Freljord was long considered to be the weakest Region in Legends of Runeterra. Even though since the latest patch it had somewhat of a comeback through the ascension of a few Sejuani decks, the region is still more of a splash in most decks. The Freljord-Shadow Isles list with a focus on They Who Endure is another Freljord deck that has risen in power recently. This archetype is especially notable for its consistently high winrate throughout the myriad of metas it endured. It’s also very fun to play, being able to deploy massive units with Overwhelm and killing your opponent before their Nexus has even fallen below half their health. I’m here to show you why this deck has always found a home in meta tier list and what makes it so good.
Deck Code: CEBAQAIFCAOR4KBLGEZDKAIBAERAGAQBAUDRSAIBAEBQEAQFAECAEAICAEDQEAIFAERQ
This alternative spin on Spider decks has been around since the early days of the beta. This plays unlike the more aggressive Noxus/Shadow Isles Spider decks, instead following the control type strategy of stalling out the game by chump blocking with Spiderlings until you can play your late game bombs. It has a advantage over other control decks by packing some serious early-mid game power in the form of Kalista, who will level up very quickly and apply a lot of pressure on the opponent together with your other threats like Blighted Caretaker, Wraithcaller and Neverglade Collector. This deck can also efficiently fight an aggressive opponent for board control by wiping out the enemy units with Withering Wail or spamming powered up Spiderlings with Brood Awakening.
The main star of this deck however is of course the card it’s named after, They Who Endure. Everytime a unit is destroyed, They Who Endure will gain +1/+1 stats. Most of our card have abilities which spawn additional units, which means we can sacrifice even more followers – by throwing them into trades or feeding them to Glimpse Beyond, which in turn will result in a absolutely massive They Who Endure.
Combined with the Overwhelm keyword They Who Endure grows to become a formidable threat in the late game, but we do have another trick up our sleeves. The spell Atrocity allows you to kill one of your own units and deal its power as damage to any target you choose, including the enemy’s Nexus. Combined with a They Who Endure with 10+ power, which is very easy to achieve in this deck, you can deal a sudden deathblow.
For this goal you will use your army of expendable units as efficient chump blockers to stall out the game and to fuel your They Who Endure. Along the way you will use cards like Glimpse Beyond or Blighted Caretaker to destroy your own units while gaining a advantage over your opponent.
- x3 They Who Endure: Playing this card is a huge commitment and should never be done when your opponent could remove it before you get a chance to use your Atrocity on it. Something which helps is that the card poses a huge threat on its own, so your opponent might be forced to use their removal when you attack with They Who Endure, which is the ideal time to use your Atrocity to close out the game.
- 2x Atrocity: The second part of your combo. When you play a high power They Who Endure your opponent will always assume that you have this card in hand and try to preserve their counterplay options. You can only ever play one of these on the turn you play They Who Endure, but if you wait 1 turn, you can potentially play 2 to trump the enemies “counters”. Timing is very important because your combo is slow, expensive and therefore highly interruptible.
- 3x Kalista: This champion is the reason why this deck can apply pressure on the opponent long before we play They Who Endure. Unlike Elise, it’s very easy to level up Kalista and start swinging with her on attacking turns. Once she reaches level 2 she will spawn a ephemeral unit every time she attacks, which will help with boosting your They Who Endure. Her biggest downside is that she has only 3 health and we have no way of protecting her besides triggering her level-up, which makes her a easy target for Get Excited! or Thermogenic Beam. Slotting a few Fury of the North’s into the deck will elevate this problem.
- 3x Brood Awakening: This is the prime stall tool in this deck. It will turn your Spiderlings into slightly bigger threats while also filling your board with chump blockers. On top it potentially may help your Elise to level up. The card is also a very tempting bait to use Deny on for Ionia players. Brood Awakening was recently nerfed in the 1.2 patch, but this didn’t hurt its viability in this deck at all.
- 3x Elise: Why would you ever run a Spider deck without the queen of the spiders herself? She represents an early game threat with good stats and generates a Spiderling whenever she attacks, which will help power up your They Who Endure. Her level up is also quite strong with a board full of Spiders, but that’s not part of our win condition and it’s unlikely you will manage to level her up. Nonetheless, she is fulfills a crucial role by generating more chump blockers and targets for Glimpse Beyond.
- 2x Blighted Caretaker: This card also puts in the work in this deck. Spawning two Saplings is useful for removing low health threats and the ability will add a total of 3 deaths to the tally. It will also level up your Kalista in a single turn.
- 3x Glimpse Beyond: One of the best Shadow Isles spells. By sacrificing a mere Spiderling you can gain a card advantage over your opponent and at the same time buff your They Who Endure. Keep in mind that this spell is very easy to play around, so you should try to save it as a reactive play when your opponent has no mana or cards in hand.
- 3x Vile Feast: Another card which is very common in Shadow Isles decks. This card can remove an enemy while at the same time generating a chump blocker, which will further fuel your They Who Endure.
- 3x Hapless Aristocrat: This is basically a chump blocker that generates another chump blocker upon death. This makes Hapless Aristocrat very efficient trader and basically two They Who Endure triggers in one card. They also provide Glimpse Beyond and Blighted Caretaker with good targets. The only problem is that he is pretty useless as a top-deck in the late game. If you want better sacrifice target for your cards at the cost of worse defense, you should consider replacing him with Cursed Keeper.
- 3x Wraithcaller: There are only 6 Freljord cards in this deck, so your chance of triggering Wraithcaller’s ability is very high. It has good stats and will generate you another precious chump blocker. Kalista will always revive Wraithcaller if your Rhasa hasn’t died yet, which triggers the Allegiance again and will net you a Mistwraith that is non-Ephemeral.
- 2x Neverglade Collector: This card is the big brother of Phantom Prankster. Unlike the latter however, Neverglade Collector is a very good engine for decks that sacrifice tons of their own units. At 4 health it is much harder to remove than Phantom Prankster and by draining the enemies Nexus, you can stall out further. The damage Neverglade Collector puts out can amount to quite a lot, bringing the enemies’ Nexus within kill range of the deck defining combo. He can also finish of a Nexus with 1 health without the enemy being able to stop it, by using Blighted Caretaker. You don’t want to use this unit for blocking or attacking, so only play him when you have a presence on the board.
- 1x Rhasa the Sunderer: His glory days are long gone but in this deck he is useful enough to include 1 copy of him. Fulfilling the requirement of his powerful ability should be no problem in this deck. You will want to save him for those moments, where the opponent’s two weakest units also happen to be the strongest cards in their deck. Keep in mind that Rhasa’s ability is a skill and therefore a valid target for Deny.
- 2x Avarosan Sentry: Another chump blocker who also provides us with some card draw. At two mana this card is a slightly bigger commitment than Hapless Aristocrat or Wardens Prey, but has a much stronger effect. Card draw is essential if you want to make it to the late game and keep an edge over the opponent, which makes Avarosan Sentry an essential card for this deck.
- 3x Withering Wail: A very good card against decks who like to swarm the board with 1-health units like Spiderlings or Heimerdinger’s turrets. Use your chump blockers to set the health of your opponents units to 1 for maximum carnage.
- 2x Haunted Relic: This card has only one job, level up Kalista. Blighted Caretaker can also potentially level up Kalista in one turn, but you can’t play both cards in one turn until turn 6. If you skip turn 2 without playing any units you will be able to play Kalista on turn 3 and immediately level her up with Haunted Relict. This spell will also provide you with 3 chump blockers if you need them and buffs They Who Endure by a good bit.
- 1x Fury of the North: Usually your chump blockers won’t be able to actually kill many attacking units because of their very weak stats. With Fury of the North you can turn your Spiderling into a 5/5 monster, which will get rid of most enemy units.
- 1x Vengeance: This deck lacks tall removal besides Atrocity, which we want to preserve for our combo. Vengeance will get rid of any major threats though it is a heavy mana commitment.
- Grasp of the Undying: This card can fulfill a very similar role to Withering Wail, damaging an enemy while also healing your Nexus. Both cost the same however and when it comes to utility, Withering Wail will net you much more value for the cost most of the time. You are more likely to kill multiple units with Withering wail, especially when you soften them up first with your blockers. Grasp is still a very good card and sees a lot of play in Shadow Isles control decks. It is also a bit better against Demacia, as the tough keyword will cancel the damage from Withering Wail or Vile Feast.
- The Ruination: A very expensive but also very impactful card, which has the ability to single-handedly get you back into the game. You could easily switch Rhasa or one Withering Wail out for this card but The Ruination tend to ends up being a bricked card in hand too often for my liking. Rhasa and Withering Wail will also get rid of multiple threats while being playable when you have a strong board presence. In the end, it comes down to preference but you can never go wrong with including one The Ruination.
- Harsh Winds: Being able to freeze units is one of the benefits of Freljord which this deck doesn’t really utilize. Harsh Winds is a strong card which supports Freljord decks by shutting down opponent’s attack, canceling out abilites which activate upon striking something and by helping your own units survive a battle. It will also counter a Single Combat or Concerted Strike. The only problem is that this deck doesn’t have many units that are worth enough to be saved by Harsh Winds and They Who Endure is practically immune from being killed by the power of enemy units alone. We gain more from just killing one of the opponent’s beefy units, which is why Vengeance is in this deck. It also devalues your Wraithcaller slightly by including more non-Shadow Isles cards.
- Warden’s Prey: This unfortunate soul fulfills the same job as Hapless Aristocrat but is somewhat worse at it. He also spawns another unit as part of his ability, but the new card is a random unit that will be put in your hand. Sometimes you will get something very useful like a Cursed Keeper, at other times you will get a 0/1 ephemeral Caustic Cask. He is still a decent chump blocker and provides you with more targets for Glimpse Beyond or Blighted Caretaker. If you want more defensive options he is definetily worth a try.
Early Game Options:
- Cursed Keeper/Ravenous Butcher: It’s undeniable that Cursed Keeper plus Blighted Caretaker or Ravenous Butcher is a very strong, on-curve combo. Glimpse Beyond also rises in value with a Cursed Keeper on the field. The problem however is that Cursed Keeper can’t block, which means it won’t help us survive till the late game unless you kill it yourself. Leveled up Kalista will also revive a Escaped Abomination instead of Wraithcaller, which means no more free Mistwraiths. Cursed Keeper is still a very strong card but if you want to include him, you will absolutely have to include a few Ravenous Butchers. Doing this will make your deck more aggressive and give it more power in the early to mid game.
Heimerdinger / Vi Control:
This is the toughest opponent to overcome in my experience. Deny and Will of Ionia will both counter your combo, except if you can play a second Atrocity. The worst thing about Deny and Will of Ionia is that they can play up to 3 of these cards in a turn, which will make it very difficult to get your combo to hit their Nexus. On top of that, Elusive units will simply circumvent your chump blockers, denying your They Who Endure his crucial ally deaths. You will also have a lot of difficulty with keeping Kalista alive because of Vi, Get Excited! and Thermogenic Beam.
Make sure you keep Withering Wail in hand to punish your opponent when he spams Elusive bots. Vengeance will get rid of a Vi or Heimerdinger, but make sure the opponent can’t counter with Deny. Will of Ionia is scary but it isn’t too bad when your They Who Endure gets immediately recalled, as his ability will simply trigger again when you play him. Put a lot of pressure on your opponent by trying to overpower them with the sheer force of They Who Endure, you may force them to play their Will of Ionia when you attack and then you can trump their counter with your Atrocity.
In general you want to rely more on the aggressive options of your deck in order to force your opponent to block with his Elusives and to bait out counters. Elise will be very useful for applying early pressure and also trades well with the opponents removal because of her 3 health. Cards that summon multiple units on play like Brood Awakening and Wraithcaller will lessen the impact of single-target removal from PnZ. The Saplings Blighted Caretaker spawns are good for removing Elusive units and will force a answer from the opponent.
Mulligan for: Withering Wail, Vengeance, Elise and Blighted Caretaker.
This matchup isn’t exceptionally difficult but Demacia has one very annoying hard counter. Purify will, for just 2 mana, turn your massive They Who Endure into a 1/1 chump blocker and because it’s a burst spell you won’t be able to cast Atrocity as a counter. Luckily Purify is usually only a one-of in most non-control Demacia decks and we still have 2 more They Who Endures as backup. You also need to be very careful when a Fiora enters the battlefield. Your Spiderlings are easy fuel for her ability, so try to counter with a Fury of the North. Demacia units will outscale your units in terms of stats in the early to mid game, so you will have trouble finding value with your Fearsome units. Overall you want to be defensive against Demacia and focus on They Who Endure instead of rushing down your opponent with Elise or Kalista.
Your Withering Wail will lose some of it’s value in this matchup because the enemy units will simply block the 1 damage by using Ranger’s Resolve. Vile Feast will find useful targets in the form of Fleetfeather Tracker, Grizzled Ranger and Barriers. Glimpse Beyond gains additional utility by denying Fiora and Garen a level up, just be wary of Single Combat countering your Glimpse Beyond.
On the upside, Demacia has no easy way to smash through your defense because of a lack of wide removal. They have to use Challenger to get your chump blockers out of the way or Cithria the Bold, which will be a prime target for your Vengeance. Grizzled Ranger also won’t find full value against this deck, as Hapless Aristocrat will spawn another chumper after blocking their first attack. When it comes to Unyielding Spirit, there isn’t any reason for concern. An immortal enemy won’t stop your They Who Endure from hitting the opponents Nexus.
Mulligan for: Vile Feast, Glimpse Beyond, Vengeance, Hapless Aristocrat. Brood Awakening is also a strong consideration instead of Vengeance but won’t help you as much against Cithria the Bold.
This matchup shouldn’t be a problem for this deck. A constant supply of expendable bockers and spells which heal your Nexus will hamper a lot of the early game power of aggro strategies. A lack of hard removal means that your opponent can’t stop you from casting Atrocity on They Who Endure, spelling certain doom for them if you have both cards in hand. Aggro decks mostly run units with 3 or less health, so your Withering Wail, Vile Feast and Saplings will find plenty of targets in order to swing the game in your favor.
On the offensive, use your Saplings to get rid of Legion Saboteurs and Boomcrew Rookies. Your Fearsome units are very powerful in this match up because Used Cask Salesman is the only unit which has more than 2 power. Transfusion however will nullify the restrictions of Fearsome and is a potential threat for unleveled Kalista when you attack.
It should be enough to simply follow the standard strategy of spamming the board with spider blockers and removing 1-health enemies with Vile Feast or Withering Wail. As long as you mulligan for your early game cards your opponent should quickly run out of steam while barely scratching your Nexus.
One of the few problems you might run into is that the presence of multiple Crimson Disciple’s, which devalues your Withering Wail and makes it awkward to trade with your 1/1 chump blockers. But a Fury of the North will help out with that. Crimson Disciple will also take the wind out of your Elise, as attacks with her will allow Crimson Disciple to deal 2 damage to your Nexus by blocking the spawned Spiderling.
Other spells to keep in mind are Get Excited! and Statikk Shock. As in Heimer control, Get Excited! will be a constant threat for a unleveld Kalista. Statik Shock can counter your Brood Awakening and Saplings.
Mulligan for: Vile Feast, Glimpse Beyond, Hapless Aristocrat, Elise.
Sejuani / Miss Fortune Tempo:
When it comes to the Sejuani decks which have emerged recently, Frostbite cards are the most noteable threat from Freljord. They will turn your Atrocity into a negative tempo card by killing your They Who Endure and setting the damage it deals to their Nexus to 0. The most popular Freljord/Bilgewater meta decks usually don’t utilize Frostbite cards but Sejuani compensates for that by freezing all your units every round. To counter this you will either need to get rid of her with Vengeance, or open attack first and hope they don’t have a Warning Shot.
Bilgewater itself thankfully lacks ways to remove They Who Endure or counter an Atrocity. The regions speciality is wide removal however, which makes our chump blockers very sad. Miss Fortune, Riptide Rex and Make It Rain will make life a living hell for your Spiderlings and Saplings. They Who Endure at least still gets bigger, but our defense will be weakened a lot in the process. Try to not give your opponent to much value by being more conservative with spamming your 1/1 units and not playing more than is necessary for defending your Nexus. Focus instead more on developing a board with higher health units like Wraithcaller, Elise and Kalista.
Bilgewater also has ways to attack multiple times a round through Island Navigator and Citrus Courier. They won’t be very effective against your horde of chump blockers however. I should probably also warn you of Pilfered Goods and the possibility it might draw them a Vengeance, which will counter your Atrocity but you can’t really play around this very small possibility.
All in all, the matchup isn’t as difficult as going up against Ionia but will still be hard battle. Leveled up Sejuani can shut down your Atrocity combo while Miss Fortune and the Bilgewater removal cards keep wiping your board clear of blockers.
Mulligan for: Elise, Glimpse Beyond, Hapless Aristocrat.
I won’t beat around the bush, Sea Monsters will absolutely annihilate you in the late game. Our deck does have a lot of advantages however. Shadow Isles cards which can counter They Who Endure are very expensive, so you can easily play around them with Atrocity. The most threatening card from Bilgewater is Nautilus’s Riptide, which is like a powered up Will of Ionia and can be played multiple times in a turn. However, the opponent will need a Nautilus on the board in order to benefit from Riptide.
Another advantage is that we have a better early and mid game. Deep lacks units with 3 or more power, besides the late game sea monsters, so Kalista, Elise and Wraithcaller will apply a lot of pressure. Jaul Hunters can be easily removed with Vile Feast and Deadbloom Wanderer also isn’t hard to take care of. Withering Wail will of course counter a wide board full of 1/1 chump blockers, so don’t be too spammy when going up against Shadow Isles. Another scary card is The Ruination. Usually it’s very obvious when your opponent is trying to cast The Ruination, as they will be very conservative with spending their mana and often pass the turn to you without playing any units. You can punish this by passing yourself and forcing the opponent to waste their mana.
Mulligan for: Vile Feast, Elise, Vengeance.
They Who Endure Mirror:
As with most mirror matches, this will be a pretty awkward match. The cards They Who Endure decks run also happen to be some of the best counters against They Who Endure. Withering Wail will destroy your Spiderlings, Wraithcaller + a powered up Mistwraith will block your Kalista or Elise and a Atrocity or Vengeance will counter your game winning combo. In the late game, when both players have a They Who Endure on the board, you may find yourself in a game of chicken where both players refuse to be the first one to play Atrocity.
A good strategy is having a bigger They Who Endure, in which case you can use the usual strategy of forcing out an answer by swinging with your overwhelming stats. A Fury of the North tech will counter this however. Keep in mind that your opponent can potentially cast Atrocity and Vengeance in the same turn, which will counter a attempt to trump their Atrocity with your own Atrocity.
Mulligan for: This decks greatest strenght makes it somewhat hard to find the right starting hand. The strong early game presence through spiders and Kalista means you want cheap cards like Vile Feast or Elise and also a Withering Wail for clearing the enemies board. But the looming threat of They Who Endure + Atrocity means you should try to find a Vengeance as early as possible. Because of this I would suggest to search for a Vengeance, Elise, Vile Feast and Withering Wail.
When looking at the stats this deck boasts a high winrate of 58.2% over the course of 1544 matches, which makes it a solid deck on the bridge between Tier 1 and Tier2 like it has almost always been. This isn’t a surprise as the deck’s high power and They Who Endure + Atrocity combo, which not every region can easily counter, both make it a very flexible and strong option to climb with.
The ability to swarm the board with chump blockers and the access to drain spells from Shadow Isles makes us a very uneasy opponent for aggro decks. This shows in the very high winrate against Burn Aggro. Other meta tempo decks aren’t as easy a matchup as Noxus/PnZ but still tend to be in our favor – like, for example, Demacia/Bilgewater Scouts.
Control and midrange decks are a bit more of mixed bag when it comes to winrates but Endure Spiders still tend to have a favorable matchup against those. The Deep matchup is so and so, depending on how quickly your opponent reaches Deep. Bannermen Demacia is a deck which floats just under the 50/50 mark. We have a slight disadvantage against them, because that deck can easily overwhelm our blockers with Cithria the Bold and use Purify to hard-counter They Who Endure.
When it comes to the absolute worst matchups, Heimerdinger/Vi, Kinkou Elusives and Yasuo Stun are all terrible for us because of the myriad of ways Ionia has to subvert the strategy of They Who Endure. Keg Control is another unfavorable matchup because of its large variety of wide and tall removal options. In general, They Who Endure is at a disadvantage against decks which include a lot of cards from Ionia, Bilgewater or Shadow Isles.
I hope you enjoyed reading this deck guide and could convince you of the consistent power this old deck holds. I’m sure you will enjoy throwing your 15/15 They Who Endure at the enemies face while trampling all over their tiny units.