Hey, RickoRex here! 2023 started with a new Overwhelming banger: the Freljord Darius deck. The Hand of Noxus made a comeback to prove his worth in the LoR meta, and as one of the highest win-rate decks in Runeterra, he quickly rose to the top of our Tier List.
Freljord Darius has made recurring appearances on the LoR ladder ever since its first success in 2020, sometimes paired with Draven or Trundle. His past versions have consistently been strong and worked in many different metas; the previous notable pairing in 2022 was Gnar (Gnarius), which added Bone Club to the list and set a new standard for Overwhelm decks.
Fallen Reckoner got nerfed in the hotfix last week, and with it our Freljord Darius deck lost some of its late-game strength. While it is still a good synergistic card, I do believe there are currently better alternatives for it: Shared Spoils fixes the round-five unit hole by providing us with resources and hand buffs. Alpha Wildclaw or Sejuani are good alternatives to it too.
Omen Hawk also entered the scene, adding hand buffs along with Shared Spoils. The bird is a great opener, answering all the 2|1 one-drops in the current meta.
The Freljord Darius Deck – Card Breakdown
As of the time of writing this Freljord Darius deck guide, this is where I am with its current version
Our Early Units
Omen Hawk provides a lot of value with hand buffs in exchange for some early pressure. Its effect, however, quickly falls off as the game progresses.
Crimson Pigeon is a tempo card. Pigeon will usually attack as a 3/3 one-drop on rounds two or three, sometimes without any drawback (for example, Ruthless Raider won't mind if we ping her, since she is Tough). It is not always optimal to Support when attacking if that makes the trade worse, e.g. attacking on round two with Crimson Pigeon and Legion Rearguard while the opponent has a single 3/1 unit.
Legion Rearguard is the most aggressive one-drop in Legends of Runeterra. He is one of the best openers when attacking on odd rounds, especially in slower matchups.
Ruthless Raider is the best support target for Crimson Pigeon. Furthermore, she is the best target for buffs from Omen Hawk, Shared Spoils, and Bone Club due to being Tough, and our smallest Overwhelm body alongside Tusk Speaker.
Tusk Speaker is slightly weaker compared to Ruthless Raider, but he synergizes very well with Shared Spoils since it allows you to cast it on non-attack rounds, or as a preparation before developing into an attack.
Iron Ballista fits well into the curve. It is always played over Ancient Yeti, unless you can get much better trades the other way.
Ancient Yeti gets discounted every round so it is always a good keep in your opening hand (with rare exceptions against aggro). The earliest you can play the unit is on round four – however, it is smart to wait for even more value if you have other good options and are not losing mana that round. This way you can play more units in total and slam multiple Yetis in a single round later on.
Darius and Alpha Wildclaw are both very similar late-game Overwhelm finishers. Remember that Darius can level up mid-combat if the previous attackers drop your foe's Nexus below ten Health, so always position him last (that's to say, as your rightmost unit) when attacking.
First Rule of Bone Club
Many decks struggle against an early Bone Club because it provides huge value to an Overwhelm unit.
Rounds four and five are the most common timing for it – it is usually better to equip it (rather than developing more units) unless you are in dire need of board presence.
In some cases it is a good idea to equip it on non-Overwhelm units as well: for example, when you want to spread damage over multiple non-Overwhelm units, or when you just don’t have an Overwhelm target for it. And once they manage to kill the equipped unit, you can immediately re-equip it; remember that units are resources, so you are saving resources this way.
Spelling it Out
Ideally, Shared Spoils should be played as soon as possible to get the immediate value. It is a great keep against midrange our removal-heavy decks. Pair it alongside Tusk Speaker to use it on your opponent's attack round.
These are our two combat tricks. Troll Chant has historically been one of the best spells in midrange metas. Our current Freljord Darius list only runs one, but it is perfectly fine to put in more copies if you feel like it. It gives the most value when used in a combat phase, saving two Overwhelm units.
Whirling Death can be used defensively as well as offensively. The latter greatly synergizes with the Overwhelm keyword: remember that if an Overwhelm unit is blocked, and you kill the blocker, then the Overwhelm unit will deal full damage to the Nexus.
And after our foe's Nexus has been sufficiently pounded…
… these are the spells we'll use to finish the job.
Battle Fury is one of the best spells to run in any Freljord Overwhelm deck. Spread the damage by using it on a weaker Overwhelm unit, and if needed, use it proactively (before you commit your attack) to play around the block pass from your opponent. And in some instances it can be played on the round before attacking, since it is a Grant effect (that's to say, it's a permanent buff, and will stick to your unit in the following rounds).
Decisive Maneuver is better than Battle Fury when having a wide board. Target the beefiest enemy blocking an Overwhelm unit in order to get the most value. In some cases it can be used defensively as well.
Other Cards Up our Sleeve
Arachnoid Sentry is strong when used offensively or defensively; Having one copy of a stun-on-a-stick stick never hurts! Wild Claws is an alternate win condition that is rarely expected by anyone – be patient with it and wait for your foe to use their cards, before going for lethal. Elixir of Wrath is a good single-copy trick, which at worst is a one-mana, deal-three spell.
Other Options and Flex Spots
Sejuani could replace the Alpha Wildclaw spot. She lacks some power but her on-play effect makes her worth considering.
The other unit that recently saw play is Fallen Reckoner. Nerfs were quite noticeable but they still serve their purpose in our curve.
The Darkin Spear provides even more hand buffs, and together with Catch! they can be a powerful combo in place of cards like Troll Chant. Fracture is a good counter to one-health decks like Lulu Jinx, and mirror matchups to answer Bone Club.
Freljord Darius – Quick Mulligan Guide
Our Freljord Darius deck has a strong curve, but does not always need to play for head-on aggression. On the contrary, it can slowly win through board advantage with the help of Bone Club and our combat tricks. With that mindset in mind:
Always keep – One-mana and two-mana units, at least one Iron Ballista, Ancient Yetis, and one Bone Club (aggro can be the exception – focus on units in this case).
Sometimes keep – One Whirling Death or Troll Chant with a good curve (versus combat-based matchups), Battle Fury (with a good curve versus board-based midrange).
Keep against Aggro – One-mana and two-mana units. Iron ballistas or Ancient Yetis, or one Bone Club with a good curve (that's to say, when you already have a round-one and round-two plays).
Freljord Darius – Curve and Gameplan
How you play out your curve depends on the matchup, and who has the attack token on round one.
When attacking on even rounds:
Omen Hawk to immediately start giving hand buffs. The earlier you play it, the better. The other, more aggressive option is Crimson Pigeon into Ruthless Raider, or double one-drop.
When attacking on odd rounds:
Legion Rearguard in slower matchups, followed by a wide curve and early Shared Spoils. Omen Hawk in faster matchups. Open-pass versus aggro to answer with our best unit.
With many cheap units, our Freljor Darius deck can go wide and play very aggressively, or it can play slower by just Equipping one of our early Overwhelm units with [[Bone Club[[, and then win through bigger numbers and hand buffs. In a way, these are two different, yet interlocked, win conditions.
Freljord Darius - Matchups
Lulu Jinx – Even
Playing passively against Lulu Jinx is not always optimal. Force them into bad value trades and not the other way around (e.g. blocking 2|1 with a 3|2 Overwhelm), unless they put too much pressure.
Most of their units have two Power at most, so us getting three-Health units on board will put them in a tough spot since they won't want to block or attack into them. The best ways to achieve this are an early Omen Hawk, an early 3|3 Crimson Pigeon, Ballista, or buffing through Shared Spoils.
Lulu Jinx can redevelop the board faster than us – our goal is to not give them good value trades while matching their pressure at the same time. Constantly having a board presence is important, so you can block Lulu at any point in the game. This way you also deny them access to their best combat spell – Lulu’s Whimsy!
While spells help, this is one of the few matchups where you can win purely by developing big Overwhelmers. Set up for a big lethal swing one or two turns before that (enemy units are low Health). Besides Lulu’s Whimsy!, cheap removal is the only answer they have, so ensure your units are beefy enough by not blocking unless necessary.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Lulu and Rockets – A Jinx Lulu Deck Guide.
Ekko Jinx– Favored
Most of their units have two Power at most, so like with Jinx Lulu, us getting three-Health units on board makes our attacks much better. Ekko Jinx is less aggressive than Lulu Jinx, so even trades are not bad. Don’t do bad-value blocks if not necessary.
Bone Club is a great card since they cannot deal with big Overwhelm units. Deny them Ekko's value by using combat tricks, or just have big enough units to block safely. Pay attention to the possible Chronobreak after Ekko levels up.
They lack strong answers to Overwhelm attacks, so set up for a big lethal swing one turn in advance. Play around cheap removal by not doing unnecessary blocks.
Swain Twisted Fate – Even
Swain TF has many strong answers to our big Overwhelm units. The good thing is that they usually need to use multiple cards to do so – therefore, it is important to keep pressuring and not run out of resources.
Besides Swain, their units aren’t too beefy so, ideally, you should be able to push some damage on every attack. In case they have a leveled Swain, be aware of their possible punishes to your development. Aim to close out the game before The Leviathan comes down or Swain will slow you down a lot.
They struggle against non-damaged units, so those are your safest bet when going for lethal.
Red Gwen – Slightly Unfavored
Katarina Gwen has good answers to our Overwhelm curve and can even force us into bad trades. Rather than blocking, use your Nexus HP as a resource when that seems reasonable.
Keep Whirling Death in the mulling with a good hand, and use it on Katarina and Gwen. Whoever comes ahead on tempo first will easily snowball the lead, so it is necessary to have a solid early curve.
Bone Club can stop attacks but will put you behind in tempo, so it is not as valuable as in other matchups, especially since they can answer it with Quietus – this huge tempo swing can put us out of the game.
Try to play around Ravenous Flock when going for lethal, and be aware of Arachnoid Sentry punishing us if we try to develop or Equip a Bone Club.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Hallowed Attacks and Harrowing Combos – A Katarina Gwen Deck Guide.
Trundle Tryndamere – Heavily Favored
Trundle Tryndamere, aka Feel the Rush, is one of our easiest matchups. Mull for a good curve (Bone Club is less important here) and play as aggressively as possible by taking risks.
Don’t bother playing around early Avalanche with less than three units on board. Even with the best answers, they are unable to keep up as long as you continue developing.
Later on, Buried in Ice is their best answer to us developing, and Vengeance to us open-attacking, so against the latter spread our damage across several units if possible. Wild Claws is a great answer to Feel The Rush on their attack: block Trundle, then cast Claws on him with your biggest Overwhelm unit for lethal.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Fear Their Return: A Tryndamere Trundle Deck Guide.
Gangplank Sejuani – Favored
The goal against Gangplank Sejuani is to not let them get Plunder stacks early on. This is achieved by blocking and using combat tricks, no matter how bad the trades are.
They want to get Plunder triggers every round, so let them do the first action. Sejuani (level 2) is the biggest threat here – Battle Fury is a great answer to her pull. Aim to close out the game before she comes down on board.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Plunder, Now with Tentacles – A Gangplank Sejuani Deck Guide
Hecarim Zed – Heavily Favored
Keep Troll Chant or Whirling Death in the mulligan if you have a good hand, to kill Zed.
The goal against Hecarim Zed is to race them down. Ignore their Ephemeral attacks unless you are keeping the blockers alive. Save even units like Omen Hawk for later blocks, and small units can help with our attacks as well. You are able to put more pressure – whoever starts killing their blockers, wins. Set up an open-attack lethal one round in advance: besides small buffs to soak in the damage, they have no answers to it.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Ephemeral Onslaught – A Zed Hecarim Deck Guide.
Aatrox Vayne (Quinn) – Heavily Favored
Against Aatrox Vayne, Bone Club is our best card. Equipping an early Overwhelm unit stops them from doing anything and gives you an opportunity to push a lot of damage. If you have a decent curve, it is worth keeping one copy of Troll Chant or Whirling Death in the mulligan.
The Darkin Harp on one of their Challengers is their biggest threat. Using Troll Chant or Whirling Death is the best way to deny them free trades.
The other cards to pay attention to are Fish Fight and Condemn. Don’t block with bigger units if it puts them in range of these spells and you have lethal on your next open attack.
Once you manage to get them low enough, one Decisive Maneuver or Battle Fury from round five onwards is all you need to close out the game.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check World Ending Birds with Weapons – An Aatrox Vayne Quinn Deck Guide.
Aatrox Kayn – Heavily Favored
Similar to Aatrox Vayne, an early Bone Club will make Aatrox Kayn's life really hard. You will always get ahead early, but be aware of Furious Wielder and The Unforgiving Cold that can make the trades unfavorable – always prioritize putting pressure, and use combat tricks reactively.
A good curve will provide more than enough power to close out the game before The World Ender outvalues you.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Reject Regions Embrace Darkin – An Aatrox Kayn Deck Guide.
Bandle Bar Seraphine – Favored
Bar Seraphine decks run a lot of removal but they struggle to match our curve, so they are forced to play from behind. Mulligan for an early curve and Bone Club, and keep Shared Spoils with a good hand.
Bone Club has a huge value in this matchup. Equipping it early causes them a lot of trouble unless they destroy it immediately. Hexbliterator is one of their biggest threats, since it also destroys the weapon when it Obliterates.
They run most cards as single copies, so it helps counting the cards the opponent uses – fortunately, you are playing an Overwhelm deck, so you can also just slam units on board without paying too much attention and the result will stay the same.
The Aphelios version makes the matchup slightly harder because they can keep using Gravitum on your biggest unit and get away with it if you are unable to present enough pressure.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Setting the Bar – A Bandle City Ezreal Seraphine Deck Guide.
Rumble Vayne – Favored
Against Rumble Vayne, the easiest win condition is to race them down.
Keep combat tricks (Troll Chant, Whirling Death) in your mulligan with a good curve.
Cataclysm on Rumble is their biggest threat, so don’t develop bigger units into it when not necessary, and let them attack first. Troll Chant plus Whirling Death is a great answer, especially if they go for a greedy play and tap out.
Further reading: for the other side of this matchup, check Tumble on the Rumble – A Vayne Rumble Deck Guide.
Mono-Shurima Sun Disc – Heavily Favored
Mono Shurima struggles to match our big Overwhelmers. Mull for the usual early units and Bone Club; keep Battle Fury if you have a good curve.
Don’t give them good pulls from the Roiling Sands. Ignore any damage dealt to your Nexus if the blocks are bad. Play around their Rite of the Arcane if needed. Quicksand is their only good answer to Overwhelm attacks, so go wide with your Overwhelm units when going for lethal.
Veigar Norra – Slightly Unfavored
Mull for the usual early curve and Bone Club. The matchup becomes a lot easier if they are unable to answer it with Quietus.
Don’t go for bad trades by blocking a 2|2 or a 2|1 with your two-drops. They will eventually match us on the board, so it is better to save blockers to have more rounds left where you are not forced to block with your Overwhelmers.
The goal is to push damage on every attack while keeping the board pressure until they are low enough to close out the game. The best answer they have is Vengeance, so spread the damage across several units in case you are going for a Battle Fury lethal.
Aggro Decks – Even
All aggro matchups will mostly depend on your starting hand.
Mull for an early curve. It is optimal to keep Ancient Yeti and Iron Ballista if you have plays for round one and round two – these big boys help to outvalue our foe and force them into bad trades. Troll Chant can also be a good keep with a strong early curve since it can win you the game with a good, doubletrade.
Open-pass on round one to play your best unit depending what they play, and not the other way around.
Plan for the open-attack lethal with the help of Decisive Maneuver or Battle Fury. They have no answers to it except Noxian Fervor.
Thank you for reading my Freljord Darius deck guide! I find a lot of joy in playing Overwhelm decks, and hope more people can experience this beautiful keyword.
If you have any questions, please let me know, and feel free to reach out over Twitter. I will keep updating the list and on top of that, more Overwhelm decks are still waiting to be unleashed on the LoR ladder!