How to Play: Evolution Blade
I boot up the Runeterra ladder the last week or so and you know what I see?
Vast Shuriman deserts filled with sparkling home videos.
I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and if you’re looking for a solid response to this sandy nonsense, then look no further, the old adage remains true. “When in doubt, burn them out.”
Deck Code: CECQIAYEAIBQKEQDAMBQCAYHAICQIDAUAIAQIJZUAEAQGAQCAEAQILIBAUBQ2AA
Though honestly, you’ll be surprised by how few of your games you finish with burn for a deck that packs this much. With fifteen total cards that can target themselves directly at our opponent’s face, we spend an impressive amount of time killing them in other ways.
A huge part of this deck’s power is the multiple axes that it attacks on. While getting in some early chip damage and then getting on the burn train certainly works, we’ve also got some pretty impressive combo kills. Viktor and Riven sure, but even Ballistic Bot or Nyandroid are ready to get absolutely huge.
Once we’ve created our gigantic stat stick all that’s left is to get it where it needs to be. Elusive is a great way to do that and either Nyandroid or Ambush can get the job done. Even more consistent though is Overwhelm, and with nine ways to make Blade Fragments we don’t even need Might to find it.
All in all, this is a great example of a powerful proactive deck that will make people pay for getting too focused on their cute combos. The best part is that even into a more controlling opponent you can often set up turns where their mana simply cannot keep up. Let’s go check out the plan.
Phase One: Feel the Pressure
An important thing to remember here is that you have eight one drops, not five, eight. Yes, you’ll often want to wait to have something solid to discard with Poro Cannon or Zaunite Urchin, but remember that every point of damage can end up mattering, take what you can get.
There are plenty of decks where you can even go into the second turn of the game completely unanswered. Getting in for three or four-point chunks with Fallen Rider or Runeweaver is a huge advantage to put on as you move towards the more midgame turns.
The other important thing to remember here is that your opponent has a finite amount of interaction. Anything you can force them to spend dealing with your early more easily answerable plays is something they won’t have later for your haymakers.
If Runeweaver generates a Blade Fragment and then eats a Mystic Shot, we can generally count that interaction in our favor. Pressure can be like pre-emptive armor we put around the engines that make our deck run. Or it can just kill people, either is good.
Phase Two: Start the Engines
Speaking of Engines this deck has a couple. Both of your champions generate power and cards on their own, and they do even better together. I have seen this deck dump its hand and level Viktor on turn five, and that is a power move if I have ever witnessed one.
Arguably the most important one though is Ballistic Bot. It will sit there calmly, slowly growing in power, incrementally taking down your opponent’s life total, and then it fits with either of the ways we want to end the game. Make no mistake, this is your third champion and should be treated as such.
That said, remember that we are, at heart, a burn deck. If you are wide in the early or mid-game and swinging with Ballistic Bot will net you a few more points of damage, it is often correct to take it. Just think before you do, how long is this game going to last, and is this the best value I can get from this bot?
Phase Three: Race to the Finish
As I said at the top there are two main ways we can win the game. Number one, we get in a little bit of damage and, like all of our other more traditional Noxian brethren, we throw a bunch of axes at our opponent until they fall over. Or number two we set up a combo turn where our opponent simply cannot answer all of the threats we will create at the same time.
One of the biggest skill factors in playing this deck is identifying as early as possible which path you are most likely to be on. This will help lead your decisions in how aggressively you attack with your units, as well as what you are willing to sacrifice on defense and how early you need to go all in.
For example, I’ve had games where simply slapping an Ambush on a Ballistic bot to guarantee four damage on turn three was the winning play. I’ve even had those games when I already had Viktor in hand. You’ll get a feel for those moments the more you play with the deck.
A good place to start though is to try asking yourself, “How am I getting to twenty damage,” and, “how is my opponent going to try to stop me?” That second one is crucial, because against zero healing decks, especially zero healing high interaction decks, aggressive lines become correct extremely often as soon as they tap down.
A lot of people have Minotaur Reckoner in this deck. Let me just say that I am not a fan. This card feels like it is win-more half the time and dead another quarter. I love this card with Rumble because it levels him and regenerates his Spellshield, but in this version of Noxus/Piltover burn, I find it distinctly lacking.
Instead, I am on Fallen Rider to give this deck a little bit more consistency in the early game. Getting this big boy down on turn two courtesy of a Poro Cannon or Zaunite Urchin creates a huge amount of pressure, and it will connect with face way more often than you’d expect.
You’ll also notice the lack of Survival Skills here. In a meta where the biggest ways to stop your combo are Vengeance, Hush, and Quicksand, I felt it was falling short. If we’re seeing a resurgence of burn-based removal I could certainly see finding room for one or even two of these.
I love decks that are proactive, powerful, and skill testing. This concoction meets all of those requirements and beyond that, I believe it to be a very solid choice for the current ladder meta. Any kind of slow combo deck will have significant problems with the type and density of threats you present. Go forth and burn.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (Tuesday-Thursday around 3PM PST and weekends for tournaments).