Ashe and LeBlanc have been paired together ever since LeBlanc’s release, and routinely come back in the metagame when one of the two champions receives a buff.
In patch 3.6.0, both champions have seen a slight increase in their level up, as Ashe can now reach it without specifically using freeze effects, but cards like Troll Chant can now also work. For LeBlanc, she now generates a Mirror Image upon leveling up, making her much more valuable in the overall game plan of the deck, as she contributes much earlier with this change.
Overall, the archetype never really made it into a tier list in recent memories, and decks like Ezreal Caitlyn always managed to contain it, while decks like Pirates or Spiders would be too explosive in the early game. Even with Demacia decks being a good match-up for the deck, thanks to the ability to dominate the combat phase with freezes, Ashe LeBlanc never found a way to be a force to be reckoned with.
In this expansion, the deck is trying to make a comeback, although for now, it isn’t being a particular menace to any other particular deck. The interesting thing to look at about Ashe LeBlanc though is how many shells we can work around in order to find the perfect build. And in a way, the various directions we can take in order to build the archetype could also be why it’s so difficult to have a list emerge, as everyone has its own way of playing Frostbite.
Personally, I like the Marauders approach better, I feel it has more ways to grind the opponent out of resources and doesn’t revolve solely on Ashe and Blanc as the Marauders represent a big threat as well.
The Yeti takes to the archetype probably is the funniest one to play, but also the most unreliable, as it plays a bit of a solitaire gameplay. It can stomp the opponent when everything goes right, and the board can be full of Yetis by turn 4 or 5. But on the other hand, it can also brick its starting hand pretty badly, and also can’t afford as many support cards as the other two builds because of how much space the Yetis are taking up in the deck.
Lastly, the more standard build of the deck is the one to avoid in my opinion, for the simple reason that it was the most obvious one to build, and it didn’t perform at all so far. It might be a bit weird to think this way, but to me, it means that Ashe LeBlanc needs to play a different way to what the obvious way seems to indicate, making the alliance with the Yetis or the Marauders a more likely option in order to perform.
Whatever build you decide to start with, they all look to dominate the board and leverage Ashe and LeBlanc great attacking skills. On paper, the archetype should be dominant on the board against almost any opponent but is pretty weak to spell-based strategy because of our unit’s low health stat line. As such, Demacia-based decks should have a very bad time against us, and not be able to get going in the trading department. However, Noxus Piltover pairings should have plenty of removal spells that we need to protect our units from with Elixir of Iron and Troll Chant.
Using our cheap spells, Brittle Steel and Troll Chant mostly, we are trying to demolish any tempo our opponent would look to develop, setting up our acceleration phase later in the game. It is very important not to try to go all-in too early in the game, as several of our refill cards would not be activated and support tools like the Avarosan Hearthguard in the Reputation build would lose a lot of upsides if we already are looking to close the game when playing it.
Once we managed to set up one of our champions, both LeBlanc and Ashe should level up naturally through the course of the game and allow us to pick various directions for the late game :
- Ashe is a more tempo-oriented option, unlocking devastating attacks if we freeze the opposing board. Harsh Winds is our best ally in that regard and makes the card great to use not only as a defensive tool to slow down our opponent.
- LeBlanc pushes for a more value-oriented game plan, creating as many Mirror Images as possible. Duplicating Ashe is great to set up more difficult blocks for our opponent, but each build also has great value-oriented units to target with LeBlanc’s spell.
Once we decide to go for the kill and set a more up-tempo rhythm to the game, spacing our threats will be key. Our reputation cards, Whispered Words, and Incisive Tactician, are our best tools in order to create an unbalance with our opponent. Depending on how the game progresses, we either want to use our draw to keep pushing or try to get another attack in to force our opponent out of answers and then grind to the finish line.
Lastly, our removal kit should be used as a way to out-resource our opponent, and mostly during defensive turns. Because Ashe and LeBlanc are great attackers, our turns with the attack token will usually be focused on protecting our units from eventual combat tricks our opponent could use. While defending, we have a bit more room to use cards like Culling Strike and Reckoning, which can help us remove units we don’t want our opponent to use during our upcoming attack turn.
Ideally, we should be in a situation where we either remove the important units and only leave ones we can afford to ignore during our blocking phase, which is a way to passively protect Ashe and LeBlanc as they won’t need to block. The other path we can choose is to isolate only important units for our opponent and forces them to block with those during our attack turns. In both scenarios, we should be able to freely decide how we want to use our important units rather than feel forced into what to do with them.
In all honesty, Ashe LeBlanc, or Frostbite depending on how you want to call it, feels like an archetype fighting like we were still playing in 2020. The deck emphasizes dominating the combat phase, but Legends of Runeterra is far gone from this game where winning the battle phase would net you a huge advantage over your opponent.
The deck could still have a lot of upsides and be played in a line-up aiming to destroy the Scouts archetype, but overall has a lot of enemies running in the metagame. If I had to bring the deck in a tournament, I would either pick the Marauders build in order to target decks without removal spells, as it should guarantee the Marauders to be able to attack and grow.
The Yeti build might be the most promising on the ladder though, as it is the build that focuses the least on what the opponents do and develop many more threats as the Yetis are a problem to handle alongside Ashe and LeBlanc. This more brutal strategy reduces the importance of who is on the side of the battlefield. Against decks like Mono Shurima, Feel the Rush, or Ezreal Caitlyn for example, the Yeti build can simply progress its game plan and hope the opponent cannot answer all the threats we are able to develop.
Whatever build you decide to go for, I hope you’ll have fun with Ashe and LeBlanc. They represent a dying breed of champions looking to oppress their opponent during the attack phase and aren’t afraid to be on the front line of the battlefield. While a lot of the focus is around Ezreal, Viktor or Aphelios currently, let’s not forget those champions who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and do the work themselves.