How to Play: Teemo Zoe
In my previous article, I discussed the top most broken cards of LoR’s past.
If I were to return to that discussion and dive into the most problematic archetypes, Elusives would definitely be near the top of that list.
It turns out that when your units can both attack and block, but your opponents’ units can only attack, the game isn’t fair. It’s no surprise a majority of these cards were nerfed into the ground.
It’s November 2022, and we’re fresh into a balance patch and heading into Worlds. Guess what deck has broken into the meta? Elusives!
Deck Code: CECQEBQKDITAGBIKFKTADJYBAEAQICAEAMEQSI262YAQGBQJAQDB2AABAECQSCI
Teemo Zoe is the latest iteration of Elusive decks, and it’s likely the only true Elusive contender we’ve seen since the days of Bard Ionia. In case you aren’t familiar with the archetype’s general game plan, I’ll give you a simple summary.
- Play evasive units.
- Attack your opponent’s nexus.
- Chump block when necessary to survive.
That’s really the gist of it. We’re more concerned with punching through damage each turn than respecting what the opponent’s trying to do… Because when we can block and they can’t, almost every race is in our favor. 😉
What’s interesting about Teemo Zoe is that this Elusive deck doesn’t even include Ionia, but instead opts for the efficiency of Bandle/Targon. While we may lose a few units, in exchange we gain a ton of tricks to help punish our opponent every turn.
We always want to look for a cheap unit to invest in (ideally Teemo or Zoe), a form of protection (Purpleberry/Pale) , and Byrd. Always Byrd.
- Teemo or Zoe (not both)
- Byrd, the Bellringer
- Purpleberry Shake
- Pale Cascade
- Bandle Commando: Always keep against aggro.
- Esmus, Breath of the World: Solid keep against slower matchups.
- The Darkin Lodestone: Keep alongside a Teemo/Zoe + protection spell hand.
Example Hand 1:
Example Hand 2:
We need to approach each matchup knowing the answers our opponent could throw at us. Spells like Vile Feast, Mystic Shot, and Quietus, just to name a few.
Our units at a baseline can easily trade 1:1 with removal if we’re not careful, and if we take a close look at the deck, we don’t have a single unit over the cost of three! This means the units we have are important, and shouldn’t be freely sent out with our guard down.
Byrd really is the perfect opener to help us get above the curve from the get-go. Landing a chime on an Elusive is so much more valuable than most others, as it immediately puts that unit outside of removal range.
A single buff onto Teemo or Zoe protects them from pings. Land it on Bandle Commando or Esmus and suddenly they survive all the Mystic Shots.
In addition to Byrd, Esmus and The Darkin Lodestone repeatedly help our units grow. With every attack, they become even harder to remove until the opponent has to expend far more resources than usual just to deal with a single threat. This is where the deck truly shines.
Where things go wrong is when we allow our units within clear sight of enemy spot removal. However, there’s one card that lets us bait and punish the opponent for trying.. And that’s Purpleberry Shake!
I always knew this card would find a home eventually, and in this deck, it’s the perfect insurance policy. For one mana, we can save a unit from all those common pesky removal spells.
This allows us to commit more units to the board early on, or safely drop Teemo/Zoe + Lodestone. While it becomes a lot worse later on, Purpleberry Shake’s insane early game power allows the deck to snowball a huge lead, and that can often define the match.
I’ll be honest, this deck doesn’t block a lot. While there are a lot of excellent combat tricks, we’ll only ever have so many at one time.
And while our units can occasionally outgrow the enemy’s, we do have to be cautious whether blocking will put them at risk of dying.
As long as our nexus isn’t within burn range, we can block just enough to be safe, then swing back to win the following turn.
Make use of Byrd and Wandering Shepherd to either trade efficiently during early turns, or chump block in the later part of the game.
Bandle Commando is an absolute all-star when it comes to racing. Each turn it strikes we get a free blocker so that our Elusives can continue throwing punches instead of taking them.
If we’ve managed to continue applying pressure, it’s only a matter of time before the opponent can’t take any more. We’ll also reach a point where mana is more available, and so more removal will follow.
But it’s okay because we have Purpleberry Shake’s older sibling, The Sudden Surge!
At two mana this can be a major blowout. Not only can it protect a unit from removal, it can also push up to five extra face damage to close the game! The Sudden Surge is incredibly efficient and is one of the defining cards for the creation of this deck.
When possible, try to avoid having chimes land on The Flight in order to not waste the buff when it reshuffles into the deck. Esmus/Lodestone shouldn’t target The Flight unless needing to avoid a bad block or put outside of removal range.
Shepherd’s Authority is a great pickup to create a big Elusive threat. We aren’t blocking anyway!
Carefully consider which units should receive Esmus/Lodestone buffs. Putting units outside of removal is often a good start, but it can be good to leave a weaker body on board occasionally. When stats are spread across the board, Purpleberry Shake and The Sudden Surge become much weaker. A 0|2 Esmus can push 3-5 damage when attacking for lethal.
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
When life decides it’s time to get sick, reward yourself with some rest.
We already don’t get enough, and we deserve it!