Hi everyone, and welcome to yet another guide!
Today, we’re going to go in-depth on one of the top performers from patch 3.4.0 and the deck challenging Mono Shurima for the most played deck: Riven Viktor.
The deck could be considered a highly synergistic aggro deck. The archetype is looking to be the aggressor in almost every matchup but isn’t trying to damage the opponent regularly as a Spiders deck would do. Instead, it is looking to install a threat and buff it to threaten double-digit damages and then finish the game through burn spells. And looking at both its play and win rates in the past week, it is looking to be a very successful game plan so far.
In order to accomplish this feat, the deck can count on both its champions: Viktor and Riven, both being notorious for growing out of proportions if not dealt with quickly. Joining them in this logic are the Ballistic Bot (or Mini-Viktor in some communities) and Nyandroid, two units capable of reaching very high attack counts thanks to the augment keyword, making them a threat to deal with as soon as they hit the board.
In this regard, Viktor Riven doesn’t necessarily need to establish a regular flow of damage like other aggressive decks and can be comfortable in not attacking for several rounds if it helps the deck advance towards a better setup. Also, with several cards featuring the augment keyword, the deck naturally grows several units at the same time, creating much more pressure than if the deck had to invest for every single one.
In the support department, the deck features Riven’s followers, Blade Squire and Runeweaver, both helping to generate created cards but also great support tools in order to push for damage. Poro Cannon is another card that helps to gain access to both created cards and some chip damage thanks to the Daring Poros. The Cannon is also a burst speed discard for Survival Skills.
While the direct damage usually is planned as burn damage to close out the game, Mystic Shot and Get Excited! are two very flexible damage spells and act as the main removal the deck has access to outside of trading in combat.
The main issue the deck can run into is bricking its hand, most of the time finding spells like Decimate or Ambush early on, or Survival Skills without any unit to use it with. With only Zaunite Urchin as a way to cycle the deck, it can sometimes feel like Riven Viktor is its own worst enemy and the deck can lose games to its inconsistency.
Techs and Options :
- Might: Ambush is regarded as the superior support spell to help our units find the opposing Nexus and is a cheaper option, Might still presents one major upside. Because our units are growing to absurd amounts of attack points, it is extremely rare the opponent can skip blocking, allowing us to play some cards in reaction to their blocks. With Ambush, we are forced to commit the card before attacking, otherwise, our unit does not gain the benefit of the elusive keyword. Might though, allows us to play the spell after our opponent picked its blockers and maybe invest some mana as well.
- Rummage: A very underused card ever since it got nerfed to 2 mana, Rummage can help the deck cycle faster towards its key cards. While most of the time, an aggressive Mulligan should be enough to find a couple of threats to invest into, a copy of Rummage can help the overall consistency of the deck.
- Station Archivist: With very limited draw, the deck can often feel like it runs out of gas if the first 2 rounds of attacking can be denied by our opponent. Station Archivist provides a bit of extra value while also allowing us to plan ahead on which spells are at the top of our deck.
- Calculated Creations: Although 2 mana to generate a card can feel a little pricey in this deck, being able to generate more Nyandroids or Ballistic Bots while triggering the Augment keyword on our other units can rapidly mount a ton of on-board pressure.
- AfterShock: Piltover’s Decimate deals 1 less damage but opens the deck to landmark destruction in return. While you should already destroy Mono Shurima with the deck, I’ve seen players liking the cheaper option while being more flexible against landmark-based decks.
General Tips :
- Have a clear path toward beating your opponent :
This deck walks a fine line between the damage our units have to deal and the reach we have with our burn spells. Based on how much you have available from hand, you should be able to assess how much your units have to deal to open up lethal with direct damage.
Similarly, think ahead of what your opponent will be most likely to be weak to, either Overwhelm, Elusive, or a slow burn thanks to the Ignition created by Ballistic bot. Lastly, you need to know if you should go all-in on one unit or try to spread the buffs and damage potential across several units.
- Play to your hand and outs :
As stated earlier, Riven Viktor isn’t a deck that wants to spend a lot of mana on something else than dealing damage, pushing the deck to limit its draw potential in order to maximize its core mechanics. Because of this limitation, we have to form a logical line of play with the cards in our hand and maybe a couple more cards that we will draw naturally in the upcoming turns.
- Don’t get caught in your opponent’s rhythm
Viktor Riven is an Off-Tempo deck, meaning it doesn’t really have a specific rhythm it is trying to impose on the game, but that doesn’t mean it is willing to accept the one the opponent wishes to set.
In order to advance towards a lethal setup, we need to grow our units and set up the devastating attack that will open up our burn plan afterward. A lot of the time, advancing our plan will mean ignoring some of what our opponent is doing unless we have a chum blocker ready. The mindset we need to have is one where we are progressing faster to our win condition than our opponent is advancing theirs.
- Use your cheap spells to gather information
Viktor’s Hex Core Upgrade, Ballistic Bot’s Ignition, or the Poro Cannons and Daring Poros, we have a lot of ways to perform a very cheap action and force our opponent to either pass or commit more mana than we did. While there are some cases where we don’t want to give our opponent a chance to play a slow spell (for example, Noxus can play Arachnoid Sentry before we attack), there is also a lot of merit in scouting what our opponent does before we attack and limit their available mana for Burst and Fast spells.
- Abuse your opponent’s weaknesses
Our deck isn’t what we could call subtle, and as time passes, almost every player on your way will be well aware of your game plan. This means that if you are growing your threats and the opponent isn’t reacting to it while knowing what is coming, there is a fairly big chance they don’t really have a way to stop you efficiently.
With that in mind, it is often correct to go all-in when we have a read our opponent cannot answer a Riven or a Viktor of ours while they had the chances to do so in previous turns.
Keep in mind that depending on the way the opponent reacts to our threats, they can wait until we decide to attack, which is much harder to get a read on compared to slow spells or unit abilities.
General Mulligan Tips :
- Find a threat first and foremost
Ballistic bot, Nyandroid, and both our champions are our number one priority in the mulligan as they allow us to establish our pressure and force the opponent into reacting to what we do.
Although Blade Squire and Runeweaver are very helpful early game units, they don’t really actively contribute to the primary game plan, but rather support it.
- Only keep payoff cards with a great hand
Ambush and Ruined Reckoner will win us a lot of games but can lose as many if they stick to our hand and do nothing. These cards are only useful if we managed to create the situation they were imagined for, and it is very rare we can create that situation with just our mulligan, making it more likely we want to throw those back at the start of the game
- Do not mulligan defensively
Against other aggressive matchups, it is tempting to look for our Mystic Shots and Get Excited! in order to deny our opponent’s early game. But in reality, we also are denying our early game in doing so.
It can be a good thing to have one damage spell to remove a champion (Akshan, Lulu…) but it should not be at the cost of not advancing our gameplan either. Find a Riven or a Viktor first, then use those spells to buy the needed time to buff them.
Mulligan for: Ballistic Bot – Riven – Viktor – NyanDroid. Support once you have 1 or 2 of those
- The mindset for this match up should be the one of a race, as we want to win before the opponent can reach level 3 and turn things around. This is a race for us to lose as we are much faster to set up our win condition compared to the Buried Sun Disc reaching 0.
- Quicksand is the big problem for us as it removes Keywords and allows the opponent to chum block our big threats, which unfortunately we can’t boost in terms of health. If we can have 3 threats, the opponent will need 2 Quicksands to control them all.
- Viktor is our best attacker late in this match, especially if the Hex Core Upgrade grants him Spellshield. With 4 health, he is rather weak to Rite of the Arcane when played. Pairing him with Survival Skills solves the problem until we can find Tough, Spellshield or level Viktor.
- With no elusive units in the Mono Shurima deck, Nyandroid can win this match up on its own as it can chip away nexus health every round we can attack until the opponent commits a precious Quicksand and allows us to invest more into our attacks.
Mulligan for: Ballistic Bot – Riven – Viktor – Runeweaver
- This match up is a race to the finish line for both decks, with the exception that we are more flexible on defense with Mystic Shot and Get Excited! and have access to a ton more damages in the late game.
- Spiders big strength is the board swarm it can develop early on, which transfers into a lot of damage quickly. If we can get through the first 3 turns safely, we can then focus on growing our threats and accept the race.
- Riven tends to be the fastest way for us to pressure, as she quickly reaches double digits attack once leveled. Viktor is much slower, but high rolling Lifesteal as a key word means a free win.
- Once on the board, quickly get your Nyandroid and Ballistic Bot to 3 attack, so they can help to block fearsome units and protect your nexus if needed.
- The opponent has no way to defend the elusive or the Overwhelm keywords, making it very easy to plan our damage output
Mulligan for: Viktor – Riven – Ballistic Bot – Cheap blockers
Match up tips:
- Tristana Swarm will force us into a defensive stance as the threat of Yordles In Arm and Golden Aegis will grow as their board develops. We need to accept this situation up until a certain point, and always advance our game plan in the process
- With no direct damage, it is fairly easy to assess the amount of damage the opponent can have access to without rallying. It is often correct to use your health as a resource to set up a better attack on the next turn; always play to win.
- Ambush can be answered with Sharpsight, which can give our opponent a full turn of pressure we have to answer. Nyandroid is a good way to make our opponent use their Sharpsight early, otherwise, rely on the overwhelm keyword, which is much more reliable in this matchup.
- Mystic Shot and Get Excited! can help contain the opposing board, and removing Grandfather Fae, Tristana or Gleaming Lantern can slow our opponent down a lot. Make sure to develop as well and not get trapped in a defensive position that will eventually be punished.
Mulligan for: Riven – Viktor – Ballistic Bot – Survival Skills
Match up tips:
- The mirror is an all-out race to whoever builds the biggest threat first, with only Survival Skill as a real way to swing the pressure around. Because of Quick Attack, Overwhelm and Elusive being available keywords to the deck, the attacker has a lot more ways to pressure than the blocker has to defend.
- With Get Excited! as the biggest removal in the deck, only a double Mystic Shot can remove either Riven or Viktor. It is much more profitable resource-wise to be the one playing the threats rather than trying to remove them.
- Survival Skills means that it is impossible your unit dies during the turn, forcing the opponent to block in order to protect its nexus. Paired with Overwhelm, the card allows us to push a ton of damage safely.
- Poro Cannon is a good utility card in the mirror, either blocking Nyandroid to deny damage to our opponent or chipping away at the opposing nexus’s health.
- Once you decide to go for the burn spells, make sure to commit Decimate first and keep the fast speed spells to react to your opponent
Mulligan for: Riven – Viktor – Ballistic Bot – Get Excited!
Match up tips:
- This matchup is a battle of each deck trying to set up their big pop off turn. For us, it is our augment unit reaching critical mass, for the opponent, it is a devastating Yordle in Arms on a full board.
- The opponent relies on swarming the board while we look to grow a couple of units out of proportions. We need to limit our opponent board through non committal attacks to reduce the threat of Yordle in Arms.
- Lulu is a big problem for us in the matchup as she enables the Flame Chompers to trade our important units. She should be removed as soon as possible and is the reason why keeping Get Excited! makes sense. Survival Skills is another way to protect a key from a trade.
- Ballistic Bot and Nyandroid can be answered with Get Excited! on the opposing side, making Riven and Viktor much more resilient at 4 health. Because of this, we are okay using our 3 health units into trades but would like to keep the 4 health ones out of combat as much as possible.
Mulligan for: Viktor – Riven – Survival Skills. If you have a lot of 1/2 drops in your hand, you can full keep and try to swarm early for damage.
Match up tips:
- With very similar gameplans, both deck can cancel each other in trades. It is usually a timely Hush for the Pantheon deck or a Survival Skill for Riven Viktor which can tilt the balance.
- Blinded Mystic can completely deny a Ballistic Bot or a Nyandroid but is useless against Viktor or Riven, making our champions much scarier for the opponent and safer for us to invest into.
- With limited healing available for the opponent, we can rely on direct damage once we managed to get a couple of hits to the opponent’s nexus. This is mostly valid if we manage to get the swarm opener or once we got a big hit with a buffed up unit.
- Time tends to favor the opponent as it gets them closer to Pantheon leveling up, and it isn’t something we can really counter or contain very well. Being the aggressor and accepting to risk some of our decisions usually nets better results, especially if we have a Survival Skills as a support tool.
Mulligan for: Viktor – Nyandroid – Poro Cannon – Survival Skills
Match up tips:
- Ezreal – Caitlyn can virtually answer every unit we put into play, making it a really difficult match up on paper. The way to gain an edge is to try and stick on the board a unit they can’t block with their board once we made them commit some spells. To accomplish this, we use Ballistic Bots, Riven and the support units as a distraction, hoping the opponent needs to invest as many resources as possible into those, allowing us to protect Viktor and Nyandroid more efficiently.
- Survival Skills makes our units only week to Scorched Earth for a turn. If possible, try to pair it with a Ruined Reckoner to attack twice with a buffed up unit, or make sure the hit is enough to burn the opponent’s nexus afterward
- Daring Poros are very annoying for the opponent if they cannot find Caitlyn and shuffle Trapbombs into our deck. They can chip away at the opponent’s nexus and force some spells they would want to use on bigger threats.
- Open attacking is often required against Ezreal Caitlyn if you plan on committing Ambush, you otherwise open yourself to Arachnoid Sentry. Make sure to invest resources into a non-damaged unit to prevent Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth as well.
Closing Words :
With Mono Shurima being the most popular deck of the first week, Riven Viktor found the perfect target to abuse and grow its win rate. As time passes, though, Mono Shurima reduces in popularity, making Riven Viktor a less interesting pick in the metagame, or at least one in need of flexibility.
Currently, the deck is focusing on maximizing how to impose its gameplan on the opponent, and logically features very polarized match ups. In the last few days, Draven Rumble or Draven Viktor also re-emerged on the ladder, as a way to adapt to the environment, and should contend with Riven Viktor as other aggressively minded Piltover – Noxus pairings.
For now, it doesn’t look like the deck needs to worry too much outside of the Masters rank, where players tend to adapt much faster. Riven Viktor stays a very solid pick to climb the ranks, and does so with the benefit of a gameplan that can be used in almost every match up of the current metagame.
I hope everyone is having a good time playing the game, if you want to share your passion, feel free to join us in the RuneterraCCG discord to talk about anything regarding the game. As for myself, you can find me on Twitter, and currently, you can also win a nice Infernal Kennen skin if you enter the giveaway we are having.
Good game everyone.