Hi everyone, and apologies for the long wait after the last episode, and thanks to all of those who kept submitting their ideas during that time. Today, we are going to work on what most could consider the weakest of the recently released champions: Udyr.
While Gnar has been dominating the metagame and Yuumi quickly found her pairing with Pantheon, Galio and Udyr, unfortunately, failed to become meta staples and are still searching for the perfect deck to abuse their skillset.
In this submission from drboleta, Udyr is paired with Akshan for a duo looking to never run out of steam and dominate the board in the long run. With Akshan helping with card draw and overall deck stability, Udyr is in charge of generating as many stances as possible, which feeds Akshan’s Warlord’s Palace while growing our units to absurd amounts of stats.
Drboleta submission was rather a simple one, and to use their own words here: “I think the build is pretty self-explanatory here. Akshan and Udyr are the value machines, and the followers help us accomplish that.”
While I agree the deck can be summed up to this very simple take, after playing a few games with it, I realized it was a bit more complicated than this.
As we look at the curve of this deck, we can see that we actually are playing 2 separate packages which merge into a complete 40 cards list. Up until the 3 mana cost, we are in Akshan’s territory, as most of the cards will be looking to help us with immediate tempo and board control early in the game.
The 2 mana champion is key to the deck’s success, as Akshan really is the enabler to most of our early game. I quickly felt like it was mandatory to hard mulligan in order to find him early on, as every card becomes so much better once he is on the board.
Once Akshan levels up, we can start abusing its Warlord’s Hoard in order to find our late game and grow our threats in order to push for lethal. Because we already need to invest our mana in the Stances Swaps and other tempo tools, Akshan drawing us cards is a great way to not run out of resources while not actively spending mana on drawing cards.
The 5+ mana cards in the deck represent this second part of our game plan as they all contribute to generating value of some sort, either growing our champions, like Herald of the Magus or Siphoning Strike, or offering alternate win conditions the way The Howling Abyss does. Most of the time, Udyr will be the enforcer in this part of the game, and alongside some striking spells (Grappling Hook, Siphoning Strike), we can rapidly generate enough Stance Swaps to have a Pantheon deck kind of threat on the board.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the way this deck was built when playing it, and the transition from the Akshan, tempo-based phase of the game towards the heavier, value-oriented late game of the deck was smooth in most of the games I played.
When looking for other similar decks online, I found a lot of different pairing, with Udyr using Shurima as the second region. Renekton and Ziggs mostly looked like good partners for Udyr. Renekton because he benefits a lot from the Stances and Ziggs in order to help level Udyr more reliably.
While Akshan doesn’t necessarily fit the mold in terms of immediate synergy alongside Udyr, it is hard to deny the simple great versatile power of the Shurimian 2 mana champion. Considering Udyr is heavily struggling to fit its place in the current metagame, I believe pairing him with a simply strong champion rather than looking for synergies is a smart move.
On a general level, I felt like the idea was on point and most of the basic deck building rules were respected, as I said previously, the deck’s concept is easy to understand and transitions well from one phase to another.
The main roadblock I had to face was how the deck can feel almost powerless when Akshan isn’t in our starting hand. Indeed, Akshan is the key card in our deck in order to be dominant in the early game, and it can often feel hopeless trying to answer our opponent using the rest of our early curve.
Because most of our late-game units are rather slow, and perform much better if played in the position of the aggressor rather than the defender, missing Akshan early in the game is the start of a very uphill battle against any opponent capable of pressuring us before turn 5.
In that sense, I have the feeling that the deck was built with the idea that most games would go as planned, and a large part of the flexible slots in the decklist was chosen with the idea that the deck would manage to be in a dominant position on the board. In the same spirit, I understand that Siphoning Strike and Grappling Hook have a great synergy with Udyr, as they allow the generation of more Stances Swaps and grow our threats even more out of control.
My problem with those spells is that the condition they require us to fulfill usually is more limiting than the rewards we will get from it working. As a slow spell, both Grappling Hook and Siphoning Strike give our opponent a chance to react before resolving, typically opening a potentially disastrous situation. This idea can also apply to the 3 copies of The Howling Abyss, a card that is extremely slow to develop and almost worthless against an opponent trying to end the game quickly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a deck that is running Demacia so the Fast speed striking spells (Single Combat, Concerted Strike) aren’t available for the deck. This means we need to create situations where we can resolve those Slow Speed spells reliably, and I don’t think this specific point was handled as well as it could in this submission.
On the other hand, Troll Chant is such an amazing card in the current metagame that I was a bit sad not to see included other cheap combat tricks, which would allow us to wrestle the early board more reliably, especially against aggressive opponents considering we do not run any form of healing.
Once ahead on the board, we would have a much better shot at making our Slow Spells work, allowing us to widen the gap between us and our opponent and putting the game away for good.
After tinkering with the deck, I would say that the basic idea of the deck is kept intact. The striking mechanic is still around as our main removal option, Akshan still is the core of our early and midgame, and Udyr represents our late-game enforcer. In that regard, I feel like the original build nailed the essence of what this deck should be.
What I changed in the deck is how those different parts of the deck work with each other and are supported. My priority when rebuilding this deck was to make sure our striking spells would resolve as often as possible.
To help in this regard, I looked for ways to protect the units we would use those striking spells on most of the time: Akshan and Udyr, and thought that Soothsayer would be a nice addition to the deck. The problem I quickly faced was that 3 copies of the card simply is too much. The real upgrade in that regard is the addition of the Vekauran Bruiser, a card that can help to find Spellshield with the Lucky Finds, but also represents a great unit to target with our striking spells as well.
Once on that path, the rest of the build was directed to maximizing the setup we were looking for: A dominant position on the board which we can leverage to play our Stance Swaps safely.
To help with creating this situation, I added more cheap spells (Shaped Stones, Elixir of Iron) in order to protect Akshan as much as possible. Also, Rock Hopper became Merciless Hunter for both curve and power level purposes. The one copy of Baccai Sandspinner feels nice to round out our early game and give a turn 4 play. Considering how good and important the Vulnerable keyword is for our deck, I was most of the time happy to get more of it.
The card could also be a Ruthless Predator for example, if you feel you already have enough units in the deck.
Lastly, I had a problem with the very slow late game Drboleta decided to go with in his take of the deck. The choice of including Howling Abyss and Hyara Allseer at the top of the curve felt like it was too much of a loss of tempo when playing those. They were great when we are already in a dominant position, but that is the case for most cards. On the other hand, when under pressure, those cards usually didn’t help in any regard.
While I don’t think Shaman’s Call is a good card either, it helps to abuse our core units more than Hyara Allseer does, the synergy with Akshan’s Landmarks also is slightly better.
Overall, I would say this updated decklist is more focused on the core idea of Udyr and Akshan working together. Both champions have more support than previously and can be abused for a ton of value and on-board pressure. This take feels like the most natural considering the huge power gap there is between this deck drawing Akshan or not in the early game.
Drboleta’s build was probably more versatile in what it could do compared to mine, his take on the deck including more draw and card generation. Unfortunately, I think flexibility is something reserved for Tier 1 and 2 decks in the current state of Legends of Runeterra.
The first focus when building something new has to be the raw power of the deck and how we can create a positive setup for the strategy we envision. Looking for versatility and being able to answer as many things as possible usually is a recipe for not doing anything well enough and being overwhelmed on several fronts.
Once we figured out the core of our strategy and feel like it is strong enough in the environment, then we can afford to look for ways to diversify our strength and adapt to the other popular matchups.
As usual, I hope you are having some fun with this series, and that you might have learned something from this deck-building process. If you want to join in on the discussion, feel free to meet the community on the RuneterraCCG discord, and propose your ideas in the deck-doctor channel to get featured in one of our next episodes.
Good Game Everyone!