With the addition of Bandle City, Legends of Runeterra received it’s 10th, and final (at the time of this writing), region. According to the developers, we shouldn't expect to see any more regions for the foreseeable future but there will be more updates and cards added to the game in the coming months.
Until we receive our next content dump, Morppadorp, a competitive player from Toronto, Canada and an expert in all things LoR, is going to break down all 10 regions, from key cards to keywords and why you would want to use one region over the other.
There's a lot to cover here so, if you want to jump straight to the region that interest you, we've got a handy list of links up top so you can jump ahead.
Bilgewater is all about high risk, high reward for players that love to gamble. The most important spell in Bilgewater is ‘Make it Rain’, which Morpp says you can find in pretty much every good Bilgewater deck. It costs only 2 mana and deals 1 damage on up to 3 units or the enemy Nexus. You won't know what it's going to target until the spell is locked in so it’s a risky, but cheap, way to clear the board and can easily activate one of Bilgewater’s key mechanics: Plunder.
Plunder varies from card to card but, once you’ve dealt damage to the enemy Nexus, you can use it. Monster Harpoon is a really powerful card once you’ve triggered its Plunder effect since it can deal 5 damage to a unit for only 3 mana, making it a great way to clear medium-sized threats.
Another card, which makes use of Plunder as well as the keyword Nab (an important keyword in Bilgewater), is Black Market Merchant. Once you’ve dealt damage to the enemy Nexus, play Black Market Merchant to activate its Nab, which results in you stealing a non-champion card from the bottom of the enemy deck. You might get nothing special or you pull out the lynchpin to your opponent’s whole strategy, putting you in control of the game.
The final Bilgewater gamble we’ll mention is Deep. Getting Deep requires you to thin your deck from 40 cards to 15 by using spells and units that toss cards from play. Once you hit Deep, your Sea Monster cards will have +3 Power and Health and the champion Nautilus will level up. When Nautilus levels up, he'll go from 0 to 13 Power, reducing the cost of your Sea Monster allies by four, so you can fill the board with powerful units to finish the game before you run out of cards.
This is easily Morpp’s least favourite region for competitive play, but it does have a few good cards for contesting the board and is a good starting point for new players.
“If you come from another card game where owning the board is just how you've always played card games then, yeah, by all means, Demacia might be a great pick for you,” says Morpp. “It’ll teach you a lot of the fundamentals of the game, how to take trades, how to use spells to protect units, how to use spells to swing combat in your favour, things like that.”
Demacia cards centre around removing specific enemy units from the board through spells like Single Combat and Concerted Strike, which involve one or more of your units striking a unit on the other side of the field. Also look out for the keyword Challenger, which lets your unit decide what enemy unit blocks its attack. Challenger can be found on many units in this region, including the strongest Demacia champions: Fiora and Jarvan IV.
Fiora is unique since she only has to kill four enemy units without dying to win the game. Combining her Challenger with spells that protect and give her more chances to strike can win games after only a handful of rounds, even with your opponent's Nexus at full health. Barrier and Rally are key mechanics from Demacia. The former shields a unit from one attack and the latter gives an additional attack token so you can send your units into battle a second time.
Jarvan IV stands out in Demacia because you can spend his cost to summon him to the field, challenging the strongest unit with Barrier and, since his Power is high, he’s likely to kill the unit he challenges and come out unscathed. After Jarvan IV levels up, he creates a Fleeting Cataclysm each round that allows him to challenge the enemy of your choice with a Barrier, making it easy to remove any opposition you want without having to give something up in return.
This region is all about freezing your enemy’s units and wiping them from the board with anti-aggro cards that keep your units' Health high, and your enemies' Power low. The mechanic, which Morpp says is most unique to this region, is Frostbite. Frostbite allows you to shut down any attacking unit for one turn by dropping their Power to zero. There are a lot of spells and units that let you do this, but they vary slightly. Some common ones you’ll see regularly are Brittle Steel, which works on any unit with three or less Health, and Flash Freeze which works on any unit. Harsh Winds disables two units while playing Icevale Archer lets you Frostbite regardless of enemy SpellShields, and puts a 3|1 unit on the board.
Another key spell from this region is Troll Chant, which lets you raise one of your unit’s Health by two and lower an opposing unit's Power by the same amount. It’s a Burst spell so it can be used at the last minute to alter combat in your favour. Then there’s Three Sisters which costs one mana and lets you create a Fleeting: Flash Freeze, Fury Of The North, or Entomb. Fury of the North gives a unit +3|+4 for one round and Entomb seals a unit in a landmark for two turns. It's kind of the defining spell of the region because it has three powerful Freljord spells in one.
The champions of Freljord are all pretty strong but Morppadorp believes Lissandra and Sejuani are tied for number one. Lissandra pairs well with landmark advancing cards from Shurima that help her Frozen Thralls transform into 8|8 Frostguard Thralls in less than eight rounds. Lissandra will level up after two of these Frostguard Thralls emerge from their landmarks. When that happens, she gives the Nexus Tough, meaning it can take an extra point of damage and she summons a Fleeting Ice Shard each round that deals one damage to everything. This is powerful because she will be chipping away at the enemy units and Nexus without dealing any damage to her or your Nexus.
Sejuani is also really strong. You level her up by dealing Nexus damage in five different rounds, making her a great pairing for Bilgewater since a lot of the cards from that region center around dealing Nexus damage. Once Sejuani levels up, she will Frostbite all the opposing enemies if you damage the enemy Nexus, making them unable to attack your units or Nexus. Summoning Sejuani when you have the attack token is especially advantageous as she will Frostbite and give Vulnerable to an enemy of your choosing for one round, allowing you to pick them off without taking any damage.
This is the region for players who want to shift their focus slightly off of units and try out the many key mechanics Ionia has to offer instead. Ionia is also the only region in the game with good Counterspells, like Deny and Nopeify, which Morppadorp says has been key to keeping Ionia in the meta.
“Counterspells, I would say, are definitely Ionia’s specialty. This is the only region in the game with access to good Counterspells and that's one of the main reasons why it was able to stay relevant,” says Morpp. “Imagine using [Deny] on a Feel The Rush, which is that 12 mana spell that summons two champions. Denying that is insane because they paid 12 mana, [and] you paid four. You traded one for one in cards but somehow you have eight extra mana than your opponent does. That's crazy and that’s why these cards are good.”
Alongside Counterspells, the defining keywords of this region are: Recall, Elusive, Stun, Barrier and Blade Dance.
- Recall lets you return played cards to either your opponent’s hand or yours, allowing you to reuse your Play effects while your opponent pays twice to put the same card onto the field.
- Elusives are units that can only be blocked by other units with the same keyword. If your opponent doesn’t have the cards to stop you, Elusives can strike the Nexus uncontested. While most players don’t particularly like going up against them, Elusive units have low health so it’s easy to remove them using spells and skills, so they do have a weakness.
- Stun removes a unit from combat for one round, leaving them unable to block or attack. The spell Concussive Palm, is key for this region and can be found in most Ionia decks. When you play Concussive Palm, you Stun an enemy and summon a 3|2 Tail of the Dragon, which can be turned back into its original spell by being Recalled back into your hand. It’s a pretty versatile card.
- Blade Dance is one of the newer mechanics introduced alongside the champion Irelia. It summons little 1|1 tokens to the field called Blades that disappear after they’ve attacked, meaning you get to have more than 6 units on your side of the field.
When Blade Dance was introduced to the meta, it created, at the time, the most powerful deck in the game. Picture this: Irelia and Azir from Shurima summoning countless Blades and Sand Soldiers to the field, easily defeating any other deck. This deck has been nerfed so it’s nowhere near as good as it used to be, but it’s still pretty great overall.
Noxus centers around all-out assault for those that want to enact mindless aggression against their opponents. Units from this region are cheap with high power and low Health. Several of them have Can’t Block, so they’re only usable when you have the attack token. One of the better champions of this region, according to Morppadorp, is also relatively low-cost. Draven 3|2 can be summoned for only three mana and creates zero cost Spinning Axes which offer an extra point of Power for one round. As long as you have cards to discard, you can make him a 4|2 right off the bat. He also has Quick Attack, letting him strike and kill an opposing unit before they can retaliate if their Health is lower than his Power.
If you like to play aggressively, Noxus has some of the strongest one and two drops before getting Draven on the field. Legion Rearguard is a 3|2 for one mana with Can’t Block but, if you have the attack token, is a strong unit to mulligan for in the first round. Legion Saboteur, Imperial Demolitionist and Legion Grenadier are one and two drops that deal Burn damage to the enemy Nexus. When Legion Saboteur 2|1 attacks, she deals one damage to the enemy Nexus even if she’s blocked. Imperial Demolitionist 2|3 will deal one to an ally and two to the enemy Nexus when she’s played, and Legion Grenadier 3|2 deals one burn damage to the enemy Nexus when he dies.
For aggro-style gameplay with Noxus, you want to flood the board with small enemies. Deal as much damage as you can to the enemy Nexus, then bring out strong units with Overwhelm, a common keyword in Noxus. When an attacking unit has Overwhelm, whatever damage doesn't get absorbed by the blocking unit is dealt to the enemy Nexus. Some strong Overwhelm sporting units you’ll want to summon to close out games are Crowd Favourite, a 2|1 who grows +1|+1 for each additional unit you have on the field, and Noxus’ main finisher Captain Farron, a big 8|8 that also creates two Decimates in your hand.
Decimate is a Burn spell which deals four damage to the enemy Nexus for five mana, making it an easy way to end games against opponents with low health. Scorched Earth is Noxus’ hard removal for anything, and a key spell for the region. It works on landmarks or any damaged unit, regardless of how powerful it is. Finally, Noxian Ferver is Noxus’ answer to the anti-aggro mechanic Lifesteal which you’ll see on units from regions like Targon, Ionia or Shadow Isles. Lifesteal allows an enemy to regain Nexus health when they attack but, by killing your own unit with Noxian Ferver, you can ensure the attack isn’t completed. Sacrificing your unit leaves a shadow block which can’t be attacked and you get to deal three damage to an enemy unit or opposing Nexus.
Piltover & Zaun
P&Z is a wacky, tech-focused region with strong spells and access to burn damage. It makes a great partner for Ionia or Noxus. Mystic Shot, Morpp says, has always been historically a go-to control tool for P&Z, as the spell lets you deal two damage to either an enemy or the opposing Nexus. It’s an efficient tool from early to end game.
Statikk Shock is a similar spell, letting you deal one damage to two enemies, or damage to one unit as well as the enemy Nexus. In addition to the damage, you get to draw one card, effectively meaning Statikk Shock replaces itself after use. These spells (Mystic Shot and Statikk Shock) compliment Ezreal, one of the most fun champions from this region, really well. He’ll start firing Mystic Shots at the enemy Nexus, once you’ve levelled him up, every time you play a spell for some satisfying extra burn damage.
Besides generally being fun to play, Ezreal shares a really cool dynamic with Karma, a champion from Ionia. Karma will double the effects of all spells when you level her up, by becoming Enlightened. By round 10, you will automatically become Enlightened when you unlock all of your mana. When she levels up, you'll double any burn damage from P&Z spells and, in turn, doube the number of times Ezreal hits the Nexus with a Mystic Shot. With this pairing, one Mystic Shot which costs two mana can deal up to six damage to the enemy Nexus if both Ezreal and Karma are levelled up, making them pretty much unstoppable during the end game.
Noxus pairs well with Piltover and Zaun through champions Jinx and Draven, who synergize through discarding your cards to turn Jinx into a burn engine. After Jinx levels up once your hand is empty, Jinx creates a Super Mega Death Rocket that deals four damage to the enemy Nexus and one damage to all enemies. Zaunite Urchin, Rummage, Get Excited!, Boom Baboon and Flame Chompers! are great discard cards which work well with this champion combo.
Another key unit and spell from P&Z include Fallen Feline and Time Trick which, when working together, create in your deck a Hexite Crystal that deals two damage to all enemies and the enemy Nexus. If that wasn’t enough, the created Hexite Crystal will be added straight to your hand when it shows up in Time Trick’s Predict. Look out for Ballistic Bot, Armed Gearhead and Nyandroid as well. They carry the Augment keyword, which raises their attack by one every time you play a created card (a mechanic almost exclusively found in Piltover and Zaun).
Shadow Isles is all about death and control and is known as the scary region in Legends of Runeterra. This region will actually reward you for slaughtering your own units as well as your opponent’s. Many units and champions synergize well when you’re killing on both sides of the board. Units like Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon and The Wings And The Wave, are sacrificed in order to play stronger units, to buff units, to draw cards, to level up champions or even to deal burn damage to the enemy Nexus. Versatile spells for this region that work well to kill units on either side of the field are: Go Hard, Glimpse Beyond, Vile Feast, Withering Wail, Atrocity, Vengeance and The Ruination.
The stand out champions for this region mostly centre around control decks, with the exception of Elise, who is more aggro and carries the keyword Fearsome. She’s not shy with that keyword either, and gives it to all her spider minions after she levels up, ensuring no enemy with less than three power can block her and her spider’s attacks. However, Morpp believes she’s actually a more powerful card before she levels up.
“Generally speaking I think levelling up Elise is usually a bad thing because, once she levels up, she stops creating Spiderlings, and that's really the only reason you're playing her. You're just creating tokens,” says Morppadorp. “There are certain aggro strategies that have decided to level her up but, in general, they do pale in comparison to most other aggro concepts in the game.”
For control champions, Viego and Thresh are some of the best for that. They thrive on killing your own units and have pretty awesome abilities after you’re able to level them up. After the level increase, Viego will either control the strongest enemy each round or kill a champion. For Thresh, the first time he attacks, he will summon another champion from your deck to attack alongside him. This works great in a game like Legends of Runeterra that is constantly being updated. The newest champions to the region, Veigar and Senna, make a really mean control deck when paired together, targeting enemies and increasing the strength of Darkness spells until you can use them to obliterate the enemy Nexus.
Shurima is considered, by Morpp, to be an upgraded version of Demacia, especially with Vulnerable being a key mechanic for this region. Vulnerable is, essentially, the reverse of Challenger. If you grant an enemy unit Vulnerable, you can force it to block any of your units. More often than not, Vulnerable is a permanent affliction you can exploit to attack a unit until it dies; Shurima’s main strategy for controlling the board. Units like Baccai Sandspinner and Merciless Hunter, and landmarks like Roiling Sands (summoned via Rock Hopper or Unraveled Earth), grant permanent Vulnerable to enemy units. Shurima spells Exhaust, Ruthless Predator and Emperor’s Divide only do so for one round.
SpellsShield is another powerful keyword for this region and can be seen on Sivir and Ruin Runner as well as Nasus after he levels up. Warlord’s Hoard and Soothsayer can give SpellShield to champions, making them especially hard to remove from the game.
“SpellShield, in general, is a very strong keyword in Legends of Runeterra, especially because a lot of removal in this game is just not very good, or it's just kind of inefficient. That's very intentional design and obviously just makes SpellShield a very strong mechanic.” - Morppadorp
Other Shurima calling cards are landmarks as well as countdown advancement, Predict and token creation. Shurima has a lot of landmarks that do a lot of stuff, but they really shine thanks to spells and units that advance the Countdowns of those landmarks, like the Thralls from Freljord. Predict allows you to choose the top card in your deck, and is mostly used by Zilean who is, unfortunately, one of the only weak champions of this region, or by Rek'sai who will grant all allies with Lurk +2 Power if she's at the top of your deck when your units attack.
Finally, token creation is done by making Sand Soldiers 1|1 and Sandstone Chargers 5|2 that are Ephemeral, so they last one round. They can be summoned in a multitude of ways, either via spells, units, landmarks and champions from Shurima. Other key cards from this powerful and versatile region are Rite of Calling, Shaped Stone, Promising Future and Shurima’s answer to Counterspells Rite Of Negation, which will stop all fast and slow spells cast by your opponent, as long as you’re willing to part with a unit or a mana gem.
Targon is the cosmic region that makes use of a unique feature known as Invoke, which gives you access to 22 Celestial units and spells you can pull from like a toolbox. When a player Invokes, they will be given a choice of three cards, from which one is added to their hand. These 22 cards vary in cost and strength and you can only Invoke certain ones using specific cards.
Spacey Sketcher, The Fangs and Supercool Starchart can only invoke Celestial cards that cost three or less. Solari Priestess gives you access to 4, 5 and 6 cost cards. Aurelion Sol and Starshaping let you Invoke 7 cost cards or higher, and cards like Behold The Infinite or Moon Dreamer can give you a choice of any Celestial card. The system is pretty complicated, and it may be difficult for new players to figure out when it comes to pulling the right tool out of the box, so Morpp recommends this region for more seasoned players.
Targon is also a region of healing with a unique way to win the game by just restoring the health of your units. Players can play the landmark Star Spring and heal their units with a combined total of 22 Health to instantly win the game. Using Soraka in tandem with healing spells like Guiding Touch and Starshaping, as well as cards from Bilgewater like Tahm Kench, Crusty Codger and Boxtopus (aka cards that intentionally deal damage to themselves), is the best way to rake up that 22+ Health game closer. There are even units which benefit from healing in other ways, like Star Shepperd who gains +2 Power whenever you heal an ally.
Targon has Daybreak and Nightfall cards that grant extra benefits, depending on when you play them during a round. Zenith Blade will draw another copy of itself, after it grants a unit +1|+2 and Overwhelm, if it's the very first card you play in a round (Daybreak). On the flip side, Pale Cascade will draw a card after granting an ally +1|+1 for the round as long as it's not the first card you play in a round (Nightfall).
Aurelion Sol and Soraka are some of the better champions for this region but the best one by far, according to Morpp, is Zoe. She’s cheap, elusive, creates Supercool Starcharts and once she levels up, becomes a menace. With some levelling, she lets newly summoned units share their keywords with other allied units on the field and, if she manages to strike the Nexus, she’ll create a zero cost Behold The Infinite.
Bandle City is the newest region in LoR. It introduced a bunch of new mechanics and features to the game and was also the first region launch that Morpp thought felt complete and playable right off the bat. Some of Bandle City’s most impactful additions to the game so far are Pranks, multi-region units, Manifest, and unit transformation. Hand disruption can be seen through Pranks, made by units like Otterpus or Kelp Maidens that show you two cards in the enemy hand, or from their deck if they’re low on cards, that you can debuff. Be warned Pranks are random. They may increase a card’s mana, reduce its Power, or grant a unit Vulnerable or Can’t Block.
“That's still really good, right, because you can apply some debuffs to your opponent’s units before they get summoned. In certain instances, that can actually just make the unit very useless. For example if I Prank, let's say [Bandle Commando], to minus one power, it just basically forgets to create a Hungry Owlcat in hand. You'll play a 0|2 Elusive and it just won't do anything,” says Morppadorp.
“Even if whatever you Prank does not end up being very impactful, you still get the information of seeing your opponent's hand in most instances because whatever options you have to Prank from in hand stay revealed.”
Multi-region units and champions are cards from two regions, whether it be Demacia and Bandle City like Poppy, or Shurima and Bandle City like Ziggs. These units can be put into decks of either region. This has created a lot of synergies and a new way to win the game via a landmark called The Bandle Tree. Once you’ve summoned a unit from all 10 regions and play The Bandle Tree you will instantly win the game.
A good way to do this is to use the key mechanic Manifest. Similar to Targon’s Invoke, Manifest gives you the choice of three cards, but from a way bigger pool of options. Bandle City Mayor will let you Manifest a multi-region unit, Trinket Trade gives you the option of an Otterpus or two spells from your region that cost three or less, and Loping Telescope gives you the option of a cheap Celestial, Epic or multi-region follower.
Finally, the introduction of Minimorph is LoR’s most devastating version of unit transformation in the game. This card works on any unit, even champions, and permanently transforms them into a 3|3 Mini-Minitee. It also Silences them to boot, removing all keywords, abilities and ongoing effects. This is huge for stopping big scary units you have no way of taking down, or preventing an enemy champion from levelling up. As far as the champions of Bandle City go, Morpp says you can’t go wrong playing with Poppy, Lulu, Ziggs, Teemo, Veigar or Fizz since they’re all pretty strong.