All Around Runeterra: Nine Legends of Runeterra Decks with Varus
New Runeterran Champ, gotta show him all around!
Varus is our next Runeterran champion to come with the Darkin tag. Like Kayn, his Origin allows you to add any cards with the Cultist subtype to your deck. Unlike Kayn, though, you draw a copy of Varus once you have played three Cultist spells (rather than units).
Varus’s level-up condition is based around targeting allied units. This includes casting spells, equipment, and targeted abilities from other cards. Basically, if it would trigger Fated, it works for Varus.
Varus also comes auto-equipped with his own unique weapon, The Darkin Bow, which gives the wielder +1/0 for each spell you cast until the next time they strike.
Both of these factors lead to more spell-heavy decks to allow you to consistently work towards Varus’s level up, and to also grow the The Darkin Bow's Power.
Once he has leveled, Varus gains Overwhelm and The Darkin Bow gives +2/0 for each spell you cast. This immediately turns Varus into a game-ending threat as he will have 14 Power with a fully stacked bow.
Varus can quickly grow out of control under the right conditions, but which region is best suited to supporting his quest for vengeance?
Robinhood in Bandlewood: Varus Fizz – B
Varus’s game plan requires us to target allies at least eight times... and in Bandle City there’s one fighting fish fit for spell flinging.
Fizz allows us to apply pressure with a difficult-to-remove threat while simultaneously building towards Varus' level up. Our fizzy fish is also an excellent target for the The Darkin Bow and can push for lethal damage if our Varus is removed, as Fizz is much harder to interact with.
Fizz (level 2) can generate spells for us to pump up our bow, while also marking our enemies' board for removal with Chum the Waters.
Sharesies can be very potent with Varus (level 2) on board; being able to open attack with two 10+ Power units can end the game on the spot.
Assistant Librarian helps us to gain additional value as we work on leveling Varus. It benefits from targeted spells with its Fated keyword and can also work as a draw engine for additional spells.
Heedless Resurrection should always summon Varus by the time that we are playing it, and it will also be discounted to three mana. Varus will auto-equip The Darkin Bow after being revived, allowing us to redevelop a significant threat on our side of the board while saving our unit mana.
It is important to note that Varus will not create an additional copy of The Darkin Bow – he’ll just take it from whoever currently has it equipped (Darkin are not known for their ability to share).
Bilgewater – Tier Z: Don’t Try it!
Varus doesn’t belong in Bilgewater.
There are 8 Spells available to target allies in the Bilgewater/Cultist combo: Momentus Choice, Bone Skewer, Shakedown, Pocket Aces, Furious Wielder, Playful Trickster, The Expanse’s Protection, and The Sudden Surge.
We need to target 8+ allies to level Varus and the only good spell in the list is Momentus Choice, and even that’s only good when we’ve equipped a unit.
Vayne-Bows: Varus Vayne – B
I originally made a Demacia deck with Varus and Jarvan IV to capitalize on free Cataclysms with Varus to push Overwhelm damage and kill the opponent’s key units.
Then Vayne was revealed and did the same thing, but better, with Tumble.
Tumble functions similarly to Cataclysm: with Varus as a high-Power, Quick Attack unit, we can force favorable trades to clear the enemy board. Once Varus has leveled and gains Overwhelm, we can start to threaten lethal with Tumble on a low-health unit.
Instead, our plan is to target our Scout units – Ranger-Knight Defector and Bloodcursed Harpy – to begin a Scout attack and Rally! We can also use Combat Cook if we pull Upcycled Rake when we Improvise.
Being able to Rally for three mana or less is absurd, and Varus will be nearly impossible to trade with favorably while attacking. Vayne will continue to produce another Tumble each Round or discount the one in our hand while we get our board set.
Once Varus has Overwhelm we just rinse, Rally and repeat until the enemy Nexus is ruined.
I Like Big Bows and I Can’t Lie: Varus Udyr Ornn – C
Another Darkin weapon ready for the forge!
We’re visiting Freljord and going all-in on trying to build an obnoxiously large bow to copy with Ornn using the Forge package.
Our dream scenario is to drop Ornn (level 2) into a 10+ Power bow, leveling the enemy Nexus with a 17/7 Ornn and Spirit of the Ram. Ornn should always drop leveled as he only needs us to strike once with an 8+ Power ally, which should be easy to accomplish with Varus.
Ornn's Forge helps to accelerate our Varus level up with Time and Dedication; the generated spell keeps our hand full to respond to enemy threats and leaves us enough mana to develop our board.
I’ve also included a copy of Udyr and two copies of Vulpine Wanderer to generate additional spells to target our units with Stance Swap. Udyr can also become a huge threat to the enemy Nexus if we need to pass The Darkin Bow to another wielder.
Combat Cook is in the deck to help us preserve the buffs from our Forge cards and gives us an alternative weapon to copy if we haven’t found Varus.
All of our spells help us to maintain board presence and advance towards Varus level up… other than Feel The Rush, which can summon a 20/10 Overwhelm Varus and absolutely obliterate the enemy Nexus.
Blindfolded Bowman: Varus Lee Sin – B
Ionia is an excellent region for Varus because of the number of two-part targeted spells available to us. Wuju Style, Sonic Wave, and Momentous Choice can all target our units twice in a turn without emptying our hand.
And, of course, a low-cost, spell-heavy play pattern naturally leads us back to Lee Sin.
Blind monks and bows may sound like a funny combination, but The Darkin Bow can give Lee Sin (level 2) a huge power boost to kick the enemy Nexus into orbit. We can’t combine the bow with Overwhelm on Lee Sin, unfortunately, but this matters a lot less when he’s going to kick for 15 damage.
This is a combo deck at its heart and the rest of our cards are here to make sure we can survive long enough to set off our big kick.
Vastayan Disciple helps us to find our key combo pieces and chip in damage to set up an OTK with Varus or Lee Sin.
Eye of the Dragon gives us extra value from casting spells each round, and works to stabilize our board with Dragonlings. Dragonling’s also provide us with good spell targets as they work very well with Sonic Wave to remove enemy backline units, while keeping our life total high.
Flurry of Fists can give us a funny lethal attack with Varus (level 2) as it will give him Double Attack; it is important to note that [The Darkin Bow]] will drop back down to base Power after the first strike, so 18 damage is the most that you can push without additional spells.
Broken Bow: Varus Riven – A
If forging is good, Reforge must be even better!
Riven and her Noxus followers provide exactly what Varus needs – cheap spells to target allies while providing a body to target.They also give us access to Overwhelm at Focus speed to allow for Varus to push damage before he is leveled!
Weapon Hilt provides double the value for Varus as it will contribute twice to his level up and gives The Darkin Bow +2/+0. It will also get us a step closer to Blade of the Exile:
Blade of the Exile is very strong for Varus as it will grant him Overwhelm and an additional two Power in addition to the buff given by The Darkin Bow. At this point he will be at least halfway to leveling (and, therefore, the Blade may be better on another unit), but can be helpful when you need to push more aggressively for Nexus damage.
Once we’ve built up our big Overwhelm units, we hit them with Ruined Reckoner to push lethal damage through with Midnight Raid.
The rest of the Noxus package also synergizes well with Varus. Might is a spell proc, provides Overwhelm and +3/+0, and targets a unit to add to Varus' level up. Entrancing Lure will draw us a card and give an equipped unit Challenger to help thin out enemy backrow threats.
Brutal Skirmish and Whirling Death give us a way to interact with our opponent’s board and can also push additional Overwhelm damage by striking a blocker – do remember that, if the unit equipped with The Darkin Bow strikes a unit, they will lose the stat buff.
Shot to the Hart: Seraphine Varus - C
Piltover & Zaun has not historically provided us with the best ally-targeted spells; Suit Up! has occasionally seen play to make Elusive units more difficult to remove and Iterative Improvement has mostly been a Wiggly Burblefish printer.
However, since Seraphine took the stage we have a few more options!
The idea behind this deck is to utilize The Sudden Surge, Suit Up!, and Crowd Pleaser on our Flame Chompers! to control the board while we wait for the Arrow of Retribution to strike.
Iterative Improvement also functions as a self-target spell, and keeps our board wide to keep us from being run over by our opponent.
Seraphine can level in this deck and if you wait to cast Momentous Choice it will fire off 4 times! This nearly insta-levels our Varus and can provide +12/+0 if we target him after he is leveled… with a single spell. This is obviously very niche, but it’s a lot of fun when the pieces fall just right!
Sacrificial Lamb: Varus Kindred – C
Shadow Isles is very good at killing things. Unfortunately this extends to our self targeting spells and abilities, which can make level Varus a bit awkward…
… but, thankfully, the Isles also provide us with a number of spells and units that will provide us with an additional unit after they have resolved, so that we can continue to sacrifice them.
The Undying is particularly well suited to this endeavor, as it will revive at the start of each round and give us a fresh target for free. Minion can fulfill a similar role, but requires us to spend additional mana to return it to the board.
Cursed Keeper helps us to maintain board presence by summoning an Escaped Abomination after it dies, and The Wings and The Wave can provide us with two sacrifice targets, or kill one to summon a Last Wind.
Since the majority of the spells we play count as slay procs, Kindred seemed like a natural addition to the deck as a board-control tool and additional threat that demands removal by our opponent.
Varus is a bit more difficult to build damage on in this deck. Momentous Choice and The Expanse's Protection are our only Burst spells, and most others will require us to pass priority back to our opponent.
I would look to build a big Varus, The Undying, or Kindred and fling them at the enemy Nexus with Atrocity to finish the game.
Surprise, It’s Akshan: Varus Akshan – A
As is tradition, when I don’t know what to do with a new champion I throw them in Shurima with Akshan and see what happens.
Akshan and Varus seem like an exceptionally good pairing as they both want us to target allies to progress their level-up conditions. Being in Shurima also provides us with a number of cheap combat spells, but the equipment is especially good for accelerating our gameplan.
The Darkin Bloodletters and Swinging Glaive are excellent for this deck. The Darkin Bloodletters give us a cheap option for targeting units that we can cycle, and can also summon a Darkinthrall for us to target after the equipped unit dies. Swinging Glaive will create a Lucky Find with each strike and we can curve right into them after playing Akshan, giving us additional targets to advance our Warlord's Palace or Warlord's Hoard.
Our goal is to level one of our champions and slap The Absolver on a juiced-up The Darkin Bow. Ruin Runner is a great alternative target for the bow if Varus is removed since she has Spellshield and Overwhelm on summon, making it less important for Varus to have leveled first.
NO MORE GODS, NO MORE DARKIN: Varus Pantheon – A
After the balance patch two weeks ago, the Fated archetype experienced a renaissance and triumphant return to the forefront of the meta. With a significant nerf to Nami, I expect that their position will become stronger.
But with the release of the new patch, will Demacia remain the only place that Pantheon can thrive?
I think that Varus offers a reasonable alternative approach to the archetype outside of the old stomping grounds.This pair seems Fated to be; Varus wants you to target allied units, while Pantheon and Fated units give you additional value for doing so.
The deck plays like a typical Pantheon deck – make big dudes, drop Pantheon (level 2) or Varus (level 2) to finish the game.
With Targon, we have access to unit targeting with card cycling in Guiding Touch and Pale Cascade which will progress our win conditions while digging through our deck to find them.
The Darkin Lodestone and Wandering Shepherd can make our Saga Seekers or Pantheon very difficult to trade with, while also turning on Momentous Choice to level up our Varus faster. They also allow us to use Furious Wielder; one-sided strike spells can quickly swing the game in our favor, especially with a leveled Pantheon.
Iula can make Pantheon and Varus much more difficult to remove by granting them Spellshield, or granting Overwhelm to a big Saga Seeker.
At the end of the day, this is still a champion-focused deck and we are reliant on them to close the game. Heedless Resurrection gives us another chance to swing with them after they have been removed. This will always revive Varus if both champions have leveled and died, as it is dependent upon their base stats.
After taking a shot at each region with Varus, (hopefully a few hitting their mark), I feel that he is strong as a champion, but somewhat limited by being tied to the Cultist pool. I think that his best chance of being meta-relevant will be with either Akshan or Riven, but who knows what will pop up in the next few weeks?
By the way: if you're interested in new decks for other champs, take a look at Yang’s Six Early Access Seraphine Decks, Shadawx's New Toys for Old Champs, or Yang's Six Early Access Vayne Decks.
Until our next go ‘round, thanks for reading and best of luck with brewing and battling!