Vladimir Braum Scargrounds Deck Guide
Hey, it’s Asher again, this time to present a deck that recently made a bit of a comeback: Scargrounds Beatdown, a Freljord/Noxus combination making use of two severely underplayed champions, Braum and Vladimir.
The deck has been performing well in Masters so far, hovering around a 54% win rate for several days. In this article, I will be showcasing the way it functions, examining its matchup table, and explaining the reasons we are seeing this deck perform recently.
Scargrounds Beatdown is an old archetype – in fact, it has existed even before The Scargrounds was introduced to the game with the Call of the Mountain expansion.
Unfortunately, the deck lacked raw power as well as ways to interact with the opponent’s board. Its only win condition was in trying to fill the board and hit hard, again and again, and hope for the best. It existed between Tier 3 and the bottom of Tier 2 pretty much since the inception of Runeterra. So what changed?
First, Crimson Bloodletter was added to the game with the Empires of the Ascended expansion. This simple 1-drop grants a neat tool to the archetype, allowing other units to benefit from their self-harm effect. Crimson Bloodletter is great on-curve, and can still be a powerful enabler later in the game.
Secondly, and more importantly, Twisted Fate Fizz has been the meta top dog for a long time. Scargrounds Beatdown has a favorable matchup against it, which makes the deck nicely positioned in the meta. But let’s take a closer look at the deck and the cards that make it work.
Apart from that, the game plan of the deck remains as simple as it always was, with no real alternate win conditions. You want to create a strong, wide board full of beefy units and trample the enemy with their sheer damage output, helped by Vladimir’s drain ability and Scarmother Vrynna’s ludicrous scaling.
- Self-Harm Package
These cards benefit from surviving damage – Braum, Scarmother Vrynna, Crimson Curator, and of course, The Scargrounds themselves. We want these cards to survive as long as possible – they can serve as value engines, and become extremely hard to remove in combat once the Scargrounds buff is applied to them.
These are the cards that enable our Self-Harm Package: Crimson Bloodletter, Tarkaz the Tribeless, Vladimir, but also our board wipes like Avalanche and Ice Shard. For the deck to function properly, we need a good balance of enablers and self-harm payoffs, as they only unleash their full potential when played in conjunction.
This last group includes all of our tricks, combat or otherwise. They are mostly spells such as Troll Chant that let us turn combat trades in our favor, as well as board removal that also doubles up as self-harm enablers, like Death Lotus. This aspect of the core is more flexible than the rest and is fairly meta-dependent.
While he doesn’t directly synergize with our game plan, Kindly Tavernkeeper can be a literal life savior against aggro decks who try to race us, as Scargrounds needs some time to set up a strong board.
Similar to Troll Chant, Transfusion can serve an enabler role and allows us to push more damage when we are the aggressor. I would not add more than 2 copies, however, considering it also happens to be Vladimir’s champion spell.
This is a way to deal with troublesome units such as Twisted Fate, Miss Fortune, Quinn, or Thresh, but can also end up a dead draw in certain match-ups, and get easily fizzled against others. Facing a lot of Twisted Fate, Scouts, and Thresh? Think about including this baby.
Adding one or two copies of Might can unlock some sneaky win opportunities on the ladder. The deck is often easy to chump block and Might ensures that our heavy hitters get there when it matters.
An interesting alternative to Scarmother Vrynna, Alpha Wildclaw is less vulnerable to Hush. It is also a much more immediate threat that presents raw power instead of the scaling potential of Vrynna. Sometimes this is exactly what we need when we just want to kill our opponents one turn faster than they kill us, like against Twisted Fate/Fizz, for example.
This can be a powerful card as a surprise 1-of. Shunpo is rarely played but is at its best in this type of beatdown deck that aims to create a strong and sturdy board. Rallying with a board that can end up dealing upwards of 30 damage is not to be underestimated.
The mulligan phase for this deck is fairly straightforward.
We almost always want to find The Scargrounds, and being a midrange deck, we also want to find some sort of a curve, though we don’t mind banking mana here and there to open up for a Troll Chant or some other trick down the line.
The difficulty comes from the fact that we need to pick and choose which of our own threats to prioritize depending on how our opponents operate and what type of answers they wield. Having a broad understanding of meta is required to pilot this archetype well, and I’ll offer deck-specific advice below.
Mulligan for: The Scargrounds, Braum, Crimson Curator.
Tech Cards: -1 Blighted Ravine, +1 Shunpo.
They have very rigid removal that rarely can deal with our board without triggering our Self-harm package, and it all gets much worse for them once we buff our units with The Scargrounds.
Focus on building a strong board, then buff your units and go for the kill in the mid-game.
Watch out once they have 9 mana, as you do not want to overcommit into The Ruination. Better dealing less damage than you wished than dealing no damage at all.
It is a delicate balance to maintain as if they have played both Trundle and Lissandra by turn 8 and they happen to have the attack token, it is possible for them to summon a Watcher and end the game right then and there. To give you more time, if possible, try to prepare a champion spell to shuffle a copy of a champion into your deck once the Watcher obliterates it.
Three Sisters into Entomb is another card that can save you, as you can target Lissandra on turn 8, preventing her from leveling up and keeping the Watcher at bay.
Mulligan for: all of our removal package, Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, Ice Shard, Death Lotus. If your hand is full of them already, you can throw one away in hopes of finding a unit.
Scargrounds Beatdown is not so much a meta deck than an anti-meta deck, and this matchup is the main reason the deck is present on the ladder. Our removal is perfect to deal with the repeated onslaught of low-health Elusive units.
Things can get problematic if they manage to cast an early Suit Up! on Fizz or a Daring Poro. Later on, Mind Meld becomes a death sentence. This means that while we can keep the Elusive threat at bay for a while, Twisted Fate Fizz will eventually draw too many cards. Instead, winning requires a balancing act. On one hand, we must be threatening board wipes on defense, while also developing a sturdy board on offense.
Most importantly, the opponent cannot be allowed to play an unanswered Twisted Fate on turn 4, as this too often results in Pick a Card into an instant level up on the following turn. Later in the game, Twisted Fate leveling is not always bad, as The Scargrounds will abuse his Red Card.
In summary, be aggressive, but be mindful of the potential for Twisted Fate Fizz to swarm the board fast and sneak a win with Mind Meld.
Mulligan for: Braum, The Scargrounds, Blighted Ravine.
The matchup is straightforward. Scargrounds Beatdown can construct a much sturdier board than Scouts can ever dream of, but Scouts has the potential to develop much faster and end the game that way.
The longer the game goes, the happier we are, as we’ll eventually stonewall Scouts completely. To that end, controlling the early game with Blighted Ravine and using Braum as an early wall is usually enough to stabilize the game and grind them out.
Still, the game can easily get away from us if Miss Fortune or Quinn level up early on, and that might just be good enough a reason to tech Culling Strike in.
Mulligan for: Scorched Earth, Three Sisters, Troll Chant, Ice Shard, Death Lotus.
The goal is simply to go wide as early as we can and end the game before Fiora can get buffed too much and win.
To that end, try not to play small units such as Crimson Bloodletter and Crimson Disciple if you do not have a powerful combat trick in hand, and pick your time to go all-out and close the game.
The game becomes several degrees easier if you have Scorched Earth or Three Sisters in hand, as All-in Fiora has no counters to either, and will simply have to fold, taking the loss.
Mulligan for: The Scargrounds, Ice Shard, Death Lotus, Avalanche, Braum.
Our board wipes are extremely potent against this deck as it tends to go very aggressive and wide early on but is brittle. A well-timed Ice Shard can easily trade for 3 or 4 other cards, sealing the game in your favor.
While we do not have reliable tools to deal with Nasus, our board is sturdy enough to prevent him from growing much, lessening his impact. Still, be mindful of Atrocity, Rite of Negation, and tricks like Glimpse Beyond and Shaped Stone.
Mulligan for: The Scargrounds, Braum, Crimson Curator, Ice Shard or Death Lotus. Keep Tarkaz, but do not look for him.
You’re on a clock. If Shen Fiora gets to play Brightsteel Formation unchallenged, you’re in trouble, so that makes you the aggressor.
To build a board that sticks, both Ice Shard and Death Lotus come in handy to ping off the many barriers that Shen Fiora is bound to generate. Both Braum and Crimson Curator are premium in this match-up for their potential to generate immense amounts of value and should be protected at all costs.
You should be aiming to end the game around turn 8, and pray that they do not draw relevant combat tricks to counter yours.
Mulligan for: Braum, The Scargrounds, Scorched Earth.
Tech Cards: -2 Scarmother Vrynna, +2 Alpha Wildclaw.
This isn’t a great matchup for you. Both Zoe and Aphelios are crazy value engines who can paralyze our board and punish us for developing, while The Veiled Temple allows them to grow ad infinitum, and of course, Starshaping counteracts our aggro game plan while granting them a powerful win condition.
But the game is still winnable, mostly on the back of Braum and The Scargrounds generating great value as they have no consistent ways of removing either (and if they do remove it, they will likely be at a tempo loss).
Beyond that, resorting to our standard game plan, we want to build a wide board including Vladimir and Scarmother Vrynna to swing for the win. At this point, remember that Hush is in fact a card and will cripple your Scarmother severely, but that is the best we can hope for.
Mulligan for: The Scargrounds, Crimson Curator, Braum. An early curve. Keep Three Sisters.
Lee Sin has the tools to deal with most of our tricks, and Eye of the Dragon can stonewall a large amount of our damage. While Death Lotus and Ice Shard can prevent some of the healing, it will often force you to play suboptimally and lose time, which Lee will fully utilize.
Three Sisters can be life-saving, but can also be countered by Deny (if you pick Entomb) or Bastion (either reactive or pre-emptive), and so it is not a reliable tactic to extend the game. The only way for us is to be as aggressive as possible to force them into suboptimal tempo plays, and close the game out before Lee assembles his combo.
I cannot say that Scargrounds Beatdown is a good meta deck. It has its uses, and it performs well currently as an anti-meta deck, but it will lose much of its contextual power once Twisted Fate/Fizz is nerfed. It will still have trouble against Targon, and I anticipate that region to remain as strong as ever.
In the end, playing this deck has made the last few days much more bearable, and is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise utterly stale metagame. The question you must answer is a simple one: are you done losing against Twisted Fate/Fizz?
If the answer is yes, well this deck won’t stop that from happening, but it will certainly decrease its frequency, and you will discover the joy of slapping them into oblivion.
If that’s not appealing enough, wouldn’t you love siding with the underdog, the little deck that could? After more than a year of quite miserable existence, it is finally in a competitive state, isn’t that something to celebrate? Go punch some fish, with my blessing.