Introduction and Stats
Hey there, Raphterra here again, back with yet another off-meta deck guide! This time, I’ll be featuring Irelia Gwen, the deck that I used to climb from Diamond to Masters in my AM account at 65% Winrate (26 Wins, 14 Losses). I played this deck in Masters too, where I had a score of 7 wins and 3 losses (70% Winrate). I copied this decklist from Bandit Keith, a fellow Master player from Asia Pacific.
When Gwen was released back in the Forces From Beyond expansion, players immediately thought of her Hallowed package’s synergy with Irelia‘s Blade Dance package. However, this archetype didn’t find any relevant success back then and it was quickly tossed aside. World Ender came with some new spicy support cards for both Gwen and Irelia, which finally makes this archetype competitive in the current meta.
If you want to see this deck in action after reading this article, check out my full video guide!
Irelia Gwen Deck Build
Irelia Gwen is a combo deck that makes the most out of deaths from Hallowed units (Phantom Butler, Boisterous Host) by attacking multiple times through the Blade Dance mechanic (Irelia, Flawless Duet, Ribbon Dancer). As I mentioned earlier, this synergy was already explored but quickly abandoned when Gwen was released in Patch 3.11. What changed from then and now? What made this deck suddenly competitive in today’s meta?
I attribute the success of this deck to three cards: Redeemed Prodigy, Opulent Foyer, and The Black Flame. Redeemed Prodigy and Opulent Foyer are two engines that make it very easy and efficient for Gwen decks to quickly accumulate Hallowed stacks in the early game.
The Black Flame allows this deck to get even more Hallowed stacks by duplicating Hallowed units like Redeemed Prodigy, Gwen, and Eternal Dancers. The Black Flame combined with the Blade Dance mechanic can also threaten powerful attacks on the opponent’s attack turns. Defiant Dance causes tempo swings when used on expensive units like Aatrox. Outside of Blade Dance cards, Dragon Ambush is another card that gives extra attacks while also healing the Nexus with Hallowed stacks.
The rest of the deck is comprised of the usual utility, control, and removal tools from Ionia and Shadow Isles.
General Mulligan For Irelia Gwen
If you already have a good hand, you can consider keeping other combo pieces or utility cards depending on the matchup:
- Quietus is an efficient removal spell against Ezreal or Seraphine.
- Deny is a game-winning card against big spells like Feel The Rush.
- Dragon Ambush is great against aggro decks, assuming you already have some early units.
- Vile Feast is another great card against aggressive strategies.
- Irelia, Moonlit Glenkeeper and The Black Flame are combo pieces that could be considered for keeping if you already have a great hand.
General Gameplay Tips For Irelia Gwen
- Plan your turns as soon as the mulligan starts.
You need to imagine how the first 3-4 turns will go as soon as the game starts. Check which player has the attack token, then mulligan and plan your early turns accordingly.
- You are a combo deck, not an aggro deck.
Do not waste all your cards just trying to attack mindlessly in the early turns. You need to plan your big combo turns and save your combo pieces until then. For example, you usually want to save your Blade Dance cards for continuous attacks once you’ve already accumulated enough Hallowed stacks. Another example would be saving Redeemed Prodigy for mid-game combos if you have The Black Flame in hand.
- Know your deck combos!
Here’s a quick list of some of the deck’s combos and synergies for your reference:
- The best targets for The Black Flame are Redeemed Prodigy, Boisterous Host, or Phantom Butler. In some situations, you can also target Gwen e.g. if you have another Gwen or if you can get lethal damage with her drain.
- Once you already have The Black Flame on board, you usually want to save your free attack/Blade Dance cards on your defense turns to threaten attacks even without the attack token.
- If you play The Black Flame after you use your attack token, you can still get its effect with your free attacks e.g. Flawless Duet, Ribbon Dancer, Defiant Dance, Dragon Ambush.
- Opulent Foyer is best played on defensive turns to utilize the Ephemeral Ghastly Band as a blocker.
- Moonlit Glenkeeper‘s Sapling can remove larger threats if you buff it up with Hallowed. Quietus, Vile Feast, and Flawless Duet are the best Nightfall activators for Moonlit Glenkeeper.
Irelia Gwen Meta Matchup Tips
Red Gwen Elise Katarina
- This matchup is even. It comes down to who can become the aggressor by accumulating more Hallowed stacks and establishing a strong board.
- Gwen and Opulent Foyer are important cards in the matchup. Opulent Foyer will allow you to be ahead in Hallowed stacks, while Gwen can keep pressuring on your attack turns.
- Once you have accumulated enough Hallowed stacks, The Black Flame and Blade Dance cards can outpressure Red Gwen by forcing them to block on their attack turns.
- The best targets for Defiant Dance are Gwen and Eternal Dancers.
- Arachnoid Sentry is a development punisher that you must watch out for. Evaluate if it’s better to open attack with your board instead of developing.
- This matchup is unfavored. It will be very difficult to win once they stabilize with healing from Kayn and Aatrox.
- Follow the usual gameplan and hope for the best. You can win if you can keep pressuring them with Hallowed Blade Dance attacks before the late game.
- Defiant Dance can slow down their gameplan in the mid game. The best targets for Defiant Dance are Aatrox, Kayn, or an equipped Ranger-Knight Defector.
- If you have Quietus, you will need to use it to kill Kayn and take the risk of being countered by Momentous Choice.
- The matchup is favored. Seraphine Ezreal struggles into decks that can attack multiple times.
- Follow the usual gameplan. They have multiple removal spells, but killing your Hallowed units will only make your attacks stronger.
- Accumulate Hallowed stacks, then use your Blade Dance cards in consecutive actions. They usually won’t have enough mana to answer multiple attacks in a span of a few turns. A good window to do this is on the turn where they’ll play Back Alley Bar.
- Quietus is a great answer to remove Ezreal and Seraphine.
That’s it for the guide! In my set review for World Ender, I mentioned that The Black Flame might finally allow Irelia / Blade Dance, to see play outside of Ionia + Shurima. It turns out that my prediction was true, and we finally have a competitive Blade Dance deck aside from Azir Irelia. I hope that you enjoy playing this deck, and good luck climbing the ranked ladder!