Hey everyone, it’s Daylton, bringing you TLG’s very first LoR guide. We’re going to talk about the infamous Karma-Ezreal combo deck, which is all about stalling the game out for as long as possible, to then close it out with a leveled up Ezreal. Karma allows you to Burst the opponent down from 20 to 0, using only a handful of spells. This is my favorite deck by far, incredibly fun to play and even more rewarding to master.
- A very consistent deck, having decent matchups across all archetypes
- Does not entirely rely on the Ezreal level up, Karma can win the game all by herself
- Has the ability to kill the opponent with a lot of Burst, rendering them unable to respond
- Outvalues most other control decks and is not forced to play proactively in most situations
- Has a hard time dealing with beefy minions, lacking single target removal at fast speed
- No big AoE removal makes it very vulnerable to aggro decks without the proper answers
The core cards:
Thermogenic Beam - A flexible removal tool useful at any point in the game.
Mystic Shot - A good early removal tool that can also hit face, making it a valuable burn spell.
Shadow Assassin - An auto-include in every Ionia deck. Decent body, elusive tag and cycling.
Ezreal - Our main win condition. The sole purpose of this deck is to have him level up and then Burst down the opponent in one turn with the help of Karma. Therefore, it is generally not advisable to play him until he is leveled up. Don’t worry, we’ll cover all of that later in the matchup section.
Get Excited! - Another burn spell that can also be used to remove your opponent’s threats.
Will of Ionia - A great tempo and pseudo-removal tool, which allows us to play around buffs.
Statikk Shock - Our main way to level up Ezreal, granting us 2 triggers at once, while offering card draw.
Chump Whump - Even with the HP nerfs, it’s still a great card. The generated Mushroom Clouds represent great Burst.
Deny - Phenomenal anti-control card. The shape of the current meta dictates the number of Deny copies you should be running in your deck.
Karma - Her purpose is to support Ezreal in Bursting the opponent down by double-casting spells. Karma can also be your win condition in matchups where you can’t level up Ezreal.
Yone, Windchaser - Another way to level up Ezreal, while also helping us to stall the game out, and providing a 6/6 body to top it off. Considering the mana cost, 2 copies are advised, with 3 being fine as well. Similarly to Deny, the number of Yone copies is a meta call.
As I mentioned above, our goal is to stall the game out and cycle into our combo pieces in order to kill our opponent in one turn. Remember, you also have to make sure to adapt the build to the meta as it changes.
That should cover the core cards. From here, we have two different approaches to building the deck: one that is teched against aggro decks and one that puts more pressure on the opponent by playing proactively.
Keep in mind these are just two of the many possible ways you can build the deck. Both versions worked particularly well for me in Master, after refining them over a large amount of games.
The Aggro-Teched Version
You can find a similar version to this in our first meta report, which can be found here. This version does particularly well against overly aggressive decks. Due to the inclusion of the Rummage/Jury-Rig package, you get a lot of chump block, along with discard targets.
Rummage is a cheap spell that helps you cycle through your deck, making it possible to find answers for the opponent’s threats early in the game. A little bonus is that it draws 4 cards instead of 2 once Karma is leveled up. This can be crucial, as it’s an efficient way of refilling your hand after a big turn.
We also run a copy of Health Potion, helping us survive the early turns by putting us out of range of the opponent’s Burst. Spirit’s Refuge allows us to force favorable trades, while maintaining board presence and additional healing. It also has a neat interaction with a leveled up Ezreal, healing you for 2 HP each time Ezreal gets to shoot the Nexus on spell cast.
The Proactive Version
This version performs better against less aggressive decks, by attempting to put a lot of pressure on the opponent early. With the inclusion of Solitary Monk, you’re getting in huge amounts of chip damage. Another copy of Yone is added to improve our open attack and to help level up our Ezreal.
The additional copy of Spirit’s Refuge helps us protect our units, especially Karma and Ezreal. Serving a similar purpose, one copy of Ki Guardian allows us to protect Karma when played a turn earlier than your leveled up Ezreal. This increases the odds of Karma surviving the turn, setting-up the Ezreal to finish our opponent off.
Click on the image below to see a detailed explanation of matchups that I have faced on the ladder on a regular basis.
Mulligan for (keep): Thermogenic Beam, Statikk Shock, Mystic Shot, Jury-Rig (+Rummage)
Strategy: While facing this deck, it’s very important to remember to remove as many units as possible before they get to play Bannerman on Turn 4. The way you use your removal greatly depends on your hand and if you’re on evens/odds.
I often find myself using Thermogenic Beam on Turn 2 for their War Chefs, leaving their Fleetfeather Tracker up, as it easily dies to Statikk Shock or a Jury-Rig.
Remember to clear everything as efficiently as possible, giving them no chance to get huge value from Bannerman. You will want to keep Will of Ionia for Garen, Cithria the Bold and Brightsteel Formation.
Your Ezreal gets traded easily by their Challengers and Single Combats, but don’t be afraid of using him to generate a Mystic Shot to deal with their board once it starts to get out of hand. Yone is great since he punishes them for not open attacking past Turn 7.
Depending on whether they’re splashing Ionia or not, make sure to play around Deny and get as much chip damage in as possible with open attacks along with Shadow Assassin, since they don’t have a way to heal back up.
Single Combat is a cheap way for them to interrupt your combo and kill your leveled up Ezreal with your spells queued, especially if you don’t have the Burst spells to kill them on the spot. Play around that by not overcommitting your spells and leaving mana open to respond accordingly.
Altogether, I would say you are slightly favored in this matchup (55/45).
Mulligan for (keep): Thermogenic Beam, Statikk Shock, Mystic Shot, Ezreal
Strategy: The game plan for this deck is similar to Bannermen, but much easier to achieve. None of the usually played Elusive units have more than 2 HP, which makes them very easy to clear. Keep Thermogenic Beam or Mystic Shot for an early Zed and try to force out their copies of Elixir of Iron with your Statikk Shock.
Dropping Ezreal early is good in this matchup, since he can block their 2 power Elusives efficiently with Twin Disciplines being their only combat trick.
Be prepared to deal with the eventual Windfarer Hatchling that will come down on Turn 7 by trying to have most of their board cleared. Save Will of Ionia for the units buffed by Jeweled Protector while keeping in mind that they play one or two copies of Deny.
You are very favored in this matchup. They don’t have many techs available to them due to their Allegiance restriction. Consider keeping up mana for a Will of Ionia when they have 8+ mana just in case they run a copy of Battle Fury as a combat trick (60/40).
Mulligan for (keep): Karma, Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, Chump Whump, Get Excited!
Strategy: The mirror solely depends on who plays smarter and assembles the combo pieces faster. Generally, the one who flips Ezreal first wins the game. Basically, both players are probably not playing any units unless the opponent is tapped out or stops once Ezreal gets close to leveling up after chip damage.
As a result, Ezreal probably isn’t going to level up and you will need Karma with all your burn spells to win the game. Drop her Turn 10 and chain your damage spells after you have ideally got some chip damage in.
Keep in mind the Mushroom Clouds you get off of Chump Whump represent valuable chip damage, making him a decent card to keep in your starting hand to shuffle those shrooms into your opponent’s deck early. Until then, cycle, remove your opponent’s threats, don’t give them targets unnecessarily and try to squeeze value out of your Karma.
If you’re behind, it can be worth it to drop Karma for some early damage and use her to gain value off Rummage, mushrooms and Insight of Ages if you’ve got another one in hand. DO NOT let their Ezreal level up!
Obviously, this matchup is 50/50.
Mulligan for (keep): Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, Statikk Shock, Get Excited!
Strategy: This matchup is quite straightforward. Your opponent is on a clock, as they don't get to level up their Ezreal. They will have to play proactively, giving you the option to level your own Ezreal.
Their ideal curve is House Spider on Turn 2, Draven on Turn 3 and Chump Whump on Turn 4, which is fairly easy for you to remove due to their rather weak stats. Either wait for Ezreal to flip or outvalue them with Karma.
When setting-up lethal, be aware of Culling Strike as a removal tool for your Ezreal, so try to play around that by not overcommitting all your spells or keeping your mana up for Deny.
I’d say you’re heavily favored in this matchup (65/35).
Mulligan for (keep): Rummage+Jury-Rig, Thermogenic Beam, Chempunk Pickpocket, Mystic Shot, Statikk Shock, Ezreal, Get Excited!
Strategy: As you can see above, in the mulligan phase you need all the anti-aggro and removal tools you have access to. Make sure to remove as many of your opponent’s units as possible, ideally during combat to eventually force them to commit combat tricks, which for the most part only buff power and not health (but beware of the Transfusion techs!).
Against Spiders, be careful of their Fearsome units, since they can’t be blocked by a lot of your units. Keep Will of Ionia for Crowd Favorite or Darius. Some decks run Atrocity, so if you expect it, keep mana for a Deny or Will of Ionia.
Against Discard Aggro, make sure to have an answer for their Boomcrew Rookie and be careful of the high amount of burn this deck is running. Jinx is their biggest threat, so be ready to deal with her as they can empty their hand quickly.
A neat trick is using Will of Ionia if your opponent attempts to level her up with the effect of Augmented Experimenter. This trick will force them to discard her alongside their other cards.
Overall, you are at a significant disadvantage against aggro decks, as they develop too many threats for you to be able to deal with. You need all of your removal, which means you have to play Ezreal early to generate Mystic Shots.
You quickly run out of cards and mana, making Rummage a cheap way to refill your hand. If you manage to keep up with the pressure, you have Karma to help you stabilize. Luckily, aggro is in a mediocre spot, which should result in you not having to face this matchup too often (40/60).
SI Control (Karma/Elise, Corina)
Mulligan for (keep): Karma, Mystic Shot, Statikk Shock, Chump Whump, Thermogenic Beam, Get Excited!
Strategy: This matchup is similar to the mirror. If your opponent is smart, they won’t play too many units, while keeping their copies of Brood Awakening, unless they are sure that they can rush you down with Spiders. This means that you probably won’t be able to level up Ezreal and have to win the game with Karma and burn spells.
Due to the SI spells, they have a lot of healing. This means that you need to get in a significant amount of chip damage, forcing you to play more proactively.
Use Thermogenic Beam on Elise, be prepared to deal with their Karma and against Corina, keep Deny for their Ledros, Corina and The Ruination if you managed to develop a decently-sized board. All those plays cost them their whole Turn, allowing you to gain a huge mana advantage by having a Deny available.
In this matchup, I’d say you are slightly favored (55/45).
In closing, I would say you cannot go wrong with playing this deck for the last several days leading to release day, when we are bound to see a ton of new decks. It’s currently the strongest Tier 1 deck and after the Bannerman nerf, I expect to see it rise to the top of our meta report with the upcoming update.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord server and ask away. I hope this guide helps you with your climb to Master! -Daylton
Daylton’s first card game was MTG, where he found joy in playing the limited format. Always being more into card games, he switched over to Hearthstone when its beta dropped in January 2014. Ever since then, he has been playing it regularly on the side, switching to Arena exclusively after hitting Legend to work on his deck-building skills until he managed to go infinite. Legends of Runeterra got him back into constructed due to an easily obtainable collection, where he grinded to high Master mostly playing greedy control decks. He’s excited to create content for the community and keep new players away from the dark side called aggro.