Hottest Deck of the Post-0.9.2 Meta: Kalista Prankster
For all of you Kalista fans out there, one of the top Runeterra streamers MegaMogwai pulls his weight once again. As the 0.9.2 patch has hit the live servers, he embarked on a climb in top 100 Masters ladder with this beauty.
This is essentially an aggro/burn deck built around Phantom Prankster and supported by various Ephemeral units. The plan is to deal a ton of face damage neglecting value trades, and set up a combo OTK finish with Prankster. Or just to Hecarim them – that still works almost as well as before.
Funnily enough, Kalista is not crucial in this build – not a key piece to the puzzle at all. Still, she is quite strong and is very easy to level up due to all the Ephemerals constantly dying.
The unit that we want her to summon in her Level 2 form would be Used Cask Salesman. Make sure he has died at some point in the game and is placed in your ‘virtual graveyard’. Once revived, Salesman will also summon two Caustic Casks to help with your burn game plan.
If Salesman is not available, Ravenous Butcher or Shark Chariot are both also fine resurrect targets. Even if you saw only one Chariot die during the course of the game, Kalista will effectively summon two copies – one triggered by the champion ability, and another one triggered by the ability of the Chariot itself.
Do not be afraid to use Kalista aggressively to push some urgent damage. It is okay to trade her off early if the level-up clause is nowhere near to completion. You’ll pierce their treasonous arse next time.
As for Hecarim, if you have come to hate him by now, this deck will probably help you rediscover the champion in a good way. Riot’s balance team aims for The Shadow of War to become an Ephemeral archetype linchpin rather than universal bane of the meta. And one has to admit, the devs did hit the mark on the nerf, spot-on.
The champion is now all about hitting that sweet Level 2 version and going off with it. Just like in the early days of the Runeterra preview patches – Spectral Riders and Shark Chariots flying all over the place. The Prankster deck has a lot of tools to help with leveling Hecarim up – and does it pretty consistently. Level 2 Angry Horse is so fun! You should try it.
Oblivious Islander is a solid synergy-based one-drop. It is almost always worth to keep one in the opening hand, even if attacking on evens. Cursed Keeper is the best target for Islander’s ability; Shark Chariot is the close second. In some cases it is correct to target Phantom Prankster with an Ephemeral tag to make it cheaper – especially if you’re looking for a combo finish.
Ravenous Butcher is a three-of – and you will never have a hard time casting him. Cursed Keeper is once again a premium synergy piece here for Butcher; but Chariots, Unleashed Spirits summoned by Haunted Relics as well as Caustic casks are all quality enablers.
The Aristocrats theme of the deck is very strong and consistent. Soul Shepherd is the only follower that does not support it, so she can be quite clunky in the opening hand. I would often mulligan her unless I also have multiple Ephemerals to back her up. Attacking on odds, turn two Shepherd into turn three Haunted Relic plus Shark Chariot is a nut draw.
Mark of the Isles was hit by a significant nerf that had it dethroned from a broken meta-defining spell to a fair combat-trick. It is expected that non-Ephemeral midrange Shadow Isles lists will aggressively cut copies of it going forward. However, in this aggro build we still likely want a full playset. Every drop of blood matters, and we want our units to die for Prankster anyway.
Mystic Shot is the only removal spell in the deck – and it is crucial that it also doubles up as Nexus damage source. Use it on enemy units as conservatively as possible – Zed or key Elusive threats are fine targets, for example. However, for random bodies that opponents may throw at us we are better off by chump-blocking. Board control is not a priority, racing for Nexus damage is.
Progress Day is an interesting inclusion for an aggro deck. MegaMogwai is well known for his affection to the card, so he puts it in as many of his PnZ builds as possible. I would risk claiming that the spell is not essential for the deck and should be the first one on the chopping block when it comes to optimizing the list.
However, it is hard to resist the value and combo-enabling potential. With the abundance of low-costed cards in the deck, Progress Day can sometimes get the lucky pull you just need to reach lethal. Even so, it can often be clunky – and regarding the card-draw we are well-covered by Glimpse Beyond.
Tips and Tricks
- Keep track of your Shark Chariots – leave the spot in the attacking zone open for them. If you have a hard time remembering how many Sharks would be summoned in an attack, place any Ephemeral in the attack zone (without committing) and hover the Oracle eye.
- Don’t forget to attack with your 0-damage Caustic Casks when possible as they advance the Hecarim quest count. Also note that when Used Cask Salesman is summoned by Level 2 Kalista, his Casks will appear on the board not attacking.
- As mentioned before, if Shark Chariot is the strongest unit in your graveyard, Kalista will summon that Chariot – and then the same Chariot will appear an additional time. However, after they both die, graveyard will still contain a single copy of a Chariot. So, if in the future any Ephemeral unit attacks, only one Chariot will emerge.
- Avoid playing out Cursed Keepers unless you can kill them off for value right away. Without Aristocrat pay-offs, hey provide nothing by themselves and only clutter up the board space.
- In general, be mindful of your 6-unit limit on the board. The deck tends to go very wide and additionally has Pranksters who occupy the space doing nothing in terms of combat damage. Try not to lose value on Used Cask Salesmen or Haunted Relics!
- The Lifesteal strategies are the biggest counter of the deck. Whenever possible, look to deny the heal in combat by placing a blocker in front of the Lifesteal enemy and then killing your follower off with Glimpse Beyond.
Possible Fun Additions to Experiment With
(1-2 copies, replace Progress Day)
If you like to flex on your opponents now and then, you can treat yourself with some The Rekindler shenanigans. The appeal here is in his insane combo with Kalista. Once both The Rekindler and leveled-up Kalista have died in a game, the follower will bring back the champion, who then in turn will summon a copy of The Rekindler… who will then summon another Kalista on the bench. Repeat on the next attack. Madness!
(1 copy, replace Progress Day or Hecarim)
The top-end finisher if you want a bit of oomph to your endgame. Lore buffs will definitely enjoy Ledros’s interactions with Kalista – the two were somewhat of an item back in their mortal lives. An adaptation for Netflix – when?
Ancient Crocolith, Darkwater Scourge
(1-2 copies, replace Soul Shepherd or Mark of the Isles)
Two viable options if your want to go bigger and get some more value on Kalista revives. Wouldn’t go full three copies of either them though, too clunky.
(1 copy, replace Progress Day)
Kalista Prankster archetype packs a strong punch and is definitely able to get you some ranks in the chaotic post-patch environment. The deck is most punishing for the greedy control builds and experimental strategies – and the player love to take those kinds of decks to the ladder after patches! However, Kalista Prankster is also quite soft to some popular midrange counters. Elusive matchup and Karma/Lux decks both feel like a pretty poor pairing so far.