How to Play Illaoi Jarvan
Hey all, it’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here fresh off the patch.
Today we’re exploring a new flavor of Demacia that’s been tearing up the ladder. Illaoi is the real deal.
If you’re not careful, you’ll be overwhelmed by tentacles!
Deck Code: CEDAKBQGAYDRYHRDAEAQACICAIDAKJQBAUAAYAQEAABQQAICAAAQEAIDAAHACAIADIAA
While there are some notable differences between lists, the core of the deck is built around the Illaoi package and Cataclysm. The interaction between Cataclysm plus Overwhelm is incredibly powerful. We’ve all experienced it already with Wounded Whiteflame in Fated, but Illaoi takes it to a whole new level with her on-attack trigger.
Illaoi Jarvan is a midrange deck that plays heavily for the board. The Demacia half helps tackle the early game so the Bilgewater half can set up its Spawn. The deck is packed full of interaction and opens up many lines of play. If you time your challengers and strike spell properly, you’ll have the tools to navigate through almost anything. Time it wrong, and you’ll be in for a bad time.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded and rewarding deck to pilot, Illaoi Jarvan is a great deck to pick up!
PS: Shoutout to WhatAmI for the deck list. 🙂
Being combat-oriented, this deck has a plethora of tools to win early exchanges. These cards heavily punish aggro and give us a huge edge, but can be less important against slower matchups. We’re packing a ton of spells that don’t do anything on their own, and if all we draw are cheap units plus interaction, the deck can struggle with some awkward hands. Illaoi is extremely important to the deck’s success, so don’t hesitate to toss other cards to find her.
- Petricite Broadwing
- Tentacle Smash
- Illaoi: Always keep unless against hyper aggro/burn.
- Watchful Idol: Always keep unless against Demacia.
- Brightsteel Protector: Keep alongside Watchful Idol or Petricite Broadwing against aggro.
- Hired Gun: Keep against aggro, or when attacking on evens against decks with high priority 1-2 drops.
- The Sea’s Voice: Low priority keep, but solid choice alongside three other good cards.
- Sharpsight: Solid keep alongside Petricite Broadwing.
Example Hand 1: Watchful Idol – Petricite Broadwing – Tentacle Smash – Illaoi
Example Hand 2: Watchful Idol – Hired Gun – Brightsteel Protector – Tentacle Smash
We almost always want to begin the game with a Watchful Idol on turn one. The one exception is against other Demacia decks, as Petricite Broadwing can threaten to kill it for free. Brightsteel Protector can help mitigate the damage but unfortunately can’t protect both the Idol and Tentacle. In every other case, Watchful Idol is our highest priority and sets us up for a powerful mid game.
Board control is key. While the deck can swing for huge amounts of Overwhelm damage, outside of Illaoi or a Sea’s Voice’s Tentacle, the deck really lacks power. The deck succeeds when it can punch through with Illaoi, but there aren’t many efficient sources of Spawn, so it’s vital we manage our Tentacles carefully.
Tentacle Smash is one of the strongest cards in Worldwalker, but it can feel atrocious against certain board states. Against aggro the card is a slam dunk; an easy two for one in almost every scenario. Against anything else, it can be extremely powerful but often requires some setup. An early Watchful Idol can make all the difference. When positioned properly the opponent can either play awkwardly around it, or risk being heavily punished. Both options work to our advantage.
Watchful Idol on-one into Illaoi on-four threatens a 5|6 and 4|4 when uninterrupted. While this won’t always happen, this two-card combo requires no commitment aside from simply playing the two cards on-curve. Additionally, we’ll often be in a position where we’re able to bank 2-3 spell mana from prior turns, making Illaoi very difficult to interact with outside of an early Vengeance or a well-timed Disintegrate.
If both Illaoi and our Tentacle are able to attack without trading, Illaoi can level up of a Cataclysm during our opponent’s next turn! If the Tentacle is at risk of dying, we’re better off solo-attacking with Illaoi.
Jarvan functions as our key supporting champion and is the perfect addition to help push damage with Illaoi. This deck loves to open-attack, and alongside our challengers, Jarvan can come down and pave the way for an alpha strike! Jarvan will almost always flip, which gives us access to free Cataclysms to combo with Illaoi. Be mindful of your mana after turn five. There may be times you need to bluff that you have Jarvan, or you may need to conceal him.
Zap Sprayfin may look like an awkward choice for the deck, but it’s a great way to tutor out Cataclysm or other interaction. Bilgewater Demacia as a region pair lacks efficient card draw, so Zap helps smooth things out alongside Eye of Nagakabouros.
Don’t be afraid to pass priority. This deck isn’t about tempo-ing out units on-curve. Put the opponent in a difficult spot and force them to make decisions. Hired Gun, Petricite Broadwing, Cataclysm, Tentacle Smash, and Jarvan can all severely punish the opponent for overextending. Let them play into you.
Keeping a Tentacle on board is critical. Without any Spawn cards, Illaoi is pretty underwhelming, and our damage potential greatly decreases. Our Challengers are the best way to let the Tentacle swing without being blocked early on, and once it grows, it’ll become easier. It’s not worth sending a 4|4 Tentacle into a 2|2, only to have it die to a Mystic Shot afterward. Be mindful of your opponent’s interaction.
Strike spells can help level-up Illaoi. Be sure to properly sequence Concerted Strike in order to avoid missing any damage triggers. Using Cataclysm on the same turn you attack gives Illaoi yet another buff, and often levels her on the spot.
As a simple beginner rule of thumb, The Sea’s Voice should always attack on the left side of Illaoi to create maximum gains.
I’ve seen iterations of the deck play one copy of Twisted Fate instead of the third Jarvan. This is a fair consideration depending on the meta, as Jarvan can be quite vulnerable in certain matchups. Feel free to see what works best for you.
While this does give the deck additional Spawns, the card is rather underwhelming overall. We aren’t that happy with either rate, whether it be cast for two or five mana. I believe this card is better utilized in the Lux variant.
There are definitely some merits to running rallies in the deck, although I feel our three copies of Cataclysm mostly satisfy this role. I could see it being worth playing 1-2 copies, but it does come at the risk of more clunky draws, and that’s one problem the deck can struggle with at times. A solid tech choice if you’re encountering slower decks.
Makes a lot of sense when it’s played in the Golden Aegis versions. Outside of that, probably not worth the inclusion.
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
When you have a spare hour, how do you use it? How can you make the time contribute to your overall satisfaction?
If you learn to love the process, the act of doing is rewarding in and of itself.
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