Hey guys, Jasensational here.
Twisted Fate and Nami have seen play together over the seasons across regions such as Bandle City and P&Z. But in the Worldwalker expansion, the archetype has received a great number of tools to augment its gameplan, such as Tentacle Smash and the numerous Tellstones.
Thanks to the brilliant Burble mastermind, Drisoth, a Shadow Isles variant has quickly risen up to the fifth most played deck of the patch.
Let’s break down the new cards and the deck’s gameplan, so that you can join in on the action too.
Entering Shadow Isles
At first glance, strong staple cards like Vile Feast and Glimpse Beyond serve as solid tools to spend mana, stabilize the board, and draw cards. The ability to kill a unit and create a blocker while using spell mana – to work towards a Nami level-up – is the core aspect of a good card in this deck.
But where the region pairing really shines is in its ability to create really explosive combo turns with the help of these two cards.
Shadow Isles Tellstones is where the real bomb is at. Many cheap spells is the name of the game, and if they provide additional stat buffs, even better. Being able to generate Mark of the Isles off of the Tellstones can provide massive stats across the board.
The added benefit of the new Tellstones is that they are all one-mana spells. Which means that cards like Coral Creatures and Wiggly Burblefish can also generate additional Tellstones copies. And of course we want more copies of Shadow Isles Tellstones.
For some top-end cards, we have an additional layer of flexibility as well. Cards like Vengeance and The Ruination provide tech options against the harder Demacia matchups, allowing us to interact with the opposing board.
The Harrowing is an excellent finisher as well. It often only costs a net total of six mana, since a lot of the units you bring back have Attune – so they will replenish your Spell mana after Harrowing re-summons them – and can also refill your hand with random one mana-spells or whatever Zap Sprayfin can draw from your deck, therefore allowing you to utilize the rest of your mana for Nami or Fleet Admiral Shelly buffs.
Playing out the Deck
At a high level, the deck concept is simple. Play a bunch of spells, reduce the cost of our Wiggly Burblefish, then buff them up and swing for big damage.
Simple as it sounds, this requires a few skills to get to that point. The first is leveling up Nami as fast as we can, and the second is managing resources so that you still have enough spells to pop off.
Let’s talk about the first one: leveling Nami.
Nami is an insane stat engine for this deck, as long as we have units on board. It becomes difficult for our opponent to remove Nami as it might leave them vulnerable to us using our spells to buff up the rest of our board. Ideally it is a board of Elusives, but the stat buffs will give the opponent a hard time blocking regardless.
Because Nami is one of our strongest engines, it’s important to level her up as fast as we can, which in most cases will be round five. In order to achieve this, we need spells that we can proactively play so we can spend our spell mana on rounds three and four.
Double Trouble is the ideal card for the early game. It spends all three of our spell mana if we float the first two turns, and gives us blockers to trade down. Other cards like Answered Prayer and Tentacle Smash will help us achieve our goal in a similar way.
Something to note is that our deck doesn't have too many ways of spending exactly three mana on turn three. Sometimes we will spend two; sometimes we will spend four. Depending on the outcome, we may have to adjust our mana usage in the next few turns so that we can promptly level Nami.
Now, it’s not always the case that we want to level up Nami by round five. Sometimes we will be forced to play Coral Creatures on turn two followed by Double Trouble on round three to stay alive. Or we will have to play Twisted Fate on round four for a Red Card or Gold Card. Staying even on board will be a lot more important in the early turns than blindly rushing towards a Nami flip, as Nami won’t win us the game on the following round if we’re super behind.
Against Burn matchups, I have found myself just playing Nami on round three and using the +1/+0 buffs to make sure my units can trade profitably. As powerful as leveled Nami is, make sure to change your game plan accordingly to the matchup.
Fleet Admiral Shelly is like our fourth, fifth, and sixth copy of Nami. The great part of Shelly is that we can play Shelly unconditionally and still be able to benefit from his board buffs, unlike Nami.
The wider our board, the stronger Fleet Admiral Shelly becomes. One thing that we want to be aware of when playing Shelly is to make sure that we are developing as much as we can before playing any spells, to maximize our buffs. This sounds relatively straightforward, but can matter for instance when we accidentally play Double Trouble as our second spell and not our first. Or if we want to go wide with Fading Memories, that will count for a spell.
For the second part, I want to talk about resource management, which mostly refers to the usage of your spells.
The first aspect of this is pretty straightforward: what spells are better used before Nami levels, and what spells are better afterwards? This basic understanding will help you figure out what spells you want to play, and which you'd rather save.
While technically no spell is bad since you will always get a buff off of Nami, you generally do not want spells that generate additional units. As your board gets wider, the buffs will be more spread out, and you won’t be able to pump up your Elusives as easily. Cards like Vile Feast and Double Trouble typically do not generate Elusives, so they lose some value being played after Nami is leveled.
If you need to play these cards for an extra buff, try to play them as the last spell you are planning on casting at Slow/Fast speed. Now this is less relevant when you have a Fleet Admiral Shelly on board, as he buffs all units on your side of the board.
As I mentioned earlier, these two cards provide a lot of gas for big burst turns. Shadow Isles Tellstones will generally have less applications outside of a big turn, so you don’t really need to think too hard about it. I would try to avoid using it purely to get a buff so you can trade.
Fading Memories would love to be played on a Wiggly Burblefish on a combo turn, but this may not always be applicable. Also, remember that this card has the added benefit of being able to be played onto your opponent’s unit. Sometimes it can be correct to use it on an opposing House Spider to quickly get two blockers, or a Conchologist to cycle a spell. Or sometimes you can just use it on a Zap Sprayfin if you don’t have a round five play.
Look out for niche cases where you can find uses.
Generally speaking, there is plenty of draw with Glimpse Beyond, Twisted Fate, and Eye of Nagakabouros, with additional spell generation off of Coral Creatures or Wiggly Burblefish. It should be hard to ever find yourself stranded for spells to play, but as a rule of thumb, if you want to end the game with Nami and a board of Elusives, prioritize which spells you use.
(70/30) Annie Jhin - Very Favored
Nami should be played on round three, and used to help make trades.
If we take a little bit too much damage, Nami's Ebb gives us access to an additional four healing. Don’t fall behind on Tempo, keep all early cards.
(65/35) Red Viego - Favored
Generally speaking, large single-target removal such as Vengeance is not super effective against Nami. If your opponent expends all their mana to kill Nami, you can simply use your turn to buff up the rest of your board for a swing.
Outside of specifically The Ruination, most Shadow Isles decks lack substantial ways of dealing with the tall, wide board that you can generate. But since most of our spells are Burst/Fast speed, we can easily play around those.
Look out for a leveled Elise, and you won’t be super pressured early on.
(50/50) Thralls - Even
This matchup comes down to surviving one attack turn of Frostguard Thralls. It’s not easy to end the game before then, but becomes much easier on the turn after.
You will require quite a few health buffs to survive, but it is doable against three or less Thralls. Try to squeeze in as much damage as possible early in the game, to alleviate the amount of damage you need to do after blocking down.
(40/60) Fizz Riven - Unfavored
Without easy ways of interacting with their engines, Fizz Riven can often out-Tempo early on and get to their combo quicker. Cards like Gleaming Lantern and Riven pose large threats, for which we have no answers.
(40/60) Bard Demacia - Unfavored
Also, Sharpsight, Rallies, and Strike spells make the matchup difficult.
Let me know if you have any questions! You can find me here:
Discord: Jasinsane #0246