Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several high ladder peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.
This guide is dedicated to Zed Poppy – a deck combining Rallies and buffs to lead aggressive units to victory.
Elusive Rally is a very aggressive deck, mixing the power of Elusive units from Ionia and Rallies from Demacia.
In the early turns, Zed is the key unit of our deck. This champion creates a massive amount of pressure every time he attacks – if the opponent doesn’t want to lose some of his precious Nexus health points and let Zed level up, they’ll have to sacrifice their blockers into the Quick Attack keyword.
Alongside Zed, the deck also plays Fleetfeather Tracker and combines it with Brightsteel Protector and Young Witch to accelerate the early pressure. Fleetfeather Tracker is our only piece of interaction, but with protection and buffs, we can leverage it to take several good trades.
To top off that early pressure and push the needed damage to finish the opponent in the midgame, we play a lot of Elusive units – Navori Bladescout, Greenglade Duo, Young Witch, and Shadow Assassin. Combined with Rallies and buffs, Elusive units are formidable threats able to kill the opponent in a blink of an eye with a good setup.
Poppy goes alongside our strategy really well as she will buff all our other units as well as being a huge threat herself, and combos particularly well with our Rallies and buffs. While her level-up is not at the center of our game plan, it is a strong alternative win condition when the opponent is too busy dealing with Zed and Elusive units.
This archetype can replace any of its champions for Lulu to buff Elusive units and get strong trades with Challengers, but the concept stays the same – leveraging powerful early pressure and buffs with Rallies.
Techs and Options
- Ghost and Fae Guide are two interesting combo pieces to increase your Elusive pressure even further. They combine especially well with our champions. These cards make your good draws look even better, however, they don’t have any effect if your threats get dealt with or if you don’t have non-Elusive units, leading the deck to a more feast-or-famine playstyle. Consider teching some Ghost or Fae Guide if you often face decks that particularly struggle against the Elusive keyword.
- Laurent Protege can be played as extra copies of Fleetfeather Tracker, and curves really well into Poppy. You can add some if you need more Challengers to interact with the opponent’s key units – Laurent Protege is for example particularly good in the mirror matchup.
- Leverage the power of Zed. Zed offers an insane amount of pressure, especially if you back him up with tricks. When the opponent might be holding a damage-based removal, such as Mystic Shot, or a trick to block Zed such as Sharpsight, consider passing your turn 2 to bank mana for Twin Disciplines or Sharpsight. This way, you’ll be able to protect Zed.
- Avoid trading your units. Because you have numerous buffs, synergies, and even some board-wide effects with Poppy and Ranger’s Resolve, you generally want to avoid trading your key units. One of the most common ways to lose with this deck is to run out of threats and be left with only Rallies and combat tricks.
- Rally on a decisive turn. This deck feels very powerful when it can pull off devastating Rallies, and it’s important to find the right time to go for them.
- Zed, Poppy, Elusive units, and temporary buffs benefit greatly from Rallies.
- You usually want to Rally once you’ve set up your board, but you can also use it earlier to rapidly snowball your Zed.
- Golden Aegis can also be used as a defensive tool to prevent an aggressive opponent from attacking and/or challenging a key unit.
- Actively look for lethal opportunities. Zed Poppy, with its numerous Elusives, buffs, and Rallies, can create lethals seemingly out of nowhere. If you’re not attentive, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities.
- Pre-committing attack buffs. Usually, combat tricks in LoR are used reactively – to get a better trade, buff an unblocked unit, or survive a removal. However, this deck regularly wants to pre-commit attack buffs to push more Nexus damage.
- When you attack only with Elusive units, the opponent can’t block. Therefore, they’ll pass through the block phase, and you won’t get the opportunity to cast your tricks to push more damage.
- Pre-committing your buffs on Zed will also make Zed’s Living Shadow bigger.
- While it can often be tempting to pre-commit, it’s important to also know when not to pre-commit. When you cast your buff spell proactively, you lose the ability to play it reactively, and the opponent gets the opportunity to make more informed decisions. Assess carefully when it’s the right play to pre-commit a combat trick.
General mulligan tips:
- Zed is always a keep and you should actively mulligan for him. A turn 3 Zed will offer an amount of pressure no other unit could, and quickly snowball games.
- If you already have a Zed, look for Fleetfeather Tracker and combat tricks. Keep 2-cost units only if you are not playing Zed on Turn 3, or if you know the opponent can’t deal with Zed on that turn.
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.
Mulligan for: Zed, Fleetfeather Tracker. Keep combat tricks, Nopeify, and Navori Bladescout if you already have Zed.
- Darkness doesn’t have Elusive blockers and needs time before getting access to cost-efficient removals with buffed Darkness. You can often take advantage of the time they need to set up to create some tempo advantages.
- Twisted Catalyzer is their most annoying early play, and is the reason why we keep Fleetfeather Tracker or even Navori Bladescout. Look to kill it without letting him hit several times, else their Darkness will be too big for you to protect your key units.
- Their early isn’t particularly weak, but they struggle to deal with Zed. In the midgame, they have more tools to remove Zed but will struggle against your numerous Elusive units, especially if you back them up with combat tricks. Their tempo at this stage of the game is pretty bad, so you can quickly run over them with rallies.
- Withering Wail on a wide board of 1-health units is one way they can come back in the game. Ranger’s Resolve is a great answer to it.
- Look to split your buffs between units when possible so they can’t prevent too much damage with Stress Defense.
Mulligan for: Zed, Greenglade Duo, Fleetfeather Tracker. Keep Young Witch if you have Fleetfeather Tracker. Keep Brightsteel Protector if you have a good hand.
- Lurk is a very straightforward archetype and doesn’t have many ways to interact with your Elusives – only Pyke’s Death from Below and Bone Skewer, which is your only target for Nopeify.
- Be careful to not play a key unit on their attack turn when they can play a Redfin Hammersnout. We can pressure them, race them and kill them very easily if we set up our attackers for success.
- Pyke‘s Death from Below is their main tool to interact with our game plan and win the game – Pyke can level up quickly if their Lurk triggers align nicely. Unfortunately, we’re just as bad at interaction as them, so our best option is to simply race them before they get to come back and kill you.
- Lurk as an archetype is forced into attacking to get their lurk triggers. Playing Barrier effects with Brightsteel Protector or Golden Aegis on their attack turn can make their game plan really awkward if they can’t play a Redfin Hammersnout.
Mulligan for: Zed. Keep Nopeify, Greenglade Duo, combat tricks if you have Zed.
- Their only Elusive unit is Bandle Commando, and they don’t have the tool to race with us. Our numerous protection spells are usually enough to keep some key units alive and kill them through tempo and Elusive units.
- We essentially have 2 ways of winning this matchup:
- Win through tempo. Play an early Zed to pressure them, and use Fleetfeather to remove their Bandle City Mayor. This win condition often happens when they don’t manage to cleanly remove your early units with spells such as Ravenous Flock.
- Win through Elusives. If they manage to remove your early key units, you still can set up a large Elusive board and push it to victory with buffs and rallies. Ideally, you want to force their removals with your early units, so the way is clear for your Elusive units to strike.
- When looking to protect a unit from one of their 1-damage spells, Ranger’s Resolve allows you to get your unit out undamaged and therefore prevent the opponent from following his first removal with a Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth.
Mulligan for: Zed, Ranger’s Resolve. Keep Nopeify if you have Zed. Keep Greenglade Duo if you have Ranger’s Resolve.
- Gangplank Sejuani is a midrange deck leveraging Plunder effects to get through the early to mid-game. By the end of the mid-game, they level up their powerful champions, which will quickly close the game out, with the help of The Dreadway if needed.
- Their main deck’s early curve isn’t usually terrifying. They have neither Elusive units nor good combat tricks to block Zed. However, they can steal some from you with Nab effects. Keep track of which cards in their hand are from your deck.
- They don’t have a counter to rally either, so if you can run them out of removals and rally with Elusive units they can’t do much to survive.
- They have some very efficient removals. Be very careful to play around Make it Rain, unless you can’t afford to do so or get a signal that they don’t have it in hand. Monster Harpoon is another cost-efficient removal to deal with your champions – keep Nopeify for it.
- You need to kill them fast, before their champions level and close the game. Sejuani will make it way harder to kill them, whereas Gangplank will remove your board and likely kill you.
Mulligan for: Zed, Fleetfeather Tracker. Keep Young Witch if you have Fleetfeather Tracker. Keep Brightsteel Protector if you have a good hand.
- Zed is the key unit to create pressure in this matchup. Elusives are much less threatening than usual because it’s a mirror. Greenglade Duo will often trade into a Shadow Assassin or Young Witch.
- If you can set up a combo with Young Witch and Fleetfeather Tracker, it can snowball games – look to help your Fleetfeather Tracker to secure trades with combat tricks.
- Both players’ deck is entirely built around the attack token. Defensive Barriers, thanks to Brightsteel Protector and Golden Aegis, are key to slowing down the opponent’s strategy, especially against Zed, which struggles against barriers.
- There are no removals from either side, everything relies on combat. Nopeify is useless.
- If you want to improve your list for the mirror match, look to cut a Nopeify for a Laurent Protege.
Mulligan for: Fleetfeather Tracker, Navori Bladescout, Brightsteel Protector. Keep Greenglade Duo if you have a good hand. Keep Young Witch if you have Fleetfeather Tracker and attack on turn 2.
- Yordle Burn is a hyper-aggressive deck, looking to push early damage and finish the game with burn spells. This matchup is a very fast race, as neither players have good tools to prevent the opponent’s game plan.
- In this matchup, you need to be ready to make a lot of blocks to preserve nexus health points. However, you also need to progress toward your own game plan. Find the right balance to finish the game as early as possible, without going into their burn damage’s reach.
- Defensive barriers with Brightsteel Protector or Golden Aegis can make the opponent’s attack a lot worse.
- Their interaction tools are Pokey Stick, Noxian Fervor, and Lecturing Yordle. The first 2 are fairly bad tempo-wise, so if you can force their use, and even better protect your unit, it will give you the early tempo.
- They have no Elusive unit at all and a low amount of removals. They are overall very easy to kill, but the difficulty is to kill them before we die ourselves.
Mulligan for: Zed. Keep combat tricks, Fleetfeather Tracker, and Nopeify if you have Zed.
- Draven Sion is an aggressive deck looking to create early board pressure with the discard package and top it off with Sion to finish the game. In this matchup, we play the game with a timer, as we don’t have any tools to protect ourselves from Sion.
- We need to kill them before Sion comes down, but also to not let our health points go too low, or they could finish us with Mystic Shot and/or
Get Excited. The need to go fast, but also to defend ourselves at the same time, is one of the factors making this matchup difficult. Look to read in the way the opponent plays if you should rather play around Sion or Burn spells when you can’t play around both.
- Survival Skills is particularly strong against Zed. If you suspect your opponent to have it, challenge their strongest unit with Fleetfeather Tracker so your Zed can get through. However, be careful to not overplay around Survival Skill.
- Most Draven Sion versions don’t play any 1-damage spells, making it annoying for them to deal with Greenglade Duo. However, be careful to not play her when they have their attack token and could buff a
Flame Chomperswith a Draven‘s Axe.
Mulligan for: Zed, Ranger’s Resolve. Keep Nopeify and combat tricks if you have Zed.
- Gangplank TF is a midrange burn deck looking to create early board pressure, push damage, and level Gangplank for the finish. Because of their numerous direct damage effects, it is very dangerous to drop low on health against them. Because of Gangplank’s level-up threat, we also need to race them, making the game a fine line to walk – you will have to guess from the way the opponent plays how low you can allow yourself to be.
- Gangplank TF has a lot of 1-damage pings – Make it Rain, Pokey Stick, Lecturing Yordle, Twisted Fate. Look to play around them when possible, and protect your key units. Ranger’s Resolve is particularly good at helping your units to stay alive.
- Double Up can be devastating when it procs the Nexus damage effect. Look to counter their Double Up with a combat trick, making it a large tempo loss for them.
Zed Poppy has been showing incredible results so far this season on the ladder. With tons of good matchups, very few bad matchups, and no truly unwinnable one, the deck climbs fast and is getting more popular every day. We shall see how the meta adapts Zed Poppy, but as of now, I can strongly recommend you to try this deck.
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