Tristana Swarm Deck Guide

What do we have here - a Tier 1 meta deck with Tristana? Sorry can't believe we've lived to see the day!

A Tier 1 meta deck with Tristana? I guess we’ve seen it all! Tristana didn’t really see much play since her addition to the game. Now with the new quality multi-region units added in the latest expansion, Tristana has more tools at her disposal.

Tristana Demacia is a swarm midrange archetype that focuses on setting up a wide board with units that generate value. Cards like Loping Telescope, Grandfather Fae, and Bandle City Mayor all replace themselves and make sure your hand never runs out of future plays.

At the same time, as you play your multi-region units you will be working on leveling up Tristana while enabling Yordles in Arms – its condition will be met naturally as you set up your board!

A leveled-up Tristana is a powerful win condition! She will buff up the damage of your multi-region units turning them into more threatening attackers. More importantly, she will grant them the Impact keyword while gaining +1 Impact herself. This will allow you to deal Nexus damage even if your units are blocked.

Although Tristana can act as a finisher, Yordles in Arms is your most common game-ending play! Going wide on the board with the help of Bandle City Mayor and Gleaming Lantern allows you to set up for a powerful Yordlers in Arms buff.

Your pressure will be difficult for your opponent to deal with especially if you can back it up with Golden Aegis, which allows for a second attack after you have already forced your opponent into unfavored blocks.

Tristana Demacia relies on unit-based damage to win the game, you don’t run any burn cards outside of Pokey Stick to destroy the opponent’s Nexus.

Techs and Options

  • Rainbowfish
    Can attach to one of your units and give them the Elusive keyword. Most likely you’ll be playing this on a Tristana. You can cut 2 Buster Shots for 2 Rainbowfish.
  • Petricite Broadwing
    Acts as an early removal. You’ll also be looking to keep Petricite Broadwing alive, even on 1 health, to buff it up with Yordles in Arms later on. You can cut 2 Ranger’s Resolve or 2 Buster Shot for 2 Petricite Broadwing.
  • Bandle Commando
    The Elusive unit that can be a threat with the Yordles in Arms buff turning it from a 1|2 into a 5|6. Bandle Commando also creates Hungry Owlcat if it strikes, becoming another value engine! Can cut Buster Shot for 2 Bandle Commando.

General Tips

  • Gleaming Lantern is a powerful early game threat.
    The ability to discount the first Fae you play each turn by 2 can allow you to go wide on the board fast. You can even opt to hold on to Loping Telescope until you have Gleaming Lantern on the board. This is beneficial because the 2 mana banked can come in handy later on in the game if you need to play Sharpsight or Buster Shot.
  • Plan your big turns in advance!
    Setting up an expensive finishing play like Yordles in Arms and Golden Aegis requires you to have spell mana – and a solid board. Bank your mana, and don’t trade your units away, unless you have to.
  • Keep track of the Yordles in Arms activation quest.
    During some games, you might not get all the units in hand to fully activate Yordles in Arms naturally. So, when Manifisting a unit from Loping Telescope, Fae Sprout, and Bandle City Mayor you might need to pick a unit with a region that ensures you activate Yordles in Arms.


Mulligan for: Blastcone Seedling, Loping Telescope, Grandfather Fae, Gleaming Lantern, Tristana.

  • It is difficult for Darkness to deal with a wide board unless they’ve teched in The Box as a countermeasure.
  • Make sure to have a blocker for Twisted Catalyzer on turn 2. Loping Telescope or Blastcone Seedling can act as blockers to deny the additional Darkness buffs.
  • Early game, Darkness is a big mana commitment that will put your opponent behind if they wish to play it for 3 mana. Take advantage of that by setting up a strong attack, force them to commit resources on your cheap units.
  • Sharpsight and Ranger’s Resolve are your tools to keep units alive! In particular, keeping a Tristana safe means you’ll be able to develop a stronger board and force the opponent to commit more resources to kill your carry champion.
  • Yordles in Arms + Golden Aegis is most likely your game-ending play. Be wary, your play can be countered by two cards: The Ruination or Veigar’s Event Horizon champion spell.

Mulligan for: Godfather Fae, Bandle City Mayor, Loping Telescope, Blastcone Seedling, Tristana, Gnar.

  • Tree deck relies on The Bandle Tree as a win condition. They want to play units from 10 different regions. We do not run any cards to remove The Bandle Tree, but you really don’t need to! You can close out the game before they manage to fulfill the condition of Tree.
  • Bandle Tree is capable of matching your board presence as they also run value card generators. Tristana and Gnar are two important cards you want. Your opponent will try to remove them immediately with cards like Buster Shot or Pokey Stick into Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth.
  • Sharpsight and Ranger’s Resolve are protection tools usually saved for Tristana, you want to grant your units Impact keyword to enable them to push additional Nexus damage.
  • If your opponent plays Pokey Stick or Group Shot on one of your champions it can be an indication that they’re setting up to kill it with Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth. You can counter their play with Ranger’s Resolve, denying the 1 damage they want to deal on your unit – a full health unit cannot be killed with Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth.
  • Yordles in Arms followed up with a Golden Aegis can be game-ending, your opponent will not have enough blockers to survive after your attack.
  • Save Buster Shot for either Gnar or Poppy.

Mulligan for: Loping Telescope, Blastcone Seedling, Tristana, Pokey Stick.

  • Xer’sai Hatchling has Fearsome keyword, early on it’ll be difficult to find a blocker for it. Pokey Stick can be the answer to killing it.
  • Block the Lurkers and preserve your health, your opponent will be setting up Overwhelm lethal with Rek’Sai, Xerxa’Reth, The Undertitan, or Xer’sai Dunebreaker and you want to have a Nexus capable of withstanding that attack.
  • Death From Below is a nightmare but you’re able to kill Pyke with a Buster Shot, shutting the champion down before he levels up.
  • Loping Telescope can potentially find you a Crescent Strike, it comes in handy to stun Rek’Sai before she attacks.
  • You might have to play Blastcone Seedling with a Barrier on your defensive turn to make it awkward for your opponent to attack. They want to attack to activate Lurk, so you could potentially kill a unit while keeping yours alive.
  • A wide Yordles in Arms can potentially be your winning play, especially if comboed with Golden Aegis. Unless they have a Pyke capable of wiping out your board you should be able to close out the game.

Mulligan for: Tristana, Grandfather Fae, Loping Telescope, Bandle City Mayor.

  • Your opponent is relying on Concurrent Timelines and Ice Pillar to set up a strong turn by transforming Ice Pillar to another 8 drop unit.
  • Your goal is to go wide on the board and set up a strong Yordles in Arms play but your opponent can remove some of your attackers with Mystic Shot or Get Excited! before they gain the buffs. Ranger’s Resolve act as a protection tool to keep that aggressive play online!
  • Watch out for Buried in Ice if your opponent is holding on 9 mana! They will be looking to play it on turn 7+ in order to combo it with It That Stares. Important to note, units with Spellshield will reimain on the board, so Hungry Owlcats can still swing for some good damage.
  • Golden Aegis is your powerful play! You’ll probably need to set up a lethal attack before your opponent can take control of the board.
  • Buster Shot is a good removal for Gnar to prevent the Pokey Stick generation and level-up, but keep in mind that they do run Troll Chant and Three Sisters as protection tools.

Mulligan for: Loping Telescope, Blastcone Seedling, Grandfather Fae, Tristana, Gnar.

  • The biggest threat in this matchup is Miss Fortune. You can try killing her with Buster Shot but they do run protection tools like Ranger’s Resolve and Sharpsight. You’re capable of out valuing your opponent later on in the game but a leveled up Miss Fortune will carry the matchup for them.
  • Another way to remove Miss Fortune is with Mega Gnar giving her the Vulnerable keyword which allows you to challenge and kill her.
  • Watch out for Blinding Assault after Miss Fortune hits the board, try killing it with Pokey Stick before it attacks to deny the Scout attack, you want to delay the Miss Fortune level up.
  • Yordles in Arms in your main win condition, you want to force your opponent into unfavored blocks.
  • Ranger’s Resolve can allow you to block with your 1 health units even if Miss Fortune is on the board.
  • Scouts runs Brightsteel Protector which can be played on defensive turns to shut down your attack.

Mulligan for: Loping Telescope, Grandfather Fae, Tristana, Gnar, Gleaming Lantern

  • This is a board domination matchup, you are both relying on unit damage to win the game. The edge you have on your opponent is that you’re able to generate more units and do not run out of value easily.
  • Akshan is your biggest concern early on, you want to try and kill him with a Buster Shot before he levels up to prevent Warlord’s Hoard.
  • Preserve as much Nexus health as you can, sacrifice weak units to block the Sivir, you don’t want to lose to The Absolver play later on in the game.
  • You can overwhelm your opponent with a wide board and Yordles in Arms, which forces them to take unfavored blocks and in the process lose board presence.
  • Blastcone Seedling with a Barrier on defensive turns can potentially shut down your opponent’s attack, they value their units a lot and will avoid an unfavored trade.
  • Mega Gnar can act as a carry, allowing you to remove powerful units! He can be answered with a Concerted Strike though.
  • If your opponent open passes on their attack turn they might be baiting you into playing an important unit. Petricite Broadwing or Merciless Hunter can kill a Tristana or Gnar.

Mulligan for: Tristana, Gnar, Loping Telescope, Gleaming Lantern, Godfather Fae.

  • Your opponent is limited on the number of units they can play on the board, you’re capable of swarming the board and sneak in early damage.
  • Although your opponent can’t match your wide board, they will have buffy units like Wounded Whiteflame and Saga Seeker that are capable of blocking and staying on the board.
  • On your attack turns, your opponent might play Brightsteel Protector to shut down your attack. If you feel you’re able to squeeze in enough Nexus damage even with an unfavorable trade, go for it! Pokey Stick can also remove the Barrier.
  • Overwhelm is a problem for you! You don’t run any removals to deal with a Fated Unit with Overwhelm keyword from Zenith Blade. Cataclysm and Golden Aegis can potentiatly set up for a game ending play, you could keep your Nexus from getting destroyed with Sharpsight and Ranger’s Resolve.
  • A leveled up Pantheon can carry the game for your opponent – especially if he gains the Lifesteal keyword.
  • Set up for a wide board of Yordles in Arms and Golden Aegis play. Your opponent can weaken your play by killing some of your units before they’re buffed up with Single Combat or Concerted Strike.

Mulligan for: Tristana, Gnar, Loping Telescope, Blastcone Seedling, Gleaming Lantern, Godfather Fae.

  • You’re up against an aggressive deck that looks to push early unit damage and switch to the burn plan with cards like Get Excited!, Mystic Shot, and Decimate. Your deck has no counterplay for the burn plan, so you’ll be looking to preserve your Nexus’ health from unit damage as much as possible.
  • Blastcone Seedling with Barrier on defensive turns can block a Draven! Watch out they can pop the Barrier if they have 2 mana up with a Mystic Shot.
  • If your opponent is attacking with 3 mana up they might be looking to play Might on one of their units. Most likely, the Might will go on Rumble. If you can keep your Nexus health above 4 with a Sharpsight or Ranger’s Resolve you should go for it to play around Decimate lethal.

Closing Words

Tristana Demacia is currently one of the top-tier decks in the meta. It’s a good choice for a competitive ladder and in a tournament lineup.

What makes the archetype stand out is its favorable matchup table against popular decks. Moreover, It doesn’t get hard countered by many decks and can hold its ground in an even matchup against other Demacia decks.

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Alaa "TricksterSorry" Yassine is a competitive Legends of Runeterra player. His passion for card games ignited in his youth with favorites like Yugioh and Pokemon. Currently, he dedicates himself to achieving professional excellence in Runeterra, while also creating informative video and written content for the Runeterra community.

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