Veigar Senna Darkness Deck Guide

Hello, Agigas here! This guide is dedicated to Veigar Senna Darkness. The deck is currently quite popular on the ladder, but can be tricky to play – I hope this guide will help you to pilot the archetype to its full potential!

Darkness is a control deck, looking to leverage synergies around its namesake spell, Darkness. Your champions, Veigar and Senna, are both enablers and payoffs to your strategy.

Senna allows you to cast Slow spells like Darkness, Withering Mist, etc., 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. Her level-up is very impactful, granting you a further 1-mana discount on all your damage and kill spells. Finally, her champion spell, Senna’s 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.

Since both of our champions are very valuable to your gameplan and they both generate a Darkness on-summon, The Rekindler is a perfect way to rebuy either Senna or Veigar in the later stages of the game.

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.

Twisted Catalyzer and Stilted Robemaker don’t generate Darkness, but they make it a lot stronger through damage buffs and cost reductions.

Conchologist is a solid unit to add some board presence while providing value, and Hidden Pathways helps you never run out of cards, and find your key pieces in the late game.

Pokey Stick, Vile Feast, Withering Mist, and Withering Wail all allow you to finish off low-health units while netting you some additional value or healing.

Stress Defense is a flexible spell, that can be used as a cheap way to prevent a big unit from killing you, or as a protection spell for your champions or Twisted Catalyzer. Finally, Minimorph is a great answer to the opponent’s key unit.


Techs and Options

  • Demacian Sentinel, Otterpus, and Hapless Aristocrat all are solid 1-drops in the Darkness archetype and will help you to contest the early board. I opted not to run any 1-cost units in this version of the deck because they don’t contribute anything to our core gameplan, and list with no 1-drops tend to perform better on stats. However, feel free to include some if you often feel the need for additional chump blockers, especially if you often run into hyper-aggressive strategies such as Pirate Burn. Out of the three units mentioned, Demacian Sentinel is often my first choice because she can also push a significant amount of damage in the slower matchups.
  • Aloof Travelers is a very powerful unit, and a lot of versions run it. Unfortunately, this deck’s 4-cost slot is very competitive as we need to play both Veigar and Stilted Robemaker. The latter can be trimmed down to make room for Aloof Travelers, but the value of discounting Darkness is huge. Still, Aloof Travelers is a great tech option if you face a lot of control/combo archetypes.
  • Mist’s Call can feel a bit clunky at times, and it doesn’t do much unless you can get an opportunity to bank some spell mana. However, it is an amazing value tool. While reviving The Rekindler or a champion are obviously the most desirable outcomes, other units from the Darkness package, such as Twited Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker, or Ixtali Sentinel, are great targets too. Consider making some room for 1-2 copies of Mist’s Call if you often hit matchups where the opponents have lots of removals.
  • Piercing Darkness is a strong removal and lifegain tool, and it combines well with Senna’s ability. However, the deck already has Minimorph, Stress Defense, and buffed Darknesses to deal with large threats, so I prefer running Withering Wail and Withering Mist instead. Piercing Darkness is a good option if you face a lot of threats that are weak to it (ex. Poppy), and if you need more lifegain.
  • Despair is a great answer to Nami, but isn’t the most impressive spell against most other archetypes. Look to tech one in if you keep queuing into Nami decks.

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 Withering Mist are particularly good at accelerating her level-up.
  • 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 and Vile Feast are great keeps against aggressive matchups.

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, Veigar. Keep Stilted Robemaker if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Zoe Nami wants to spend the first 2 turns passing to stack spell mana for Nami. Because of that, an early Twisted Catalyzer will be extremely strong against them. If they opt to remove it on turn 2 with Line ‘Em Up, it will slow down their Nami level-up considerably.
  • It’s very hard for them to deal with an early Veigar, and they need some setup before threatening you so you often don’t mind the initial tempo loss of Veigar. Buffing Darkness’ damage several times will make it a lot easier to remove buffed Elusive units through protection spells.
  • Look to remove their units right away, don’t let them assemble a board.
    • Trying to remove their units before their engines (Nami, Fleet Admiral Shelly) are online will force them to either play a spell at an inconvenient timing, or to let their unit die.
    • Removing their engines right away will prevent them from stacking buffs and snowballing tempo advantages. Minimorph is a great answer as there is nothing they can do about it and they don’t even get the opportunity to cast any spells to get some value from their engine.
  • They don’t run any answers to your champions, however, they can steal your Minimorph with Spell Thief.
    • Be aware of this when you’re setting up a Senna to play a Slow spell at Fast speed – they can steal Minimorph, use it and attack – all in one action at Burst speed, preventing you from using your Slow spells. They can also silence Senna if they run Hush.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Vile Feast, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • Draven Sion has a powerful aggro and midrange gameplan, making it a staple of the current meta. Staving off their aggression is often the most crucial phase of the game, as you don’t want to be behind heading into the late game.
  • Thanks to your numerous lifegain spells, removals, and board presence, you should be able to limit the damage and control the board. Look to set up a strong Withering Wail or Withering Mist to shut down their pressure and make them rely on Sion.
  • As Sion comes down, you can easily deal with him with Minimorph or slow him down with Stress Defense. As long as you’re not already behind, Sion shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Veigar’s initial tempo cost can be problematic if you’re already starting to fall behind on tempo. Look to play him at the point when you’re starting to get control over the game.
    • Be careful not to play Veigar right into a Twinblade Revenant. Play out your Veigar after they’ve attacked, or if you have a removal up.
  • It can be annoying for them to deal with your champions, especially if their only removal is Get Excited!. Some versions run Ravenous Flock, Mystic Shot, Noxian Fervor, and Whirling Death. But in any case, they’ll often need to have a specific setup or invest more than one card to remove your champion.
  • All versions play three copies Get Excited, and some have even more burn on top of that in the form of Mystic Shot and Noxian Fervor. Try to keep your Nexus health high – as a rule of thumb, stay at least at 7 health, so you don’t die to two Get Excited.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Vile Feast, Withering Mist. Keep Darkbulb Acolyte if you have Withering Mist and no other 2-cost units.

Matchup tips:

  • Pirate Burn is a hyper-aggressive archetype, looking to push damage with cheap units and then finish your Nexus with burn damage and a leveled Gangplank. You should be extremely conservative with your Nexus health.
  • Set up a strong Withering Wail or Withering Mist to stop their aggression. They have no buffs or counters, their only way to retaliate is through Noxian Fervor.
  • Be aware they can deny you an Ixtali Sentinel’s Lifesteal hit or part of the healing coming from the Withering Mist by killing their unit with Noxian Fervor.
  • Most versions play 1-3 copies of Double Up. Look to counter this spell with Stress Defense.
  • When possible, try to prevent them from spreading out their Nexus damage over turns. The later they get to level-up Gangplank, the easier it will be for you to deal with him (Minimorph being a decent answer).
  • When they start running out of cards, look to completely clear their board. This way, they wouldn’t have any targets for Noxian Fervor or Imperial Demolitionist if they top-deck them.
  • This matchup becomes much better if you tech in some 1-drops – Hapless Aristocrat in particular.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • The early game can feel awkward, but they’ll often be passing until turn 3 so you shouldn’t usually take too much damage. Heading into the mid-game, things get a lot easier as you keep controlling their board.
  • In this matchup, getting at least 1 damage buff for your Darkness can change the whole game. Most of their important units have 3 health, and being able to one-shot them with Darkness will make averything much easier.
  • Because most versions cut Mystic Shot, they can’t deal with Veigar for less than 4 mana (Thermogenic Beam, damage spell or Arachnoid Sentry + Ravenous Flock). Also, be careful about Twinblade Revenant when they have the attack token. Look to play your Veigar right after they’ve tapped under 4 mana.
  • Be careful to not get too much behind on tempo in the mid-to-late game. 1 or 2 stacked Tri-beam Improbulators or Ravenous Flocks can suddenly give them a lot of tempo and damage, especially if you were already behind.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • Gangplank Sejuani is a midrange deck looking to consistently trigger Plunder and apply some early pressure. It gets a big power spike when it can level its champions, Gangplank and Sejuani.
  • Their early- and mid-game units shouldn’t be too much of a problem as you should be able to trade your units into theirs. Try to keep up with their tempo and not fall too far behind. Setting up a strong Withering Wail isn’t easy as they have a lot of 2-health units, but if you’ve managed to do it it will bring an early end to their aggression.
  • Heading into the late game you need to always be ready to remove Gangplank and The Dreadway, as they’ll finish the game quickly when let unchecked. Sejuani is important to kill too, especially if you have an Ixtali Sentinel out.
  • They can remove your champions with Monster Harpoon. However, they only have 3 Monster Harpoons, so if the game goes long you should be able to eventually stick your champions on the board. Avoid playing a champion or an Ixtali Sentinel if you’re currently behind and suspect they might have a Monster Harpoon.
  • Be careful to not get too low on Nexus health, as they can deal a lot of burn damage with The Dreadway and Warning Shot; especially if they additionally have a Powder Keg.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Vile Feast, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • GP TF Bandle is an aggressive archetype looking to flood the board and push a lot of combat and direct damage. You need to be very conservative with your Nexus health, and use lifegain spells at the right time.
  • Gangplank can level up extremely fast. An early leveled Gangplank will be very hard to deal with – try to prevent them from dealing face damage every turn to slow down the level-up condition.
  • Use Stress Defense to survive Gangplank’s attack or in response to Double Up to prevent the face damage.
  • Ixtali Sentinel’s Lifesteal keyword and large stats are pivotal to try and stabilize your Nexus health. Be careful about Twisted Fate‘s Gold Card.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Conchologist, Stilted Robemaker, Vile Feast.

Matchup tips:

  • If Lurk manages to snowball their board and you won’t have enough blockers or removals for Lurkers, things can get hopeless very quickly as they’ll push tons of damage very fast in the midgame.
  • 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.
  • Use Stress Defense on Rek’Sai immediately before she goes to attack to prevent the level-up. Alternatively, Stress Defense can be used to protect your key unit from a Bone Skewer.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer. Keep Darkbulb Acolyte if you have 2 Twisted Catalyzers.

Matchup tips:

  • Elusive Rally is a very aggressive archetype and will often out-tempo you. Poppy and Lulu are both hard to deal with, especially when backed up with protection spells.
  • To keep up on tempo, you want to get at least one Twisted Catalyzer out on turns 2 or 3. If you can get two out, odds start to swing in your favor as you’ll be able to remove their units a lot easier.
  • Avoid throwing removals at their units until they go to attack if they have 2+ mana – it would give them a great opportunity to cast combat tricks such as Sharpsight, effectively pushing more damage. Look to cast removals after combat or during your turn.
  • Try to manage their board flood – the more units they have, the harder it gets. If you’ve managed to keep their board in check, reduce your Darknesses’ cost and increase the damage, you’ll be able to lock them out of the game.
  • Once you are in control of the board, their way out is to win through an Elusive unit combined with buffs and Rallies. Keep your removals to deal with Elusive units.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Stilted Robemaker.

Matchup tips:

  • Our win condition against Poppy aggro decks is to control their threats and run them out cards. Against Bandle Swarm, however, this is not always an option, as they can refill the board time and again with the help Bandle City Mayor, Loping Telescope, Bandle Commando, and Tenor of Terror.
  • To win this matchup, you need to both control the board, limit the opponent’s synergies, AND progress your own win condition, either through tempo (with a leveled Senna for example), or through Veigar.
  • They don’t have an easy way of removing your champions, though they can challenge them with Fleetfeather Tracker, and, for some versions, Laurent Protege. The biggest issue when it comes to playing your champions is that it often loses you too much tempo. However, if you can stick a champion on the board without falling too much behind this will be your route to victory.
  • Try to remove Bandle City Mayor as soon as he hits the board – else, he will give them a lot of tempo. Poppy, Yordle Smith, and Lulu are other priority targets.
  • When possible, play around Rallies. Most version play 5-6 copies of this effect.

Mulligan for: Twisted Catalyzer, Veigar.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup is a disaster, as you often won’t be able to race The Bandle Tree win condition and you can’t really interact with it with your control tools.
  • Playing Twisted Catalyzer on turn 2, Veigar on turn 4 and Ixtali Sentinel on turn 6 will make for a large part of your wins. The opponent can easily flood the board, so racing through board pressure is very often out of question. Instead, turbo-leveling Veigar is your most effective way of racing them. However, they often have tools to get rid of Veigar (Ravenous Flock, Scorched Earth, Minimorph), which makes this matchup so difficult.
  • Since you can’t beat The Bandle Tree anyway, play like they don’t have it and focus on getting control of the board to snowball a victory before they can find it. A significant amount of your wins in this matchup will come from them having no Bandle Tree in the top 20 cards of their deck.
    • Don’t underestimate their board flood aggressive plan. A wide board into Poppy can rapidly become threatening, and they will be able to close out even if they didn’t find Bandle Tree.
  • Consider teching Aloof Travelers to discard their Minimorph or The Bandle Tree. Crumble can also help, though the card isn’t very strong in other matchups so I would advise against it.

Closing Words

While Darkness isn’t a Tier 1 deck on the ladder at the moment because of its massive weakness to Poppy decks, it is still a potent deck to climb with thanks to its overall good matchup table.

This archetype would shine even brighter in a tournament setting, where you can ban Poppy.

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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