Keywords in Legends of Runeterra have evolved from a mechanic to a full-on archetype via the release of Forces from Beyond, with Kai’Sa thriving off decks that play or produce a multitude of keywords.
The evolution of keywords as an archetype within Legends of Runeterra began with the release of Viktor in the Cosmic Creation expansion. Then came Pantheon with the Magic Misadventures expansion, using keywords to take over the meta. And now with the release of Forces from Beyond, keywords are the foundation of both Kai’Sa and Evelynn as LoR champions.
Kai’Sa and Evolve
Kai’Sa is a five-cost Shurima region champion using the Evolve mechanic to level up while adding keywords to herself each round through Second Skin. Her level one form has the keywords Quick Attack and Evolve, and she produces a Second Skin that grants her a keyword from another unit in play at the start of each round.
Supercharge is Kai’Sa’s champion spell, a versatile Focus spell that grants Overwhelm and Spellshield to an ally. Both Overwhelm and Spellshield are positive keywords and the spell itself is a solid finisher on any champion or unit attempting to strike for lethal damage. Icathian Rain is a level two skill that can disrupt an opponent’s strategy while also ending games.
Evolve is a Forces from Beyond mechanic that increases a unit’s baseline stats by +2/+2 permanently upon six or more unique positive keywords being played or given during a game. And Second Skin is a Fleeting spell created by Kai’Sa that grants Kai’Sa’s everywhere an ally’s positive keyword.
The Evolve mechanic has led to some confusion, since its requirements are made via “a total of six-plus unique keywords regardless of source,” according to game designer Plinq. Keywords like Lurk, Deep, Barrier, Quick Attack, and Double Attack all count as unique keywords.
Elusive is another positive keyword that can be counted via the spell Sharpsight, although the LoR team is treating this as a bug and it will likely be corrected soon. Keywords that don’t count towards Evolve are Attune and Attach. And Elusive is still a positive keyword that can count if another unit gained it from another source (Pantheon) other than Sharpsight, or was an existing keyword already on that unit (Greenglade Duo).
Meeting the Evolve requirements is important to Kai’Sa, since it essentially levels her up. Upon leveling up via Evolve, Kai’Sa becomes a five-cost 6/6 with Quick Attack and any other keywords she has added to herself via Second Skin. Having six-plus keywords on a champion like Kai’Sa is more than enough to make her a playable LoR champion. But she also has another ability upon leveling up.
Once hitting level two, Kai’Sa will ping damage to all enemies, including the enemy Nexus, with her skill Icathian Rain. The skill deals one damage for each keyword upon attacking directly to enemies, or the enemy Nexus, starting with the lowest health first. Icathian Rain isn’t a game-changer but it can hit for lethal damage while also disrupting an opponent’s board state.
Kai’Sa Legends of Runeterra decks
Each LoR expansion typically has two champions who naturally synergize with one another. In the Worldwalker expansion it was Annie and Jhin, and in the Forces from Beyond set, it’s Kai’Sa and Evelynn. With her ability to create Husk tokens that generate random positive keywords, Evelynn is a solid champion to pair with Kai’Sa, but she isn’t the only one.
A Shen and Kai’Sa deck, created by GrandpaRoji produced a win rate of over 75 percent with 17 matches played at the release of the Forces from Beyond expansion. Kai’Sa also has potential with champions like Pantheon and Viktor. The follower Legion Deserter has the potential to thrive within the LoR meta once again when played in a Kai’Sa deck. Annie also has the potential to become the ideal champion to pair with Kai’Sa in a Legion Deserter build via her synergy with Kai’Sa’s Icathian Rain skill.
As the Legends of Runeterra: Forces from Beyond meta continues to expand and settle, all playable Kai’Sa decks will be updated.