Welcome to TLG’s latest article for Legends of Runeterra. Today, we’re bringing you our usual deck report, as the Rise of the Underworlds expansion was released last week. The new cards (and a gigantic balance patch) have injected some much-needed juice into the game, so we’re excited to give you some of the most compelling deck ideas.
Given the early state of affairs, don’t expect much in the way of refinement. Enjoy the expansion and dive into one of the new, returning or updated archetypes.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. Best of luck on your climb!
Editing: Wusubi, Sebodunum
Writers: Den, Ultraman, Othal
It’s summertime. Beaches are full, comprising a vast amount of sand and saltwater, where the common people might come to forget the vicissitudes of life, if only for a while. They play around, they laugh, they rest. But not you. You wait, you plan... you lurk.
Pyke and Rek’Sai are here with you, hand in hand, waiting. You know the right moment is coming. You predicted it, listening to your Feral Prescience. You play them, a constant threat. But just one strike with the Bone Skewer and they’re back at the top of the deck, patiently lurking again.
You cover Rek’Sai in Bloodbait, making sure to attack relentlessly, boosting her packmates even during your opponent’s turn. The ground shakes. She’s here, ready to feed on the weak. You attack, and her cry bolsters your lines.
What can puny mortals hope to do against your array of 10/1 Fearsome 1-cost Xer’sai Hatchlings? Your opponent can fight, they can struggle, but what can they do to stop Pyke and Death From Below?
And when they watch, bloody and battered but still breathing, proud to have dealt with your first wave of creatures, it will come, drawn by blood in the water. The Snapjaw Swarm, and its relentless pressure. During your turn, during the opponent’s, always here to catch your prey off-guard. (Write-up by Othal)
Bilgewater is back - all it took was to buff Make it Rain by making it 2 mana again. This should tell you enough about the card’s power level. That being said, the card is first and foremost an enabler for other spells like Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth, as well as for Swain’s level-up. It greatly helps you deal with opposing aggression while retaining some flexibility.
Use Swain’s level-up to stun the opposition before getting rid of them thanks to a decent 3 damage AoE, while The Leviathan helps you set-up and finish off the opponent at the same time.
If for any reason your opponent tries dealing with every one of your cards as soon as you drop them on the board, you can rely on good ol’ Captain Farron. He gives you 8 extra reach, which usually allows you to end the game before you run out of steam! (Write-up by Ultraman)
The best deck from the previous meta got rather butchered in Patch 2.11.0, as both of its champions were nerfed, along with a couple of important non-champion cards, leading to most players considering the deck dead and buried.
However, Ionia also saw a lot of its cards buffed, like Twin Disciplines or Will of Ionia. Both of these have made their way into the new iteration of the deck, one that several Masters players have been experimenting with.
In the end, the deck looks like it isn’t so far from its old self, and there currently are several players in Top 20 Masters who had good results with the deck. For now, though, the early meta is (as always) aggressive. Playing Azir-Irelia might feel like a chore at times as the deck has lost a bit of its former early game craziness with your champions leveling-up a turn later on average.
Don’t fool yourself though, when given a bit of time, it remains one of the better decks out there and delivers board pressure like no other. It was the high-roll potential that got nerfed, not the deck’s stability. The deck still rocks a low curve, making it hard to have unplayable hands, and still packs cards that create impactful early game pressure.
The addition of Twin Disciplines makes it easier to protect your champions, giving you survivability against spell-oriented decks and leaving almost only pure Aggro as an option to keep the deck in check. Field Musicians are another interesting comeback, or Shadow Assassin for some players. Those cards are helping the deck with draw and longevity in general, corroborating the idea that the deck has become a bit slower.
Those inclusions might not feel entirely necessary for now, but the nerf of Dancing Droplet definitely left a mark, as it removed a low cost draw option for the deck. While it wasn’t used so much for its drawing ability, having that possibility was important, as its loss of Attune now means that we’re forced to incorporate a similar option in the deck through a much more costful card.
The current meta is essentially looking to destroy combo and control decks, which outside of Thralls are fairly quiet on ladder for now. Much like in the previous meta, then, Azir-Irelia should be a player in the coming months and could limit what players are allowed to play if its popularity were to rapidly rise again at some point. (Write-up by den)
Trundle-Lissandra Control (TLC) has been a staple of the meta since it was first released. The main reason it stopped being so prominent on ladder was the insanely high playrate of Azir-Irelia. As a deck with a clear-cut win condition, no interaction with the opponent (except when it came to obliterating their deck) and a lot of tools to get there easily, TLC had one of the highest power levels we have seen in Legends of Runeterra. So, what led to its downfall? (Write-up by Othal)
Everything changed when Patch 2.11.0 arrived. Watcher now needs 5 allies to be summoned and doesn’t give an instant-win, but leaves 3 cards in the enemy deck - closer to a Maokai level-up than the powerhouse it was before. While it may seem this change is simple, it has huge consequences for the TLC Matron combo.
Firstly, it has become harder to proc the full combo in one turn. It involved playing double Pillar and using Spectral Matron on the first Watcher to get the second one for free. You’ll now need a third Pillar, via Fading Memories or another Trundle, which requires more set-up and more board space. The latter can be hard to find, as Matron doesn’t allow you to replace a unit when summoning and Lissandra creates a Landmark.
Secondly, the fact that you don’t win in one go forces you to commit a real Watcher, otherwise you’re open to a counter-attack. The units summoned by Matron and Fading Memories are Ephemeral, which will most likely leave you with at best a 6/6 and a Vulnerable 0/6 when you’re done attacking without a true Watcher.
Last but not least, the removal of the instant deck obliteration leaves you without a win condition. Deep, for example, summons a lot of low-cost, high-stats creatures and uses them to win the game, or hold for a few turns if Maokai is leveled-up.
With TLC, you have no resources to help you get there, no secondary threat your opponent must deal with. Three cards in their deck might not seem a lot, but slow decks might have enough resources to close the game on Turn 9 or 10, while your win con has already been spent.
But as a wise man once said: that is not dead which can eternal lie, and Watcher is no exception. While TLC might not see play, Thralls are on the rise in this new meta and they solve the issues I just mentioned: Watcher isn’t the main win con, but can still be summoned and force your opponent on their toes while they have to deal with a board full of 8/8 Overwhelm Thralls.