Legends of Runeterra: Beyond the Bandlewood’s reveal season has entered its penultimate day. And today on Twitter and in collaboration with Mobalytics, Riot has revealed Xerath, the fourth Ascended champion.
Outside of Sun Disc implications, Shurima’s newest champion has you destroy allied Landmarks to wield his power.
Xerath is a four-mana champion with 3/3 combat stats and an ability that deals one damage to the weakest enemy whenever an allied Landmark is destroyed. Xerath levels up after you destroy four allied Landmarks throughout the game.
When Xerath reaches his second level, he improves his damage-dealing ability to three whenever an allied Landmark is destroyed. Since Xerath is an Ascended champion, he has the potential benefit of reaching a third level by restoring the Sun Disc.
If you ascend Xerath to his third and final level, his stats become 5/9 and he alters his effect to become a trigger during round start, dealing five damage to the weakest enemy and their Nexus. On top of this powerful barrage of effect damage, if an enemy would die, Xerath will Obliterate it instead.
On top of Xerath’s reveal, several other cards were introduced, including Rite of the Arcane, Ruinous Acolyte, Obelisk of Power, Construct of Desolation, Endless Devout, Risen Altar, Waste Walker, Herald of the Magus, Sandseer, Unleashed Energy, and Servitude of Desolation.
Construct of Desolation is a common one-mana burst spell that lets you create either a Ruinous Acolyte or an Obelisk of Power. Obelisk of Power is a Landmark that’s common, one mana, and has an ability that triggers after counting down for three turns, when it’s summoned, and destroyed that grants your strongest ally +2/+0. Ruinous Acolyte is a common two-mana 2/1 unit with Fearsome and a play ability that requires you to destroy an allied Landmark to grant your allied Ruinous Acolytes everywhere a permanent +1/+1 buff.
Endless Devout is a three-mana 3/3 rare unit that summons a Sarcophagus for its Last Breath ability. The uncollectible Sarcophagus is a Countdown Landmark that summons a Restored Devout after three rounds or when it’s destroyed. The Restored Devout is a one-mana 5/3 unit with Fearsome.
Rite of the Arcane is a rare three-mana slow spell that requires you to pay the cost of either destroying an allied Landmark or one of your mana gems to deal four to an enemy unit.
Unleashed Energy is a three-mana common burst spell that lets you give an ally a +2/+1 stat boost this round. If you’re willing to destroy an allied Landmark, you get to give an ally +4/+2 this round.
Waste Walker is a common three-mana 3/3 unit with Overwhelm and an ability that grants themself +1/+1 when an allied Landmark is destroyed.
Herald of the Magus is a five-mana 4/4 rare unit that has a summon ability that activates if you destroy four or more allied Landmarks throughout the game. If the conditions are met, the herald will grant your champions everywhere +2/+2 and Overwhelm.
Sandseer is an epic five-mana 5/4 unit with Fearsome and a play ability that lets you draw one card. If the drawn card is a Landmark, this effect is repeated.
Risen Altar is a six-mana epic Landmark that summons a Dami’Yin the Unbound after being destroyed or counting down for three rounds. Dami’Yin the Unbound is a seven-mana 7/6 unit with Overwhelm and SpellShield.
Servitude of Desolation is an epic seven-mana burst spell that summons a Stasis Statue to store all allied units and Landmarks that died or were destroyed this round. As a reminder, Stasis Statue has a Countdown of one round.
Xerath requires you to destroy your allied Landmarks to find success with him. While some of his new cards provide you with effects that automatically destroy your Landmarks, using Countdown Landmarks provide credit toward his level up.
Xerath has below-average stats for his mana cost and his effect requires an ample number of Landmarks ready to be destroyed to make use of his static ability. But once Xerath attains his level two form, his stat line is more serviceable and his damage-dealing ability becomes more potent as removal against more midrange-sized threats.
While players were hoping for Xerath to be the savior of the meme-tier deck of Mono-Shurima, it looks like he’ll fail to be that answer. Buried Sun Disc decks run the problem of the region lacking good control tools to stall until you can feasibly restore the Sun Disc. On top of this, guaranteeing a play that skips your turn on round one means you’ll fall behind aggressive and midrange decks that are on top of the meta right now.
Under normal circumstances, playing Landmarks makes you lose tempo and destroying your own cards accentuates that weakness. Despite this flaw, Xerath’s new allies and Landmarks have their countdown abilities activate prematurely if they’re destroyed.
Rite of the Arcane, which is also Xerath’s champion spell, is the first “Rite” card that lets you destroy a friendly Landmark instead of a unit to achieve its ability.
Ruinous Acolyte is a follower that can become an efficient wave of units if you manage to destroy Landmarks each time you play one. But a notable weakness of the acolyte becomes apparent if you fail to have Landmarks to fuel them. In addition, the most you’re able to summon in one game is six if you only use the three conventional copies and Construct of Desolation, which creates them.
Obelisk of Power can provide lots of power for your units and help Xerath reach his second level. If your board gets removed, then you’ll lose out on the value of the Obelisk’s stat-boosting power.
While the previously mentioned Construct of Desolation has variety in either giving you a playable unit or a Landmark to destroy, the initial one-mana investment can be a slow detriment in a faster meta where every mana can count toward survival.
Endless Devout is a sticky unit that can persist by fighting for the board while giving you a potential Landmark to destroy. While the second unit coming out after a delayed timing could be awkward against fast decks, the ability to set up your Landmark destruction chains can be a positive benefit.
In addition, the late arrival of the Restored Devout could be awkward for slower and control decks to deal with since you can pair the timing of the summoned Restored Devout with another sizable threat.
Waste Walker is a powerful unit that binds this Landmark destruction archetype together since they start off with average status for his cost while being able to scale out of control. Thanks to their Overwhelm keyword, their stat increase can’t be simply chump blocked since they’ll still be able to deal Nexus damage when blocked.
Although Unleashed Energy is a fair card to potentially be included in the self-destroying Landmark archetype, it’s less versatile than Shurima’s Shaped Stone, which already gives a temporary +3/+1 stat bonus for two less mana if you already played a Landmark.
Sandseer has meager stats for her cost, but her ability to potentially draw you a wide chain of cards if you keep on picking up Landmarks can give you future cards to play for this entire archetype.
Herald of the Magus has a potent ability that’s comparable to Siphoning Strike. But the condition to achieve the permanent +2/+2 and Overwhelm buff can be difficult to attain by turn five. Despite this task being arduous, the payoff is immense, especially if you can play multiple copies of Herald of the Magus in quick succession after destroying four Landmarks.
Risen Altar summons Dami’Yin the Unbound, which is a powerful unit for six mana but requires you to destroy the altar to unleash their true potential sooner rather than later. If Dami’Yin arrives, then your opponent will have a difficult time dealing with them due to the SpellShield keyword and six health.
Servitude of Desolation is a potent card that can generate immense value by letting you trade evenly with an opposing board or effectively counter powerful removal like Ruination. In addition, Stasis Statue is another quick countdown Landmark that counts toward Xerath’s level up.
Xerath will be joining the Shurima champion roster when LoR: Beyond the Bandlewood goes live on Aug. 25.