How to Play: Darkness (A Curious Journey)
While most recent metas of Runeterra have shifted away from control, there is one deck that’s managed to stay in the spotlight.. Darkness!
Ever since the buff to Vengeance, Darkness has been on the rise. And now that the meta has stabilized, it’s found itself in a solid position against a lot of the field.
It’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here and today we’ll be reviewing what makes Darkness so powerful, how to play the deck, and some tips for playing against it!
Deck Code: CEBQMBIKGE4V2XTCUYAQEAIFAEUAEBIFBAEQEAIBAUXACBIK2EAQEAQFBIA5KAIEAECQ6EYUDU
Darkness is a control archetype that focuses on its inevitability. While many control strategies are based on surviving until their big card (Feel the Rush) or combo (Ledros + Atrocity), Darkness will naturally scale until it outpowers everything in its path. And I mean that literally… The Darkness just keeps on growing!
Darkness doubles as both your removal and win condition, which makes the deck almost unbeatable once it reaches a certain threshold. The key? Survival.
With careful maneuvering and well-timed interaction, Darkness has the tools to answer just about everything. But a slip up here or there could spell your own doom. Pretty on-theme for Veigar, don’t ya think?
Just about everyone knows how important Twisted Catalyzer is to Darkness’ success. The difference between a 2-damage Darkness and 3-damage Darkness is HUGE, and will greatly impact how players play in the mid game.
Survival is key, but there are few cards worth keeping if you don’t already have Catalyzer. We’d happily keep two if we could!
Against other control or slower matchups, Veigar is essential. If we can grow Darkness enough, we’ll have essentially infinite answers against the few major threats. Lookin’ at you Shellfolk!
- Twisted Catalyzer
- Veigar: Always keep in slower matchups. Optional keep if the rest of your hand is solid.
- Stilted Robemaker: Keep against slower matchups; the cost reduction is vital.
- Pokey Stick: Keep against aggressive decks with one health units.
- Vile Feast: Keep against aggressive decks with one health units.
- Mist’s Call: Optional keep alongside Veigar against slower matchups.
Example Hand 1: Conchologist – Twisted Catalyzer – Vile Feast – Veigar
Example Hand 2: Twisted Catalyzer – Stilted Robemaker – Veigar – Mist’s Call
During the early game, we’re really hoping to find a Twisted Catalyzer to stack our first Darkness buff. It’s perfectly acceptable to trade, even if we’re trading down with a 2|1. It’s imperative that we guarantee the strike before the opponent has an opportunity to remove it with a spell. Most decks don’t inherently have a clean answer, except for those with Mystic Shot.
Conchologist is our reasonable backup plan to help sustain us through the initial turns. Alongside Pokey Stick and Vile Feast, it shouldn’t be too difficult to handle most early board states.
A single Darkness buff turns the deck online. Without it, the deck will really struggle. We never want to be casting a 2-damage Darkness unless we have to. And if we are, we’re likely losing. Veigar can help salvage things if we bricked our early turns.
Once we reach the mid game, we’ll often reach the point where the game starts to shift towards one direction. If we’ve stabilized, then we can start using Senna and Veigar to apply pressure. Stilted Robemaker is a good compromise by providing a 3|4 body and a permanent discount for the future.
When in a rough spot, Ixtali Sentinel can help Lifesteal back to safety. By no means is it necessary to cast Darkness on the same turn. The healing and stats alone are enough. When things are really dire, you can set up a trade or chump block with Ixtali Sentinel, then revive it with Mist’s Call. It’s a great way to gain more life in a pinch.
If you’ve survived until the late game; congratulations! You’re likely set to win the game. You’ll likely be well-armed to answer just about everything in your path. However, if you are low on steam, make sure you don’t waste your Darkness if you don’t have to.
Once Veigar’s flipped, victory is inevitable. There’s nothing quite like sending 10+ spell damage right to the face!
Senna can be a very good stabilizer. Simply playing her on board forces the opponent to reconsider their turns, or else risk losing to a Fast speed Ruination. Even if you don’t have it, bluffs can go a long way.
Stress Defense will primarily keep your champions alive, or hinder the opponent’s attack. An occasional alternate use? Keeping Catalyzer alive to let it strike again!
You can cast Darkness on the stack while attacking with Senna to then generate another one from her attack trigger. Additionally, casting Darkness and Mist’s Call on the same stack can allow your revived unit to generate a new Darkness in hand.
You don’t have to cast Darkness. In fact, holding it is often better as it prevents the opponent from playing their best units entirely. The last thing they want to do is drop a unit on the board and have it immediately die. But if you cast it ahead of time, you give them a window of opportunity to summon safely. Don’t give them that chance.
Tips Against Darkness
Mulligan with Twisted Catalyzer in mind. If you’re attacking on odds, you better have a 1-drop or 2-drop that can trade with it. If you’ve got spells answers like Mystic Shot, hard mulligan to find them.
Darkness needs its champions. If your deck packs answers for them, hold up mana so they’re forced to risk playing them into your removal. If your deck doesn’t have answers, apply as much pressure as possible so the opponent can’t reliably play them.
Combat tricks are your friend. Darkness often relies on pings to deal with your X|1’s during combat, so any +health combat trick will greatly punish them.
Be careful when committing to remove Senna or Veigar. Stress Defense will punish damage-based removal while Mist’s Call will just bring them back to life. Just use Minimorph. 🙂
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
Got a minute? Let’s make two lists.
For the first one, write down everything you would love to be doing.
For the second, write down everything you regularly do in a day.
How different are your lists? Can you make a change so that the two begin to align?