6 Decks to Counter Tristana Swarm Piles – Patch 4.4

Sorry shares 6 different decks to counter Tristana Bilgewater, Demacia, and Noxus.

If you’ve been struggling against Tristana decks on the ranked ladder, you have come to the right place. With the recent buff to Bandle Gunners, Tristana swarm decks have been on the rise, particularly the Bilgewater variant, followed by Noxus and Demacia versions.

In this article, we will explore various decks that have proven to be effective against Tristana decks. We will discuss the strategies for effectively piloting these decks against Tristana swarm decks and provide insights into key elements to be mindful of during the matchup.

Included in this article are matchup tables of decks that are favorable against Tristana swarm decks, categorized into Master and High Diamond matchups. To provide a more comprehensive analysis of the matchup tables, we will primarily use the Master stats as our main data source and supplement it with Diamond data.

Considering that the Gnar Tristana Bilgewater is currently the most popular variant on the ranked ladder and in tournament play, my focus will be on countering the Bilgewater version first.

1- Evelynn Lucian

Evelynn Lucian created by Sorry • last updated 5 months ago

Evelynn Lucian is the most effective deck to counter Tristana swarm variants, with an overall win rate of 55.3% and success against all Tristana versions. This deck can keep up with early aggression by using units like Lucian, Fleetfeather Tracker, Durand Sculpture, Petricite Broadwing, and Sultur. Against the Noxus version, blocking all units and preserving health is necessary, as the opponent can switch to the burn plan with Noxian Fervor or use Might to push Overwhelm damage. In the Demacia and Bilgewater versions, having Durand Sculpture on the board allows you to play around Group Shot and Pie Toss by buffing up your 1-health units.

Challenger units are essential to eliminate Tristana, Gnar, Teemo, and Bandle Commando. Bandle Commando can create Hungry Owlcats, so minimizing the value she creates is crucial. Steem is used to strategically kill units such as Tristana, Bandle Gunners, and The King’s Court. Try not to sacrifice Steem if you don’t have to, managing to put vulnerable on more units can come in handy on your next attack turn.

Evelynn and her Husk generation ensure board wins by creating powerful units capable of blocking and surviving the opponent’s attack turn. With the help of Dawnspeakers, the +1|+1 buff can be daunting, setting up for more powerful future turns.

Single Combat can be played reactively to kill Tristana or an Elusive unit. It is best to wait for the opponent to commit a Group Shot or a Prize Fight before casting the strike spell. Single Combat can also shut down Noxian Fervor.

As for Champions’ Strength, having a wide board enables you to set up a powerful attack turn, potentially ending the game on that specific turn. It can also be used as a retaliation to the Tristana Demacia champions’ strength, but it’s better to ensure that the opponent does not go wide on the board by challenging and killing their units, especially the elusive ones. Both Single Combat and Hate Spike can kill units before Champions’ Strength gives them the +4|+4 buff.

Speaking of Hate Spike, it can counter a Bandle Gunners + Prize Fight play, shutting down their Impact damage.

2- Pantheon Samira

Pantheon Samira is a strong deck that has a good chance of beating the various Tristana swarm decks. The deck has evolved to keep up with early aggression, relying on Pantheon in the late game to hit the board and turn the match in your favor. Early units in the deck include Samira, Blade Squire, Saga Seeker, and Lunari Cultist, which help keep up with the opponent’s aggression. Saga Seeker is particularly important to keep alive to preserve the health of your Nexus and is best equipped with a weapon like The Darkin Lodestone or Wandering Shepherd for extra health protection.

Samira can pick off early units, and with The Darkin Ballista, she’ll easily eliminate crucial targets like Bandle City Mayor, Tristana, and Gnar. The list has been updated to include Brutal Skirmish, another strike spell to kill units along with Furious Wielder.

Playing Pantheon defensively and taking advantage of his barrier can shut down their attack. Keep in mind that your opponent can remove the barrier with Pie Toss or Group Shot, so be cautious and watch the mana they’re floating. Brutal Skirmish can be used to take advantage of the barrier after they’ve played a ping spell. Once Pantheon levels up, he’ll start shifting the board presence in your favor with the randomly generated keywords. Keywords like Quick Attack, Challenger, and Lifesteal can be brutal for the opponent to deal with.

3- Vayne Aatrox Quinn

Vayne Aatrox Quinn is a reliable deck to beat Tristana Noxus and Bilgewater variants. The Demacia version is a more challenging matchup as their Champions’ Strength is a potent play. It’s difficult for the Aatrox deck to survive the turn if they fail to keep the opponent from going wide on the board.

The deck relies on Challenger units like Valor, Fleetfeather Tracker, and Petricite Broadwing, which are best equipped with The Darkin weapons to keep them alive for longer. Catch! and Form Up! can save the early game if the opponent tries to ping off your units.

Fish Fight is a great answer to Tristana; you want to kill her as early as possible before she starts buffing other multi-region units. Additionally, Blocking Badgerbear can halt your opponent from attacking with Bandle Commando, shutting down the Hungry Owlcat creation.

Ranger-Knight Defector + The Darkin Harp or The Darkin Spear puts mid-game pressure with the scout attack, forcing the opponent into unfavored trades to preserve the health of their Nexus. Vayne’s Tumble lets you attack in your defensive turns if played on a scout unit, keeping that pressure with Ranger-Knight Defector.

Joraal is a powerful challenger unit if you need to kill units like Gnar, Tristana, and Bandle Gunners. Equipped with The Darkin Harp, Joraal can kill and survive the trade with the assistance of the Quick Attack keyword.

Aatrox offers Nexus healing, but once leveled, you’ll have access to a lot of Overwhelm damage along with Xolaani, ensuring you can win the game on the spot.

4- Illaoi Norra

Illaoi Norra is slightly unfavored against Gnar Tristana Bilgewater but crushes the Noxus and Demacia versions. This deck can keep up with the swarm capabilities of Tristana decks, with Norra, Junk Construct, and Portalpalooza adding Mysterious Portals to the deck, helping to summon more units on the board. Group Shot and Pie Toss are essential to kill pesky units on your opponent’s side of the board, such as Teemo, Bandle Commando, and Legion Saboteur. Combined with a Prize Fight, you’ll be able to kill bigger units like Tristana, Gnar, and The King’s Cout.

Heavy Metal is saved to destroy equipment and potentially kill a unit. Your opponent can create weapons with units like Wandering Shepherd, Piltovan Castaway, and Combat Cook. Upcycled Ryke and Fishawack are important to destroy, as they can become problematic if played on Tristana or an elusive unit.

You might find yourself in situations where you’re forced to play Heavy Metal on Bandle Commando. You want to remove that additional value they can create and at the same time, give Norra the chance to connect with the opponent’s Nexus.

Illaoi is the main method to end the game as fast as possible, the Overwhelm damage can be challenging for the opponent to shut down. A Prize Fight + ping spell is their only method of dealing with an Illaoi before she connects with their Nexus.

5- Fizz Samira

Fizz Samira created by Sorry • last updated 5 months ago

You’re setting up an aggressive game plan against Tristana decks, trying to end the game before they do. Samira’s ability to challenge and kill units will give you an advantage on the board, even threatening to level her up if your opponent doesn’t kill her with cards like Pie Toss and Perilous Pastry.

Killing Bandle Commando and Teemo with Samira is crucial to pave the way for your elusive units to strike the Nexus. You can give up one of your elusive units to ensure Bandle Commando doesn’t strike the Nexus. Pie Toss and Group Shot will most likely be played to kill Father Fury or Wiggle Burblefish. If the ping spells were played during your attack turn, it’s worth saving them with an All Out! to ensure additional Nexus damage.

Pirouette is a solid tool to stun a Tristana or Gnar and ping down a low-health unit, allowing you to slow down your opponent’s aggression.

Powder Pandemonium is a powerful late-game play that can be used offensively or defensively. The guaranteed burn damage can be enough to win the game without the need to even strike the Nexus with the Powder Monkeys.

Leveling up Fizz means you’ll create Chum the Waters on strike, allowing you to push Overwhelm damage with Longtooth.

6- Illaoi Swain

Swain Illaoi created by Sorry • last updated 5 months ago

Illaoi Swain has been performing well on the ranked ladder, beating Tristana and midrange decks.

This deck has damage spells like Heavy Metal, Parrrley, Make it Rain, and Tentacle Smash to deal with the opponent’s pesky units. The list uses Hired Gun to challenge and kill units like Bandle City Mayor, Bandle Commando, Tristana, and Gnar.

Illaoi threatens to deal Overwhelm damage, and the Tentacle can be used to block and advance Illaoi’s level-up condition. Once Swain levels up, you’ll be able to set up a powerful attack capable of activating his ability and wiping out the opponent’s board of low-health units.

The Tristana Demacia version seems to be the most difficult matchup, according to the stats. Ensure the opponent doesn’t manage to keep a wide board of units, as you want to weaken their Champions’ Strength play.

Closing Words and Other Counter Decks

With Tristana going rampant on the ranked ladder, it’s best to play an archetype capable of holding its own against it. The decks I shared all have a good matchup against at least two Tristana variants.

Although Norra Gnar was a solid choice against Tristana decks early into Patch 4.4 meta, it seems to be struggling now against the Bilgewater and Demacia variants. The low win rate could be affected by a lack of matchup knowledge, leading players to misplay with Norra Gnar.

Shen Jarvan IV is another deck that beats both Tristana Demacia and Noxus versions but unfortunately loses to the Bilgewater version.


Alaa "TricksterSorry" Yassine is a competitive Legends of Runeterra player. His passion for card games ignited in his youth with favorites like Yugioh and Pokemon. Currently, he dedicates himself to achieving professional excellence in Runeterra, while also creating informative video and written content for the Runeterra community.

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