How to Play: Akshan Kayn
Hey all, it’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here and today I’m bringing you my version of Akshan Kayn!
This was a popular archetype at the beginning of the expansion, but the deck fell out of favor after a week of mediocre results.
Akshan Kayn does inherently broken things if the deck is built to exploit them, and if you ask me, the previous lists weren’t.
Allow me to introduce you to its true power!
Deck Code: CEDQEBQHAQCQCBQCEIBAIBZGQIAQCBQFAYAQKBYWAEDAGIQBAYGAKAQBAYDSABIEA4GTWRK5NUAQCBQHFA
Akshan Kayn is a midrange Shurima deck that utilizes equipment and strike spells to take over and dominate the board. What makes this list different is it’s built with much fewer units, and a lot more interaction.
Once we’re able to get our champions and equipment going, the rest really doesn’t matter. Unless heavily pressured by a wide board, there’s no need for additional units. And in those cases, an equipped Keeper of the Box can drastically turn the tide in our direction!
You may also notice the lack of Cultist units. We aren’t playing Shadowblade Fanatic or Ranger-Knight Defector as they just aren’t quite good enough, and that’s okay!
Thanks to The Darkin Bloodletters, drawing our free Kayn is easy! This rounds out the deck a lot better and saves us from playing mediocre cards.
Due to a severe lack of overall units, against aggressive decks, we’ll want to keep any unit we can get our hands on. Against everything else, we really want our champions and equipment. It can actually be nice to keep one Kayn in hand. This may sound odd given the guaranteed draw, but having access to Kayn’s Shadowstep is a huge advantage that can swing the game when timed correctly.
- Always Keep:
- Buried Armory
- The Darkin Bloodletters
- Forsaken Baccai
- Situational Keep:
- Kayn: Always keep unless against aggro.
- Keep Against Aggressive Decks:
- Keeper of the Box
- Rock Hopper
Example Hand 1: Akshan – Buried Armory – The Darkin Bloodletters – Forsaken Baccai
Example Hand 2: Buried Armory – Forsaken Baccai – Keeper of the Box – Kayn
Akshan Kayn has access to two of the best equipment cards in the game, and each of them serves a unique role.
Buried Armory provides Treasure of the Sands, which grants +4|+4 to your unit of choice for only three spell mana. That is an incredible rate for stats, and better yet, it can be reused again and again! It also allows us to have a 6|6 Akshan as early as turn three! Or against aggro, a 6|6 Keeper of the Box.
The Darkin Bloodletters is our second equipment, and if you ask me, it’s the best equipment in the entire game. In fact, I think it’s probably the best card of the expansion.
Equip this early and happily trade, because in that exchange, we get a free 1|1 that becomes an immediate 4|3 beater. That alone is already powerful, and that’s not counting the fact we can do it repeatedly, AND later summon a 7|7 Overwhelm threat!
Beyond the baseline power of this equipment, they also serve another key purpose; turbo-leveling Akshan! By utilizing two Darkin Bloodletters, it’s extremely easy to cheaply proc Akshan’s landmark and get it closer to finishing its countdown. But in general, equipment provides an easy access, non-committal way of progress, whereas in most cases it comes down to interactive spells.
During the early game, our goal is to hopefully find equipment and start jamming early units. Akshan and The Darkin Bloodletters are our most important cards in the deck, and Forsaken Baccai can help us find them.
Darkinthralls are great early threats that can pressure the enemy or force favorable trades with help from Ruthless Predator or Rock Hopper.
As we reach the mid game, we want to get Kayn down as soon as possible. Kayn can be pretty weak initially… But one safe attack plus an additional strike will flip him into a monster! However, if there’s one thing that is absolutely crucial with this deck, it’s properly timing our actions.
In order to pilot this deck well, we really need to understand how to utilize our actions effectively. A lot of the powerful things this deck can do take time to set up.
We can often be extremely vulnerable to open-attacks, as we often want to play a unit or equipment beforehand. While interactive spells such as Desert Duel and Kayn’s Shadowstep are powerful, they are slow. We can be stuck choosing only one option and falling flat to the enemy’s assault.
It’s for this very reason that Furious Wielder is so important. It’s our only true form of Fast speed removal and it can even double as a healing spell when used with Keeper of the Box. Unless the situation is dire, we should rarely cast this proactively, even when it can flip Kayn.
Kayn already has Challenger, which means every second turn there’s a chance to proactively strike and force the opponent to respond. When we want to go one step further and level-up, that’s the time to cast Desert Duel or Kayn’s Shadowstep.
If they reply with removal, that’s the moment Furious Wielder (or Rite of Negation) can come in. Do NOT waste Furious Wielder if we don’t have to!
Rhaast is the correct choice 90% of the time, as The Shadow Assassin has really poor synergy with Kayn’s champion spell. The combination of Challenger + Overwhelm already fills a similarly evasive role, as we can always pick off any weak units on board.
The one time where this deck can really struggle is against another much larger unit such as Nasus. In tough spots like these, we have two choices. Either we find a combination of strike spells to answer the threat, or find an opening to push damage around it. Usually it’s the latter.
Xolaani can help push through that final damage and Ruthless Predator can let us drag the big blocker away. Even without that, a couple turns of challenging weak units with Rhaast can be enough, with Shadowstep as the extra icing to top it all off.
And if they choose not to play other units, we can often threaten wide with an army of smaller equipped units.
The final piece to note is knowing which spell we want from Akshan’s Warlord’s Hoard. If we have a healthy hand of answers, the SpellShield buff makes Rhaast nearly unstoppable. With a lighter hand, be sure to take the draw two, as all we want at that point of the game is interaction.
Each piece of equipment can only be played once each turn. When trying to progress Akshan’s landmark, consider whether you’ll need to equip something this turn in case you limit yourself next turn.
Furious Wielder as Kayn’s second strike allows him to ghost block an enemy or dodge removal thanks to the recall on level-up.
Don’t equip level one Kayn with Treasure of the Sands unless you really have to. It’s a major tempo loss once he returns to hand upon level-up.
Be careful casting a strike spell with Kayn pre-combat when the opponent has the attack token. Leveling him up will send him back to hand and leave you defenseless to their open-attack.
Don’t feel forced to attack if the opponent doesn’t want to commit any mana. If the opponent passes when you play Kayn on turn five during your attack token, just pass back and burn their mana. Tempo is far more valuable than the strike trigger.
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
When trying to build a new habit, we often plan up the ideal scenario and outcome. We envision the best case, hoping to set ourselves up for success, until life inevitably gets in our way.
We feel defeated… But it doesn’t have to be this way!
While our initial plan may be foiled, we can always have a Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D! The next best thing is often just as good, or at the very least, good enough for one day.. And that will keep us going long enough to try again tomorrow.