Hey, Agigas here! Now that we got some time to test the new cards, some have impressed more than others. One of the cards that have seen the most success so far is none other than the Ice Witch, Lissandra. Today I wanted to talk a little about why Lissandra is doing so great, and talk about some of the most popular and successful decklists featuring her.
- What makes Lissandra so great
First, let’s talk about Lissandra at her level 1. While she doesn’t look extraordinary at the first glance, she is in fact really strong.
It would be easy to consider the Tough keyword as a ‘+1 hp’ boost, but in fact, it has much more value than that. Early opposing units will rarely manage to remove her in a single hit, and Tough protects her from your own control tools (Ice Shard, Avalanche, Blighted Ravine). In the end, she will often have an effective 5+ health, making her a strong early board presence.
Lissandra also brings with her a Frozen Thrall. This is a very appreciated additional boon for any deck, giving you a huge tempo and value gain in the late game, attached on an already great 3-cost unit.
Without even considering her level 2, we can already see that Lissandra is a very good card. She is a low-investment unit, bringing a good board presence and a significant long-term reward.
Her level 2 isn’t quick to reach by any means. However, it is somewhat easy to fulfill – you only need to play your big finishers or wait for your Frostguard Thralls to spawn, and she doesn’t need to be on board to level up.
When she does get there, it can be game-ending for swarm aggro decks – the Tough Nexus combined with free Ice Shards are very hard to overcome. Tough Nexus also has the nice upside to counter the popular Commander Ledros into The Dreadway combo in the Concurrent Timelines decks. For other matchups, the biggest upside is to create the Watcher in your hand.
While Watcher isn’t the easiest win condition to fulfill, and will more often than not be just a secondary win condition, it is still pretty impressive to have an alternative win condition attached to a 3-cost unit!
Overall, Lissandra can easily be slotted into a lot of decks. She can find a lot of synergies (Spectral Matron or Revitalizing Roar for the Watcher, Trundle’s Ice Pillar and recalls to level her up faster, Draklorn Inquisitor for her Frozen Thralls), but will also be a great fit for any deck using the control Frejlord package.
Playstyle: Control. TLC, aka Trundle Ledros Control, is a pretty old archetype that recently got revitalized by Lissandra and the new Frejlord control tools (Three Sisters, Ice Shard, Blighted Ravine). Its gameplan is to control the pace of the game thanks to the powerful Frejlord/SI control package.
It has many ways to deal AOE damage, making it a nightmare for most swarm decks. The deck also has some tools to protect itself against bigger units, like Vengeance, The Ruination, Harsh Winds, and Three Sisters. This very complete package makes the deck extremely hard to attack.
Once the deck gets into the late game, Commander Ledros, Trundle, and Atrocity will quickly finish games. While you do have some interesting interactions with Lissandra, the deck isn’t really built around her – but she is a very welcome addition to a deck that was lacking a second champion.
The Frozen Thrall doesn’t have particular synergies with your deck but is often very helpful once you get to the late-game, and the Watcher won’t be played very often but does represent a realistic alternative win condition, especially alongside
So far, TLC has been performing great. It quickly became one of the most popular Lissandra decks, and for good reasons. Numerous players shared great results with it, both in tournaments and on the ladder. It has a very good matchup into most swarm decks and isn’t afraid of too many archetypes. This deck is one of the top contenders among the new decks to take a Tier 1 spot in the new meta.
Because this is such a prevalent archetype, let’s go a little bit deeper into it and have some tips and mulligan advice.
- Pass a lot. Passing allows you to see what your opponent is up to before doing your own move, and forces them to play with no information. It will also give you better board-wipes. If the opponent passes back without already having a significant amount of pressure, it will slow down the game, which is to your advantage.
- Think turns ahead. You need to think ahead to manage your resources properly. For example, you might avoid using Vile Feast on the opponent’s 1-health unit if that unit will die from your Avalanche on the next turn. Instead, you can use your Vile Feast on the opponent’s 3-health unit in that example, setting up a stronger board clear.
- Know when to go for lethal. This is an extremely important thing to learn with Ledros Atrocity. While using Atrocity on Ledros can quickly end games, if it misses it will cost you a lot and probably lose you the game. Hence, you need to know what spells the opponent could have to counter it (Frostbites, removal). If the opponent has no answer or tapped below any of their potential answers, you can go safely for lethal. When they might have an answer, I would advise taking things slower unless you’re too behind and going for it is your best out.
- If you have 13 mana, you can play Ledros and Atrocity in the same turn thanks to Revitalizing Roar.
- Blighted Ravine’s damage goes through Spellshields. This is a much more situational tip but it’s useful to know since the interaction is not obvious.
General mulligan tips:
- Versus Aggro/Midrange:
- Lissandra, Kindly Tavernkeeper, Vile Feast, Ice Shard, Avalanche, and Blighted Ravine are powerful cards to help you keep control of the early turns.
- You also want to keep Withering Wail against swarm aggro decks.
- Trundle can be a good keep once you already have some good defensive early options in hand.
- Three Sisters can be kept when Flash Freeze is important (Fiora/Shen, They Who Endure).
- Versus Control:
- Lissandra, Babbling Bjerg, Catalyst of Aeons, and Trundle are all great early plays.
- Commander Ledros won’t be helpful for a long time, but I would still advise keeping him because he will still be better than any small damage-based removal.
- Three Sisters and Vengeance are good keeps if you have a good hand, especially if they counter the opponent’s win condition.
Playstyle: Midrange/Control. Lissandra Swain is the deck mixing up the Frejlord Control package with the Swain midrange package.
Both synergize very well together – the board-wide damage spells allow you to level up Swain easily and to activate your Ravenous Flock and Noxian Guillotine. The deck looks to keep control of the board in the early turns, and transition into an extremely strong end of mid-game with Swain and The Leviathan.
This deck doesn’t have a very high amount of synergies with Lissandra, but she is a very good champion that will give you board presence while you cast your board-wide damage spells. The deck brings Draklorn Inquisitor to threaten some early Frostguard Thralls against decks that can’t easily remove the Inquisitor, but summoning the Watcher won’t happen often. Lissandra Swain is a very good example of how Lissandra can easily fit into a deck with the Frejlord control package.
Lissandra Swain is the most recently discovered concept featured in this article and is already showing some promising results. However, relying on the Leviathan/Swain package to close out games means you can have a hard time when the opponent can remove your Leviathan and out-grind you. But overall, it’s very realistic to say this deck could get its spot in the meta, probably as a Tier 2 archetype.
Playstyle: Midrange/Control. Lissandra Shurima is the first deck in this article playing Frozen Thralls in the main deck. In the early to mid-game, the deck keep control of the board thanks to its strong units, combat tricks, and board-wide damage spells, until the Frostguard Thralls spawn.
The process can be greatly accelerated by Draklorn Inquisitor. Once the Frostguard Thralls are there, the huge tempo boost they provide allows you to secure the victory. To back up your key units, you have access to a lot of powerful protection spells (Ancient Hourglass, Rite of Negation).
Overall, this deck hasn’t been performing so great. The fact that it relies so much on Frozen Thralls to finish makes it very slow, and the win condition lacks explosiveness because of the time it takes to get there. Hence, you often fall short against other control decks because their win condition will hit faster and harder than yours.
However, the matchup against more aggressive decks is overall better thanks to your strong board control. Lissandra Shurima does have its moments, especially when it successfully activates Draklorn Inquisitor. In the end, I think this deck will end up as Tier 3 – it’s viable, but not great.
This Lissandra Ionia archetype features a lot of stalling tools for the early/mid-game (board-wipes, freezes, units, stuns, healing). Starting from turn 8, it aims to abuse the synergy between Lissandra and Trundle’s Ice Pillar. Trundle’s Pillar is an 8+ cost unit but is giving you back all the mana you used to play it.
The deck uses its numerous bounce effects (Monastery of Hirana, Homecoming, Go Get It) to play the Pillar several times and get the Watcher’s cost down to 0 relatively quickly. The deck ensures the Watcher win condition does go through thanks to its numerous protection spells (Deny, Go Get It, Retreat, Homecoming).
Lissandra Ionia is a very interesting and cool concept, however, it needs a lot to go right for it to work properly – finding both your champions, having enough ways to play 8+ cost units, having enough answer’s to stall the opponent’s gameplan… Unfortunately, the deck does not have a very impressive amount of draw, so it makes it quite inconsistent.
Still, the archetype has shown some promising results, with several players using it all the way to master. I think the archetype is high-Tier 3, edging toward Tier 2.
Because this is a pretty complex deck with a lot of interaction, here’ some quick tips for it:
- Your Trundle’s Ice Pillar won’t progress your Watcher condition if you play it for 0. Hence, if you use Go Get It on your Pillar, you might want to wait a turn before playing it so it gets back to its 8 mana cost.
- You can use Go Get It on your Pillar then play your 0-mana Pillar to gain 3 mana.
- Retreat//Return allows you to play a burst speed the Watcher once he is discounted. This way, the opponent can’t do anything about his deck getting obliterated because he won’t get the priority before your Watcher attacks.
- You might want to keep Lissandra in your hand until she is level 2, especially if you already reached the mid/late-game. If she dies at level 1, you won’t have the Watcher until you find another Lissandra.
Overall, Lissandra looks to be a very successful champion of the Empires of the Ascended expansion. She fits into a powerful Tier 1 archetype, and a lot of other viable decks each building around one of her strengths. From this tournament meta report by Mezume, we also learn that she was the most played new champion in the top lineups this weekend. Lissandra looks to have a very exciting and promising future in the meta. 😄
If you have any questions, feedback, or want to share some successful Lissandra lists, I’ll be happy to read and answer you in the comments below, and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉
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Thanks for reading!