As MaRu's resident Pantheon enjoyer, I was immediately drawn in by the concept of Pantheon Kayn from Shadawx’ Day One article. Playing weapons progresses Fated, and so do Weapon support cards like Sharesies and Furious Wielder. So, what happened in my games at Plat on Day One, when factually speaking you only play against Master players from last season?
Spoiler and bottom line: I usually felt like Kayn was too weak compared to our Fated units. Often, when I’d draw Kayn, I had a 10/10 Wounded Whiteflame on board that longed for the Overwhelm keyword. Jamming Kayn felt like an unnecessary late set up that left much to be wanted.
Additionally, Sharesies felt underwhelming. We rely heavily on getting a good weapon (with Overwhelm or Scout), otherwise Sharesies has a similar effect as Pale Cascade but without the card draw.
That’s when I noticed that everything that’s good about this deck, which is the powerful Fated shell and Wandering Shepherd, happen to be in Targon. Furious Wielder can be replaced by the more flexible Concerted Strike and Single Combat, while Demacia also gives us the opportunity to Rally.
It is no rocket science to go back to a proven concept, but I don’t see how Kayn Pantheon is better than Pantheon Demacia.
Trundle Vi Timelines
Tl;dr: This deck is absolute bonkers.
Trundle Timelines was a solid, if fairly niche, ladder choice last season. We even saw a few players bring Timelines to seasonals, but the archetype was no powerhouse like Kai’Sa Sivir.
This all changed with Weaponmasters – enter Awakening. Being able to transform Improvise units with Concurrent Timelines, especially Combat Cook, is straight up unfair. It means that you get a 4|4 Impact unit on round two and a 5|5 Silverwing Diver with Fearsome on round four.
Before, Timelines pilots had to wait for eight rounds to get such a tempo swing, with Trundle’s Ice Pillar being able to effectively play two eight-drops in one round. Now, there is no other deck that can compete with the tempo play of a transforming Improvise follower.
When it comes to the best Concurrent Timelines deck, don’t look at the Jax PnZ variant. Not having access to Trundle’s Ice Pillar and Buried in Ice means that you lack in the late game, and are forced into rushing down your opponent. Buried in Ice is also the card I did my most misplays with. Simply keeping up nine mana and daring your opponent to develop into Buried in Ice is effective, even when you don’t have the card in hand.
I mostly full mulligan for Concurrent Timelines. In the mirror, it’s a good idea to also keep Aloof Travelers to discard either Trundle’s Ice Pillar or Buried in Ice!
Y’all know just how much I love Timelines, but this deck is definitely a bit overbearing. The addition of the Weaponmaster cards REALLY powered this deck up. Combat Cook is arguably the best card from the expansion and it really shines here.
Being able to give Vi Scout or Overwhelm through the Improvised weapons is really quite strong. Despite what people and average data say I also think that Ornn is actually a worthwhile inclusion in the deck – you haven’t lived until you’ve given him Scout.
The deck is far less centered around Trundle’s Ice Pillar than it used to be, but it is still a noticeably different game when you get to use it in conjunction with Timelines.
I mulligan VERY aggressively for Concurrent Timelines, full kicking almost every game to find it. I do this because the deck is capable of making most hands work and, in my opinion, it’s best to be playing for our archetype's most powerful version and that involves finding Timelines.
I used this deck in RuneterraLife’s Runeterra Rumble last Sunday and it helped me find my way to a Top 8 despite only drawing Timelines in my first set of the day. It just goes to show that the deck is absolutely incredible at the moment, and it’s definitely worth putting your time into learning it. It also helps that it’s incredibly fun!
This deck is an interesting one – it’s not all-in on Norra, so you shouldn’t be trying to play it as such. It’s also not necessarily reliant on Nami, so don’t be afraid to play out a Norra on curve as a way to gain tempo.
If both your Nami and Norra plans fail, you can always find your way to victory with Curious Shellfolk. Sqweeby and I played a game on his stream today where the value from Shellfolk single-handedly won us the game. There was nothing our opponent could do after we had stolen four copies of Ionian Tellstones and made several copies of Wallop!
If even that fails, you can always rely on Mind Meld with a six-wide board to help you close out.
This deck is probably the best shell for Norra that we’ve found, although it would admittedly probably just be better with Twisted Fate instead. Norra is definitely a lot more fun, though, and she can also lead to some really funny situations.
Despite this list being a lot of fun, and unarguably the best Norra deck, I don’t think it’s fantastic, unfortunately. It’s definitely good enough that you’re not griefing if you decide to play it, but not so good that I can recommend it for a fast, efficient climb. Especially if you do not have past experience with Nami or Shellfolk decks.
The biggest tip I can give you is to be flexible in your gameplan – be comfortable giving up on Norra, Nami, or Shellfolk once you’ve gotten your value out of them, and don’t go out of your way nor waste resources trying to protect them when you clearly can’t!
Thresh Nasus is back and better than ever! With the new equipment, The Darkin Bloodletters and The Darkin Halberd, the deck got a serious upgrade. The Darkin Bloodletters allow us to perpetually have fodder available as sacrifice targets for Spirit Leech, Hate Spike, Rite of Calling, etc.
This addition really helps de-clunking hands. In the past, it was not uncommon to find ourselves in a position where we had a lot of sacrifice payoff cards but no sacrifice targets. With the current build that’s no longer a position that we’re finding ourselves in.
You might notice that I have made a few interesting choices with my list, namely the single copy of Atrocity. I’ve found that The Darkin Halberd and Taarosh are suitable enough as an alternate finisher that I don’t feel the need for the second copy of Atro – though it’s certainly a card you could look to add back in. I also run zero copies of Ravenous Butcher: after quite a few games and speaking to my friend Garretz, I decided I was happier to just play Rite of Calling for more reliable access to Champs and Champ spells. If you’re encountering a lot of Pirates players you may wish to add the Butchers back in, 0-mana units are great for stabilizing.
I’ve had a lot of people asking me about the Pirates matchup, not believing it to be good for us. People inquire about this because Kindred Nasus can really struggle to find the win against our bootlegging friends. The thing is, Kindred Nasus and Thresh Nasus are NOT EVEN CLOSE to the same deck – they play out very differently and want to do very different things. The only real similarity is that they both want to eventually Atrocity Nasus into the Nexus. I will 100% go on the record and call Pirates a good matchup for Thresh Nasus: I looked back at my stats and I’ve only lost it twice in over 40 games. You can just trade down the board while playing units on curve – so long as you don’t directly play into a Twisted Fate Red Card, you should be able to keep up on board and threaten a round six Nasus level up. We also have Rite of Negation to stop any potential Decimate lethal.
Some tips: use Hate Spike before you intend to play a champ, don’t be afraid to play Xolaani off of The Darkin Bloodletters, and keep your eye out for my guide coming later this week/early next week!
Akshan Lee Sin
Akshan Lee is my favorite deck of the new meta. When Zenith Blade got nerfed, my all-time bestie Zoe Lee died, and with it the hopes to ever see Lee Sin again. Not that Lee and I could see each other, since he’s blind and all, but you know what I mean.
Thanks to novel Ionia cards like Momentous Choice and Wuju Style, Lee has found a new home in Shurima. The payoff of these double-activate spells is manyfold.
We trigger Flow cards like Eye of the Dragon and Deep Meditation, level Lee Sin more quickly, and rapidly advance Akshan’s landmarks. Before, Akshan Lee was a niche counter deck for tournament play only. But with the new cards, the whole archetype leveled up and is now good enough for the ladder.
Don’t take Akshan Lee lightly, though. If you want to slam down strong units and be happy about big stats – turn to Timelines decks. Akshan Lee requires a lot of thought and seemingly weak plays, manytimes floating mana.
Furthermore, the amount of misplays you will make in your first fifteen games will be immense. You didn’t time your Flow activation right in one round? Too bad, you’re now out of the flow for all following rounds. You miss-timed when Warlord's Hoard flipped? Too bad, your entire seven-round set up for Lee Sin falls short and you lose.
Why am I telling you how frustrating Akshan Lee can be to pilot? Isn’t this discouraging to hear?
To me, it is the exact opposite. Knowing that every game I could have done something better, and then doing it better is one of the best feelings in the world. Every match you play is a puzzle that needs to be solved and, with time, you become really good at it.
With this explanation, it is easy to see why people often put hours upon hours into the archetype. Once you get hooked, Akshan Lee becomes addicting, and you won’t let go until you’ve mastered the deck. I will publish a guide about Akshan Lee in the coming week, but here are some quick tips:
When in doubt, full mulligan for Akshan or Vekauran Vagabond. Akshan is to blind monks what Concurrent Timelines is to Troll Kings. If you draw him, your winning chances double. Don’t get baited into keeping Lee Sin, we want to find him later with the Relic of Power.
The way you win most games is by flipping Warlord's Hoard the same round you cast The Absolver onto Lee Sin and one-turn kill the opponent. That way, you can protect Lee with Shield of the Sentinels in addition to any Deny spells you have in hand.
Pirates is the worst matchup for Akshan Lee, but only if both players play it wrong, or both players play it correctly.
What I mean by this is that you should try to out-race them with Akshan and Dragonlings, while dealing the finishing blow with The Absolver onto a Dragonling. This way, your opponent won’t be able to deny the heal by casting Noxian Fervor onto the blocker of your Dragonling.
On the other hand, if your opponent plays it correctly, they will keep on passing and make your Flow activations for Eye of the Dragon difficult. Luckily, only high-level Master players know about it, so after reading this you will have improved your winning chances by a lot! =)
New cards, new Meta – the new Champs may be a bit dozy (as of right now, only Jax with Vi, and Norra with Nami, make a showing at the top of the meta tier lists charts with WRs above 50%), but long-time favorites have been buffed to very, very playable.
We hope you've enjoyed our first Awakening foray – see you next week, and good luck on the ladder!