Demacia Demacia has always been a region who loves dominating the board through efficiently trading and pressuring with units. While the deck initially featured Poppy as the champion alongside Bard, the attacking Yordle being a prime target for Chimes, Galio has edged out Poppy as the preferred option and has become the staple champion in the deck.

The reason Galio has been the final pick is the way the deck operates. It looks to dominate the board using challenger units rather than building early pressure. In that regard, being able to rely on a big lategame enforcer in Galio makes more sense in a way to force an already depleted opponent because of our constant trading.

If the board is even after then, Galio is a huge body to go through and deal with, if we are ahead on board, then Galio’s buff pushes the deck over the edge and allow us to go for the finishing blow.

Bard Galio isn’t a difficult deck to understand, which is probably a big reason why the deck has been popular so quickly. Basically, the deck looks to combine the Chime synergy, which will buff our units as the game progresses, and the challenger keyword, one of Demacia’s strengths, in order to dominate the board.

Legends of Runeterra is a game that gives priority to the defender in the combat phase, allowing the player under pressure to answer his opponent’s offensive the way they think is most optimal.

Through building a board full of buffed up challenger units, Galio Bard is able to play around that rule and dominate the opponent through picking their blockers. In doing so, the deck can either maximize nexus damage, using the challengers to remove potential good blockers in that regard. Alternatively, we value trade and slowly run the opponent out of units and forcing them to use spells as a way to stay relevant on the board, which requires investing more mana and cards.

In this strategy, the big point of emphasis are the challenger units, which are voluntarily amongst the cheapest available in Demacia. The reason for that is because we want to quickly establish ourselves onto the board, meaning we have to start developing as early as possible in the game. The second reason is that with cheap units, it is easier to work our hand to only keep the units we want buffed with the Chimes.

A good example of this is the Silverwing Vanguard, a card that hasn’t been played in any deck for quite some time now, but that Galio Bard is more than happy to have in the build. The reason for that is because no Demacia want to spend 4 mana to summon 2 Fleetfeather Trackers basically, there are much better option at 4 mana in the game.

Considering the card summons a copy of itself, every time we can land a Chime on the Silverwing Vanguard, we basically get a +2|+2 bonus. Suddenly, it is much better to play our cheap cards early and try to keep only the Vanguard in our hand. We can then buff it as much as possible and have 2 chunky challengers to play later on.

This simple trick sums up what the deck is about pretty well. We are looking to dominate the board early, so then we can work our synergies without fearing our opponent pressuring us. As time passes and Chimes keep on buffing our units, we should build a solid lead that we can rely on to win the game.

This leads to what allows us to develop Bard in safer situations, play Galio with more units on the board, or make sure we can land a devastating For Demacia! (created by Vanguard Sergeant) for the winning offensive.

If there is one thing you should take away from this guide, it is that Bard Galio wants to be the one dictating what happens on the board.

Techs Cards and Options

Cithria The Bold, Genevieve Elmheart and Yordle Ranger

Demacia features some great 6 drops to round out the curve and have a lategame threat, which also helps with buffing our board. The reason I am not including any 6 drop in the list is because Galio is already filling the same role at the top of the curve. And those cards can take precious buffs from other units if we get them early in our hand.

Stony Suppressor

A deck almost exclusively based around units should always consider Stony Suppressor. The card isn’t included in the list for the simple reason that it isn’t a challenger unit or one that contributes directly to our gameplan.

There is a consideration though to cut the Vanguard Sergeant and maybe some spells to edge that unit dominated aspect of the deck, and make Bard Galio very good at destroying spell based decks.

Here’s an idea if you’d want to explore that concept and demolish defensive, spell based decks:

Laurent Protege

A challenger card that isn’t included in the deck, the 2|4 challenger is a staple for many players on the ladder.

I believe the 3 drop slot is quite competitive in the deck, as Vanguard Redeemer seems necessary for a bit of sustain and Vanguard Sergeant allows us to have a bit more lategame punch thanks to For Demacia!.

Demacian Tellstones

A flexible card that can be quite useful in the deck. Obviously, For Demacia! is a card we are happy to get, as we already use it through the Vanguard Sergeant. The Prismatic Barrier can be a great protection for Bard or some key challenger unit. The Detain is surprisingly good once we have a unit that recieved a lot of buffs, as it makes it quite hard for the opponent to remove it and get their unit back.

Esmus, Breath of the World

Although considered a core card in most Bard decks, and a card that makes sense when you think about buffing your challenger units, there simply is a better choice. Indeed, Demacia has the great Durand Sculptor which feels like a better card to play on turn 2 than Esmus.


While I am giving the nod to Galio as the better champion for this deck, it doesn’t mean I think Poppy is a bad card to play. A lot of players have been running 2 Galio and 1 Poppy for example, a spread that could make a lot of sense.

General Tips

Decide where you want your Chimes to go

This is the best way to get better at any Bard deck, understanding the impact you can have on where the Chimes are landing.

Not every unit is worth being buffed. Some units are meant to passively sit on the board (Durand Sculptor), others are in the deck just for support (Vanguard Redeemer) and others will actively need the stats to perform (Challenger units mostly).

Because of this, there are units we want to keep in hand, to increase the chances of getting them Chimes, while other, we want to play as soon as possible, as their growth is not being important to our win condition.

Typically, cards we aren’t looking to buff are Brightsteel Protector, Vanguard Redeemer, and Vanguard Sergeant.

Do not fall into a reactive position

Most of what we do is based on units, therefore we don’t have much of a reactive power compared to our opponent. When we need to remove a unit, we will most of the time need to spend our attack token to challenge it, making us quite slow outside the occasional Concerted Strike.

Because of this, we have to work to be the proactive player in any match, which allows us to set up better attacks and not feel rushed to use the token whenever we have a unit to kill.

Fortunately enough, the deck is quite good at fighting the early game and coming out on top in those early turns. Make sure you mulligan aggressively (see guide below) to find your early units and create that situation we can leverage later on.

Work the pass button intelligently

Once we are ahead on the board, our attacks turns will be very important. Because our challengers should have grown and be a threat at this point, we are in the position where we can force things onto our opponent. Every turn we can take 3 different directions based on the match up:

  1. We want to push for lethal, so we should maximize damage to the opponent’s nexus. In this case, we barely ever want to pass during our attack turns and instead develop or open attack to advance our main game plan. During the opponent’s turn though, we should pass whenever the open attack following a potential pass from the opponent translates into enough damage.
  2. We want to keep the situation as is and stay ahead on board without taking any risk. Here, let’s abuse the Chimes buffing our units and use the pass button (or a non-committal action) if we expect the opponent to have a significant unit to play we would like to answer.
  3. We want to force our opponent into spending cards and mana, something we can answer with our challengers. Develop some pressure based unit (Leveled Bard, Vanguard Sergeant…) which should force a reaction from your opponent and give you more information before attacking.

Understand how good Galio is in the deck

The reason Galio ended up getting the spot over Poppy in the deck is because Galio, although much more expensive, end the game in many more ways.

Galio can win us the game if we have managed to keep units on the board, his leveled form being insane in the deck. Indeed, with the amount of challengers we have in the deck, triggering Galio’s passive ability to get a rally is easy as long as the opponent has a unit on the board.

Secondly, Galio itself is great as an endgame threat, especially against spell based decks, opponents against whom our challengers aren’t that useful. A buffed up Galio combined with its Spellshield always requires more than 7 mana from the opponent.

Because we have that looming big Statue at the end of our curve, the opponent can’t really play too passively and let us play cards without trying to fight on the board. Unless they are playing a card like The Ruination or Buried in Ice, Galio wins the game on 7 for us if the board is full!

Matchups and Mulligan Guide

Noxus Runeterra – Annie Jhin – Very Favored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerFleetfeather TrackerPetricite Broadwing. Support to those afterwards

Matchup tips:

  • In order to limit the impact of the stun units our opponent plays, we want to go wide early in the game. The Solari Sunhawk shouldn’t be a problem as our challenger are rarely our stronger unit.
  • Outside of the stun units, the opponent doesn’t have much disruption against us (Noxian Fervor is the only spell) so feel free to develop the board without restraints.
  • With no healing in our deck, we aren’t looking to out value the opponent, rather race them on board and translate that into damage.
  • Bard and Galio are usually too slow in this match up, but can be very good blockers if the game comes down to it.

Noxus Piltover & Zaun – Ezreal Annie / Ezreal Caitlyn – Favored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerSilverwing VanguardDurand Sculptor

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is a lot about who will run out of gas first, and can be summed up to our units against their spells. Being ahead in tempo allows to dictate how the resources are used and who is forced to invest.
  • Being able to land a leveled Bard or a Galio and have them stick on board usually is game winning. It is all about creating that opportunity through early pressure and forcing some removals from the opponent.
  • The Chimes play a huge role into creating bigger threats than what the opponent can expect from us. Try to keep the boosted units for the moment you want to push rather than early when the opponent still has a lot of resources.
  • While we should never loose on board, the opponent can have access to quite a bit of direct damage. It is important to pressure to make sure they can’t keep some damage spells for our nexus later on.

Noxus {BX} – Fizz Riven – Favored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerFleetfeather TrackerPetricite Broadwing. Support to those afterwards

Matchup tips:

  • Eventually, Fizz Riven will come at us with a lethal blow we can’t handle. While we develop in order to dominate the board and limit the opponent’s development early, we need to think damage eventually.
  • Most cards in Fizz Riven are based on developing their gameplan, meaning the defensive option are very limited. They occasionally run Whirling Death which can be a problem, but otherwise, being aggressive on the board is the way to go.
  • It is quite hard for the opponent to play Fizz or Riven if we have the attack token and a challenger on the board. Play with this fear to make them loose mana and get some passes while you developed and the opponent didn’t.
  • This is one of the few match ups where valuing the Chimes isn’t necessary, it is much better to go wide on the board early and bring the pressure.

Bligewater Shadow Isles – Deep – Even

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerDurand SculptorBardPetricite BroadwingSilverwing Vanguard

Matchup tips:

  • Deep can match or even beat our lategame fairly consistently so we need to be in a dominant position in the midgame to be able to land Bard or Galio in optimal conditions.
  • Early on, being able to remove Sea Scarab is about the only important thing to do apart from building a solid board. Petricite Broadwing is perfect for that.
  • The Chimes will play a big part in this match up, allowing us to scale our units as the game progresses. Look to isolate a Silverwing Vanguard in your hand if possible to get the Chimes on that card.
  • Leveling Bard quickly helps a ton in building a very durable pressure on board. Our best bet to do so is landing a For Demacia! when possible as the card usually levels Bard on the spot.

Noxus Shadow Isles – Elise Viego – Slightly Unfavored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerDurand SculptorPetricite BroadwingSilverwing Vanguard

Matchup tips:

  • This match up is a lot about getting to your big pressure turns first, so you can make it awkward for your opponent to develop theirs. We are looking mostly to deal with Viego and Legion Deserter through making it difficult for the opponent to invest mana into playing them.
  • It is important to keep a challenger in hand to grow so we are able to answer Viego when he comes down. Concerted Strike is the other, more expensive possibility.
  • We rarely win this match up early, but it is through what is established in the earlier part of the game that we will be able to land our more impactful cards later on.
  • Arachnoid Sentry, Ravenous Flock and Disintegrate are they key cards for our opponent in order to counter our units. If possible, look to grow several challengers to play around those single target removals.

Shurima Freljord – Thralls – Unfavored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerDurand SculptorPetricite BroadwingSilverwing VanguardVanguard Sergeant

Matchup tips:

  • At some point, Thralls just get to their win condition and unless we could play Galio on a large board, we rarely are able to defend the Frostguard Thralls. We need to be the aggressor in this match up.
  • The formidable keyword is a huge one as it nullifies the Freezes and Sand of Times effect from the opponent, investing into the Petricite Brodwing usually is pretty strong. Quicksands is a problem though.
  • Thralls defences are usually based around 2 damage AoEs and stalling spells. Looks to grow your important units over that threshold and develop the board before attacking to maximize damage.
  • An early Vanguard Sergeant allows us to threaten with For Demacia! as we develop the board, it is a good way to slow down the opponent as they can’t turbo towards their Thralls summon.

Shurima – Azir Xerath – Very Unfavored

Mulligan for: Byrd, The BellringerDurand SculptorBardSilverwing Vanguard

Matchup tips:

  • It is impossible to compete with the Emperor’s Deck from Azir, so we need to be the aggressor in the match up, aim for the kill around turn 7.
  • Shurima is a region that is quite good at stalling, but not so much at removing the board. We need to play like a Scouts deck, mounting the board as time passes and threatening with a potential rally.
  • Cards like Golden Aegis or Esmus, Breath of the World can really help the deck being more aggressive and make this match up a bit better.
  • While keeping a unit to grow it in our hand is usually a good thing, without Overwhelm, Mono Shurima usually will find a chum blocker for it. It usually is better to just go for immediate tempo.

Closing Words

A trending deck in the community for the past week, Bard Galio has been an impactful enough addition to the metagame for counters to arise. Thralls was already a popular deck, but Mono Shurima’s return is greatly motivated by being able to capitalize on a great match up against Bard Galio.

Now is the time for the deck to really show what it’s made of, and either evolve into a metagame staple, which should be prevalent until the next update in Patch 3.10, as teased by Steve Rubin, or lose popularity because it can’t compete as new counters emerge and fall into a tournament deck status.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun with the deck personally and think it is a good starting point in the current metagame if you aren’t really sure what to play to climb the ladder.

I hope this guide helped some of you reading this. As usual, join our community Discord if you want to get in touch with the community and find me on Twitter for personal contact and updates.

Good Game Everyone


Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yugioh and then Magic. Hearthstone has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. Although it took him a bit to get into Legends or Runeterra, his EU Seasonal Tournament win was the perfect start to get involved in the community. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on the game. Find him on Twitter at @den_CCG!

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