Tahm Kench/Soraka Deck Guide & Matchups

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 particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of guides on meta decks. You can find all the other guides and a matchup table on this page.

This guide is dedicated to Tahm Kench/Soraka – a unique archetype with an extremely interesting matchup table.


edit
Soraka/TK created by Agigas
Standard
TK Soraka
Midrange
Combo

Archetype: Midrange/Combo.

This archetype uses the strong synergy of Soraka and Tahm Kench. You have a lot of units that can sustain damage and a lot of healing and healing payoffs to go along with that. The deck can snowball very hard – if Tahm Kench starts growing and the opponent can’t deal with him, it will lock the game pretty fast. Soraka assists in this snowball as well, providing a massive card advantage while keeping your board healthy and activating healing synergies.

Kench/Soraka wins most of games through its alternative win condition in the form of Star Spring landmark, but can also sometimes win by attacking the opponent’s Nexus, often with Star Shepherd.

One of this archetype’s main strengths is in approaching the game from a different angle than other decks, which gives it an interesting matchup table. This deck may look straightforward at first glance, but in fact, it is quite complex. You have to always be aware of your opponent’s possible actions and how to play around them. Losing a key unit can easily cost you the entire game.


General Tips

  • Keep track of your Star Spring win condition. It is very easy to miss out on a ‘lethal’ with this deck because of how unconventional your win condition is. Always keep track of the Star Spring counter, as well as the amount of unit healing you have access to, both on-board and in-hand.
    • If you have two Star Springs on board, whenever the first one heals your units, it then checks its counter immediately on whether you have the win at that exact moment or not. That turn, it doesn’t account for the healing done by the second Star Spring. Even if you would technically have 22+ at the Round End on your first landmark’s counter after the healing done by the second landmark, you still won’t win that round.
  • Focus on keeping your key units alive. This deck is very snowball-oriented and doesn’t do much if it can’t stick its key units on the board. Look how ‘snowbally’ your threats are indeed – Soraka provides heals and card advantage over time, Tahm Kench takes out the opponent’s units one-by-one, Star Spring keeps your units in the game. You also have a lot of protection spells, which are completely worthless if you don’t have a good unit to cast them on. Focus on keeping your key units alive, and play around the spells your opponent could use to remove them.
  • Be patient and play reactively. This is something you might need to change shift a bit depending on the matchup and situation, but overall, you want to play reactively. Try to always have mana up to answer whatever the opponent could do to threaten your key units.

General mulligan tips:

  • This deck relies on Star Spring a lot, so you should really try to find one during your mulligans. There are a lot of matchups where you want to hard-mulligan most of your other cards away in search of the Star Spring. Soraka is another key card you’ll often want to mulligan for.
  • Overall, units are more desirable in your starting hand than protection spells, because you need to play units first to be able to use those protection spells.

Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.


Matchups

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Star Spring; Tahm Kench, Crusty Codger, Boxtopus, Fortune Croaker, Soraka if you have Star Spring.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is very good because of a miss-match in your win conditions. They don’t have a way to interact with your Star Spring win condition, they are too slow to out-speed it, and their Anivias help you go faster.
  • The Ruination is their best card to try to upset the matchup. Set up situations where you can re-build after it.
    • Bastion is strong against The Ruination and Vengeance. However, be aware they can break the SpellShield with Vile Feast.
    • You can use Tahm Kench’s Bayou Brunch pre-emptively to make their Ruination weaker.
    • If they are about to kill Tahm Kench you can Hush him to prevent them from getting their units back.
  • They have a lot of underwhelming spells that are helping you more than them in the right situation (Vile Feast, Avalanche, Withering Wail…), and their units aren’t good either.
    • Be careful to keep mana open to be ready to heal your units when they use those. You don’t want to give value to those spells by letting them kill one of your units.

Mulligan for: Tahm Kench, Star Spring, Boxtopus, Soraka, Hush.

Matchup tips:

  • They can’t remove your landmark, so an early Star Spring puts a real clock on them.
  • They have a lot of trouble dealing with your units. Their units are too small (just be careful about Pale Cascade) and they don’t have removals. Because of that, you can really abuse the power of your champions.
  • Tahm Kench does a lot of work in the mid-game – it eats everything they play while also enabling your heals. They could use Deny or Nopeify to protect their units – but it means they won’t have enough protection for their Lee Sin later.
  • Zoe can be a bit annoying but you can deal with her with Shakedown, Boxtopus, or Tahm Kench.
  • In the mid-game, they can build up a big Elusive unit (often a Sparklefly – Lifesteal on it means they won’t need to block your units ever) and use it to push damage. Try to deal with it without using Hush, if possible (ex., with Tahm Kench, or Boxtopus + Pale Cascade) to keep it for Lee Sin.
  • Lee Sin is their win condition. They’ll often back him up with counters (Nopeify, Deny), so removing him using Tahm Kench can take several turns. You can delay Lee Sin with Hush (preferably, use it before they attack – else the kick will still go through) or Bastion (though they can remove the SpellShield that protects the unit from the kick with Hush or Concussive Palm). Your goal is to stall long enough so eventually, you will either be able to remove Lee or win with Star Spring/board pressure.

Mulligan for: Soraka, Star Spring, Tahm Kench; Broadbacked Protector – if you already have Soraka; Bastion and early units – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Soraka is your most important card in this matchup. They struggle to remove it and she will give you a lot of card advantage.
  • Be careful about your Nexus health, especially if you don’t have Broadbacked Protector – they have a lot of burn (Ledros, Pack Your Bags, Doombeast).
  • In the mid-game, feel free to trade away your small units, they won’t survive Pack Your Bags anyway. You want to build a board with big units that are able to live through Pack Your Bags.
  • Bastion is a key card against Vengeance or The Ruination. Their cheapest way to remove SpellShield at fast speed is Withering Wail.
  • Some versions play Crumble, play around it when possible.

Mulligan for: Star Spring; Boxtopus, Crusty Codger, Broadbacked Protector, Tahm Kench if you have Star Spring.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is a race between your win conditions. This race is a bit skewed toward you because Broadbacked Protector can sustain some of their shrooms damage, whereas they can’t interact with your Star Spring win condition.
  • With their early units, they can start pushing damage early while you’re setting up your synergies. Limit this and be very conservative with your nexus health, every nexus health count against their burn win condition.
  • Remove Teemo and Puffcap Peddler as soon as possible.
    • They can protect them from combat with freezes and Troll Chant.
    • Tahm Kench is a late but reliable way to get rid of them.
  • Be careful about your draw effects. Drawing isn’t always a good thing for you when you have a lot of shrooms and/or Hexcore Foundry is on board.
  • When they play a leveled-up Ezreal to complete their burn win condition, Hush can be used to buy you a turn. Use it pre-emptively if your too low, else they can kill you with burst spells.

Mulligan for: Soraka, Star Spring; Tahm Kench, Crusty Codger, Boxtopus if you have Star Spring.

Matchup tips:

  • It’s very hard for them to play against an early Star Spring. They don’t have a way to quickly remove it, nor great removals for your key units, nor a very explosive pressure to kill you quickly.
  • Because they don’t have big removals or impactful combat buff it should be easy to stick a key unit like Soraka or Tahm Kench. However, you still need to be careful about their Pale Cascade, Hush, and Bastion.
  • Their gameplay is to stick one of their champion on the board to snowball the game.
    • Tahm Kench is a great unit to quickly get rid of them.
    • Be aware that their TF leveling up is not always bad for you if you are very comfortable in the game. A Red Card every turn will accelerate your Star Spring gameplan a lot. Still, be very careful to not underestimate TF, his level up might accelerate you but it also accelerates them.
  • Their most powerful card is Starshaping. It gives them access to Supernova, The Great Beyond, and Cosmic Rays. Ideally, you want to complete your Star Spring win condition quickly so they don’t have time to cast these powerful Celestial top-ends.
    • If you can’t finish fast, avoid playing a 2nd Star Spring to prevent them from destroying both with one Supernova. Keep cards to protect your key units from Cosmic Rays (Pale Cascade, Bastion, Tahm Kench’s Bayon Brunch). Keep Hush and a way to remove the Spellshield (Shakedown, Tahm Kench’s An Acquired Taste) to prevent a Great Beyond lethal.

Mulligan for: Hush, Soraka, Star Spring, Boxtopus; Astral Protection – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Hush is a great card against their combat tricks.
    • Your priority is to protect Soraka from Riposte.
    • If they use a combat trick on Rivershaper, Hush will deny them both the combat trick value and the Rivershaper’s draw.
  • Buffing Boxtopus with Astral Protection is a good play. It will give you a consistent target to heal and it forces their tricks out if they want to save their units.
  • They don’t have any hard removal – the closest thing to it is Concerted Strike. However, be careful about Single Combat as well, it’s cheap and can do a lot of damage when cast on a buffed unit.
    • Using Tahm Kench’s Bayou Brunch to buff your Tahm Kench can make him very hard to deal with.
  • In the late game, Cithria the Bold and Brigthsteel Formation can enable a huge swing. Respect their tricks, but don’t take the game slower than you should.
  • They have no targets for Deny and Nopeify other than your champion spells and Tahm Kench’s An Acquired Taste.
  • When they have a Shen on the board, be aware that they can try to go for unexpected lethal with Shen’s Stand United.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Tahm Kench.

Matchup tips:

  • The Star Spring race is one common way this matchup can unfold. Make sure you maximize every heal you can get with Star Spring on board.
    • If both players finish the Star Spring quest the same round, the game is tied.
  • ‘Tahm Kench domination’ is another way to win this matchup. He is easily able to devour the opponent’s units one-by-one.
    • If both players have Tahm Kench, you want to be the first to cast An Acquired Taste to eat the opponent’s Tahm Kench. Hence, you want to play Tahm Kench during the opponent’s attack turn.
    • If you have Tahm Kench and the opponent doesn’t, avoid using An Acquired Taste during your attack turn as long as they still have 4 unit mana. You don’t want him to play Tahm Kench after you’ve already cast An Acquired Taste and eat your Tahm Kench at the start of their next turn.
    • Bastion is a way to protect your Tahm Kench against the opponent’s Tahm Kench. However, it gets countered by Hush and Shakedown.
  • Don’t attack your opponent’s Nexus for a small amount of damage, you would only enable their Broadbacked Protector.
  • Avoid playing Star Shepherd when you can’t buff her soon enough (for example, on turn 1). If they play out Boxtopus and she has 0 attack – she will die for nothing.
  • Divergent Path can be a sizeable addition to your build for this matchup.

Mulligan for: Soraka, Tahm Kench, Boxtopus, Star Spring, Crusty Codger; Fortune Croaker – if you have Crusty Codger; Astral Protection – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Scout is a very board-centric deck, and outside of few combat tricks, Challengers and Relentless Pursuits, they don’t have ways to threaten your key units. Garen versions often play Single Combat and some Concerted Strikes.
  • Since they have mostly smaller units, they will struggle to remove your big units (Soraka, Tahm Kench) in one hit, giving you the opportunity to heal them up.
  • Because they can’t play very well around your healing and they can’t remove landmarks, Star Spring win condition can be achieved very reliably.
  • Miss Fortune is the priority target. They can level her up very quickly! You can deal with her with Tahm Kench, Boxtopus, or Shakedown. Boxtopus is the fastest way to remove her, but you might need something like Pale Cascade or Hush for it to be successful as they have Sharpsight and Ranger’s Resolve.
  • Don’t let your 1-health Boxtopus become challenged with no protection against MF.
  • They are very aggressive, and they can just beat you down with Scout units. You need to play with that in mind, but also try and keep your key units alive while dealing with all of the aggression.
  • Plaza helps them in enabling the trades they want. It’s also a strong tool to remove your key units like Soraka or Tahm Kench. They can play a Scout unit, give it a Challenger keyword and a buff, and pull in your unit twice to kill it unless you have healing.
  • In the mid-to-late game, Cithria is a very strong finisher of theirs. The +1|+1 buff, and the Fearsome keyword are both very annoying. Your best way to deal with her is Tahm Kench.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Soraka, Crusty Codger, Star Shepherd, Broadbacked Protector; Guiding Touch, Boxtopus, Fortune Croaker if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Pirate Aggro is a very explosive archetype looking to play very aggressive early units to create pressure and damage, and finish with burn damage.
    • Be very conservative with your nexus health.
  • While you need to be ready to block and trade some of your units, try to also develop and stick some key units on the board. If you don’t activate your synergies your deck won’t do much, and slowing down your own plan too much means they get more time to find more burn and powerful finishers like Gangplank or Captain Farron.
  • They can level-up Gangplank rapidly. Try to prevent them from spacing their nexus damage over the turns. To do so, you can for example force their Noxian Fervor or kill their Legion Grenadier on a turn you already took nexus damage.
  • Noxian Fervor is their only 3 mana cost spell. If they play Zap Sprayfin, you know they have at least one in hand (note: some version play a copy of Brother’s Bond).
  • Broadbacked Protector is a key card in the matchup. Play him as early as possible and keep him alive to sustain their damage.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Soraka, Crusty Codger, Boxtopus; Astral Protection, Fortune Croaker – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Some versions play landmark removals (most often, Scorched Earth) – it helps to have a second Star Spring on the board.
  • Even when they are low on mana, they have the potential to deal a lot of damage with Ravenous Flocks.
  • Do everything you can to protect Soraka, the value she provides can win you the game.
    • You often don’t want to play Soraka too early. You need to be able to protect her and you don’t want to block with her.
  • Noxian Guillotine and Scorched Earth are very strong in this matchup. You can try to save your unit with healing but they’ll often ping it in response.
  • Bastion is a very good answer to a big Thermogenic Beam.
  • Astral Protection on Boxtopus is really strong; it can trade, block, and stick around for a long time. They often don’t want to use Guillotine on it because they want to make sure they can remove Soraka.
  • Be conservative with your Nexus health, they can push a lot of damage and finish with Farron and/or Ezreal.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Soraka, Shakedown, Crusty Codger, Star Shepherd; Boxtopus, Hush, Fortune Croaker, Broadbacked Protector – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • They are extremely aggressive and flood the board very quickly to enable powerful board-wide synergies (Crowd Favorite, Arena Battlecaster, Vision). You really need to put a solid defense right up from the start, else you could easily die by turn 5.
  • Most of their units are fragile so your big-health/low-attack units like Soraka or Broadbacked Protector are nicely tailored to block them.
  • If their board gets too wide it will enable their board-wide synergies. Try to keep their board in-check with Boxtopus and Shakedown. Boxtopus + Soraka is a great combo to gain tempo on them as well.
  • Hush helps against a big Crowd Favorite.
  • In the mid-game, be ready to deal with Jinx – or win before she pops off.
  • Because they are very aggressive you’ll often lose a lot of health early. Your board won’t get as wide as theirs because you need space for your landmark, so even late into the game, they’ll often still be able to push damage. Broadbacked Protector is a great card to sustain you through all this damage.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Soraka, Crusty Codger; Star Shepherd, Boxtopus, Fortune Coraker, Tahm Kench – if you already have a good hand for them.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup can be tough because of The Ruination. Set up situations where you can re-build after it.
    • Bastion is strong against The Ruination and Vengeance. However, they can break the SpellShield with Vile Feast or Troll Chant.
    • You can use Tahm Kench’s Bayou Brunch pre-emptively to make their Ruination weaker.
    • If they are about to kill Tahm Kench you can Hush him to prevent them from getting their units back.
  • They don’t usually have answers for Star Spring. However, it can be hard to stack because they don’t have a lot of small units to trade into. To win off of it, you might need to get a big unit of yours very low on health for a massive heal with Soraka.
    • Tahm Kench is very strong at enabling the Star Spring win condition. You can buff him, then use An Acquired Taste on one of their big units, and then heal him back up.
  • Winning by usual means through attacking is possible – Star Shepherd can really help with that. Playing to several win conditions at the same time creates pressure on the opponent to deal with several threats. Your heavy board presence can force them into situations where they can’t afford to play around Bastion.
  • This matchup can be difficult when they perfectly draw ramp into Ruination into finishers. However, they also have a lot of bad cards for the matchup (Withering Wail, Vile Feast…) – try to completely deny them value from these cards.
  • You can stall out their Overwhelm finishers with Hush. Don’t drop too low on health, you don’t have a counter to Atrocity.

Mulligan for: Tahm Kench, Pale Cascade, Star Spring, Soraka; Crusty Codger, Boxtopus, Fortune Croaker, Bastion – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • It’s a very tough matchup because of Culling Strike and The Reckoning.
    • Pale Cascade is cheap and can help Tahm Kench or leveled Soraka survive Culling Strike.
    • Bastion can be helpful too, though it is more expensive and still countered by Troll Chant and Flash Freeze. Remember that Bastion can also protect against The Reckoning.
  • Tahm Kench can win this matchup as long as he can survive their removals. He also helps with the task of removing their 5+ attack units to prevent their snowball.
  • Sometimes you’re in a position where you have to trade your key unit into their premium removal. The game is not lost at that point yet – make them use it all so that you could still at some point stick and protect a crucial threat.
  • Hush can prevent a leveled Ashe finisher. It can also be used to remove Frostbites.
  • They have no damage-based removal or Fast-speed attack buffs: you can let your units go as low as 1 health in combat.

Mulligan for: Star Spring, Boxtopus; Soraka, Star Shepherd, Crusty Codger, Fortune Croaker, Broadbacked Protector, Shakedown if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • This is a very difficult matchup – you often can’t race their elusive units with Star Spring.
  • You don’t have a lot of ways to force them to interact with you, so they’ll ignore you and hit your nexus.
    • Boxtopus is one way to force interaction. Playing it and keeping it alive with your healing spells is very important.
    • Shakedown also helps a lot.
    • Hush is very helpful to prevent an elusive unit from hitting your nexus while taking a block.
  • Broadbacked Protector helps a lot in staying alive and win the race.
  • If you want to have a better shot in this matchup, you’ll probably need to make a few changes to your build.
    • You want ways to force interaction. More Shakedown and Hired Gun can help.
    • Having your own elusive units will allow you to block. Lounging Lizard is a great fit.
    • The 3rd Hush will be a good addition.

Conclusion

The recent Pack Your Bags nerf didn’t do Kench/Soraka any favors as TF Go Hard was one of its best matchups. However, Kench/Soraka still remains a very potent deck. Its unique win condition is a very interesting way to attack the meta, and with its powerful protection spells, it can snowball games very hard. This deck may look straightforward in what it’s trying to do, but be aware that it is also very unforgiving – losing one key unit can quickly lose you the entire game.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉

If you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I make, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!

Agigas

LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *