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Katarina Gwen Deck Guide

Scissorsbox breaks down the deck he brought to last Seasonals, and which is one of the current Ladder Juggernauts: Katarina Gwen, ft. Elise.

Note: this is an older version of Katarina Gwen - for the latest version, check our latest Katarina Gwen Deck Guide!

Kat Gwen, sometimes called Red Gwen, is currently one of the best Legends of Runeterra decks, and one we could classify as a Tempo that seeks to finish off the opponent with one of its many combos. Tempo is essentially the momentum of a match, and a Tempo deck aims to use its mana to develop its gameplan, or disrupt the opponent’s gameplan, in an efficient manner. This is like the opposite of playing for Card Advantage, which is aiming to stay alive and disrupting your opponent’s game plan, while utilizing less cards in order to gain momentum later in the game with the amount of cards you have.

Since this deck has a plethora of combos it can use to win the game, it has a high amount of agency – the decisions you make with this deck have a high impact on the result of the game, rather than low-agency decks that often rely on matchups, getting lucky with draws, or are so good (or bad) that the player’s decisions often will not impact the outcome.

The finishers in this deck can often result in multiple Rallies or render many of the opponent’s units unable to block a big attack.

Kat Gwen has a relatively high playrate and winrate in the ladder, and as mentioned above it is currently one of the best LoR decks to climb with. It's also arguably one of three best decks for Tournaments and Gauntlets right now.

Regions
Shadow Isles
25 cards
Noxus
15 cards
Rarities
28 800
champion
6
epic
4
rare
15
common
15
Mana cost
0
0
10
1
13
2
4
3
6
4
3
5
2
6
2
7+
Champions
6
2
Elise
1
Elise
3
Katarina
2
Katarina
4
Gwen
3
Gwen
Followers
21
1
Boisterous Host
3
Boisterous Host
1
Burgeoning Sentinel
3
Burgeoning Sentinel
2
House Spider
2
House Spider
2
Phantom Butler
3
Phantom Butler
3
Arachnoid Sentry
2
Arachnoid Sentry
4
Ruined Reckoner
3
Ruined Reckoner
5
Fallen Reckoner
3
Fallen Reckoner
6
Eternal Dancers
2
Eternal Dancers
Spells
13
1
Ravenous Flock
3
Ravenous Flock
1
Shadow Isles Tellstones
1
Shadow Isles Tellstones
2
Glimpse Beyond
3
Glimpse Beyond
2
Hate Spike
2
Hate Spike
2
Vile Feast
2
Vile Feast
10
The Harrowing
2
The Harrowing
Open deck in builder

Katarina Gwen – Quick Mulligan Guide

This section is for people who are in game while reading the guide or just want a quick breakdown of the Mulligan. Details about each card will be explained in the Card Breakdown section later.

Usually Keep –  one-mana and two-mana units, KatarinaKatarina

Situational KeepGwenGwen if you have other Hallowed units in hand and are not against Aggro.

Removal spells – If they are good in the current matchup, or have the the required combo pieces. For example, Vile FeastVile Feast or Glimpse BeyondGlimpse Beyond with Burgeoning SentinelBurgeoning Sentinel to Activate her Passive effect, or Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock with Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry.


Katarina Gwen – Card Breakdown

This section will explain why each card is in the deck individually, and while some synergies will be pointed out, more in-depth combos that the cards have will be mentioned in the next section.


Early Game Units

Boisterous Host Phantom Butler

Burgeoning Sentinel House Spider

These cards are great for applying pressure and establishing Tempo, and are generally a keep in the mulligan.

Boisterous HostBoisterous Host and Phantom ButlerPhantom Butler not only apply pressure in the early, but upon death they also provide value for the rest of the game. These units are also important because the Hallowed keyword combos well with many cards of our cards, such as Eternal DancersEternal Dancers, GwenGwen, and KatarinaKatarina.

Burgeoning SentinelBurgeoning Sentinel is oftentimes a one-mana 3|3 with Fearsome due to how easy it is to activate with cards like Glimpse BeyondGlimpse Beyond, Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock, and Vile FeastVile Feast.

House SpiderHouse Spider is a great Noxus card that provides early pressure and has the potential to level-up EliseElise, which can be game-winning. Also, the generated SpiderlingSpiderling can force the opponent to block or take a lot of damage, depending on the amount of Hallowed units that have died.


Removal Spells

Ravenous Flock Vile Feast Hate Spike

These spells are used to remove threats and potential blockers from your opponent’s board.

Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock gets enabled by cards like Vile FeastVile Feast and Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry

If you have a hand with EliseElise and House SpiderHouse Spider, Vile FeastVile Feast can be used to level EliseElise

Both Hate SpikeHate Spike and Vile FeastVile Feast are great cards to trigger Burgeoning SentinelBurgeoning Sentinel's effect: Hate Spike slays your own unit, and Vile Feast can be used on one of your own many 1 health units.


What Blockers?

Fallen Reckoner Arachnoid Sentry Risen Reckoner

These cards help get rid of the opponent’s blockers, allowing us to attack for a lot of potential damage. Since both Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoner and Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoner have Overwhelm, they are great units to receive the Hallowed buff on attack. Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry can also be used on defense, or in combination with Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock for removal and generating more Tempo for an open-attack.


Attack attack attack!

Katarina Ruined Reckoner

These cards allow you to attack multiple times per round, triggering Hallowed each time.

They also have synergy with Eternal DancersEternal Dancers and GwenGwen, as triggering their effects multiple times per round can be game-winning.

Sometimes, it is even best to not use the Midnight RaidMidnight Raid generated from Ruined ReckonerRuined Reckoner, as its threat alone can force the opponent to burn a lot of many and gain enough Tempo to win the game.

These cards can also allow you to attack with a Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoner played on a defensive turn – since it is Ephemeral, it would die before you obtain the attack token.


Finishers

Eternal Dancers The Harrowing Gwen

GwenGwen is a great payoff card for the early-game Hallowed units, and she can level up easily in this list, as attacking with her twice in a round  – with the help of Ruined ReckonerRuined Reckoner or KatarinaKatarina – will oftentimes be enough for Gwen to deal 10+ damage. She also threatens an insane amount of damage on attack, which usually forces out one of the opponent’s blockers.

Eternal DancersEternal Dancers and The HarrowingThe Harrowing have many units that are great to revive. These cards are great finishers, and oftentimes force your opponent to have mana up to deal with these, and if they tap under their answers (for example VengeanceVengeance, to deal with Eternal DancersEternal Dancers), they can lose the game on the spot.

As there are many combos with these cards, I'll mention them in depth in the next section.

Also, as it is hard to keep track of everything in the game, especially when you are playing the deck for the first few games, a good tip is to put The HarrowingThe Harrowing on the stack and hover over the Oracle Eye in order to see what units you will be reviving.

The round before using The HarrowingThe Harrowing, try to make sure you set up your board and trade units, especially ones that are weak, as you do not want a SpiderlingSpiderling taking board space in your attack, if possible.


Other cards

Glimpse Beyond Shadow Isles Tellstones Elise

Glimpse BeyondGlimpse Beyond is used for draw so we do not run out of gas, and can trigger the effect of Burgeoning SentinelBurgeoning Sentinel, or kill a Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoner to gain a Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoner in hand to use in the future.

Shadow Isles TellstonesShadow Isles Tellstones is a flexible option, as all three spells that it generates are useful in this list. 

For example, Mark of the IslesMark of the Isles on KatarinaKatarina is great, as it can save her, and she recalls herself before the Ephemeral effect from striking is activated. Spirit JourneySpirit Journey can be used on KatarinaKatarina, Ruined ReckonerRuined Reckoner or Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoner, to gain an extra attack or remove a blocker, while generating a Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoner in hand.

EliseElise can be an alternate win condition if she levels, but most of the time she is just an early-game Tempo card. She is also in the deck because KatarinaKatarina is not a good champion to draw too many copies of, so we do not want to run three copies of her.

If somehow EliseElise gets leveled, she is a very good target for Eternal DancersEternal Dancers, if you have other Spider cards on board.


Other Options for Katarina Gwen

Legion Rearguard Great Hammers Might

Legion RearguardLegion Rearguard can be used instead of Burgeoning SentinelBurgeoning Sentinel, as it is often better on round one, but falls off later in the game.

Great HammersGreat Hammers and MightMight are potentially great one-ofs, as they can give Gwen Overwhelm – and since it is not a common trick, the opponent might not save the cards or mana to deal with it.


Katarina Gwen – Card Combos + Gameplan

LoR Deck Katarina Gwen: Risen Reckoner, one of the combo pieces with which this LoR Deck wins games

As said above, our goal is to gain Tempo early game, and finish off the opponent with one or multiple of the many combos at our disposal. 

Tempo is to be established with your early-game units listed above, while using removal efficiently to get rid of threats, threaten damage, or disrupt your opponent’s game plan in some way.

Here are some of the best combos to aim for.


Eternal Dancers + Ruined Reckoner/Katarina

Eternal Dancers Katarina (level 2) Ruined Reckoner

If your opponent can not kill your Eternal DancersEternal Dancers or stop them from attacking while you have this combo online, it is an infinite rally and you win the game.  

Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2) is the better of the two combos, as she gives you a ping to kill potential blockers, as well as gives you an extra rally in hand for a future turn. Also, Midnight RaidMidnight Raid from Ruined ReckonerRuined Reckoner can be interrupted with cards like Nopeify!Nopeify! or Rite of NegationRite of Negation.


Eternal Dancers + Gwen

Eternal Dancers Gwen (level 2)

This combo is especially strong if you have another GwenGwen on board or GwenGwen is leveled, as this allows you to attack with multiple GwenGwens in one round – combined with some Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoners or Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoners, your opponent may not be able to block all these units (with a Hallowed buff on top) threatening massive damage.

Also, combining Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2) with Gwen (level 2)Gwen (level 2) can oftentimes have Gwen finish the opponent off with her effect alone.


Eternal Dancers + Fallen/Risen Reckoner

Eternal Dancers Fallen Reckoner Risen Reckoner

This combo revives an Overwhelm unit, while removing a blocker. If combined with other Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoners and Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoners, this can often lead to an unblockable lethal attack.


The Harrowing + Katarina

The Harrowing Katarina (level 2)

This combo is extremely strong, as it also gives you a Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2) in hand to rally next turn. It also allows you to threaten a potential lethal attack while your opponent has the attack token, as this is when they are more likely to use their mana proactively, and they will oftentimes tap under a response to The HarrowingThe Harrowing.


The Harrowing + Fallen/Risen Reckoners

The Harrowing Fallen Reckoner Risen Reckoner

This combo can remove multipleblockers, while threatening an extraordinary amount of damage that is hard to stop. If you have a dead Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2) that is reviving, you can also pull this off on a defensive turn. 

This combo is strongest with multiple dead Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoners or Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoners, as it can cause the opponent to have no blockers left available.


Katarina Gwen – Matchups

LoR Deck Katarina Gwen: Gwen, one of our Champions and win condition

Pirate Aggro – Slightly favored

In this matchup, mulligan for your early-game units and Vile FeastVile Feast. Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry and Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock is also a good combo to keep if you already have good plays for rounds one and two. Prevent as much damage as possible in this matchup, as your Health matters a lot and is the number one priority.

GwenGwen is good, as she can start draining two every attack, and if you level Gwen you often win this matchup.

Leveling KatarinaKatarina can also be a good option to race your opponent down if you have a good board to rally with.


Kindred Nasus – Favored

Pings like KatarinaKatarina’s Blade's Edge or Vile FeastVile Feast are good because a lot of their units are 1 health.

KindredKindred is often a good way for the opponent to stabilize the game, so removing it with Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry and Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock, or Hate SpikeHate Spike and a ping spell is a good way to keep Tempo.

They will often have answers to your finishers, such as Eternal DancersEternal Dancers or The HarrowingThe Harrowing, as they have cards like CrumbleCrumble and Rite of NegationRite of Negation, so oftentimes you will be trying to win the game with Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2) and Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoners. 

The UndyingThe Undying is a very slow card that they run, and most importantly, it can’t block – most of the time you will be able to ignore it before it is able to threaten large amounts of damage.


The Mirror – Favored (if you've read this guide!😁)

In the mirror, KatarinaKatarina is an amazing keep, as leveling her will give a big advantage because the opponent will always have to try to play around a four-mana rally. 

Conversely, try to keep up a way to kill the opponent’s KatarinaKatarina to prevent the level up.

The mirror will often be won by setting up one of the The HarrowingThe Harrowing combos listed above, or an Eternal DancersEternal Dancers with Katarina (level 2)Katarina (level 2).


Kennen Ezreal – Unfavored

Do a standard mulligan in this matchup, and try not to commit too much removal while they have mana up, as they have a lot of reactive responses, such as Twin DisciplinesTwin Disciplines, DenyDeny, and RecallRecall.

Just remember that if you have to remove a certain threat, then you might just have to go for the risk – you cannot play around every card in their deck.

Honestly, the way I see this matchup won most often is by setting up a The HarrowingThe Harrowing and hoping that they do not have DenyDeny.

Overall, in this matchup just accept the fact that you can not play around everything they have, and try to set up an Eternal DancersEternal Dancers and The HarrowingThe Harrowing combo. 


Jax Vi – Even

This matchup changes to Favored or Unfavored depending on whether or not they draw Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines

As GeneralSchwartz writes in his Jax Vi deck guide, this deck is a lot better when they draw Timelines, while the matchup is actually really easy for us if they do not draw it. Just do a standard mulligan, and try to set up one of your combos for later in the game.

Try to play KatarinaKatarina early if possible, as you can often find them tapped under Mystic ShotMystic Shot in the early rounds. 

If they do draw Concurrent TimelinesConcurrent Timelines, their units will outstat yours, so try to set up a big Fallen ReckonerFallen Reckoner and Risen ReckonerRisen Reckoner combo with The HarrowingThe Harrowing, that way they won’t be able to block your units. They often will have no good response to The HarrowingThe Harrowing, although they can remove it from your hand with Aloof TravelersAloof Travelers.


In Closing

LoR Deck Katarina Gwen: Katarina, when leveled up, is another of our win conditions

That ends my Katarina Gwen LoR Deck Guide!

This is a Tempo deck that has a lot of potential combos as finishers. As noted, this is one of the best LoR decks for climbing the ladder, and also a very strong option for Tournaments or Gauntlets. While I am not the best pilot, I played the deck a fair amount and even brought it to the last Seasonal Tournament, so I hope I was able to explain my thought process and help you understand the archetype better.

If you have any questions, let me know – Here are some of my socials:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sciss0rsbox

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/Scissorsbox

Twitch:  https://www.twitch.tv/sciss0rsbox



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