Introduction and Stats
Hi there, Jaws here! Today, I will be breaking down the Vayne Zed deck that I used to become the first Master in APAC with a 77% Winrate (47 Wins, 13 Losses). Although some might compare Vayne Zed to the old Poppy Zed, I personally think it is more of a combination of Taric Poppy and Poppy Zed. The deck is not as simple as it seems; it has many nuances such as picking the right Equipment and comboing with Tumble and Golden Aegis. Vayne Zed is really easy to pick up, but some gameplay intricacies make the deck hard to master.
Heading into Week 2 of the expansion, Seraphine decks have started to become popular. This might seem bad for Vayne Zed since it can be weak against pings, but I think this deck remains strong in the hands of a competent pilot.
The Vayne Zed Deck Build
Vayne Zed is a tempo-based combo deck that wins by using Vayne‘s Tumble and Golden Aegis to attack multiple times with Zed and Greenglade Duo. Some players have dropped Greenglade Duo, but I think she’s a necessary inclusion as the deck’s alternate win condition.
Below, I will discuss my card choices, why I run them, and how to use them.
Zed is the main driving force of the deck. He applies a ton of pressure and becomes even scarier when leveled. Do not play him without protection. Countering ping and strike spells with combat tricks will often win you the game.
Playing more of a support role, Vayne generates Tumble for Zed and Elusives. This allows you to push damage even on defensive turns. Although Vayne seems like a very important unit to keep alive, combat tricks are better used to protect your main win conditions. Unless you really need Vayne to generate multiple Tumbles, you should generally be pleased to see removal wasted on her.
By equipping Upcycled Rake with Tumble, you will gain the Attack Token if you have not used a Scout Attack on that turn. If you already have a 0 mana Tumble in your hand, Vayne will generate another copy. Holding two Tumbles and using them on the same turn might be stronger than just using one each turn.
Fleetfeather Tracker and Petricite Broadwing are the disruptors of your opponent’s gameplan. In combination with Young Witch and The Fix-Em 5000, you can pick off your opponent’s weak units without sacrificing your own. The Ionia buff package allows them to threaten opposing champions. Another way to use Challengers is to remove blockers that might get in the way of Zed’s level-up condition or your Elusives.
Ionian Hookmaster and Combat Cook are the Equipment generators of the deck. Equipment plays a crucial part as it allows your threats to strike harder. Knowing when to pick which Equipment will improve your winrate. They also enable Momentous Choice‘s double-cast effect.
Picking the correct improvised equipment is tricky when playing this deck. There are two clear winners in the pool of improvised equipment: Upcycled Rake giving you more attacks, and Combat Reel giving more mana to cast spells. However, there are many situations where the other equipments become relevant picks. This guide will help you choose the preferred equipment for different matchups.
There will be situations where cycling weapons is the correct line of play. For example, you can push more damage by swapping out Upcycled Rake with a different equipment after your Scout attack.
Greenglade Duo packs a punch especially if you can afford to play cheap units before attacking. Her biggest weakness is her health. Make sure you can keep her alive before committing her to the board. She becomes a huge threat with this deck’s equipments. Upcycled Rake allows her to swing twice, and her durability can be increased with The Darkin Aegis, Pot O’ Pain, or Shepherd’s Authority.
Young Witch allows you to value-trade by giving Quick Attack to your challenger units, threatening your opponent’s important pieces. She can also buff Level 1 Zed to 4-attack, naturally beating out other 4-health units in the meta like Vayne and Gwen.
The Darkin Aegis
I run only two copies of The Darkin Aegis as it clunks up the hand if you draw more than one copy. The main purpose of the card is to give +1/+1 and Tough to a unit, preferably Zed and Greenglade Duo. Alternatively, you can spend 5 mana to play Joraal as another Challenger unit. Joraal is good into spell heavy matchups like Seraphine and Varus decks. He also disrupts fast-speed strike spells like Single Combat and Concerted Strike against popular Demacian Pantheon decks.
Wuju Style, Momentous Choice and Twin Disciplines are your combat tricks for the deck. They can buff up your units to make favorable trades. Since Zed and Greenglade Duo are important parts of the winning strategy, make sure you are able to protect them. Sometimes you need to pre-buff your units when attacking to push the required damage.
Deny is a staple in every Ionia deck and it protects your units from removal. It is crucial against aggro decks running Decimate, and against other Vayne decks running Golden Aegis and Tumble. Nopeify! and Memory’s Cloak are the alternatives for this slot although they are more situational. Memory’s Cloak is a good tech choice in tournament lineups against the popular Seraphine Ezreal deck. However, when it comes to climbing the ladder, I believe Deny is still the better counterspell.
Initially I ran 3 Golden Aegis, but I realised that Vayne’s Tumble is able to do the same thing for less mana. Running 3 Golden Aegis might also brick your hand. Building a wide board is a rare occurrence with this deck, so I found it hard to justify running more copies of Golden Aegis.
The 3 tech cards I chose to run in this deck are Ghost, Ranger’s Resolve and Syncopation. Ranger’s Resolve is mainly used to get favorable trades or to protect your units from AoE like Make it Rain or Miss Fortune’s skill Love Tap. Ghost and Syncopation are just tools to push additional damage. Syncopation also doubles up as a protection spell.
Against Aggro and Midrange decks, you need to mulligan for early drops like Fleetfeather Tracker and Petricite Broadwing. Young Witch is also good if you already have Challengers in your opening hand.
Against Combo and Control decks, having The Darkin Aegis is necessary to give your units resistances to ping spells. Protection spells are important to keep as well.
Meta Matchup Tips
- Use Challengers to threaten opposing Vayne and Rumble. Be aware of Single Combat, Fish Fight, Riposte, Whirling Death, and Condemn.
- Establish tempo leads by removing their threats while developing your own.
- Make sure to play around the Rune Squire + Glinting Blade Fragment combo.
- The win condition is mainly to push Elusive damage. Upcycled Rake is the key Equipment to win this matchup.
- Play around Single Combat, Fish Fight, and Concerted Strike.
- It is beneficial to trade down opposing Fated units so that Zed has an easier time to strike.
- Contest the board with your early units. Petricite Broadwing can usually trade with 2 opposing units. Do remember to not block Annie with Petricite Broadwing.
- Use combat tricks to preserve your units.
- The goal of this matchup is to survive the early game. Using Deny on Decimate is a huge tempo swing.
- Be careful of stuns from Solari Sunhawk and The Stagehand. Pass back if you can afford to take the damage.
- Ping spells like Mystic Shot, High Note, and Sump Fumes disrupts our win condition.
- Make it awkward for your opponents to cast Drum Solo and Sputtering Songspinner.
- There is an opening on the turn your opponent plays Sputtering Songspinner or Back Alley Bar. Rallying with Golden Aegis or using Tumble will apply pressure on the opponent.
Akshan Lee Sin
- It is important to kill off Akshan to slow down your opponent’s gameplan.
- Sandworn Amulet reduces the amount of healing the opposing deck has as Dragonlings are unable to block Fearsomes.
- Vayne Zed is favored in the early game, but once Lee Sin is on the board, the tables will turn.
- Save Deny for Homecoming or Lee Sin‘s skill Dragon’s Rage.
- Give Tough to your units with The Darkin Aegis or Pan O’ Pain from your Weaponmasters.
- Memory’s Cloak is a good tech choice, replacing Deny.
- Keep both Zed and Elusive win conditions open. Having both threats on the board gives you a higher chance of winning.
- Pushing Fearsome damage is relevant in this matchup.
Twisted Fate Swain
- Tough is a good keyword for your units to have, playing around Make it Rain and Twisted Fate‘s Red Card.
- Kill Powder Kegs when you see them.
- Using Golden Aegis or Tumble on the turn The Leviathan is played to close out the game.
- Cycling Equipment can ‘heal’ your units out of Ravenous Flock‘s range. The most efficient Equipment to do that is Pot O’ Pain.
Vayne seems like the best champion from The Darkin Saga: Domination. In combination with Zed and Elusive units, the deck is able to pull off combos never seen before. With the added complexity of generated Equipment, fragile units are able to punch above their weight. Proper piloting and better decision making for equipment picks can even help you win unfavorable matchups. Good luck with your climb on ladder.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter!