How to Counter Matron Watcher
We haven’t done one of these in a while but this seems like the perfect time for it.
Hey folks, I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and today I’m here to drop a counter-guide for Empires of the Ascended’s frostiest meta-breakout, Lissandra.
Tired of having your whole deck obliterated or your face beat in by 8|8 Overwhelms?
Well, we feel you, and we’re here to help. Let’s dive in.
Deck Code: CECAGAIFFAWC6AQEAECQ4AIBAEKACAYBAYBAKAIBA4GB2KRSAQAQKAITDUYQCAIBAUHQ
As we detailed in our previous article, 5 Lissandra Deck Recommendations, there are an awful lot of different ways to run Lissandra effectively.
Those different techs are going to do better or worse against a lot of the counters we’re going to talk through today, but to try to get a reasonable handle on how to counter this deck concept we’re going to base our theories on the most popular, and arguably most powerful build, Matron Watcher.
You know it and you love to hate it.
They control the board with a frozen fist for the first seven or so turns of the game and then come turn eight or nine their board fills with gigantic zero-cost units and your deck disappears.
Extremely frustrating but undeniably impressive. So how do we deal with it?
1. Lee Aphelios
The first deck in our lineup today looks at ridiculous combo potential that Matron Watcher presents and says simply, “That’s nice, but I can do it a turn faster.”
What do you do if your opponent wants to kill you on their turn eight?
Well, just kill them on your turn seven, good times all around.
Deck Code: CEBQGAYJGNE5SAIDAIBAGBQJAEAQEMICBABQSEY3ENKVNVYB3MA52AIBAIBAQAIBAMBBI
The Game Plan
Yep, good ol’ Lee.
I like the Aphelios version of this deck better than the Zoe version both in this matchup and in general.
Playing an effective eight Eye of the Dragon makes you an aggro deck’s nightmare.
If your Lee is AFK, Aphelios’s Gravitums can, when combined with an Equinox or Hush, often buy you the extra turn or two you need to find lethal, perhaps with the help of an Infernum.
In this particular matchup, you really don’t need to worry about most of what your opponent is doing.
They only really have one win condition and that’s not going to happen until turn eight at the earliest.
What that means is that you can leave off playing your small units and just focus on assembling your combo kill and protection.
With three Deny and two Bastion the opposing Vengeances and Harsh Winds, while scary, are definitely a fixable problem.
So take the first set of turns to wind up and then go for the big unstoppable kicks that Lee is known for to take the Ice Queen’s head right off her shoulders.
Remember when I said our early turns don’t really matter?
What that means is that we basically get to hard-mulligan for Lee and our Temples.
I would likely also keep Aphelios, and if we already have Lee and/or Temple then Deny is a great keep.
I would probably also keep Duskbringer, but only if you already have an Aphelios ready to go, as the 2|1 body just isn’t that impactful here.
- Bastion is great for holding off potential freezes, but be careful about relying on it to beat a Vengeance.
- It really isn’t that hard for them to ping off the Spell Shield and leave your Lee high and dry.
- We’ve got those three Denys in there for a reason, so as often as possible make sure that’s how we’re answering the big Shadow Isles removal spell.
- If you have Aphelios but not Lee, and you have Temple, it can often be right to not play your Aphelios until after you play your Temple.
- That lets the pumps get him beefy and protected from their small-scale removal and makes him a real threat to deal with.
- While Eye of the Dragon isn’t your premium staying-alive tool that it is in other matchups, don’t underestimate the pressure it can provide.
- Look to make Dragonlings on your turn rather than theirs and get in that chip damage to make sure your big Lee kick is a lethal one.
Lee Sin does it by making sure he doesn’t care that much about their interaction and going off with his combo a turn before them.
What happens if we commit even more to that game plan?
Step on the gas and see just how quickly we can aggro out our combo/control opponent?
2. Lucian Azir
Deck Code: CEBQMBAHAMNBYMZZLUBAEAACBECACAAJCULDGAQBAIAAOAIDAAHAA
The Game Plan
Sometimes you’ve just got to give your opponent the bonk.
Pick up every card in your hand and just throw it at their head until they fall over. If that’s what you like doing then this is definitely the deck for you.
We can get out of the gates blazingly fast, having the possibility of literal turn four lethal through interaction.
And if that doesn’t quite pan out then between Inspiring Marshall, Cithria, Azir, and Emperor’s Dais we’ve got some serious beef for all those avalanches to contend with.
Your champions are your absolute most important combo pieces.
The number of games you will win by slamming a Lucian and then protecting him once or twice while Sand Soldiers die around him so his levels are quite high.
Azir makes those soldiers and is also an amazingly hard threat to answer, especially out of Shadow Isles and Freljord.
Beyond that look for your other cards that match up well into their removal.
Emperor’s Dais is amazing and Inspiring Marshall isn’t that far behind.
If you’ve already got one or two key pieces then seriously consider keeping Ranger’s Resolve or Sharpsight as those tiny bits of protection will often hard swing a game in your favor.
- While you definitely have serious aggro potential, remember that you are not nearly as all in as you look.
- You’ve got some pretty impressive bodies that come down on turns five and six as well as a good bit of combo potential with Lucian and Sand Soldiers.
- Your Rallys really want to end the game when you play them because your deck is so mana-hungry that committing three mana to not impacting the board is rough.
- Unless you have no other options, a second rally or you are leveling your Lucian, consider not playing Relentless Pursuit until the last possible second.
3. Fiora Shen
Last but certainly not least today we have another old favorite that got a pretty impressive boost from the new set.
Golden Aegis is such a good card that it really affects the way this deck’s game plan plays out to the point where it can, at times, almost resemble a combo deck itself.
Deck Code: CEBQGAICCMQCWAYBAAERULICAMAAMDQFAEBQEFABAEBDCAIEAABAEAIAEUZQCAQAAEBQEAIABU2ACAYCBEAQCARF
The Game Plan
This has not changed since the days of yore when it was first invoked.
Play your Challenger and value creatures, barrier them up, protect them at a few key moments, and brutally out tempo your opponent.
The addition of Golden Aegis has made the last part of that plan even more possible than it used to be.
Because it is a good card against aggro, accelerating your Fiora win condition, and a good card against control because Rallys have always been great there, we get to run three in our deck.
I don’t know about you but even when this deck was only on one rally it was absolutely terrifying.
The number of games you went into saying “If they have rally I lose,” was way too high.
Now we are going to have it most games, and that’s going to give the control game plan of Matron Watcher some serious problems
The only downside of this deck has always been its consistency.
You really need to be hitting your three drops for this deck to be powerful so go ahead and hard-mulligan for those except for Shen.
Shen is probably your single best card in this matchup.
He applies pressure, protects your units, and has a big enough butt that he is extremely difficult to remove via pings and Avalanches, especially if you have any kind of protection for him which this deck excels at bringing to the table.
- Deny won’t stop their win condition anymore as it used to for Feel The Rush.
- What that means is that you basically always want to slam it on a Vengeance, and occasionally even a threatening Avalanch.
- Their best card against you is Blighted Ravine.
- While you won’t always be able to, do your best to play around it by not having more than one, or at the most two units that will get swept away under the landmark-avalanche on the board at any one point.
- Always be thinking about what turn you’re going to kill your opponent on and when you are playing Aegis.
- You usually want to have Shen, Rivershaper, or Cithria in play when you drop the bomb, but sometimes you can just find odd opportunities to go lethal so always keep your eyes peeled.
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Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).