Lissandra SI Control Deck Guide & Matchups

Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.

This particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of guides on meta decks. You can find the other guides and a matchup table on this page.

This guide is dedicated to Lissandra SI – the new top-tier archetype from the ‘Empires of the Ascended’ expansion.



Playstyle: Control/Combo.

Throughout many different patches and metas, Freljord plus Shadow Isles has always been a strong region combination for control decks. Shadow Isles brings a lot of powerful removals (The Ruination, Vengeance, Vile Feast, Withering Wail) and Freljord brings powerful late-game finishers, as well as some removals like Avalanche. Lissandra SI is the latest iteration of that region combination and is looking to be one of the strongest we’ve seen until now.

In the early turns, this archetype doesn’t differ from the usual gameplan of a classic Freljord SI control deck – a strong mix of removals makes the game very difficult for the opponent to navigate and allows us to stall effectively.

Trundle comes down in the mid-game, bringing a powerful board presence thanks to his Regeneration keyword. He also creates an Ice Pillar, which is instrumental to the Watcher combo.

Lissandra can sometimes come down early but will often be kept safe in hand until she is leveled. In Level 1 form, she doesn’t bring much value to your game plan – outside of 2/3 Tough body – because the Frozen Thrall will likely not have enough time to unfreeze.

Where Lissandra is essential to the deck is her Level 2. Most importantly, she will create the main win condition of the deck, the Watcher. She will also give Tough to the Nexus and a free Ice Shard every turn, making it very hard for the opponent to ever close out the game.

With the help of Trundle’s Ice Pillar, Spectral Matron, and Fading Memories your goal is to reduce the Watcher’s cost to 0 as quickly as possible while having multiple ways to summon a copy of it. This is a powerful and hard to stop combo finish, and the Watcher can sometimes come down as soon as turn 8!

Sometimes, especially against more aggressive decks, the Watcher won’t be needed as the removals will completely shatter the opponent’s gameplan. In that case, Trundle can quickly finish the game by himself.

The ‘Watcher combo’ is the most popular version of Lissandra control, but isn’t the only one. Another valid and successful way to build the archetype is to play Commander Ledros and Atrocity instead of the Fading Memories and Spectral Matron. This relegates the Watcher to a secondary win condition and makes the Ledros/Trundle plus Atrocity the main way to finish games.

Overall, the Ledros Atrocity build has an easier time setting up its win condition, but it is also easier for the opponents to delay it. Against most aggressive decks and other lists that have no good answers to the Ledros Atrocity combo (no freezes, counter-spells, fast-speed removals, healing), it is an even better build than the Watcher build. However, the Watcher build is better in other situations, for example in the mirror.


General Tips

  • Pass often. You are playing a powerful control/combo archetype – if the game goes long and slow, it is very often to your advantage. Hence, you should pass a lot – force the opponent to unfold his gameplan in front of you before you have to take action. Acting second means you will have more information than your opponent does and it will give you better board-wipe opportunities.
  • Know when to play for control, and when to play for combo. Lissandra SI is a control/combo archetype. Both gameplans complete each other quite well, and you can often play for both at the same time. However, it is very important to know which one is the most important in the matchup – to take better mulligans, and know what plays to prioritize. I’ll go more over it in the matchup-specific section.
  • Control the tempo with Blighted Ravine. Blighted Ravine is not only a great board wipe and a heal, but it is also a way to take control of the tempo. By playing it at the start of your turn, you limit a lot the opponent’s options. You can clear his existing board state while preventing him from re-developing for the turn. Here is an example.
  • Know how to set up your combo. The Watcher combo is extremely powerful and can be pulled off as soon as turn 8. However, there are a lot of things to know about it to set it up correctly, and there’s a lot of moving pieces. Trundle’s Ice Pillar is a way to play an 8-cost unit for free, Fading Memories is there to get more copies of the Pillar (or Watcher), and Spectral Matron can either summon two 8+ cost units on board to progress the discount requirement. Also, Matron can directly summon a copy of the Watcher if it is in your hand while instantly setting the cost the original copy to 0. Here are several common ways to set up your combo:
    • Two Ice-Pillars and a Spectral Matron. Play Trundle’s Ice Pillar, copy it with Fading Memories, play the copy. This gets you, for no mana investment, two 8+ cost units to level-up Lissandra and the Watcher in hand (also works if you have two Pillars from two Trundles and no Fading Memories).
      • If Lissandra was on the board at the time of leveling, in the same turn you can play out Spectral Matron to summon an Ephemeral copy of the Watcher, while discounting the original copy to 0 mana. This is the most common and powerful way to pull off your combo – this way it can happen as soon as turn 8. However, it requires a lot of board space: Lissandra takes two slots with the Frozen Thrall, 2 Pillars take two more slots, and Matron needs the remaining two free spaces to summon the Watcher. Glimpse Beyond can sometimes help to meet the board space requirement by killing a Pillar.
      • If Lissandra wasn’t on the board, play her right after you’ve played both Pillars. She’ll be level 2 already, instantly giving you the Watcher. On the following turn, you can play your Matron to copy the Watcher. This way to combo is safer because you’re guaranteed your Watcher and also in this scenario, it will be easier to manage board space (Ephemeral Pillar from Fading Memories will die end-of-round). However, this way the combo takes 2 turns instead of 1.
    • Two Spectral Matrons. If you have two Spectral Matrons, you can play the first Matron to copy the second one and level-up Lissandra. Then, the second Matron will be able to summon a copy of the Watcher and discount that to 0. This combo is slower than the one with two Pillars – it takes 2 turns with Lissandra already on board, 3 – if you need to take a turn to play her. However, it is often your best option when you don’t have a way to play 2 Pillars, and is pretty easy to set up as it doesn’t have a high requirement in terms of board-space.
      • Variant with 1 Matron, 1 Pillar, 1 Babbling Bjerg: play Pillar into Matron summoning an Ephemeral copy of Babbling Bjerg. This levels-up Lissandra and draws you the second Matron, which will be used to summon the Watcher. (Note that if your Trundle is leveled Babbling Bjerg has a chance to tutor it instead of a Matron).
      • Variant with 1 Matron, 1 Pillar, 1 Fading Memories: play Pillar into Matron or Matron summoning Pillar (depending on your board space) to level up Lissandra, then use Fading Memories on Matron to get the second Matron.
    • There can be other more narrow scenarios of the Watcher combo, so be creative.

General mulligan tips:

  • Lissandra and Trundle are both core parts of your Watcher combo and should be kept whenever you approach the matchup with a combo mindset. Entreat is also great when you really need to find your champions.
  • Avalanche and Blighted Ravine are your best friends against most board-centric decks. Vile Feast and Kindly Taverkeeper are also a useful keep against aggressive decks.
  • Withering Wail is a great keeps against swarm decks.
  • Avarosan Sentry is a keep in most matchups.

Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.


Matchups

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Blighted Ravine, Kindly Tavernkeeper, Vile Feast, Avalanche, Withering Wail.

Matchup tips:

  • Their aggro swarm deck is very weak to board wipes, making it a very favored matchup.
  • If they play around your board wipe, punish them with Vile Feast and Kindly Tavernkeeper, and keep your board wipe when they can’t play around it anymore.
    • This advice is especially important if you’re not drawing many board wipes.
  • You don’t need to set up your combo to beat them, their deck isn’t built to do much in the late game and they solely rely on drawing burn to finish your nexus once they run out of value.
    • However, leveling up Lissandra is still very valuable. The Tough nexus with the free Ice Shards is pretty much lights out for them.

Mulligan for: Avarosan Sentry, Vile Feast, Avalanche, Blighted Ravine, Withering Wail. If you have board wipes you can keep Kindly Tavernkeeper.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is widely believed to be very one-sided, but in fact, a good Discard Aggro player has the means to upset the odds.
  • Your numerous board wipes are great against their constant board-flood – they play a lot of fragile units. If you can control their board, it will limit their synergies (Arena Battlecaster, Vision, Crowd Favorite).
  • The most common ways for them to upset with the matchup is with their bigger units – Jinx, and Crowd Favorite.
    • You want to always limit their board when coming into turn 4, so they can’t play a huge Crowd Favorite. It can be hard to deal with an early big Crowd Favorite, especially with a wide board alongside it.
    • Try to always have a way to remove Jinx urgently. To level her up, they need to empty their hand. It means if you kill her quickly they will be very low on cards, so you would be in a great spot.
  • You don’t need the Watcher to close out games – Trundle will be enough. However Lissandra level 2 is still amazing because of Tough Nexus and free Ice Shards.

Mulligan for: Lissandra, Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, Avarosan Sentry, Vile Feast, Icevale Archer, Kindly Tavernkeeper; Trundle if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Despite your high number of removals, this matchup isn’t easy. They can quickly gain a lot of tempo to push damage and finish you with burn.
  • A lot of their units have 3 health. However, Avalanche and Blighted Ravine are still your best control tools, especially when combined with Vile Feast or Withering Wail
  • Use an early Blighted Ravine to gain back control of the tempo.
  • In the mid-to-late game, try to defend yourself with spells as much as possible, not units. Their powerful tempo plays are all focused on removing your units (Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator, Ravenous Flock). Therefore, by playing a unit to defend yourself, you’re giving them an opportunity to gain tempo and push damage.
  • They have ways to easily remove your Trundle. It can be to your advantage – because of this, you often have enough board space to quickly go through your Watcher combo with Matron (see General Tips section).
  • Don’t underestimate their damage in the end game. With Ezreal, Captain Farron, and powerful tempo plays, they can deal a lot of Nexus damage.
    • Lissandra is key, as she will give Tough to your Nexus.
  • If they take too much damage from Trundle, you can get a copy of Farron with Fading Memories and kill them with Decimates.

Mulligan for: Blighted Ravine, Avarosan Sentry, Vile Feast, Avalanche, The Ruination.

Matchup tips:

  • They have a lot of high-attack low-health units (ex. Trifarian Gloryseeker, LeBlanc, Ashe), which gives you an edge in the matchup with your numerous board wipes.
  • However, they also have a bunch of tougher units (Avarosan Trapper and Enraged Yeti, Avarosan Hearthguard, and the buffed units he provides), which can make the matchup a lot more difficult.
    • Try using your own units to block their beefier units, so you can remove them simultaneously with the smaller ones with your board-wipes.
  • Be aware of their protection spells – Troll Chant, and Three Sisters (that can create Fury of the North).
  • If you’ve managed to resist their assault, they tend to run of value as they start drawing weak situational cards (Brittle Steel, Culling Strike, Reckoning, Harsh Winds).
    • If they manage to play a high-value Trifarian Assessor, it will be much harder to run them out of value and will often win them the game if you can’t quickly kill them with the Watcher combo. Keep low their number of 5+ attack units on the board.

Mulligan for: Vile Feast, Avarosan Sentry, Lissandra, Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, Withering Wail, Kindly Tavernkeeper, Icevale Archer.

Matchup tips:

  • Lissandra SI is very good at dealing with swarms of small units but has a harder time dealing with large aggressive units. Hence, this matchup will depend a lot on how they draw – you can make quick work of their numerous fragile units with your board wipes, but will struggle against the likes of Gangplank and Captain Farron.
  • Vile Feast is an awesome spell to prevent a lot of early damage.
  • You don’t have that much healing, and they have a massive amount of burn (ex. Noxian Fervor, Decimate, Captain Farron). Be very conservative with your nexus health.
  • You can use Fading Memories to copy one of their units when they don’t open-attack.
  • When possible, prevent them from spreading their damage between turns, so it takes them longer to level up Gangplank.
  • You often don’t need the Watcher combo to win, and can finish with Trundle. The Watcher Combo can still be useful, especially because you might have to trade your Trundle to block a Gangplank, so keep an eye on it.
  • Consider adding Kindly Tavernkeeper to your deck if you want to improve this matchup.

Mulligan for: Lissandra, Trundle, Entreat, Glimpse Beyond, Avarosan Sentry; Fading Memories, Babbling Bjerg, Spectral Matron if you have Lissandra.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is entirely combo-focused and your control tools bring close to nothing. The only unit that you should be looking to remove is Lissandra.
    • If hand space becomes an issue and you have spare mana, you can cast cards like Withering Wail with no other purpose than just to empty your hand.
  • In this matchup not finding your Lissandra is often a death sentence.
  • Fading Memories can be used on the opponent’s units (Ice Pillar, Matron) to find the missing pieces of your own combo. Your opponent can do the same, be very mindful of that.
    • It can also be used directly on the Watcher, so avoid playing the Watcher when the opponent has the attack token and is missing Lissandra.
  • Because this matchup is very combo-focused, board space is very important. Avoid killing the opponent’s units, especially Trundle.
  • Having Lissandra on the board by the turn 8 means you can pull off your combo quicker – potentially in a single turn. However, it puts her at the risk of getting removed before she levels up.
  • With Lissandra on the board, Lissandra’s Entomb is a good way to gain one more turn against an opposing Watcher by shuffling a copy of Lissandra in your deck. This can be countered by a removal (ex. Vengeance), or Glimpse Beyond if you target an opponent’s unit with Entomb.

Mulligan for: Lissandra, Trundle, Avarosan Sentry, Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, Vile Feast, Kindly Tavernkeeper, Icevale Archer.

Matchup tips:

  • Scouts is a very aggressive Demacia deck, and can quickly run you down with Scout units. You want to approach this matchup with a control mindset – you don’t even need your Watcher Combo to close out, just remove their threats until they are out of gas.
  • They can quickly level up Miss Fortune and Quinn with Scout attack and rallies. Try to deal with them before that.
  • Their Scout units are also very important to remove. Multiple attacks can ramp up the damage extremely quickly. Be very aware of Riposte or Sharpsight on a Scout unit.
    • Flash Freeze is perfect to stall out a high-attack Scout unit for a turn.
  • Avalanche and Blighted Ravine are your best control tools in the matchup. They allow you to stabilize the board and the tempo at a cheap cost, and Scouts can run out of units relatively quickly.
  • Trundle is a great mid/end-game stabilizer to curve into. Be aware that Sharpsight and Riposte help them to beat Trundle in combat – ideally, you want to have a Flash Freeze or Vengeance ready.
  • Be aware of their protection spells – Ranger’s Resolve, Sharpsight, and Riposte.
  • Relentless Pursuit allows them to push a lot of damage when your defenses are down.

Mulligan for: Lissandra, Trundle, Flash Freeze, Vile Feast, Avalanche; Avarosan Sentry if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • While Lee Sin is their main win condition, don’t let your guard down against their early units (Zoe, Mountain Goat, Mentor of the Stones). If they manage to push a lot of early damage it will make their Lee Sin finish way easier later.
  • Because they have a lot of protection spells and value, you’re likely not going to be able to remove Lee Sin. Hence, you want to approach this matchup in a combo mindset and get your Watcher onto the board quickly.
  • Flash Freeze is a powerful tool to stall their Lee combo. However, it gets completely denied by a pre-emptive Bastion. Glimpse can also help you fizzle Lee Sin’s kick but it can get countered by Nopeify and Deny.
  • They do have some ways to stall out your Watcher combo for a turn (Concussive Palm, Hush, Equinox, Crescent Strike).

Mulligan for:  Blighted Ravine, Avarosan Sentry, Vengeance, Flash Freeze, Lissandra, Trundle, Avalanche, Icevale Archer; Vile Feast, The Ruination if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Your control package is much better suited to face aggro swarm decks and it isn’t very good against aggro decks spamming big Overwhelm units.
  • Your best tools against a big unit are Vengeance, Flash Freeze, and Lissandra’s Entomb. Try to have one of them when they cast a Battle Fury. The Ruination is also a strong spell in the matchup.
  • Their early units shouldn’t be too much of a problem as you can easily get rid of them. Blighted Ravine is one of your best cards to counter any tempo advantages they might have gained early.
  • Your best route to a victory in the matchup is through them drawing too many early units and not having enough big ones.
  • Your board tends to be empty in the matchup because Trundle easily dies in combat. They don’t have removals outside of combat – playing Lissandra on turn 7 and executing the Watcher combo on turn 8 is a very realistic way to upset the matchup.
  • Both Fading Memories and Blighted Ravine ignore Spellshields – they resolve their effects without breaking the shield. It is useful to know when dealing with a Ruin Runner.

Closing Words

Overall, I think Lissandra Watcher is an amazing deck, probably the best Freljord/SI deck we have ever seen. Leveling-up Lissandra is extremely rewarding both for control and combo gameplans, and I can’t remember a time I enjoyed a Freljord Shadow Isles control archetype this much. I have high hopes for the archetype, and I think it will keep a place in the meta for a long time.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉

If you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I make, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!

Agigas

I am a master player since Beta, with several #4 peaks and tournaments win (EU DoR 2, NA DoR 13, GiantSlayer, LORGA). I am also TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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