In the first few days of the expansion, Nami, being a new and exciting champion, received some attention, but her decks felt far from optimal. It took almost 2 weeks of tuning and playtesting – and now we can surely say that mermaid is a menace in this meta, and Zoe Nami list, in particular, has a target painted on its back.
We’ve already published a Zoe Nami in-depth guide recently, and today we will be talking about another, more discrete archetype featuring Nami, where she joins forces with Bandle City and Fizz – an Elusive champion that appreciates buffs greatly.
While Zoe Nami is considered to be the better deck in popular opinion, I also see a lot of upside to playing the Fizz variant. It sacrifices the healing potential provided by Targon to be much more efficient at the core of your Elusive-buffing strategy, and Bandle City is great at providing more draw and spell generation to the archetype.
This Nami deck is aimed at using the Elusive synergy to bypass the opponent’s blockers and directly hit the Nexus with buffed-up units. Early on we are focusing on storing and spending spell mana, which advances Nami‘s level-up and reduces the cost of our Wiggly Burblefish, and later, we will be using cheap spells to buff our units and deliver the killing blow.
During the early turns, the deck can be pretty passive. In most games, we are happy simply passing until turn 3, where we will play Double Trouble and complete our setup to flip Nami.
Once that is done, the deck can start spamming spells to spread Nami’s blessings across the board. And thanks to cards like Hidden Pathways, Trinket Trade,
With Nami is on the board, our low-cost spells are giving us way too much value and tempo for any deck to be able to keep up the pace against us. Even without an Elusive unit, routinely getting Otterpuses to a 5/3 or 6/4 body can be too much for the opponent to handle.
Even if you wouldn’t be able to find Nami, the spells are still incredibly relevant to the overall strategy, building up towards a Mind Meld that would allow a huge late-game push to close the game.
Most of our spells are very versatile. The damage spells like Line ‘Em Up or Ebb can be used for defensive purposes or to push Nexus damage. Stress Defense can stop an opposing threat for a turn (Sion is a prime target currently), but also buff Nami’s health to protect her from opposing damage removals. This versatility will be clutch in games where we have to adopt a defensive role.
Aggressive, damage-based decks scare us the most, because all we want is quiet first few turns to store mana and set up our synergies. The Fearsome and Overwhelm keywords, can also be a problem – our units have very bad base stats, and heavily rely on buffs.
Techs and Options
About 38 cards in the list above are mandatory inclusions in the current metagame. There are two cards that can be freely changed – Ebb and Make it Rain. In addition to that, in the case of a substantial environment change, the cards below can be further considered as options.
Stress Defense: Basically a cheap Minimorph to deal with Sion. The card is mandatory for as long as Discard will be a Top 3 archetype. It also finds some value against other Nami decks, buying precious time to slow down their buffed-up units.
Conchologist: Another option to generate a cheap spell and serve as a blocker against aggressive opponents. This unit can sometimes be disruptive for your plan, taking away buffs from Elusive units – however, it still seems necessary to run it as a 3-of in order to never run out of steam.
Ebb: Three-spells-in-one card is everything we want for our deck, and the potential healing can be very important as well. However, it’s expensive to get the full value from all of its parts, and the randomness factor is also limiting the effectiveness of the card. The metagame would need to slow down in order to justify running more than one copy of Ebb.
Fleet Admiral Shelly: To me, Shelly is too expensive for what he does, and this iteration of the deck is looking for explosiveness more than relies on grinding the game through abusing Shelly’s passive. He is core in the Targon build, but Mind Meld looks to be the better option in this Bandle archetype.
Zap Sprayfin: The metagame is simply too fast for a 4 mana 2/2. It has the Elusive tag and draws a card, which made it an auto-include in the initial Nami builds. However, if the game is going well for you, you are likely only losing tempo by playing Zap, and if you are behind and need to catch up, her weak stat-line will not offer much. Conchologist takes its spot for now, but Zap could come back.
Boxtopus: A bit of an exotic choice, but he is the only Challenger option for the deck unless we’re considering Jaull Hunters. However, our removal needs are mostly taken care of through spells like Make it Rain, Line ‘Em Up, or Pokey Stick. In case some specific threats would rise up to prominence, Boxtopus could be considered as it pairs really well with the buffing gameplan.
- Leverage the power of Nami
Nami might be the best card in the game currently, and it might get nerfed eventually if her popularity keeps rising up. This deck is possible solely because of her, and your gameplay should reflect that – as your top priority, build towards her level-up and leverage it to the max. I would advise hard-mulliganing for Nami and Double Trouble every time.
- Learn to direct the buffs to the right targets
When it comes to the purpose of blocking, buffs tend to be always good, no matter which units they land on. But when it comes to pushing for the kill, it is important to put the stats on the right targets to actually translate them into the Nexus damage.
As such, you need to know when to trade off a unit to prevent it from taking away stats we would like to see on another unit. Keep in mind that Nami always buffs the weakest unit, which is chosen based on its power value first, then health, then cost. Wiggly Burblefish’s cost equals the amount of mana you paid for it when casting (you can always hover over the unit to check it).
Also, depending on the matchup, it is crucial to know if we want to ‘go tall’ with one huge Elusive hitter or ‘go wide’ – spread the buffs among several attackers as to play around the possible single-target removals our opponent might have. For example, against removal-heavy decks, you only want to buff Fizz so you can abuse his ability and deny any form of targeted spell-based interaction.
- Disguise your plans through the smart use of priority
Because our curve is low and our cards are cheap, we will be able to take many actions every turn, allowing us to manipulate priority and keep the opponent in the dark about exactly how many buffs we can distribute.
There are two ways to go about buffing our board: we can either burst them all out in one priority phase, forcing immediate answers from the opponent on their next action. Alternatively, we can go for the opposite – taking our time playing cheap spells and units one at a time, forcing priority on our opponent until they use up all their mana and can’t interact with us anymore.
The choice between these two approaches is dependent on the answers you expect your opponent to have. If they use Fast and Burst spells as a way to defend, there is no need to rush things – play out your cards slowly, continue your development plan, and see if they want to tap out of mana. On the contrary, if the opponent runs Elusive units of their own and can play them as blockers, or if they have other forms of development punishers like Arachnoid Sentry, we might want to apply as many buffs as possible in one priority phase and attack before giving a window of reaction.
- Play with the intent of closing the game
Because we don’t run healing outside of Ebb, we are playing against the clock against opponents with direct damage. The Pranks can save you sometimes, buying you a lot of time. But other than that, we really aren’t in the same boat as Zoe Nami that can heal back up to 20 health with Sparklefly. This means that we have to play to get the opposing Nexus to 0 – we are good at it, but still need it to be our main focus once our setup phase is complete.
Mulligan for: Fizz – Nami – Double Trouble
- In most matchups, Fizz is just another Elusive unit. In this matchup, Fizz outright bullies your opponent, taking their lunch money and making them reconsider why they picked their deck.
- Elusive units are annoying for Caitlyn Draven as they can only interact with them through spells. As such, make sure all your buffs go to the Elusives. If you can, buff Fizz exclusively – it is the one thing your opponent will absolutely hate. The Lost Soul/Twinblade Revenant inclusion or the occasional Poro Cannon can help them, but compared to Draven Sion, they give us more time to play around those.
- Nami usually won’t survive long against removal-based decks. Delaying her in our curve in order to get more mana to play spells alongside her can be very good if you aren’t under pressure. But if you know you can play her safely early, go for it.
- It can be tricky to find a perfect moment for Mind Meld – the opponent can kill several units before the effect resolves.
- This is one of the matchups where we can use our spells as Burn. Don’t plan for it specifically, but keep in mind that Line ’Em Up and Pokey Stick can sometimes end a game.
Mulligan for: Nami – Double Trouble (if you already have Nami)
- We are way too much to handle for any control deck. The Ruination is a card that can be our downfall if we aren’t careful, otherwise, this is a must win matchup.
- Our units are very weak if we don’t have Nami, and Shadow Isles decks have access to several ping effects and healing. If you weren’t able to find Nami, it is unlikely you will have enough aggression to win the game. Full-mulliganning for Nami gives us over 70% chance of finding her by turn 4.
- Senna and Veigar can be problematic if they stay on the board for too long. A simple counter to it is fast-leveling Fizz to get access to Chum the Waters or finding other Vulnerable spells through our card generation tools. If you can’t do any of that, hurry up a bit to close the game.
- As there isn’t any threat worth using Stress Defense on, outside of maybe an Ixtali Sentinel to deny some health gain, use it as a pure protection spell for your important units.
- Minimorph on Fizz is the play they can resort to – as such, going all-in on him is a risk. Having 2-3 mid-sized Elusives on the board is usually is the best way to go.
Mulligan for: Double Trouble – Nami – Otterpus – Make it Rain
- Our cheap units are great at blocking their high-attack Lurkers, and Stress Defense is a perfect counter for Rek’Sai. You can lose to a leveled-up Pyke.
- Lurk relies on snowballing its namesake synergy in order to deal huge amounts of damage. Taking care of the early aggression with blockers or spells will go a long way into having a much smoother lategame. Although they barely run any direct damage, going low on health early will force you to have the immediate answers to their Overwhelm units later on.
- There is close to nothing our opponent can do against Elusive units, so they find their way to the Nexus eventually. Focus on staying alive, reducing the pressure and the rest will sort itself out on its own.
- Our main concern is Pyke destroying our board when he levels up. To prevent that, you can Prank the Bone Skewers to up their cost – and you can also find Bone Skewer yourself with Conchologist or Trinket Trade to deny Pyke’s target.
- Stress Defense can get Pyke down to 1 attack, even though we also need it to counter Rek’Sai.
- When the opponent plays Rek’Sai, immediately use Stress Defense on it before they attack to prevent the level-up.
- Jaull-fish is a poor man’s Pyke, but it could also win them the game if the opponent has enough Lurkers on the board. Our deck is fast enough to close the game before turn 8, however – we should actively plan for that the Jaull-fish danger is real.
Mulligan for: Nami – Double Trouble. If you already have Nami in the opener: Line ’Em Up – Otterpus – Pokey Stick – Make it Rain. Mind Meld is a keep if you have a good hand already.
- Targon is a value-based region while Bandle City is primarily tempo-oriented. Therefore, we want to make this matchup into a tempo battle. Remove their units whenever possible and force them to use mana and spells even before Nami or Shelly hit the board.
- Mind Meld is a game-winner, it will force the opponent to suicide their board into ours to stay alive when we attack.
- Don’t overreact to Zoe and Sparklefly early in the game. If there is no Nami or Shelly to buff them, they aren’t really problematic to block or remove with spells.
- Do not get too attached to your non-Elusive units and feel free to attack with them early and often. They will get in for chip damage or make it easier for you to finish their Elusive units with your spells if the opponent decides to block with them.
- Pranks might be at their best in this matchup since we are fighting what is essentially a a spell-based deck. Keeping them for the moment when your Nami is online obviously best, but using them early to disrupt the opponent’s hand can be enough. Rememeber that at worst, they still do build up your Mind Meld and cheapen Wiggly Burblefish.
Mulligan for: Double Trouble (High priority) – Nami (High priority) – Line ’Em up (to remove Bandle City Mayor)
- Unless the board goes out of control early with Bandle City Mayor or Poppy, you should have enough time to set up your Elusive units and the opponent doesn’t have the tools to stop them efficiently. However the Noxus variants of Bandle Tree make the matchup much closer.
- Bandle Tree rarely runs any direct damage apart from Pokey Stick, so use your health as a resource in order to build the board to win the game. Be careful about Impact units, they can be quite annoying and we can’t really remove them outside of combat.
- Once Nami hits the board, there are very few things the opponent can do, so keep her alive at all cost.
- Be very careful about Aloof Travelers, as they will almost always remove a good card from your hand, sometimes even a Nami. Because of Aloof Travelers, you can’t rely on Mind Meld in particular.
Mulligan for: Double Trouble (High priority) – Nami (High priority) – Otterpus – Line ‘Em Up
- This is the matchup you need to master – if you can tilt it in your favor, it will change your overall win rate a lot.
- Nami will win you the game by simply staying alive, so the goal is to manage the board state until we can play a safe leveled up Nami and then turn the tables with our Elusive units. Attacking early isn’t necessary, so only do so when it’s safe.
- Think about the direct damage they can have with Get Excited! and Mystic Shot. Usually, staying above 6 health is safe. These spells should be your main Prank targets. You have enough chump blockers with Otterpus and Double Trouble to delay the damage until you’re in the position to race.
- Daring Poros from Poro Cannon and Twinblade Revenants are your biggest enemies in the matchup, Risen Rider being a close third.
- Daring Poros can block your Elusive units. Pokey Stick, Make it Rain, or Pranking to make them Vulnerable or unable to block are the ways to deal with them.
- The Twinblade can kill Nami or Elusive units, and we’d like to keep Stress Defense for Sion instead of using it to protect Nami. Try not to play important units before the opponent attacks with the Revenant, or sacrifice the least important one to it if health is a concern. Getting Revenants to one health through blocks or attacks is key to remove them later on with cheap spells.
- As for the Rider, Line ’Em Up on turn 3 is great to set up Nami’s flip.
- Don’t get too attached to Nami if you have Mind Meld – Discard is very soft to that card. Once you have it and have a clear plan on when to use it, let Nami be a lure to buy yourself some time and set up as many attackers as possible to buff with Mind Meld. As a plan B, you can use it for blocking – if you’ve played 10 spells by turn 7, Mind Meld completely denies Sion.
Mulligan for: Double Trouble (High priority) – Line ‘Em Up – Nami – Otterpus – Make it Rain
- This is the matchup you are trying to avoid – it isn’t unwinnable, but demands a little bit of luck to get out of as the victor.
- This matchup is played almost entirely on the back foot, as you cannot afford to fall too far behind on board. Every turn, look for developing your board to block or use spells to reduce the opponent’s presence.
- Nami and Mind Meld will reward you if you manage to stay alive, but playing for them and being greedy usualy ends poorly.
- Lulu Poppy needs to play out units and build their board, as such, feel free to pass whenever situation allows for it. This will help you gather information and assess if it’s best to develop your board or remove opposing units this turn.
- Prank their Rally effects and Sharpsight. These are the two effects that will make or break the matchup for your opponent.
- Go for removal spells with Conchologist or Trinket Trade. Most of the time, we win because we were able to sustain the early aggression.
Mulligan for: Otterpus – Pokey Stick – Make it Rain – Fizz – Conchologist
- This matchup might seem unwinnable at first, but after some practice, you’ll notice that the opponent’s units aren’t so hard to kill or block as long as you have a decent early hand and the Pranks can deny their direct damage spells later on.
- This isn’t a matchup to play greedy, and health matters much more than anything else. Do not hold back on using spells and units to protect your Nexus, Nami might never level up, but that’s a price to stay alive.
- The opponent’s draw and removal capacities are very limited, making us the better deck if we manage to reach the later stages of the game.
- Do not use Ebb unless you can use all of its parts in a given turn – 4 health it can provide is something we cherish in this matchup.
- The Pranks are super impactful in the match, hence why Otterpus is our go-to card in the mulligan. Whether it is upping the cost of spells or reducing the attack of their units, look to disrupt their hand as much as possible.
In my eyes, Fizz Nami is better than Zoe Nami. However, the fact that it doesn’t have access to healing makes it much harder to pilot, and its slightly worse matchup against Draven Sion makes players favor the Zoe variant.
What Fizz Nami brings to the table though is the flexibility against the rest of the field – the card generation and Pranks are giving the deck some superb tools to get out of most situations.
It runs more cheap blockers as compared to Zoe Nami, so it can fight for the board more efficiently, instead of relying on Sparklefly. Fizz Nami has a totally different way of surviving aggressive matchups, and it is the one that I personally prefer.
If you would like to discuss the deck, feel free to join the community on Discord, where there are always heated discussions going on about the current meta.
As for myself, you can find me on Twitter, and follow me trying to qualify to EU Masters using exclusively this very Fizz Nami deck. Feel free to reach out and discuss the intricacies of the list. I’m also available for coaching.
Good game everyone,