Random7HS here with a deck primer article on Nami Kench! I recently ended up on the waitlist for last weekend’s Seasonal Tournament, going 7-2 with Nami Kench in my lineup. Nami Kench is very similar to Nami Zoe except you can play both Nami Kench and Zoe Lee Sin in the same lineup. In my case, I brought Zoe Lee Sin, Nami Kench, and Darkness, aiming to beat Twisted Fate Gangplank, Sion and Nami Zoe.
Nami Kench was first conceptualized by Cephalopod as a way to counter Nami Zoe while allowing you to play Nami yourself. In the mirror, Nami Kench has the advantage of being able to summon Tahm Kench on turn 4, allowing you to eat any future Nami or Fleet Admiral Shelly your opponent may play. Because Nami Zoe runs no removal spells outside of Make It Rain and Line ‘Em Up, a turn 4 Tahm Kench often guarantees the victory in the mirror.
After seeing Cephalapod’s tweet, I added in 2 Hushes in order to improve the deck’s matchups against Sion, Nami Zoe, and Lee Sin and went 9-2 on the ladder with the deck.
For the most part, Nami Kench plays almost exactly the same as Nami Zoe. You want to fully mulligan for Nami and Double Trouble. Except versus aggro, you want to pass turns 1 and 2, play double trouble on 3 and then either on turn 4 or 5, play a Gifts From Beyond, summon a leveled Nami and play Crescendum.
Note that the number one mistake many players make when playing Nami is that they will Gifts From Beyond turn 4, summon Nami, and immediately play Crescendum while their opponent has enough mana banked to remove the Nami. Unless you have a second Nami, if you have protection spells in hand, you never want to let your opponent remove your Nami for free. It is often better to try to summon an elusive unit or a Tahm Kench on 4 and then play Nami on 5.
Against aggro, you want to slightly modify this game plan so that you don’t get overrun. Against aggro, your game plan is to summon Sparklefly and try to keep it alive while spending as little mana as possible so you can level up Nami. Once you get a big enough Sparklefly, it is almost impossible for aggro to win.
There are a few key differences in the game plan for Nami Kench however. Against Nami Zoe, you want to keep Tahm Kench and always summon him on turn 4. As mentioned earlier, a turn 4 Kench is basically an auto win in the mirror.
Against Lee Sin, you do not generally want to keep Tahm Kench unless you already have Nami in your hand, but you always want to summon him on 4 if you have him in order to slow down their Lee OTK turn. If you manage to summon Tahm Kench on 4 with Nami on 5 with protection, you can often win the game by eating your opponent’s Lee Sin. In one of my Seasonals matches, I did exactly this and managed to eat two of my opponent’s Lee Sins before winning the game.
Note that while playing Nami Zoe, you almost always want to buff up elusive units. However, while playing Nami Kench, against decks with low threat density, it can be better to force Nami to buff Tahm Kench instead of your elusive units.
If you don’t open Nami or Shelly, summoning Tahm Kench and protecting him can be used to slow the game down enough for you to draw into your Nami and Shellies.
After playing Nami Kench, I think that Nami Kench is one of the best decks in the game, assuming you draw Nami early. If you do not draw Nami early, your game plan is either stalling with Tahm Kench or trying to build a big enough board of elusives with Fleet Admiral Shelly. Either way, it’s an uphill battle.
Nami Zoe does have the benefit of having a secondary win condition of leveling Zoe up, but in my experience, it is much harder to do so in Nami Zoe than in Zoe Lee Sin.
If you’re looking to play a Nami deck on ladder, I would definitely play Nami Kench instead of Nami Zoe right now, primarily because Nami Kench wins the Nami mirror and Nami Kench is slightly better against Lee Sin. For gauntlets and tournaments, you even have the added benefit of playing Zoe Lee Sin, one of the strongest tournament decks right now. However, keep in mind that no matter where you play this deck, you will lose games simply due to not drawing Nami early enough.
Like always, thanks for reading and good luck in your games!