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Veigar Senna Darkness Deck Guide

Hey, Agigas here! This guide is dedicated to the Darkness archetype – the most popular and successful control deck in recent times.

With its ability to defend itself against aggression, to out-grind most matchups, and to punish non-interactive decks, Darkness has shown it has all the tools to stand the test of time, and be a deck worth learning. I hope this guide will help you master its complex nature!

Darkness is a control deck, looking to leverage synergies around its namesake spell, Darkness. Your champions, Veigar and Senna, are key units to this strategy as they fill both the role of enablers and payoffs.

Senna allows you to cast Slow spells, most importantly Darkness, at Fast speed, making your control gameplan feel much smoother. She also is an impressive Darkness engine, making it very easy to chain Darkness’es once you’ve secured a couple of discounts or damage buffs.

Senna’s level-up is very impactful, granting you a further 1-mana discount on all your damage and kill spells, making it very easy to keep full control over the board. Finally, her champion spell, Dawning Shadow, is extremely strong when cast at a Fast speed.

Veigar generates one Darkness on-summon, and he buffs its damage at each Round Start. While Veigar does not have the same immediate impact as Senna, if he can stay alive for a few turns, he will make it far easier for you to control the board with big Darknesses.

Veigar levels pretty easily, and finishing games is a formality at that point – he will regularly be your way to close a game, though you do not necessarily need him to do so.

To go along with and support these two powerful champions, this deck packs up the most powerful units of the Darkness package.

Twisted Catalyzer and Stilted Robemaker don’t generate Darkness, but they make it a lot stronger through damage buffs and cost reductions. There is no point generating tons of Darkness’es if they are a bad spell, but with these two units along with your champions, you can quickly get Darkness to become an extremely powerful spell.

Darkbulb Acolyte is the cheapest way to generate a Darkness, and it has an efficient body for its low cost. Ixtali Sentinel is much more expensive – however, the Lifesteal keyword helps to stabilize, and the Darkness that doubles up to face allows you to increase the pressure, level up Veigar faster, or outright finish some games.

Surrounding the core of this deck’s strategy, Bandle City and Shadow Isles provide powerful control tools and value cards to support the Darkness Package.

Vile Feast, Pokey Stick, Withering Wail, and Minimorph all are control staple spells. You also have some extra room for more specific supporting cards, such as Group Shot, The Box, Vengeance, and Dess & Ada to control the opponent’s board. Mist’s Call, Stress Defense, and The Rekindler help you protect key units.

Conchologist is a staple 2-cost unit of Bandle City, and will help you find the spell you need all the while presenting some early board presence.


Techs and Options

  • Demacian Sentinel, Otterpus, and Hapless Aristocrat all are solid 1-drops in the Darkness archetype and you should consider them if you want a better matchup against hyper-aggressive strategies. Demacian Sentinel is you best choice against Fearsome, Hapless Aristocrat against non-evasive aggression, and Otterpus helps more in tempo-oriented matchups.
  • Go Hard is an alternative to Group Shot. The healing and opportunity to get a Pack Your Bags can help to do more, however the Slow speed can make it a lot more clunky, and you lose the upside of being able to deal 2 damage sometimes with Group Shot.
  • Aloof Travelers can help target decks relying on an expensive card, such as Feel the Rush or Lee Sin.
  • Piercing Darkness and Withering Mist are two powerful drain spells. Consider teching them in if you often face units they help against, especially if you need more healing.
  • The Ruination completes your control package quite well as you don’t have a lot of tools to deal with large high-health boards. In most matchups, Darkness is able to control the board, but with that said Ruination can help with go-big midrange archetypes and synergizes well with Senna.
  • Hidden Pathways has become a lot less cost-efficient since its nerf, and most versions switched off of it. That said the spell still helps in slow matchups where value matters more than tempo. Glimpse Beyond is also a good alternative to help with drawing.

General Tips

  • Buff and discount Darkness’es early on, chain them later. Darkness is a very inefficient spell early on, and you should hold onto it until it gets some buffs or cost reductions – that is unless you have absolutely nothing else to do or see a great opportunity. Instead, in the early game, focus on making Darkness’es stronger with Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker, Veigar, and Senna, so then you spike in the mid-game with cheap, high-damage Darknesses.
  • Find the right timing to play Veigar. Veigar comes down at a significant tempo loss, and you certainly don’t want to lose him before he triggers. In some matchups, you want to play him as soon as possible to get as many Darkness buffs as possible, while in others, you might want to hold onto him until the tempo loss is less impactful and/or the opponent’s removals are gone or less convenient.
  • Look to level-up Senna efficiently. Once Senna levels, she provides a cost reduction for your removals. Because of that, you want to level her up quickly, and at the lowest invesment possible, so you can benefit from the cost reduction on more spells. Withering Wail or The Box are particularly good at accelerating her level-up.
  • Understand your role in the game. It can be tempting to slam your high-synergy cards to grow your Darkness spell as fast as possible. However, it is often better to play more reactively and let the opponent make the first move – you’re the control deck, and can outgrind pretty much any archetype. Playing reactively will make the game a lot harder to play for the opponent, even when you don’t have any control tool in hand. That said, it is also important to recognize when you can be the one to push pressure – Darkness has a lot of well-sized units and a high burn reach with Ixtali Sentinels. Assess your role carefully, depending on the matchup and the current state of the game.
  • Get familiar with the range of spells Conchologist can offer you. Conchologist gives you 3 choices among 32 possible 1-3 cost spells from your regions – Bandle City and Shadow Isles. Here are some things to keep in mind:
    • There are a lot of cheap ping spells in the pool: Go Hard, Group Shot, Poison Dart, Pokey Stick, Unspeakable Horror, and Vile Feast. You have a 47.6% chance of finding at least one of them among your options. They all are good early on, so they’ll often be what you’re looking for. Note that I’ve not included Bouncing Bomb into the calculation, but it can also be considered a ping effect.
    • Black Spear is often clunky, but it’s at a premium when it comes to removing mid-size threats.
    • Stress Defense and Mist’s Call are often great choices as well. You can also pick up Glimpse Beyond for removal-heavy matchups.
    • Fading Memories, Stalking Shadows, and Splinter Soul combine really well with your numerous “When I’m summoned” effects – special mention goes to The Rekindler.
    • Stay flexible – every card in the pool can find a use, don’t dismiss any picks rightaway without giving them some thought.
    • Sometimes, when the Manifest options aren’t great but you see a Trinket Trade there, you can pick it up and essentially get another roll to see 2 extra options plus Otterpus.

General mulligan tips:

  • Twisted Catalyzer is a card you’re always happy to see in the starting hand – buffing your Darkness early will make your whole deck a lot stronger. Against decks struggling to answer it on turn 2, you should hard-mulligan for it.
  • Stilted Robemaker is also a great card in the mulligan – playing it early will make your Darknesses a lot more efficient and will allow you to chain them faster.
  • Veigar should be kept if you want to play him on turn 4 (often against slow archetypes), and mulliganed away otherwise.
  • Conchologist, Vile Feast and Group Shot are great keeps against aggressive matchups. Withering Wail is a good tech against go-wide decks, and Vengeance or Minimorph are against archetypes banking their game plan on one big unit.

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


Matchups

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Group Shot, Vile Feast. Keep Withering Wail or The Box if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Spider Burn is an hyper-aggressive deck filled with cheap aggro units, Fearsome and spider units, and burn damage. If you can avoid falling too much behind and keep your Nexus health high, they will quickly run out of cards in the midgame.
  • In the early turns, you goal is to trade your small spells and units with theirs to prevent damage. Look to trade your non-Fearsome blockers with their non-Fearsome attackers so you can keep your spot removal for Fearsome units.
  • In the midgame, look to set up a powerful Withering Wail or The Box to blow out their board and stabilize. Even without casting those, the threat can push them to play slower, and then you will be able to tear them apart with Ixtali Sentinel.
  • Your Fearsome blockers are precious against them, and you should be careful not to play into their Frenzied Skitterer. Look to play Twisted Catalyzer or Stilted Robemaker right after they play the Skitterer so you do have a Fearsome blocker.
  • In the late game, look to keep a removal to answer their Noxian Fervor.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • Sentinel Control is a control deck that can also push a lot of damage quickly with Fearsome units, and finishes games with burn damage. You need to navigate the game carefully and avoid taking too much damage, as their burn can go over the top of your healing.
  • Their Sentinels make it less desirable for you to play early units if the opponent can easily remove them. Look to play Twisted Catalyzer when they tap under 2 mana so they can’t remove it with a spell rightaway. Stilted Robemaker is a great unit against them as it trades up into their Fearsome units and is hard to remove.
  • Look to remove Kindred as soon as she hits the board. She has a low health total and they don’t have any protection spells – she shouldn’t be a problem as long as you play around her.
  • For a control deck, their access to value is quite limited – they don’t have much draw, and don’t have the card generation you have. Minimorph is a great answer to Commander Ledros. You don’t need to rush anything once you are in control over the game, and should focus on keeping your health total stable, all the while being ready to answer Atrocity at any time.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Veigar, Group Shot. Keep Stilted Robemaker, Pokey Stick, The Box, Withering Wail if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Ahri Kennen is an Elusive tempo archetype, looking to leverage Recall synergies and quickly level up Ahri for lethal. You have a lot of very strong answers for their strategy, but their counterspells and tempo plays can set you on the backfoot.
  • Dancing Droplet is a priority target, but can be hard to remove. You should avoid tryig to kill it when they can save it with a Recall. Group Shot is a great answer to a turn 1 Dancing Dropplet.
  • Look to use The Box to counter their Kinkou Wayfinder. They might be able to beat it with Deny, but getting Deny out of their hand is already a small victory heading into the late game. Withering Wail can tear their board apart as they play a lot of 1-health units.
  • They don’t have a good answer to Veigar, their only one being Homecoming. That said slamming him on turn 4 is a suboptimal play, as it gives them the opportunity to play Kinkou Wayfinder safely – you should most often play him right after they tap under 4 unit mana.
  • Attack as much as possible to force them to either block or take damage. They have no healing, and therefore they can quickly feel pressured, especially when you can follow it up with Ixali Sentinel.
  • Nopeify! is a scary spell they have as it can negate a Darkness for very cheap. However, don’t feel bad running right into it – you will have to make the opponent use it at some point anyway, and only once you them out of the equation you will be able to get ahead.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Veigar.

Matchup tips:

  • Feel the Rush is an archetype looking to control the game with the FR/SI removal package, and then close things out with Feel The Rush. Despite their strong removals, they often struggle to answer Twisted Catalyzer and Veigar when played on-curve, meaning our Darkness spell can grow pretty quickly.
  • Look to play around Avalanche and Blighted Ravine – do not make too large of a board if you think they might hold those cards, and look to make your board more resilient with high-health units. They also play 1 or 2 copies of The Ruination, and therefore you should avoid overcommiting to the board even with high-health units.
  • Veigar is often the key to the game, as he will quickly snowball your Darkness spell and act as a win condition. The more Veigars you can find, the better. If the Darkness spell gets big enough to deal with Trundle, the game gets a lot easier.
  • Look to remove their non-buffed champions with damaged-based removal. Those won’t be nearly as effective against champions from Feel the Rush, which you will need your Vengeance and/or Minimorph to deal with.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker, Veigar.

Matchup tips:

  • The Darkness generally is an extremely value-oriented matchup. Both players have the tools to deal with the opponent’s threats, and unless a player manages to quickly snowball a Veigar or a Twisted Catalyser while the other bricks, the game is bound to become a long grind.
  • Veigar is the key unit of the matchup. Him buffing Darkness helps to deal with the opponent’s champions, and once he levels up it is very easy to close out the game. Look to play him early on when the opponent taps under 6 mana – it is hard to deal with Veigar while the Darkness spell is still small and Vengeance/Minimorph aren’t available. On the opposite, you might not want to tap under 6 mana if you’re afraid of the opponent playing Veigar and aren’t falling behind on tempo.
  • Despite its grindy nature, it is important not to let yourself fall behind and lose too much health – Ixtali Sentinels can provide a lot of reach, especially if a leveled Veigar manages stick to the board for a turn.
  • If you start falling behind on value, look to set up a blow-out turn where you pressure the opponent and make them fall behind on tempo. If you get the opponent to tap out or use their answers to Veigar, you can quickly win the game. On the opposite, if you’re ahead in value, look to keep control over the board without making yourself vulnerable to Veigar.
  • To improve the matchup, consider teching in a second The Rekindler and a Glimpse Beyond.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Vengeance, Minimorph. Keep Senna if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Pantheon Fated is a midrange archetype that buffes Fated units with its numerous targeted spells, and quickly levels Pantheon. Cataclysm, Single Combat, and Concerted Strike are all very cost-efficient, making it often hard to stick an early Veigar onto the board.
  • Your best tools to keep them under control are your large removals – Vengeance and Minimorph. Senna’s spell is also particularly strong in the matchup. Let the opponent stack a lot of buffs onto their unit, and only when they use Zenith Blade onto it and start pushing too much damage you can use a hard removal – you don’t want to waste your spells on mid-sized threats.
  • To level up Pantheon, they have to cast one buff per turn as often as possible. Wait for them to cast their mandatory targeted card, then start playing your cards – force them to play more buffs on the same turn they’ve already procced their Pantheon quest.
  • Look to keep a ping or another cheap spell in case Pantheon randomly gets the Spellshield keyword or if they play a Bastion.
  • When looking to kill a unit from full health with several damage spells, you generally should place all of them on the stack in one go to play around Guiding Touch.
  • If you manage to grow and discount your Darkness a couple of times to the point where you can start removing their units even through buffs, the game gets extremely hard for them.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker. Keep Stress Defense if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Lurk is an archetype looking to to build up Lurkers’ attack, making every unit into a dangerous threat, and allowing them to level up Pyke and Rek’Sai quickly. Their rapid snowball can quickly become overwhelming to deal with, especially if they pull ahead in tempo.
  • Early on, look to get the best trades possible while enhancing your Darknesses with Twisted Catalyzer and Stilted Robemaker. If they aren’t too ahead, you can play an early Veigar, but be careful about Death From Below.
  • Stress Defense will rarely be helpful to cast on your own unit as their units quickly get over 6 attack, but it is a very powerful card to stall out one of their units, protect your unit against a Bone Skewer, or prevent Rek’Sai from leveling up by casting it before she gets to attack.
  • If you get to stabilize the board and grow your Darkness spell, the game becomes very hard for them as they don’t have a lot of value without Rek’Sai and are completely reliant on their units.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Veigar. Keep Stilted Robemaker if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Iceborn Poro is a combo deck looking to buff up Daring Poros to high stats with Iceborn Legacy and Poro Snax. This archetype tends to prey on control decks as those don’t have the tools to deal with the sudden and cheap swarm of Poros. However, Darkness can quite regulary upset this strategy.
  • Iceborn Poro isn’t good at removing untis – it’s a linear deck that focuses on its own gameplan. Therefore, Twisted Catalyser and Veigar can quickly grow your Darkness spell when you play them early enough, to a point where it will be able to deal with the opponent’s buffed Daring Poros. Some version of Iceborn Poros play Mystic Shot, which can make the game more difficult as they can remove Twisted Catalyser.
  • Make sure you are ready to punish any opponent that would play their Poros while they are not buffed enough to survive your damage-based removals.

Closing Words

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

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 write, 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!

2 Responses

  1. Oliver Xu says:

    It sucks that Crumble isn’t even a tech option here against Bandle Tree. 😛

    • Agigas says:

      I mentioned this option in the Bandle Tree matchup section. However, the card is really underwhelming in other matchups, making it a pretty bad choice unless for some reason you expect to play against a very high amount of Bandle Tree (or other landmark-based decks).

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