Introduction and Stats
In this article, I will be sharing my guide Ruinous Acolyte / Acolyte’s Reliquary Swarm, the deck that I used to climb from Diamond to Masters at 76% winrate (23 Wins, 7 Losses). The deck feels broken and unfair to play, and I think it’s a candidate to become strongest deck in the meta. I get similar vibes with pre-nerf Lissandra Thralls when I tested out this archetype.
The deck matches up well against the most popular archetypes like Aatrox Midrange and Piltover & Zaun Champions’ Strength. To be honest, I’m not sure what decks or archetypes could counter Ruinous Acolyte Swarm. Most of the games I lost were due to me just having bad hands or making misplays from my part. I believe that this deck will be nerfed immediately in the next balance patch, and this would be my personal recommendation for players just looking to climb ranked ladder.
Author’s edit: The original creator of the deck is ipernas from Reddit, who also reached Masters with this archetype a few days ago!
This deck snowballs out of control if you get Acolyte’s Reliquary on Turn 1. However, the deck still has ways to win in games where you don’t draw the precious landmark. If you want to see this in action, check out my full video guide!
Ruinous Acolyte Swarm Deck Build
This deck wants to swarm the board with Ruinous Acolytes through Acolyte’s Reliquary, the new Shuriman landmark from the World Ender expansion. This landmark is a very potent activator for Ruinous Acolyte‘s buff effect. I overlooked this card when I first saw it, but once you play with or against this deck, you will realize that multiple Ruinous Acolytes snowball out of control very, very fast.
This build has three main deck copies of Ruinous Acolyte plus three more with Construct of Desolation. Rite of Passages can also summon Acolyte’s Reliquary at burst speed, allowing you to further swarm the board with more Ruinous Acolytes.
The rest of the deck is built around supporting this gameplan. Inventive Chemist, Endless Devout, and Drop the Bomb give you landmarks to destroy for your maindecked Ruinous Acolytes. Pokey Stick, Preservarium, and Unraveled Earth are tools to cycle the deck and draw your shuffled copies of Acolyte’s Reliquary.
You destroy lots of landmarks throughout the game with this deck, which makes Ziggs‘ level up very easy to achieve. Winning through burn damage with Level 2 Ziggs is one of the deck’s alternate win conditions. Safety Inspector plays a similar role with Level 2 Ziggs.
General Mulligan For Ruinous Acolyte Swarm
You want to hard mulligan for Acolyte’s Reliquary. This card is priority number one. If you have Acolyte’s Reliquary, you also always keep Rite of Passage. You can also keep a combination of Inventive Chemist plus Ruinous Acolyte. Never keep Inventive Chemist if you do not have Ruinous Acolyte.
If you already have a good hand, you can start considering keeping other combo pieces and utility cards:
- Ziggs levels up quickly if you can setup Acolyte’s Reliquary on Turn 1.
- Drop the Bomb can help you control the board against other swarm strategies.
- Rite of Negation can be clutch against big spells like Feel the Rush and Champions’ Strength.
General Gameplay Tips For Ruinous Acolytes
- Avoid trading early against units that you can outscale later on.
Your Ruinous Acolytes will scale higher in terms of stats the longer the game goes. If you can afford to, avoid trading into early units that you can outscale later on. This is your main way of beating midrange decks like Aatrox Kayn.
- Utilize Ziggs’ Level 2 to close out games.
If you already Level 2 Ziggs, consider playing him first before destroying your landmarks. His burn damage can accumulate very fast with multiple destroyed landmarks. You can also put opponents on lockdown with Level 2 Ziggs + Unraveled Earth.
- Do not give up even if you don’t get Acolyte’s Reliquary in the opener.
Getting Acolyte’s Reliquary in the opener is ideal, but this deck still has ways to win if that doesn’t happen. Here are some of the deck’s alternative win conditions:
Meta Matchup Tips
Ruinous Acolyte Swarm Mirror
- The gameplan in the mirror matchup is to play and retain more Ruinous Acolytes. He who sticks more Ruinous Acolytes will win the game.
- Hard mulligan for Acolyte’s Reliquary at all costs. You will probably lose the game if your opponent has it early and you don’t.
- Being able to remove Ruinous Acolytes with spells in the early game is premium. Kill opposing Ruinous Acolytes with Drop the Bomb and Rite of the Arcane early before they scale out of removal range.
- In a stalemate where both you and your opponent have multiple Ruinous Acolytes, burn damage from Ziggs level 2 can be the breaker of the stalemate. Preservarium can also provide much needed card advantage in the stalemate.
Decks that you can apply the same strategies: Mono Shurima with Ruinous Acolytes.
Aatrox Kayn Midrange
- Avoid trading early against their units. You will be able to outscale all their units in the mid game. Be patient, let your Ruinous Acolytes grow, and use your Nexus health as a resource in the early game.
- Once your Ruinous Acolytes grow larger than your opponent’s board (usually around Turn 5-6), you can start dominating the game. Your opponent will be forced to block and take bad trades eventually.
- Make sure to apply pressure and don’t let them get off a good World Ender. You can usually end games by Turns 6-7.
- This matchup is extremely favored. I have not lost a single game against Aatrox decks.
Piltover & Zaun Champion’s Strength
- This is a race! You are favored and you can pressure harder if you get Turn 1 Acolyte’s Reliquary.
- This matchup is even to slightly unfavored. It’s very hard to win the race if you don’t get Acolyte’s Reliquary early. Most of my losses came from these scenarios.
- Expect them to use Champions’ Strength on Turn 5 / Turn 6. Keep their board as narrow as possible by forcing them to block or by removing their units with Drop the Bomb / Rite of the Arcane.
- Rite of Negation can completely shut down Champions’ Strength. Keep it in the mulligan if you already have a good hand!
Feel The Rush Control
- Control matchups are very favored. They won’t have enough mana to deal with all the cheap Ruinous Acolytes that you’re playing every turn.
- Watch out for Blighted Ravine and Avalanche. Get your Ruinous Acolytes to 3 HP as soon as possible.
- They can turn games around with The Ruination / Buried in Ice / It That Stares / Feel The Rush. Keep Rite of Negation in the mulligan if you already have a good hand!
That’s it for the deck feature! Even if I played this deck personally, I know that this archetype is very polarizing and may turn out to be a very toxic deck on ranked ladder. The deck is extremely strong, and I’m expecting Acolyte’s Reliquary to be nerfed to 2 mana in the next balance patch. Climb with Ruinous Acolyte Swarm while you still can!