By multiple authors, September 7, 2020
Team Aretuza brings you the most detailed Meta Snapshot for Legends of Runeterra yet.
Legends of Runeterra Meta Snapshot #1: Call of the Mountain
We have published an updated meta snapshot, you can find it on this URL: https://teamaretuza.com/lor/meta-snapshot/
Welcome to Team Aretuza’s first Legends of Runeterra Meta Snapshot!
Here we attempt to provide a list of some of the best decks currently seeing play on the ranked ladder in order for you to heighten your understanding of the metagame, win more games, and climb the ranks. Attached to each deck is its decklist, a short explanation of its concept, its core cards, and a few tech considerations. We’ll be sure to update the Snapshot as the meta continues to evolve, and once the next balance patch is introduced.
Updates will also be announced on the Team Aretuza Discord Community, where you can also chat to Team Aretuza members and ask questions about decks, gameplay, and how to optimise your chances of climbing.
In the first expansion of the Call of the Mountain set, Aurelion Sol took the metagame by storm, establishing himself as the king of value decks, and spawning several pairings using him as a near-impervious late game insurance. In response, aggro lists surged as well to punish the slower archetypes relying on Celestials. The Invoke keyword has proven to be a highly effective option for a number of decks for its flexibility, making it harder for opponents to play around all possible Celestials and generating a lot of value if needed.
This development, of course, never bothered Swain/Twisted Fate which hasn’t budged from its throne, able to deal both with aggro or slower, beefier units with relative ease thanks to the synergy between Swain and The Leviathan, though it still has trouble dealing with burn-heavy aggro decks like Pirate Aggro.
Not every region is well-represented due to the imbalance of new cards however, leaving Bilgewater, Demacia, Noxus, and P&Z with few new options, only able to find purchase through tried-and-true older archetypes or by pairing with Targon. Despite the lack of innovation for the previous regions, it didn't stop them from finding a foothold, and they've remained powerful options throughout the formation of the new meta.
Frontrunners: Meta-warping decks that do well across a large number of matchups or require their opponent to alter their deck significantly to increase their odds of winning.
Runner-ups: Strong decks that don’t reach the top because of a specific weakness (e.g. draw consistency, narrow win condition, lower average power level, no comeback potential, etc...).
Dark Horses: Commendable decks that are decent options and can be used to climb or used in tournaments, but aren’t currently favoured by the metagame.
Honourable Mentions: Interesting or fun archetypes that offer little to no competitive advantage on average, but make use of powerful synergies which fall short of greatness because of a lack of payoff, consistency, or both; or sometimes require an extreme amount of proficiency with the deck to achieve goods results.
My deck isn't in the Snapshot. Does that mean it isn't viable?
It is possible to climb with a deck that isn’t listed here. This Meta Snapshot is meant to collect decks that are relevant to the metagame, but casts no judgment on decks that are not included, though there is a reason they aren’t. Experimenting in card games is healthy, and just because an archetype isn’t popular, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s weak.
What data are the rankings based on?
We use both data given to us by websites which use deck trackers like Mobalytics, coupled with the play experience of several Master rank players in Team Aretuza. Practically speaking, this means we base our rankings on what we encounter while playing, as well as our experience of all past metagames since LoR was in beta, as well as tournament results. These are then tempered by deck-tracker data, used to refine the rankings further, removing our personal biases towards deck archetypes as much as possible. It is far from perfect, and we understand that both sources of data are inherently biased, however there is currently no alternative unless Riot Games elects to release ladder data publically, which is its own can of worms.
Are you only including the best decklists?
Short answer, no. Some lists are bound to be weaker or more situational than others while still providing an interesting archetype worth playing; and power levels may change or be given support through balance changes or new sets. For example, it is entirely possible for a Frontrunner to reliably lose to a Dark Horse. How can that be? Shouldn’t the Dark Horse be inherently weaker since it is considered a lower rank? Simply put: the Dark Horse may have a good match-up against this specific Frontrunner, though it is generally still pulled down by other weaknesses against other meta decks, bringing its overall win rate down. The meta is a complex beast and decks cannot be well measured in a vacuum.
Do I have to use a Frontrunner deck to climb the ladder?
Absolutely not. It is perfectly viable to climb with any other deck, even those amongst the Honourable Mentions, or decks not listed here. The metagame can be a strange beast, but understanding which decks are prevalent and playing a deck that does well when facing them is generally a good strategy, and that is true no matter what “Tier” a deck is said to belong to. Most of all, consistency is key in order to climb. The metagame is a living organism that can shift extremely quickly, sometimes day-to-day, though that’s most often the case after balance patches as players are figuring things out, or when popular players release content connected to a specific archetype.
We would like to thank all the authors, editors and contributors for their teamwork and dedication to excellence:
Organisers and Administrators: Apero (Team Manager and Project Management Lead), Asher (Meta Snapshot Lead), Empress Teemo (Content Manager - Legends of Runeterra).
Authors: Asher, Rowdy, Scarzig, Zinc.
Editors: Apero, Callonetta, JMJWilson, Nakerman.
Video creators: FreshLobster, Scarzig.
Team Aretuza is currently accepting applications from streamers, writers, and editors passionate about Legends of Runeterra. If you pride yourself in the quality of your work and are serious about being a strong part of the community, send a message to Apero on Discord: [TA] Apero#0204.
A slow midrange deck with control tools, Swain/Twisted Fate uses it's efficient removal to swing the board in the midgame and establish its win conditions: Swain, The Leviathan, and Riptide Rex. Though it can get grossly overvalued by the many Aurelion Sol decks currently rampaging across the ladder, The Leviathan and Swain remain a powerful pairing that can break even the most powerful of boards.
As a slow deck without any healing options, direct Nexus damage can be hard to deal with for Swain/Twisted Fate and makes the many shades of Noxus aggro tough match-ups.
- Powerful aggro-stopper, but still plays proactive threats.
- Great skill expression, and adjustable to fit certain metas.
- Folds to Burn aggro due to lack of healing.
- Throughout the game we work towards flipping Swain to make use of his Stun ability and break the enemy board. The many damage spells we use ensure that Swain flips as quickly as possible.
- The Leviathan enables our late game through its great value, both drawing a Swain and enabling him, while being a healthy unit of its own and activating Riptide Rex’s Plunder in later turns.
- Salvage grants more value to our deck thanks to its clear cut card draw. Tossing cards is unimportant, however it can inform our opponent of cards we will not have access to, allowing them to stop playing around those. It can sometimes help us flip Twisted Fate, but only rarely, and should not be saved for such purpose.
- Make it Rain, Ravenous Flock, Noxian Fervor, Death's Hand, Noxian Guillotine, and Culling Strike all allow us to control the board throughout the game, offering a certain flexibility.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Black Market Merchant, Pilfered Goods, Legion Grenadier, Petty Officer, Yordle Grifter.
Against aggro: -1 Noxian Guillotine, -1 Salvage, +2 Culling Strike.
Against control: -3 Arachnoid Sentry, -1 Noxian Fervor, -1 Culling Strike, +3 Black Market Merchant, +2 Pilfered Goods.
Against midrange: The Nab Package can be considered but not needed.
Favoured against: Ezreal/Karma, non-Burn Aggro
Struggles against: Noxus Aggro, Ezreal/Twisted Fate
An aggro deck that has been prominent since Rising Tides released, it capitalises on two key elements: the Scout keyword, and flipping Quinn and Miss Fortune who both happen to have the same level-up condition.
The way the deck plays is reminiscent of Bannerman, with cost-efficient units and cheap combat tricks, aiming to take the board early and pressure our opponent into inefficient trades. This is a much more aggressive build when compared to Bannerman, capable of ending the game fast if unchecked. Thanks to the Scout keyword and Rally effects flipping Miss Fortune or Quinn can be achieved in two turns, leading into an early victory. If the game goes longer, Genevieve Elmheart can allow your units to get through for the damage to finish the game.
- Easy to pick up and very effective.
- Catch your opponent off guard with devastating Relentless Pursuits.
- Struggles with midrange matchups.
- Loses steam in longer games.
- Both Quinn and Miss Fortune level up the same way and benefit from a proactive gameplan. Quinn’s Valor allows us to challenge problematic defenders out of the way, while Miss Fortune’s Love Tap can offer a great amount of value, especially with Challenger units.
- The classic Demacia aggro package: Fleetfeather Tracker, War Chefs, Loyal Badgerbear, Grizzled Ranger, Genevieve Elmheart, and more. This tried and tested package ensures a beefy early game that trade well into most other regions, with Genevieve Elmheart allowing your board advantage to end the game.
- Scout and Rally effects allow us to surprise our opponent with obscene amounts of damage within a single turn and further level up both our champions.
- In terms of protection, Ranger's Resolve is of unparalleled efficiency and does well both against single-target removal and board wipes like Make It Rain or Withering Wail. Finally, Riposte and Single Combat let you protect your units and deal with trouble from high-health enemies.
The main consideration when changing cards in this deck is whether or not Bannerman is included, as adding him naturally limits the number of Bilgewater cards we can keep in the final list.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Jagged Butcher, Hired Gun, Petty Officer
Against control: -1 Cithria of Cloudfield, -1 Screeching Dragon, +2 Cithria the Bold
Against midrange: -1 Cithria of Cloudfield, -2 Laurent Protege +2 Screeching Dragon, +1 Riposte
Favoured against: Karma/Ezreal, Ramp Trundle/Aurelion Sol
Struggles against: Most midrange decks
Targon Allegiance is one of the most powerful archetypes Call of the Mountain has introduced. Aurelion Sol and the Invoke mechanic bring an incredible amount of value to the table, while Leona and the Daybreak package ensure we get through the early/midgame and get to drop all our bombs later. The flexibility provided by these two mechanics allows the deck to stand against most of the current field and is only slightly unfavoured against the most efficient aggressive strategies.
The archetype has seen a lot of experimentation, and we could talk about many viable variants of the deck (Freljord Splash, Diana+Nightfall instead of Aurelion Sol, etc.) but we are featuring what we think is the best overall list at the moment. The Demacia splash brings some desperately needed interaction to the deck, mitigating one of the glaring weaknesses of the Targon region.
- Invoke and Aurelion Sol make the deck able to out-grind any greedy strategy.
- The Daybreak package adds flexibility to the deck in the form of an alternative win condition.
- Allows for a great deal of skill expression: knowledge of matchups and successful assessment of future turns can grant an edge to dedicated players.
- Limited comeback mechanisms. After losing the board it can be difficult to stabilise a game as very few cards, including the Invoke pool, have the ability to make important tempo swings.
- The flexibility that the Invoke mechanic brings can also come out as inconsistency, as we have only limited control over the cards we get.
- Aurelion Sol is probably the most powerful finisher in the game. Although slow, this card can generate a ridiculous amount of value, and will carry games on its own. If left to level up unchecked, it's usually GG for the opponent.
- Leona can also become a solid way to end a game if supported by enough Daybreak units, and especially when combined with Rahvun, Daylight's Spear, and her own champion spell: Morning Light.
- Spacey Sketcher might look like a straightforward card most of the time but can make the difference in certain matchups by providing key tools in the form of cheap Celestial cards. This one really rewards thoughtful and careful play.
- Hush is an incredibly versatile card that has many different uses depending on the situation. From countering specific threats like They Who Endure, to silencing one’s own stunned unit so that it can block for the turn, it can provide utility to every situation.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Behold the Infinite, Radiant Guardian, Sunburst, Judgment, The Infinite Mindsplitter.
Against aggro: -1 Bastion, -1 Hush, -2 Concerted Strike, +3 Radiant Guardian, +1 Judgment.
Against control: -2 Guiding Touch, +2 Behold the Infinite.
Favoured against: Midrange, Control Decks
Struggles against: Pure Aggro
Not an old archetype per se, Pirate Aggro is a new take on Burn, pairing Bilgewater and Noxus with deadly efficiency. The deck shows many variants, yet all of them revolve around the same plan: pushing damage early on and doing so on every round to fulfill Gangplank’s level-up condition for an explosive midgame. If that isn’t enough, the deck still has more options to burn the enemy Nexus down, borrowing both from Noxus or Bilgewater’s arsenal with Riptide Rex or Captain Farron. The variants go as far as switching Miss Fortune for Twisted Fate, leaning more into a midrange archetype.
- Straightforward Burn deck.
- Packs a lot of value on top of its Burn reach.
- Gangplank loses a lot of value if we miss our early curve.
- A huge midgame threat, Gangplank can come down flipped right on turn 5 to push our advantage, dealing both Nexus and board damage. He is a very important piece and consistently leveling him up even outside of attack turns is key.
- Riptide Rex acts as finisher or board clear, easily triggered with an open attack, Make it Rain, or Warning Shot.
- A mix-and-match of the Burn package, such as Noxian Fervor, Imperial Demolitionist, Decimate, and more. This package of cards simply helps us close out the game even if we’ve lost control of the board, as well as progress Gangplank’s level up throughout the early game.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Miss Fortune, Twisted Fate, Prowling Cutthroat, Monkey Idol, Monkey Business, Zap Sprayfin, Jack, the Winner, Riptide Rex, Captain Farron
Against midrange: -1 Noxian Fervor, +1 Captain Farron
Favoured against: Swain/TF, MF/Scouts
Struggles against: Midrange Eclipse
Tempo Endure is an aggressive deck that tries to quickly overwhelm the board with Shadow Isles' sacrifice effects. By sacrificing cards like Hapless Aristocrat and Cursed Keeper to Ravenous Butcher or Blighted Caretaker, you can quickly build up an offense that’s hard to stop. If the opponent starts to stabilise, you have They Who Endure as a giant threat to end the game itself.
- High roll draws can be very difficult for the opponent to stop.
- Has late game finishing power even if your opponent clears your board.
- Struggles to finish games if it doesn’t draw They Who Endure.
- Many decks can save removal, stun, or frostbite effects to deal with They Who Endure.
- They Who Endure is the game-ending threat that our opponent will always have in their mind when facing us and for good reason. It will often be at least a 10/10, if not larger, by the time you can play it. Be very careful about when you play it though; your opponent is likely to hold onto any answers they have to it.
- Atrocity, coupled with They Who Endure, allows us to deal 20+ damage in a single turn. It can also be used to counter a removal targeting They Who Endure such as Sunburst or Vengeance. Keep in mind that if you bank three spell mana, you can play They Who Endure and Atrocity at the same time on turn 10!
- Stalking Shadows is an incredibly powerful draw card, and it is doubly so in deck as we are often very happy to have an ephemeral unit that dies on its own. Make sure not to skip grabbing They Who Endure (and a copy) if you don’t have one already.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Omen Hawk, Elise, Fury of the North, Warden's Prey, Wraithcaller, Neverglade Collector, Haunted Relic, Vengeance, Ravenous Butcher, Shroud of Darkness
Against aggro: -2 Glimpse Beyond, +2 Omen Hawk
Against control: -1 Omen Hawk, -1 Doombeast, +1 Vengeance, +1 Shroud of Darkness
Favoured against: Ezreal/Twisted Fate
Struggles against: MF/Scouts, Hush
The sun and moon come together in this Allegiance deck centered around the Invoke keyword. Flexibility is the name of the game thanks to our Celestial overlords; giving us the ability to pick and choose the ones best suited to our situation. Leona and Diana are both powerful board control tools who can adapt to either slow down an aggressive opponent or to paralyze a control deck, giving us the space we need to make full use of the Invoke keyword.
Playing this deck optimally requires a thorough understanding of Invoke as we’ll have plenty of impactful decisions to ponder on; and is sure to test our adaptation skills.
- High player agency, meaningful Invoke choices.
- Able to adapt on the fly to most threats.
- High variance, powerful Celestial cards sometimes hard to find.
- Leona has nothing to prove anymore. A great statline and a stun effect that can be used both for offense and defense, she can sometimes blow the game wide open in the midgame alongside Rahvun, Daylight's Spear.
- Diana, with her unassuming statline, can actually dispatch much bigger units than herself, earning a large tempo swing in the process, though do be mindful of removals before throwing her on the board.
- The Invoke Package is incredibly potent and the source of this deck’s flexibility. Led by Mountain Scryer, his aura acts as pseudo-ramp and allows us to play finishers like The Great Beyond or The Destroyer a turn or two earlier than normal or otherwise chain cheaper Celestials one after the other for that sweet tempo gain.
The followers are hard to replace, but the spells are flexible slots.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Omen Hawk, Fury of the North, Harsh Winds, Behold the Infinite, Hush, Lunari Shadestalker, Moondreamer, Starshaping, Morning Light, Sunburst.
Against aggro: -3 Unspeakable Horror, +3 Vile Feast
Against control: -3 Spacey Sketcher, +3 Moondreamer
Favoured against: Tempo Endure, Gangplank/Sejuani
Struggles against: Deep Sea Monsters, Ramp Aurelion Sol
The new take on Lux, this pairing keeps the working Demacian parts and adds value tools from Targon. Midrange in nature, it can still leverage Lux to generate value and set up a favourable board state later in the game. Thanks to Daybreak units, it has never been so easy to survive until Lux can hit the board. Still, Lux/Leona is in a bit of an awkward spot, as most other Targon decks tend to outvalue it with Invoke and Aurelion Sol, but it does wonders against raw aggro and other midrange decks.
- Great value engine as long as Lux is protected.
- Solid tools against aggro.
- Proactive threats in the Daybreak package.
- Outvalued by Aurelion Sol decks.
- Tricky resource management.
- Lux is our main win condition, as she’s able to completely take over the game if not dealt with. The many buff and healing spells we run ensure that she sticks to the board, flipping and often providing 2 or 3 Final Sparks at worst.
- Leona and her Daybreak package is our foundation. This provides a bulky bundle of stats to get us through the early game with the exceptions of Solari Priestess and Rahvun, Daylight's Spear, which both bring value instead.
- The Spell Package, a collection of removal, buff, healing, and value generation all offer us flexibility in how we deal with threats and of course synergise with Lux. They are the cards that are most replaceable.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Aurelion Sol, Spacey Sketcher, Vanguard Sergeant, Pale Cascade, Bastion, Hush, Detain, Concerted Strike, Starshaping, Back to Back, Sunburst, Judgment, Unyielding Spirit
Against aggro: -1 Bastion, +1 Radiant Guardian
Against control: -1 Leona, +1 Aurelion Sol
Against midrange: No changes
Favoured against: Ashe/Sejuani, Discard Aggro
Struggles against: Ramp Aurelion Sol, Deep Sea Monsters
Aurelion Sol Ramp is a ramp deck that foregoes the early game to be able to drop impactful creatures, especially Aurelion Sol, as soon as possible. This all-in strategy makes for a one-dimensional deck that, while solid, has little adaptability and a hard time responding to the meta. Nonetheless, depending on the state of the ladder or the expected tournament meta, one can tweak the amount of specific resources within the deck, namely ramp and removal tools.
This specific version runs plenty of removal and healing in order to consistently make it to the late game while retaining the most reliable ramp cards (Wyrding Stones and Catalyst of Aeons) and impactful followers (The Infinite Mindsplitter). Play patterns are pretty straightforward here: ramp on Turn 3, ideally into Trundle on Turn 4, and try to stall the game until Mindsplitter comes down and paves the way for a Revitalizing Roar+Aurelion Sol combo.
- The deck can develop its win condition faster than similar decks thanks to Freljord’s ramp tools.
- The Invoke mechanic can provide some answers and flexibility depending on the situation.
- One-dimensional win condition which crumbles to certain strategies and failing to draw core ramp cards.
- Can get overrun in the early game if the enemy gets to curve out a strong opener.
- Wyrding Stones and Catalyst of Aeons are key to start making impactful plays as soon as possible. We should aggressively mulligan for these two.
- Trundle and The Infinite Mindsplitter are great at stalling and getting back into the game, especially against aggressive decks.
- Aurelion Sol is the deck’s main win condition and is even more powerful if we get to cheat him before Turn 10 via ramp, especially when combined with Revitalizing Roar.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Avarosan Sentry, Behold the Infinite, Faces of the Old Ones, Guiding Touch, Icevale Archer, Pale Cascade, Bastion, Babbling Bjerg, Sunburst.
Against aggro: -2 Hush, -2 Solari Priestess, +2 Guiding Touch, +2 Icevale Archer.
Against control: -3 Kindly Tavernkeeper, -3 Avalanche, -2 Icequake, +3 Faces of the Old Ones, +3 Pale Cascade, +2 Bastion.
Favoured against: Control Decks unable to apply early pressure, Slow Midrange Decks.
Struggles against: Aggro, Combo Decks, Other Aurelion Sol decks with better interaction.
A midrange deck at heart, Gangplank/Sejuani’s main selling points are its aggressive early game and its powerful finishers. The deck revolves around the Plunder mechanic, which can be difficult to activate in some situations, but has great payoff with the likes of Gangplank, Sejuani, and Riptide Rex.
This deck has been around since the release of Rising Tides and was fairly popular at the end of the expansion, but has since required adaptation to the new Targon meta. With all the greedy lists around being impossible to outvalue, reinforcing the main win conditions and forgetting about the Nab package or slower cards seems like the way to go. The list now runs more early drops and cheap Plunder activators, to be able to consistently get mileage out of its Champions and Riptide Rex.
- Straightforward, proactive gameplan which can be developed no matter what the opposition is.
- Decent options against aggressive decks: cheap removal and the levelled Sejuani’s effect make it easy to control the board.
- Lacks reach and can find it difficult to close games against some defensive decks.
- No healing or answers for larger threats.
- Sejuani is arguably the strongest card in the deck. Apart from the obvious aggressive applications, she can be used as pseudo-removal for key threats and her mass freezing effect makes it easy to control the board.
- Gangplank and Riptide Rex are powerful finishers. Given the right conditions, they can push insane amounts of damage onto the enemy Nexus, or deal with weak boards with ease.
- Warning Shot, Yordle Grifter, and Monkey Idol are key components of the deck. They allow us to easily trigger Plunder and advance our Champions’ level-up conditions, enabling other powerful cards or freezing the enemy’s board later in the game. Extra consideration should be put into spending these limited resources.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Black Market Merchant, Dreadway Deckhand, Troll Chant, Pilfered Goods, Fury of the North, Jack, the Winner, Razorscale Hunter, Slippery Waverider.
Against aggro: -2 Babbling Bjerg, +2 Dreadway Deckhand.
Against control: -1 Warning Shot, -3 Parrrley, -1 Hired Gun, +3 Black Market Merchant, +2 Jack, the Winner.
Favoured against: Ezreal/Karma, board-centric decks.
Struggles against: Aggro Burn decks.
Following the advent of slow control decks surrounding Aurelion Sol, Karma/Ezreal has seen somewhat of a resurgence. As a combo deck, the goal is to extend the game as long as we can until we find our combo pieces.
With our removal and disruption packages, we look to flip Ezreal as fast as possible while keeping the opponent’s board under control to then deal lethal damage with his spell-slinging ability coupled with burn spells. If that isn’t enough, Karma comes in to duplicate every spell played and in doing so reinforces Ezreal’s ability to destroy the Nexus in a single turn. Patience and efficient usage of our removal are key to successfully stall until the late game where both Ezreal and Karma can show their true power. Still, despite its massive late game power, Karma/Ezreal always has trouble against aggro, and is also heavily unfavoured against several popular Bilgewater decks.
- High skill ceiling.
- Win condition able to bypass the enemy board completely.
- High skill floor.
- Weak against raw aggression.
- Little to no proactive threats before the late game.
- As mentioned, Ezreal is essential to this deck for his spell-slinging ability. He can sometimes be played early to get some value out of, but we generally want to keep him in our hand until he levels up.
- Karma empowers Ezreal in the late game and brings great value against control decks, such that she can sometimes win games on her own through sheer value.
- The removal and disruption package is a cornerstone of the deck, with Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, and Concussive Palm forming its core.
- Deep Meditation and Rummage are great options for card draw which we need to find our combo pieces reliably.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Eye of the Dragon, Chempunk Pickpocket, Claws of the Dragon, Tasty Faefolk, Yone, Windchaser, Minah Swiftfoot, Health Potion, Jury-Rig, Deny, Ki Guardian, Gotcha!, Get Excited!, Progress Day!
Against aggro: -1 Deny, -2 Yone, Windchaser, +3 Tasty Faefolk
Against control: -3 Eye of the Dragon, -1 Gotcha!, +3 Chempunk Pickpocket, +1 Minah Swiftfoot
Favoured against: Tempo Endure
Struggles against: Swain/TF, MF/Scouts, Ezreal/TF
Nightfall Aggro is an “aggro-combo” deck that seeks to chip away at the opponent while waiting for the perfect chance to close out the game with a wide Nocturne attack or Doombeast burn. Unlike a classic combo deck, we won’t be looking to prolong the game while drawing toward our pieces; instead, we will be assembling our win condition on the fly and seeking to close out the game as early as we can manage. Nightfall Aggro is a list which punishes decks that play small units unable to deal with our Fearsome onslaught, as well as slow decks that do not apply enough pressure while we gather our combo pieces. The list has access to various tech choices, so it will only grow in strength as the meta settles and Nightfall pilots gain more experience.
- High skill cap leads to rewarding gameplay.
- Lots of room to adjust the deck to suit your personal playstyle and the meta.
- Counter-intuitive playstyle can take some getting used to.
- Some matchups require taking big risks and having strong reads on the opponent.
- Combos can be disrupted by healing or Hush.
- Diana serves as an early control tool to dispatch blockers while retaining board presence, transitioning into a high attack unit once flipped.
- Nocturne has a similar purpose, but with a much higher payoff. Once leveled up, he is able to debilitate the entire enemy board, leaving their Nexus defenseless.
- Lunari Shadestalker, Doombeast, and Crescent Guardian will be our main tools for damaging the opponent and defending our own HP. Once our board is wide enough, an attack alongside Nocturne is often a lethal swing.
- Fading Memories provides us with massive utility. We can double up on Doombeasts for burn, generate extra Lunari Duskbringers to set up future combos, or use our opponent’s followers against them.
- Stalking Shadows fills a similar role for the deck. Prioritise saving the ephemeral copies for defensive turns.
- Lunari Duskbringer is the driving force for cheaply enabling Nightfall and pressuring the opponent. Playing your Nightfall units a round early can change the entire flow of a match. Try to mulligan for it in your opening hand.
Against aggro: Guiding Touch, Guiding Touch, Frenzied Skitterer
Against Control: Shroud of Darkness, Glimpse Beyond, Lunari Priestess
Additional Utility and Draw: Spacey Sketcher, Gift Giver, Glimpse Beyond, Mentor of the Stones
Finishers: Atrocity, Cygnus the Moonstalker, Sun Guardian
Favoured against: Aggro, Deep Sea Monsters
Struggles against: Midrange Frostbite, Ezreal/Twisted Fate
Lulu/Shen is a midrange deck that tries to use the strong supporters and challengers from Demacia and Ionia to dominate the board and win through forcing the opponent into terrible blocks. Between first strike, stat buffs, and barriers, your challenger units can take out key enemy units each attack without suffering any lasting damage themselves. Make sure you get the most out of each attack though, because the deck’s key pieces are much weaker on defensive turns. There’s always Relentless Pursuit to make any turn an attack turn, though.
- Absolutely devastating to many aggro strategies.
- A strong opening alongside Relentless Pursuit can end games very quickly against greedy decks.
- Weak on defensive turns, especially to opponent’s challenger units.
- Hush can be crippling if you aren’t ready for it.
- Lulu is the queen of this deck: pushing damage, making small units survive, allowing challengers to make great trades, and leveling up quickly to completely take over the game. Make her surviving attacks your top priority.
- Shen also helps with protecting key units, while being able to survive an attack or two on his own even without support. He won’t level up often, but he’s a key supporting player even unleveled.
- You have 6 cards each at 1 and 3 mana (and 9 at 2) to make your early curve very consistent. 1-drop into Young Witch/War Chefs into Lulu is often enough to put you way ahead if your opponent doesn’t have a good answer prepared.
- Fleetfeather Tracker, Laurent Protege, and Screeching Dragon are the challenger backbone of the deck. Keep them alive as long as you can to keep getting value out of advantageous trades, and use them to protect your more fragile attackers.
- Genevieve Elmheart and Cithria the Bold serve similar purposes: taking a board advantage and turning it into a game-ending one.
Relentless Pursuit lets you make attacks when your opponent isn’t prepared for them, or just swing twice in a row. You’ll often use this to end the game quickly against greedier decks before they come fully online.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Ranger's Resolve, Single Combat, Deny, Fae Guide
Against aggro: -1 Cithria the Bold, -1 Relentless Pursuit, +1 Ranger's Resolve, +1 Single Combat
Against control: -2 Screeching Dragon, +2 Deny
If you see a lot more control than aggro, also consider trying Lulu Emoosives, which generally has better control matchups but worse aggro ones.
Favoured against: Most aggro
Struggles against: Ashe/Sejuani, Ezreal/Twisted Fate
Lulu Emoosive is a much more aggressive take on utilizing Lulu than the Lulu/Shen midrange deck. Rather than planning to control the board into the late game, Lulu Emoosives aims to get an early advantage on the board and in life total before finishing with deadly elusives. Force your opponent to deal with must-remove units like Lulu and Young Witch before finishing them off with an elusive Greathorn Companion (or its partner Genevieve). This deck is generally much stronger against greed control and some midrange than Lulu/Shen, at the cost of its more even matchup against aggro and weakness to key removal.
- Can end the game as fast as turn 4. Rallying after supporting units gets crazy quickly.
- Almost always has potential to finish the game even after losing the board with 10 moose-based damage to the face.
- Struggles against decks that can deal with its early game.
- Fewer tools to deal with aggro, your only option is to race them usually.
- Lulu is the queen of this deck: pushing damage, making small units survive, allowing challengers to make great trades, and leveling up fast to completely take over the game. Be prepared to protect her whenever possible, but it’s okay to give her up to push a lot of damage
- Zed is somewhat of a “backup” 3-drop for the times we don’t have Lulu. He’s still an incredibly potent threat, as you can make both him and his shadow elusive with only one card if your opponent allows him to level up.
- You want to find the optimal first 3 turns as often as possible, which consists of a 1-drop, War Chefs or Young Witch, and Lulu (or sometimes Zed). The deck has enough cards to make this relatively consistent if you mulligan for it.
- Relentless Pursuit lets you make attacks when your opponent is prepared for them or just swing twice in a row. You’ll often use this to end the game fast against greedier decks before they fully come online.
- Ghost and Fae Guide are obviously both useful to make Greathorn Companion, Genevieve Elmheart, or Zed into a finisher, but don’t be afraid to use them to allow key cards like Lulu or Tasty Faefolk attack safely.
- Tasty Faefolk is a great way to race against aggro. If you can get two hits in you are very often going to be safe for long enough to finish the game in your favor.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Ranger's Resolve, Single Combat, Deny, Tasty Faefolk, Zed
Against aggro: -1 Riposte, -1 Fae Guide, +1 Tasty Faefolk, +1 Single Combat
Against control: -2 Tasty Faefolk, +1 Deny, +1 Ranger's Resolve
If you see a lot more aggro than control, also consider trying Lulu/Shen, which generally has better aggro matchups but worse control ones.
Favoured against: Karma/Ezreal, Trundle/Aurelion Sol
Struggles against: Leona/Aurelion Sol, Aggro Nightfall
Deep Sea Monsters focuses on going Deep and extending the game long enough to play a flipped Nautilus in order to flood the board with discounted and buffed Sea Monsters, bringing incredible value to the board in a single swing turn. The many Toss cards in the deck let us go Deep by turn 7 where Nautilus becomes available, and help us fight through the early game by providing board presence.
Deep Sea Monsters does well against aggro matchups and other control decks, though it struggles specifically against Ionia, as having Nautilus recalled to hand is often a game-losing tempo loss. In the current Call of the Mountain metagame, Deep Sea Monsters can deal fairly well with aggro thanks to its early game followers and healing options. Though some have pointed out that Aurelion Sol does what Nautilus does but better, we can’t forget that Deep can use Maokai as a win condition against slower decks.
- Double threat in Nautilus and Maokai, able to both overwhelm the board or mill the enemy deck if the direct approach fails.
- Straightforward to play.
- Rigid play patterns, low player agency.
- Suffers against midrange or combo decks who can easily dispose of Turn 7 Nautilus.
- Nautilus allows us to benefit fully from Deep and is a stats powerhouse of his own.
- Maokai can be a decent blocker thanks to the saplings he creates and grants us a secondary win condition by milling our opponent’s deck, especially useful against greedier decks like Ramp Aurelion Sol.
- Atrocity is a great card in midrange or control-dominated metas, as only a single Deep creature’s lucky hit is needed for Atrocity to reach its lethal potential.
- Toss Package: Its purpose is to enable Deep and transition us from the early to mid game thanks to Toss, healing, and some board presence.
- Sea Monsters Package: The cornerstone of our deck, and our primary win conditions once we go Deep. Jaull Hunters, while serving as early game removal, also feeds into this Deep gameplan.
- Removal Package: Grasp of the Undying, Withering Wail, and Vile Feast make up our removal, but can be tuned down to include other value cards. However, Vile Feast is too powerful to be cut even against control.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Hapless Aristocrat, Mist's Call, Grasp of the Undying, Withering Wail, Atrocity, Lure of the Depths, The Beast Below, Shipwreck Hoarder, Terror of the Tides, The Ruination.
Against aggro: -1 Shipwreck Hoarder, -1 Atrocity, +2 Hapless Aristocrat.
Against control: -2 Grasp of the Undying, +2 The Ruination
Against midrange: -1 Hapless Aristocrat, -1 Salvage, +2 The Ruination
Favoured against: Burn Aggro, Ramp Aurelion Sol
Struggles against: Ashe/Sejuani, Swain/TF
Yet another Ezreal deck, this time pairing with Bilgewater and Twisted Fate, gaining access to Powder Kegs, the Nab package, and flexible removal. This Ezreal pairing is the most well suited to deal with aggro, filling a niche that Ezreal/Karma is too slow to represent properly. Twisted Ezreal doesn’t follow the standard combo formula of controlling the board throughout the early game while leveling Ezreal, and is in fact more of a tempo deck. We run many early game units which enable a more proactive beatdown, using Riptide Rex to close out the game; and if that fails, Ezreal can come in as a finisher.
It does well enough in the current metagame, able to reliably beat some of the most powerful decks out there; but still finds its limits as a tempo deck if the opposition has access to sturdy midgame units and healing options.
- Proactive early game leading into an Ezreal finisher.
- Flexible gameplan.
- Trouble dealing with Tough units and healing.
- Ezreal is our main threat, able to quickly level up thanks to our removal package, and particularly fast with Make it Rain and Riptide Rex.
- Twisted Fate acts as a flexible unit, stalling the game or granting value. The amount of drawing in this deck is quite high and our opponent must respect Twisted Fate’s potential to level up and crumble under the value he provides.
- Riptide Rex is an incredible board clear and finisher. The fact that each cannonball levels up Ezreal is only the cherry on top.
- Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, and Make it Rain form the core of our removal options, dealing with most early threats while serving other functions later in the game.
The deck is well-refined, with a few changes that can be made to accommodate specific match-ups in the meta, trading immediate board power for card draw.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Jagged Butcher, Zap Sprayfin, Parrrley, Warning Shot, Rummage, Pool Shark, Zaunite Urchin, Gotcha!
Against control: -2 Statikk Shock, +2 Pool Shark
Favoured against: Ezreal/Karma, Swain/TF
Struggles against: Tempo Endure, Gangplank/Sejuani, Deep Sea Monsters
Discard Aggro is a highly aggressive deck that tries to abuse discard synergy to get some extraordinary early starts. After discarding your hand to your various outlets, look to Jinx or Augmented Experimenter to refill and find what you need to finish them off with burn.
- High-roll draws can be incredibly powerful.
- Developing fast, wide boards can be very difficult to deal with for some decks.
- Draws can be inconsistent.
- Developing fast, wide boards can be very easy to deal with for some other decks.
- Draven is a strong aggro card even without discard synergy, but here he enables just about everything. If he stays alive, you will never hurt for a discard outlet and can force your opponents into making bad trades while you hold an Axe.
- Jinx is probably the most important card in the deck, being a simultaneous win condition and reliable method of card draw. Make sure you can level her the turn you play her if your opponent might be able to deal 3 damage to her, as you can rarely afford to lose your Jinx.
- House Spider (and Jury-Rig) allow you to develop wide boards quickly, which lets Crowd Favorite come down as 7/6 on turn 4 more often than you would expect. Wide boards also make discarded Visions devastating, sometimes enabling you to take half their Nexus health as early as turn 2.
- Jury-Rig and Vision are the traditional discard package, allowing you to be rewarded for discarding off Zaunite Urchin, Rummage, Draven, or Get Excited.
- Augmented Experimenter can be an awkwardly expensive card in an aggro deck, but removing a problem creature and refilling your hand is often enough to win games by itself. Don’t be afraid to discard him in favor of drawing more valuable early-game plays, though.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Poro Cannon, Boomcrew Rookie, Mystic Shot, Death's Hand
Against aggro: -1 Brothers' Bond, -1 Augmented Experimenter, +2 Mystic Shot
Against control: -2 House Spider, -2 Crowd Favorite, +3 Boomcrew Rookie, +1 Poro Cannon
Favoured against: Endure, Nightfall Aggro
Struggles against: Scouts, Demacia ASol
A midrange deck with an aggressive early game revolving around Elise and swarming the board, and a strong late game finisher in the Swain-The Leviathan combo. If the below summary isn’t detailed enough, you can check out our Full ‘Spooky Swain’ Deck Guide here on the Team Aretuza website.
Although this deck is underrepresented, it has the potential to do extremely well in the right meta, and given its proactive and synergistic gameplan, can stand its ground against most popular decks. Nonetheless, there are a couple of direct counters in the Bilgewater and Shadow Isles regions, specifically removal spells like Make it Rain or Withering Wail, which can deal with small creatures efficiently.
Something to keep in mind is that the list is remarkably inconsistent, capable of strong openers that win the game as early as turn 5 or bricking in the early game and making it very difficult to win.
- Punishes greedy decks without removal.
- A proactive gameplan means games we do not depend that much on the opponent’s deck.
- The all-in early game spider plan can be countered efficiently with certain removal cards and leaves the deck at a disadvantageous position for the rest of the game.
- Inconsistent, somewhat reliant on drawing Elise in the early game.
- Elise is the most important card in the deck. We are always happy to see her in our starting hand. We should be aware of our opponent’s removal and be wary when playing her, as she can carry the game if we manage to level her up.
- The Swain/The Leviathan combo is a well-known way to end games, especially if we manage to level up Swain before turn 8 via removal spells. He also synergises pretty well with a levelled Elise and Challenger spiders. An attack with both usually means a win.
- Crowd Favorite and Neverglade Collector are the alternative payoff for swarming the board in the early game. They require some setup to be impactful, but can become powerful win conditions of their own.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Warden's Prey, Culling Strike, Frenzied Skitterer, Noxian Guillotine, Brood Awakening, Vengeance, Captain Farron.
Against aggro: -1 Crawling Sensation, -1 The Leviathan, +2 Frenzied Skitterer.
Against control: -1 Crawling Sensation, -1 Neverglade Collector, +1 Vengeance, +1 Captain Farron.
Favoured against: Uninteractive Decks, Non-Bilgewater, or Shadow Isles Control Decks.
Struggles against: Bilgewater, Shadow Isles, Scouts.
An archetype that existed long before Call of the Mountain, Midrange Ashe recently took a nosedive in popularity following the nerf of Trifarian Assessor and the advent of powerful Control archetypes. The deck itself hasn’t changed however: set up a strong board by buffing our units, force beneficial trades using Frostbite and Challenger units, and once Ashe is flipped, freeze the enemy board and swing for the win. Thanks to the potential value in buffing our units and card draw, games can be extended further if needed, granting the deck remarkable flexibility against most of the field.
- Straightforward board-centric midrange deck.
- Incredible draw potential with Trifarian Assessor.
- One dimensional win condition.
- No comeback potential.
- Ashe is an exceptional unit as she’s able to disable a full board once flipped. Beforehand however, she remains fragile at 3 health. While attacking, she is best paired with Challenger units who can take advantage of the Frostbite effect she creates.
- Sejuani sometimes flips in this deck, however she is simply a strong standalone unit, able to destroy a priority target and trading up while doing so.
- Combat tricks like Brittle Steel and Elixir of Iron allow for early trading while Reckoning threatens board wipes throughout the mid-game.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Culling Strike, Noxian Guillotine, Fury of the North, Troll Chant, Legion Drummer, Rimefang Wolf, Reckless Trifarian, Kato the Arm
Against aggro: -3 Babbling Bjerg, +3 Kindly Tavernkeeper
Against control: -1 Culling Strike, -1 Sejuani, +2 Captain Farron
Favoured against: Karma/Ezreal
Struggles against: Swain/TF, Ezreal/TF
Targon Ezreal is a new take on the Ezreal combo-control style previously popularised by Karma/Ezreal, Freeze Ezreal, and Noxus Ezreal. Compared to those decks, Ezreal doesn’t level quite as easily, but the amount of protection and value you can get out of an Ezreal or his partner in crime, Vi, is unmatched. Between buffs, heals, and Spellshields, you should be able to keep Ezreal alive and beating on the Nexus, or keep healing Vi back up to take down another unit. The deck is very flexible, but the variety of ways each card can be used makes it a difficult deck to pilot well.
- Has a lot of card draw to make sure you get your value pieces.
- Full of answers and options to respond to any deck.
- Requires a lot of thought to play to its potential.
- Struggles against decks with hard removal for its threats.
- Ezreal levels a bit more slowly than in other decks, but this version provides more possibilities for the aggressive, early Ezreal value play than any other. Knowing when you can safely develop Ezreal to start getting value and when you need to save him as a win condition is key.
- In many matchups, this deck is as much of a Vi deck as it is an Ezreal deck. Backed by heals, she can often remove multiple major threats before finishing the opponent off. You want her in your opening hand in almost every matchup.
- The main suite of P&Z removal spells in Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, Gotcha!, and Statikk Shock are all here, and are great ways to clear your opponent’s pressure while also getting Ezreal level progress.
- Hush is an answer to many of the metagame’s greatest threats such as They Who Endure and Lulu, as well as a very cheeky way to level up Ezreal and power up Vi. Late in the game, every three points of mana becomes an Ezreal trigger and can be what you need when you haven’t played enough removal.
- Mentor of the Stones seems strange at first glance, with only a couple of good targets. However, buffs on Ezreal or Vi are very powerful and the gems are actually always useful. Use them to heal your champions, push damage, trigger Ezreal to end the game, or just discard them to Rummage.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Gift Giver, Flame Chompers!, Get Excited!, Solari Priestess
Against aggro: -1 Progress Day!, -1 Bastion, +2 Get Excited!
Against control: -3 Jury-Rig, +3 Solari Priestess
Favoured against: Nightfall Aggro, Lulu/Shen
Struggles against: TF/Swain, Targon Ramp
A budding archetype, this combo deck aims to use Lee Sin as a win condition, setting him up for a quick level up on turn 6 or 7 to immediately start eliminating a priority target while damaging the Nexus. The next attack, thanks to Zenith Blade and the acquired Gems, is often lethal. Unfortunately, this deck also has glaring weaknesses such as trouble dealing with aggro and a narrow, unreliable win condition. Overall, the deck ends up facing many of the same problems which also plague Yasuo decks and will need support to improve beyond its current bounds.
- Real One-Turn-Kill potential.
- Relatively straightforward for a combo deck.
- Singular win condition with no real backup.
- Crumbles against spot removal or Hush.
- Lee Sin is the primary win condition, as his ability to dispose of enemies while damaging the Nexus is the core focus of this deck.
- Taric benefits from Gems as much as Lee Sin and is relatively easy to level up. Once both are on the board, buffing Taric also buffs his supported ally, ideally Lee Sin, turning them both into impervious destroyers.
- Zenith Blade is the most important spell in the list, serving as an enabler for Lee Sin to deal his damage twice and can also be used in conjunction with Taric for an even stronger effect.
- Bastion and Deny are both important tools to keep Lee Sin on the board.
- The followers help get us through the early game and provide us with Gems, but not much else.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Sonic Wave, Twin Disciplines, Eye of the Dragon, Spirit's Refuge, Will of Ionia, Arbiter of the Peak
Against control: -3 Eye of the Dragon, -1 Sonic Wave, +2 Arbiter of the Peak, +2 Will of Ionia
Casino is an effective but challenging to play aggro/combo hybrid deck. It attempts to abuse every form of card draw possible to put out more threats than the opponent can deal with and finish them off with burn. Unlike most decks, Casino doesn’t have a singular win condition and can instead win in other various ways. Recognizing which of these paths will give us the best chance of victory is imperative. This will depend on our draws, the enemy deck, and what threats they succeed at removing. Matches can be ended based either on pure aggression followed by burn as a finisher, massive Slotbots that can’t be dealt with, or unanswered card draw engines (Jinx, Twisted Fate, and Brash Gambler) allowing us to outvalue our opponent with card advantage. With no card cost over 4 mana, we can easily draw multiple cards and play them all in a single turn late game.
- Lots of fun, every game plays differently.
- Aggressive start can punish slower decks, with plenty of card draw to outlast and finish off aggro and midrange.
- Difficult to play optimally, requires practice and understanding.
- Struggles against decks with healing.
- Twisted Fate wins games on his own when leveled, and this deck levels him faster than any other. If he isn’t killed immediately, we will often have the draw to level him within two turns. Don’t be afraid to play him with a Blue Card against slower decks, as we are unlikely to get early value from a Red or Gold card. Against aggressive decks like Darrowing or Elusives, we want to save him to get good value out of a Red or Gold card.
- Jinx is a 4-drop but should almost always be one of the last cards to leave our hand. Our aim is to level her the turn we play her (or at least be prepared to level her the turn after). It’s usually okay to be very aggressive in dumping cards to level Jinx, so long as our opponent does not have a way to remove her immediately.
- Slotbot is the so-called “third champion” of the deck. A turn 3 Slotbot that is not answered within a turn or two can easily grow out of range of much of the opponent’s removal and set up immense pressure.
- Pick a Card is the backbone of the deck, to an extent. It allows us to level Twisted Fate, provides cards for discard, and allows us to draw up and outvalue opponents after burning through most of our hand. Make sure to save it until you will get good value out of either the cards themselves or discard/Jinx/Twisted Fate.
- Suit Up! is a unique buff that allows us to either save units, apply extra pressure, or buff up a Chomper to remove enemy threats. Usually we want to play it for 2 mana, but if it’s stuck in hand at 4 we want to toss with a discard effect or Pick a Card (giving us an extra chance to draw it again) unless we have the mana to spare.
Miscellaneous tech cards: Sump Dredger, Pick a Card, Brash Gambler, Pool Shark, Suit Up! can all run a copy more or less according to preference.
Against midrange: +1 Brash Gambler, -1 Suit Up!
Against control: -1 Astute Academic, +1 Pick a Card
Favoured against: Ezreal/Twisted Fate, Deep
Struggles against: Trundle/Aurelion Sol, Demacia Aurelion Sol
Card game enthusiast since childhood, Asher has played as many CCGs as he could lay his hands on which kickstarted his competitive streak. Achieving high ranks in Hearthstone, Duelyst, and TES: Legends, his goal is now to do the same in Legends of Runeterra where he's achieved consistent top Master rankings, and compete in all possible tournaments. With a drive to always improve, Asher is looking to brew the best decks and help new and experienced players alike.
A fan of card games and gaming since high school, when he spent countless hours playing WoW and YuGiOh, Rowdy began his digital CCG journey with Hearthstone in 2013. After achieving high ranks in multiple games of the genre like Magic:Arena or Gwent over the years, he arrived at Runeterra searching for the next challenge. Following his competitive ambitions, he joined Team Aretuza to step up his game and fight for a place among the best. When he is not trying to crack the meta for the next tourney, you can find him playing poker or some hardcore strategy games.
Scarzig got his start streaming and making content for Duelyst, a tactics-ccg hybrid (they even named a card after him!). Alongside showcasing unique decklists and assisting new players, he also casted several competitive events, including the Duelyst World Championships. Scarzig brings his unique and educational perspective to Team Aretuza, continuing to grow as a content creator, caster, and teacher.
Zinc has been playing card games competitively since Magic the Gathering in middle school. Since then he moved on to Hearthstone and is now looking to make his mark in the Legends of Runeterra scene. He's also a competitive Smash player, but he's much worse at that than he is at card games.
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