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Monte & Leer’s Meta Voyage – Chimes, Demons, and Warriors

Our heroes dive again into the paranormal Forces from Beyond meta. This time, they take a handful of new archetypes for a spin as they climb the Diamond ladder, and go back in time to search for answers to Illaoi Bard…

For the latest issue of Monte & Leer's Meta Voyage, check this link!!


Shen Bard, aka Shard

LoR Meta Voyage -- Shen Bard, a strong deck to counter Illaoi Bard

Shen Bard (Shard) is a novel archetype that started to show up in data about a week ago.

Regions
Runeterra
9 cards
Ionia
31 cards
Rarities
25 400
champion
6
epic
2
rare
9
common
23
Mana cost
0
0
11
1
10
2
3
3
14
4
0
5
2
6
0
7+
Champions
6
4
Bard
3
Bard
4
Shen
3
Shen
Followers
17
1
Byrd, The Bellringer
3
Byrd, The Bellringer
1
Greenglade Caretaker
3
Greenglade Caretaker
2
Esmus, Breath of the World
3
Esmus, Breath of the World
2
Kinkou Student
3
Kinkou Student
3
Shadow Assassin
3
Shadow Assassin
6
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
2
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
Spells
17
1
Ghost
2
Ghost
1
Ionian Tellstones
3
Ionian Tellstones
2
Ki Guardian
3
Ki Guardian
2
Nopeify!
1
Nopeify!
4
Deny
2
Deny
4
Moral Support
3
Moral Support
4
Spirit's Refuge
3
Spirit's Refuge
Open deck in builder

The deck aims to gain the upper hand in combat through Barrier effects like Moral SupportMoral Support, while simultaneously leveling ShenShen. Once ShenShen is leveled, he can provide additional pressure through giving +3 to units with Barrier.

Add to this board-centric game plan BardBard, and you have a coherent, top-performing archetype. Shard has been putting up numbers lately, sporting a 53%+ winrate over the past seven days, with even higher numbers a couple of days ago when the deck was less known.

What pushed the deck over the edge was the addition of Kinkou StudentKinkou Student. She directly benefits from Barriers on allies, and thus helps to level ShenShen and buff Greenglade CaretakerGreenglade Caretaker

Furthermore, the addition of Moral SupportMoral Support was key for the ShenShen Ionia package to work with BardBard. Before, ShenShen relied on Demacian combat tricks and Barrier spells like Prismatic BarrierPrismatic Barrier and RiposteRiposte to work. Now, the Ionia region can sufficiently support ShenShen and we can afford to run the (card-wise sparse) The Wandering Caretaker Origin.

While this sounds great in theory, how does Shard work in practice, and why is it currently this favored in the meta? 

Our voyagers took this new deck for a spin on their climb, and this  is what they found: 


Leer’s Journey

Shard is really good at beating Illaoi Bard (Chimey Tentacles). The Barriers make it impossible for big TentacleTentacles to out-trade us, and HomecomingHomecoming protects us from IllaoiIllaoi and The Sea's Voice giving a TentacleTentacle Overwhelm.

Kinkou StudentKinkou Student is nuts in this deck. It is the exact card ShenShen was missing to become good again. With our many Barrier-giving effects, we can consistently activate Kinkou StudentKinkou Student and level Shen (or our third champ, Greenglade CaretakerGreenglade Caretaker) rapidly.

If you didn’t know: Ki GuardianKi Guardian can activate Kinkou StudentKinkou Student and Greenglade CaretakerGreenglade Caretaker twice – once when we Barrier a unit in hand, and again when we play out the unit. (Note: This seems to be a bug!)

This interaction becomes significant in combat. When we attack with a Student, we threaten to indirectly give it Barrier for two mana. So either the foe blocks, and runs into a Barrier, or they don’t and we don’t have to cast the spell at all.

Our recommended list runs GhostGhost as a way to cheese in some damage, especially with Greenglade CaretakerGreenglade Caretaker; that list is the best right now, according to the data. Personally, I have found success with a non-Ghost list in Diamond, and climbed two ranks with it. 


Monte’s Journey

Admittedly, I didn’t play this much but I did get a few games in and I played against it enough to get a feel for the deck. I like it! 

While this deck is arguably only powerful because of some bugs with Ki GuardianKi Guardian, Shen’s level-up and the new two-drop Kinkou StudentKinkou Student, the deck is a lot of fun to play. 

In the few games I played, I managed to find wins both through Bard and Shen. You’re able to quickly set up a wide board and go around the outside with Stand UnitedStand United, or go under with GhostGhost.

This deck does some strong things when everything goes right, but it can flop and fall prey to pings pretty easily. It’s not the best deck but it does a very good job of beating up on Bard Illaoi, you might consider taking Shen for a spin if you’re seeing lots of the Tentacle queen. 

Some Tips:

  • Reapplying barrier with Shen (level 2)Shen (level 2) on the board will give his buff – in other words, a unit having Barrier does not prevent it from getting Barrier again, and Shen will again give the unit a +3 attack buff,
  • Stand United can be used to block elusive units with non-elusive units,
  • Commit your attack before using Bard’s Traveler's Call – use it as a combat trick (shout out to Prodigy for championing this).

Ahri Bard

LoR Meta Voyage -- Ahri Bard, a strong Illaoi Bard counter

Leer’s Journey

Ahri Bard is another archetype that looks to target Bard Illaoi. With their Recalls, they can repeatedly stop IllaoiIllaoi from getting a big attack in. And with their Chimed-up Elusives they can elude enemy blockers and push Nexus damage. 

I feel like any game tips I could give would be better explained by Monte’s Ahri Bard Deck Guide, so I will leave the gameplay advice to his article!

Regions
Ionia
31 cards
Runeterra
9 cards
Rarities
25 000
champion
6
epic
2
rare
7
common
25
Mana cost
0
0
12
1
14
2
3
3
9
4
0
5
2
6
0
7+
Champions
6
2
Ahri
3
Ahri
4
Bard
3
Bard
Followers
20
1
Byrd, The Bellringer
3
Byrd, The Bellringer
1
Dancing Droplet
3
Dancing Droplet
1
The Mourned
2
The Mourned
2
Esmus, Breath of the World
3
Esmus, Breath of the World
2
Navori Conspirator
3
Navori Conspirator
2
Navori Highwayman
1
Navori Highwayman
3
Shadow Assassin
3
Shadow Assassin
6
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
2
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
Spells
14
1
Ionian Tellstones
1
Ionian Tellstones
1
Recall
3
Recall
2
Nopeify!
2
Nopeify!
2
Twin Disciplines
2
Twin Disciplines
4
Deny
2
Deny
4
Homecoming
3
Homecoming
4
Will of Ionia
1
Will of Ionia
Open deck in builder

In my games, this matchup felt almost unlosable if we drew at least two Recall spells like HomecomingHomecoming or Ionian TellstonesIonian Tellstones. But what about other matchups? For a deck to have a positive WR, it needs to win against more than half the field, not just the most popular deck.

While I didn’t play a single game of Ahri Bard last season, and this was my first time trying the deck, I found surprisingly much success with it. In my 10+ games tested, I won 77% of my games at around Diamond 2/3. 

Only one of those games was against Bard Illaoi! It might definitely be that I got lucky in my games (e.g. I faced Jayce Elise Sentinels twice – a matchup that I feel in theory should be problematic for us), because I don’t think Ahri Bard is that favored against the field, here’s the data from Legna’s website:

Doesn’t look so rosy, ay? =)

Despite this fact, the only archetypes I lost against were Kai’Sa Demacia ones. Their early game with Petricite BroadwingPetricite Broadwing and Merciless HunterMerciless Hunter is too fast against our small Elusive units, and if we don’t keep up the mana to bounce Kai'Sa (on an already losing board for us), we immediately suffer defeat.

But, as said above, at least from personal experience Ahri Bard worked great for me in Diamond! 


Katarina Twisted Fate

The brainchild of fellow MaRu Squad member, CameronHanzo, this is the latest riff on Annie TF.

We’ve done away with Annie in favor of Katarina due to the pressure she provides. Access to Rally lets you keep the pedal pressed to the metal, constantly threatening your opponent and forcing them to play in suboptimal ways so they can get around your threat of Kat. Additionally, Katarina gives you access to free copies of Blade's Edge which will allow you to activate Ravenous FlockRavenous Flock or DisintegrateDisintegrate.

Regions
Noxus
19 cards
Bilgewater
21 cards
Rarities
28 900
champion
6
epic
5
rare
10
common
19
Mana cost
0
0
11
1
11
2
6
3
7
4
3
5
0
6
2
7+
Champions
6
3
Katarina
3
Katarina
4
Twisted Fate
3
Twisted Fate
Landmarks
3
1
Ravenbloom Conservatory
3
Ravenbloom Conservatory
Followers
11
1
Pool Shark
2
Pool Shark
2
Marai Warden
3
Marai Warden
3
Arachnoid Sentry
1
Arachnoid Sentry
4
Zap Sprayfin
3
Zap Sprayfin
8
Riptide Rex
2
Riptide Rex
Spells
20
1
Blade's Edge
3
Blade's Edge
1
Ravenous Flock
3
Ravenous Flock
2
Disintegrate
3
Disintegrate
2
Line 'Em Up
2
Line 'Em Up
2
Make it Rain
3
Make it Rain
3
Scorched Earth
2
Scorched Earth
4
Whispered Words
1
Whispered Words
5
Eye of Nagakabouros
3
Eye of Nagakabouros
Open deck in builder

Monte's Journey

I sat down with fellow MaRu Squad member and Katarina TF enthusiast SantaTCG to get my learning journey kickstarted.

Katarina Annie is a deck that wants to win the game through a combination of TybaulkTybaulk, champion pressure, and Riptide RexRiptide Rex. You want to get through the early game keeping your HP high, and sometimes getting chip damage. You achieve this by playing units like Marai WardenMarai Warden, and clearing the board with Twisted FateTwisted Fate or your various ping spells.

Remember that Katarina doesn’t always have to attack! You can play her for the rally alone, leaving her on the board as a blocker or to threaten Death LotusDeath Lotus

This deck is a lot of fun, very strong, and a bit tricky to play. I would suggest you read Dr. Chekhov’s guide on Annie TF. While not entirely the same deck, they do play out similarly enough that there will be notes of value in that article.


Pantheon Yuumi

Leer’s Journey

I know this is the same deck I tested two episodes ago, but it was a different meta back then and I have another good reason: Currently, the ladder is swarmed by Chimey Tentacles and Kai’Sa archetypes – together they make up more than 25% of the decks played

If we look at the currently popular archetypes on the ladder, there is no list that convincingly beats Chimey Tentacles and Kai’Sa. Azir Irelia and Jhinnie are great at bullying Kai’Sa for example, but fall short against Illaoi Bard. And for some more secret tech like Shard or Bard Ahri, they destroy Chimey Tentacles but get smacked by Kai’Sa.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a deck that beats both of those archetypes?

Ahem… I said: Wouldn’t it be great if there was a deck that beats both of those archetypes!!

*Pantheon comes flying through the ceiling*

Oh, great meta-savior! We have awaited your return for so long!

Regions
Demacia
14 cards
Mount Targon
26 cards
Rarities
23 200
champion
6
epic
0
rare
9
common
25
Mana cost
0
0
4
1
16
2
12
3
6
4
2
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
3
Yuumi
3
Yuumi
4
Pantheon
3
Pantheon
Followers
13
1
Saga Seeker
3
Saga Seeker
2
Brightsteel Protector
2
Brightsteel Protector
2
Mountain Goat
3
Mountain Goat
3
Wounded Whiteflame
3
Wounded Whiteflame
4
Blinded Mystic
2
Blinded Mystic
Spells
21
1
Chain Vest
1
Chain Vest
2
Guiding Touch
2
Guiding Touch
2
Pale Cascade
3
Pale Cascade
2
Sharpsight
3
Sharpsight
2
Single Combat
3
Single Combat
3
Cataclysm
3
Cataclysm
3
Zenith Blade
3
Zenith Blade
4
Bastion
1
Bastion
5
Concerted Strike
2
Concerted Strike
Open deck in builder

Let’s look at my reasoning behind Fated in more detail now:

Illaoi Bard can go reasonably wide to defend against aggro, but to push its advantage and go on the offense, it needs a big TentacleTentacle. Hence, what is its main weakness? A unit bigger than TentacleTentacle-san or IllaoiIllaoi-sama. 

Similarly, Kai'Sa Sivir/Mono Kai'Sa has close to no bad matchups, thanks to Kai'Sa's reliable level-up on round five or six. With Icathian RainIcathian Rain, it can even shoot down small units. But what does it struggle against? A chunky Fated warrior or a Fated dragon that can block Kai'Sa

This is why I decided to dust off Pantheon Yuumi and took it for a spin on the ladder (and, let’s be honest, my never-dying love for PantheonPantheon may have factored, too =). I decided to throw in some copies of Concerted StrikeConcerted Strike and Blinded MysticBlinded Mystic to be even more solid against our two targets.

(I also considered Starhound PackStarhound Pack, but ultimately decided against it because we can’t play it before round four, when we want to start our Fated-activation chain)

In my games, the deck felt incredibly strong into Kai’Sa archetypes. In particular, the rounds when they play Kai'Sa but can’t give her Spellshield through Second SkinSecond Skin or SuperchargeSupercharge, and we can remove Kai'Sa with a combat trick, were game-winning.

Versus Illaoi Bard, Fated also performed quite well, though I got overrun in one game by too many small units. If the draws align for Chimey Tentacles, they can definitely aggro us down if we are not careful (or draw our Fated units =).

Does this mean that Fated is back? With a heavy heart, I have to say that I’m not so sure. PantheonPantheon feels quite underwhelming in his current state (without being able to get Scout), and the lack of open attacks with Overwhelm units makes it frustrating to play against other popular matchups, like Azir Irelia with Defiant DanceDefiant Dance or Noxus decks with Arachnoid SentryArachnoid Sentry

If you’re looking to specifically target Kai’Sa and Bard Illaoi, I think Fated has what it takes to consistently beat them. And if you're looking for a fun ladder deck with which you will win more than you lose, Fated definitely has the potential. But if you’re looking for the absolute best to milk the winning chances out of your deck choice, it is still the better choice to join the dark side and play Kai’Sa and Illaoi Bard!


LeBard

LoR Meta Voyage -- Bard LeBlanc, one of LoR hot new decks

Bard LeBlanc is the brainchild of top AM player, deckbuilder, and fellow MaRu writer, Dr. Chekhov!

LeBlanc is the ideal pairing for Bard should you want to play him in Noxus – while she normally boasts great offensive power, Bard helps patch up LeBlanc’s main weakness of dying to Mystic Shot. Once she levels up, Mirror ImageMirror Image can and likely will win you the game.

Regions
Runeterra
6 cards
Noxus
34 cards
Rarities
27 700
champion
6
epic
3
rare
15
common
16
Mana cost
0
0
7
1
8
2
8
3
16
4
0
5
0
6
1
7+
Champions
6
3
LeBlanc
3
LeBlanc
4
Bard
3
Bard
Followers
24
1
Blade Squire
1
Blade Squire
1
Byrd, The Bellringer
3
Byrd, The Bellringer
1
Thrashing Snapper
3
Thrashing Snapper
2
House Spider
2
House Spider
2
Trifarian Gloryseeker
3
Trifarian Gloryseeker
2
Trifarian Hopeful
3
Trifarian Hopeful
4
Basilisk Rider
3
Basilisk Rider
4
Crowd Favorite
2
Crowd Favorite
4
Trifarian Assessor
3
Trifarian Assessor
8
Incisive Tactician
1
Incisive Tactician
Spells
10
3
Might
2
Might
3
Whirling Death
3
Whirling Death
4
Bloody Business
2
Bloody Business
4
Whispered Words
3
Whispered Words
Open deck in builder

Monte's Journey

This deck has been my best-performing deck this season. I’ve used it primarily on my climb from Plat 3 to Diamond 4 and it absolutely crushed my opposition. Over the course of thirty-four games, I managed to achieve a 70% win-rate and was even slightly positive into the various forms of Kai’Sa I encountered (final record 5-2 W-L). This was achieved by understanding the matchup and utilizing Trifarian GloryseekerTrifarian Gloryseeker to clear off early units with keywords (so Kai’sa has no targets for Second SkinSecond Skin) and Bloody BusinessBloody Business to then clear off Kai’sa herself. 

This deck looks to set up a board filled with big, chonky units that your opponent will have trouble dealing with.

Once you’ve started to get on the board with your oversized units, you’ll want to aggressively swing to force trades and activate Reputation. Turning on Reputation will make your Whispered WordsWhispered Words a two-mana draw-two, and it will make Incisive TacticianIncisive Tactician a six-mana rally. These mana discounts from Reputation let you take some very powerful mid-late game turns. 

I’ve had games where I was able to draw with two copies of Whispered Words, and then drop a Trifarian AssessorTrifarian Assessor to draw even more! It’s a bit nutty how much draw this deck actually has available to it when it hits.

Finishing games can get a bit weird, but you’re usually able to level LeBlanc and draw through most of your deck to find Incisive Tactician and a copy of Might. Between Rally, Overwhelm, and access to Mirror image for more attacks, attackers, or draw, you should be able to find the line that lets you close out the game.

Some things you should know about Mirror Image: it is an exact copy that also counts as a summon. This means summon effects like Trifarian AssessorTrifarian Assessor’s draw, or Crowd FavoriteCrowd Favorite’s buff will reapply. Allegiance also activates (if the condition is met). If you double LeBlanc, the clone will have the same progress towards another Mirror Image – this means that you can often get a second copy for free and still be able to double rally. 


Wrapping Up

Illaoi Bard and Kai'Sa are surely the Forces Behind (this Meta) and the threats to beat, but no matter if you feel like fighting Chimes with Chimes (with Shen, Ahri, or LeBlanc), opting for a spicy twist of a known archetype (Kat TF), or even going back to the classic past (Pantheon), there really are lots of Ladder options.

We hope you liked this leg of our Voyage through Diamond, and see you next week!


LoR Meta Voyage -- Forces from Beyond

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