Iterative Improvement Yetis Deck Guide
Hello, Mezume here! I’ve been jamming lots of games this season, watching tons of streams, and having plenty of discussions with my playgroup about interesting decks popping up.
A surprisingly high amount of those decks are centered on various tribes: there are Lurkers, obviously, but we also got a viable Poro archetype, an off-meta Elnuk deck, as well as a variety of Yeti builds.
Note that currently, there are two equally viable versions of the Yeti deck – Freljord Allegiance Yetis with Iterative Improvement splash (the one that I’m covering in this article), and LeBlanc Sejuani with Incisive Tactician. Despite these are two very distinctive builds, they play out similarly – so this guide is mostly applicable to both decks.
Yetis is a midrange deck that has a little bit of a combo feel to it, as it relies on big swing turns. It revolves around units with the Yeti tag, and it aims to create wide boards of 5/5 Yetis as early as turn 4 or 5.
The early game of this deck is all about setting up for the big mid-game combo. In the first three turns you will want to set up an Avarosan Sentry to ensure a fast Enraged Yeti pull from Avarosan Trapper, or develop Yeti Yearlings in order to have a follower with the Yeti tag on board to enable your synergies.
Sometimes you will have to take some hits to your Nexus early – in the first 2-3 turns your units are so weak that they can rarely trade, and you need them alive to set up your combos.
From turn 4 onwards, the mid-game starts, and this is when you will start to take over the board (barring some high-rolls with double Yeti Yearling into Abominable Guardians early). Ancient Yeti costs 4 mana by turn 4 if you had it since mulligan, and your Enraged Yetis and Abominable Guardians will be able to come down around this time as well.
Once you have any Yeti on the board, you can also accelerate your gameplan by playing Tall Tales and Iterative Improvement – both of which generate great tempo and allow you to force bad trades onto the opponent.
Against aggressive strategies, this deck can struggle, but it has some tools to survive. Of course, one of them is to simply race – with a really good draw, you can overtake the board and beat them down with Yetis. That is not very reliable, however, and the deck has cards like Troll Chant, Ice Shard, Three Sisters, and some early game units to slow the opponent down until you can start jamming endless 5/5’s.
Sometimes you can fully focus on your own game plan, and other times you will have to interact with the opponent – but in the end, the win condition of the deck is always the same – a full board of Yetis, backed up by Pack Mentality and Battle Fury for extra damage. Avarosan Outriders and Sejuani provide alternative Overwhelm win conditions as well.
There are many decks that simply cannot deal with the huge amount of raw stats that you’re able to generate early on.
- Preserve Yetis to enable your synergies. Your Yetis on the board are very valuable, and you need to be able to identify situations when it is better to take some damage or some bad trades at the cost of preserving your Yetis to set up future combos. In some situations, you will need to plan around Tall Tales, Iterative Improvement or Abominable Guardian that you currently don’t even have in your hand yet – so remember, don’t give up your Yetis.
- Combo Avarosan Sentry and Outriders with your Trapper. If you have an Avarosan Sentry into Avarosan Trapper curve, it is often right to preserve Avarosan Sentry on the board for a while if you have the luxury to do so. If you can delay the draw off of your Sentry until after the Trapper was played, you will have a 66% chance of drawing Yeti on 4 (and 100% on 5!), which is really important. Similarly, Avarosan Outriders, if you use it after Trapper, has a chance of turning your Enraged Yeti into a 1-mana 8/8 with Overwhelm – talk about value!
- Force trades aggressively in the mid-game. Your deck runs out of steam pretty fast, as its win condition requires you to dump your entire hand in the mid-game. Due to this, you will have to take on the risk of running into combat tricks – you need to put pressure on quickly so you can end the game with Battle Fury or Pack Mentality before you run out of resources.
General Mulligan Tips
- Unless you’re against aggro, keep Ancient Yeti. The card is a pretty weak as a top-deck, but playing it for 2-3 mana in the mid-game can be a huge tempo swing. You can even play it later for free and combo it with Battle Fury.
- If you already have a Yeti Yearling or Avarosan Trapper in your starting hand – plus any way to generate a second Yeti – keeping Abominable Guardian can be great. Free 5/5’s as early as turn 4 are obviously great – and if it happens on turn 3, you are likely to just win the game on the spot.
- Mulligan aggressively. Don’t be afraid of kicking low-value cards like Avarosan Sentry if you’re lacking Yetis.
The match-up section below includes more specific mulligan tips against different archetypes.
Please note that the matchup evaluations are still tentative. They are based on playtesting and stats, but currently, we don’t have a high enough sample size to have full confidence in the results.
Mulligan for: Yeti Yearling, Abominable Guardian, Avarosan Trapper. Keep Iterative if you already have Trapper.
- The secret to this matchup is to go wide with 5/5 Yetis. Their will only be able to keep up if they draw multiple one-drops – but then you should be able to outvalue them with ease. Force them to block and use Troll Chant and Three Sisters to out-trade them even when they have ramped up their Lurkers.
- Three Sisters is a great tool to deal with Rek’Sai, as well as with Pyke when he is on the board. Make sure you don’t waste it – espectially if you know they have their champions in hand.
- Lurk is the easiest matchup in terms of hand-reading. Pay attention to their Call the Packs, as they will actively want to use this spell to put either Rek’Sai or Pyke on the top of their deck. Unlike Rek’Sai, you can’t see a Lurk animation for their Pyke – but you should assume that they will be placing Pyke on the top with Call of the Pack every chance they get. So if it wasn’t Rek’Sai that triggered Lurk after Call of the Pack – be on alert for
Death from Below.
Mulligan for: Yeti Yearling, Ancient Yeti, Ice Shard, Avarosan Trapper. Keep Iterative Improvement if you have Trapper.
- With a large amount of low-health units, they are very susceptible to Ice Shard. Aim to use it before Thresh comes down.
- While they can chump block your 5/5s rather effectively, it’s very hard for them to secure Slay procs. Because of how large your units are, you should be in charge of dictating trades – use that to your advantage.
- Three Sisters is a great way to deal with Nasus, if he somehow grows large. Simply Flash Freeze him when the opponent goes for the Atrocity or attacks with Nasus.
Mulligan for: Ancient Yeti, Avarosan Trapper, Iterative Improvement, Abominable Guardian.
- This is a matchup with very little interaction. Mulligan heavily for Yetis and try to get your big units out faster than they can, forcing bad trades on their side.
- Beware of Battle Fury. You can handle it with Three Sisters, unless it is cast on a Ruin Runner with Spellshield. Try to block in a way that lets you avoid losing to a Battle Fury. Force the opponent to trade away their Ruin Runners on defence whenever you can.
- Troll Chant can be a game-winning combat trick, as your units are similarly-sized to theirs. Look for combat states where you can swing two trades in your favour.
Mulligan for: Avarosan Trapper, Yeti Yearling, Abominable Guardian, ways to create Yetis.
- This is a matchup where you have to race them – you create 5/5’s, but they make 8/8’s with Overwhelm. Luckily, you are faster, so try to go as wide as possible early on – go all-in on Yetis in mulligan and hope for the best.
- There is little reason to open-attack in this matchup – some lists run Icevale Archer, but usually not even as a 3-of. Unless you suspect they can proc their Frozen Thrall and punish you, developing should be safe.
- Going wide is a great strategy because their AoE spells cost a lot of mana, but don’t do much against your sizeable Yetis. Try to spread your threats intead of creating a single large one, as they can deal with it using Three Sisters. Pack Mentality should be your finisher of choice against Thralls.
Mulligan for: Omen Hawk, Avarosan Sentry, Avarosan Trapper.
- There is no healing in your deck, so you have to preserve as much health as possible. Do this through blocking in the early game even if it forces unfavorable trades.
- Eventually, you will have to race them. Play aggressively and force them to block with units which they would want to keep alive – for example, Crackshot Corsair and Miss Fortune.
- Once you have stabilized, Three Sisters into Entomb can allow you to counter a lethal Noxian Fervor. If you have the luxury to do so, keep 6-mana up in the late game – especially if you’re low on health and you’ve seen them play a Zap Sprayfin.
Mulligan for: Yeti Yearling, Omen Hawk, Ice Shard, Avarosan Trapper.
- Ice Shard is a great card to have in this matchup. Do not to hold onto it for too long – instead of waiting for the highest value, just denying a huge Crowd Favorite is worth the 3 mana you pay and can be game-winning.
- Trade aggressively – Crowd Favorite, Arena Battlecaster and Vision are some of the biggest plays they can make – but only if they have a wide board.
- In the mid-game, you have the edge with the large Yetis – but you also have few ways to deal with a levelled Jinx; and with no healing in the deck, that is a big deal. Try to keep Sejuani and Three Sisters for when Jinx hits the board.
Mulligan for: Avarosan Trapper, Ancient Yeti, Troll Chant. Keep Iterative and Abominable Guardian if you already have Yetis.
- This is one of your worst matchups, as Ravenous Flock essentially nullifies your tempo advantage of cheap bulky units. Try to play around it by using Troll Chant to prevent your units from getting damaged.
- Open-attacking is really strong in this matchup, as you can minimize the opportunity for your opponent to use Tri-beam Improbulator and Arachnoid Sentry. Track the potential size of their Tri-beam and the way they’ve been playing to gauge whether developing is the right play.
- They have no way to kill undamaged big units. If possible, try to use Battle Fury on an undamaged ally with Overwhelm – that is guaranteed damage and potentially lethal.
Yetis are one of the rising tribes in this new meta – this is the first time they are actually competitively viable. It remains to be seen whether they stay in a good place; it is a rather all-or-nothing deck, which relies on an early good draw to overpower the opponent.
I hope the deck will stay around at least for a while, as it is a very fresh archetype, with fairly unique play patterns and I enjoyed it a lot. I recommend the deck to everyone – and if PnZ isn’t your cup of tea, you can check out the Noxus version of the deck with LeBlanc.
I hope this guide helps you learn a little about the deck and its matchups, it is a pretty simple and straightforward list to play!