Hi everyone, den writing for a new guide!
After it caught fire in the first few days of patch 3.4.0, Mono Shurima has been one of if not the most talked-about deck early in the forming metagame. At least 4 different lists have been shared across the community so far, and the deck keeps on being refined as we speak.
For this guide, I will focus on the arguably best build of the deck looking at win rates but will encourage you to research other takes on the deck if you want to be flexible in your approach to this archetype.
Mono Shurima is a deck with a simple plan: Reaching level 3 on Xerath and Azir and then dominating the game thanks to overpowered cards from the emperor’s deck and the passive 5 damage Xerath deals at each round start or when a landmark is destroyed. In this guide, I will focus on the most important question for the deck’s success: “How to reliably and quickly reach level 3 game after game ?”.
Most of the time, our goal is to end our Buried Sun Disc countdown on turn 7. The reason is for that is that Azir plus Xerath cost 7 to play in the same turn, and usually, they are immediately leveled upon being played. In doing so, we make it much harder for the opponent to answer both our Level 3 champions and guarantee either Azir or Xerath lives through the turn and can be abused on the next.
Obviously, if we could stick a Xerath or an Azir on the board earlier in the game, it can be a great play as both champions also help to stabilize the board and take the opponent’s attention away from our nexus. Most of the time, Azir is much more difficult to remove for the opponent, and also helps himself to level up with the summoning of a sand soldier upon attacking.
Xerath is easier to remove with only 4 health, but he can also be very impactful if we can trigger his passive ability. Especially against combat-oriented decks, which rely on their board to build their game plan. Usually, those decks don’t use much hard removal, and we can keep Xerath in the back lane or protect him with Quicksand or Ancient Hourglass if forced into combat.
Outside our 2 champions, most of our deck is built with the intent of maximizing their level up while keeping the board under control. Thanks to the vulnerable keyword, Rite of the Arcane, Quicksand, or simply well-stated units like Endless Devout or Naturalist (counting the 5/4 being summoned), the deck is capable of trading evenly into a lot of decks of the current metagame.
Being able to keep things at bay is a key factor of the deck’s success, as the only way we lose if we are evenly matched on the board is to direct damage or if the opponent destroys our Sun Disc. While only Rite of Negation can really help with the first option, Soothsayer early should negate a potential Scorched Earth from our opponent.
Tech and Options
Devoted Council: Right now, the deck is very focused on protecting both champions and the Buried Sun Disc, the biggest threat to the deck being Scorched Earth in the current metagame.
Devoted Council could be a great defensive card against a very aggressive strategy looking to burn your nexus before you can reach level 3, and it also is the only card in Shurima that can heal your nexus.
Merciless Hunter: Once a staple in every Shurima deck, Merciless Hunter now sees more play in pressure-oriented decks, making it difficult to abuse in Mono Shurima, which usually relies on the Roiling Sands to grant vulnerable to opposing units. It could still serve as an extra removal tool if Rite of the Arcane wouldn’t feel like enough.
Sai Scout: If you are facing a ton of Elusive-based decks and feel like QuickSand isn’t enough, you can try Sai Scout as well. With her predict ability, the card can still serve the deck just like Aspiring Chronomancer does, but the goal here is to get another Elusive blocker in order to help you survive a little longer in those matchups.
Spirit Fire: Swarm decks are a huge problem for Mono Shurima, as the deck relies on single target removal and trading units as main defensive mechanics. A good way to have an AoE available is to play Spirit Fire, but the high cost for the card usually makes it too difficult to play efficiently
- Protect your Nexus first and foremost, you have the better win condition.
Unless we are against a deck that can potentially destroy our Buried Sun Disc, we should have the superior win condition in most matchups, meaning we can play as the defender until we reach the end of the Buried Sun Disc’s countdown.
Keep in mind how your opponent could develop some pressure and how you should set up to answer it as effectively as possible. As a basic rule, remember that you can interact with the board but in no situation can have access to some healing, so make your nexus health the priority when in doubt how the damage potential your opponent might have access to.
- Tempo is your best ally, at all times.
While the deck is happy with just waiting until the Buried Sun Disc resolves on its own, we don’t want to simply wait for our opponent to play threats and react to it, or draw cards while ignoring the pressure that is mounting on the other side of the table. Shurima isn’t a good enough defensive region to make this gameplay reliable in the long run, and we will get punished for it eventually, in a deck that cannot heal the damage it takes.
Aggressively advancing Azir level up, for example, and being able to pressure our opponent is a great way to buy some time and be safe as we force our opponent to focus on what we are doing rather than developing their strategy as they wish.
Similarly, if you have several copies of a champion in hand, it is absolutely fine to just slam one down onto the board to buy some time and force a reaction from your opponent.
- Manage your board space through trades and smart sacrifices.
Because of the Buried Sun Disk, we only have 5 real spaces on our board for most of the game. Considering we have a lot of cards taking up to 2 spots on our board (Dunekeeper, Rock Hopper, Unraveled Earth, Desert Naturalist), we will need to work our board more efficiently than with most other decks.
While this could be a constraint in some cases, we can also see this as a way to freely sacrifice some units as we know we will use the space it frees up in the near future.
- Know the most pressing issue in your opponent’s deck.
While we might not have many answers, we are quite versatile in terms of what we can defend against, but we also have to think proactively in order to stop our opponent in its tracks rather than play catch up all game long and rely on hitting the perfect card at the perfect time.
Soothsayer is our answer to Scorched Earth, but also to removal heavy-decks as we can protect our champions with it, Ancient Hourglass is a reactive card against those as well. Quicksand is our best card against Elusive and Overwhelm decks, as we can remove their keywords and trade much more efficiently while protecting our nexus. Rock Hopper (and Unraveled Earth if we have units already) are great against decks with very important units, as the opponent might delay those to avoid the vulnerable tag. Lastly, Rite of negation is key against highly synergistic decks with a big power card like Yordle In Arms, Golden Aegis or Feel the Rush for example.
Our biggest problems with this deck are units above 5 health, as we can’t remove them with either Rite of the Arcane or trading with a Grumpy Rockbear or a Restored Devout. Against these, we have to play aggressively, so we don’t need to deal with those units and can reach level 3 before they become a problem.
Mulligan for: Azir – Soothsayer – Endless Devout – Desert Naturalist (With Devout) – Ancient Preparations – Rite of the Arcane (once you have some curve)
Match up Tips :
- This matchup is a champion’s battle, with both decks looking to keep theirs onto the board and abuse their passive ability. Rite of the Arcane is key in removing both Aphelios and Viktor, but pressuring is a good way to buy some valuable time as well.
- Be aware the opponent probably runs Aftershock so the Buried Sun Disc isn’t safe through the whole game. Soothsayer solves that problem and should be played whenever possible without opening something else for the opponent.
- While it isn’t a keep, Quicksand is great to deny a Viktor we couldn’t remove. If it comes down to the stalling game plan, we need to hurry towards level 3 as Quicksands buys us time but does not solve the problem.
- While our Sun Disc reaching 0 should win us the game, be aware of big Celestial units from the opponent. The Great Beyond for example is a very difficult one for us to handle.
Mulligan for: Soothsayer – Endless Devout – Desert Naturalist (With Devout) – Ancient Preparations. If you are attacking on turn 2, full mulligan for Soothsayer, otherwise look for more tempo-oriented options.
Match up Tips :
- The matchup is completely different depending on whether the opponent can destroy our Sun Disc or not. We are heavily favored if we can protect our Disc as we should win the late game, otherwise, we are unfavored as it’s really difficult for us to handle Captain Farron and Ezreal’s damages without being able to race back.
- Depending on who has the attack token on turn 2, the priority will be different. If you are attacking, you can drop Soothsayer before the opponent can cast Scorched Earth and protect your landmark. If the opponent is attacking on turn 2, then they can play Scorched Earth first, hence why we are mulliganing for more tempo-oriented options if not attacking on turn 2.
- The key point in the match for us is the direct damage Ezreal-Caitlyn has access to in the late game, forcing us to be very protective early on. Taking the board early and forcing the opponent to defend is the best way to do so.
- Quicksand and Rite of the Arcane are great in denying both our opponent’s champions and taking the initiative on the board.
- Our Roiling Sands are great to annoy the way our opponent can play their units, be careful about House Spider denying those landmarks though.
Mulligan for: Rock Hopper – Endless Devout – Dunekeeper – Ancient Preparations – Xerath with a good hand | With Endless Devout: Desert Naturalist – Rite of the Arcane
Match up Tips:
- The Roiling Sands are a great way to annoy our opponent in the way they play their units and develop onto the board. Try to spread them accordingly to what you expect your opponent to play.
- Xerath Level 2 is capable of winning the game if we can protect him onto the board. Combined with the Roiling Sands, the champion can lock down the opponent’s development and gain us a ton of time and value.
- This is a matchup we can play quite passively and open pass a lot of the time, forcing our opponent to show us how they will develop their board. Be careful to not give good open attacks to your opponent to be able to keep the pace under control.
- Rite of the Arcane is a key card to remove Miss Fortune, who stays in the back lane a lot unless granted vulnerable.
- Quicksand is a tempo tool to get good trades and get ahead on board, don’t hold it if you have a good opportunity for it and mana available.
Mulligan for: Rock Hopper – Endless Devout – QuickSand – Ancient Preparations | With Endless Devout: Desert Naturalist – Rite of the Arcane
Match up Tips:
- Fizz Lulu features amongst the most annoying champions for us to deal with. Lulu transforming the Flame Chompers! into 4/4 makes Xerath difficult to protect and Fizz requires us to use Quicksand to be able to remove him, usually meaning a net loss of mana in the process.
- Roiling Sands will be key in helping us remove opposing units during our turn, when they are usually more difficult to protect for our opponent (can’t buff with Lulu mostly)
- Yordle Captain should be removed on sight with Rite of the Arcane if available. Yordles in Arms is a difficult enough card to keep in check, we don’t want to give any more stats to our opponent’s units.
- Rite of Negation can be key in denying Yordle in Arms, but we shouldn’t let our opponent develop simply because we have the card available.
- Endless Devout and Desert Naturalist are our key cards to get some tempo going on and be able to fight on the board. Reaching level 3 is mostly achieved through being able to fight evenly on board.
Mulligan for: Quicksand – Rock Hopper – Endless Devout – Azir – Rite of the Arcane – Ancient Preparations
Match up Tips:
- The problem of this matchup is that Pantheon will always get things going, while we can draw 15 cards without ever seeing Quicksand. Also, most of our defensive tools will just buy us time rather than solve any long-term problem.
- The best approach to this matchup is to try and rush towards level 3 while slowing down our opponent as well as we can. Eventually, we will lose to a big Overwhelm unit we cannot answer, so we need to end things at some point
- Quicksand denying the Overwhelm keyword is a big survival tool for us. It is important to know when to accept damage and when to prevent those, as we won’t be able to stop everything coming our way. Because of Golden Aegis and Cataclysm, it is possible to use Quicksand during a non-threatening attack to deny some value to a potential second attack during the turn.
- The opponent cannot remove anything if they don’t have a unit on the board but can remove almost any of our units if they do. If possible, hold your champions and play them leveled directly to avoid a costly Single Combat or Cataclysm
Mulligan for: Quicksand – Rock Hopper – Endless Devout – Desert Naturalist – Ancient Preparations – Rite of the Arcane
Match up Tip:
- Just like Pantheon, Viktor Riven doesn’t plan on letting us reach level 3 ever, meaning we need to plan a way to win without our Buried Sun Disc reaching the end of its countdown. The easiest way to accomplish this feat is Rock Hopper and Endless Devout giving us landmarks to use for Desert Naturalist and Rite of the Arcane
- We have cards to buy a lot of time, like Quicksand denying a big Overwhelm or Elusive unit, or Rite of the Arcane removing a Viktor or a Riven, but it is through pressure that we can win this matchup and disrupt our opponent’s setup.
- Our attack turns should be considered potential removal in the way we want to force our opponent into blocking what are otherwise dispensable units for us. During our turns, we don’t have to worry about Overwhelm, Quick Attack, or Elusive, making the fight more evenly matched.
- This is a matchup (like most very aggressive matchups) where we can’t really keep our champions in hand until they are level or completely safe. We should take what they can bring to the overall game plan and hope our opponent goes out of their way to deal with them.
- In addition to the board, the opponent runs a lot of direct damage, forcing us to hurry towards dealing damage if we manage to stabilize the board. Rite of Negation won’t be enough to stop all the potential damage
After a dominant showing in the first few days of the patch, Mono Shurima seems to stumble a bit and find its place around Tier 2 in the current metagame. Quickly countered by damage-based decks like Viktor Riven, Mono Shurima has shown its limits, but still represents a deck to consider when looking at the big picture in this metagame.
Because of its extremely powerful win condition, the deck will always be on the lookout for control and defensive decks coming back in the game, and with Soothsayer as a Buried Sun Disc protection, even Scorched Earth decks can’t really say they punish Mono Shurima in the 1 on 1 encounter.
With that in mind, this means Mono Shurima should keep being a big influence on how the game progresses in the coming weeks, even if the deck’s play rate keeps on reducing. It can act as a threat in the shadows, waiting for a favorable environment to come back and punish decks who thought they were safe to run defensive win conditions.
As usual, if you are looking for a place to hand out to talk decks and anything LoR related, feel free to join the RuneterraCCG discord. As for myself, you can find me on Twitter or Metafy talking about cards or helping all kind of players reach their goals.
Good game everyone,