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Legends of Runeterra has been out for a little more than a week, and already the meta is starting to form. Like other TCGs, LoR decks have been forming into several archetypes: control, aggro, midrange, combo, and tempo. Being such a new game, the meta will likely take a while to settle. Cards that were overlooked or undervalued will finally get noticed, while popular decks will quickly see counters made.
Let’s breakdown some of the more popular decks currently in the meta and see why they’re so good.
Shadow Noxus Aggro, a Legends of Runeterra master
At first glance, this deck might look like a spider tribal list. However, its real power comes from its late-game champions and followers with Overwhelm. Followers like Hapless Aristocrat and House Spider gum up the board and provide early blockers against other aggro lists. Late game, they are powerful sacrifice targets for cards like Glimpse Beyond and Black Spear, which only work if something has died this turn. Cards like Elise and Frenzied Skitterer synergize with the spider theme to turn weak followers into much stronger ones.
Mid to late game is where this deck takes off, with the powerful champion Darius coming down on turn six as a 6/5 that becomes a 10/5 with Overwhelm when he levels up. By this point in the game, your opponent should be below the ten Nexus life point threshold to level Darius up. The four-mana follower Crowd Favorite with Overwhelm also synergizes well with the flood of spiders played in the early game, gaining +1/+1 for each ally in play.
The Shadow Noxus list also utilizes a wide range of board control spells, with Black Spear killing anything with three or fewer health. Culling Strike takes care of the rest of the smaller followers, killing anything with power three or less. Culling Strike is particularly effective at removing champions like Braum and Teemo, two unique but powerful champions who accrue value by either taking damage or being Elusive.
Shadow Noxus import code – CEBAGAIDB4MTOBIBAUTSQKZVHABAEAIFEIRQGAIDAQESMAQCAECSCMIEAEBQWDATCY
A variant on the Shadow Noxian Aggro, this list consists almost entirely of Noxus region cards. It focuses on playing the most efficient early game followers to maximize damage, allowing you to end the match quickly with powerful three- and four-drop creatures. The Ionia splash consists of three copies of Deny, which are used exclusively to counter a well-timed removal spell or board wipe.
The biggest downside to this deck is the trade-off for having low cost, high damage followers – most of them can’t block. Playing this list, you have to be aware that your life total will likely take some early game hits. And that’s okay. Whether you win at 20 life or one, a win is still a win.
This list has been my personal favorite in Legend of Runeterra‘s beta season. The ability to just steamroll your opponents with high attack followers like Trifarian Gloryseeker, Trifarian Hopeful, or Reckless Trifarian on turns two and three means you are already outclassing your opponent’s two and three drops. Whirling Death is the best removal spell in this list. After baiting out potentially bad attacks, you can use this Fast spell during combat to kill your opponent’s followers or potentially trade up on blocks.
The last spell to touch on in this list is Reckoning. This six-mana slow board wipe kills all units with four or less power. With more than half of your followers having five attack, this spell often ends up being mostly one-sided.
Noxian Aggro import code – CEBACAICGEFACAYIBMGBAEY2D4SSQNIBAMAQGGJBEYAQCAIDAQ
Our first non-aggro list is also our only combo Legends of Runeterra deck, relying on Teemo to deal damage throughout the game. Teemo is an elusive champion that focuses on attaching Poison Puffcap trap cards to your opponent’s library. When they draw a trapped card, they lose one life per Poison Puffcap attached to it. A lot of this deck is dependant on keeping Teemo alive and then making sure that he connects. When Teemo levels up, each strike doubles the number of Poison Puffcaps in your opponent’s deck.
The rest of this deck focuses on attacking with more powerful elusive creatures like Shadow Assassin and creating more Poison Puffcaps. Clump of Whumps, Puffcap Peddler, and Chump Whump all add more puffcaps to your opponent’s deck, making each draw more and more dangerous. In order to dig a little faster for your Teemos, Kinkou Wayfinder searches your deck for two one-mana allies. Since Teemo is the only one drop in the list, it guarantees you will always get your champion.
If you already have a Teemo in play, other copies of Teemo in hand turn into his unique spell, Teemo’s Mushroom Cloud. This spell places five more Poison Puffcaps randomly in your opponent’s deck and adds another Teemo card to your deck. Top that off with some hard control with Deny and a little bit of tempo in Will of Ionia, and your little Teemo with be dropping puffcaps all over your opponent’s deck.
Teemo Combo import code – CEBAEAICGEZAOAIEBAFBSNBVGY5AEAIBAQGQKAICAIEQYERZAEAQCAQ6
This Freljord and Ionia control list focuses on the Frostbite mechanic. This ability reduces the attack of a follower or champion to zero, making it unable to deal any damage but still capable of taking damage.
Early game, you focus on incremental advantages with cards like Inspiring Mentor and Omen Hawk to give +1/+1 to creatures in your hand or on the top of your deck. Your turn-three followers help sustain early damage you might have taken, with both Emerald Awakener and Kindly Tavernkeeper providing some extra life. Braum, one of the best defensive cards in-game, is also an option at three mana. Having a 0/5 that fully heals at the start of a round can be difficult for some decks to get around.
The early to mid-game is supplemented with spells like Flash Freeze and Harsh Winds, two burst spells that freeze enemy units. Avalanche is another powerful board control spell. It cleans up any followers that might have survived your attacks by dealing two damage to everything in play.
Once you’ve established a board presence, your late-game plan becomes boosting the rest of your deck with Avarosan Hearthguard and dominating the board with She Who Wanders. When She Who Wanders enters the battlefield, it Obliterates all followers with 4 or less power – not only in play, but also in hands. This effect will hit both players, so be careful when casting it. Obliterate, a keyword unique to this card, removes the affected cards from the game and prevents Last Breath triggers from occurring.
Your other end game sweeper is Tryndamere, an 8/4 champion that transforms into a 9/9 with Overwhelm and Fearsome on death. Protecting your late-game plays are three copies of Deny, the powerful spell that counters other spells and triggered effects.
Freljord Control import code – CEBAIAICDIUDCOIEAEAQOFAWFIBACAICGUDQCAIBAMESOKJSGQAA
Yasuo Tempo might be the weakest of these early Legends of Runeterra decks, as it relies heavily on having Yasuo in play. Once established, however, it becomes an incredibly powerful board presence that makes recovering from it difficult for your opponent.
Everything in this deck supports stunning and recalling units, including Yasuo. Since stunned units cannot attack or block, your focus is on controlling the board and forcing bad attacks for your opponents. Fae Bladetwirler and Trifarian Gloryseeker serve as early game all-stars. Fae Bladetwirler gets +2/+0 when a unit is stunned or recalled. Trifarian Gloryseeker is a 5/1 that can challenge units, forcing your opponents into bad trades. Arachnoid Sentry is an all-star when your opponent has the attack token and has given you priority before attacks. Being able to remove their best attacker and still have a 3/2 to block with can dissuade a strong board presence for a turn or two.
While you build up your board and stun or recall more enemy cards, Yasuo keeps track of the number of times this happens – even if he is not in play. Once six units have been stunned or recalled, Yasuo levels up, going from a 4/3 to a 5/4. After leveling, Yasuo will strike a unit anytime he sees an enemy unit get stunned or recalled, replacing his ability to deal two damage to a unit.
To help Yasuo level up, this list has playsets of cheap stun spells like Guile and Steel Tempest. The Intimidating Roar spell can function as a board wipe with Yasuo in play, dealing either two or five damage to each stunned unit depending on his level. Minotaur Reckoner and Yone, Windchaser round out this deck’s curve and provide multiple stun effects to make way for game-ending swings.
Yasuo Tempo import code – CEBAIAIDD4XDCNQFAEBAQDZIFY4QEAQBAMFCIBABAIBBCMJYAEAQCAZV
While the meta of Legends of Runeterra is still evolving and settling, these decks have carved out decisive win-rates. If you’ve been experimenting with decks here (or maybe have a spicy homebrew that’s been stealing games), we would love to hear about it in the comments below. For more Legends of Runeterra decks and news, make sure to follow Daily Esports as the game evolves.
Ryan Hay is a writer and content creator currently living in New York. Video games, anime, and Magic: The Gathering have all been strong passions in his life and being able to share those passions with others is his motivation for writing. You can find him on Twitter where he complains about losing on MTG Arena a lot.