7 Decks to Play to Shake Off Meta Burn-Out
Are you tired of playing the same meta decks? Are you looking for a small change of pace, but don’t want to give all your LP away? Or maybe you just want to try something new in a Standard Gauntlet and Normal games? Look no further, as I have the hottest decks here for you that (almost) no one plays! Welcome to the world of hipsters.
First of all, as this is my first article here, let me introduce myself. I am Mezume, although you may know me as Krisieqka in-game. I play Legends of Runeterra since beta and have been pretty competitive in how I approach the game, taking part in a multitude of tournaments and hanging around the Masters ladder at all times.
Today I want to shine some light on a number of non-meta decks that can be a great escape from the usual ladder experience. This is especially important, as we have been stuck for a while without big balance changes, terrorized by the likes of Ezreal Draven, TF Go Hard, and most recently Zoe Lee. Those decks, by the way, are getting their spotlight in great guides by Agigas, so be sure to check them out!
As a disclaimer, before I present the decks to you, I would like to make it clear that these decks are most likely not Tier 1. Their big appeal is in how fun to play they are, but also in the element of surprise: your opponent will know neither what they are facing, nor how to play around it. So go get them!
My research as well as playtesting led me to conclude that these decks are moderately competitive, and they held their own in the mid-Masters ladder. I tried to include a deck from every region, so there is something for everyone!
This deck was very recently shared on social media by 4LW, a great Brazilian player. It did not pick up nearly as much attention as it deserves, even though it is a competitive pick. It is built as if two previously good decks, Targon Veimer and TF Swain, had a love child.
This strategy revolves around the infamous Swain and The Leviathan combo to lock down the enemy board, and the addition of Targon’s invokes and defensive tools allows the deck to reliably survive until those later turns. There is also Starshaping to find an alternative win-condition in a huge Celestial or a game-ending spell. In the early turns, the deck makes great use of Zoe, the all-around strong champion, in order to both put pressure on the opponent and get ahead on value.
As regions, Noxus and Targon have a very different set of limitations and make up for each other’s flaws. Cards like Ravenous Flock and Death’s Hand compensate for Targon’s lack of targeted removal/damage. Mount Targon, on the other hand, supplies the deck with the healing and flexibility of Invoke.
When it comes to matchups, the recently nerfed TF Go Hard was this deck’s biggest weakness. It can also struggle into strategies that can easily remove its threats, such as Shadow Isles control decks. Zoe Swain is at its best when facing decks without strong interaction – ones that are susceptible to the Leviathan-lock (ex. Zoe Lee Sin).
Who is this deck for? If you enjoy decks that provide you with many interesting decision points, that keep you on top of your brain-game – this is the deck for you!
This ‘off-meta’ deck reached rank 1 at the hands of FaintHD, the best Fizz player in Legends of Runeterra! This is a new take on the usual Elusive aggro. Featuring fan-favorite 1-drops – Fizz and Teemo, it is looking to reduce the opponent’s Nexus hit points to 0 with as little board interaction as possible.
Aside from its champions, the deck’s most prominent Elusives are Zap Sprayfin and Wiggly Burblefish. The deck relies on spells to cycle through cards and deal damage to enemy units and Nexus, reduce Burblefish’s cost to 0, and close the game out as early as possible.
It heavily focuses on Elusive and direct damage – you will rarely engage in combat. This deck can feel somewhat non-interactive for the opponent, but it is tons of fun to play. Thanks to Elusive damage and burn spells, strategies that do not include healing will struggle to beat it. Lists that include multiple Challenger units and have other control tools, however, will have an easier time against the Elusive game plan.
Who is this deck for? Teemo lovers, Fizz lovers, fish lovers, Elusive lovers. This deck does not discriminate.
Everyone’s beloved champion has finally found a (somewhat) competitive deck to be included in and call home! The list above is the one that SparklingIceT reached Masters with fairly recently. I find it to be the best home for both Vladimir and The Scargrounds currently.
In order to find success with this list, it is crucial to find the landmark and ways of damaging your own units. Cards such as Crimson Disciple, Scarmaiden Reaver, and Ruthless Raider all benefit especially well from damaging effects provided by Ember Maiden and Vladimir. Among other cards that can fit into the deck are Unscarred Reaver, as well as the combo of Scarmother Vrynna and Basilisk Bloodseeker. Once this deck gets going, it is very hard to stop. Sadly, it suffers a bit from consistency issues – drawing the right cards in the right order is very important.
At times when everything lines up, pulling off this strategy and winning feels very satisfying. The Scargrounds is a fantastic addition to the self-damage archetype and single-handedly pushes it into viability. The worst matchups for this list are those that can shut down its high-attack units, or destroy the landmark. It does very well into Go Hard, as well as Scouts, as it counters 1-damage pings heavily.
Who is this deck for? If you’ve always wanted Crimson Scars to be a viable archetype (or have a strong hate for Scouts), pick this list and go hit that “Play” button!
True combo decks are fairly rare in Runeterra and pretty much all of them are built around Lee Sin. This one is no different, but instead of the usual Targon package, it spices things up with Riven! This list is courtesy of Win by Coinflip.
Playing Lee Sin with Targon has gotten quite repetitive, but that isn’t the only reason to try out this Ionia Noxus list. Rather than completely relying on the Lee Sin strategy, this deck fights for the board early thanks to Noxus tools such as Ravenous Flock, Arachnoid Sentry, and Trifarian Gloryseeker.
The main win condition of this deck is still to level up Lee Sin and give him Overwhelm via Blade of the Exile or Heavy Blade Fragment. Winning through Riven and board pressure are also viable. Captain Farron comes as a last resort finisher, providing a huge Overwhelm attacker and three Decimates in your hand.
Combo decks tend to be very one-dimensional. However, the big allure of this list is that, while remaining a combo deck at its core, it allows for various playstyles. Noxus excels at fighting for the board, which improves some matchups that are weak for Targon Lee Sin – such as Scouts and swarm strategies. On the other side of the coin, the low amount of cycle for a combo strategy means that it can simply lose to drawing the wrong cards at the wrong time.
Who is this deck for? Fans of combo strategies that want to stray off the beaten path, but also those who search for decks that can “do it all”.
Most meta Demacia decks rely heavily on The Grand Plaza’s power. Ashe Garen utilizes that card as well, but it also packs a lot of power even for games where you didn’t draw the landmark. The list was homebrewed by Patpat.
Demacia and Freljord are the two regions that make the best use of combat tricks and traditionally have the strongest units stat-wise. As such, it comes as no surprise that this deck is all about taking over the board and finishing off the opponent in the mid-game with repeated swings.
This deck wants to attack as much as possible – hence the additions of Garen, Tianna Crownguard, and Relentless Pursuit. In order to have a strong board to attack with, this list runs many board-centric and/or mana-efficient cards, such as Avarosan Trapper, Ashe, Cithria the Bold, and The Grand Plaza + Grizzled Ranger combo. This is supplemented by the strongest combat tricks from both regions: Troll Chant, Sharpsight, and Single Combat.
This is possibly the simplest deck to pilot from the ones in this article. Smash big units on the board, trade favorably, and play around removal in order to overwhelm your opponent’s board. Freezes, Sharpsight, as well as The Grand Plaza, allow this list to beat Lee Sin decks but also do well against board-oriented strategies thanks to the strength of its combat tricks. Mana-efficient removal, on the other hand, is this deck’s bane, so expect a poor matchup into Piltover & Zaun + Noxus builds.
Who is this deck for? Anyone who needs a bit of a break from overthinking; or those who love slamming big creatures on the board and yelling “FOR DEMACIA!” as Garen gives them the attack token.
This is the fourth deck on this list that includes Noxus, but it is the first one that presents an honest aggro strategy. Originally built (to my knowledge) by a player under the name 209209, it went through various iterations.
This deck wants to win, and it wants to do it fast! Boasting a large amount of discard synergies in Survival Skills, Vision, Spacey Sketcher, and Draven, it utilizes these to blow out the opponent in the early turns. Cards such as House Spider, Starry Scamp, and Crowd Favorite all feed into the game plan: swarm the board going into round 3-4, then follow up by a wide attack with Vision, Decisive Maneuver, or Survival Skills onto Draven/Crowd Favorite. With Noxian Fervor and Decimate, the deck can also find a victory even after conceding board control.
This list can fill the board faster than literally any other deck in the early game. Spacey Sketcher and Zoe both combo with Starry Scamp to allow swarmed boards as early as round 2. The deck punishes slow strategies that lack efficient board clears. In particular, decks revolving around The Grand Plaza have an awful time when facing Zoe Draven. On the other hand, Draven Ezreal and SI control strategies can usually stop this deck from going too wide, rendering its damage output insufficient to close out the game.
Who is this deck for? Aggro lovers looking for a more engaging and decision-heavy experience than Draven Jinx Discard build provides – and anyone who loves huge Crowd Favorites!
For last, I left the only true control deck. This is a list from Balco that he used to climb up the Masters ladder recently. It is an interesting spin on how to play an Invoke-based deck, with a focus on Shadow Isles removal tools.
As with every deck that plays Aurelion Sol as the top-end, this one aims to prolong the game until the dragon’s arrival. In this strategy, it is possible to cheat out Aurelion Sol earlier than on round 10, using either Thresh’s level up condition or Eclipse Dragon’s Daybreak effect.
Thresh does a great job with stalling, especially when supported by the Solari Shieldbreaker, Spacey Sketcher, and SI removal tools. On top of all that, Starshaping provides healing and allows you to find an alternate win condition.
The usual control Targon decks lean into the ramp strategies of Freljord, and this one does quasi-ramp in its own unique way as well – with Thresh, as well as Rekindler. With those tools, the deck still can run into trouble – especially in matchups such as Scouts, the ultimate punisher of greedy lists. Aside from The Ruination, the list does not run any AoE removal, so it can be difficult to deal with swarm.
Ionia can be another poor matchup as our multiple high-cost spells provide great value to their Deny’s. Archetypes like Ashe Noxus and most slow decks, such as Targon Plaza and Soraka TK, can struggle against Thresh ASol thanks to its insane value of invokes, Rekindler and ASol.
Who is this deck for? If you want to go big or go home, definitely go for Thresh ASol!
These decks are meant to be different from what you see on most websites or against you on the ranked ladder. As I mentioned in the introduction, they are not very likely to push you over that one obstacle you could not go over with Scouts or Draven Ezreal. Instead, if you are feeling burnt out from playing the same lists over and over, I hope this article will be a solution to your problem!
I tried my hardest to provide lists that are playable and can hold a decent win rate, but I also made sure that I can represent a wide variety of decks. This meant I had forgone some decks in favor of those whose regions were not yet showcased in the article.
I can reveal that it was the most difficult to find fun and “different” decks for Demacia and Shadow Isles, while Noxus, as seen above, seems to have an abundance of interesting strategies waiting to be uncovered. Additionally, I tried to include the whole archetype spectrum, from aggro decks, through combo, to control. I feel confident that everyone can find something for themselves in this write-up.