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 guide is dedicated to Riven Vi – a one-turn kill (OTK) combo deck, reminiscent of Zoe Lee. The deck was popularized by Freshlobster 2 months ago, and since then I have never stopped playing it. This is one of my favorite and best-performing decks of all time, and I’m really thrilled that I get to share my accumulated knowledge about it.
At first glance, this decklist might look like a weird twist on the Draven Sion archetype. However, it is actually a very different, combo-oriented deck.
Our goal is to build up a unit to a very high attack – often Vi, but sometimes Riven or even Ballistic Bot. All are very easy to boost thanks to Blade Fragments from Riven, Blade Squire, and Runeweaver. Next, we look to give our high-attack unit either Overwhelm – with a Heavy Blade Fragment/Blade of the Exile, or Elusive – with Ambush.
If a single hit with our huge attacker wouldn’t be enough, Midnight Raid would surely finish the job. Ruined Reckoner is a perfect fit for the deck, enabling our big evasive unit. Alternatively, we can also finish the game with Get Excited! to the face, once the opponent is low enough.
To make sure our big unit gets through and doesn’t die mid-combat, Survival Skills is a strong protection effect we can apply for free with Discard effects.
To round out the combo gameplan and be able to effortlessly activate our Survival Skills, we bring in the famously strong Discard package of Zaunite Urchin, Fallen Rider, Lost Soul, Poro Cannon, and Rummage. These cards will make sure we do get to our combo consistently, all the while making up for some strong early and mid-game tempo plays.
This package serves as the perfect bridge to our combo, and can even allow us to punish slower opponents through a more standard aggressive game plan. Fallen Rider and Twinblade Revenant play towards that very effectively thanks to the Fearsome keyword.
This deck is overall very comparable to the Zoe Lee archetype with its OTK combo nature. Compared to Zoe Lee, Riven Vi tends to be faster, as the combo often comes down on turns 6-8, and has a better presence early on thanks to its numerous cheap units. However, it doesn’t have as much protection for the combo and therefore doesn’t have Zoe Lee’s inevitability.
Techs and Options
- Might is one more tool we can use to enable your combo. Unlike Ambush or Heavy Blade Fragment, Might doesn’t need to be pre-commited as we attack which makes it more convenient in some matchups and situations.
- Give It All is yet another finisher spell once we have a good board. Give It All is particularly good on wide boards with lots of keywords and some big unit(s) – which is often what we have, for example with Vi alongside Daring Poros.
- Set up your combo. This deck is a combo deck, and you won’t find success if you don’t play accordingly. You should always be thinking ahead how you’re going to OTK your opponent, and look to stall the opponent out in the meantime while giving them as few windows as possible to stop you.
- Avoid trading key units. You will need to have at least one of them on board to kill your opponent. Avoid using Vi recklessly to get a value trade if the opponent could then kill her.
- Other units are dispensable. While you should do what you can to stick a key unit, the other ones are just there to stall the opponent out – use them to trade with the opponent’s units early on, and to chump block later. Don’t feel too bad about losing on value and board presence sometimes – those mean nothing once you 20-to-0 your opponent over one turn.
- Evaluate your Blade Fragments according to the matchup and situation. While they might seem like convenient discard fodder at first, we ideally want to keep them for our combo. However, if we already have Ambush in hand and the opponent doesn’t have counters to our combo nor Elusive units, then the value of key fragments gets lower as we shouldn’t need them anymore to win the game.
- Think about the opponent’s counter-plays. Once we have survived the early game and set up our combo, we need to play around the opponent’s answers. Look to corner them into a spot where they either can’t prevent their death, or just minimize their chances to have something.
- Slow-speed Stun effects are a very common counterplay to our combo (ex. Arachnoid Sentry, Twisted Fate, Crescent Strike). However, we can easily navigate around them by open-attacking with our combo. Note that Midnight Raid will work even if the unit is stunned.
- It is very common to divide our buffs between several units instead of going all-in on Vi when we play against a deck with counters to our combo (e.g. freeze effects, Vengeance, Entomb, Fast-speed Stuns, Silences). In order to do that, we should try to build a board with ideally Vi, Riven, and Ballistic Bot. Then, over 1 turn we give Overwhelm to Vi with Heavy Blade Fragment, Overwhelm to Ballistic Bot with the Blade of the Exile, and Elusive to Riven with Ambush. While the opponent might hold an answer, they’re much less likely to hold 3 answers.
General mulligan tips:
- Riven and Vi are both very important to the combo and great at holding the board, and you should mulligan to find them.
- Blade Squire, Zaunite Urchin, Runeweaver, Poro Cannon should be kept in tempo-oriented matchups, so we don’t fall behind early on.
- Ballistic Bot is a great early unit in slower matchup – 3 health make him hard to deal with efficiently, and he quickly grow into a dangerous threat.
- If you already have some discard effects in hand, Fallen Rider and Lost Soul are very good keeps.
Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s game plan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.
Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Blade Squire, Zaunite Urchin, Poro Cannon. Keep Fallen Rider or Runeweaver if you have a turn 1 play.
- As long as you don’t fall behind too much in the early game, this matchup is very good. You often get to OTK them before they have time to burn you down and they usually have no counter to your combo.
- They can develop a lot of pressure very quickly. However, as long as you hit a good curve too you should be able to keep your health high enough and the board close to even as your units trade very well into theirs.
- On turn 4, look to have 3 mana open for Get Excited! as long as they can play Poppy. They have no protection spells, and if you can remove Poppy before she gets a single attack it will feel bad for them.
- Conchologist‘s spell is often their best out once you are entering your combo, as they can find a wide variety of spells that could mess you up. If you have the luxury to do so, you can try to play around as many spells as possible among Guile, Ravenous Flock / Noxian Guillotine / Scorched Earth, Roar of the Slayer, Stress Defense, and Whirling Death.
- Another way they can prevent your combo is with 2 Noxian Fervor, which even kills Vi if you don’t have Survival Skills. However, unless they are very far ahead on the board this line often won’t win them the game because of how much tempo and resources it will cost them.
Mulligan for: Survival Skills, Riven, Vi. Keep early units and/or a discard effect spell if you have Survival Skills.
- Zed Poppy is an hyper-aggressive deck looking to rush you down with Elusive units and on-attack effects, with Rally to top off their game plan.
- Survival Skills is an amazing spell against the Quick Attack keyword, making it easy to block and threaten to kill their Zed or Young Witch‘s supported units. Look to set it up in the first 3 turns so you have everything that is needed to block a turn 3 Zed.
- Poro Cannon is a particularly valuable spell against their Elusive units. Ambush can also help you to block an Elusive threat, and, in this matchup, will very often be used defensively.
- Zed Poppy often doesn’t want to block, as their units are much better fit for attacking. Develop units and look to push as much damage as possible to make your combo a lot easier to execute, and sometime even force them to block.
- They have no counter to your combo. If you get to set it up without dying, the game is basically over. Moreover, you often won’t have to set up a perfect, full combo, as they often get quite low on health. Be aware they can save a few health points against Overwhelm with a combat trick.
- You can answer pretty much all their plans, and in that situation, they will often be forced to resort to Poppy win condition. While you do have removals and good blockers for her, they will often look to protect her with everything they got. You must not let her level up, and you might have to trade your Vi into her to make sure she won’t snowball the game away.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Blade Squire. Keep Zaunite Urchin if you have Lost Soul or Fallen Rider.
- Gangplank TF is a midrange deck that relies on consistently triggering Plunder to level Gangplank. While they aren’t an all-in burn deck, they can definitely burn you down – be conservative with you Nexus health. If you can deny them Plunder triggers, it will slow down Gangplank’s level.
- They have a lot of ping effects – Make it Rain, Pokey Stick, Lecturing Yordle, Twisted Fate, Group Shot or
Parrley. Your numerous 1-health units are easily removed, and you should try to trade them in combat as soon as possible. Avoid stacking too many 1-health units, or a TF’s Red Card could lose you the game.
- Because they rely so much on ping effects, Vi really shines thanks to her Tough keyword. However, they can use the help of Powder Kegs to finish a low-health Vi. Be aware that most versions of Gangplank TF include 2 copies of Monster Harpoon, a very good answer to Vi if you don’t have a Survival Skill at the ready.
- TF’s Gold Card is their single counter play against your combo once you have Survival Skills in hand. Fortunately, it is quite easy to play around it by open attacking, then Midnight Raid will allow your big evasive unit to attack again even if it’s stunned.
- You can deny their Double Up‘s face damage with Get Excited on your own unit, or with Survival Skill if they target your strongest unit.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Blade Squire. Keep Zaunite Urchin and Fallen Rider if you have both.
- Gangplank Sejuani is a midrange deck looking to level up both its champions with Plunder triggers. You want to kill them with the combo before they get there, and therefore you should try to set up quickly and prevent their Plunder triggers as often as possible.
- This matchup would be incredibly easy if it wasn’t for Sejuani. This champion is already annoying at level 1, freezing and challenging your Vi, and her level 2 form will completely counters your win condition if they can activate the freeze with Warning Shot or Make it Rain. You don’t really have a great answer to Sejuani, so the only option often is to go faster.
- The rest of their deck isn’t usually scary. You have enough early units to defend yourself early on, and your combo should be faster than their Gangplank win condition.
- Be careful to not stack up lots of 1-health units on your board. They have several ways to remove them, the most obnoxious one being Make it Rain, and therefore you should look to trade your 1-health units in combat as soon as possible.
- Vi tends to shine in this matchup thanks to the Tough Keyword. Be careful to play around Monster Harpoon or Sejuani with Survival Skills. If you can do that and assemble your combo befoe they level up Sejuani, they have few-to-no-ways of stopping you. Some versions play a 1-of Three Sisters, so you can look to play around that if you have the luxury to do so.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Ballistic Bot. Keep Fallen Rider or Lost Soul if you have Zaunite Urchin or Poro Cannon.
- Bandle Tree looks to stall out games by flooding and controlling the board. Then, The Bandle Tree comes down and quickly wins them the game. You don’t need to kill them very quickly to outspeed the Bandle Tree win condition, but you need to find a way around their stalling tools.
- While their board flood isn’t good at stopping your combo win condition, Minimorph is. Going for an all-in combo with no extra set up will often not work. You should instead try to lower their health with Ballistic Bot, Fallen Rider, and Twinblade Revenant, so you can kill them with 1 hit plus Get Excited!. Then, hold onto Ruined Reckoner and Heavy Blade Fragment for when they tap under Minimorph mana.
- You also need to recognize when you cannot play around Minimorph – if they are too healthy and getting ahead on the board. In that case, go for the combo and hope they didn’t find Minimorph. If they did, you can try again if you have the tools to combo again.
- If you have the tools to combo with 2 or 3 units at the same time it will make it a lot harder for them to stop you.
- Look to remove Bandle City Mayor as soon as possible with Vi or Get Excited – this card will generate them too much tempo.
- When possible go for the combo with a non-damaged unit, even if you have Survival Skill for Ravenous Flock – some versions play 1 copy of Scorched Earth.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Blade Squire, Runeweaver. Keep Lost Soul or Fallen Rider if you have Zaunite Urchin or Poro Cannon. Keep Survival Skill if you have Poro Cannon.
- Draven Sion is a midrange archetype that feels equally solid at every point in the game. Their early plan is slightly stronger and more consistent than yours. Unless you’re setting up a turn 6 or 7 kill, you want to keep the game as even as possible and not lose too much Nexus health. Ideally, you want to be able to tank a Sion hit without going into their burn’s range.
- Use Survival Skill to block their Draven. A Draven that keeps hitting your face is a Draven that brings you in Sion + Burn range.
- It’s very hard for them to stop your combo if you set it up cleanly.
- Go for the open-attack combo to play around Arachnoid Sentry.
- Avoid taking damage with the unit you want to kill them with, especially if you don’t have Survival Skills to protect it.
- When going for the kill with Overwhelm Vi, don’t challenge their strongest unit even if you have Quick Attack – it would play into Whirling Death and their own Survival Skill.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Ballistic Bot.
- Turbo Thralls is a combo deck looking to play Frozen Thralls, then accelerate and duplicate them to hit you with an army of 8/8 Overwhelms ahead of the clock. While our combo is on average slightly faster than them, their freezes slow us down, making this matchup unfavored.
- Look to set up a combo with multiple big hitters at the same time, so a single freeze won’t be enough to stop you. However, this can take more time, and you have no counters to their Overwhelming army. This matchup is very much about timing, and if you don’t have time to set up something hard to counter, you must recognize it and be ready for an all-in attempt hoping they have no freezes.
- Killing Lissandra is a high priority task in this matchup because her champion spell is Entomb – meaning with the second Lissandra in their hand, the opponent gets yet another way to counter the OTK combo.
- Their early game isn’t very strong, especially when they spend all their mana trying to accelerate their own combo. You can use that to pressure them – lowering their health will make the combo easier to execute. Look to play around Avalanche and Blighted Ravine.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Zaunite Urchin. Keep Lost Soul or Fallen Rider if you have Zaunite Urchin.
- Darkness looks to grow and discount the Darkness spell to gain control of the board and leverage synergies. They have a lot of good units early on, and their late game is powerful. However, their midgame is generally weaker as they need to juggle and navigate their play between various enablers and payoffs.
- Like against any Minimorph matchup, setting up your combo can be difficult. This one is especialy tough as they have good early board presence and lifegain, making it hard to win without the full OTK combo. Try to play around Minimorph by going for the combo with 2 threats or when they tap under 6 mana if you can, or just all-in, betting on them not having Minimorph if you can’t afford to play around it.
- Most version play 1 or 2 Stress Defense, adding another way for them to counter our combo.
Mulligan for: Riven, Vi, Ballistic Bot, a better matchup.
- Zoe Lee also looks to set up an OTK combo, by giving the Overwhelm keyword to Lee Sin. This matchup is extremely unfavored. You have absolutely no tools to prevent their win condition, and while yours is often faster, they on the other end have several cards that will stop you – Concussive Palm, Will of Ionia, and Hush.
- Look to set up the combo on multiple threats at the time to hopefully outnumber their answers. Recognize your best window to all-in your win condition, and hope they don’t have a counter play to it.
- They often want to play 2 spells each turn to activate Eye of the Dragon and Deep Meditation. Try to play around it and force them into awkward plays to activate their synergies. If you give them good opportunities to cast their spells right when they need it, they will also get a smoother progression toward their Lee Sin level-up.
Riven Vi is a very spicy archetype and a high-agency deck. If you always have liked combo decks such as Zoe Lee and are looking for something new to play, then I would strongly recommend you to give this deck a solid shot – it’s a very fun and competitive.
It is particularly interesting right now because, unlike other combo decks, it shows a good matchup against Zed Poppy.
If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below! 😉
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Thanks for reading!