Originally written by Asher,
Decklist and matchups updated for ‘Between Worlds’ Ranked Season by Den.
The Lurkers archetype seems simple to evaluate at first glance. With the simultaneous release of Rek’Sai and Pyke, the deck pretty much built itself: we simply cram a bunch of Lurkers in there, add a pinch of interaction spells, and ta-da, we have a deck.
But how good is it really? Is it true that it massively relies on high-rolls to win games and crumbles if it doesn’t get its early Lurk triggers?
Having climbed to Masters just a few days ago with Lurkers, I believe the deck shows promise. I would also say that yes, it has a certain low-roll potential – though every deck inherently faces that issue in my opinion.
Yes, triggering Lurk can have an inherent variance, but in most cases, we can manipulate the outcome. The actual question is: can Lurkers maintain a high power level if forced to play narrow deck manipulation tools to fix its consistency issues? Let’s talk about the gameplan of the archetype and attempt to tackle this issue.
Lurkers is a midrange deck masquerading as aggro, though it may lean one way or the other depending on the build. If it was only for the Lurker package and Rek’Sai, we would have a one-dimensional face-hitter whose only ambition is to fill the board with Lurkers and grow them as fast as possible to bash the opponent. But Pyke changes things.
Now let me say that the list above is my own (editor’s note: as of November update, decklist is by Den), and I’m sure some will disagree with its contents. For example, Feral Prescience is not unanimously well-liked, and some prefer going the Ancient Preparations route. Some players like to include some top-end with Xer’Sai Dunebreaker and Jaull-Fish, while others don’t even run Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan. However, I don’t believe these variations fundamentally affect the deck or its win rate outside of specific matchups.
First thing on the menu, we want to get early units on the board and start triggering Lurk. The early stage is often less about the damage and more about the setup. We don’t want to rely on luck, though sometimes we will have to.
The list above has 31 Lurkers, which means on turn 1, if we have only Lurkers in our hand, we have about 75% chance of triggering Lurk. And if we have no champions in hand, we have about 17% chance of Lurking with them specifically. Not that great of a chance.
However, the Predict cards come to our aid to cheat the percentages. Predicting the right card is vital to make the rest of our hand work as we often will be operating with fewer resources than traditional aggro because of how much Predict we pack. Quality over quantity is the motto – though you may adjust the number of Predict in your own brew to fit your playstyle.
By the end of round 3, we likely have Lurked at least once – sometimes twice, and extremely rarely – three times. Here’s the thing though: of course the more you Lurk the better, but it often matters even more if you get to Lurk with a champion: it is miles better in terms of value than Lurking with anything else.
Getting a Rek’Sai trigger also means she’s getting into our hand next turn. From there, thanks to a bunch of neat hand and deck manipulation tricks (Bloodbait and Call the Pack), we can set up situations that allow us to effectively Lurk four times in two turns (see the General Tips section below).
Transforming Pyke into
By turn 6, we will be leveraging our high-power Lurk units to deal big damage or setting up a Pyke/ Rek’Sai level-up. The later the game goes, the better Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan becomes as a finisher. Rek’Sai and Call the Pack can also yield useful late-game Lurkers that you could be able to leverage.
Rek’Sai is incredibly potent when she hits, but hilariously weak when she falters. In general, we want to Lurk with her early on in the game to increase her attack as fast as possible to set up a level-up by turn 5 or 6. Shaped Stone and Ruthless Predator go a long way towards accomplishing that, and leveling her leads to a ton of damage and refuels your hand on top of that. The problem is that she is extremely weak to Frostbites and Stuns. Our only work-around against them is to use Bone Skewer to put her back on top instead of being shuffled.
Pyke is just as much a win condition as Rek’Sai – he gives the deck a more value-oriented angle and can serve as a great defensive tool against aggro. He is the piece that allows Lurkers to be a versatile deck that can play out longer gameplans centered around a crucial board wipe. Always pick Pyke in a Prediction, unless you can’t transform him into Death From Below right away, or can pick Rek’Sai instead.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself with no Predicts and a bunch of champions in hand, and that is when Call the Pack shines. This spell has three main uses: set up a Lurk, refuel your hand, and unbrick your hand. I’ll talk more about the different setups with Call the Pack in the General Tips section, but suffice to say this card is a cornerstone of the archetype.
There is a lot to unpack, and I will be as thorough as possible. Some of these tips may appear to be obvious, but myself, I can testify that I definitely was blind to a few interactions when I started playing the deck. A lot of neat combos are hidden in there.
- Choosing a Champion to Lurk with. In the first few Predicts, you may be presented with a choice between Lurking with Rek’Sai or Pyke. There is no always-correct choice and it largely depends on the matchup, boardstate, and handstate. Here are a few rough guidelines to help you in your choice.
- Favor Pyke if you are:
- Playing against a deck you know packs Frostbite or Stun effects and if you do not have Bone Skewer in hand.
- Playing against aggro and your board and handstate is not conducive to you killing them faster than they do you.
- Playing against a board-centric deck that relies on building a strong or wide board.
- Favor Rek’Sai if you are:
- Favor Pyke if you are:
- Combos. This deck is chock-full of cool interactions, and I’ll be detailing them below. They tend to overlap, and once you get comfortable with these the deck starts to feel like a unique puzzle. Let’s start with the obvious ones first.
- Call the Pack on Lurker. Puts a Lurker on top of your deck to guarantee a trigger when attacking. Can also be done on a defense turn if you have Snapjaw Swarm in hand. Try to reserve this use to Pyke or Rek’Sai if you have them, but don’t wait for them to show up.
- Predict + Snapjaw. On defense, Predict a Lurker or use Call the Pack to put one on top of your deck to guarantee a Snapjaw Swarm trigger. This is vital to increase the Lurkers’ growth speed.
- Call the Pack + Predict. This damn Bloodbait has been in your hand since turn 1 but you can’ t get any value out of it? Fear not, you can unbrick your hand by putting the ‘blank’ card on top of your deck, then Predict to shuffle it away.
- Predict + Call the Pack. On a turn when you don’t plan to attack, you can Predict and then Call the Pack on top of it to line up the Lurk effect for your next attack. For example – you’ve hit a Pyke with a Predict and really want to transform him – cast Call the Pack – this way Pyke will still be on top of your deck when you attack next turn. The same can also be achieved with Bloodbait or Bone Skewer.
- Rek’Sai Lurk + Bloodbait. After you’ve attacked with a Rek’Sai Lurk, you can play Bloodbait to guarantee a Snapjaw Swarm next turn that will re-trigger a Lurking Rek’Sai on your defensive turn. This move guarantees +4 attack to all Lurkers.
- Rek’Sai Lurk + Rek’Sai. When going for that Rek’Sai level up, it is technically possible to trigger a +3 attack Lurk by having an attacking Rek’Sai on the board and a Lurking Rek’Sai on top of your deck. And don’t forget to use buffing spells to get her those last points of attack that will level her up!
- Pyke shenanigans. Some things about Pyke are not immediately obvious.
- Pyke levels in your deck. Every point of damage any copy of Pyke deals throughout the game counts – and makes every subsequent Pyke scarier than the previous one.
- When Pyke hits an enemy for enough damage to level up and kills it, he instantly triggers his board-wipe effect. This of course applies to
Death from Belowas well.
- Spellshields block Death from Below damage, but do not block the strikes from Level 2 Pyke board-wipe ability.
- Death from Below does not transform into Pyke’s champion spell if you already have a Pyke on board. Hence, it is possible to have multiple copies of Pyke on the board.
- Using Bone Skewer when Pyke is leveled (or about to) will trigger his board-wipe effect before he gets put back on top of your deck.
- Sequence your attacks properly.
- This is especially relevant when attacking with a leveled Pyke and Overwhelm Lurkers (Rek’Sai,
Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan, Xer’Sai Dunebreaker). Pyke should be on the leftmost spot so that his kill triggers a board-wipe, preserves your units from trading in combat, and lets them do a maximum amount of Overwhelm damage.
Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan, if you are counting on a Rek’Sai attack buff to put it at 8 damage and trigger its keywords, you want Rek’Sai to be on the left of Xerxa’reth.
- This is especially relevant when attacking with a leveled Pyke and Overwhelm Lurkers (Rek’Sai,
General Mulligan Tips
- Ideal Start. Sharkling or
Xer’sai Hatchlingalongside Feral Prescience is always a good keep and you will be hard-mulliganing for that opening pretty much every game. If attacking on even turns, against aggro you should look for a 1-drop and Aspiring Chronomancer to guarantee the turn 2 Lurk.
- Don’t keep champions. Don’t get baited into keeping champions in the opening hand. I can think of a few exceptions where you can keep a champion as long as you have Call the Pack as well, but that would only be for very specific matchups and only if you also have a 1-drop. For example, against control, you would be good with a hand of Xer’Sai Hatchling/Sharkling, and Rek’Sai or Pyke plus Call the Pack to guarantee the champion trigger on turn 2 and start ramping up.
- Mulligan aggressively, especially on odds. You really, really want that early attack. The game is winnable even if you miss it, but considering how flexible the deck can be in setting up its various combos, there is no reason to be conservative during the mulligan phase.
- As a general rule of thumb, you can keep Snapjaw Swarm if you have the attack token on odd turns. If you attack on evens Snapjaw Swarm is fully viable to keep as it is considered to be the ‘on-curve’ play.
Mulligan for: Xer’sai Hatchling – Curve.
- Try to play your big Overwhelm unit at the end of your defensive turn so you can open-attack with it. That way, you make it harder for the opponent to damage them and set up a Ravenous Flock or a Scorched Earth. Don’t do this with Rek’Sai obviously.
- Pyke leveled up and Jaull-fish usually act as board clears the opponent can’t do much against.
- Try to deal with the chump blockers asap and get to the state where you force the opponent to block with valuable units like Bandle City Mayor. Buying time with chump blockers is their main gameplan.
Mulligan for: Xer’Sai Hatchling – Curve and Lurking every turn.
- Our units will quickly represent huge threats for our opponent and net us big damage. There is no need to overcommit and give them too much value on removal if you know they have an AoE.
- Big units can be answered with Minimorph, be careful before investing a lot to try and push some Overwhelm damage.
- The Vulnerable keyword is crucial to remove Veigar and Senna. Try to keep the Redfin Hammersnout and Ruthless Predator for that purpose.
- It is key to stay in rhythm and not have dead turns where our opponent can focus on their strategy, keep them on their toes at all times.
- Role Fluidity. This matchup is quite volatile and it is important to figure out what your role is in the game on any given turn before making decisions. Sometimes you will have a strong start and it will turn into a race, whereas sometimes they will have a powerful curve and have their dream board set up by turn 4, with both champions out and ready to slam you with Sand Soldiers.
- Combo Deck & Priority Targets. Azir Irelia wants to establish their dream board of an Emperor’s Dais, Azir, and Irelia. One of your goals is to prevent that board from existing. So whether you are on the offensive or defensive, there are three main units you need to keep track of and should save your limited removal for: Azir, Irelia, and Greenglade Duo. A normally problematic unit, Sparring Student causes little issue for our Lurkers who easily trade into him as they naturally grow, so do not overextend your removal to deal with him. Prioritize removing units with Redfin Hammersnout or Ruthless Predator as they are less flexible than Death from Below and Bone Skewer.
- Favor Pyke. Pyke is way too good at disrupting Azir Irelia combo pieces, and an early Rek’Sai play can be Recalled. The only time I would choose Rek’Sai over Pyke is if the Rek’Sai buff allows me to get a unit in range to kill Azir or destroy the Nexus.
- Be mindful of Recall effects, but not too much. Lead and Follow, Defiant Dance, Homecoming. These are staples of the archetype and you must keep those disruptors in mind at all times and counteract them with your own tricks such as Bone Skewer whenever you can. Sometimes however, and this applies mostly to cases where you are ahead on board, you’ll have to recognize that playing around the possibility of them having a Recall and therefore not attacking or not pulling the trigger on a removal may just set you too behind in terms of tempo. In short, know when to go all-in and play to your outs because the “safe” alternative would most likely see you lose anyway.
- Face is the place. Karma Ezreal will attempt to stall as long as possible and reach turn 10 for that sweet Karma level up. Your goal here is simple: kill them before that happens, but that doesn’t mean we should be reckless doing so. On every turn, think about what kind of removal they could have access to and which of your unit is best suited to play around their available mana. A simple example: if we are attacking on turn 1, we will always favor Sharkling over Xer’Sai Hatchling since the latter can die to Thermogenic Beam. On the flip side, Sharkling trades with Fallen Feline, so it is not black and white, but at least trading into Fallen Feline grants us a potential Lurk trigger.
- Pyke or Rek’Sai. It depends. Rek’Sai is better if you already have a wide board and are looking for a damage buff. Additionally, going for a Rek’Sai level up can work if you have Bone Skewer to salvage the play in case she is stunned, or if you hold Rite of Negation to prevent the stun or Thermogenic Beam altogether. It also is possible if you can somehow force your opponent to tap under 4 mana before playing Rek’Sai by leveraging your board, forcing them to play units to defend themselves. Meanwhile,
Death from Belowcan get shut down by Deny so transforming Pyke can be awkward, though it generally is not that hard to force Karma Ezreal’s hand and make them tap under 4 mana after an attack.
- Priority targets. Karma Ezreal doesn’t play a lot of units, but two can be problematic if not handled properly: Eye of the Dragon and Ezreal. They both can slow the game down to a crawl, so reserving our Redfin Hammersnout or Death From Below to dispatch them often pays off in the long-term. Tasty Faefolk is actually not that bad compared to these two as it is a one-and-done trade.
- Hexite Crystal Shenanigans. Once Karma Ezreal shuffles their deck with a Predict effect, the Hexite Crystal could be in their hand at any moment, unbeknownst to you. Odds of that increase drastically if they play Deep Meditation, so try to keep track of which cards were drawn by that spell to know if you’re safe from a hidden Crystal or not.
- This is a strange matchup. It feels like they should win because they have the tools, but oftentimes Turbo Thralls have to juggle progressing their Frozen Thralls with removing our threats, and it usually too awkward for them. Our main strength is our adaptability.
- Rek’Sai or Pyke? Turbo Thralls runs a bunch of Frostbite effects as well as at least one Rite of Negation, which doesn’t make either champion very appealing. Early we would like Rek’Sai Lurking to grow Pyke, but eventually we want to transform Pyke so he can be a board-wipe threat to Thralls. We can keep our own Rite of Negation up to make sure Death from Below resolves, but generally just killing a Draklorn Inquisitor or a random blocker is good enough for the first Pyke.
- Be aggressive, not reckless. They usually run a mix-and-match of Avalanche and Blighted Ravine, so you need to play around these things as much as possible. That does not mean you should play nothing as you are the beatdown in this matchup, but do not overextend 3 or 4 units when Thralls still have 4 mana open.
- Rek’Sai got frozen! The following is a last resort move but it can pay off if you end up having to play Rek’Sai and think she might get Frostbitten: try and Predict a Bone Skewer for your hand so that you can repeat a Rek’Sai attempt on the next attack. It is not the most efficient thing to do obviously, but sometimes the suboptimal play is the only way to win.
- The Pyke Conundrum. Turning Pyke into
Death from Belowcan be a mistake since Zoe Lee has access to Deny which is a clean answer to Pyke. In reality, Zoe Lee will often be behind on board and spending a lot of their mana reactively to keep up which will put them under 4 mana fairly often. Of course this can depend on the state of the game, but if you have a wider board than them (fairly likely scenario), then transforming Pyke is a fine move. Just avoid using Death from Below if they have 4 mana up.
- Redfin Hammersnout is bae. Mileage gained from this unit may vary depending on the exact Zoe Lee build you’re facing, though most of them rely heavily on Eye of the Dragon or Zoe to stonewall aggression. Redfin Hammersnout is a disgustingly good answer to both of them, so don’t you waste the Slappersnout on a Mountain Goat!
- Play proactively. Except for the eventual Sonic Wave, Zoe Lee has little ways to interact with your board state when you are on defense. This means you are mostly free to set up your board state without fear of sweepers. The only reason you might wanna keep some mana is to preserve Redfin Hammersnout’s effect, bluff a Death from Below or a Bone Skewer.
- Be mana-efficient. Use your mana wisely to field as many units as you can on any given turn, planning what you will be playing for the following two or three turns to maximize the output. This is important in general, but even more so here in this matchup because Zoe Lee tends to have quite narrow boards as long as we can deal with Eye of the Dragon. When later in the game, each our additional unit can represent 7+ points of damage.
Mulligan for: Sharkling – Curve
- If we develop enough pressure, it will be difficult for the opponent tap out for a champion, as in this case they let us do whatever we want in return. It’s crucial to get the pressure going before those important turns.
- Sejuani basically denies our whole attacking threat once leveled and on the board, if you see the game going long and she might become an issue, try to save a Pyke’s spell in order to deal with her. Keep in mind that Jaull-fish is also unlikely to work as the strikes will get denied by the freeze.
- Denying Plunder triggers can be life-saving if we anticipate a game where the opponent will have time to get to Sejuani. If we think we can win before that point, let the Plunder happen if you can enable more damage in return.
- Hard and Fast. Letting their deck to set up a board presence is the worst possible thing you can do. The more you wait, the more likely they are to find the answers they need. It might feel bad to play into certain combat tricks, but we absolutely need the early Lurk triggers and to put them on the backfoot, otherwise they will play at an easy pace and always have mana up for their better combat tricks, completely locking us out.
- Pyke over Rek’Sai. Rek’Sai is playable, but she can be vulnerable to Concerted Strike. Of course Death from Below can be countered by Deny or a Barrier effect, but the use of Pyke isn’t as telegraphed as Rek’Sai is, and he is an invaluable tool during combat. And of course, Shen Jarvan being a board-centric deck, a single Pyke level-up is often enough to bring the game to a close.
- The Jaull-Fish trap. Jaull-Fish can seem like a good tech answer, but Jarvan Shen can keep our board spread limited because of their Challengers, so Jaull-Fish will rarely have a game-deciding impact.
- Try to keep up. Reputation will be trying to put the pressure on you because they’re scared of Pyke getting too big and also can’t really deal with our bigger Lurkers like Jaull-Fish very well. Even trades in the early game are fine as long as you’re making progress on Pyke or Rek’Sai.
- Death From Spellshields. That’s not to say Death from Below is useless here, but Sivir and Ruin Runner are both huge threats in this deck and cannot be hit directly by Death from Below. Pyke can still be a decent choice if you find two copies of him and can level him on the second hit of Death From Below: his board-wiping strikes can’t be blocked by Spellshields and will instantly win you the game considering how board-centric Reputation is.
- Rek’Sai is my best friend. Reputation rarely can deal with a Rek’Sai level up on turn 5 or 6, so don’t hesitate to go for that route if the opportunity presents itself.
- Redfin Hammersnouts haven’t heard of Spellshields. The Vulnerable effect from Hammersnout goes through Spellshields, so it is an invaluable tool to threaten Sivir and Ruin Runner both.
Mulligan for: Xer’sai Hatchling if you attack on odds – Treasure Seeker if you attack on even – Curve.
- The mirror match usually gets decided in the midgame with a faceoff involving the big Overwhelm units pressuring and Pyke. Jaull-Fish usually is the nail in the coffin.
- Both players are great at pressuring and mediocre at defending unless Pyke gets transformed into a Death from Below. Once you feel you are in the lead, don’t let go of the pressure.
- Neither player has very reactive cards outside of Pyke’s spell, if you can develop during your turn, it’s usually good to do it.
Mulligan for: Xer’Sai Hatchling – Redfin Hammersnout – Wide board development
- The attack turns from Sivir Demacia is hard to contain for us, so we need to make our attack turn feel very impactful. If we can set up a wide board early on, we will be able to develop during our defensive turns and ignore the pressure our opponent applies to us.
- Demacia hates high-attack numbers on our units as it makes their blocking and Single Combat much hard to use efficiently. We cannot do much about the Quick Attack keyword our opponent uses, but we can at least make other things worse for them.
- Overwhelm is a great keyword against Demacia – they can’t heal or shrink our units. A lot of the game will resolve based on the face off between Sivir and our 5- and 6-drops.
- Jaull-fish can be a game winner if we have a board to abuse its trigger, so planning for a lategame battle isn’t out of the question. Be mindful of your opponent’s resources when going for it, like if they have Akshan Warlord’s Hoard for example or the size of their hand. The goal of Jaull-Fish is to clear the board and win as we outnumber on board.
- Rek’Sai Vulnerability. With Draven Ezreal running Thermogenic Beam and Arachnoid Sentry, levelling Rek’Sai is not easy. It is possible to do in rare cases, or quite late in the game with the aid of Rite of Negation. If she does get stunned or targeted by a beam Bone Skewer can be a real savior.
- Pyke is obviously a standout in this matchup, and your best chance of winning is to generate advantage thanks to repeated Death from Below. Usually Draven Ezreal can operate without overextending on board too much so a board wipe is not necessarily the end for them, and they have efficient removal for Pyke which doesn’t make this game plan a sure thing either.
- Sharkling over Hatchling. On turn 1, Hatchling is vulnerable to Thermogenic Beam, and to Statikk Shock – later in the game, so we always prefer playing Sharkling unless you’re really trying to bait for either spell.
Mulligan for: Xer’sai Hatchling if you attack on odds – Aspiring Chronomancer – Curve
- This matchup is a lot about being the first to snowball the board in your favor and then cashing in the damage. Do not try to outvalue or complicate things if you aren’t the one ahead tempo-wise.
- Our damage goes through the board while our opponent has direct damage they can use, making them faster in a race setup. Bone Skewer can deny Noxian Fervor though.
- Rek’Sai leveling up is our best way to race fast and early. The opponent shouldn’t run anything that denies her so whenever you have a shot at her level up, run for it.
- Pyke is an incredible answer to a turn 4 Poppy, pick him if you get a chance to see him in a prediction.
Mulligan for: Sharkling, Xer’Sai Hatchling, Feral Prescience, Aspiring Chronomancer. Keep Redfin Hammersnout.
- Meet their early game head on. Nasus Thresh tends to have explosive early plays, which often means our early units will trade into theirs, feeding into their Slay count. There is no real way around this, and even though it feels bad to have Nasus grow, board control is our win condition, and we cannot allow Thresh to come down on turn 5 with a full board.
- Dealing with Thresh. Try to keep their board as small as possible so Thresh cannot immediately level when coming down on turn 5. Keep a Bone Skewer, Death from Below, or Redfin Hammersnout specifically to deal with Thresh unless you want him to take over the game. Finally, be mindful of The Box whenever Thresh is on the board as it can completely ruin most of our early game units as well as Pyke.
- Dealing with Nasus. Lurk is one of the few decks that can actually threaten to kill Nasus through raw stats. It is almost always possible to hit Nasus twice to kill him, which means that coupled with a pre-emptive Bone Skewer or Death from Below mid-combat, it is possible to kill Nasus and prevent him from leveling, thus effectively removing that win condition. They do run Rite of Negation so it is not that simple, and you will have to be the one putting on the pressure for it to work reliably, but it is a line of play to keep in mind.
- Favor Pyke. This match-up is less about how powerful your units are, and more about how wide your board is compared to theirs, so you should favor transforming Pyke over Rek’Sai to control their board. Be aware of Rite of Negation however, as that could spell Pyke’s doom and your as well.
- But don’t sleep on Rek’Sai. They have little in ways of interaction to deal with Rek’Sai, so she is actually a guaranteed level-up once you hit the required attack threshold. Either on turn 4 or 5 before Nasus comes down, or using Ruthless Predator to deal a surprise 10+ damage to the Nexus, Rek’Sai still has a role to play in this match-up.
- Playing around Atrocity. While it can be good to play around Atrocity, my rule of thumb is that if playing around Atrocity means I will be extending the game for more than two turns, then I should probably just go for the kill. Extending the game rarely increases your winrate here.
Mulligan for: Sharkling – Aspiring Chronomancer – Xer’sai Caller – Curve
- 1-HP units are almost as good as dead in this matchup, try to keep your units healthy. This will prevent Make it Rain, Parrrley or Double Trouble from being too effective.
- Rek’sai is only kept in check by a Twisted Fate Gold Card, if your opponent is below 4 mana and you can level her up, go for it.
- Pyke’s spell is a great removal for Gangplank in the matchup.
- Although we have no healing, our units growing can set up a huge OTK later in the game. Keep in mind how to kill your opponent although you don’t have to aggressively rush for it.
Mulligan for: Pressure, Redfin Hammersnout.
- Both decks are very strong during their attack turn but weak during defensive turns. Our best defensive tool is Pyke’s spell, which we should actively look for in the predictions. Our opponent’s best ally on defense is Brightsteel Protector.
- We have nothing to deal with the Elusives so pressure is our best approach in order to force them into blocking.
- If you have a chance at leveling Rek’sai, you should absolutely take it. We are not looking to grind this matchup in any way as it gives more time to our opponent for their setups.
Mulligan for: Xer’Sai Hatchling – Redfin Hammersnout – Aspiring Chronomancer – Curve
- Discard will eventually wrestle the board away from us, especially the small units they can block efficiently. The goal is to get in as much damage as possible with the early game and then use the big Overwhelm to close the deal later on.
- If they run Arachnoid Sentry, Rek’Sai is very tough to use. But on ladder with a closed decklist format, I would play like the card isn’t there and slam Rek’Sai and level her up whenever possible.
- Pyke is a great removal but usually won’t stay on the board too long because of Get Excited!. A good way to use him would be to use his spell, then Bone Skewer to protect him from Get Excited! and then attack to get the spell back. This should Level up Pyke and give you a great tempo advantage.
- Long game. Swain TF possesses all the tools to make the game go as long as they need to. They can match our early game, then neutralize Rek’Sai thanks to Arachnoid Sentry or damage-based removal. Plan for a longer game and be patient. Growing Pyke steadily is important, especially because Swain TF’s inevitability comes from The Leviathan. Knock it down with a 8-power Death from Below and things start to look good.
- Their removal is so varied that it is almost impossible to play around the range of their answers. Try to stay away from Xer’sai Hatchling and especially playing out several of them as they are vulnerable to Make it Rain and Twisted Fate’s Red Card.
- In the spirit of elongating the game, Bone Skewer is an incredible tool to deny their removal while also killing one of their units. Don’t underestimate its potential value, but try to hold on to it if they have enough mana to kill your targeted unit and fizzle the spell, as that is often disastrous.
- Hatchlings are a no-no. We are the defender here, and Hatchlings will just die to Miss Fortune’s Love Tap as well as Make it Rain. Avoid, if possible.
- Favor Pyke over Rek’Sai. A Rek’Sai hit is great but it is generally not gonna end the game when done early. Since Pirate Aggro is faster than Lurk, turning to Pyke as a defensive option is the natural choice. Though don’t underestimate playing Rek’Sai on defense just to present a blocker. Even better if you have Bone Skewer, but don’t let the absence of it that stop you. Preserving health is extremely important, and generally we win through board control as opposed to an Overwhelm blowout attack, so Rek’Sai won’t be doing much just sitting in your hand.
The Lurkers archetype reminds me of Nightfall Aggro both in how it plays out and the place it holds in the metagame. There are a lot of puzzle-like interactions that are not immediately obvious to the uninitiated, it has obvious weaknesses, but also possesses great destructive potential.
My take is that once the Lurkers fever dies down, the deck will end up as a solid Tier 2 deck. Its power level is more than acceptable, but it is clearly held back from being utterly toxic by certain telegraphed plays and Rek’Sai’s hilarious vulnerability to Frostbite and Stuns. In short, it is a powerful deck with clearly defined strengths and weaknesses, which I think is a success coming from a game-design perspective.
If you enjoy the control aspect of manipulating your deck like a puzzle to find the right answer for the right threat but also enjoy being on the offensive, Lurkers’ flexible pieces will fit you like a glove.
I hope this deck guide helped you out in learning more about Lurkers! I will be updating this guide as the meta evolves, so don’t hesitate to come back if you want to refresh your knowledge of the deck. Also, I’m always available on Discord or Twitter if you want to talk shop.
Have a good one.