Fully updated for ‘Between Worlds’ Ranked Season by Den.
Slowly but surely, Ping City has reached the status of a staple deck in the metagame.
Many top-level players have used it in Patch 2.18 as their climbing deck and had a lot of success reaching the Masters rank – and in Patch 2.19, the archetype is still going strong.
With the downfall of Nami Zoe, the deck’s biggest problem in the metagame disappeared. It looks like only heavy control deck can contain Ping City, and fortunately enough, there aren’t many of them on the ladder lately.
More than two-thirds of the deck is geared towards a constant damage output. The rest of it is card advantage and various support pieces to further enhance the damage potential of the deck. The continuous flow of direct damage we can produce is extremely annoying for the opponent who has to worry about their health and board state during the entire game.
However, GP TF Bandle City isn’t a straightforward burn deck that’s only dimension is to race as fast as possible. It can not be directly compared to another popular Gangplank deck, Pirates. In order to maximize our chances of victory, we have to work and properly set up for our impactful cards like GP, Lecturing Yordle, and Double Up.
Given this, rushing the opponent’s Nexus at any cost – as we would do with other burn decks – is actually a recipe for disaster. Instead, using all the tools at your disposal to create favorable board states and forcing your opponent to use up all of their resources is the better approach.
Turn 3 is a very important point for our deck. As you might have noticed, we have no “on-curve” play for that round as there are no 3-drop units in the deck. This turn usually is where we need to make our decision between committing to go wide with cheap drops, or storing mana to support our bigger hitters.
Currently, the meta isn’t featuring too many healing-heavy decks, outside of maybe Darkness, making burn-oriented strategies a pretty safe bet when it comes to steadily and quickly climbing the ladder.
In that category, GP Bandle is one of the best options as it has the chance to change gears and use the damage spells at its disposal to control the opponent’s board. That helps it be more versatile and makes it solid into other damage-focused decks.
Techs and Options
- Miss Fortune: It isn’t often that a deck can have the privilege of being flexible enough to change a champion an still be as good. Miss Fortune comes in as Twisted Fate replacement when its flexibility isn’t needed and we want more raw power in our curve. Miss Fortune provides a great 3-drop, something the deck lacks, and also a much more threatening attack, as blocks will be more awkward for the opponent. In matchups where you are the clear aggressor and want to put your opponent on the backfoot early, MF clearly will help you.
- Monster Harpoon: A card that has been in and out of the deck, but it represents one of the best answers in the game to an opposing Gangplank. The Harpoon’s mana cost reduction is easy to activate with this deck, making the card good in itself. The question about it is the need for some heavier removal as the main game plan is to prevent the opponent from being able to develop expensive units because of the pressure we are applying on them.
- The Dreadway: Although it has gained some popularity, not everyone runs it, and the number of copies changes from one list to another. See the card as an insurance against slower matchups, as you can be more patient and rely on the Dreadway in order to set up some huge burn turns. Also, finding Gangplank more reliably never hurts.
- Line ‘Em Up: A very marginal card in the deck, it usually complements Dreadway Deckhand if you feel like you would need more Kegs. While obviously, we have a lot of cards that benefit from more kegs, it is the mana cost that can refrain some players to use Line ‘Em up. It can be tough to find 2 or 3 mana to spare before the later turns of a game.
- Hired Gun: Marai Warden has proven to be a great 2-drop and it has a high-roll potential as well as represents two bodies in one card. But just like the Jagged Butcher, in a metagame where it would be important to control the opponent’s early board, Hired Gun is a good option to consider.
- Conchologist: We aren’t running a value deck, but both Bandle and Bildgewater have a decent number of damage-oriented spells at 3 mana or less. As such, Conchologist can be a nice inclusion to find some extra juice to close the game.
- Shell Game: A much more exotic choice than the previous ones, Shell Game can sometimes help push some damage to the face. There aren’t that many good targets in the deck for this spell, but simply using it on Gangplank occasionally can make it worth running 1 copy of Shell Game.
- Track opponent’s health and be aware of your reach
We are a burn deck so this should come with the territory. Know when to start hurrying up and be aware of your current damage output between your board and your hand, take note precisely which cards to look for. Also, keep in mind that even when you lose your board attacking, the Impact keyword will still net you some damage.
- Know how to maximise your damage in the matchup
Flooding the board, setting up the scariest Gangplank attack possible, or going for the Nexus directly are the different ways we can inflict damage with this deck. Realizing what our hand pushes for and what our opponent is weak to goes a long way in maximizing our damage potential throughout the particular game.
- Do not panic when your hand gets low on cards
Most of the time, when a burn deck gets low on cards and the opponent isn’t already low on health, that’s a very bad sign. But with Hidden Pathways,
General mulligan tips:
The main thing to figure out while in the mulligan is if you will be able to push for damage right from the get-go in this matchup, or if you will have to fight for the board first.
If we want to push for early damage, we need more units and less board interaction, as such prioritizing spells to lesser extent. Look for immediate development and a pressure-oriented curve: ex., 1-drop followed by Marai Warden or Stone Stackers.
The second scenario where we expect to fight for the board early means we will value the spells and Powder Kegs more – Make it Rain, Parrrley, Pokey Stick, and Twisted Fate all become much more interesting to keep in the mulligan, in addition to potential pressure options. As a 2-drop, the Dreadway Deckhand also becomes very appealing combined with any of the abovementioned cards.
Mulligan for: Parrrley – Make it Rain – Early Curve
- Our main goal is to run our opponent out of cards, removing all of their units with our damage cards. Rally is a deck that cannot function without its units, simply be mindful of how he can protect its most important pieces from your spells.
- Your spells can be used at any time but your units are slower to develop. Try to play units during your attack turns and keep your spells to answer their attack turns where being reactive is key.
- We do not have any way to block the Elusive keyword so our removal spells should be targeting the Elusive units if possible. Obviously, Zed and Poppy are the highest priority.
- Our own units can force trades that they would’ve wanted to rather avoid. The opponent is well-aware of our burn capacity so it’s not that easy for them to let our attack get to their Nexus and use their health to build tempo.
- Lecturing Yordle is slow to play but really great once in play as the Poison Darts are very good as extra removal.
Mulligan for: early curve, pressure.
- Without healing, it is extremely hard for Caitlyn Draven to go the distance against us. Focus on dealing consistent damage to the Nexus and never let them feel safe in the race.
- Invest into your most reliable sources of damage. For example, a damaged unit with Impact has way less of a chance to trigger its keyword than the one a full health because of Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth.
- This is one of the few matchups where your direct damage spells might be more reliable than units. For example, outside of using their removal on their own unit, Caitlyn Draven can’t do much to about a Double Up.
Mulligan for: Inventive Chemist – any 2-drop – Twisted Fate – Make it Rain
- It is fairly hard to run them out of units, but it’s crucial to understand that not all of their units actually have the same value. Bandle City Mayor, Poppy, Lulu and Bandle Commando are the main threats to deal with and they can lead to big problems later on.
- They usually don’t run a Stress Defense (unless they’ve pulled it from Conchologist), which means a leveled GP is a nightmare to deal with for our opponent and usually acts as a big win condition for us.
- Ranger’s Resolve and Sharpsight are both great combat tricks that double up as protection spells. Using removal before the combat phase and on your attacking turn forces the opponent into using then early where they aren’t as harmful to us.
- Being dominant on the board is enough to tilt the matchup in our favor and force our opponent into awkward board states where they can’t utilise its champions well. As such, don’t be greedy with removal – if Poppy has no targets to buff, she isn’t as much of a problem herself as well.
Mulligan for: Dreadway Deckhand – Parrrley – Make it Rain – Twisted Fate
- Going for an early curve will likely get matched by your opponent. Make it Rain or Twisted Fate can put you ahead and allow you to start pushing some damage.
- Bandle Tree does not run any healing which means our damage will stick. With that in mind, keep your focus on managing the board so your opponent cannot race you back.
- Unless they would cast Minimorph before your attack, Gangplank’s passive ability once leveled up should clear the opposing board and represent a huge swing in your favor. Try not to play him if your opponent has time to cast a damage spell into Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth before you would be able to swing.
Mulligan for: Inventive Chemist – any 2-drop – Twisted Fate – Make it Rain (mulligan to fight for the board).
- Discard has a much better scaling than we do, it is important to get some damage early as a way to keep them on their toes during the whole game. It will also help as we will have to race towards the finish once they’ve taken over the board.
- Both decks rely a lot on their attack turns, so you have to find the balance between setting up your attacks without opening yourself too much to their full swing. The longer the game goes, the harder it gets fro you to maintain a big board.
- Double Up should never be used on their strongest unit because of Survival Skills.
- Twisted Fate is your biggest tempo swing, with either a Red Card buffed up by a Powder Keg or for a Gold Card stunning Sion or the Twinblade Revenant.
Mulligan for: Early curve – Gangplank with a good hand.
- This matchup is very close in terms of how both decks approach the game. The difference relies in the midgame where Plunder tries to win on the board while Ping City relies on its flow of damage to get it done.
- They have absolutely nothing that can prevent our damage spells from doing their job. Burning the Nexus is safe if you have the damage and Double Up is almost impossible to miss unless they kill their own unit with a Nabbed spell or Ice Shard. Another way out of that is to use 5 mana on Three Sisters into Fury of the North.
- Sejuani can prevent our Gangplank from being a problem. Early pressure will interfere with them activating Plunder easily, which advances both our burn gameplan and makes our Gangplank better.
Mulligan for: Inventive Chemist – any 2-drop – Twisted Fate – Parrrley (or other pings).
- The ping spell we keep in the mulligan is to kill the Fleetfeather Tracker or Akshan (with the help of a Powder Keg). Removing those two will go a long way into developing our board more safely.
- Sivir Akshan is great on the board but runs no healing. Get in as much damage as possible with your units, but look to switch to the burn gameplan once you realise they’ve started to stabilize on the board.
- Demacia is a great at single-target removal with Single Combat, Cataclysm and Concerted Strike, but lacks AoE. Build a wide board instead of relying on a big unit.
Mulligan for: Early curve – Parrrley – Make it Rain – Twisted Fate, if you have a good hand already.
- Against Poppy Ziggs and other burn matchups we aren’t in the position to race right from the start. Adopting a defensive role in the first few turns is a better gameplan. Usually TF pulling off a boardwipe or Gangplank dropping on the board are good turning points for us.
- Eventually, we will need to shift gears and race to the finish line as we do not run any healing. Even in a defensive stance, try to recognize the turning point where you will try to become the aggressor.
- Double Up can be countered by Noxian Fervor and vice versa. Whoever is in the position to make their opponent’s key burn spell fizzle will have a huge edge in the matchup.
Mulligan for: early curve, pressure. Gangplank with a good hand
- The early game is key in this matchup as most of our damage will come from the snowball of our first few turns.
- Against opponents who don’t rely on their board as the core of their strategy, don’t be greedy with your Double Up’s, it might be hard to find a proper target anyway.
- Senna and Ixtali Sentinel are the two must-remove units our opponent has. If you can apply a huge pressure before they reach 5-6 mana can also force them into purely defending plays instead of developing the above mentioned threats.
- Playing The Dreadway gives us more time, but we still have to keep the pressure going so the opponent cannot safely develop its champions.
Mulligan for: early curve, pressure (Stone Stackers is good into Avalanche)
- Board-affecting spells are almost useless in this matchup, so use them for almost exclusively for burn.
- Lecturing Yordle and Gangplank are about the only two units that can resist their AoE clears. Try to play them alongside small units to mix the threats and make your opponent’s answers awkward.
- Keep in mind that things need to really go your way for you to win this matchup, so don’t overthink and don’t try to play around everything – that will only slow you down. Without being absolutely careless, adopt the mentality of ‘making them have it’.
Since Patch 2.18, Ping City has seen its worst matchup disappear completely and it has changed everything for the deck.
Now Gangplank and Twisted Fate can be played at any rank with great reliability, making this deck one of the best to invest in currently.
There are some counters to this deck – control archetypes that aren’t as relying on the board to win tend to do very well against this archetype. For now, though, it looks like those decks are kept in check by Bandle Tree or Rally Elusive – two matchups the Ping City is happy to face on the ladder.
In the first days after Patch 2.19, we’ve seen a lot of Jayce on the ladder with his Heimer Bandle build being the most popular so far. This deck isn’t a healing-focused archetype, so GP TF’s stance in the meta isn’t too affected. However, if the Jayce Lux variant becomes popular, and if it includes Radiant Guardian – that might become a problem.
If you would like to discuss the deck, feel free to join the RuneterraCCG community on Discord. As for myself, you can find me on Twitter, if you have any questions about this guide. I’m also offering coaching for any level of players, feel free to message me, or find me here to book a session.