Spooky Karma In-Depth Deck Guide
Hello, Agigas here! I’m a new writer for RuneterraCCG, but you may have already read articles from me on Reddit! I am a master player since beta, with several #4 peak and tournaments win. I am also TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. Today, I’m revisiting the deck I’ve got the most success with, Spooky Karma! This will be my first guide on RuneterraCCG so I’ll hope you will like it!
I already wrote a guide about Spooky Karma 2 months ago, but as time went by, the game evolved, cards got changed, and I’ve learned a lot. This new guide also includes a lot of new categories so hopefully, you’ll find all the content you need to improve! 😄
General Gameplay and Concept
What is this deck about, what are its win conditions?
This deck is a heavy control-oriented deck. You deal with all opponent’s key threats with your control package (Grasp of the Undying, Vengeance, Vile Feast, Withering Wail, The Ruination, Thresh), stall the game with chump blockers and stuns (Hapless Aristocrat, Steel Tempest, Concussive Palm), and then, in the late game, you outvalue your opponent thanks to leveled Karma(s).
This deck, unlike most control decks, doesn’t have a clear way to kill your opponent. You’ll have to create a win condition out of the value you made, and it’s probably my favorite part. Infinite value, random spells, and multiple Karma on the board make the games very fun to play.
One of the key things that get you tons of value in the late game is using Karma’s spell (Karma’s Insight of Ages) with Karma on board. Not only will it give you 4 new spells in hand (and those will also get duplicated by Karma), but it will also create 2 new Karma in your deck! It means that you have “infinite” Karma in your deck, and you can’t lose by running out of cards. However, if you summon all your Karma, you won’t have access to Karma’s spell anymore (unless you manage to recall her with random spells), so consider keeping at least 1 Karma in your deck/hand.
I never played against this deck and it has a bad win rate on Mobalytics statistics, is it actually a viable deck?
This is a deck I’ve been playing a lot on the ladder with really good success on both NA and EU, and I also played it in my lineup to win the NA DoR 13 tournament. This deck is really strong.
In my opinion, the 2 main reasons for its low number of games and the win rate on Mobalytics are:
- It is a very difficult deck to play. Don’t expect to get tons of wins as soon as you pick it up. Most players trying this deck get a few losses and give it up, including master players. This partially explains both the low win rate and play rate.
- This is probably the slowest deck in the entire game. If you just want to climb as fast as possible, this is not a very good deck. I think my average game time is around 20 minutes and my longest game so far is 1h05. This is probably the actual main reason for its low play rate.
This Spooky Karma build is quite straightforward, with most cards having a very clear goal: stall the game, control your opponent, and/or outvalue him.
However, there are a few controversial cards:
- Steel Tempest: I think this card became a real powerhouse in Spooky Karma when it got buffed to 2 mana. This is a cheap stalling tool that allows developing a big play (Vengeance, Karma, The Rekindler, The Ruination…) without exposing yourself to a big attack. In the same vein, it allows you to cast a damaged-based removal during the opponent attack without being a risk of him buffing his creature to save it and deal a lot of damage to your face. It carries out most purposes Will of Ionia had in this deck but for a much lower cost.
- Deep Meditation: I’ve been playing this card in Spooky Karma for quite a long time and I’ve been nothing but impressed. Cycling through his deck is a very powerful thing to do in LoR. Even without any setup, this card is already fine. But it really becomes overpowered when you get a Karma on board: the 2 spells condition gets really easy to fulfill, and you will draw 4 spells from your deck for 3 mana (and then you will also duplicate those spells with Karma). This is just stupidly powerful. A common misconception is that Deep Meditation is overkill. Playing without any Deep Meditation can lead you to a situation where you have Karma on board but no spells that give you massive value out of it.
- Emerald Awakener: This card has already been played in Spooky Karma in the past but has fallen out of favor. I think this card is really good in Spooky Karma. Since it’s polyvalent, it helps to stabilize, but also to finish off your opponent. The amount of health point it will give you back will often close the game. When you have to keep a lot of mana open in the late game to have answers available, it feels really nice to have a 6/6 Lifesteal while only committing 3 mana. It does also synergize quite well with Mist’s Call.
Shadow Assassin and Will of Ionia were Ionia meta staples and were both in this deck before getting nerfed. I think both are no longer the best options for this deck. Shadow Assassin is too much of a tempo loss and Will of Ionia’s nerf is really heavy because the mana cost is extremely important when it comes to reactive spells.
- Adapt your version to your meta:
Spooky Karma is a pretty good deck when it comes to adapting to a meta. My version is rather polyvalent, though it can be interesting to incorporate some changes in order to target some decks.
Thorny Toad: This card can help you a lot at stalling the game against non-evasive creatures, and it even gives you a few health points back! It is not in my current version because it suffers from the comparison with Hapless Aristocrat. Moreover, the toss 2 when dying is pretty annoying as it actually reveals information to your opponent.
Darkwater Scourge + Death Mark: This old-school combo is truly good against aggro and midrange decks when they are unable to interact with it using a cheap spell. You might as well include a few more cards to synergize with Death Mark, as for instance Mark of the Isles. Be warned that these combos can be powerful but tend to make the deck a bit less consistent (you’ll always remember your hand with 3 Death Mark and nothing to pair it with) and it is VERY weak to Glimpse Beyond.
2nd Deny: Having only 1 Deny was a close call. You can’t really go wrong by adding a second one, to be honest. I chose to only have 1 as hands with 2 Deny can be very weak. Though having a second Deny gives you a better matchup against a lot of decks.
The Box: I was playing 3 copies of this card when Anivia control and Harrowing aggro were popular. It can be very efficient and it feels good to have the possibility to deal 3 damages for only 4 mana. Yet the lack of healing and the constraint on the card makes it not good enough to be in the list, but it can be a very strong tech in some specific meta.
Will of Ionia: It is still playable: it’s a great tech against buff strategies and Fiora decks in particular.
3rd Vengeance and/or 3rd The Ruination: Very important against decks with a high density of big threats. I only feature 2 of each because I’m still quite consistent at finding them thanks to Deep Meditation. If you face a lot of deep, the matchup can be harder with the current version. However, if you go up to 3 The Ruination, 3 Vengeance and 2 or 3 Deny it becomes a good matchup. More on that in the matchup section.
Tips and Tricks
- L2P = Learn to Pass
This skill is extremely underrated and important when it comes to Spooky Karma. Passing gives you the opportunity to gather information, and prevent your opponent from reacting to your plays, giving you the edge on every play. If your opponent passes back and goes to the next turn, it will slow down the game, giving you an easier time stabilizing and reaching the point you get control over the game.
This is not something you should just do sometimes to make a specific play: this should be a major part of your gameplay. If you want to see some nice passing gameplay, this game against Spooky Lux during the DoR finals is a fine example (play it at 2x speed).
Of course, you should think before each pass about the consequences. Ask yourself “What happens if we go to the next turn right now?”. I’ve been doing a lot of limit-testing regarding this on the ladder before the tournament (doing extremely greedy passes) and it was a valuable exercise to practice this skill.
- Play chess, not poker
I gotta admit I don’t know anything about Poker but you get the idea! 😅 Don’t take the risky bet, don’t be like “he only has 1 Deny in his deck, what are the odds”. 🙄 You should try to guess what cards your opponent has in hands from the way he plays, not from the number of cards left in his deck. Sure you sometimes HAVE to take risks, but you should not take them when you do have the choice.
I like a lot the comparison with chess because like a chess player you should ALWAYS be ahead of the play. One of the things that define the quality of a chess player is “How many moves can you see ahead?“. It is EXACTLY the same in LoR. The more you train this skill, the further you’ll be able to see the possible outcomes of a play. I think like in chess this skill is a mix of thinking and pattern-recognition.
This advice isn’t only about Spooky Karma but LoR in general, but it is especially important when playing Spooky Karma. Games with this deck are long. So, if you keep taking inconsiderate risks and don’t think about the long-term consequences of your plays, there will be a moment it won’t pay off and you’ll lose on the spot.
- Managing life gain
You have a lot of life gain in this deck so you should be careful not to waste it: the aim isn’t to always be as high in health as possible but to have control over your life total.
For example, you might decline to chump block a creature when you have a very high life total and save your chump blocker for later so that the life gain part of spells you cast isn’t wasted. This might look like something of lesser importance but you’ll VERY often go below 3 life to gain some other benefits, then get back your health points later. Wasting some of your life gains might prevent you from that liberty.
You should also be mindful of the fact that, when casting life gain spells (Withering Wail in particular) without a Karma on board, you’ll be losing some life gain potential for the late game.
- Don’t rush your plays
One of the main difficulties of this deck is that you have to be focused from start to finish, and games can last 30+ minutes. This can invite you to rush some plays, so be very careful about that: this deck is NOT forgiving and a late-game mistake can cost you the whole game.
On the other hand, don’t consider it a disadvantage: your opponent will be playing for the same time as you, therefore you also give them more time to screw up. If you’re used to the deck, you’ll also be a lot more accustomed to this kind of game than him, giving you the edge.
- When to play Karma
Playing Karma is a bit of a tempo loss before she is enlightened but it provides a lot of value. It is usually a good play if you have ways to bring her back from the dead in your hand (The Rekindler, Mist’s Call). Remember not to open your turn by playing her: PASS, see what your opponent does, then you may play her.
Be mindful that having Karma in hand is very valuable as she will transform into Karma’s Insight of Ages once you get another Karma on board. Hence you should consider not playing your 2nd Karma once the first one dies, and rather try to create a Karma on board with a The Rekindler. This way you can use Karma’s spell to get more Karmas in your deck and a lot of spells. Playing your last Karma in a slow matchup is very risky because it will make it much harder to have a Karma in hand ever again and enjoy the infinite value it procures. Be careful when you get multiple Thresh and level them up: if they bring all Karmas from your deck, it is not always a good thing.
To have an easier time getting stonks of Karma in my deck against slow matchups, I sometimes don’t play my Karma until I have a second one in hand so that I can play it and cast her spell without giving my opponent time to remove her. Deep Meditation can also be a valid reason to play Karma if you still have more Karmas in your deck.
- How to use random spells
A lot of random spells are very straightforward. Still, there are some spells that can find some less expected uses, so I think it’s interesting to go through a few of them!
- Recall, Retreat, Shadowshift, Fading Memories, Splinter Soul, Dawn and Dusk: Wait, did you said Extra Rekindlers procs?! Recall, Retreat, and Shadowshift can also be used to bring back a Karma in your hand if you need her spell.
- Dragon’s Rage has a great synergy with Emerald Awakener to get 12 health points back!
- With 1 Karma on board, casting a Sonic Wave will give you 2 Resonating Strike. Those will also get duplicated, for a total of +8/+0. With 2 Karmas, you go up to +18/+0.
- The Harrowing: can get you an instant win. If not, it will at least give you a lot of life points back as it brings back Emerald Awakener in priority once you’re enlighted, and you can also get some Rekindlers to get non-ephemeral Karmas!
But the most important thing regarding random spells usage is to be creative. You can’t learn every spell’s usage as they can interact with each other. Here are a few highlights I think are funny:
- My opponent had a Radiant Guardian with Unyielding Spirit buff. I used Possession then Recall to deal with it.
- Again with Possession, I stole an opponent’s creature, gave it challenger with Sonic Wave, and threw it into his Lux.
And there are a lot more. You need to think outside the box and find new ways to use those random spells.
There are also some spells that won’t be very useful in your current situation: try to cast them when you have extra mana to spare so you can free up space in your hand for your next drawing/creating cards spell.
- When you’re planning to use a Mist’s Call soon, try to get your spiders and such to die before the turn you do so. Else your opponent could kill it when you cast your Mist’s Call and put you at the danger of getting back a spider instead of a Thresh for example.
- To play The Ruination against Ionia decks without running into Deny, you can either play it with 13 mana and your own Deny in backup or have a leveled Karma on board so there are 2 The Ruination on the stack.
- Be mindful of the number of cards in your hand before using spells that create/draw cards.
Sum up: A common misconception is that Spooky Karma would be weak to aggro. With tons of removals and life gain spells, Thresh, and a lot of ways to stall the game (stuns and chump blockers) aggro are actually good matchups overall. The biggest Spooky Karma weakness comes from combo decks you can’t easily interact with, typically Ezreal/Karma.
For the mulligan, here is some general advice:
- If your hand is already good you should keep Karma in any non-aggro matchup, so you don’t find yourself in a situation with all 3 Karmas at the bottom part of your deck. You can still win the game in that situation since you can stall for a long time, but it would make things harder.
- Look out for Thresh + Mist’s Call combo, especially against low-value decks.
- I usually avoid keeping multiple copies of the same card to have a hand with flexibility, unless the said card is a staple in this matchup and I know I want multiple copies of it.
With a very high win rate AND play rate, be prepared to face the current queen of the meta quite often.
- Difficulty: even.
- Mulligan for: early blockers (Hapless Aristocrat, Vile Feast) and ways to control their board (Grasp of the Undying, Vengeance).
- Gameplan: Avoid taking too much damage by chump blocking their creatures while setting up your removals. Prevent them from stacking too many 5+ attack creatures on the board in order to keep them from getting tons of value with Trifarian Assessor. Play around freeze cards. Stuns can save your units from a freeze during combat. Thresh is strong at contesting the board but you’re losing tons of tempo if they have a Culling Strike in hand, so be careful. Try not to let an Ashe stick on board: once she levels up, it can be pretty hard to survive if you don’t have full control over the game yet.
This deck is gaining more popularity each day. Riptide Rex’s face damages combined with Ezreal can make the games hard to navigate.
- Difficulty: unfavored.
- Mulligan for: early blockers (Aristocrat, Vile Feast), ways to deal with TF (Grasp of the Undying), Thresh.
- Gameplan: Prevent them from dealing too much damage with their early followers, you’ll heavily need your life gain for later. From turn 8, they will start playing Riptide Rex(s) so your health points will drop very fast, and then they’ll drop a leveled Ezreal to finish the game. Your goal is to bring back your health total high enough when nearing the moment they can play a leveled Ezreal. They don’t have Karma, neither a lot of burst speed spells, so if you keep your health high enough they won’t be able to kill you with Ezreal. It can be quite hard to do so because, in the meantime, you have to manage their board and tank their Riptide Rex’s cannon bullets. However, if you can duplicate some life gain spells with Karma on board and/or use Emerald Awakener’s lifesteal, they pretty much don’t have a win condition anymore.
This deck became very popular after its recent buff, but it still struggles to find a refined list. Expect to face a lot of different versions of it.
- Difficulty: favored.
- Mulligan for: early blockers (Hapless Aristocrat, Vile Feast), early/mid game removal to control their board, and deal with Jinx (Grasp if the Undying, Withering Weil, a Vengeance), Thresh if you already have enough early action.
- Gameplan: Slow them down as much as you can. I linked the most popular version but I expect most Discard Aggro decks to start playing more Crowd Favorite so try to deal with their board before they can play it. The most dangerous card in their deck is Jinx. If you let her live a few turns, it’s pretty much over so be careful about that.
Deep gained some popularity because of the Will of Ionia nerf. Depending on your Spooky Karma build, it can be a good and very fun matchup.
- Difficulty: even.
- Mulligan for: Karma, value, Vengeance, The Ruination.
- Gameplan: This version is not built to face Deep because I wasn’t facing any. If you face a lot of Deep, you might wanna add a The Ruination, a Vengeance, and a Deny. This way, the matchup is very favored once you get used to it. Your plan is to simply let them die from the mill, as they will graciously help you by tossing their own cards. Remove every champion so they can’t use champion spells to fill back their deck, Deny their treasures and/or Nautilus’s Riptide, and deal with their board with Vengeance and The Ruination. To beat their Maokai’s level up, you need to keep one Karma + a way to generate a Karma (Karma herself or The Rekindler) in hand so you can use Karma’s Insight of Ages to fill your deck back with Karmas.
Very powerful but reliant on its board dominance, Scout is one of the strongest decks despite his hard matchup against Ashe.
- Difficulty: Favored.
- Mulligan for: Early blockers (Hapless Aristocrat, Vile Feast), ways to deal with key cards (Grasp of the Undying, Vengeance if you already have a good hand, but not Withering Wail as it’s really bad into Ranger’s Resolve or Vanguard Bannerman), Thresh is OP to contest the board. Ruination can be a consideration if you already have a good hand.
- Gameplan: Try to deal with their board as fast as possible to minimize Bannerman, Cithria, and Genevieve’s impact. Be ready to kill their Miss Fortune with your Grasp of the Undying. The mid-game dream is Thresh + Mist’s Call combo. If you manage to control the early to mid-game and limit their board presence, they are actually easy to beat.
Endure decks were once a dominant force, and they are now making a come back in the meta. You better be prepared for some big trample creatures!
- Difficulty: Favored.
- Mulligan for: Early blockers (Aristocrat, Vile Feast), control (Grasp of the Undying, Vengeance), and Thresh.
- Gameplan: Thresh is extremely good in this matchup as they don’t have good ways to remove him and are literally helping you to level him up! Stuns are excellent to prevent They Who Endure to hit you without committing a lot of mana. You also have ways to stop them from killing you with Atrocity (Deny, Vengeance, life gain). Try to prevent them from drawing cards with Glimpse Beyond: without it, they run out of value pretty fast and it makes the game easier to win. Neverglade Collector can be annoying before you get a leveled Karma because of its 4 health points and its abilities to kill you very fast if left unchecked. Once Karma levels up, Grasp of the Undying becomes a great answer.
Ezreal combo decks can be very hard to interact with, making them a great counter to slow decks.
- Difficulty: Very unfavored.
- Mulligan for: value, Karma, Grasp of the Undying, Deny,
a better matchup.
- Gameplan: This matchup is really difficult because you need to play Karmas to play your deck so you have to give them targets to level up their Ezreal. They have all the time they need to find their combo pieces and they kill you at burst speed. Try not to ever let them have priority while they have a leveled up Ezreal or Karma on the board, or they will play the missing champion and OTK you. I guess your best shot is trying to find a high tempo play with some Mist’s Call while having a Karma on board and to kill them “””fast”””, but it is unlikely. Otherwise, hope for them to missplay and allow you to deal with their Ezreal one by one.
The last BBG’s decklist got some popularity very fast. With a lot of value and the ability to bring back Lux from the dead, it scales very well into the late game.
- Difficulty: Favored.
- Mulligan for: value, ways to deal with Lux (Vengeance, The Ruination), Karma, Deny.
- Gameplan: They don’t have the speed to kill you, so you just have to chump block and stun their creatures to stall until the late-game. Whenever they overcommit, you can use The Ruination to clean up the board. Try to kill their Lux so your chump blockers don’t get removed by Lasers. They often play 1 Unyielding Spirit so play around it by keeping Deny or Vengeance’s mana open when they have 8+ mana, especially if you play without any Will of Ionia. If they manage to resolve Unyielding Spirit, it will be harder (especially on Lux) but it is still very winnable: you can still chump block it, stun it and stall for a very long time until you find something with random spells to deal with it.
I created a youtube channel for this guide and recorded some games so I can show you some gameplay against popular archetypes.
- Spooky Karma vs aggro gameplay:
- Spooky Karma vs midrange gameplay:
- Spooky Karma vs control gameplay:
Be warned that I’m no YouTuber, so this is just raw gameplay with a short description. If you want to watch some of it, I recommend you to do it at a 2x speed as Spooky Karma games tend to be very long.
Last but not least, be sure to comment if there is any play you don’t understand, so I can give you some explanations!
You can also watch the DoR finals VOD (from my opponent’s perspective), cast by ShitJustWork and Boulevard. This way you can see what it looks likes to play against Spooky Karma.
To conclude, I want to say that I don’t expect everyone to like this deck. It’s a very hard deck to play, very unforgiving, and you have to enjoy playing long and drawn-out games. However, if you like controlling the opponent and defeat all his plans, improvising 200IQ plays with random spells and infinite value, mastering a deck that has survived time, patches after patches, nerfs after nerfs, and Karma is your favorite card, you should definitely think about adding this deck to your repertory!
If you like my content and don’t wanna miss out on anything, I use my twitter account to share things like decklists and performances, and let people know when I publish a new article! 😄
Thanks a lot for reading me, if you have any questions or feedback I’ll be glad to read it and answer it in the comments! 😉