To make it worse, there is only one way to draw additional cards which also makes some cards like Mist’s Call and Scribe of Sorrows completely deadweight and RNG dependant. Unfortunately, it just boils down to having too many cards being too situational to take more than 1 of which makes strategies inconsistent.

As a splash to other decks, little of the low-cost cards are worth taking due to the same reasons above though some are still very powerful. Mist’s call, Posession, Frenzied Skitterer and Darkwater Scourge are all below-5-cost cards that can all flex well into other decks but that’s few and far between.

Towards the higher end, Rekindler, Rhasa, Ledros, Matron along with the ruination and harrowing spell all could see some conditional plays when combined with other strategies so Shadow Isles is at least good on that front.

The bottom line.

On the region, Shadow Isles simply comes with too much “all in or bust” cards that could be really good in certain situations but those situations just don’t come up that often enough to justify picking up either one or multiple cards. The region suffers from having a few specks of pretty good cards here and there with about 20% of the cards belonging to the trash pile status. This is on top of the fact that those cards that require a kill component will be a dead draw so long as you don’t have an advantage on the board.

From the gameplay side, using death as a mechanic to power cards certainly is interesting from a gameplay perspective. Though with no current way of getting free value by generating free cards to kill right now, it means that you’ll often find yourself in a card deficit when playing this region.

What are your thoughts on Shadow Isles? Let us know in the comments below!

Chia is the horse-author from the far flung year of 2153. While not grazing on grass pastures or reviewing old time-y games and technology from the early 21st century pretending to not know what comes next (as to not disturb the space-time continuum), he can be seen exchanging vast quantities of Earth currency for parts needed to fix his damaged space ship.