Karma Ezreal is one of the oldest archetypes in Legends of Runeterra, that has been out of the meta for almost a year. In the last patch, however, the deck got a few very significant buffs.
Karma going to 5 mana and Will of Ionia to 4 were extremely relevant. Now you can summon Karma on turn 10 and still have enough to cast both Will of Ionia + Deny or, depending on the situation, Will of Ionia + Statikk Shock or 2x Mystic Shots.
Karma Ezreal also got a couple of new tricks with the release of Fallen Feline and Time Trick. With leveled Karma, each Time Trick you cast gives you 6 outs to see Hexite Crystal – and of course, doubles the damage of the Crystal itself. Additionally, Hexite Crystal can be picked up by Deep Meditation.
I personally think that, despite its extremely unfavorable matchups against Azir Irelia and Thralls, Karma Ezreal is a top-tier deck right now, especially in tournaments. I played about 70 games with Oneiric‘s list on the NA ladder with about a 67% win rate. Last week, I brought Karma Ezreal to Sqweeby’s community tournament, along with Deep and Zoe Lee Sin, and did not lose a single match, with Karma Ezreal itself going 9 – 1.
Gameplan & Tips
In general, Karma Ezreal wants to spend as little resources as possible until Karma comes down on turn 10. In the early game, your main goal is to just survive. Against slower decks, you’re generally fine passing. However, against faster decks, before passing, you have to ask yourself what can your opponent do over the next few turns, and will you be able to answer their threats efficiently if they take this pass.
The deck runs a multitude of removal and stall spells along with Eye of the Dragon,
For example, on turn 2 if your opponent has a 1 HP unit while you have Statikk Shock and Mystic Shot in hand, most of the time it is better to not Mystic Shot it, let it live, and Statikk Shock it the next turn. Another example is that it is often better to save Fallen Feline to block units later in the game instead of an early 2 attack unit.
Be very careful when using your mana. Whenever you would cast a spell, ask yourself what answers your opponent could have to your spell and whether or not casting the spell now would leave you with enough mana to deal with other threats your opponent may summon before their next attack turn. The latter also applies to summoning units. If your opponent’s board isn’t too threatening and they are at full mana, the best move is often to just pass.
That said, there are some boards that do need to be dealt with. You’ll need to carefully plan ahead and try to think of how much damage your opponent will deal to you before you reach Enlightened, accounting for units they may summon in future turns.
The other thing you want to always keep in mind is that this deck has two win conditions. The most obvious win condition is leveling up Ezreal and bursting your opponent down with spells. However, the more subtle win condition of the deck is grinding your opponent out of cards and overpowering them with value coming from a leveled Karma.
- When to use Time Trick and Deep Meditation
Many players will use Time Trick and Deep Meditation freely to cycle or draw in the mid-game whenever they have ‘spare’ mana to use and they don’t feel like their opponent pressures them. However, this is not always the correct play. Keep in mind that leveled Karma does not actually win you the game unless you have valuable spells to copy.
If possible, try to save at least 1 Time Trick or Deep Meditation for when you drop Karma. Note that if you have to choose, Time Trick is better to cast because it gives you a great card selection tool with Karma – or in situations when you’re looking specifically for Hexite Crystal.
- When to summon Karma
The only time you should summon Karma before turn 10 is when you’re absolutely certain that your opponent can’t kill her (or – if you desperately need a blocker or a random spell, which is a scenario you generally should try to avoid). Note that Karma by herself isn’t actually useful. You generally want to either play her after your opponent taps out of mana, if you have solid protection against their removal spells, or you have enough Deep Meditations and Time Tricks that you can refill your hand even if Karma dies.
- When to summon Ezreal
Ezreal is a bit trickier than Karma. In matchups in which your opponent doesn’t have good answers to Ezreal early, e.g., Pirate Aggro, it is fine to summon Ezreal before he is leveled. If your opponent cannot deal with Ezreal, Ezreal will continue to gain free value every turn until you win the game. Even Pirate Aggro oftentimes has to waste a Noxian Fervor to kill Ezreal. Additionally, oftentimes, Ezreal generating a free Mystic Shot can force a pass from your opponent. Since the deck’s win condition is making it to turn 10 with Karma, forcing a pass can place you in a winning position.
Against decks that can more easily remove Ezreal, e.g., Thresh Nasus and Ezreal Draven, try not to summon an unleveled Ezreal unless you desperately need the Mystic Shot, have a second Ezreal in hand, or are trying to bait removal in order to summon Karma later.
Note, in some games, if you are running low on removal spells and your opponent taps out of mana to remove Ezreal, it is fine to summon Ezreal even if you think it will only generate you one Mystic Shot. It’s not the end of the world if Ezreal dies. As mentioned earlier, Karma will oftentimes win games by herself even without Ezreal.
Once Ezreal is leveled, you want to start thinking of how you can maximize damage with Ezreal.
Tech Cards & Options
Get Excited! – I’m personally not a big fan of Get Excited right now. Except in the mirror, which is a lot less common in the last few days, Get Excited is generally worse than Gotcha! because the deck does not run discard fodder and Gotcha! costs 2 mana when drawn.
Chump Whump – This card used to be a staple in Karma Ezreal. However, it is much worse now – we’re playing Time Trick over Rummage, Ezreal no longer deals 2 damage per Puffcap, and the mirror is much less common. If for whatever reason, Karma Ezreal explodes in popularity, Chump Whump and Get Excited will be very good, but I don’t see that happening in the near future.
Ballistic Bot – I don’t see a reason to play this card. Sure, Ballistic Bot lets us play Get Excited, Sump Dredger, and Zaunite Urchin. However, this deck is not like Draven Ezreal where we need to create board pressure with units mid-game to win. It is oftentimes better to just pass instead of playing units. Ignition is very good for soft-passing, but open-passing generally works just as well for this deck. The way it enables Get Excited is okay, but in most scenarios, you won’t want to see Bot without Get Excited or vice versa.
Aftershock – The more landmarks there are in the meta, the better this card becomes. Against late game control decks, this card will also gain value similarly to Get Excited, because it can be used on the Nexus.
Singular Will, Minah Swiftfoot – If thralls become popular enough, you will probably end up adding a copy or two of one of these. However, I don’t think there are any other matchups, except for maybe Ashe, that you would want these in.
Claws of the Dragon – Anti-Fearsome blocker that gets more value the more aggro decks there are in the meta. I personally don’t think aggro is prominent enough for this card to be played right now.
Mulligan for: Will of Ionia. Keep Karma if you already have Will of Ionia.
Lee Sin has been around for quite a while and recently got a new variant in the form of Akshan Lee Sin. Regardless if you’re playing against Akshan Lee Sin, Zoe Lee Sin, or mono Lee Sin, the game plan remains the same.
Always save at least one answer for their combo. You have access to Concussive Palm, Will of Ionia, Deny, and can even Mystic Shot/Gotcha your own units. If possible, try to save Will of Ionia until Lee Sin has Overwhelm. If you do not have a good answer to Lee Sin’s combo, do not summon units.
Once you summon a leveled karma, the game is usually pretty much over because Karma doubling up your removal spells is usually too much for the Lee Sin player to handle.
Note that Lee Sin decks don’t have answers to your units outside of combat. This means that it’s relatively safe to summon Ezreal if you have Concussive Palm and Will of Ionia and it can sometimes let you win even without Karma.
Mulligan for: Fallen Feline, Karma, Shadow Assassin, Will of Ionia, and Ezreal. Against non-Anivia SI Freljord decks, Thermogenic Beams are often a good keep.
SI Freljord is significantly less popular after the Watcher nerf, but you’ll occasionally still see Trundle Ledros, Feel the Rush, and Anivia decks. All of these matchups mostly play out the same way. Remove their threats as they come down and save Will of Ionia for whatever their biggest unit is.
It’s fine to pass the game down if they let you because your late game is better. Keep in mind that you may need to start playing cards if you don’t have Karma or Ezreal yet – or you might burn them to hand size.
Once you hit turn 10 and Deny their The Ruination/Vengeance on your Karma and Ezreal, the game is basically over. Against Feel the Rush, the tempo gain from denying FTR will often win you the game on the spot.
Anivia Control is the trickiest matchup because Anivia can remove Karma over a few turns and you will have issues running them out of cards. Try to Will of Ionia their first Anivia instead of killing it.
Mulligan for: Stattikk Shock, Shadow Assassin, Mystic Shot, Thermogenic Beam, Fallen Feline, and Ezreal.
This archetype has recently exploded on the NA Masters ladder after SUdden reached Rank 1 with this list. In this matchup, prioritizing threats is key. For example, a
Statikk Shock is the best card in this matchup. You generally want to save this for key elusive threats like Greenglade Duo and Teemo. If possible, try to use other removal spells if you can’t remove at least two threats with Statikk Shock.
Try to play removal spells before blocks are assigned in order to play around Twin Disciplines. Remember that Ezreal has Elusive and can block. Attacking with Ezreal can sometimes force out Twin Disciplines from an opponent trying to kill Ezreal.
Mulligan for: Eye of the Dragon, Fallen Feline, Mystic Shot, and Thermogenic Beam. Concussive Palm and Statikk Shock are fine to keep if your hand is good.
Pirate Aggro has fallen off over the last few days, but it still pops up here and there. You can generally run Pirate Aggro out of threats, especially since many of them no longer run Captain Farron. The worst scenario is getting annihilated early by a hoard of 1-drops or an unanswered Miss Fortune.
Try to trade as efficiently as possible and use your removal spells either when you have a second removal spell or your opponent is tapped out of Noxian Fervor mana. Play around Make it Rain if you can. In some games, however, you will be forced to play into it. If you can, keep Deny mana up whenever your opponent has 5 or more mana. Denying a Decimate or Double Up will oftentimes just barely keep you alive.
Summoning Ezreal early is okay. Their only answer to him is Noxian Fervor and you’re usually more than happy to trade Ezreal for a unit and a Fervor. Starting turn 5, always keep in mind that your opponent might summon a Gangplank. It is oftentimes better to pass instead of removing a Legion Saboteur or Crackshot Corsair if you would tap under Thermogenic Beam/Will of Ionia mana.
Eye of the Dragon is the best card in your deck in this matchup. Be careful when blocking 2 attack units because it opens her up to Make it Rain. Unfortunately, in many games, you’ll have to do it anyway if you don’t have better options. It is fine not to summon Dragonlings if your opponent isn’t summoning threats for you to remove. Oftentimes, your opponent will try to bait you into wasting spell mana to summon a Dragonling and then summon threats you can no longer answer because you’re out of mana.
Mulligan for: Fallen Feline, Thermogenic Beam, and Shadow Assassin. Statikk Shock and Mystic Shot are good to keep together. Nopeify is fine to keep with other early game cards.
Draven Ezreal wins the game by getting ahead on tempo with cost-efficient removal, Draven,
Try to answer their board as it comes down. It’s okay to trade Fallen Feline and Shadow Assassin into 3 HP units to set up kills with Mystic Shot and Statikk Shock. If they have 5 mana up, try to keep up Deny for Tri-beam. Try to play around Statikk Shock if you can.
Keep in mind that even if the board does not look too threatening because you have blockers, an Arachnoid Sentry may change that.
If your opponent’s board isn’t too threatening, it is oftentimes better to pass instead of developing to prevent your opponent from leveling up Ezreal.
Once you hit turn 10 with Karma Ezreal with a Time Trick or Deep Meditation, Draven Ezreal’s only win condition becomes burning you down. Try to keep your HP as high as possible starting the early game to avoid this.’
Keep in mind that outside of Tri-beam and Thermogenic Beam, Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth are their best ways to deal with Karma so if they use a Mystic Shot or Get Excited on Karma, it is often better to Deny or Nope the Mystic Shot or Get Excited if you think they have multiple Flocks or Scorched in hand.
Make sure to save a Will of Ionia, Concussive Palm, or Thermogenic Beam for Captain Farron starting turn 8.
Mulligan for: Fallen Feline, Mystic Shot, Eye of the Dragon, Thermogenic Beam. If you have other early game cards, Concussive Palm and Shadow Assassin are good keeps.
Swain TF does not run any combat tricks so unless you’re behind on tempo you can opt to pass until they attack. If you’re starting to overflow on mana, it’s fine to clear their board as it comes down. Be careful to not let them build too big of a board and slam Arachnoid Sentry down as a surprise attack.
Be careful when playing Fallen Feline. Many TF Swain decks run Nab, which draws from the bottom of the deck, giving them a chance of drawing Hexite Crystal.
Eye of the Dragon is one of the highest priority threats for TF Swain to deal with. If they can’t deal with Eye, they won’t be able to attack your Nexus.
Try not to summon multiple 1 HP units at once unless you have to. These can be easily cleared with Make it Rain.
Make sure to save a Will of Ionia, Thermogenic Beam, or Concussive Palm for Swain starting turn 5.
Ideally, when they play The Leviathan, you’ll have either Thermogenic Beam or Will of Ionia to bounce it. However, even if you do not, 6 damage before you level Karma isn’t the end of the world. Turn 9, if they don’t have Swain on board and summon Leviathan, it is often better to summon Karma if you have protection and remove The Leviathan the subsequent turn at a cheaper cost.
TF Swain doesn’t have good ways to deal with 4 damage units unless they’re stunned or damaged, so denying the first instant of damage to your Ezreal or Karma will often save your unit.
Mulligan for: Fallen Feline, Eye of the Dragon, Shadow Assassin, Thermogenic Beam, and Mystic Shot. It’s fine to keep Statikk Shock and Concussive Palm if the rest of your hand is good.
Against LeBlanc Sivir, try to answer their board as quickly as possible. It is sometimes better to save Statikk Shock for Spellshields instead of on Treasure Seekers. It is often a judgment call whether to let the 5/2 Ephemeral
When casting removal spells, always keep in mind that they may have a Shaped Stone in hand and you may not want to remove lower priority threats in case you need another removal spell to finish off a unit. In this regard, Ruin Runner,
Try not to summon Eye of the Dragon unless you can trigger it at least once. Merciless Hunter can very easily remove your Eye if you don’t have sufficient spells in hand. Keep in mind that they run Bloody Business and Whirling Death and play around them if possible. In general, they will try to use these on Karma, Ezreal, and Eye of the Dragon if they can.
Mulligan for: Deny, Fallen Feline, Thermogenic Beam, and Mystic Shot. Gotcha may be worth keeping if you don’t have other removal spells for Akshan.
It is a bit too early for me to tell the best way to play against Akshan OTK decks. In general, just try to kill Akshan as soon as possible. This is a bit easier against the PZ version because they don’t have good Ionia protection spells. Once they get their OTK off, there’s not much you can do and they generally will hit their OTK before you can win – unless you remove Akshan.
Always save Deny mana for Promising Future.
Mulligan for: Thermogenic Beam, Eye of the Dragon, Mystic Shot, Fallen Feline, and Ezreal.
Unfortunately, Azir Irelia has a significant amount of protection for its champions. The best you can hope for is that they either don’t draw their champions, don’t draw protection for their champions, or misplay and tap out of protection mana.
Champions are your highest priority to remove followed by Greenglade Duo and Sparring Student. The latter two aren’t as important if you have Elusive blockers for Greenglade and can chump block Sparring Student. Try to bait your opponent into tapping out of protection mana so that you can kill their champions.
Mulligan for: Thermogenic Beam, Will of Ionia, Deny, Shadow Assassin, and Fallen Feline.
Thralls is Karma Ezreal’s worst matchup. Through Draklorn Inquisitor,
Your best shot of winning this game is hoping your opponent bricks and does not find an early Frozen Thrall. If you can, try to always keep up Deny mana for Promising Future. Always keep an answer to potential Draklorn Inquisitors. This is one of the few matchups in which it’s not a bad idea to summon Karma early to try and roll a random Singular Will or Aftershock.
Although unlikely, if you do manage to make it to turn 10 with Karma on board and Hexite Crystal in hand, you’ll often have enough removal spells to deal with multiple Thralls.
If played well, Karma Ezreal is one of the best decks in the game – except when it goes up against Shurima Ionia or Thralls.
However, Karma Ezreal is not the easiest deck to pilot correctly, but hopefully, this guide was helpful in that regard.
If you like challenging decks, I would highly recommend you try this deck out on the ladder, in Gauntlet, or in tournaments.
Like always, thanks for reading. I’ll be happy to answer any questions, comments, or feedback in the comments below or in RuneterraCCG Discord.