Surfing the youtube I stumbbled across a video that had the best concept for a Legends oof Runeterra Deck I'd ever seen. "Unyielding Spirit" played on top of a "Powder Keg". Now if you know those two cards, then you get why that is just an insane combo. So I had to sit down with the Fizz obsessed man behind the content and talk some Runeterra.
G.U: Thanks for taking the time to let us pick your brain. We always like to start these with a personal touch. So for those of us who may not know. Can you tell us a little on who you are and what you do?
S.M: Of course! Thanks for having me! So my name is SaucyMailman. I'm a Legends of Runeterra content creator. I've played competitive Magic the Gathering for about 15 years and also played Hearthstone since it was in open beta, once LoR came to closed beta I tried it out, got hooked and quit playing Hearthstone all together to produce content for LoR full time instead.
G.U: Yea. LoR has definitely had an impact on a lot of us. I don't think there has been a card game this "take the world by storm” since Yu-Gi-Oh. What was it about LoR that captured your attention and stole your focus?
S.M: The gameplay itself really grabbed me. At the time I was streaming Hearthstone primarily but I loved the interaction with your opponent that LoR has. Being able to respond to what your opponent is doing is so important to me in a card game, it prevents things like dawn and dusk on an Anivia to ruin the game because you can kill the unit in response ya know? From a game design perspective that really opens up what is possible in the game and lets the devs really be able to make some crazy stuff. Also the animations from the champs blew me away. I can vividly remember the first time I saw Ezreal level up, I was sold haha.
G.U: Leveling up in this game is next level. So when most of us hardcore players think CCG. We instinctively think Magic (MTG). How would you compare the popularity of what that game was in its hay day to what LoR is now?
S.M: I think that is a reasonable comparison honestly and one I always compare the game to. I think a couple of advantages LoR has over MTG in today's world have come from its core design being digital. This lets them make balance changes that you can't with cardboard and keeps the meta from being too stale. I think the excitement is there for the game, a lot of my old MTG colleagues who had NO interest in games like Hearthstone have been coming to LoR due to its strategy and complexity and not trying to use RNG as a way to compensate for lack of interaction. I really feel like if LoR can nail down competitive play and solidify themselves as a proper competitive game then it really can take its spot as the #1 competitive card game right now. Haha sorry if I rambled there, I kind of just let my words flow there.
G.U: No, please. Ramble away. You make a very valid point. This is a digital age that comes with advantages and disadvantages. For example, and there is a bit of salt with this, but I think there is a huge lack of creativity when it comes to deck builds. Everyone wants the tried and proven winning deck. And my question to you, and a deck builder, do you feel as if having such instant access to what works and to how to build it ruins the integrity of the game?
S.M: I think it's a tough balance right? I mean I remember when I was first getting into magic a lot of the fun was brewing stuff that I thought was AWESOME then playing with my friends and trying out dumb stuff. Then when I started going to tournaments and stuff realizing that my decks were trash tier and having to actually talk to people in person to get info. Then as information became more widely available online from top players that excitement kind of faded away. I don't think Runeterra is ANY different in that regard to any other game now, it is more an issue with how the internet works. With the amount of content creators/streamers/players that write for websites, etc. the best decks are figured out in MTG the moment a set is spoiled just as quickly as a fully digital game so I would say that is a non-issue if you are comparing the two. I think the bigger issue I see is the lack of incentive for players to create their own decks and experiment with different things. One of the biggest things I always preach is not just playing the "best decks'' and instead try playing things that you think sound fun or experimenting with new ideas. I think there needs to be some kind of incentive to do this whether it is different game modes or different styles of tournaments with deck-building restrictions but I am not sure what the right answer is.
G.U: And that's what I think as well in regards to maybe giving people incentive to be different. The thing about Yu-Gi-Oh for example was that there were so many WINNING combinations. And it fostered creativity. And I think that lack of nurturing here could be detrimental to the longevity of the game. Do you think that there is a chance for people to come up with a surprising "tier 1" deck that was originally seen as trash or just not to the caliber?
S.M: Yeah honestly! The craziest thing with this game is how fast the meta continues to change. Even all through open beta we were seeing new decks and archetypes popping up all over the place continually. I honestly believe that the best decks in the game haven't even been discovered yet (spoiler alert they are all Fizz decks. Ok maybe I am just in love with Fizz) haha!
G.U: Bro! Fizz is king right now. Were you aware that he can counter Make it Rain? Which I thought was more of an A.O.E like withering wail.
S.M: Yeah! Since it targets you can just counter that right up with him! It's also why make it rain is broken with Ezreal haha
G.U: Yea, I definitely just found out like 3 days ago.. lol. #newb So what's the next champion you hope to see come to LoR?
S.M: Whew that is a tough one. I would love to see what they would do with someone like Azir, I feel like he would have some really interesting design space. I would also love to see Gnar, I have a thing for all the awesome Yordles and Gnar is just so cool.
G.U: What about Wukong? Because we have it on good authority that he might be in the next wave.
S.M: You know...I just never loved him. I want to...but just can’t haha. Now Warwick, that’s a snarly doggo id like to see in the game haha
G.U: 'm a huge fan on Primates so I look forward to seeing him reign supreme. But I digress. So you're a streamer? Was that always the goal for you?
S.M: Originally no, I started streaming as a hobby and then kind of fell in love with it and the industry. After doing it for a couple of years I decided to start taking it more seriously and turn it into a career. I like to think I am a content creator that streams because I also put out a lot of YouTube content such as my beginners guides and deck overviews and stuff and I also run an LoR podcast too so I have my hands in a bunch of different projects I guess.
G.U: Nice. We've gotta have a listen to that Podcast. How hard would you say that it was to get to the level you are now? And what were some of the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
S.M: That's a great question haha. Really I'm not sure about how "hard" but it takes a LOT of work. I think it depends on your goals, if you are looking to do this as a hobby and for fun then really its not much at all. To make a career out of it though it is a TON of time and dedication. I like to joke around about it but I really do work 7 days a week, if I am awake I am working on something and I guess that is the hardest thing is how much work it is. I have had to make sacrifices in terms of free time and seeing people like my friends and family in order to work my ass (can I say ass?) off.
G.U: And I'm gonna play devils advocate for a second. Can you really call what you do work? You play games and stream them. Isn't this all just leisure activity to get paid for? (And yes. Our Unhinged moniker gives us the right to curse. haha)
S.M: I wish haha I actually don't get to even play LoR as much as I would like. Most of my time is spent recording and editing videos, networking, having a million meetings, updating my website, working on graphics, etc. Like today I have already been in 3 different hour long meetings with another one tonight. There is also a difference between being live and "on" and being able to play games off stream. When I am streaming it is my job to entertain an audience, I am there for YOU! I firmly believe that if someone is willing to financially support me in some way whether it be from YouTube or twitch or merch sales or whatever that I am responsible to provide AT LEAST twice the value to them as an entertainer as what they are giving me.
G.U: So I think it's pretty clear, but for those who have a hard time reading between the lines. What would you say is the biggest misconception about being a streamer.
S.M: I think the biggest misconception is that I just get to play games all day when really it's a business. Now I will be the first to say it is a damn cool job to have BUT that doesn't mean it's without work. The amount of time I spend looking over analytics and spreadsheets is astounding, hahaha.
G.U: I think that's what a lot of people don't realize. Is the amount of dedication, thought, and hard ass work that goes into content creating. So if I could be generic for a second. Who was your biggest inspiration and influence? Both growing up and now.
S.M: Growing up I would say probably Matt Ishida from Digimon and currently Matt Mercer from “Critical Role”. Mercer is someone who reminds me that you can take your passion and turn it into your career and he’s a damn nice guy! I guess I like Matt’s, hahaha.
G.U: You know what. Matts are good people. Haha. So what are some of your top decks that you've created?
S.M: “Unyielding Kegs” is probably my greatest creation. Throwing unyielding spirit on a keg and hitting them for a million damage with a Riptide Rex is one of the best feelings in the world! I also have loved every version of “Soggy Teemo” I have made which is just Fizz + Teemo Because in my mind they are best friends.
G.U: BRO! Unyielding Kegs was everything. And here's why. Because it uses Unyielding Spirit in a way that is very unique. It was a delight to stumble across. And is honestly just the kind of creativity I love to see. It inspires. Do you think that deck has a chance to beat a top tier deck?
S.M: It can absolutely! Consistently though? Eh, probably not. BUT it’s definitely one of my most played decks, it definitely can win games out of nowhere, and it definitely does really well against midrange decks - just loses hard to burn and Ionia anything, haha.
G.U: So if you could work with any other content creator. In LoR or other. Who would it be and why?
S.M: I’d probably say Brian Kibler. I met him at a Magic Grand Prix and he was one of the nicest people I have met. Since then I’ve really looked up to him as a content creator and would love to work with him some day.
G:U: Very cool. So, here at Geek Unhinged we wanna cover it all. Tech, Art, Food, Fashion, Music all of it. Ambitious, I know. But I wanna ask you some rapid fire questions that we ask all of our interviewees. So let's start with the obvious question. If you could have any one super power, what would it be and why?
S.M: I think being able to be a shapeshifter would be pretty rad, you’d always have the best cosplays.
G.U: You know. Morph was easily one of my favorite X-Men. #FunFact haha. So what cell phone are you rocking right now and why?
S.M: I loved mystique too. Always thought she was always pretty rad. As for the next question, I’m using an iPhone 8 Plus, it's still alive and kicking even though I know it’s a bit old it still does the job! Also all my smart home stuff is set up through the Apple home whatever so I’ve just kind of stuck with their ecosystem.
G.U: Got you locked in I see. Haha. What's some of your favorite music to listen to when creating your decks and playing LoR.
S.M: I LOVE music I’ve been listening to a lot of Perturbator, SWARM, Capenter Brut and Varien lately. Lots of dark synthwave stuff
G.U: Nice. How does that, if at all, influence your deck building?