Lissandra Taliyah Turbo Thralls Deck Guide

Patch 2.9 did not bring many changes to the meta, but Turbo Thralls is definitely one of the most prominent emerging archetypes right now. Nerfs to Azir Irelia (which is its worst matchup) and the direct buff to Taliyah helped a lot – there are enough times when a 3/5 stat-line actually makes a difference now. 

Before the latest update, we’ve seen a few various builds of the deck that weren’t using Taliyah. Some played only Lissandra, while others included Zilean. Stats already pointed towards Taliyah versions being better and the new patch has bumped their win rates up even more.

Zilean’s Time Bombs do not seem to add much to the deck overall and the payoff of Zilean can’t be utilized to a great extent. It is however possible that a mix of Taliyah and Zilean can be the right call as the former is hard to justify a 3-of in the deck. Taliyah’s champion spell Stoneweaving is quite poor and drawing too many Taliyah’s early can be bad. Having her, but no Frozen Thralls to copy is also far from ideal.



General playstyle: Control/Combo.

The deck wants to survive with AoE removal and finish off the opponent by summoning multiple Frostguard Thralls to close out the game. It can accelerate the countdown of the Frozen Thrall landmarks with cards such as Clockwork Curator, Time in a Bottle, and Draklorn Inquisitor, among others.

Accelerating the countdowns is necessary to close out games in a timely manner. Ideally, you would be looking to spawn your Thralls between turns 5 and 7, because that is when you will feel the pressure from faster decks and will need 8/8’s to stabilize the board. Fast decks usually have no way to interact with landmarks.

Against slower decks, such as TLC, you are looking to combo around the same time and put on pressure on them as soon as possible. Be aware that it becomes easier for slow decks to deal with 8/8 Overwhelms as the game goes on and even The Clock Hand on-curve is sometimes too late against them.

The deck also wants to increase the number of Thralls summoned using Promising Future and Taliyah. A single 8/8 Overwhelm is usually not enough of a threat, especially against control decks. Promising Future is often preferable to Taliyah because it is cheaper, can be cast using spell mana, and works better with countdown accelerators (i.e., even if you’ve drawn your Time in a Bottle after casting Promising Future you can still use it to the same effect, while with Taliyah you need to apply all your accelerators before copying the landmark). The matchups where Taliyah has more value than Promising Future are the ones where your landmark is at risk of being destroyed (ex. Ezreal Draven).

Turbo Thralls can create many interesting situations and some play lines that are not obvious at the start. Don’t feel discouraged at times when you realize you’ve made a mistake because that is going to happen with this deck and it is a part of the learning curve. A deck focused on landmarks with countdowns has never existed before so it will feel different than any other archetype you have played before.

Soon you will feel like you are understanding the deck better with every game. Its play patterns are quite fun and fresh for now, so I definitely recommend trying out this deck if you are looking to switch things up.


General Tips

  • Accelerating the countdown is not always correct. It might be tempting to just go all-in on your Frozen Thralls without much thought, but with this deck, you need to carefully plan out turns. There will be situations where accelerating the countdown is not an optimal play – for example, sometimes you might want to open-attack instead of going for a Clockwork Curator of The Clock Hand to avoid slow speed responses from the opponent.
  • Learn to balance accelerating and copying landmarks. Sometimes it is better to invest in a single Frozen Thrall with your Promising Futures and accelerating effects, but other times you would want to ‘diversify’ your Thrall investments. In the latter case, an example of a play would be to copy one landmark and speed it up, but leave the second landmark a few turns behind to avoid The Ruination.

Mulligan Guide

  • Frozen Thrall and Lissandra are both keeps in pretty much any matchup. You need your Thrall landmark early enough to get your game plan started, so these cards are necessary parts for your combo. Even against aggressive decks, a Frozen Thrall is crucial to eventually stabilize the board and take over the game.  Lissandra’s stats are also pretty good early on to contest the board.
  • Blighted Ravine, Ice Shard, and Avalanche are your AoE removals. These will be necessary against swarm-heavy decks such as Azir Irelia, Thresh Nasus, and Discard Aggro. However, I do not keep Blighted Ravine if my opponent is attacking on turn 3 – I’d rather mulligan for an Avalanche in that spot. Against any deck that is not aggressive, these cards will often be underwhelming and should not be kept. 
  • Kindly Tavernkeeper is a way to combat any early aggression with a solid body and healing. Tavernkeeper should be kept against any aggressive deck, but against slower decks, you can mulligan it away to look for Thralls.
  • Clockwork Curator helps against control decks alongside other pieces of your Thrall combo, but you can find better cards to keep against aggressive decks. I am usually mulliganing this card away for Taverenkeeper or AoE removal against faster decks.
  • Time in a Bottle – treat it similarly as you would a Clockwork Curator. Keep it if you are looking to accelerate. Use it as a piece to progress your combo if you are facing the right matchup and already have a Thrall in hand.
  • Draklorn Inquisitor is a keep only if you are 100% certain that you will be able to have a Frozen Thrall with a countdown of 4 or lower on turn 5 (for example, Frozen Thrall played on turn 1 without any further advancing will do it). If so is the case, Inquisitor is definitely the best threat to slam on-curve. However, often it won’t even be able to stick, so you shouldn’t rely on it too much. Against aggro, I never keep this.
  • Promising Future and Taliyah are two very slow pieces of the combo, necessary against slow decks, but terrible keeps against fast decks. I never keep them unless I know I will have the time to play them.
  • Three Sisters, Flash Freeze, and Harsh Winds – the only justification to keep them is if you are sure that the freeze spell will be crucial for you at some point during the game. Currently, this is mostly true against Nasus. If you have a decent hand, keeping a freeze against Nasus can prove very useful. 
  • Rite of Negation can be a reasonable card to keep if you have a very good hand already and want to protect your key buffed-up landmark. Instead of a Rite, you can theoretically consider Soothsayer to give landmarks Spellshield – it can possibly work as a narrow tech in tournament lineups or as a meta call.

Matchups

This matchup is great and all the agency is on the side of Turbo Thralls. As long as you can summon a few Thralls early you are likely to win.

TLC has no way to interact with landmarks and has a hard time stopping early Thralls. Turbo Thralls often is free to do whatever they want as no pressure would come from the TLC side for a long time.

If Turbo Thralls continues to rise in popularity I could see TLC start running some landmark and add Crumble into the deck.

Dragons is another control deck that takes a lot longer to win the game as compared to Turbo Thralls, which means you have plenty of time to set up a good Thrall turn.

The only worry for Turbo Thralls is getting your landmark obliterated by a Celestial spell, most noticeably a Falling Comet. However, the most popular Dragon lists are not currently running Solari Priestess.

Overall your game plan should be the same as against TLC. The board will be a bit more contested, which means it will take a bit longer to close out games for you.

Thralls are favored against Thresh Nasus because they are rarely fast enough to kill you before you combo off. You are usually free to set up some Frozen Thralls and activate them to stabilize.

Once you have some Thralls on board, Nasus Thresh has a hard time getting slays in. They will try to go wide or rely on an Atrocity.

Atrocity is countered by any freeze spell, which means you are often quite safe from direct damage once you take back the board. With your Thrall, you will usually only need 2 attack turns to get the win.

Overwhelm takes a little while to ramp up in damage and has no ways to interact with landmarks.

You can usually develop your Frozen Thralls without any trouble and after you get your threats online the Overwhelm deck has to start blocking and trading unfavorably.

You also have a few freezes in your deck while big-statted units help you block the damage from Overwhelm.

You and Deep both have quite similar game plans where you spend early turns building towards big finishers.

If they are able to get Nautilus on board and go Deep, their units become actually bigger on average than your Thralls. This means that after Dep is enabled, you will not be able to swing for any damage anymore.

You have to find your window of doing damage as early as possible before they get they are fully in the Deep mode.

Ashe Nox has freezes to stop you from doing damage and is puts on a reasonable amount of pressure. They also heavily rely on board and can summon beefy units while also going wide.

The tempo created by Ashe Nox can be hard to contest for us. Ashe also has the ability to stop you from blocking later on after she levels. This, combined with efficient ways to remove your Thralls, makes up for a close matchup.

Any aggressive deck will make your life difficult, including Discard Aggro. You do have ways to clear the board, but a good start from them easily puts you in an unwinnable position.

Unlike Thresh Nasus, there is plenty of direct damage in their deck which means that stabilizing on a low health total is never really possible. Try to hard-mull for your anti-aggro tools and survive the onslaught.

Similarly to Discard Aggro, this deck puts on a lot of pressure and it will all be about stabilizing.

There is not too much to say here apart from that Turbo Thralls will struggle against any deck that is aggressive and has wide attacks.

Ezreal Draven does apply enough pressure to put you on the defensive, but their aggression is not the reason why this matchup is unfavorable.

The main reason this matchup is bad is because Ezreal Draven is the only deck in the current meta that runs main-decked landmark removal. Your landmarks will get blown up and you can do little about it.

Keep in mind that spreading your Thralls out and copying them with Taliyah usually is preferred in this matchup as compared to going all-in with Promising Future on a single landmark.

This is easily the worst matchup – we struggle to survive multiple Blade Dances from Azir Irelia.

Muligan for your AoE removals and try to block as efficiently as possible until you have a few Thralls on board to swing for the win.

The matchup became a bit better after the nerfs to Azir Irelia, but it will still feel like an uphill battle for you since you have no ways to remove Azir or Emperor’s Dais.


Conclusion

Turbo Thralls seems like a competitive deck with a viable game plan and solid core. Azir Irelia is still holding it back, but with the nerfs to that archetype, Thralls now make a bit more of a sense as a ladder list.

Even though Taliyah is not the most important card in this archetype, I think she definitely earns a place in it and the buff to Taliyah helped the deck. In the most recent tournament of the Fight Night EU series, Thralls were the most played deck – many high-level players are now aware of Turbo Thralls and their potential.

Definitely keep an eye out for this deck as it has good matchups in the current meta and I don’t think this is a ‘flavor of the week’ kind of a thing. I think Turbo Thralls is here to stay at least until the next patch. Personally, I think Thralls is in a position to be a Tier 1 contender right now, but whether it plays out like that over the next few weeks leading up to Seasonal Tournament we have to see. By the end of it, I won’t be surprised if Turbo Thralls was in the lineup of a Seasonal champion! 

As always, thank you for reading. To stay up to date with my latest articles, decklists, and more (like custom cards sometimes) follow me on Twitter. Till next time Runeterra.

Spaiikz

Spaiikz is a high level Runeterra player who is consistently high up on the ladder rankings and has finished top 8 in the seasonal tournament. Now he is also looking to share his knowledge about Runeterra by writing articles and coaching. The first card games Spaiikz competed in was Hearthstone, in which he managed to finish Rank 1 Legend.

1 Response

  1. Oliver Xu says:

    “Nerfs to Azir Irelia”

    I mean, barely tbh. The nerfs don’t make the deck worse against Control matchups. lol

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