Zoe Nami Deck Guide

Hello, Agigas here! This guide is dedicated to Zoe Nami – an Elusive deck built around Nami. As it got more and more refined, it went from a fringe Tier 2 status to a dominant Tier 1 position in less than a week, and Sivir Demacia nerfs helped it massively.

Your main gameplan with this archetype is to stick Nami on board and use spells to trigger her ability and buff Elusive units.

This deck plays only a few units – to make sure your Nami buffs land on solid targets consistently. Sparklefly has both Elusive and Lifesteal, so it goes along with Nami very nicely.

Zoe and Fleet Admiral Shelly are Elusive engines that benefit greatly from buffs as they will help them stay alive and keep generating value.

Wiggly Burblefish is yet another Elusive unit – you can easily discount it to 0, and it will create you a random spell you will find useful for your synergies.

Zoe Nami runs a high number of spells – you need them to trigger Nami and Fleet Admiral Shelly. Additionally, you’re incentivized to bank spell mana to level up Nami – so naturally, you need cheap spells to fit with that play pattern. Double Trouble is a great spell to slow the opponent down and empty your spell mana reserve.

Line ‘Em Up, Gifts from Beyond, Spell Thief, and Supercool Starchart are all strong ‘toolbox’ spells – they can help you hold off the opponent during the early turns, and will enable Nami triggers later on.

Finally, the deck comes with numerous protection spells to make sure your key units survive. Sunblessed Vigor is a staple when it comes to keeping a unit alive. Pale Cascade and Guiding Touch will also help in that matter while making sure you don’t run out of value.

Zoe Nami is often perceived as a high-roll deck. If you weren’t able to find a Nami during a game, your chances to win are decreased drastically, whereas if you played Double Trouble on turn 3 into a leveled Nami on turn 4 it will be hard for the opponent to stop you.

However, thanks to its high amount of draw, the deck is pretty consistent, as you can still win even if you found Nami a bit later on in the game. In the hands of a good player, the high-roll potential is only a cherry on the top of this deck’s consistently high win rate.


Techs and Options

  • Hush is a common option in Zoe Nami. I didn’t include it because it can brick your hand, and it doesn’t find great uses in some matchups. However, it can be a great tech against some opponents too – for example, to disable a leveled Sejuani or Senna.
  • Most lists of Zoe Nami feature 1 to 3 copies of Zap Sprayfin. While it is an amazing Elusive unit, it can be awkward to find the right timing to play it, as turn 4 is often the turn when you want to play Nami.
  • Bastion is a strong tech against decks that rely on removals to counter your plans. If you are often finding yourself to be the aggressor and need a protection spell against large removals, consider adding 1 Bastion instead of Pick a Card.

General Tips

  • Bank spell mana in the first turns. Your deck is extremely reliant on leveling up Nami. If you aren’t banking spell mana in the early turns, her level up will be delayed, leaving you with a barely functional deck until she finally transforms.
    • The optimal setup for Nami level-up is: 1) pass on turn one; 2) pass on turn two; 3) spend 3 spell mana on turn three: 4) spend 1-4 spell mana on turn four and play Nami who will net you 1 spell mana with Attune and instantly level up.
    • Playing Zoe on turn 1/2 can be worth even if it delays your Nami level-up by a turn, depending on the matchup and situation.
  • Trade away your worst units. You want your Nami buffs to go onto valuable units, such as Sparklefly or other Elusive threats. Try to trade away your random followers generated from Double Trouble so that they wouldn’t claim Nami buffs that you would rather see on Elusive units.
  • Decide whether you want to go tall or wide. Depending on the matchup and situation, you might want to sometimes go tall and play only 1-2 other units than Nami, often prioritizing Sparkefly, and stack all your buffs onto it. This is a good way to play around board clears and ‘small removals’. In other cases, you might prefer to go wide, and distribute your buffs among several units. This will allow you to play around a ‘big removal’, such as Minimorph or Scorched Earth.
  • Keep track of Zoe’s level-up condition. Zoe can easily level up, especially when backed up with buffs and protection spells. While this is not your main gameplan and you should focus on setting up Nami first and foremost, leveling up Zoe and giving your whole board Elusive and Lifesteal with Spaklefly will often swing the game in your favor.
  • Nami’s check on which unit to buff happens AFTER the spell has taken effect. Therefore, sometimes you can adjust which unit will receive Nami’s buff when using a spell such as Pale Cascade or Sunblessed Vigor.
  • Find the right amount of proactivity. Playing your spells before your attack can be tempting in order to push more damage. However, playing too many spells proactively will leave your units at the mercy of the opponent’s interaction. You need to assess what are the risks of playing your spells proactively, and what are the rewards.
    • Rules of thumb: if you can threaten lethal this turn, go for it; if there’s no lethal, try to set up a 2-turn lethal; don’t use more spells than you need to threaten lethal or 2-turn lethal; know what you should play around.
  • Be adaptive and flexible with Invoke. Zoe and Supercool Starchart give you access to the Invoke pool of 1-3 cost Celestial units and spells. Moonsilver is often a great generic pick to bait the opponent into thinking you don’t have enough mana to answer their play. Crescent Strike and Equinox are great situational options. All cards in the pool have their utility, so you should always think before making your choice.

General mulligan tips:

  • Nami is the core card of your deck. If you don’t have her during the midgame, your whole strategy will be a lot less powerful. Always keep her and look for her in the mulligan.
  • Double Trouble makes it very easy to set up your Nami level-up without getting demolished in the first 3 turns. Always keep it if you have Nami in hand, and keep it against aggressive decks even without Nami.
  • Line ‘Em Up can also be kept if you have Nami, especially if you don’t have Double Trouble. It’ll give you something impactful to use your spell mana on when turn 3 comes.
  • Zoe is a strong early unit to keep against decks that struggle to deal with her. She is particularly good when attacking on odds, and it is usually worth delaying your Nami level-up until turn 5 as long as you can get Zoe value.

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

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Nami. Keep Double Trouble and Gift from Beyond if you have Nami.

Matchup tips:

  • Draven Sion can’t do much about a big Sparklefly. While they can create a significant amount of pressure early on, things should turn in your favor as soon as you can assemble the Nami Sparklefly combo.
    • Try go tall with Sparklefly rather than going wide.
  • Be careful to not let your Nexus get too low, as they could finish you with Get Excited!, and, for some versions, Mystic Shot or Noxian Fervor.
  • Play around Lost Soul. You don’t want Nami to be challenged and killed by Twinblade Revenant.
    • In the Celestial pool from Supercool Starchart, Equinox is a premium spell to cleanly deal with Lost Soul or Twinblade Revenant.
  • Gifts from Beyond can be used to delay Sion‘s attack with Gravitum.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble or Line ‘Em Up.

Matchup tips:

  • The Bandle Tree win condition by itself isn’t terrifying, as it is too slow compared to your game plan. Their board swarm, however, can be scary. If they manage to create enough pressure, you might be forced into bloking with valuable units, which will slow down your gameplan considerably. Try to find the right balance between protecting your Nexus and developing your own gameplan.
  • Bandle City Mayor is the key target for Line ‘Em Up. Leaving him alive, will allow them to swarm much much faster.
  • Look to go wider rather than taller. They usually run 3 Minimorph, which is a great counter to stacking all your buffs on one unit.
  • Use Guiding Touch to protect your units from Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth.
    • If you have a damaged unit as you declare your attackers, you can pre-emptively heal it. This way, they can’t target it with Flock – they can’t even put it on the stack. When you heal as an answer, they can respond with Group Shot or Pokey Stick to wound the unit once again, and the Flock that was put on the stack earlier will resolve to kill your unit.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble.

Matchup tips:

  • Gangplank Sejuani creates a lage amount of pressure when it curves well, but it often won’t be able to finish you with their early units alone.
  • Most of the deck’s power comes from its leveled champions. Gangplank and Sejuani can both level up quickly, and they both have the capability to completely swing the game.
    • When possible, try to prevent their first instance of Nexus damage in a turn, to delay their champions’ level-up (or force them to use a Warning Shot for no other value).
    • Once Sejuani levels, she makes it a lot harder for you to finish the game with her freeze ability. However, you can still push a lot of damage by declaring an attack, forcing them to trigger Sejuani’s freeze at Burst speed, then going off with your Nami buffs. Keep in mind that this approach won’t work if they’re triggering freeze at Fast speed with an effect like Ice Shard, for example.
  • Avoid playing Zoe without a protection spell, else you’re giving them the perfect Parrrley target.
  • Sejuani and Monster Harpoon are both powerful and efficient removals. Try to play around them when possible. They will usually be able to deal with your first Nami, but if you have the second one in hand it can heavily swing the matchup.
  • If you face this matchup often, consider teching in a copy of Hush. This will help you to slow them down (Hush on Gangplank, Hush on Dreadway) but can also help you finish them (Hush on Sejuani).

Mulligan for: Nami. Keep Double Trouble if you have Nami. Keep Fleet Admiral Shelly or Zoe if you have Nami and Double Trouble.

Matchup tips:

  • This mirror match is about the value. You both will have giant Elusives, so it is pretty hard to rush the opponent down – you’ll have to progressively create tempo and value advantages and snowball them to victory.
  • Nami is the highest-value card in your deck, so it’s no surprise that she is absolutely essential in the matchup.
  • Because Nami grows attack faster than it grows health, you don’t have to mirror your opponent’s buffs to get a good trade. Therefore, it is often better to go wider than your opponent instead of taller, so your buff are more distributed.
  • Neither of you have good removals for Nami, and she is likely to survive the whole game. However, Equinox is very good to deal with Fleet Admiral Shelly or a buffed Elusive, look for it in the Celestial pool.
  • If you want to improve your version in the mirror, adding Zap Sprayfin instead of Make it Rain will help to not run out value and go wider than the opponent.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble or Line ‘Em Up, Zoe.

Matchup tips:

  • Darkness can be annoying to trade resources with because of their Darkness generation. The longer the game goes, the harder things will be, as their Darkness keep getting bigger and cheaper. To win the matchup, we need to out-tempo them in the mid-game with Nami buffs.
  • Don’t try to go tall against them, as they will easily counter the strategy with Minimorph, Senna’s Dawning Shadow, or Stress Defense. Going wide will make things a lot harder for them, as Withering Wail won’t deal enough damage to remove your buffed units.
  • An early Zoe, backed up with protection, will be hard for them to deal with.
  • It can be hard to deal with an early Twisted Catalyzer. Often the best you can do is let it hit you once and remove it on turn 3 with Line ‘Em Up.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble.

Matchup tips:

  • Draven Caitlyn has quite a lot of strong, cost-efficient removals, and can pressure you with strong 3-cost units. While on paper the matchup sounds bad, in practice it is about even. They have a limited amount of draw, and you can generate and protect more threats that they can deal with. If you run them out of answers, nothing will stop you from winning with a big Sparklefly.
  • Try to avoid playing Nami right into a Thermogenic Beam or Lost Soul/Twinblade Revenant. You want to make their removals as inconvenient and clunky as possible.
  • Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth are two of their most efficient removals. Guiding Touch can help you protect you unit – it isn’t easy for them to answer the Guiding Touch with another Fast damage spell as they would most likely need 3 mana for that (Sump Fumes, Get Excited!). Remember you can pre-emptively Guiding Touch as you attack, so they can’t even cast Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth on it.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble or Line ‘Em Up, Zoe.

Matchup tips:

  • Bandle Swarm looks to quickly build a wide board with Bandle go-wide tools and strong Demacia units. Then, Poppy comes down alongside Rallies to accelerate the game. While it is hard for you to stop their game plan, they don’t have much to stop your either.
  • Going tall with a Sparklefly is often the best game plan. They have no removal for very large units, and Sparklefly will help you stay alive while you kill them.
  • Crescent Strike in the Celestial pool is particularly good to delay their Poppy attack.
  • Use Line ‘Em Up to kill Bandle City Mayor and slow down their swarm.
  • Try to force a trade with Fleetfeather Tracker or remove it. If it’s left alive, Lulu, Yordle Smith, and Poppy will buff Fleetfeather Tracker so it can keep removing your units.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble, Zoe, Make it Rain.

Matchup tips:

  • With their powerful champions, strong aggression, and repeated attacks, Elusive Rally will be a very difficult matchup. They don’t have a lot of draw though, so sometimes their deck can brick, giving us the opportunity to win.
  • An early Zoe can help us with the task of not falling too much behind early on. In the Celestial pool, Equinox, Crescent Strike, and The Serpent are your best defensive options.
  • Most of the time, your best way to upset the matchup is to rapidly getto the Nami Sparklefly combo. They don’t have any removal, so their only way to defeat your combo is to challenge your key pieces with something bigger.
  • Make it Rain can play a key role to upset the matchup, as it kills Fleetfeather Tracker and Greenglade Duo. They can have Ranger’s Resolve to counter it, but in this matchup you don’t have the luxury to play around it.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble, Zoe.

Matchup tips:

  • Lurk’s evergrowing attack stats will rapidly force you to block their units, making it hard to preserve both your Nexus health and key units.
  • Death from Below and Bone Skewer are both very strong removals. Lurk can also challenge your units with Ruthless Predator and Redfin Hammersnout, so avoid playing a key unit before their attack.
  • Lurk tends to be quite inconsistent. Missing an early Lurk trigger can prevent them from snowballing early advantages, and not finding Death from Below makes the deck a lot weaker. While a great Lurk draw will be hard to beat, you can definitely make up for it by upsetting the matchup in other cases.
  • The biggest threat in the matchup is Pyke transforming into Death from Below. Not only Death from Below will easily remove one of your key units, Pyke can also easily level up because of Bone Skewer. It is very hard for your deck to interact with this spell, but you can try to answer this play by using Spell Thief to steal their Bone Skewer.
  • Pay attention to Rek’Sai Lurk triggers, and track her in their hand. Look for Crescent Strike in the Celestial pool, so you can prevent her from attacking and leveling up.

Mulligan for: Nami, Double Trouble, Zoe, Make it Rain, Sparklefly.

Matchup tips:

  • Your priority in this matchup is to not fall too far behind, and protect your Nexus health. Their whole deck is built around creating early pressure and finishing with burn damage.
    • You’ll often have to deviate from your classic Nami gameplan to defend yourself. Using all your mana to curve out Zoe, Sparklefly or Make it Rain, and Double Trouble will slow down your Nami level-up condition considerably, but it will be worth it as long as you’ve prevented a lot of Nexus damage.
    • However, if they have a slower draw and you have a great setup, you can stick to your usual ‘banking spell mana’ plan. Playing Double Trouble on turn 3, followed by a leveled Nami buffing a Sparkefly on turn 4/5, can rapidly win the game. They don’t have a way to deal with Nami or a big Sparklefly.
  • When possible try to prevent them from efficiently spreading their Nexus damage over separate turns. A leveled Gangplank can easily swing the game in their favor.

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! 😉

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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!

3 Responses

  1. Kassadin says:

    One thing this deck ( and Eluside rally) made me realize is that the game need more cards like Sharpsight.
    Anyway these guides have been really helpful, both to learn how to pilot the deck and how to play against it. So thank you.

    • Agigas says:

      Yeah I would love to see more cards like Sharpsight, it would give regions more ways to fight against Elusive. You’re welcome, I’m glad this is helpful! 😄

  2. Alonshow says:

    Great guide as always!

    I wouldn’t agree with the classification of the matchup vs. Darkness, though. I’ve played more than a dozen matches vs. Darkness with this deck and I’ve lost all of them. Unless I’m doing something terribly wrong, I would say Darkness is the worst matchup for Nami Zoe.

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