Introduction + Stats
Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well! As I mentioned in my last article about card rotations in LOR, I’m now going back to my usual deck guides. Today, I’m featuring Varus Fizz Baalkux Combo, the deck that I used to climb on my smurf account from Platinum IV to Diamond III at 95% winrate (21 Wins, 1 Loss). This is probably my most successful climb in terms of winrate in Legends of Runeterra. I got the decklist from FakeHero who was piloting the deck at 86% winrate in high AM Masters.
If you want to see this deck in action after reading this article, check out my video gameplay guide!
Varus Fizz Baalkux Deck Build
The Main Combo Finishers
Leve 2 Varus is the deck’s main win condition. His origin, The Arrow of Retribution, allows us to draw him consistently in almost every game. Fizz is our second champion; he can start inflicting chip Nexus damage early. This accumulated damage will make it easier for Varus to close off games in the later turns.
Baalkux is the deck’s emergency late game win condition for games where Varus‘ damage isn’t quite enough. At first, I underestimated Baalkux‘s damage output. After playing him, he actually accumulates Impact stacks very fast; it will be very common to deal at least 3 Nexus damage on his first attack.
The Supporting Combo Cast
Varus, Fizz, and Baalkux all use spell triggers to pull off their combo attacks. Lunari Cultist‘s Gems and Momentous Choice both provide multiple spell casts to trigger our unit finishers’ effects. Varus‘ The Darkin Bow pops off attack damage out of nowhere with a few casts of these cheap spells.
Shell Game is another combo spell that allows our units to bypass the opponent’s defenses with Elusive. It’s usually best used on Baalkux in the late game; refilling your spell mana means you can get more stacks for Baalkux‘s Impact.
The Early Foundation
A combo deck that pops off in the mid-late game still needs to establish its foundation in the early turns. Units like Assistant Librarian, Ranger-Knight Defector, and Keeper of the Box help for this cause. These three units can sometimes form a snowball when attached with equipments.
Fizz is a unit that you shouldn’t be afraid to use for trading/blocking in the early game. He’s a champion and one of our possible win conditions, but it isn’t the end of the world if you just use him as a trading piece.
The Equipment Lineup
Cultist cards from Varus‘ region activate powerful effects once you’ve equipped an ally during the game. In this deck, we are using Bandle City‘s Wandering Shepherd and The Darkin Staff. Improvised equipment can increase your damage output from Fizz. Getting The Fix-em 5000 on Ranger-Knight Defector auto wins certain matchups.
The Darkin Staff is an efficient way to progress Varus‘ level up requirement and inflict a bit of Nexus damage. You often cast it for free since you get your mana back once you strike with it. Most importantly, as I mentioned earlier, it turns into an alternate win condition in the late game.
Disruption and Protection
Combo decks often require some sort of protection and disruption for their key units. This is the main reason why most successful combo decks are from Ionia (Deny, Nopeify!) and Shurima (Rite of Negation, Ancient Hourglass). This deck has similar tools of its own with Puzzling Signposts and The Expanse’s Protection. These cards protect us from finishers like Feel The Rush or against removal spells like Hexbliterator and Vengeance.
Other Support Cards
For the deck’s final support cards, we have The Unforgiving Cold to stop big attacks and win combats, Furious Wielder as unit removal, and a weird inclusion with Quicken. I didn’t understand the inclusion of Quicken at first, but after playing some games, I immediately realized its amazing synergy with The Unforgiving Cold. You can potentially use it to recall Frostbitten large units like Aatrox, Tryndamere, or Nautilus.
General Mulligan for Varus Fizz Baalkux
You want to generally mulligan for early units like Fizz, Assistant Librarian, and Keeper of the Box alongside equipment enablers like Wandering Shepherd and The Darkin Staff. If you already have a good hand, you can start keeping other combo and utility cards:
- Ranger-Knight Defector can exert a lot of pressure on Turn 4 if you already have an equipment.
- Momentous Choice is a great card for protecting early units and can potentially allow you to snowball with Assistant Librarian.
- Pokey Stick and Lunari Cultist are must-keep cards against aggressive decks.
- Puzzling Signposts can shut down decks running big spells like Feel The Rush.
As an additional component to this section of my guide, I’m adding some sample mulligan exercises!
Mulligan Exercise: Game vs Ekko Jinx
This is a game I played against Ekko Jinx. In most games, I would probably keep this entire hand. Fizz and Wandering Shepherd are always good to keep (early unit + weapon enabler). The Darkin Staff is also an early weapon enabler, and Varus secures us a unit to play in the mid-game.
However, since we are up against an aggressive deck, I opted to mulligan away Varus and The Darkin Staff. These two cards don’t do much against aggro. I want to get a 2-cost unit as much as possible to ensure that I have enough trading power in the early game. If I have to trade away my Fizz on the first two turns, I want to still have a valuable unit to target with Wandering Shepherd‘s improvise.
Mulligan Exercise: Game vs Zed Hecarim
This is a bit of a tricky mulligan. Zed Hecarim can be aggressive sometimes, but I wouldn’t classify it as a full aggro deck. It might be tempting to keep Lunari Cultist against an aggressive deck, but this card doesn’t do too much in the matchup. It won’t even be able to stop a Redeemed Prodigy on Turn 2. I’d keep Lunari Cultist if I was against hyper aggro decks like Pirates or Discard Aggro.
So, without a good early unit and an equipment enabler, the correct play is to go for a full mulligan. In the game itself, I took the risk of keeping Ranger-Knight Defector. This is a combo vs combo matchup, and I figured that Ranger-Knight Defector could allow me to be the aggressor with its scout keyword. This was very risky because (1) I might end up not having any unit to play in the first 3 turns, and (2) Ranger-Knight Defector would not be effective if I couldn’t draw an Equipment enabler.
Mulligan Exercise: Game vs Tahm Kench Soraka
I’m ending this section with a straightforward mulligan. Assistant Librarian is a great unit to keep here! You should mulligan away everything else to look for equipment enablers.
Planning Ahead, A Key Fundamental
A key fundamental to playing this deck is planning ahead. Planning ahead and preserving mana for future turns is a fundamental skill in Legends of Runeterra. Some obvious applications for this deck are representing 4 mana for Puzzling Signposts and representing 5 mana for The Unforgiving Cold. This also means calculating damage and saving resources (mana, spells, equipments) for your combo kill turns.
Rather than explain this concept with words alone, I think it would be better to illustrate with a specific scenario. For my sample scenario, I’ll be showcasing a seemingly small and insignificant decision in the early turns that led to winning a game.
Sample Scenario – The Decision
This was turn 1 against Tahm Kench Soraka, the one I also used for the mulligan exercise. With this hand, playing Fizz Turn 1 into Assistant Librarian Turn 2 might seem like a fine play, right? However, here I decided to instead pass and save 1 spell mana. I almost always pass on Turn 1 when I have Assistant Librarian. Having 1 spell mana gives me the flexibility to use or represent Momentous Choice or The Darkin Staff on the next three turns. This can be very powerful because of Assistant Librarian‘s Fated keyword.
I happened to have Momentous Choice in hand here, so passing was always going to be the correct play. Even if I didn’t have Momentous Choice, I would still have passed just in case I drew into my 1-cost spells/equipments, and to bluff that I had them in hand.
Let’s see how this decision pays off!
Sample Scenario – The Payoff
On Turn 2, I played Assistant Librarian and my opponent played Boxtopus. Because I had 1 spell mana for Momentous Choice, I could freely declare an attack here. If my opponent blocked, I win the free trade by casting Momentous Choice on my Fated unit. This would set them back a lot since Tahm Kench Soraka relies on setting up a board in the early game. If my opponent doesn’t block, I draw a free card from the deck. Win-win situation because of my Turn 1 decision!
My opponent ended up letting me strike the Nexus, giving me a free draw. Let’s see what happens on the next turn.
On Turn 3, my opponent played Soraka and I played Wandering Shepherd, improvising an Equipment on the Fated Assistant Librarian. My opponent chose to for the attack to progress their Soraka win-con and to get a free kill on my Wandering Shepherd. Having 1-spell mana allowed me to cast Momentous Choice and I got the kill on their precious champion, Soraka.
My small decision of passing on Turn 1 allowed me to have these advantages in the early turns which ultimately led to me winning the game.
That’s it for this guide! In the next one, I’ll be featuring the deck that I’ll use to reach Masters on my new smurf account. Stay tuned, and hopefully you enjoy playing some Baalkux in ranked!