4 Zilean Decks Worth Trying Out (Competitive + Memey)
Invincible, irreplaceable, inconceivable…and right now, frankly irrelevant.
For all the cool things it feels like he should be able to do Runeterra’s resident time mage just hasn’t really found a home yet.
I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and today we’ll be looking for fun and interesting ways to drop some Time Bombs on our opponents.
Deck Code: CEBQEBAFAMCAEAIFDUYQGBAHBUTS6BAEAECQCGJIGAAQEBIEAMCAOO2RM4AQIBIQAEAQCBIT
First up is the deck that I think has the most competitive potential out of the lot.
Not to say that the rest are entirely memes, but I’ve taken this one to both ladder and tournaments and it’s felt good so I figured I’d give it the nod at the top here.
I also mentioned this one in my more competitively slanted Countering Irelia article so you know I believe in it.
We look quite a bit like we are piloting a traditional Thresh/Nasus shell but the game plan actually plays out surprisingly differently.
Where the other version mostly wants to apply ridiculous amounts of pressure and curve out into their champions to close out the game, we are much more controlling.
With Wail, Vengeance, Time Bombs, and an absolute bevy of card draw, our focus is more on killing our opponent’s creatures than our own.
What that means is that against decks where Nasus is a dangerous win condition to rely on, such as many of the Targon piles, Zilean can pick up the slack.
A leveled Zilean, while it won’t happen often, is actually a realistic possibility in this shell. It’s also something that is nearly impossible to out-grind and has a certain satisfyingly unreasonable feel to it.
Next on the list is something that I think needs an awful lot more refinement, but could find its way to being a surprisingly competitive deck.
We’re playing a deck full of powerful removal spells, card draw, and even some sweepers and Deny effects. It’s hard for that to be too bad a plan.
One of the cool interactions in this deck is that if you have a leveled Swain in play and you drop a Time Bomb on your opponent’s attack token, their biggest unit will get stunned going into your attack turn.
Many of their smaller units may simply die, or not be able to block Swain, letting you get through for a giant open attack with Noxus’s favorite general.
Not to mention that the main reason Swain control decks have been given the kibosh is the ease with which Targon answers Leviathan.
I don’t know about you but casting Ancient Hourglass on my Leviathan in response to an Equinox is a line of play that never fails to put a smile on my face.
Or if that’s not enough, if the game goes late and we have a leveled Zilean then our opponent can do whatever they want to our Leviathan. We’ll just slam another one next turn courtesy of the time mage du jour.
Deck Code: CEBAMAYJBFKFKVTA3UAQIBAHBUTUQZYCAMBQSI2JLQBAIBZ3KEAA
This next one is, fortunately, or otherwise, significantly less degenerate than it looks at first glance.
The main reason behind that is that there are an awful lot of Vulnerable granters and Challenger creatures running around to get through a Spell-Shielded champion.
What that means is that this one is likely relegated to either a specific metagame or a more for-fun lineup, but it still does some pretty fun things.
Namely, we have two low-cost champions, a level of which on either is basically a won game.
So all we really have to do is protect them and ride out whatever aggression our opponent is giving to collect the win.
We could go all-in on that concept with Hourglass and perhaps some copies of Bastion, but I feel like that gives up too much of our secondary value game plan.
Instead, we have a solidly built midrange Targon control deck that in certain matchups will accidentally win the game on turn two.
Can’t really say fairer than that now can you?
Deck Code: CEBQMBAJAIBQIBYIBICQIBYNEUTCOZYBAME52AICAECAOHABAMEVIAA
Alright so we’ve stepped off the edge on the meme versus dream discussion and we’ve decided we’re just going to have some fun with it.
Well, sometimes you just want to take a big rock man and punch your opponent in the face.
There aren’t very many good landmarks to get old Malphy up and running so we’ll just have to make some of our own courtesy of the friendly neighborhood Zilean.
We can even add in Unraveled Earth to help out along the way.
While they might seem a tad slow, and often are Earth Elemental and Stonebreaker pack an impressive punch.
Their job is to swing tempo back in your favor after you’ve given it away a bit in the early turns.
Once we’ve managed to get the board stabilized, Malphite and Starshaping are both capable of ending the game within a swing or two.
Also, it won’t happen all that often, but chaining Stonebreaker off of a leveled Zilean is an unreasonably enjoyable activity.
General Tips for Playing Zilean
Part of what makes this card strong is that it is just a solid set of stats taped to a Predict. A 1|4 blocker on turn two will frustrate a surprising amount of aggressive openers.
Don’t be afraid to block with your Zilean.
If he sticks around that’s great, but if he goes down he often did so doing his job.
More than that you often *want* your Zilean to die.
If you have or can Predict into a second Zilean then getting a Level Up is way easier with eight Time Bombs in your deck than it is with four.
Zilean’s champ spell is pretty weak, but re-dropping him is actually impressively powerful.
Don’t play your first Time Bomb just to play it. If you have two and can level your Zilean.
Then it is very often correct to just go for it.
But Twisted Fate’s Red Card is powerful on its own, so don’t just jam it if you are not going to be able to use it to do significant damage to your opponent’s board.
Sometimes you’ll have to just cycle the bombs but always think first.
When you do level Zilean, always start by counting the cards in your hand.
He will give you an impressive amount of value, but you still want to make sure you’re not burning key cards off the top of your deck.
Best wishes to all of y’all messing around the timestream and may you always have a Time Bomb available in your Zilean’s Predict trigger.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).