Hi everyone, and welcome to the second episode of our deckbuilding series: RuneterraCCG Deck Doctor!
The first release of the series, where I worked on an Atrocity Poros deck got a lot of good feedback, so it only felt natural to keep it going. In today’s piece, we will be working on the submission by Noop_noob, made to our Discord channel: Bandle Tri-beam.
It looks like a simple concept on paper, Tri-beam Improbulator being a card that dictates a very specific kind of deckbuilding, forcing you to play a lot of 3-mana cards. However, it can also be quite tricky to find the right balance – a deck relying solely on a single card can be unreliable and lose to its own draws when built in the wrong way.
Here’s a quick reminder of how we are doing things in this series. First, there will be the raw matter-of-fact analysis of the submitted deck and which axes of improvement we might need to tackle. To illustrate this first part of the article, we’ll be attaching a gameplay video to showcase the deck as it was offered to us.
Once we establish the flaws the deck has, it is time for the doctor to work their magic. We’ll be explaining all the various changes to the deck, trying to keep intact the essence and the core idea of the original creator. We’ll be closing things out with another gameplay video – this time showcasing the deck in its new form, after the ‘doctoring’.
The reason why I chose this specific list is that it allows us to explore a different aspect of the deckbuilding process. With Atrocity Poros, we were working towards a clear goal, building around our win condition. In this case, Tri-Beam is more of a defensive card looking to create tempo, but it isn’t a win condition in itself. The lines are more blurry when it comes to the direction we might want to give the deck.
Let’s jump into the submitted decklist!
Noop_noob’s deck at the first glance is honestly looking like a meta deck already, as we can see a ton of very popular and strong cards that we would encounter on ladder.
The list is working to build tempo and grow our lead as time progresses, culminating with a switch towards damage once we established our lead.
Tri-beam synergy is what allows us to dictate tempo. Caitlyn is the key to stabilizing the early-to-mid game. She is helped by a flurry of spells that will deal with the opponent’s board. As for the Tri-beam, we can count 15 cards in the 3-mana slot, and this is not accounting for the possibility of getting more through our card generation tools.
There is the very popular value package from Bandle City with Conchologist, Loping Telescope, and Bandle City Mayor, helping us play some units while keeping a good hand size and having our options open. They will serve as the stabilizer of the deck, keeping us flexible during the game and buying us time while we build our stronger synergies.
Lastly, there is Ezreal, representing the finisher, helping us accelerate the late-game damage and closing the game for good. He should get some help from the Lecturing Yordle in that regard, a well-statted unit generating us Poison Darts that will trigger Ezreal’s passive ability.
Looking from afar, this deck actually makes a lot of sense already and sounds like a viable concept. Unfortunately, our doctor feels like if we took this list onto the ladder, our results would be mixed at best. Let’s hear what symptoms this deck could have that would limit its competitive potential.
When presented with a deck built using known concepts, and working with popular meta regions, something I see a lot is what I call the “Eh, that should work” syndrome.
This issue is very simple – it is the common belief we have that if something works in other decks, it should work in ours. So our patients, when they feel like they don’t know how to finish their deck, simply recall what cards and packages they are seeing the most in other decks and put it in their deck thinking “Eh, that should work”.
This is very common when building with Bandle City for example – you see Bandle City Mayor, Conchologist and Loping Telescope in almost every deck. The cards are flexible, they allow you to have more resources while adding something on the board, why wouldn’t that be great in every single deck?
Minimorph follows this same logic, It is one of the best defensive spells in the game, why wouldn’t I include it in my deck when I have a couple of free spots?
The concept in this article is the Tri-beam Improbulator deck – and yet, I don’t see any card outside of maybe Sump Dredger that tries to maximize its potential. Instead, I see a lot of popular meta cards that are easy to auto-include in a lot of decks of today’s game. This gives the impression the deck already has a solid shell – but there’s also nothing separating it from the pack.
The thing is, and that probably is one of the most important things in deckbuilding if you are trying to make a competitive deck: the popular cards are the ones that the player base has overall tested the most – in all kinds of shells and concepts. And the chances are – by including them in your ‘fresh’ concept, you aren’t making a discovery.
If your ‘meta cards’ aren’t already being used in the shell similar to the one you’ve invented – it is not because nobody ever came up with this concept before you, it is probably because it was tested, and it ended up being a weaker shell for these powerful cards. Most importantly, what it means for you is that when you’ll go against these same cards in another deck, yours will do slightly worse.
I feel Noop_noob has put forward a very interesting concept with this build – Tri-beam Improbulator, although going up to 5 mana a couple of months ago, still is a good card. In the metagame with Poppy and Gangplank as the two most popular champions, there is a real chance Tri-beam can answer them very efficiently.
The problem is that the submitted deck doesn’t really have a purpose, I am not seeing a deck looking to accomplish any specific gameplan, but instead, one filled with as many good cards as possible hoping for an ‘eh, that should work’ outcome.
The current metagame is pretty evolved, and it looks unlikely that everyone missed the fact that Bandle City was at its best alongside Piltover’s Tri-beam synergy for several months. This simple thought makes me believe that this deck should therefore be built with the intent to be different rather than trying to fit the mold of the current popular Bandle City decks.
In order to give some identity to this deck, I focused on its 2 main pieces: Caitlyn and Tri-beam Improbulator. Fortunately enough, both of those cards are pushing for the same gameplan: off-tempo board control.
Because of the natural synergy between these cards, the direction I wanted to take the deck felt clear – I was going to build a deck that focuses on destroying the opponent’s board while growing mine, eventually winning the card battle both in hand and in play.
The first thing I did was reworking the Tri-beam synergy, surrounding it with more appropriate options than what was in the original build.
Piltover Peacemaker and Sump Fumes both look better than Get Excited! and Thermogenic Beam in terms of removal. They don’t have the downside of the Discard which the deck can’t exploit so much and I wasn’t looking for something flexible like the Thermogenic Beam but rather something that would always be 3 mana for 3 damage, which is Sump Fumes.
Stress Defense also took over for Minimorph. The latter usually is used to remove the opponent’s bigger units, but this is actually the Tri-beam’s job in the deck. Also, Stress Defense can help protect our important units like Caitlyn or the Bandle City Mayor against defensive opponents.
The last move was to change the Lecturing Yordle for the Aloof Travelers. Aloof allows me to play less draw in the rest of the deck while also disrupting my opponent’s hand. Also, a nice little bonus is that with a Bandle City Mayor on the board, Aloof becomes a 3 mana unit and triggers the Tri-beam Improbulator!
Ezreal is not a good on-curve 3 drop, and with the amount of draw Bandle City decks have nowadays, I keep a reasonable chance of finding him by the late game and still use him as a finisher.
Lulu helps me in the midgame, growing my poorly-statted units while also buffing the Tri-Beam – she fits perfectly in the deck which wants to dominate on the board. She also allows me to play Boom Baboon (inspired by the Jinx Lulu deck from a while ago) that gives Lulu a great buffing target with the Flame Chompers! while offering a Discard target to the Sump Dredger, who had no support in the list until now.
This whole synergy actually is perfectly illustrated in the video below, where Lulu just serves her purpose without being a shining star, but that’s all she has to do in the deck.
First of all, I want to thank all the active members who have submitted their ideas, the #deck-doctor channel on our Discord is a breath of fresh air for me, as I get to see and discuss something other than meta-defining decks. Noop_Noob inspired me with their Tri-beam idea this time but who knows which concept will be featured next.
If there’s a lesson we can learn from today’s exercise, I would like you to internalize the concept of deck identity. When you are trying to build your deck, start with identifying the core cards to your strategy and ask yourself what are these cards good at. This simple question will give you the outlines of your deck.
Obviously, some cards are better than others, and there is a reason why most people are running Bandle City as a region and have Conchologist or Bandle City Mayor in most of their builds. But even the best cards need to have a clear reason to be included in your deck.
In the circumstances of a well-established metagame though, it is really hard to shake things up, even more so if you would try to do it with the same cards everyone has been using for the last 2 months. As such, I would encourage you to try and be creative in what your deck can do with the directions it pushes for.
If you would like to take part in this Deck Doctor series, I invite all of you to join the RuneterraCCG community on Discord or Twitter, and you can find me on Twitter as well. If you’re looking to sharpen your deckbuilding skills, feel free to message me or book some coaching at Metafy.
Good game everyone,