Nami TF Ionia – What the Sharks Say
“I like the deck because of the many lines and extreme skill ceiling.” – Torra, Seasonal Top 16
“TF Nami Ionia is generally strong and flexible. With certain techs, it really makes games much more interesting.” – Pal3moon, Seasonal Top 16
“The Ionian version of TF Nami offers disruption tools that help against midrange matchups with big units. A deck that’s really worth learning.” – Ezpirit, Seasonal Top 32
Best LoR Decks: Nami TF Ionia – Overview
Hello everyone! SharkBait here, your friendly neighborhood Longtooth, serving you my debut deck guide for MaRu. Nami and her coral companions are swimming towards Ionia, and are currently one of the best Legends of Runeterra decks. In this detailed guide, we will look at how she and Twisted Fate can make a big splash on the meta.
Similar to the famous Shadow Isles version, the main objective of this deck is to play for tempo, and refill spell mana to flip Nami, as she will become the value engine that can snowball the game. The archetype is very flexible in terms of deckbuilding, especially with the tools Ionia offers.
Playstyle is definitely a factor when playing a deck like this and my advice would be to tech cards that best fits your thought process. In the mid-late game, with my version you will hopefully overpower your opponent with big-stated units, or maybe even generate a wide board of Elusive units that can go for that lethal swing. This is easier said than done, but don’t worry. Me and my finned-friends will help you get there. Let’s go over the individual cards!
Meet The Fish Fam
Coral Creatures helps you curve out. It’s a good card to play on either round 2 or round 3, while giving you a spell to use for later turns. This unit is also a good target for Homecoming.
Oh look! Another unit that gives a spell and is a good target for Homecoming, but more on this later.
Fleet Admiral Shelly and Nami are the main win conditions, as they buff up your board when you play out your spells. I usually only play them on three occasions. One, if I have a good board and enough spells to buff it before Shelly or Nami gets removed. Two, if I have enough protection tools to keep them safe while building and buffing up my board. Three, if I’m going for lethal.
Play your Nami and your Shelly carefully. Try to keep them safe, as your opponent will definitely want to remove them as soon as they splash onto the board.
Although he doesn’t have fins, Twisted Fate provides some good utility to help out our Bilgewater brigade. Not only is he an alternate win condition that a lot of people underestimate, but his Destiny Cards, when used correctly, provide us with some stability to set up our board. I usually pick Red Card when the opponent has two or more one-health units on board. I would save Gold Card and use it for something big, like an Ornn or a Kayn. And as for Blue Card, I only ever use it to either flip Nami or try and refill my hand in the late game.
Swimming To Ionia
Ionia has a large toolbox filled with protection and stall tools, to help you build up the board and your stat engines to start popping off.
Despite Vastayan Disciple's talents being dismissed by Master Yi and Wukong, this one-cost unit is one of the best cards in our deck. His spell form, Shimon Wind, not only draws you a card but also helps empty the spell mana and progress Nami’s level-up condition. Plus, he’s Elusive. I mean… Elusive. What more can I say?
Eye of the Dragon recently got buffed, as our favorite anti-aggro two-drop now clicks with the Flow mechanic. Meaning, she can now get a Dragonling at Round Start from playing 2+ spells or skills last round – skills like TF’s Destiny Cards. Consistently summoning a Dragonling each round will give us some time to set up our board.
Much like Shadow Isles Tellstones from the SI variation, Ionian Tellstones does something similar. It gives you utility for protection, stall, or removal. It can also potentially proc Nami and Shelly’s buffs.
Health Potion is a decent counter to aggro, while also having the flexibility of healing your damaged units to save them from removal.
Homecoming is a really good option to choose from Tellstones: it serves as both removal and protection. In addition to this, you have lots of good targets to recall – I usually target my Attune units if I want to proactively recall one of the opponent’s units. Plus, when played carefully, a zero-mana Wiggly Burblefish is one of the best units to recall on our end, as we can replay Burble to get another spell.
As for Stand United, this is the one I use the least. On rare occasions, if I have a hand-read that they don’t have counterplay, I would use it to swap units during combat to find lethal.
Wuju Style is another helpful tool to get tempo advantage. I like using Wuju Style and Meditate during combat, to make favorable trades.
I never leave home without a couple of disruption cards in my Ionia deck. Whether it’s Deny saving your Nexus health from an Atrocity, or Nopeify! saying ‘No!’ to the opponent’s Noxian Fervor, it’s definitely ideal to have a few of these.
Speaking of disruption, Palm is also a good addition. Opponent just dropped a big Overwhelm unit? Palm it! Is the enemy Challenger unit trying to kill your Nami (level 2)? Palm it! Palm also works in unique lines, like proactively stunning the opponent’s Elusive blockers for your thick Burblefish to get a nice Nexus strike.
Oh boy! More spells! Yay! There’s not much to say about Deep Meditation. It refills your hand, while emptying the spell mana to help flip Nami.
Other Bilgewater Tools
Heavy Metal has a lot of hits right now, with the meta leaning more towards equipment. It kills Jax. It kills Akshan. It destroys valuable equipment. The best way I use this card is to wait for them to Attach an equipment onto their unit, and then we throw the anchor! At the very least, it's a two-cost spell that deals two to a unit (like an annoying Norra), which is a nice thing to have in your back pocket.
This is a card that’s always good to keep a copy of in your opening hand. I’ll discuss more about this later on.
Oh yay! More cards! A lot of people would consider this card truly S-tier with the value that it gives. Also, like I said, TF’s level-up is an alternate win condition. When left unanswered, Twisted Fate can potentially flip at Burst speed and snowball the game with the help of our other draw cards, Shimon Wind and Deep Meditation.
I like one copy of Make it Rain to help ping one-health units against aggro matchups. It could also be a nice set-up for TF’s Red Card.
I absolutely love this card in TF/Nami lists. You can consider this as my personal touch on the deck. Swindle has helped me find lethal, and has found me outs a lot of times. It’s a good way to mess with your opponent’s strategy, while at the same time plan your next rounds. In some cases, when I calculate that I have lethal in hand with a full board swing, I proactively use Swindle to know whether or not to pull the trigger or play it safe, checking their cards to see if they have a counter to my all-in play. Information is always valuable when playing this deck – a cheap card that provides you intel is a good tech, in my opinion.
In all honesty, I would really encourage people to mix cards around and experiment. This is, in my opinion, a deck that has a certain measure of leeway to be creative, especially during the early days of an expansion. One can potentially optimize their personal list in a way that best fits their playstyle and thought process.
With that being said, these are my personal recommendations on some cards to consider.
Zap is an understandable inclusion. Attune helps level-up Nami, while giving us a cheap spell.
This card could be an alternative for Wuju Style, as it provides either reach or protection.
A good way to pick off enemy backline units. Alternatively, giving our non-Elusive unit Challenger to pull Elusive blockers while giving our Elusive unit +2/+0 can help us race down the opponent's Nexus health.
Planning Out Your Rounds
As someone who’s played a bunch of TF NamiSI last season, it took a while for me to learn this Ionia version. At the time of me writing this (3rd day of the Awakening Expansion), I am sitting in Diamond II with a 71% win rate.
At first, I definitely took some L’s in learning the deck, but I’m really proud of the results. One struggle was actually making sure that my units stay safe because, unlike the Shadow Isles version, The Harrowing cannot be played for a potential comeback.
Below is my thought process when I play this specific list. Keep in mind, scenarios differ and so will my usual game plan. With that said, here’s how I generally plan out my rounds.
Nami leveling up has been mentioned a handful of times in this article. That’s because she is my main stat engine (if it wasn’t obvious enough). There are cases when I play towards Fleet Admiral Shelly instead of Nami (level 2) because of a wide board, but I usually want to curve out into a leveled-up Nami. Your round 1 is usually just a pass, as you would like to bank mana to achieve this. However, in scenarios when I have a really expensive hand, I would play Vastayan Disciple, and use Shimon Wind later on to cycle and/or empty my spell mana.
Pass, or }
Round two is also usually a pass. However, at this point of the guide, I want to highlight the value of Attune. As mentioned, I usually want to play for tempo and build a board, while curving out towards a Nami (level 2) round. Hence, if I know that I don’t have a play on round three like Double Trouble, I actually play Coral Creatures or Eye of the Dragon on this turn to get the Attune value, rather burning the extra mana next round.
Do I have full spell mana? If yes, then Double Trouble looks really good here. Alternatively, if I really want to empty my spell mana, the two-cost cards above are good proactive plays to do so. There is also the one-cost spell from Coral Creatures. Some good pulls for this round that come to mind are Jailbreak, Parrrley, and Ye Been Warned. This is something that I sometimes consider when debating on which is a better card to play on round two, Coral Creatures or Eye of the Dragon.
If I have the attack token, I usually just play Eye of Nagakabouros or a discounted Deep Meditation to not burn mana. Passing is also an option if I already have some units on the board to work with. Otherwise, I play reactively. I might go for a good Red Card. Maybe even stun Gwen or Master Yi, if they have the attack token.
This is my ideal round to drop Nami or Fleet Admiral Shelly, and start pumping up my units. If I played my previous rounds well, I should have Nami leveled up (or she will at least level up with her Attune).
In most cases, my opponent will want to remove these units – playing my cards reactively to protect my value engines will not only keep them safe, but also potentially buff allies on board. In certain scenarios, when I feel like I can’t protect Nami or Shelly, I play it safe and go for other lines.
You should not be in a hurry to flip Nami if you don't have to. If the opponent kills your win conditions, you do not have the luxury of The Harrowing for a comeback. Play smart. Knowing when it’s safe to pull the trigger is a good skill to have when playing TF Nami.
The Big Fishes of the One-Mana Pond
Being familiar with the spells provided by Coral Creatures and Wiggly Burblefish will definitely take your skills to the next level, due to Ionia having tons of useful one-mana spells. One thing to take note of is that there are only 3 slow-speed spells in the pool of 17 spells. Most of the spells that you can get from Coral and Burble can be used during combat, which is ideal with a leveled up Nami (level 2) on board. Just to name a few:
Ghost can add an Elusive unit to further push more Nexus damage.
Rush can bait them into blocking, only to be met by the Quick Attack keyword. Popping out a Darius emote after clicking the blue 'Commit' button can sometimes help.
Recall can both be a protection tool, and at the same time be used onto a zero-mana Burblefish to try and roll another spell. It can also be used onto Tail of the Dragon to get another stun in hand.
Bilgewater Tellstones can come in clutch in certain board states. More Powder! when paired with Twisted Fate’s Red Card is a potential board wipe or burn damage to reach lethal. Playful Trickster gives you Rally. And of course, we can bring out the Longtooth with Chum the Waters to take care of those pesky Elusive blockers, while threatening Overwhelm damage in the process.
For the mulligan, I always keep at least one copy of Double Trouble. Coral Creatures or Eye of the Dragon are also good in the early game. I never want to keep Fleet Admiral Shelly and Wiggly Burblefish, relying on drawing them later on.
I always keep Nami.
Nami TF Ionia Matchups
It isn’t too cut and dry on exactly what are the actual good matchups and bad matchups for this deck. This is what I can assess from comparing my sample size with current meta stats.
Jax Timelines (Favored)
With this matchup, Heavy Metal will be a good keep as a counter to their equipment. I usually save it for when the opponent plays an Improvise unit, or for Jax. If they don’t use Concurrent Timelines on round one, I would assume that they don’t have it on their starting hand. Timelines is a good target for my Nopeify!, as it sets their win condition back a bit. I try to save my stuns and recalls for their big units during combat, like Vi.
Pirates, aka Miss Fortune Twisted Fate (Even)
Against this super-aggressive deck, Eye of the Dragon is an MVP. I always hard-mulligan for my early game cards. Trying to consistently get Dragonlings at round start will help buy me time and stabilize the board. Ionian Tellstones is a good Flow activator for this, with Health Potion healing for three. Twisted Fate can also help out a lot in clearing out the opponent’s board, as most of their units are one-drops.
Kindred Nasus (Unfavored)
Vastayan Disciple is automatically a keep on my opening hand. I can potentially bait out Kindred’s mark with Shimon Wind and just recall Vastayan Disciple to try and prevent Kindred leveling up.
I also tend to keep Twisted Fate, because of how many one-health units the opponent has. In the late game, I always keep four mana up to threaten Deny for their Atrocity. I always want to save my Homecoming and stuns for Nasus, making sure he doesn’t level up as well. Also, this is where Swindle can sometimes be my "Go!" signal – checking a portion of their hand is a good way to evaluate whether or not I go for an all-in lethal swing. There are games when I can outvalue the opponent to snatch out a win, but usually this is a difficult matchup for me. However, TF Nami decks have the capability to push in Elusive damage that can bring the Nexus from 20 to 0. Properly navigating through the opponent’s removals with cards like Nopeify! and Homecoming, while using my health as a resource, will sometimes get me a reach to find lethal, even when my Nexus is below 5 health.
Twisted Fate/Nami Ionia is definitely a deck with a high skill cap. The deck is flexible, in a sense that you have multiple options and answers for certain scenarios. Being able to make the correct decisions could significantly increase the odds of victory, and it’s a deck that rewards players that take the time to learn how to play it – as Mtucks says, it's a deck that requires lots of thought. Admittedly, I myself am still in the process of trying to master the deck.
Hopefully this guide helped you in some measure!
If you have questions, you can find me here:
Discord: SharkBait #2404