Although it didn’t reach its expected OP status yet, the most anticipated deck of reveal season managed to leave its mark on the first week of this forming metagame. After a rough start, barely cracking the 50% win rate mark, Annie Jhin looks stable around 51 – 52% winrate and looks like it keeps growing, slowly but surely, as days pass.
It might still be a bit early to say if this new iteration of a burn deck will be able to reach the same highs as the Pirates list in the previous metagame (Miss Fortune and Twisted Fate reported a 60% win rate at some point last month, and were routinely listed above 55% at most ranks of play). Although the start was rocky, the deck looks like it has found its stride and is now progressing day after day in terms of win rate, alongside being listed in top 5 play rates since the Worldwalker set released.
If you are looking for a way to play fast games and don’t mind the occasional quick math needed to figure out the optimal way to set up lethal, Annie Jhin is a deck you need to try.
The leader in the aggressive decks category can be described as a board / burn hybrid deck. The deck features the staples of Decimate and Noxian Fervor we can find in any aggressive Noxus based list. But where other decks would usually feature other kind of spells as a way to support a part of their game plan. Annie Jhin instead features a strategy built mostly around its units and the skill each of them possess, the real key to winning games with the archetype.
Damages and Stuns are the two big things we are looking to get out of units. The former simply helps us advance towards our win condition of burning the opponent down, the latter helps us manipulate the board and either buy some time or set a better board before attacking.
Most of all, it’s the relatively cheap price of every unit in the deck, the highest cost being Jhin at 4 mana, that allows the deck to be versatile. It allows the list to use its mana in different ways depending on how the pilot wants to pressure its opponent and anticipate them to react to the incoming aggression.
Decks without healing will usually be faced with a very offensive early game, looking to develop several 1 drops in the first few turns and cash in as much damage as possible. With Doombeast, Boomcrew Rookie, Jhin, and the burn spells, the deck rarely bricks when it comes to finding the last bit of necessary damage.
Against a deck that can sustain a continuous damage flow, the stun mechanic allows Annie Jhin to play slower and manipulate the board to look for huge blowout attacks instead of trying to get incremental damage. In those setups, being able to stun a key unit for the unit for just 2 points mana (The Stagehand or Solari Sunhawk) plays a key role in creating a very oppressive situation all of a sudden.
This flexibility is very important for an aggressive deck, especially when it comes to a popular one. If the deck cannot adapt, it will ultimately be labeled as a counter deck, only used to abuse certain matchups when they become popular on ladder or for tournaments.
Thanks to a solid burn potential, combined with a strong on-board interactive potential with Jhin or the stun mechanic, Annie Jhin is a deck that feels much more flexible than other burn decks were in the past.
Techs and Options
Sigil of Malice: A now quite common option as an additional burn card in Noxus decks. The Sigil of Malice finds a spot in lists looking to focus on racing the opponent as soon as they established their presence on the board.
I personally don’t play the card as I feel the deck has plenty of reach if the board is under control, and a 3 mana deal 2 damage doesn’t help much if we happen to fall behind.
Manasoul Student: A good way to chip away at the opponent’s health turn after turn, the Manasoul Student feels like a card better suited for slower gameplans. While the card will net you some damage almost every time you play her, it is rare that you are truly glad to play a 3/2 without an immediate impact on the board for 3 mana.
Ravenbloom Conservatory: A good tool in order to play a more value-oriented style, the Conservatory can also be one of your worst topdeck in the midgame.
The problem with the card isn’t activating it, as it will almost always reach the end of its countdown in time for you to play Tybaulk. Rather, it’s the fact that when the game start reaching the later turn, we can’t really compete with most opponents when it comes to being mana effective every turn. As such, it is safer to invest our 40 cards in the same direction of dominating the early game and burning our opponent down before they can stabilize.
Precious Pet: Most of the time the last 1 drop to make it into the list because it doesn’t have a skill or isn’t a 3/2. Precious Pet is a fine inclusion if you are looking to build the list to be as aggressive as possible.
Play to your hand’s strengths
While the end goal is always to maximize the damage we are capable of inflicting on our opponent, the deck can achieve that goal in several ways.
Obviously, you want to adapt to your opponent and push the damage where you know it will be tough for them to react. But as an aggressive deck, you also have to lean into what your hand is giving you as the main damage route.
If you have numerous stun units, look to grow the board and push a surprise attack at some point. If you have Jhin, look to turbo the level condition and abuse the 4 damage he deals upon attacking. And if your hand has 2 Decimates sitting in it, then burn your opponent like healing cards do not exist.
Do not play around everything
Because this isn’t a textbook all-out burn deck like Pirates or Discard Aggro can be, I see players think they can get away with trying to outvalue the opponent or playing around a card for several turns.
Yes, Jhin is capable of solo winning a game if the opponent cannot remove it, but this doesn’t mean we want to go to round 9 on purpose for the sake of attacking with Jhin a couple more times. The same logic works with Annie, whose level up is great both for damage and value, but we never pick the game to go 2 extra rounds for the sole sake of Annie leveling up.
Unless you see a clear punishment, investing into the main game plan that is being super aggressive will at least force the opponent to be reactive and actively use resources that will be gone for your next push. And most of the time, these resources your opponent just used will make it more likely for you to be able to sustain your push in those potential later rounds as well.
Make it about the damage
One of the things I see the most with this deck is not attacking with the Crackshot Corsair because she will be easily removed by an opposing block. So most feel it is better to keep her safe in the back lane to get more of her passive skill for damage.
While this is true to an extent, it is important to realize that blocking this unit means the opponent loses an opportunity to block another of our attackers.
So instead of asking whether the opponent can block the Crackshot Corsair, the question should be how much damage is the opponent taking extra in order to value trade into our 1/1. If blocking our 1/1 frees up a 4/4, I doubt we are planning to attack 4 more times this game with the Crackshot on the board, so it definitely is worth it to send her on the attack.
This kind of logic is how we should approach most of our decisions, and try to translate our choices into the actual damage those end up creating.
Leveled up, Jhin is absolutely busted
Outside of being a new deck, which benefits from feeling fresh to receive a popularity boost, the deck also feature one of the most mana-efficient champions in the game: Jhin.
Don’t get me wrong, Annie is a great champion too, and the deck can often develop so much in the early game that you can win without needing to play Jhin.
However at 4 mana, a leveled Jhin brings a ton of pressure, and can really force the opponent to spend a ton of resources in order to stop him from attacking and casting a Decimate when doing so. A lot of the time, if our early managed to bring enough pressure, Jhin can act as a second wave of offensive almost on its own.
The big thing to consider when using Jhin as our main win condition is how to leverage him the best. Are we using the champion for board purposes, looking to stun opposing units and make it a battle of the board? Or are we using it for damage, looking to abuse the 4 damage he deals upon attacking?
In the first scenario, Jhin is a win condition by itself, looking to clear the opposing board which we previously stunned and forces the opponent to use cards from hands to answer our offensive. In the second scenario, Jhin is a unit / burn spell that helps with the damage aspect but isn’t a priority, rather another line in our damage count towards victory.
Being able to know what you expect out of Jhin will change the setup in which you are trying to play the champion and the card you should be alongside him for support.
When to Keep Jhin
The mulligan for the deck is pretty straightforward, to be honest. We are looking to pressure early either with a 1 drop into 2 drop kind of curve or a 1 drop into two more the next turn.
When we have Annie early on, we can also keep more skill-based units to help her level up.
The big question is when do we keep our most expensive unit, which even if it contributes with the Lotus Trap, doesn’t bring as much pressure as a real unit being on the board.
Jhin can be kept when:
- Our hand already has what it needs to install some REAL early pressure, and is likely to not miss anything before turn 4, where we can play Jhin
- In a slower matchup which is great at defending the board, Jhin 4/4 body is more resilient
- Match ups where we know a leveled Jhin wins the game almost on its own (Targon decks are a good example as they heal but barely remove anything)
Jhin is not kept when:
- Our hand doesn’t feature the necessary tools to get us set on the board early on
- The match up is about burning the opponent ASAP, so we are looking for an early swarm (Pantheon for example)
- We can’t explicitly say why would Jhin be better than another card in this match. Yes, Jhin is great, but we aren’t playing a deck solely focusing around Jhin, we are looking to pressure first and foremost.
Matchups and Mulligan Guide
– Pantheon Yuumi – Very Favorable
Mulligan: Flurry of 1 drops, stun units.
- Pantheon Yuumi is weak to swarming strategies, and would much rather have to deal with units 1 at a time. Looks to quickly swarm the board with cheap units to punish the opponent for focusing on solely 1 unit.
- The stuns can be clutch in this match, both to remove a blocker to an opponent who shouldn’t have too many of those, but also to buy some time during our defensive turns. Especially once there is a unit with Overwhelm, stunning it can buy us a lot of health.
- With very limited healing (only Guiding Touch) in the opponent’s deck, we shouldn’t need much direct damage to be able to close the deal. Focus on the board and force the opponent to defend rather than allow them to race us back.
- Single Combat is the most important card for our opponent, as it allows Pantheon to deny several cards from us. Imperial Demolionist, Noxian Fervor, or Annie’s attacking skill for example aren’t guaranteed if the opponent has a unit to target and 2 mana open.
– Zed Bard – Favorable
- This match-up is a lot about being able to snowball our early game and playing as many stuns as possible. Because of the Chimas, Zed Bard will scale better than us, so we need to get our skills count high to level Annie and Jhin to close the match.
- Depending on lists, there can be good healing in the Zed Bard deck with Tasty Faefolk, Kinkou Lifeblade, or Spirit’s Refuge potential available. It is much safer to try and dominate the board first and foremost.
- Zed is very hard to kill for us, and the opponent will likely find a way to protect its champion anyway. It is much better to install pressure and stun Zed while we keep on building our side of the board than actively looking to answer what our opponent does.
- Although they can heal, our opponent has to invest quite a bit of mana in doing so, and we can stun the units if necessary. When going for the kill, the big thinking point should be on whether the point can spend 4 mana for Spirit’s Refuge.
– Thralls – Favorable
- This match is very much a race to the finish, being our damages against their Thralls countdown.
- Thralls early game is quite weak to what we are capable of developing early on. Their way to catch up and stabilize is Avalanche and Blighted Ravine so finding units with 3 health can be crucial.
- We very rarely win through the board in the end and will need a bit of direct damage once our units can’t get past the opponent’s defenses. As such, maximize your units early on and focus on direct damage once you feel the board is slipping away
- Jhin is a great unit as it is quite difficult for the open to remove. Even without attacking, we can use the passive ability to stun eventual blockers.
- Lissandra can be a big problem if she levels up. We don’t have a great way to remove her in the deck, so it’s usually is best to stun the other units and force her into blocking as a way to remove the champion
– Feel The Rush – Even
Mulligan: 1 Drops – Boomcrew Rookie
- Feel the Rush can match our direct damage thanks to the deck healing potential, meaning we need to pressure through the board so they can’t focus on only 1 aspect of the game.
- The stuns are very valuable in the midgame to prevent Trundle from blocking. The Solari Sunhawk and The Stagehand both resist Avalanche, we can use them to develop before attacking.
- Jhin will likely require a Vengeance from the opponent, which is a great mana differential to our advantage. Play Jhin when the opponent spending 6 mana for the removal doesn’t look like a good deal for them.
– Poppy Bard – Unfavorable
- The challengers (Fleetfeather Tracker – Petricite Broadwing) early in the game are the first hurdle we need to overcome in order to be able to get installed in the game. In order to not get blown out early on the board, we need to look for our higher attack units.
- We never end up dominating the board in this match-up, and because of the Chimes, the opponent grows its threats over time. As soon as we see an opening to switch to the burn gameplan we should take it
- The stuns are good in the match up but using them defensively is only worth it if it allows us to use this extra time to burn later on. Otherwise, it is better to use the stuns on offense to cash in some damage.
- Jhin’s level up can be a huge deal to get extra damage and remove some of our opponent’s unit. If you have a shot at turbo leveling Jhin, it usually is a good thing to go for it
– Scouts – Very Unfavorable
- The challengers early (Fleetfeather Tracker – Petricite Broadwing) in the game are the first hurdle we need to overcome in order to be able to get installed in the game. In order to not get blown out early on the board, we need to look for our higher attack units.
- Miss Fortune can be removed with Noxian Fervor, wait for our unit to be challenged, and then look to remove their champion. It’s not ideal but it will keep us in the race.
- It is very rare we will be able to dominate the trades against Scouts outside of the first few turns. Try to keep your skill-based units like Boomcrew Rookie for later, when you know you won’t be able to reach the opponent’s nexus anyway.
- Unless you have a hard read on what your opponent is holding in hand, playing around cards in what is already a 30% match-up very rarely helps.
Although the deck isn’t a top-tier one for now, and the shadow of the Pirates deck being an above 55% win rate in the previous metagame still makes it hard to completely believe in Annie Jhin. The fact that the deck has been progressing, even just a little bit every day since the patch though, is great news for players looking to get invested in the deck.
When tournament time will be around the corner, then maybe Annie Jhin won’t be such a popular pick, Annie being featured in other options around the ladder. Until then, the build is looking to be a solid option to climb the ladder, offering quick games and a reliable gameplan against a vast majority of the metagame.
I hope this guide was helpful to some of you out there. If you would have any questions, feel free to drop by our community discord. As for myself, you can find me on twitter talking about my passion for cardgames or sharing my student’s stories and adventures.
Good Game Everyone,