In Legends of Runeterra, or LoR, the Shadow Isles region is all about making the death of your units haunt your opponent, not you. This is how to play Shadow Isles in LoR. Core mechanics include temporary units, sacrifice, cards that benefit from the deaths of your units, and a fair amount of control.
The most common keywords in the Shadow Isles are Ephemeral, Fearsome, and Last Breath. If you don’t know what those effects do, I suggest reading my article on LoR keywords and mechanics. There is a list of the keywords with their effects in that article.
LoR Shadow Isles Champions
Most of the time, a deck is built around two or more champions. What champions do the Shadow Isles offer?
Elise floods the board with spiders in the early game. More specifically, she wants you to flood the board with spiders. If you can level her up early, she turns all of your spiders into mid-game gods that let you control the entire board state when you attack.
Kalista bonds with an ally, buffs them, and basically tells them to go die so that she can level up. Then she can bring them back to the fight. However, she has very low health, making her an easy target to take down.
Thresh has challenger, one of the most powerful abilities in the game. It lets you pick who blocks him when he attacks. This ability gives board control and lets you stack up his level up requirements. He also boasts the highest health compared to other units with challenger (besides a leveled up Braum, that is). This lets him challenge even more enemy units.
Hecarim’s level up requirements can be filled throughout the game. He doesn’t need to be on the board while you attack with ephemeral units to level him. You can prep him in the early game then play him mid-game to buff your ephemeral units and spawn more when he attacks.
Champions are powerful cards, but you can only have 6 champion cards in a deck. Sometimes they don’t work out as a win condition because your opponent will focus them. What big threats haunt the Shadow Isles besides champions?
Commander Ledros can cut your opponent’s health in half. Moreover, when he dies, he can do it again. Upon death, he returns to your hand, making him a constant threat no matter how many times you opponent can take him down. He is also bulky, can block any threat because you can play him again, and has plenty of attack power to finish the enemy Nexus off. His skill’s damage also rounds up, so he can kill the Nexus even if you can’t get an attack through.
The Harrowing is a good late-game finisher if your opponent doesn’t have the ability to block or kill 6 units with one card. Be careful though; it is a card your opponent can react to, and they might have some big cards to play that can counter it.
LoR: How to Play Shadow Isles
Aggressive options include low-cost, low-health champions like Kalista and Elise. Ephemeral units are generally lost-cost, high-power, making them great in the early game, but they don’t stick around long. If you are going for an aggressive ephemeral strategy, Kalista can bring them back each time she attacks if she is leveled up. Shark Chariot is a must-have that can come back from an ephemeral ally even if Kalista revived them. Elise can flood the board early and then create an unstoppable army of spiders that give you full control over the battlefield after she levels up. The hard part is keeping these champions alive.
Mid-Range options are Hecarim and Thresh. Which one is best will depend on whether you choose aggressive or control. Hecarim offers the mid-game power to shore up the early lead offered by aggro ephemeral. Thresh offers the challenger ability that can be used to control and help make sure the unit you want to attack with can attack safely. Other than the champions, the Shadow Isles lack strong mid-range power. Moreover, the mid-range cards play into the other strategies, bringing in aggressive win conditions and more control options.
Control options are based around small amounts of damage and kill spells. Vile Feast offers a spider in addition to dealing 1 damage while Withering Wail deals 1 damage to all enemy units. Black Spear and Grasp of the Undying can deal 3 damage to a single target. The Shadow Isles have the best kill spells with Vengeance and The Ruination. With control, you will want some of the late-game threats I mentioned earlier to claim victory.
Picking the Other Region
Unless you want to limit yourself or you want to guarantee the benefit of allegiance, I suggest picking a second region to combo with the Shadow Isles.
Some great regions to pair with the Shadow Isles that I found are Demacia and Ionia.
With Demacia, you have incredible mid-range power. There are buffs to help your low-health champions, such as Kalista. Full board buffs such as For Demacia! pairs well with the flooding nature of Spiders and ephemeral. Challenger, a common mechanic in Demacia, gives you units that can sacrifice themselves for the greater good to not only play certain Shadow Isles death costs but also clear out enemy units. There is also a spell that can force two units to fight, Single Combat, for more control and more deaths.
Ionia offers more ways to protect your more fragile units with barrier. But, more importantly, it pairs extremely well with ephemeral. Death Mark is great with consistent ephemeral units. On the other hand, Shadowshift brings additional ephemeral options while protecting your important units. Zed, an Ionia champion, is also a great match because of his ability to make ephemeral units like Hecarim.
That’s the basics of strategy options and how to play Shadow Isles in LoR. I’ll be coming out with articles for the other regions soon!
Interested in playing the game? It’s not out yet, but you can read about how to get early access and when it will be available in the Legends of Runeterra Release Date and Preview Timeline article.
Be sure to check out more of the latest news and guides on Gamezo, the new and upcoming gaming site. Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with all the latest articles.