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Improvising and Brutalizing – A Jax Vi Deck Guide

GeneralSchwartz joins Jax to break down Jax Vi Timelines: cards, mulligan, tips and tricks, and detailed matchup strategy.

JaxJax, one of the two new Runeterran champions released in the Awakening expansion, has leapt into battle in LoR to fight for a place in the meta. While JaxJax’s decks have generally been panned, his followers have quickly made a fearsome impact with Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines, and have left the ladder reeling, as the tempo that Improvise creates is overwhelming; you just can’t block the deck from raking in the wins.

Concurrent Timelines

As per the most recent Monday Meta Report, JaxJax’s most popular deck, Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines and ViVi, sits at a 50.5% win rate, while TrundleTrundle and ViVi have been punching a bit harder at 55.2% – the latest LoR Best Decks article shows a similar performance. I would say that things aren’t looking so good for our lamp pole pugilist, but Bman recently took his list to Rank 1 on the AM server!

Regions
Piltover & Zaun
18 cards
Runeterra
22 cards
Rarities
29 400
champion
6
epic
6
rare
7
common
21
Mana cost
0
0
8
1
18
2
3
3
8
4
3
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
2
Jax
3
Jax
5
Vi
3
Vi
Followers
19
1
Fireth, Reaper of the Sands
3
Fireth, Reaper of the Sands
1
Zaunite Urchin
3
Zaunite Urchin
2
Ferros Financier
2
Ferros Financier
2
Ionian Hookmaster
3
Ionian Hookmaster
3
Piltovan Castaway
3
Piltovan Castaway
4
Aloof Travelers
2
Aloof Travelers
4
Combat Cook
3
Combat Cook
Spells
15
1
Blades of the Fallen
2
Blades of the Fallen
2
Concurrent Timelines
3
Concurrent Timelines
2
Entrancing Lure
2
Entrancing Lure
2
Mystic Shot
3
Mystic Shot
2
Time Trick
2
Time Trick
4
Parts Made Whole
3
Parts Made Whole
Open deck in builder

As a new Runeterran champion, JaxJax’s card pool is unique and it seems that the optimal Timelines variant hasn’t quite been solved yet. The followers are almost standardized at this point; most of the experimentation is in the spells.

Some decklists are leaning into burn finishes with triple Mystic ShotMystic Shot and Get Excited!Get Excited!, while others employ Blades of the FallenBlades of the Fallen or Catch!Catch! to stabilize the board through more aggressive trading. The list that Bman has been using is currently at a 60% win rate on AM and EU Master’s ladder, and seems to be the best Jax deck we have at the moment.

For the purposes of this guide, we will be referring to Bman’s list, as the way that you play the deck can change significantly with which spells you choose to include.


Properly Equipped

LoR Deck Vi Jax: Jax, the titular champino of the Legends of Runeterra Deck Jax Vi

A central theme of this deck is Equipment, which we get through the Improvise keyword. Improvise allows you to choose one of two weapons randomly selected from a depleting pool that will then be automatically attached to the summoned unit. There are eight total pieces of Equipment, and the pool will refill when there is only one option left.

Each Improvised weapon provides a different keyword and mix of stats, with weapons functioning in many ways  like Attach units. This means that cards like HushHush and QuicksandQuicksand cannot remove your keywords! Each weapon can be situationally good, but there are a few that we are always happy to see.

The Fix-Em 5000 Fishawhack Upcycled Rake

The Fix-Em 5000The Fix-Em 5000, FishawhackFishawhack, and Upcycled RakeUpcycled Rake are almost always a snap choice for me, but there are times where the extra points of health from Pot O' PainPot O, Sandworn AmuletSandworn Amulet, or Combat ReelCombat Reel may be needed to trade more efficiently with the enemy board on defense. The Fearsome keyword from Sandworn AmuletSandworn Amulet can also push a ton of damage if our opponent runs mostly low-Power units.

It’s important to note that the Equipment will return to our hand if the unit is recalled or killed (working again like Attach units), which allows us to put it on another unit (usually ViVi). However, if our unit is Obliterated, or if our hand is full, we will lose the equipment.


Time Value of Stats

Jax, a Legends of Runeterra Champion

But why is Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines so good with Improvise?

It’s the same story as it has always been with Timelines. Improvise units are under-statted for their cost, as a trade-off for their incredible on-play effect. The equipment that the cards generate already provides good value, and Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines allows for us to sidestep the stat penalty that comes with Improvise followers and slap that weapon on a (hopefully) better one! Being able to immediately swap out to a beefier body makes it borderline broken, especially when it comes to this guy…

Combat Cook

Combat CookCombat Cook is at baseline a solid card: at worst it is a four-mana 4/3 with a keyword that gives a permanent +1/+1 buff to the Equipment card you choose. Toss Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines into the mix, and this card is absolutely busted – to the point that Monte, a big fan of the Trundle Timelines version, thinks the cook is the best card this Expansion. Combat CookCombat Cook has some of the lowest stats for a vanilla unit at four mana, meaning that almost anything else that you choose will provide an additional keyword, a stat improvement, or both! A 9/8 Ancient CrocolithAncient Crocolith with Scout on Round 4 is a nightmare for our opponent to deal with.

To put it another way, we are able to consistently play over-statted units with good keywords, and bury our opponent in value. If we are able to curve out Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines into Improvise units on Round 2, 3, and 4, our board can become impossible to deal with.

It is important to note that units that we play are Transformed by Timelines, and the chosen new unit is not summoned. This means that Summon and Play effects will NOT be activated for the chosen unit. This allows us to bypass the play costs or negative effects for Camavoran DragonCamavoran Dragon, Hunting FleetHunting Fleet, and Ancient CrocolithAncient Crocolith, but also means that Crowd FavoriteCrowd Favorite will not gain any stats, Silverwing VanguardSilverwing Vanguard will not summon a copy, and so on.


Finding Time

Our deck is pretty strong when we find Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines... stress on 'when', since we are left with an underwhelming pile of cards without our MVP. If we full-mulligan our starting hand, we have a 60% chance of finding Timelines by the start of Round 3. I’m not a gambling man, but 40/60 odds of our deck being terrible don’t seem great.

Time Trick Zaunite Urchin 

Parts Made Whole Entrancing Lure 

Time TrickTime Trick, Zaunite UrchinZaunite Urchin, Parts Made WholeParts Made Whole, and Entrancing LureEntrancing Lure all stack the odds in our favor by letting us rummage through our pile to find our win condition. Time TrickTime Trick can curve out nicely into Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines and a unit on Round three if we banked spell mana on Round two.

And, after we have found Timelines, these cards are still useful  – Zaunite UrchinZaunite Urchin and Parts Made WholeParts Made Whole can be used to discard additional copies of Timelines or Equipment while drawing us a card, though you will typically want to use Parts Made WholeParts Made Whole on a piece of unwanted Equipment to summon an Icathian MirageIcathian Mirage.

Our deck is fairly light on interaction, and Entrancing LureEntrancing Lure gives us a way to remove key pieces from our enemy backline and capitalize on Quick Attack, Fearsome, or Overwhelm on our offensive turns. 

Time TrickTime Trick exists almost solely to find Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines, but can still be useful later in the game to find that last Mystic ShotMystic Shot we need, or a ViVi to put Overwhelm on.


Punching In!

ViVi JaxJax, at its heart, is a value-based midrange beatdown deck with our champs as top-end finishers. All of that to say that we’re going to make big dudes with good keywords for cheap, and crush our opponent under the weight of our value. We’ve also got Mystic ShotMystic Shots to give us a bit of extra reach when the Grandmaster can’t finish the job on his own.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a simple deck, though – we’ve got a lot of agency and room for skill expression each round, based on the weapon and unit choices given. Taking a smaller unit that stacks better with the weapon we’ve chosen can often be more effective than just looking at which pile of numbers is the biggest.

Unit sequencing is also important as we only get one Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines proc each turn. You really don’t want to waste it on Zaunite UrchinZaunite Urchin, and get stuck with your Combat CookCombat Cook in hand waiting to be played.

JaxJax, unfortunately, is not someone we want to see early. He is too susceptible to removal, and most of his utility comes when he is leveled. JaxJax does contribute to his own level-up condition, but your Improvise units will get you there faster and generate more useful Equipment. 

If one is bad then two is worse; JaxJax’s champion spell can be helpful at times, but is often too narrow a use case for us to be happy to have it in hand. Sometimes it’s better for JaxJax to take a dive so he can come back swinging next round!

Once we have JaxJax leveled, it’s a whole different ball game, though. When we attack, he will gain +1/+1 for each Equipped ally on the board, and can easily swing in as a 7/6 with Quick Attack and Overwhelm. Depending on what else we have on our side, JaxJax will close out games quickly.

Another important part of JaxJax’s level-up is that The Light of IcathiaThe Light of Icathia gains Overwhelm, which can be a potent weapon if JaxJax has to pass on the torch.

The Light of Icathia

Now to talk about our favorite Piltover enforcer, because what is a Grandmaster at Arms without a pair of fists to match? 

ViVi works hard and she certainly does a lot for us in this deck. She can remove enemy threats from the board with Challenger like she usually does, but requisition some special Equipment and ViVi truly becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Vi Fishawhack

ViVi with Overwhelm just ends games if the opponent doesn’t have a way to stop her. And our enforcer isn’t too picky with the equipment offered, should Overwhelm not be on the table: Quick Attack lets her trade up with high-power enemy threats, and Fearsome allows her to go straight to face. The extra Power from any of the equipment allows ViVi to level faster, and the extra Health makes her very difficult to remove without a VengeanceVengeance or other hard removal.

And, unlike Jax, ViVi's spell does come in handy – Vault BreakerVault Breaker can deliver the knockout blow by pumping up our JaxJax, a follower with Elusive or FishawhackFishawhack, or just whoever got by unblocked.

While we are waiting to set up our JaxJax or ViVi, our goal is to maintain control of the board and push chip damage so that we can finish them off with ViVi and FishawhackFishawhack or a souped-up JaxJax. We also have the potential for high-rolls from our Improvise units, especially Combat CookCombat Cook, and may kill our opponent before our champs have a chance to swing in!

For every high-roll, though, there’s a low-roll (Newton’s 4th Law) and it’s important to not put ourselves in a position where we need a high-roll to live. Most of the time we’re going to get something in-between, and managing the board state effectively will allow us to push our advantage when we do land those big hits and can survive even when we get Mystifying MagicianMystifying Magician, Silverwing VanguardSilverwing Vanguard or Tenor of TerrorTenor of Terror from Combat CookCombat Cook.

While working to control the board, it is important that we take good care of our units so our JaxJax lands with maximum impact. His gains in power depend on having well-equipped friends on board with him and, depending on the opponent’s deck, sometimes it is better to skip a block and lose life than to lose a unit. 

Blades of the Fallen

Blades of the FallenBlades of the Fallen allows us to trade units with the enemy without losing board advantage by replacing ours with an Icathian MirageIcathian Mirage that has the Equipment our unit was holding.

Aloof Travelers

Aloof TravelersAloof Travelers is still a strong card as a number of decks, like NasusNasus KindredKindred, are reliant on high-cost cards to finish the game. We don’t have a lot of good answers for cards like NasusNasus or Feel The RushFeel The Rush, but we don’t have to worry about them if they’re discarded first! Doesn’t hurt to toss a DecimateDecimate or a Riptide SermonRiptide Sermon from the pirate player’s hand, either.

Ferros Financier

Nerf or no nerf, Ferros FinancierFerros Financier can still RNGesus us out of a bad situation. We will only be pulling from the PnZ pool as JaxJax does not have any 6+ cost spells in his region, but honestly having a more limited pool makes it more likely we get something useful. 

A word of warning when choosing from Reggie: Glorious EvolutionGlorious Evolution is BAD for our deck as Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines does not care about the original cost of the card and your units will be worse on average. If you already have a full board you could consider it… but you’ve probably already won if you can afford to dump 10 mana on this.


Sizing Up the Opponent

As I said previously, the way we play from the mulligan depends a lot on the speed of our opponent’s gameplan. If our opponent is playing Pirates or a JhinJhin deck, we want to keep at least one early unit to make sure we live long enough to actually use Timelines. 

Against midrange or slower decks, we want to mulligan aggressively for Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines. I will typically keep a copy Time TrickTime Trick or Zaunite UrchinZaunite Urchin if I don’t have Timelines in hand.

Now onto more matchup specifics.


Pirates - 48.6%

Fairly even matchup. If you are able to find Timelines early, you can really seize control of the board and force them to trade down to stay alive. Save your Mystic ShotMystic Shots to kill a unit that they hit with Noxian FervorNoxian Fervor, or to finish their Nexus if we aren’t in danger of dying to their Noxian FervorNoxian Fervor or a Make it RainMake it Rain in response.


The Other Timelines Deck (Trundle/Vi) - 47.4%

This is pretty straight forward – mulligan everything that doesn’t help us find Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines. The side that finds it first, or at all, is more likely to win. End of story.

Assuming both sides hit Timelines, we have a stronger early game but it’s hard to survive a round with a free eight-drop and a leveled TrundleTrundle. They don’t have any healing, so if we are able to get them low we can close the game out with Mystic ShotMystic Shot or a Shock BlastShock Blast from Ferros FinancierFerros Financier. Look to push early aggression, and pray that you hit Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines first.


Nasus/Kindred Slay - 47%

Their champions are the biggest threat to our board, so finding a way to deal with them is key. KindredKindred can quickly chew through our board with their Marks, and keeping a Trueshot BarrageTrueshot Barrage, Shock BlastShock Blast, or HexbliteratorHexbliterator from Ferros FinancierFerros Financier can be a life-saver. 

NasusNasus is best to just try and just Aloof away, otherwise our only hope of killing him is with ViVi. Generally try to avoid trading one-for-one as they will benefit from each slay proc that they get over the course of the game. I will often keep an Aloof TravelersAloof Travelers in hand to play on round five or six in hopes of hitting NasusNasus.


Ionia - Ezreal/Kennen or Nami/Twisted Fate - 39%

These matches are unpleasant, but not unwinnable. Going wide and tall is our go-to strategy as a lot of their removal is based on dealing one to three points of damage. They will struggle to deal with a wider board efficiently, especially with the extra Health from our equipment.

We cannot go all-in on ViVi or JaxJax as they will get hit with either Concussive PalmConcussive Palm or HomecomingHomecoming. Knowing when to develop or to open-attack is key to winning this matchup, but is highly dependent on board state. Generally, my thought process is to seize what spells would punish me the most in the worst-case scenario, and what else would they be able to play this Round.


Scouts, Sivir, or any other Fair, Midrange Decks - 63% and above

For all the struggles he has with Ionia, JaxJax absolutely thrashes the standard Demacia decks. They want to play big dudes and smash, our dudes get bigger. Concerted StrikeConcerted Strike and other strike spells can be problematic, but we can always play more units cheaper than our opponent can, and can also use Aloof TravelersAloof Travelers to get a Concerted Strike or Rally out of their hand. This is especially potent against Kai'Sa now, as she is typically the highest-cost card in their deck.


Deck Tech Options

As mentioned before, there are a number of different variations on this deck. I personally was running two copies of Get Excited!Get Excited! for extra burn and to give me a way to cleanly deal with an enemy KindredKindred.

There is also consideration for Catch!Catch! to Equip our ViVi or one of our other units with Overwhelm at Burst speed, to improve an open-attack or salvage an awkward block.

Some variations I found were leaning harder into the discard package, with Boom BaboonBoom Baboon and RummageRummage, but I don’t believe that it is worth cutting Fireth, Reaper of the SandsFireth, Reaper of the Sands for them.

A spicier tech is cutting a copy of JaxJax to put in a Station ArchivistStation Archivist, to ensure that we find Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines. Station ArchivistStation Archivist is still a positive for our deck even if we have found Timelines already – I’m not one to say no to an extra Mystic ShotMystic Shot.


Clocking Out

JaxJax ViVi may still be trying to find the right formula, but this deck is a lot of fun to play. Every single game will be different, and it is a blast when you manage to hit a big unit off of Combat CookCombat Cook. I think the deck has a solid chance of keeping a presence in the meta with a little more refinement.

Hope this guide was helpful with your ladder journey, meet you all in Masters!



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