Hi everyone, den here, with a guide to yet another Gnar deck that is very much relevant in the current metagame. This time, Gnar is being used alongside the Overwhelm synergy in a pairing with Darius.
Gnar Overwhelm aims at bypassing the opponent’s defenses and creates an extremely oppressive situation for the opponent. The damage represented on the board keeps growing – it is really difficult to defend against the Overwhelm archetype and the opponent is often forced to race.
Supported by the combat spell from Noxus and the buffs from Freljord, the Overwhelm units in the deck have everything to shine and maximize the damage they can inflict to the opposing Nexus.
We can break down the gameplan into 3 main phases: the build-up phase, the acceleration phase, and the closing phase.
In the build-up phase, rather than trying to deal a ton of damage straight out of the gate, look to create huge pressure on the board. We are looking to represent a lot of damage down the line with our massive board presence.
When choosing 1-drop to start with, pick Legion Rearguard if it can push a lot of valuable early damage in the matchup. If the immediate damage isn’t a priority then the Omen Hawk is great to increase the survivability of our units later on.
From turn 4, we enter the acceleration phase of our gameplan, marked by great on-curve units to slam onto the board (Gnar on 4, Fallen Reckoner on 5, Darius on 6). It is the phase where we can deal the majority of our damage, develop the scariest board, and set up lethal. Think about our opponent and if they will struggle more if we go wide (several units) or tall (build upon one big unit).
Lastly, once we’ve identified the optimal way to beat our opponent, we switch to the closing phase. At that stage, our key cards are Decisive Maneuver, Battle Fury and Captain Farron. Be mindful though – Decimate is an expensive card, and you need to be safe enough to afford the tempo cost of casting it.
Techs and Options
- Legion Saboteur, Precious Pet
Noxus is a region with a flurry of agressive 1-drops, all with their upsides and weaknesses. Feel free to adapt your choices to the meta your are playing in and your prefered playstyle.
- Brittle Steel
A utility card that helps lower the early pressure from the opponent so we can focus on developing our board, mostly against very agressive decks like Gnar Burn for example.
- Brothers’ Bond
A good attack buff in an Overwhelm deck, it can replace a copy of Decisive Maneuver against decks where the stun isn’t as necessary.
- Decimate, Noxian Fervor
Direct damage isn’t included in the deck – outside of Captain Farron’s. While it might seem like a good idea to be able to deal damage outside of our attack phases, those cards usually tend to stay in our hand far too long.
- Adopt the predator mindset
All of our units are better when you’re the one attacking and pressuring, and our spells are mostly aimed at making our combat better by removing blockers or buffing our units. This is the sign of a deck that is not looking to ever adopt a defensive stance, and even if slowing down our opponent can be necessary at times, it should be done with the plan of a counter-attack already in mind.
- Keep it simple
This deck is what we would call a ‘specialist deck’. It is extremely good at doing what it was built for but isn’t one looking to be flexible in the way it operates. As such, I would recommend sticking to the basics – pressure the opponent with heavy hitting units and find the best way to enforce your gameplan.
- Know when it’s best to open-attack or develop
The benefit of going for an open attack is that we will have mana available to use spells as a support to our units. Developing more units presents more pressure but reduces our possibilities to counteract what our opponent could do. In the current meta, with Freljord playing freezes and Bandle using Wallop in many decks, it feels better to develop rather than open attack in general.
- Get the snowball going
If you’ve managed to get ahead in tempo, keep your foot on the gas – just assume that if your opponent wasn’t able to deal with the previous unit, it is likely your next threat will only add to their problems.
- Accept the necessary losses
With all of our units being so offensive, we are bound to lose some of them in trades when attacking. Keep in mind that our goal is to get the opponent to 0 health, not to build the largest board possible. If your unit has fulfilled its goal in the overall gameplan, it is not a problem to lose it during combat and move on to the next part.
General Mulligan Tips
- Look to quickly get on the board
The more resources we’ll force our opponent to use in the early game, the less they’ll have for our lategame threats. Even if Legion Rearguard and Tusk Speaker are easily dealt with early on, they pave the way for the rest of the deck later.
- Cheap drops and Ancient Yeti
We have plenty of units, so we can be agressive in our mulligan. As such, only keep 1-drops, 2-drops and the Ancient Yeti, and then consider the other units based on what you already have.
- Troll Chant and Whirling Death
Spells are great as they allow for a burst of tempo we can then leverage to snowball the match. But in exchange for that possibility, they will require you to store some mana and play off-curve for a turn or two. Troll Chant usually is a good keep as it can also serve as a defensive tool against spells. Whirling Death is only useful against decks looking to fight us on the board early.
- Mulligan to be the aggressor
We’ve already established that we aren’t looking to be flexible. Even against a burn deck that is arguably faster than we are, look for a way to build your pressure rather than try to be defensive.
Mulligan for: Omen Hawk – a curve of units – Troll Chant – Ancient Yeti
- Although Timelines has access to the Freeze mechanic, we can abuse the fact that they can only deal with units one at a time. As such, focus on multiplying your threats and punish the freezes with a Battle Fury.
- Whirling Death is our riskier spell to play as the opponent can answer it with a freeze and deny both the spell and the unit at the same time. Keep it for after they committed the freeze or try to pair it with an attack buff.
- Timelines early units have great stat lines for us to abuse as most of them are 1-health units. This is also the reason why Legion Rearguard is not a good unit in this matchup.
- Once the opponent reaches a threshhold of 9 total mana available, going for the open attack is much safer as Buried in Ice is a card we can’t do much about if we don’t have any solid refill in hand.
- Landing the Fallen Reckoner’s ability on Trundle prevents the opponent from blocking with its highest health unit, which should net us a lot of damage.
Mulligan for: Early curve – Troll Chant – Ancient Yeti
- Darkness is a great deck once it manages to stabilize the board, which we are looking to never let happen as we should build constant pressure until we run out of cards.
- Vengeance is a card we cannot do anything about with our deck, do not commit a Battle Fury if you are worried about Vengeance being in your opponent’s hand.
- Senna makes our opponent much more reactive and able to wait and see how we develop before commiting any resources. Whirling Death is a way to try and remove her while she attacks. Otherwise, we need to be develop enough pressure to make Senna awkward to play.
- Ixtali Sentinel is their best blocker, being able to land a Fallen Reckoner’s ability on it is a huge help.
Mulligan for: Omen Hawk – Early Curve – Ancient Yeti
- Tristana Swarm relies on being able to develop a wide board to threaten the opponent with Yordles in Arms or Golden Aegis. We need to get our pressure big enough before they can race us as we don’t have any way of denying those cards.
- Only Loping Telescope can be a big development punish if they hit a Crescent Strike. As long as the Loping Telescope doesn’t hit the board, maximise your board before attacking.
- Pressure is our main way of removing Tristana or the Gleaming Lantern as a way to force them into blocking. If the opponent can avoid combat and protect its most important units, it could snowball really quickly.
- Combat tricks are really effective against this Demacia deck that has neither Single Combat nor Concerted Strike. Whirling Death and Decisive Manoeuver have a great chance of resolving.
Mulligan for: Legion Rearguard – Troll Chant – Curve – Decisive Maneuver with curve – Ancient Yeti
- Yuumi Pantheon might be one of the only decks that can fight our units one-on-one, meaning we have to swarm the board rather than try to go tall.
- Combat tricks are key to being dominant on the board and creating an opening for a big chunk of damage. Troll Chant is great early on to deny combat tricks while Decisive Maneuver is an expensive but very impactful spell.
- Fallen Reckoner can punish an opponent who would invest into only 1 unit. If you can time it at the end of a defensive turn into an open attack, the card can be devastating.
- Gnar isn’t so easy to level up but granting Vulnerable is another way to remove a key unit from combat for our opponent. It also helps to value our smaller units as the game progresses as they can be used to Challenge the problematic unit.
Mulligan for: Early curve – Troll Chant – Ancient Yeti
- Lurk gets on the board faster than us, making it difficult to establish our pressure gameplan. Troll Chant helps get some early trades going and establish a good early tempo.
- Just like us, Lurk is much better during its attack turns than it is during the defensive ones. Make your attacks as threatening as possible on the board and keep the cheaper combat tricks for your opponent’s attack turn.
- Pyke’s spell is the only defensive tool the opponent has when we attack. Unless you see a clear play around it, I would suggest simply ignoring it most of the time.
- Decisive Maneuver is a great spell to go for lethal in this matchup, barely any meta Lurk lists run Rite of Negation currently.
Mulligan for: Early curve – Troll Chant – Ancient Yeti
- Because of the Rallys, Scouts can race us to the finish line. We usually will deal regular damage but they are capable of going for an OTK once they establish a full board.
- With only Sharpsight and Ranger’s Resolve in their arsenal, it is rather easy to gauge how much damage we can push on each of our attacks. Plan ahead for a Decisive Maneuver or Battle Fury lethal push.
- Troll Chant and Whirling Death are better used during defensive turns, as a way to create tempo and protect our already existing units. You can develop during your attack turns without worrying about your units being challenged into combat.
- Gnar is a very important piece of the puzzle against Scouts. You should level him up whenever possible as it should create an opportunity for good trades, even 2 turns away from the level-up.
Simple and effective would be the best way to describe this deck. What the Gnar Overwhelm deck has going for it is this reliable gameplan you can go for in almost every matchup.
Once you’ve manage to establish your pressure, you can put anyone on the back foot and force them to focus on answering your flow of Overwhelm units, which usually guarantees you a solid damage output.
Most of the time, this situation also is rather easy to navigate for us, while being much more difficult for an opponent that has to worry about many cards in our deck. Thanks to this, the deck feels like a good pick at most ranks of the ladder and should reward players with basic knowledge.
As usual, if you would have any questions about this deck, feel free to join us on Discord where you can tag me in your message. For other information or news, you can find me on Twitter or coaching at
Good game everyone!