There’s always a bit of downtime in the Runeterra World between the Seasonal open rounds and the flip over of the next ladder that allows us to climb again. For me this registers as the perfect time to try out those fresh wacky concepts, do ridiculous things in ranked, and of course, practice your fundamentals, mulligans included. If you already know what’s up then go ahead and skip ahead down to Stage One and I’ll meet you there. For everyone else join me in the spoiler tag for a moment and we’ll talk this through.
Here’s how this is going to work. For each stage, I’ll be the one setting it. I’ll describe our deck, our opponent’s deck, our opening hand, and any other factors that I find relevant to the decision-making process. Then you try to decide what you would mulligan, and more importantly why you would do so.
After you’ve got that answer, or if you just want to watch instead of participating, go ahead and pop open the spoiler tag underneath and see if we agree. In the end, hit me up in the comments or drop by my stream later if we have conflicting opinions and you think I got it wrong. I am always down to learn new things.
Also, take note that these scenarios will often intentionally be designed to be at least a little bit tricky. Don’t just go with your gut reaction but take at least a few seconds to think through the ramifications before you decide. Ready? Let’s jump into it.
Speaking of whacky there’s an awesome new deck concept running around right now in the Glorious Evolution Curious Shellfolk deck. Let’s say we take that deck out for a spin, play into our good buddy Sion midrange, snag the attack token, and get offered Curious Shellfolk Vi Glorious Evolution and Pokey Stick. Who stays and who evolves into other cards from our deck?
So if you’ve read any of my previous articles you know that my first question always is, “How do we win in this matchup.” In this case, there are two ways. We can out-control our opponent, answer all their threats, and drown them in value from a hard to answer Curious Shellfolk, or we can set up a Poro Cannon based one turn kill with Glorious Evolution on turn seven or eight.
Whichever one we choose though we are going to need to at least pretend to be a control deck long enough to get there. In this matchup in particular the OTK is difficult because they can simply drop their own Poros and block us down. Combine that with the fact that it will happen a turn or two later and I am inclined to pitch back Glorious Evolution and keep Curious Shellfolk.
Pokey Stick seems like a solid answer to some types of early pressure as well as a good way to cycle through our deck to hit our win conditions, so it’s a pretty easy keep. The hard question then is Vi. And to answer this one I want to ask a different question than usual, “How do we lose?”
The two real ways are either a Sion we can’t answer, or getting overwhelmed on board and burned out. There are plenty of matchups where, especially with the attack token, Vi is a very solid open-keep. I think that in this one though she doesn’t swing the game quite hard enough on her own, and can get us in trouble if we spend five mana on one card. It’s even nastier if our opponent happens to be running Arachnoid Sentry and cold-stops our turn five attack. So back she goes.
For our second curtain let’s take a moment to not forget about Shady. Or at least about the Shadow Isles. Shadow Isles/Freljord control has been around since the start and while it’s on a bit of a downswing lately Feel The Rush is still very much a power pick in certain lineups. Our opponent, Ziggs/Poppy, has the attack and we look down at Grasp of the Undying The Box Trundle and Blighted Ravine. What do we get to keep and what gets sacrificed to the troll gods?
This one I find interesting because at first glance it kind of looks like we’ve got everything we want to face off against an aggro deck. Piles of removal backed up by an angry troll can’t be all that bad and will tempt us to just ship it and full keep here. I’m going to urge you to fight that temptation and here is why.
If we look at the assorted mana costs in our hand we see, five, four, five, and four. That means the earliest we can play anything right now is turn three, and it’s likely to be a one-for-one removal spell at that. That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. So if it’s important that we also fight for the board in the first couple of turns, what do we get to keep and what gets sent back?
Trundle seems a bit slow to me, paying five mana for one unit against a go wide deck is very dangerous, even the turn after we will be dropping sweeper effects. I’d send him back for later. The leaves three.
The fork set up by The Box and Blighted Ravine is mighty powerful. Our opponent will either develop on their turn and get punished, or develop on our turn and get punished. That makes me inclined to keep both of them in an opening hand. That only leaves Grasp of the Undying.
Despite our opponent being a burning aggro deck, I would send it back, and here’s why. If we force ourselves to commit to playing this card early, it’s easy to get blown out by Noxian Fervor. I am much more of a fan of treating it as a later game win condition and looking to not get super behind on board and life total in the early game. Bring me those Vile Feasts and Avarosan Sentrys instead please and thank you.
We’ve talked about playing against them plenty but let’s jump into the shows of the burninators for a moment. Enter Poppy/Ziggs, playing into the quite solid matchup of Nami/Zoe. We’ve got the attack and our first four cards are Inventive Chemist Legion Saboteur Poppy and Tenor of Terror. What do we hold and what do we burn?
This is another very solid set of opening cards. We’ve already got our one drop and our mid-game follow-up pressure ready to roll. Can’t be too unhappy looking at that, right? Well, no, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a whole lot better.
First of all, I’d like to note how much weaker Poppy gets in this deck when you have the attack token. Especially when your opponent might be setting up sparkle nonsense to stop her. If we are trying to end the game on turn six or so then our champion only really ever gets to attack once, which I am not all that impressed by to be quite honest.
We also don’t have a particularly powerful way to activate Tenor of Terror. I don’t know about you but a four mana 2/3 impact does not sound all that terrifying. However, some of the strongest opening we can have are triple one drop where dump almost our entire hand by turn three or so. We’re very close to that here and given all of these variables, I think I would take the best shot at completing it.
As much as it hurts we throw back Poppy and the tenor and hold the two one drops. Then we’ve got effectively four draws to draw our third one drop before turn two, which is pretty solid. And if we miss then we are going to be re-drawing those mid-game power cards anyway and our curve will not suffer.
So how did your decisions match up against mine through it all? You with me, learned something, maybe think I am crazier than Bandle City’s mayor? I’m always interested to hear feedback in comments so hit me up here, or on my stream or Twitter at twitch.tv/xxwhatamixx or @xxwhatamixx respectively. And as always, I’ll see you out there on the ladder.