Hi everyone! den here, for yet another guide.
Poppy Ziggs, Ping City, and Rally Elusives have been the stars when it comes to the class of ‘pressure decks’ so far in Patch 2.18. Well today, we’re going to talk about one of the best up-and-coming archetypes that can challenge them: Draven Viktor.
Draven Viktor is that kind of deck that pops out of nowhere and immediately forces other decks to adapt to it. While it hasn’t gained full traction as a competitive deck yet, it is undeniable that you better be prepared when facing it, or it will punish you.
On the outside, it looks like a slightly faster Discard deck, using Viktor instead of Sion to be better on curve and to get around the all-present Bandle decks running Minimorph. But once you actually face it a couple of times, you will soon realize the deck is much more of a burn deck than it is a board deck like Discard can be.
Its similarities with the Discard archetype stop at the fact that it uses the discard mechanic and Draven, otherwise, everything about this deck says Burn and not midrange.
Most of the units are geared towards dealing some form of damage or some draw. The spell choice is also different, with the classic damage spells of Mystic Shot and Get Excited! being backed up by Ambush and Might to help our units find the opposing Nexus more reliably.
The key to piloting this deck well is to have a clear vision on how to bring our opponent’s Nexus to 0. This means: 1) knowing our potential output of damage, both in our hand and in our deck; 2) evaluating the defense our opponent can put up against Elusive and Overwhelm, and finally; 3) accounting for the amount of healing our opponent could have access to so we know how much deeper we need to dig before starting the burn phase of the plan.
On some rare occasions, the deck is also capable of winning on the board, with Lost Soul still in the deck, and Draven still being a very good attacker. But the star of the deck when it comes to outvaluing our opponent on the board is Viktor, a champion that will eventually kill any opponent who can’t either remove him or race us to the finish line.
Techs and Options
We’re talking about a Noxus burn deck – so obviously, we have to talk about Decimate. The card isn’t bad in the build, it contributes to the overall gameplan of burning the opponent’s Nexus and represents a good finisher once we got close to the finish line.
The reason why I’m not including it is that I feel Decimate is simply not amongst the best options for the deck when it comes to damage output. Reborn Grenadier, Mystic Shot, Get Excited! or the unit spells all feel more flexible and cheaper.
Decimate could be used if you wanted more damage in your deck, but I personally would rather increase draw power and consistency than I would include more damage cards.
A really good card when the goal is to help our units find the opposing Nexus as we remove their blockers with the Flame Chompers!. This deck simply does it with other means like Ambush and Might.
I would consider including the card if you face a lot of Fearsome units, as the 3/1 statline is very helpful otherwise. Currently, apart from other Discard decks, there aren’t so many Fearsomes in the metagame, making Boom Baboon a bit of a stretch.
In some matchups, the opponents can’t kill Viktor or the Ballistic Bots, and investing in them is the key to victory. In those specific cases, having a way to Rally one huge Elusive or Overwhelm unit can net us a ton of damage, which is why Ruined Reckoner can be considered.
Much like Decimate though, while the card is good and has some utility in the list, it is hard to find some room for it once we are limited to 40 cards, and it comes down to choosing between draw support or damage support.
- Enter a ‘predator’ mindset
We are not playing this deck for any other reason than to smash our opponent’s Nexus with a ton of damage. While I would definitely warn you about the risks of going all in all the time, as this deck does require some important setup steps, every action taken with this deck should be done with the goal to eventually kill your prey.
Whether it is drawing, playing a unit, or dealing damage, we need to have in mind how do we end this game before our opponent, that way, we will always be on top of things when the race begins.
- Identify your opponent’s weaknesses
Elusive, Overwhelm, Quick Attack, Fearsome or Direct damage, we have many ways to get through to the opposing Nexus. As a pilot, it is your responsibility to find the best way to get some damage in.
Most of the time, the start of the game will be unit focused, so we shall abuse the Fearsome and Quick Attack keywords (Fallen Rider and Draven primarily,
- “Can my opponent race me?”
This, to me, probably is the best question to ask yourself when in doubt with this deck because it will help with putting your next decisions into context.
If you’ve established your opponent can race you and you can compete on this axis, you need to plan out how much time you have to get your setup and kill.
If the race is likely unwinnable for you, you have to buy some time and focus on slowing down your opponent instead of entering a pure blow-for-blow race you cannot realistically win.
If your opponent cannot race you, you now are aware that your focus should be on a bullet-proof setup to remove any possibility of them being able to deny you the killing blow.
- Master the art of bluffing
This deck isn’t good at disguising its intention of racing the opponent’s Nexus, but it can be great at hiding the exact way it is going to come at it.
The opponents are aware of your general gameplan, so they will often try to play around your potential damage outputs, playing Elusive units to counter your Ambush, keeping a removal to target the unit you will use Might on or save their healing spell for when you switch toward direct damage.
Being a good bluffer and using your weapons at the right time will go a long way into keeping your opponent on their toes and forcing them into using resources they would have liked to be flexible with.
General Mulligan Tips
- Zaunite Urchin, Ballistic Bot, and Fallen Rider usually are our go-to openers, getting us something on the board and starting the damage train.
- Poro Cannon is a good overall keep but weaker than the 3 cards above without any support around it.
- Draven is always a keep when we attack on odd turns. On even turns, assess the chances he has to stay alive depending on your opponent. Usually, if you play against a PnZ deck, I would recommend mulliganning him away.
- Viktor and Lost Soul can be kept in value-oriented matchup – mostly against defensive decks. Actively look for something to Discard the Lost Soul to if you decide to keep it.
- Unless you have a great hand already, never keep support cards that could brick to your hand for a long time. The rule here is that if you can’t envision how you will use a particular card in the first 3 or 4 turns, don’t keep it. The deck has enough draw to find those cards later on reliably.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Fallen Rider – Lost Soul
- This archetype is particularly soft to Fearsome attackers – almost all their units have less than 3 attack. In this matchup, the change to Twinblade Revenant was actually a buff. With Fallen Rider and Twinblade Revenant, you can often push a lot of Nexus damage, making it that much easier to finish them with Burn spells.
- They have no heal, no counter-spells. If you get them in your burn reach, you should be able to close the game. Their health total is crucial, avoid using burn spells on their units unless it allows you to push more damage through board pressure.
- Avoid using Might or Ambush on a damaged unit as it will be much easier for the opponent to remove it with Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth. We want to force a Minimorph out, it is much more costful of a trade for them than it is for us.
- Unless forced to, try to keep Viktor and Ballistic Bot out of combat, they will eventually grow to incredible amounts of attack and become the perfect Might target.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Draven – Poro Cannon – Reborn Grenadier and Survival Skills if one of the other 3.
- Lurk is very reliant on their board and have close to nothing to save their units from our spells. Supporting our board with damage spells should allow us to build a solid lead and not rely on racing to the finish line.
- The early game will require you to block so we want to rely on high attack units rather than high health as the Lurkers’ attack will likely match it. Units like Ballistic Bot can be abused once we stabilised the board.
- The Fearsome keyword is almost useless against Lurk, but the Elusive is great. Apart from Pyke‘s spell, there is nothing they can do against it. Considering they don’t have any healing, you can use ambush even when your opponent still has health simply to push a unit you wouldn’t see blocked to the opponent’s Nexus.
- Survival Skills is ideal to block a Pyke, if your unit is already 1 health, he will deal 0 and not advance its level up. But simply using it to gain board advantage and seize tempo usually is a great move already.
- Overwhelm is usually a great keyword to close the game, as Lurkers grow their attack but have relative low health apart from the bigger ones. Might should net you some good damage and can also punish a Bone Skewer, as we’ll get full damage since the blocker disappears.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Fallen Rider – Poro Cannon – Draven – Survival Skills
- The more work we are able to do on the board in the early game – the easier the burn phase will be later on. With access to Rally, the opponent can race us once they gained board control.
- There is no direct damage in the deck and Rite of Negation isn’t played currently, so your burn spells should be safe. Ambush and Might are riskier as the opponent can use Sharpsight or Single Combat to deny them.
- We eventually will lose the board, the goal is to use the board fight as distraction once we started burning. Don’t get caught investing too much into the wrong battle for this matchup.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Fallen Rider – Poro Cannon – Draven – Reborn Grenadier with Poro Cannon
- The early game snowball is very important in this matchup, as both decks are great when in the lead but with very limited defensive capacity. Also Sejuani leveled up denies all our Ambush and Might combos and pressure is about the only way we can change our opponent’s focus to something else than triggering Plunder consistently.
- This is another deck without any healing or spell interaction, if you have the damage in hand, there is no reason it can’t win you the game unless you loose before you can use them.
- Denying early Plunders can go a long way into making our Fearsome units much better as it denies a 3/3 Jagged Butcher for the opponent. Every other unit of theirs that costs less than 4 cannot block against a Fearsome attacker.
- The Nab mechanic can be a pain, especially if they find damage spells. While there isn’t a clear way to play around it, be careful if they start being super aggressive instead of following their usual curve of development.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Draven – Poro Cannon – Reborn Grenadier and Survival Skills if one of the other 3.
- Both decks rely on being the aggressor and leveraging the situation into damage and weird defensive stance for their opponent. It is key to apply enough pressure to get them on the backfoot early. As such, focus on early board development rather than damage engines like Ballistic Bot for example.
- This is a matchup we can win by running our opponent out of cards. Therefore, using our spells to deal with the opposing board, especially Zed and Poppy is a totally acceptable option. Be mindful of Ranger’s Resolve when going for exact damage to remove one or several units.
- Be careful about what the opponent does when blocking as this will be a key information on how to navigate the rest of the game. If they let you get a lot of free damage in, think about burn plan, if they block and stay safe, think about entering a value war.
- We should be winning the non-Elusive units battle, especially if we find Draven. The Daring Poros are key to slow down the Elusives which are the main damage source for the Rally deck. Be mindful of when to attack with them as they will be a great help in surviving long enough.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Mystic Shot – Fallen Rider – Ballistic Bot – Draven.
- Discard Sion is better than us on board, but we are better at racing damage. If we can match the early game, we should be able to exploit the late midgame turns, from 5 to 7, before Sion comes onto the board, in order to deal damage and finish the game when the opponent plays Sion and taps out of mana.
- Think about removing the Daring Poros if possible, they can block your Ambushed unit and save your opponent a ton of damage.
- Viktor being at 4 health, the opponent has to invest several damage spells into him. Keep track of what was used so you know when it should be safe to push with Ambush or Might.
- Unless you are clearly ahead on board at the start of the turn, I’d advise developping your board before attacking. Forcing blockers or spells out of your opponent will buy you time later on to burn them while they draw to refill their hand.
Mulligan for: Zaunite Urchin – Lost Soul – Ballistic Bot – Viktor – Fallen Rider if playable on turn 2.
- Darkness represents lots of the things we don’t want to face as they run healing and units removal. In order to win, we’re going to need to abuse our value units like Viktor or Lost Soul. The other units can be used to deal damage or serve as a distraction to bait out removal that our opponent wished to have for the important units.
- Grenadiers can be used as burst damage to widen of our board at Burst speed. Try to keep them for when you would like to start burning you opponent. Using them too early just gives the opponent a chance to heal back up.
- Might and Ambush are both great to push damage as the opponent has no Elusive blockers but we need to do it on a healthy enough unit to force a Minimorph out and not allow card like Pokey Stick or Vile Feast deny our offense.
Draven Viktor is a bit of an oddball in the current metagame, as it looks a lot like Discard that changed its win condition.
With the changes that happened to Draven and Twinblade Revenant in Patch 2.18, Discard lost a lot of its onboard capacity, so the switch to a burn deck actually makes a lot of sense. Obviously, the late game is worse without Sion’s presence in the deck, but there are other upsides.
With the early game capacity to either pressure slower decks or fight the board against faster ones, there always is a possibility to set up a damage race more or less efficiently. It also helps a lot to have Piltover’s draw capacity in order to reliably find the damage to close out the game.
Obviously, this kind of deck might heavily rely on the metagame being favorable to it. Currently, a lot of decks are focusing on early game development and have forgotten about taking care of the health resource. This makes a burn strategy that is also capable of fighting the board in the first few turns positioned well overall.
I still want to issue a warning about a metagame turn where Darkness, Anivia, or basically any Shadows Isles-based deck would become popular, as this could represent the downfall of a deck like Draven Viktor.
There we have it for this guide folks, hope this new approach to the burn strategy might have inspired some of you. As usual, I invite you to join us on Discord and Twitter, where you can be up to date with all the news and have a chat with our community and writers.