Thresh Nasus Deck Guide and 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 ongoing series of guides on meta decks. You can find the other guides and a matchup table on this page.

This guide is dedicated to Thresh Nasus – a midrange deck that leverages sacrifice synergies and uses Nasus as finisher.


Playstyle: Midrange.

Nasus Thresh is a midrange deck that leverages the sacrifice synergies, that also contribute to Thresh and Nasus‘s level-ups.

In the early game, Thresh Nasus has a lot of powerful units to get a good start on the board. The deck can build wide boards very quickly with its numerous cheap units.

When we draw the right cards, it will be extremely hard for the opponent to keep up with the sacrifice synergies. For example, Cursed Keeper into Blighted Caretaker on offensive turn can be devastating. Thanks to this powerful early game with high-roll potential, Thresh Nasus can push a good chunk of early damage to prepare for the Atrocity win condition.

With sacrifice synergies also comes a high amount of draw (Glimpse Beyond, Spirit Leech), making this deck very consistent at finding the right cards, and enabling it to go into long and grindy games without running out of value.

In the mid-game, Thresh comes down and puts huge pressure on the opponent. The Challenger keyword associated with his stats makes him very strong at taking control over the board. Most importantly, with your ability to go wide and sacrifice your own units, Thresh levels up very quickly. When he does, slamming a free Nasus onto the board considerably accelerates your win condition.

Nasus is the finisher in the deck. He grows very quickly, and the 10/10 stat milestone is not very hard to reach as you’re approaching the late game. If the opponent can’t answer your Nasus, he will level up and add even more to your game plan. The debuff passive makes it even harder for the opponent to claw back into the game, and the Spellshield makes it very easy to finish the game with Atrocity.


General Tips

  • Value your sacrifice fodder. You need to always have something to sacrifice, else you might find yourself in this kind of spot.
    • You don’t want to see Cursed Keeper or Faded Icon‘s Prey die in combat if you have sacrifice payoffs in hand.
    • Try to leverage your Dunekeeper‘s Sand Soldier for sacrifice synergies when possible.
  • In combat, place your Baccai Reaper and Nasus to the last, right-most position. Both those units gain stats when you slay units. Positioning them last during your attack allows them to gain the stats from the other trades happening.
  • Keep track of Thresh’s level-up condition. Thresh can easily level up in this deck, very quickly. Always be aware of how many deaths you still need to level him up and how many death triggers you can contribute with your current hand. It is often easy to level up Thresh during an attack, but ideally, you want to level him up before the attack so you can get your Nasus out rightaway.
    • One common play to level Thresh up before your attack is to play Blighted Caretaker during the opponent’s attack turn. You won’t be able to challenge units with the Saplings, but they’ll die at the end of turn and contribute to Thresh level-up.
  • Rite of Negation can be used on an empty stack as a sacrifice enabler. Be aware that if you really need a way to sacrifice a unit (e.g. to give Nasus an extra boost to level him up or save him, or to level up your Thresh), Rite of Negation can be used even if there is no spell on the stack to counter.

General mulligan tips:

  • Look for your sacrifice fodder: Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Dunekeeper. Running out of them early is the worst thing that can happen to you. Once you have enough fodder, you can look to keep payoffs, like Ravenous Butcher or Blighted Caretaker.
  • In many matchups, Thresh is the most powerful card in your deck, and you should keep him to make sure you can play him on-curve.
  • Vile Feast is a great keep against aggro strategies or important 1-health units.
  • You can keep Black Spear in matchups where you really need removal for a specific unit (e.g. Miss Fortune in Scouts).
  • Baccai Reaper is a great 1-drop to keep. If you’ve played him out early he’ll grow to very high stats, and can even serve a role of an emergency sacrifice fodder if you’re lacking in this department.

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: Dunekeeper, Baccai Reaper, Fading Icon, Vile Feast. Keep Thresh if you have a good early hand. Keep Blighted Caretaker or Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder for it, and keep Cursed Keeper if you have them.

Matchup tips:

  • Spider Burn is a very aggressive deck, looking to push early damage with units and finish you with burn. Thanks to your numerous early units, you can limit their early damage, making it a lot harder for them to finish you with burn.
  • They have a lot of Fearsome synergies, and it’s often their best way to attack the game. A lot of your early units have less than 3 power, and those that have exactly 3 power can become irrelevant when they play Frenzied Skitterer for a huge Fearsome attack.
    • Value your anti-Fearsome blockers, and always try to remove their Fearsome units first.
  • Be very conservative with your Nexus health. You barely have any healing (only Vile Feast) so if you get in their burn’s reach, you’re likely to lose.
  • Thresh is very powerful in the matchup. Unless they’ve played a Frenzied Skitterer, he can block Fearsome units. Thanks to Challenger he can remove Fearsome units himself, and he can level up very quickly to finish the game before they can find more burn.
  • Once you’re past the early turns, they don’t have much to counter your game plan, so it’s quite easy to finish them.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Blighted Caretaker, Ravenous Butcher, or Spirit Leech if you have good early sacrifice fodders. Keep Black Spear or Nasus if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Ezreal Draven is a midrange deck that uses powerful mid-game units and removals to keep up early. It has strong tempo turns in the mid-game with cards like Tri-beam Improbulator and Arachnoid Sentry. The deck uses this tempo advantage to push a lot of damage and then finishes with burn (level 2 Ezreal, Captain Farron, burn spells).
  • Your superior early game with sacrifice synergies generally allows you to be the aggressor. They don’t have any source of healing in their deck, so if you can lower their Nexus health it will make finishing with Atrocity that much easier.
  • On the other hand, you don’t have that much healing either (only Vile Feast) and they have a lot of burn damage. Make sure you stay as healthy as possible to prevent their win condition.
  • Resolving your Glimpse Beyond is very important – you can often grind them out in a long game. However, they have a lot of cheap removals, the most notable one being Mystic Shot. Try to find a safe window for your Glimpse.
  • Their easiest way to kill you is with a leveled Ezreal. Make sure you have a Black Spear to prevent it from happening. You can also use Nasus’s Siphoning Strike, but be careful about Scorched Earth if Nasus is already damaged.
  • They have a lot of removals, but most of them are not ‘big’ enough to deal with Nasus (ex: Mystic Shot, Ravenous Flock). Their best way to remove a very large unit is with Scorched Earth – which requires Nasus to already be damaged. Therefore, casting Atrocity on a full-health Nasus to finish the game is perfectly safe.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher or Blighted Caretaker if you have early sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Deep is a deck looking to Toss cards to go Deep quickly, usually around turn 6-7. Once it gets there, it plays powerful Sea Monsters to overtake the game (often with a Nautilus‘s discount) and quickly close things out.
  • Their early defenses are relatively weak – this is one angle you need to attack them from. You want to push as much damage as possible with your sacrifice synergies, as it will make the finish much easier with Atrocity.
  • Use your Black Spear to remove their Toss engines: Sea Scarab and Maokai. You can also use it to answer a Devourer of the Depths – but you need a unit to have died this turn, so it won’t be possible if they open with it.
  • Try to avoid going too wide with 1-health units when they have 5+ mana – most versions run Withering Wail.
  • Once they are Deep, the game gets much harder for you. However, they don’t have a good counter to Nasus + Atrocity. Only Vengeance can help them, and most versions don’t run it at all.

Mulligan for: Dunekeeper, Baccai Reaper, Fading Icon, Vile Feast. Keep Thresh or Black Spear if you have a good early hand. Keep Blighted Caretaker or Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder for it, and keep Cursed Keeper if you have them.

Matchup tips:

  • Discard Aggro leverages discard synergies for a very explosive early game. Some games are won through the board-flood and board-wide buffs – and when they are not enough the deck looks to close with powerful payoffs like Jinx and Crowd Favorite.
  • You can flood the board yourself pretty well, so you can match their early game. Keep trading units so they don’t get a big Crowd Favorite, which would be much more problematic for you.
  • Once you’ve got through the early turns and somewhat stabilized the board, Jinx becomes their main threat. She can quickly run away with the game when unanswered. Black Spear is your best answer to Jinx, though you can also kill her with Atrocity or challenge her in combat.
  • Augmented Experimenter is another great end-game card for them to find more tools to win. You can deny his ability with Rite of Negation.
  • Because you both are looking to flood the board, Thresh can level up quickly.
  • If you manage to counter their game plan and survive, you shouldn’t struggle to finish – they don’t have good answers to Nasus.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher, Blighted Caretaker if you have sacrifice fodder. Keep Thresh, Black Spear if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Nightfall Aggro is the deck leveraging Nightfall effects to get ahead on tempo. The deck has a lot of evasive units – Fearsome with Stygian Onlooker and Nocturne, Overwhelm with Crescent Guardian, Elusive with The Flight and Lunari Shadestalker. It is a bit harder for us to deal with Nightfall than with most other aggro decks.
  • Be very conservative with your Nexus health. With Elusives and the ability to trigger Doombeast’s Torment multiple additional times (Stalking Shadows copying Doombeast, Unto Dusk, for some versions – Fading Memories), they can kill you from a high amount of health even after you’ve secured the board.
  • They don’t have a lot of ways to gain Nexus health at fast speed (only Unto Dusk on Doombeast), and have no way to kill Nasus or counter your Atrocity – if you get them into its range, you’re poised to win the game.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher, Blighted Caretaker if you have sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Asol Demacia, often with Zoe as its second champ (but sometimes Shyvana or others), is a midrange/control deck looking to set up a powerful board presence in the mid-game, then scale into the late game with Aurelion Sol. The deck controls the pace of the game thanks to the efficient Demacia removals and can play out Aurelion Sol as soon as turn 8 thanks to Eclipse Dragon.
  • In theory, they have everything they could need to secure the matchup against us: powerful life gain and control tools not lose to our early flood and stay out of reach of Atrocity; efficient removals to get rid of Thresh; Hush to deal with Nasus; a late game that clearly out-scales us. However, they lack one very important thing: draw. Because of that, they can easily lack the right answer at the right time. We’re much more likely to find our several copies of Nasus than they are to find their several copies of Hush, for example.
  • Your win condition is often to just eventually stick a Nasus when they don’t have a Hush anymore. It’s fine to trade your first copies of Nasus with their Hush, but avoid playing Nasus out too early when he can die to a Concerted Strike – it will make the game much more difficult.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Thresh. Keep Ravenous Butcher, Blighted Caretaker if you have sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • The mirror is mostly about who has the biggest Nasus. Your game plans naturally match each other as the game goes on, and once you get to the Nasus turn the player with the bigger Nasus will dominate the board, get to level up, and will make it a lot harder for the other player to use their own Nasus. Look to get as many slays for Nasus as possible while denying the opponent’s slays.
    • Withering Wail is a very strong tech for this matchup. It will allow you to kill opponent’s units without trading off yours, and therefore it will buff your Nasus without buffing theirs.
  • A good start matters a lot. Neither of you has a lot of healing (only Vile Feast). The only counter to the Nasus + Atrocity combo is Rite of Negation, so getting low on Nexus health early can make the game very difficult to navigate.
  • Thresh is very important in this matchup. Being able to cheat out your Nasus helps a lot to win the tempo.
    • Avoid challenging or blocking a large unit with Thresh – you don’t want Thresh to be finished with a Black Spear.
    • When both players have Thresh on board you should try to set it up so your Thresh will level up on your attack turn with the attack token still up, so you can get your Nasus first.

Mulligan for: Cursed Keeper, Thresh, Rite of Negation. Keep Baccai Reaper, Glimpse Beyond if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Lissandra Matron is a control/combo deck with powerful board wipes (Avalanche, Blighted Ravine, Withering Wail, for some versions – Ice Shard), which uses Lissandra’s Watcher to finish games.
  • Your wide boards are likely going to get wiped, so this flooding approach will often not be the way to gain advantages.
    • Cursed Keeper is a pretty good unit against their board wipes. Don’t sacrifice him, and let their board wipe give you the 4/3.
  • Thresh is by far the most important unit in the matchup. While Lissandra Matron is a very good deck at dealing with swarms of small units, it can struggle against a bigger one. Thresh can very easily level up – right after you’ve played Thresh, look to swarm the board. They’ll be forced to clear your swarm and in so contributing to your level up Thresh plan.
  • Be aware that Nasus likely won’t grow very quickly in this matchup, as they don’t have many units you can kill.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Black Spear. Keep Ravenous Butcher, Blighted Caretaker if you have a sacrifice fodder. Keep Rite of Negation if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Ashe Noxus is a midrange deck leveraging Frostbites and 5+ attack synergies, like Trifarian Assessor or Reckoning.
  • Ashe Noxus is often considered to be a counter to Thresh Nasus. It has the ability to win trades, heavily swing games with Reckoning, go for lethal with Ashe, and freeze Nasus to deny him a level-up or Atrocity finish. While it is true that in theory, Ashe Noxus has a strong matchup against Thresh Nasus, in practice the matchup is even. Thanks to the efficiency of your draw, to beat Thresh Nasus they will need a lot of answers and missing one will often be the end for Ashe Noxus.
  • Your powerful early start can pose them a lot of problems if they can’t match it. It is unlikely to result in a quick aggro win for you, but the pressure can force them to use valuable resources like Culling Strike or Frostbites.
  • Thresh tends to underperform in the matchup, as they can easily remove him with Culling Strike or Reckoning. However, if they don’t have an answer, or if you have a Rite of Negation for it, he can quickly level up.
  • Reckoning is a very powerful tool, but it can really hurt them if you manage to counter it with a Rite of Negation. Keep mana for it when they are in a good Reckoning spot and are keeping 6 mana up.
  • Keep your Black Spear to remove Ashe. Without Ashe, their deck can struggle to finish games.
  • If you manage to keep the board clear, you can outvalue them – they don’t have much draw outside of a Trifarian Assessor.
  • Nasus can only be frozen so many times. Brittle Steel won’t work on him, so their burst speed spells for Nasus are limited to Harsh Winds, Three Sisters, and Ashe’s Flash Freeze.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Baccai Sandspinner. Keep Ravenous Butcher, Blighted Caretaker if you have a sacrifice fodder. Keep Thresh if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Zoe Lee is a combo deck looking to stall out the game early and then give Overwhelm to Lee Sin to OTK their opponent, all while backing him up with protection spells. If you give them too much time, they’ll eventually win with Lee Sin. Unless they make a mistake or are forced into a weird line, it’s very unlikely you will remove him. However, they have a bit of a lackluster early game, where you can pressure them a lot.
  • Zoe isn’t a very big problem for you, as you have several ways to challenge her (Blighted Caretaker, Baccai Sandspinner). Vile Feast can also work, although keep in mind they have numerous ways to answer it (Pale Cascade, Nopeify!, but also bigger spells like Deny and Bastion).
  • Eye of the Dragon is their best defensive unit against you. Try to get rid of it with a Baccai Sandspinner or even with a Black Spear.
  • They don’t have removals, their best ways to get rid of a key unit is by challenging it with Lee Sin or Sonic Wave. Therefore, Thresh can level up pretty easily to give you a lot of tempo.
  • When they go for the Lee Sin OTK, you can try to delay it by using Glimpse Beyond or Atrocity on the challenged unit, Rite of Negation, or Black Spear your own unit.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Blighted Caretaker. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Overwhelm Shurima is a very straightforward deck: it plays big Overwhelm units and hits you. It has some combat tricks to back them up, as well as the ability to give the Vulnerable keyword to pick their fights. It often finishes games with Battle Fury.
  • This matchup is very difficult. Your numerous 1-health units aren’t exactly good anti-Overwhelm blockers. You often won’t have enough time to grow your Nasus which can make it hard to kill them before they kill you. You don’t have an answer to Battle Fury.
  • Your best way to upset the matchup is to go on the offensive. If you let Overwhelm too much time, they’ll eventually kill you, but they can be quite Vulnerable to aggro strategies.
    • Going for powerful early sacrifice synergies early and pushing a lot of damage is a very effective strategy.
    • They don’t have any healing, so every point of damage will stick, and they have no removal or counter for Atrocity – you can even safely cast your Atrocity on your buffed Baccai Reaper.
    • Their only “counter” to Atrocity is Troll Chant, allowing them to lower the attack of your unit by 2 to take less damage.

Closing Words

Thresh Nasus is clearly one of the best midrange decks out there and is considered by most to be the king of the meta. It has a very flexible matchups table thanks to its ability to attack the game from several angles. I would recommend anyone to try the deck – even if you don’t like it, you’ll at least learn more about how to play against it.

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!

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8 Responses

  1. Agigas' Biggest Fan says:

    Yo finally a Thresh Nasus guide, been waiting for a good one since a few weeks ever since I saw the deck poppin’ on ladder. As always a great vid and really appreciate the gameplay videos. Keep it up big man!

  2. It's me says:

    Didn’t see how to play against it part

    • Agigas says:

      It’s in the other guides! In the top bar, you can see a “Meta Decks category”. There are guides for the most popular decks in that category, which I keep updated. You can find a section about the matchup against Thresh Nasus in each one of these guides! 😉

  3. Kassadin says:

    When I started playing this deck I could never have imagined that it would grown up to be tier 1.

  4. Cabo340 says:

    You forgot to put J4 Shen in the matchup tables, that deck has a good matchup into thresh nasus based on my own experience (100% sure)

    • Agigas says:

      Yeah I choose to omit it because it’s not very popular at high level, I’m not very experienced in this matchup, and I don’t have a guide on J4 Shen yet (the one we have was written by Raphterra). On stats, it looks pretty close to even. 🙂

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