How to Play Keg Control (TF Viego)
I know I’ve been talking about Viego a lot lately but bear with me on this one.
I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson, and today I want to focus on Kegs. This is an archetype that has been around in one form or another for a while.
We’ve seen champions such as Gangplank, Twisted Fate, Thresh, Kindred, and even Elise showcased in this deck, so the big question here is, “Why is Viego different?”
Trick question there, because the answer is, he’s not.
Deck Code: CECAGAQGAQNC2AIDAYEAEAIFFAYQGBAFGU3DOAYDAIDAKJR2AECAMDQCAECQCHIBAEAQKGI
Viego is another in a long line of powerful win conditions this archetype has employed and the main deck concept and theories of play remain largely the same as they have since Go-Hard got nerfed and people forgot this region combination was good.
That said, I’ve had some quite reasonable success with this deck both in tournaments and on ladder, and every time I bring it out to play the same thing happens.
Everyone rolls their eyes at my nonsense, grudgingly agrees to try it out for a few games, and then decides it’s terrible and never touches it again.
At this point, the pattern cannot be excused by simple variance, so it has to be that folks really just fundamentally don’t understand the patterns this deck likes to play in.
Today, while we’re acknowledging that Viego is a powerful end game for this deck, more than anything we are going to dive into Keg Control as an archetype and see if we can demystify this deck.
Phase One: Holding the Board
The first four turns of the game for us will be about leveraging our powerful early game tools to take control of the board from our opponent.
Between our Keg production, Vile Feast, Make it Rain, and Hired Gun, there’s not much our opponents can drop that we can’t find some kind of answer to.
We can even slot Twisted Fate and Withering Wail into these turns occasionally as they are powerful answers in and of themselves.
This is also the phase where matchup depending, we can apply a bit of our own pressure. Random 2|2’s with effects stapled on don’t seem that impressive, but the chip damage adds up quickly in a deck with backdoor outs to Atrocity.
Thinking about how this phase will play out can also help your mulligan decisions. For instance, in a midrange mirror or slower matchup, if I have two or even sometimes one early gameplay, I will seriously consider keeping Viego or Hydravine.
Having faith in the controlling power of your early game can help you be able to make plays like that.
Phase Two: The Grind
Compared to most other decks out there we are sporting a frankly unreasonable amount of card draw. There are eleven full cards in our deck that replace themselves or better on the cast.
This puts us in a great position to simply run our opponent out of resources.
Even better since we’re not relying on Go Hard as our win condition anymore, every card we find will be a real unit or piece of removal, ready to go.
While Pack Your Bags was great, the effort you had to go through to get there was often daunting.
This is also the phase where we often want to look for our big board wipes. Twisted Fate, Withering Wail, or even Make it Rain in a pinch can be combined with Kegs to cause some truly impressive destruction of our opponent’s side of the field.
For more persistent threats Vengeance and Hired gun sit on the backlines ready to provide support.
For this deck, the biggest thing you want to do in every matchup is identifying which of their cards you care about and which you don’t and ration your resources appropriately.
Spending that Vile Feast feels a bit silly if we’re going to Wail in a turn or two after all.
The big 5|5 on our opponent’s side can probably simply be whittled down with chump blockers, save Vengeance for value engines that need to die immediately, or a life-saving mid-combat stop sign.
Phase Three: No Good Choices
Our endgame specializes in simply asking our opponent more questions than they are prepared to Answer. Between Viego, Hydravine, and Twisted Fate, most people are simply going to run out of gas and have one of our helpful lads bury them in value.
The cool thing is that Viego doesn’t really need Hydravine to level in this deck. You can trigger him pretty easily every turn between Glimpse Beyond, using your Kegs, and simply attacking with wide boards.
Think of our endgame more as the constrictor than anything else. We might not be quite as patient as a deck like Anivia wants to be, but we’re perfectly happy to slowly accumulate power and crush any hope our opponent has of winning the game. Turn twelve to fourteen is a perfectly valid time to end things if that’s what it takes to do so safely.
Seeing a WhatAmI deck with only one Atrocity in it has got to have a lot of people reeling. The reasoning here is that Atrocity just really isn’t how we want to win the game.
The existence of it in our deck will force our opponents into hard choices and bad play patterns which is great, and it will occasionally save our bacon, but it’s rarely going to be our option A.
To answer the next question I did in fact look into Go Hard being in this deck. The short version of that story is that it really doesn’t add all that much and it takes away a fair bit.
Breaking free from the chains of Pack Your Bags we still have plenty of ways to win and our Zap will get impactful cards much more often.
Finally, I’ll take a minute and answer the one I hand waved away at the top of this article, namely “Why Viego.”
Viego provides a powerful way to end the game that is a little slimmer and easier to set up than the Gangplank, Dreadway, Ledros combination this deck used to run with. In a format as fast as this one those few extra mana matters a lot.
- A lot of the play of this deck is about your opponent trying to hand-read you.
- As you gain proficiency with this weapon you’ll learn how to make that harder and harder.
- Simple things like setting units to one or two hit points instead of taking favorable blocks can force your opponent’s into assuming an incoming board sweeper and force more awkward lines.
- Sometimes that extra turn or two is all you need to swing a game.
- Don’t be afraid to slam your threats.
- If Twisted Fate, Viego, or even Hydravine bite the dust you will often be able to find backups simply because of the unreal amount of card draw in the deck.
- One of the cool things this deck does is not being super reliant on anyone’s win condition.
- That makes us much harder to stop.
This is another deck that is close to my heart because of the play patterns it creates and the type of thinking it forces its pilot to do.
Playing and mastering this archetype cannot do anything but make you a more proficient player at the game of Runeterra as a whole and I heartily recommend it to both new and experienced gamers alike.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).