Since the Curious Journey expansion came out, we’ve seen plenty of new decks, but the one which I’ve found the most fascinating to play is Akshan Gnar.
The Shurima Bandle City archetype isn’t exactly new to us as a concept – in fact,
The archetype didn’t really see competitive play as it was too slow to set up its win condition while running fewer cards to interact with the board. The Demacia region was simply just better to tackle the dominant decks of the meta.
With Gnar‘s release, this deck became one of the most prominent newcomers – the addition of the new powerful champion along with a couple of cards I’ll talk about later might just be enough to push the archetype into the competitive meta.
Akshan Gnar is a midrange combo deck with an Overwhelm game plan.
The deck runs a lot of cheap early units like Inventive Chemist, Akshan, Treasure Seeker, and Yordle Squire, which all allow you to chip in early Nexus damage.
Akshan acts as more of a value card, he’s a solid champion and you’ll always want to see him in your opening hand! Relic of Power created by The Warlord’s Palace allows you to find key cards you’ll need to set up your win condition later on in the game.
Speaking of win conditions, the deck has two of them! The first one is obviously swarming the board with your cheap units and just ramming the Nexus. The second win condition relies on utilizing the Overwhelm keyword on your threats to go past the opponent’s blockers.
Let’s talk about the first Overwhelm threat we have, Gnar! He’s a great on-curve champion, and Inventive Chemist acts as a clean enabler for Gnar when played on turn 1. The Scrappy Bomb will blow up precisely by the time Gnar arrives, so he will level up and be ready to swing with Overwhelm damage on your upcoming attack turn.
Gnar is a huge nuisance to your opponent, he can pretty much do everything – create value, remove a strong unit, and deal Overwhelm damage. Your opponent is forced to deal with Gnar or the champion could potentially steal a win for you.
Ruin Runner acts as a secondary Overwhelm unit, and the Spellshield makes her more valuable as a win condition than Gnar, especially when setting up for Papercraft Dragon. When attached to a unit, Papercraft Dragon will grant it +2|+2 and Double Attack keyword. Combined with the Overwhelm keyword on Ruin Runner or Gnar it will create a horrific beast, capable of ending the game with just one swing.
The Absolver grants the Overwhelm keyword if you don’t have either Gnar or Ruin Runner. Activating The Absolver isn’t that difficult, especially with the addition of Gnar to the deck.
Finally, Wallop is usually used in an aggressive manner rather than a defensive one. Remember, it’s a fast-speed stun, which means if you stun a unit blocking your Overwhelm unit, you will deal the entirety of the combat damage right to the Nexus.
Akshan Gnar is showing potential! I took the deck into a test run on the ladder and it performed astoundingly well. The fact that you can either win through Overwhelm damage or board swarm makes it a challenge for your opponent to shut down both avenues for you to take over the game.
Gnar has made the deck quite more aggressive. Although Sivir still seems like a more solid pick when it comes to empowering your whole board, leveling her up and setting up the win condition was a hassle when compared to this version that sets up its gameplan much faster.
I have high hopes for this archetype, after its early appearance on the competitive ladder, it has so far managed to maintain a positive win rate, 56% at the time of writing. Once the meta settles down, it’ll be clearer to identify if Akshan Gnar can exist as one of the top-tier decks.