Finally, the struggle is over. The long-awaited Patch 1.2 for Legends of Runeterra has arrived. Included are much-needed adjustments to Demacia, buffs to underused champions, and the death of all Stand Alone-type decks. But what everyone was looking forward to was the nerfs to Burn Aggro, the most used and abused deck in the metagame.
The changes are significant. The health drop to Legion Rearguard and Boomcrew Rookie made sure that most removal spells can now reach these two followers. Especially for the latter, who through most games, generates massive value by being able to attack twice on average.
So now, a question: is Burn dead? Has this bad boy finally meet his maker?
Uhhhh, sure. It won’t be top tier anymore, but as an aggro archetype, it is here to stay. What’s good though, is that it’s slowly becoming was it needs to be: a daredevil.
Burn rests at the extreme end of the aggro spectrum, relying on cards that ignore board state to end the game after a decent opening. This non-interactive nature can be managed, but what makes the deck truly toxic is that it was safe. Opening plays can be done blindfolded. As long as you can trigger a Boomcrew Rookie and a Crimson Disciple, your direct damage spells should be enough to get the win. In fact, many games are won without any of the followers even landing a Nexus hit.
That ain’t cool.
The nerfs weakened Burn’s opening stability, which is so important for the deck. Now, the first two turns are much more fragile and difficult to play. Your opening hand and mulligan skill are now crucial, as recovering from a bad start may be next to impossible. Sure, its direct damage spells didn’t change, but you can’t ignore the board state anymore. You have to respect the matchup.
Personally, I always love aggro archtypes in card games. In particular, the all-in style that Burn provides. From Magic: The Gathering to Android: Netrunner, I enjoy taking risks and making wild plays. Even so, it was annoying how safe Burn Aggro felt. There was no thrill. In many cases, I knew I won the game two to three turns before it actually ended.
Burn decks should be high-risk decks. They should be for people who only drive in the fast lane, playing chicken with an oncoming car at top speed. A burn player should feel pressure from turn one. They should experience a mad rush to take any damage of the opponent, knowing that by turn five or so, they’re at the mercy of the topdeck.
And that’s how it should always be.
From the charred remains of Legion Rearguard comes hope. What the nerfs present for Burn players is space to grow. There are actual deckbuilding opportunities now. They can slow it down a notch, adding Swain as a finisher; while some add Insightful Investigator as a draw engine to find the last Mystic Shot.
Will it change the stigma of Burn being braindead? Unlikely. But I will say that it’ll take a lot more skill to climb the ladder with it, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
See you in Silver IV, fellow cardslingers.
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