Keppada’s Master Heimerdinger Control Deck Guide & Early Thoughts about Runeterra
Hey all! We have a special guest post today from Keppada, a high-level player who climbed to Master using a Heimerdinger + Ionia deck. Enjoy.
Hello everyone! I’m Keppada and I hit master rank on Runeterra as 10th person in EU yesterday playing my build of Heimerdionia. As there was interest for a guide for the deck I decided to write one and also discuss thoughts about the game!
I’m from Finland and I’m currently playing various card-games for Finnish esports organization KOVA esports . I have played MTG since I was 15 years old, Hearthstone since closed beta, competed in Artifact for a couple of months before it died, and also played Gwent until I reached the top 200 ladder and got bored.
I qualified for the Master’s tour Bucharest and Bali on Hearthstone and held top 100 ladder spot simultaneously in MTG: Arena and Hearthstone. The point of all of this I have tons of experience from various card games and those interested can know a little bit about me if you happen to check my stream one day.
My current plan is to give esports a real chance for the first time in my life this year by competing on Hearthstone and Runeterra full-time and also try to get this streaming thing going. So before we dive into the guide here is how you can find me if you want to see this deck in action, ask me some questions about anything or see the decklists I run for different games at different times:
Decklist and Card Discussion
This is the decklist I’m currently running at Master:
Deck code: CEBAKAICAIGC4MJZAYAQIAIQDMTTIOACAEAQEJQCAECB6MIBAEAQELY
This deck can be built in many ways. Many of you might have seen Mogwai play a very similar list to mine and his list has its own advantages but personally I believe my list to be a bit better suited for high ranks meta in EU-West at the moment.
I have played different builds of this deck since the beginning of the open beta and the two most important things to mention is that this deck is mega fun to play but also the hardest deck I have played in Runeterra so far!
So don’t be surprised when you first try to get some wins with this deck, you just might fail miserably like I did at first. I have also noticed my win rate drops by a fair margin when I’m trying to pilot this deck tired.
If you want to give this archetype a serious try I would not recommend doing so before you have at least:
- 3x Heimerdinger
- 3x Deny
- 2x Progress Day!
- 3x Mystic Shot
- 3x Will of Ionia
- 3x Thermogenic Beam
My list is fairly cheap to make as it only requires 3x Champion cards and 3x Epic cards.
Next, we will go through all the cards in the list while I explain why they are in the deck, what are most common uses and what would I replace them with if I would not have enough copies yet in my collection.
Obviously the most important card in the deck that can’t be replaced. I will talk more about how to use Heimer in the general strategy section of this guide.
3x Shadow Assassin
This is mainly here to draw cards and mitigate some early damage by blocking. For example, if you block and trade a Navori Conspirator with this you have gained a one-card advantage against your opponent.
Also having a lot of draw in this deck is important so we consistently draw our Heimerdinger.
You can try to replace this with Ezreal, Greenglade Duo, 3x Scrapdash Assembly or 3x draw spells like 1x Progress the day + 2x Ki Guardian (Ki Guardian only if you have more than 6 champions + followers combined).
2x Solitary Monk
I feel this deck is a great home for Monk because you don’t have many followers so usually the effect of this card is not a problem. You can even use it to bounce your Shadow Assassins to draw more cards.
The dream is to have this on turn 3 with 3 mana saved for Twin Disciplines so you can even trade with a 4-health minion (like the 4/4 from Cursed Keeper) while keeping this one alive. Your opponent’s 2 power elusives are stuck not attacking because you have monk protecting you.
You can value trade early threats or get some early nexus damage against your opponent. When you draw monk when you already have Heimer you can discard it with Rummage or Get Excited!
If you don’t have monks you can replace them with 2x Corina Veraza, 2x Kinkou Lifeblade, 2x Ezreal or 2x spells like Statikk Shock + Spirit’s Refuge.
3x Thermogenic Beam
Thermogenic Beam provides very important early removal and is also sometimes good later but trickier to use.
Against Elise decks, you always want to have one of these in your opening hand since if you save your turn 1 mana you can kill Elise turn 2 with this.
In general, it kills most early threats even when they are buffed. At mid-game and end game, you have to plan ahead to use this since you rarely want to use all your mana on this.
So be sure to plan what you want to remove and use other cards to go down to the required mana amount.
The biggest downside of this card is that you will always be tapped out after you use it so never use it first unless the enemy is attacking and you are desperate to remove something like Anivia or Zed before they attack!
Extra tip: You can play this for 0 mana to get a challenger turret from Heimerdinger for an extra blocker in a pinch or to challenge an opponent’s blocker to get lethal!
I’m not completely sure if it’s correct to have 3 copies but so far these have worked out great. It’s essential to draw Heimerdinger and in some matchups, you can dig for Deny or removal spells with this.
Keep in mind you can discard Solitary Monk, random spells from Flash of Brilliance or low-cost Heimer turrets with this to draw more useful stuff.
You can replace this with 3x Ki Guardian, 3x Health Potion, or basically any 3 cheap spells but I would recommend not to.
3x Mystic Shot
Another essential removal spell in this deck that kills Zed and other 2 health threats.
Something that’s often overlooked in terms of upside is that you can target Nexus with it.
Many times you can finish off an opponent with a couple of these and a couple of Get Excited! in hand.
3x Twin Disciplines
I like having a lot of 3-mana spells in this deck so you can spam elusive turrets when you have Heimerdinger already online. Twin Disciples provides a very good way to protect Heimerdinger or Solitary Monk without having to worry about Deny since its cast at burst speed.
Sometimes when it’s your turn you would like to make extra blocker before enemy attacks or to play one more turret to level up Heimer but can’t because if you use spell like Mystic Shot you lose the priority and enemy can attack before you got the turret from Heimer.
With burst spells, you can give extra health or attack to an ally and also play the evasion turret on the same turn! This card is also great against overwhelming attackers so you can mitigate some more damage with your low health blockers.
Another extra tip for this spell is that you can use it to save Heimer from Culling Strike or Rhasa (in case you have 2 low power followers) by buffing Heimer’s power to 4! It’s a hard one to replace, but if you must, you could try 3x Shadowshift or 2x Spirit’s refuge + 1x Ki Guardian or something like that.
3x Steel Tempest
This spell makes it easier for you to stay alive until you can get board developed with Heimer. It’s very nice against matchups with Ledros, Darius, Tryndamere, challengers and overwhelmers in general!
It’s also another 3-cost spell that generates those great elusive turrets. In some matchups, you will want to wait and see if the opponent gives anyone turn buffs to his attackers after you have assigned blockers and then you play this to the minion that was buffed.
Of course, if you are already taking too much damage or a challenger is killing your Heimer then you just have to play it right away.
An extra tip for this card is that you can use it the same turn you use Shadow Flare. Just remember to play stun first to the stack and Shadow Flare after so the stunned follower still gets ephemeral tag and dies at the end of the turn.
This is another card that is hard to replace but you could try to play some extra blocker followers or 3x Scrapdash Assembly.
3x Get Excited!
Get Excited! provides more removal and 3-mana spell for those elusive turrets from Heimer. It helps you to empty your hand if you need to fit 4 cards from Progress Day! + Heimer Rex or it can also discard useless cards from Flash of Brilliance, Solitary Monk when drawn with poor timing, or low-cost Heimer turrets.
Of course, it also provides another way for you to finish off your opponent since you can shoot it to face. Often times, I just toss this to face when I have to use some mana and empty my hand when the game is stalling.
It’s a very important card for the deck, but if you need to replace it but in another Statikk Shock and 2x Rising Spell Force for extra burst potential and keep up the ways to generate elusive turrets.
3x Flash of Brilliance
This card is usually very bad when you don’t have Heimerdinger. But sometimes you get lucky and have 2-3 of these to go with Heimerdinger on turn 5 when you have attack token and you can make 3x 3/1 elusive followers for free while getting 3 random spells and still have 3 mana for a Get Excited, Deny or Twin disciplines for example.
Never keep this card on mulligan if you don’t already have Heimerdinger but always keep it when you do have one!
Extra tip: If you have drawn this card with Progress Day! It only costs 2 mana but returns a three spell mana. So, if you remember to deplete your spell mana before you play this you can gain one extra mana for the turn with it.
If you need to replace this then try 3x Shadowshift, 3x Rising Spell Force, 3x Ki Guardian or 2x Corina Veraza + any spell.
3x Will of Ionia
Another core card of the deck, it has a very similar purpose as Steel Tempest but this one you can use to gain tempo.
You can bounce opponents buffed followers or champions, bounce your Heimer as protection, bounce a Ledros when your enemy tries to kill you with Atrocity…it’s incredibly versatile.
Often can win you games straight up when you bounce a Tryndamere or Anivia since the tempo gain is so huge especially if you already have Heimerdinger on board.
2x Statikk Shock
Stattik Shock is a great card against decks that play a lot of 1-health followers. It also helps you to dig for your essential cards like Heimerdinger.
4-cost spells are also not that bad for turrets since they generate a 4/1 fearsome that gets to hit Nexus very often in certain matchups. If you need to replace these play 2x Ki Guardian or 2x Scrapdash Assembly for example.
1x Shadow Flare
An important thing to keep in mind about Shadow Flare card is that it kills all battling followers too and it doesn’t affect champions. Keep in starter hand against follower-heavy aggressive decks, it’s especially good against Dawnspiders. If an opponent attacks on odd numbers and plays a lot of followers, you can save 6 mana for turn 3 and clear the board against many decks.
You do take a lot of damage if you play this early game against aggressive decks but you’ll gain huge card advantage. You can also use this to clear big health minions while you chump block them.
The spell generates a 6-1 overwhelm turret from Heimer if you need to try to finish the game you can play this before attacking to get that turret. The best replacement for this card would be Corina Veraza but I prefer Flare over Veraza because it can help so much earlier.
Deny is the best card in the game right now and the biggest reason we pair Ionia with Heimerdinger. Of course, there are matchups where Deny is not that great since opponents can only play burst spells, but this card wrecks non-Ionia control decks by itself.
Many cards are not viable in current meta because of this card. Use this card to protect Heimer. Also, every time you Deny something when Heimer is on board you get another 3/1 elusive turret in hand. This card needs a nerf!
2x Progress Day!
A very important card that keeps your deck flowing when you have a dead hand otherwise. When you have Heimerdinger on board and play this you draw 3 cards, make a 0 mana 8/8 turret and even make those 3 cards cheaper.
This spell can’t be denied since its burst and burst also allows you to play the 8/8 turret same turn you play this spell. Sounds pretty great right?
Notable cards excluded from the deck
While the effect is great and usually deals 3-5 damage to the opponent’s whole board + Nexus, it just usually feels to be too slow with the 9 mana cost. The effect can be denied too which can lose you the game.
Very often Corina is just stuck on our hand and it’s really not that great to play after the opponent has played Ledros which is a very common scenario on turns 8-9. Maybe if the meta changes I’ll find space for Corina again. It’s definitely not a bad card at all but the game plan just is to end the game before Corina is useful.
With Deny in the game this card just costs too much for what it does. The threats on turns 7-8 usually require more damage than 3 to deal with and you don’t do a whole lot more the turn you play it.
Also, the 7 mana turret kind of sucks as it just gets a barrier. I’d almost always rather play the 3,4,6 or 8 mana turrets.
You can play a one-off if you want but to me, Ezreal just felt like bait. It’s hard to connect to Nexus and you also have to pay for the spell.
Leveled up Ezreal is amazing but usually, you should end games before that anyways. He could be better if meta shifts.
At one point, I was running a one-off Ren and many times it closed the game as some decks were not able to remove Ren.
This might be another card that becomes good in a different kind of meta but at the moment, it doesn’t fit our game plan.
I haven’t had a chance to test Karma on this deck but I would imagine a one-off could be a nice addition.
I will be testing Karma next week when we get more cards!
The general idea behind this deck is to control the board until you can make your own board with turrets generated from playing spells while Heimerdinger is on the board.
The aim is to end the game in midgame with one or two attacks with elusive turrets + buffs + burn spells to face(nexus). Usually, your health goes very low even in the games you win so even the smallest mistakes can cost you the game.
What I usually try to do is to have 3 spell mana saved before turn 5 so I can play Heimerdinger with protection up or to be able to start generating 3-mana Turrets.
The dream starting hand in most matchups is a Heimerdinger, matchup-appropriate removal spell, a Deny and a Flash of Brilliance. I’ll talk more about mulligans and matchups later.
So let’s talk a little bit more about Heimerdinger. Here is the breakdown of the turrets Heimer generates with different cost spells.
Heimerdinger Turret Tips:
- 0 = 0/1 Challenger
- You can make these with Thermogenic Beam when you have 0 mana left. use it to block or to challenge an opponent’s important blocker when you attack!
- 1 = 1/1 Regular follower
- Use as discard material for Rummage, Get excited! or play to block enemy followers that do not have elusive or overwhelm. In many slower matchups it’s better to not play it at all since you don’t want to be stuck with a full board and not be able to play your better turrets!
- 2 = 2/1 Tough follower
- This can also be used as discard material or it’s a decent blocker against spiders, especially when Heimer is leveled up so this can block fearsomefollowers too! Again, be careful to not fill your board with these and not be able to play your better turrets.
- 3 = 3/1 Elusive follower
- Bread and butter of this deck. Most of our spells generate these. These can block fearsome followers, deal a lot of damage to nexus and you only need 4 of these to level up Heimerdinger.
- 4 = 4/1 Fearsome follower
- This one is also good but not as great as the elusive one. Good against decks with lots of followers that have under 3 power. It’s also great when an opponent will be attacking with a 4-health follower or champion.
- 5= 5/1 Quick Attack follower
- Not bad but not great. can be blocked by anything so only good against decks that don’t have lots of blockers. Better used defensively to block threats with 5 or less health.
- 6 = 6/1 Overwhelm follower
- Another great one. Especially against decks that don’t have high health blockers.
- 7 = 7/1 follower with a Barrier
- This one is usually pretty useless except when used to block high health threats. Barrier only lasts for one turn and you rarely get to first play a 7-cost spell and then play this on board before the opponent attacks. On offense this can be just blocked with a 1/1 spider or anything.
- 8 = 8/8 Rex
- Really good against Hecarim, Zed, Darius, Tryndamere or decks in general that you need high health blockers against. It’s also a big threat that an opponent needs to deal with if he doesn’t have a lot of small health blockers available to him. You can make this with Progress the Day! as burst so makes it even better.
When Heimerdinger is leveled up, all these turrets are the same except they have a +1/+1. Having 1 more health and attack on your elusive turrets is huge against some decks. Heimerdinger is also a lot harder to kill leveled up as he then has 4 health instead of 3!
It’s important to know what cards your opponent is likely to play. Like if Darius + Elise spiders have 2 mana up and attack with multiple threats it is very likely they will play Brothers’ Bond after you have assigned your blocker and/or played your spells, so try to hold on to your removals/stuns/bounces as long as you can so you are the one controlling the situation.
Don’t be afraid to go low on HP! In fact, you usually will go even if you don’t want to. After you get Heimer going the game quickly turns for your favor and the opponent usually can’t deal with the value and tempo that Heimer provides.
Here are some more general tips from the top of my head, I’ll try to add more in the next few days:
1. Be very mindful of using your Denies. You have to think ahead that if you use Deny here, can something else screw you in the couple next turns? Some spells and effects are okay to let resolve even if you had Deny available.
2. In general, if you lose your only Heimerdinger early, especially without any card draw in hand you are out of luck. Also, if you don’t draw any of your Heimerdingers you are usually doomed. So sometimes, you need to aggressively dig for Heimer by discarding even good cards for Rummage or to save mana for Progress the Day! even if it means you don’t remove a threat that you could remove if you didn’t save the mana.
3. Don’t give up straight away with this deck. You need a lot of experience to pilot it correctly and you are very likely to lose more than you win when you start learning it.
4. In most games, try to be more reactive than proactive. This means you want to try to wait and see what your opponent does before you make a play. Don’t just slam your Shadow Assassin on turn 3 since your opponent might play zed after you or remove a 2/1 follower with Beam on turn one since you might need the extra mana for Beam on turn to 2 kill a bigger threat like Elise.
5. The hardest part of this deck is to recognize when you just “have to go for it”. You might have lethal on board if you play 2x Twin Disciplines on an elusive turret, play 2x more elusive turrets from Heimer and attack but then you are tapped out and your opponent plays Withering Wail and suddenly you are fucked.
But if the situation looks grim and you know you are not likely to make it through another attack turn from the opponent then you just have to risk it!
Like in chess, you sometimes have to forfeit the long game plan by sacrificing your queen the same goes for sacrificing your Heimerdinger as a blocker instead of your elusive turret if you are likely to end the game with your attack next turn.
6. Use the spell/ability stack to your advantage! Many times you can be in a situation where the opponent has 6 health left, you have 2x Get Excited! in hand and you get too excited (xD) and just slam the cards hoping to end the game right there but then the opponent has a Deny for one of your burns and you have used most of your mana and opponent can now make his move.
Or they can just play Grasp of the Undying when 2x Get excited! are on the stack so they heals 3 before your burn spells resolve. If you know your opponent runs heal cards, try to wait until they are tapped out of mana before you try to end the game with your burn spells. The same thing goes for opponents who play Ledros + Atrocity combo. You can with the game if you wait for the opponent to play Atrocity first before you try to end the game with your burns!
7. I can’t stress enough how much it improves your chances to win if you know what cards are likely in the opponent’s deck. There are so many things you can play around and so many situations you can control if you just keep track of how much mana your opponent has available.
8. Don’t be too greedy before you attack! Many times, you should just attack right away when your turn starts even if you could generate many more turrets. Once again correctly assessing the situation is the key. Sometimes you just have to go for the bigger push because you need to end the game fast.
9. Keep counting your cards. If you play a spell like Progress Day! while you have Heimer on board and more than 7 cards on hand you won’t get the T-hex because your hand is too full.
Mulligans and Matchups
Always keep one Heimerdinger. Never keep Flash of Brilliance if you don’t also have Heimerdinger in hand but always keep Flash if you have Heimer!
Aggro vs slower decks
Prioritize removal over card draw and against slower decks prioritize Deny + Card draw (Shadow Assassin + Progress the Day!)
2x Heimerdinger >2x Deny > Removal for opponent’s Heimerdinger > Twin Disciplines > Solitary Monk
Try to keep enough mana ready to play a removal on Heimerdinger and Deny your opponent’s Deny.
Darius + Elise Spider Aggro:
We can definitely beat this list but I’m not sure if we are favored or not since I don’t have a big enough sample size yet. The thing about aggro decks in any card game is that if they draw the nuts, it’s next to impossible to beat them.
1x Heimerdinger > Thermogenic Beam to kill Elise on turn 2 > Mystic Shot > Shadow Flare > Statikk Shock.
If an opponent still has spell mana up and multiple cards in hand try to wait to see if he buffs his minions before you play stun or removal on blocking face. Try to keep opponents board as empty as possible so he doesn’t get big crowd favorite or suddenly get Elise leveled up.
Don’t be afraid to delay playing Heimerdinger if you can keep clearing opponents’ threats with your spells but if there is not a lot of power on the opponent’s side just go ahead and save mana to play Heimer.
Try to save Will of Ionia for Darius and play it when he has already attacked so he can’t just replay it before he attacks.
Shadow Flare is really good against aggro decks that don’t run a lot of early champions. Try to save 3 spell mana so you can play it when the opponent attacks a second time.
1x Heimerdinger > Shadow Flare > Thermogenic Beam to kill Elise on turn 2 > Solitary Monk > Mystic Shot
I would say we are favored against this deck. Try to avoid killing minions when the opponent has the possibility to play Dawnspeakers
Ledros + Atrocity Control
Heimerdionia is heavily favored in this matchup.
2x Heimerdinger > Deny > Solitary Monk > Shadow Assassin > Progress the Day!
Only use Deny when you absolutely need to. For example, to protect Heimerdinger if you don’t have extra Heimer in hand already. Usually, its good to Deny the play effect from Ledros and just keep blocking and stunning it so he can’t play it again.
If you can, keep Deny or Will of Ionia ready as a response for Atrocity. If your opponent plays Freljord+ Anivia or Tryndamere then those two are also great targets for Will of Ionia.
This is usually a pretty easy matchup if we just draw some removal and a Heimer.
1x Heimerdinger > > Mystic Shot > Solitary Monk > Thermogenic Beam > Shadow Flare> Shadow Assassin > Will of Ionia
If your opponent runs Zed then don’t waste all your removal on turn 1 or turn 2 threats since he might play Zed on 3. Also, wait before playing a follower on turn 3 since if the opponent plays Zed you might need to have mana for a removal and a Deny to counter his Deny.
You might be able to play Heimerdinger without protection in hand/mana saved since elusive decks don’t usually run a lot of removal.
This matchup might be the hardest one for our deck since we don’t run cheap blockers.
1x Heimerdinger > Solitary Monk > Mystic Shot > Shadow Assassin > Twin Disciplines > Will of Ionia
Use Twin Disciplines on Solitary Monk while blocking the 4/4 follower from Cursed Keeper. Keep Will of Ionia/Beam ready for Hecarim from turn 6 onward if possible.
Wrap up & My thoughts about Runeterra
I haven’t had this much fun playing card games since Artifact. I’m very impressed by Runeterra and hope it can grow a stable player base and that Riot will make a great esports program for this game! I’m sure it will only get better when we get more cards and features added to the game.
I’m not a native English speaker so I’m sorry for all the grammar mistakes I have surely made while writing this guide. It’s also my very first guide ever so I hope someone learned at least something from this. If not anyone else, then at least I did!
A few thoughts about Runeterra:
- Elusives are fine. We just need better removal
- Commander Ledros is very overpowered and needs to have the last breath removed or cost made to 10
- Deny is too good. Too many games are decided by this card and sometimes you can’t even play around it. Cost of 4-5 would make more sense to me.
- Expeditions could use rework. To me, they feel like a chore. You actually make the deck worse by adding cards to the deck oftentimes as the expedition progresses. That’s very anti-fun for me. I would prefer drafting card by card and be allowed to cut some of the cards.
- This game is very F2P friendly. Rewards from vault, Expeditions, and factions are great!
- If you did read this far I thank you sincerely! This guide became a lot longer than I thought it would.. It would be awesome if you could toss me a follow on Twitter, Twitch, and remember you can always come to ask me anything on my Discord server and I’ll do my best to help!
Cya all on the battlefields! – Keppada