Hello everyone, Daylt0n and Froggy here. We have received many requests from newcomers, asking us what their first cards to craft should be and so, we decided to give you a few deck ideas to get you started. Usually, new players want to craft a solid deck right off the bat, so they can start progressing for a minimal initial investment.
This is why our goal was to come up with lists that you can confidently play in the first tiers of the ranked ladder for under 6000 shards, with nothing more to start than the base collection every player gets. We have also tried to create decks that explore different playstyles, so you should find one that matches your personal preference within our list.
Enjoy! If you have any questions feel free to drop in our Discord to get in contact with us.
Writing: Froggy0, Daylt0n
Editing: Minuano, ShadowplayRed, Wusubi
About the Base Collection
After you launch the game and complete the first few tutorials, you will be given 3 starter decks for free: “Buff and Tuff”, “Death and Spiders” and “Spells and Stealth”. These 3 decks each combine cards from 2 different regions and cover all of the 6 original regions in the game.
In addition to the 3 decks, after a few days of logging in to the game, you will receive additional cards (including 2 copies of Ashe) and a 4th deck using some of the cards you already have will appear in your collection: “Freeze and Decay”.
We would recommend that you play a few games against the AI with the decks so you can start learning the cards and understand how the game itself works. However, apart from Death and Spiders which is decently put together, I would advise you against playing them in a PvP match.
Most of the cards themselves are reasonably good, but the decks provided are devoid of synergy, which is why you should start working towards your own first deck as soon as possible. Instead of “upgrading” those starter decks, we decided to create completely new ones from scratch, using your whole starting collection as a basis.
Cost of the Cards and Crafting Priorities
In Legends of Runeterra, acquiring cards is very easy and there are many ways to get your collection started. By playing the game and completing quests, you will gain experience that will earn you progress towards the region rewards path you chose. At each step, you will be given cards from this region, along with wildcards and/or shards. You can also get those by playing in the expedition game mode, or by opening your weekly vault every Tuesday.
In addition to the cards you get from the free loot boxes, you can craft the cards you want in your collection, by spending either wildcards of the same rarity (which can also be purchased with real money) or a certain amount of shards: A card at the common rarity (green) costs 100 shards to craft, a rare (blue) 300, an epic (purple) 1200, and a champion (golden) card costs 3000 shards.
As you can see, epic and champion cards are quite expensive, which is why we won’t use them much (if at all) in the decks we have prepared for you. Don’t worry though, they are not mandatory for your deck to be powerful.
When working towards the completion of a deck, use your wildcards before your shards and choose the reward path from the region you need cards from!
Our Budget Decklists
The cost we calculated for each of the following decks is the theoretical maximum amount of shards you would have to spend to build them from nothing but the base collection. If you take into consideration the wildcards you can use, the cards you can open in loot boxes, and the fact that multiple decks reuse the same cards, the real cost of the decks would be even lower than this.
To make your life easier, you can copy the deck codes to your clipboard, and in the “decks” section of your collection, click “import deck” to add the deck to your list. When opening it, you will directly see the cards you are missing, and have the opportunity to craft them.
And now, without further ado, onto the decklists:
Crafting cost: 4500 shards
Champless Burn is the most competitive budget deck you can play. It is insanely aggressive and allows you to usually close out games by Turn 5. Due to the fact that you mostly play units that cost 1-2 mana, you will be able to quickly go wide on the board, allowing your units to push for a decent amount of face damage with the usually limited amount of blockers your opponent will have access to.
While the choice of your 1-drop depends on the matchup, Boomcrew Rookie is your go-to 2-drop since he is almost guaranteed to get in for two attacks with his high HP. Crimson Disciple punishes AOE removal and synergizes very well with Imperial Demolitionist for a grand total of 4 face damage. Transfusion also works well with the card on top of operating at burst speed, which your opponent won’t be able to react to.
Since your deck is more oriented towards aggression, Used Cask Salesman is best played during turns when your opponent has the attack token, as it will give you access to chump blockers, preventing damage coming your way and also dealing an extra 2 damage.
After a few turns, you will have to try to get as much value out of your Transfusion and Noxian Fervor as possible since they require you to have units on the board. Keep in mind that these are often best used reactively, punishing your opponent when they try to remove your units.
At this point, your opponent will most likely be down to less than 10 HP, which will make it easy for you to close out the game with burn spells (you will very rarely use these to control the board). Some units won’t guarantee face damage anymore due to enemy blockers, but they can be used as discard targets for Get Excited!.
Your strongest burn spell is Decimate, but it also only operates at slow speed. It is important to keep in mind that you won’t be able to use it reactively if your opponent launches an open attack.
One weakness the deck can have is units with Lifesteal, which you often don’t want to strike. A neat little trick is to put a blocker in front of them and to play a Noxian Fervor (or other damaging spells) to kill your own unit, denying the strike thus resulting in your opponent not healing.
This also works when attacking, and being blocked by a unit with Lifesteal. Noxian Fervor has a similar purpose against SI, where you often want to keep it as a response to a Grasp of the Undying, denying your opponent the healing off of the drain effect.
Crafting cost: 3500 shards
This is a direct upgrade to “Death and Spiders”. Similarly to Champless Burn, it has a very aggressive game plan, but instead of revolving around burn spells and direct damage to finish off the opponent, it capitalizes on its units, buffing them before attacking with the most threatening board possible.
As it is built around the same core as “Death and Spiders”, the deck is cheap to craft. If your resources allow it, you should include a third copy of Elise, as she is absolutely vital to the deck, on top of being a very solid champion overall.
During the early turns, your goal is to build a wide board, mostly with Spider units. Hapless Aristocrat, House Spider, Elise, and Brood Awakening will help you in this endeavor. As Brood Awakening costs 5 mana, sometimes you can pass Turn 2 (if you have no other obvious option available, like playing an uncontested Elise) in order to play it on Turn 3 with the spell mana you have banked.
Not only can you use this early army to start chipping away at the opposing Nexus, but you will also be rewarded for maintaining a wide board of units. You get a lot of value from cards such as Arena Battlecaster, Frenzied Skitterer, Arachnoid Host, or Decisive Maneuver if their effect procs on 4 or 5 units.
If you manage to align 5 units before the start of your fourth turn, you may also be able to play a gigantic Crowd Favorite and push for an insane amount of damage.
Your creatures are difficult to block because of their keywords. Overwhelm allows you to damage the enemy Nexus even if your units get blocked, and Fearsome will prevent weak enemies from stopping you. Frenzied Skitterer lowers the attack of opposing units, so it can also synergize with all of your Fearsome cards.
One interesting tip with Elise: when she is leveled-up and provides Fearsome and Challenger to all of your Spiders, sometimes it is best not to challenge anything and to just push for damage with “unblockable” Fearsome units.
Once your opponent’s HP is low enough, Darius, Crowd Favorite, Might, Decisive Maneuver, and Atrocity will help you end the game. Note that if you stun a unit that is blocking one of your attackers with Overwhelm, the entirety of the damage will be dealt to the Nexus instead.
When attacking with Darius and several other units at the same time, place him on the far right. This way, if he isn’t leveled-up yet, the damage dealt by your other units before him may put your opponent under the 10 HP threshold before he strikes.
Crafting cost: 6000 shards
Here, we have a budget version of the infamous Bannerman deck, which has been one of the most reliable meta decks since beta. While the list is already strong when running only Demacian cards, the Ionia splash gives us access to Zed, who benefits from the buffs and protection Damacia has to offer. It also allows us to include Deny which can protect our board from heavy removal.
The game plan of this deck is fairly straightforward: Play your cards on curve, develop a strong board, and make it even stronger by buffing it with Vanguard Bannerman. Eventually, the opponent won’t be able to deal with your units.
The deck plays six 1-drops, allowing you to seize control of the board right off the bat. Among them, Fleetfeather Tracker, which is best followed by Brightsteel Protector or War Chefs buffing it, can trade with an enemy as soon as Turn 2 and oftentimes even survive his mission. The same tactic can be later used with other Challenger cards, or when using Single Combat to force a fight.
Loyal Badgerbear and Grizzled Ranger set you up for very explosive follow-up turns, usually giving you control over the board. You have a lot of options for your 5-drops, each excelling in different scenarios. Swiftwing Lancer being a Challenger allows you to trade an opposing threat away, Radiant Guardian is really strong against aggro but is also hard to remove due to the Tough keyword.
Garen is a real threat, which if left unanswered can allow you to close out games really fast, granting you an additional attack token during your opponent’s turns.
Keep value-trading enemies with your beefy Demacian units and make sure to keep control of the board, slowly beating down your opponent in a war of attrition. If the latter tries to remove your board, you have a few combat tricks at your disposal.
Ranger’s Resolve can single-handedly turn around the outcome of a fight, causing your whole board to take one fewer point of damage from every source, enabling trades that would otherwise never have been possible.
Back to Back is a powerful card to push significant Nexus damage or to make favorable trades, as it is hard to play around since it resolves at burst speed. As a last resort, Single Combat makes it possible for a unit doomed to die to trade with an enemy, which allows you to mitigate the loss.
With this deck, it is very important not to overextend when developing units unless you have Deny available or are able to repopulate your board afterward, as you can lose the game if you can’t keep up the tempo. Since you have no way of dealing direct nexus damage, it’s pretty much over for you if you can’t get the board back.
Crafting cost: 4300 shards
This is another deck utilizing Zed in combination with buffs. Elusive cards can be hard to deal with, as they can only be blocked by other Elusive units, whereas they can block enemies as they please. This ability allows you to go in for damage during your turn, while soaking some of it back when the opponent tries to do the same.
The whole strategy revolves around buffing your Elusive units preemptively and protecting them while they strike your opponent down from the shadows.
During the early turns, your goal is to set-up buffs on the next units you will draw with cards like Omen Hawk, Starlit Seer or Shared Spoils. Ideally, you don’t want to keep unbuffed Elusive units in your starting hand, but rather draw them after you buffed them at the top of your deck.
This makes the deck a bit “high-rolly”, but it is also what makes its appeal. You won’t have to rely solely on luck for hitting your buffs though, as Jeweled Protector will let you choose which card you want to invest in depending on the situation.
Once you start drawing your buffed units, you can use them to pressure the enemy Nexus and race your opponent. Keep mana up so you can use it to play protection spells reactively, as the few units you will play will be your win condition.
Although there aren’t really any bad targets for the buffs, stacking some bonus stats on a Zed or a Kinkou Lifeblade will make your life easier, as the former will turn those stats into extra damage, killing your opponent faster, and the latter will regenerate your HP with each strike, allowing you to survive.
The deck has many synergies with units entering the battlefield. Cards like Zed and Navori Highwayman generate multiple bodies, which will buff up Sparring Student and Greenglade Duo, allowing you to push for lots of damage in a single turn.
Speaking of pushing for damage, we added several offensive combat tricks to the list that will grant your units additional punch when they go for that unblockable strike. Fury of the North and Battle Fury can make for some devastating damage cards, allowing you to finish off an unprepared foe in one blow.
Crafting cost: 6000 shards (3000 without Elise)
How could we possibly end this list without featuring at least one control deck? These are usually quite expensive, as they often require several copies of epic or champion cards to properly function, but there is one incredibly cheap control deck that happens to perform well in the current meta: Endure Spiders.
The goal of the deck is to produce a lot of disposable units, which you will then sacrifice for the sake of creating a giant They Who Endure. Once it is big enough, drop it and kill your opponent in one swing, or combine it with an Atrocity if that still isn’t enough.
During the early game, you should start flooding the board with your cheap units. Hapless Aristocrat, Omen Hawk, Avarosan Sentry and Elise will all generate value and provide you with your first death triggers during attack and block phases.
With the exception of Elise, they are all great targets for Glimpse Beyond when your opponent tries to remove them and/or is out of mana to counter your play, allowing you to start digging through your deck.
Glimpse Beyond will let you find your removal cards, ideal to make the game last longer, which of course only plays in your favor. Vile Feast, Grasp of the Undying, and Withering Wail will damage or kill enemies, while healing your Nexus at the same time, making them powerful stalling tools.
In combination with the blockers you will be able to put out due to the likes of Brood Awakening, your opponent will have a hard time getting to your Nexus.
Blighted Caretaker can also create Challengers that will allow you to take some additional value trades during your turn. If you ever need to deal with bigger fish, we also included a copy of Vengeance and a copy of The Ruination.
Once you have been through all of these steps, it is time for you to have your fun. Drop a gigantic They Who Endure and start attacking the enemy. As with most Fast spells, Atrocity is to be used reactively, and you want to keep it in your hand until the opponent tries to remove your tenacious Freljordian beasts, responding to their play by flinging the giants directly into their Nexus.
Atrocity also works well with Tryndamere, as he will become stronger from his own death trigger. You won’t be able to play both during the same turn, which, on the other hand, is very doable with They Who Endure.
The deck is so incredibly cheap that we included 3 copies of Elise, which is once again, a very valuable investment. As the Spider package naturally leads towards an aggressive playstyle, the deck gives you the opportunity to bully slower opponents, sometimes winning the game without having to rely on They Who Endure as your big finisher.
We hope that these lists will help you get started in your Legends of Runeterra journey. Once you have more experience with the game and you have figured out what kinds of decks you enjoy playing, feel free to check out our meta snapshot for some additional competitive content! -Froggy and Daylt0n