This article is a collaborative project alongside a great friend of mine, AerosMacCousland, the best Ephemeral player in Runeterra. So far, Aeros is the player who has had the highest number of expressive results in Cards Realm tournaments - that means he is the player who has conquered Top 4 placements more times than anybody. Almost all of those tournaments were played with his favorite list: Hecarim Ephemerals.
For that reason, we had the idea of writing up a guide on that list, which is extremely strong and went by unnoticed by competitive players in the last Eternal Runeterra Open. This article was only possible with the support of online casino nzd.
Lucian Hecarim - The Power of Ephemerals
The Ephemeral archetype has existed since forever - but early on, there weren't many competitive and popular decks which took advantage of this mechanic. Hecarim was very popular in Beta, but after getting hit with several nerfs, this champion was left behind to open up space for other aggressive strategies in Shadow Isles.
However, throughout the years, some tools to support Ephemerals and other cards started to appear, breathing new life into this deck. The most important of all was The Grand Plaza, which made Ephemeral units' lives a lot easier, allowing them to challenge units, and hit the enemy board much easier as well.
After Lucian was reworked, the Ephemeral archetype got another incredibly strong piece for its collection, and like so the Ephemeral list with Demacia was built, which just so happens to be Aeros' favorite deck.
The list is built around many interactions with The Grand Plaza and Ephemeral units, and extremely strong combos with Hecarim and Lucian, which together become an unstoppable duo when it comes to hitting the enemy Nexus.
Aeros is well-known for plays in which he takes a lot of damage, and almost loses the match, but then wins the game in the following turn, after preparing a decisive attack while he was taking damage. This strategy works really well with this list, as we know it isn't the best list for blocks, and is certainly one of the best lists to end the game with only one attack.
Let's see the deck's main strategies, according to Aeros own words.
Lucian Hecarim “Plaza” is a Combo deck which takes advantage of its champions, The Grand Plaza and Ephemeral generators, out of which the main card is The Grand Plaza itself. This card is what enables this deck to control the board and serve not only as a bridge until you get to your main win conditions, but also boost them through its buffs.
Your main win condition for matches in which you need to go 0-100 fast is Lucian, which at level 2 can finish the game with its powerful combination of Rally and Double Strike. Besides that, you have ways of buffing Lucian with Sultur's Husks, Fireth, Reaper of the Sands' weapons, and The Grand Plaza itself.
These are cards which allow you to finish the game at the first time Lucian Rallies in your turn. You have multiple card combos which allow you to level up Lucian in the same round he is played on board, such as, for instance:
The second win condition is more appropriate for lists more dependent on followers on board as their main strategy, and/or which struggle to remove big units.
Level 2 Hecarim, alongside some other cards, such as Shark Chariot, Soul Cleave and Haunted Relic, will make up a devastating attack which will force your opponent to block unfavorably with their units. Besides that, it will transform all other Ephemeral units you play into constant threats.
In general, that is the game style in which The Grand Plaza shines the most, as it giving Challenger to Hecarim is quite strong. Removing your opponent's units with your Challengers allows you to develop your Hecarim quite safely. This way, you'll reduce possible enemy blockers considerably, which will make your next attack better.
Your third win condition is the easiest of them all, and it consists of putting constant pressure on your opponent with your Ephemeral units.
Basically, it is your plan B if you can't draw your champions or if they are removed. You'll try to apply pressure abusing buffs from Soul Shepherd, The Grand Plaza and Moonlit Glenkeeper, on your Shark Chariots, to try and deal as much damage as possible to your opponent. In general, for that game plan, your main play will be to find a window to use Soul Cleave on a Shark Chariot.
This deck has many strategies which focus on big attacks, but the list doesn't consistently draw cards. You won't always have the ideal cards exactly when you need them, so you will need to adapt to many different situations and try to find ways of "forcing" your opponent's hand with the cards that are in your own hand.
One of the most important lessons for this deck is the mulligan, as it is very matchup-dependent. To make this explanation clearer, I'll divide the cards into 3 main roles: win conditions, combo pieces, and buffs.
Win conditions, such as Hecarim, Lucian, The Grand Plaza and Shark Chariot, are your main priorities in mulligan, and are always cards you should keep in your initial hand. In matchups against faster decks, however, Hecarim is usually a risky choice to keep in your initial hand, as it is a very slow unit.
Usually, you'll return nearly all cards in your initial hand as you try to look for a win condition.
Combo pieces, as in cards such as Haunted Relic, Soul Cleave and Sultur, help you reach your win conditions. They may be kept if you already have an interesting synergy with another card that is already in your hand, or if they are extremely necessary for a game plan against a deck which requires the card in question.
Finally, we have buffs/protections. These cards nearly always go straight back into the deck when it's time to mulligan, except in two cases; the first case is if you already have your win condition in hand, and you want protection spells. The second case is if it is something extremely effective in the matchup, such as, for instance, Shroud of Darkness in the Celestial matchup.
Samira Seraphine - In general, Samira Seraphine is a Combo deck which plays countless removals and tempo plays. You are more inclined to not only combo faster, but they also struggle with dealing with your offensive Ephemeral moves, particularly against your Shark Chariots buffed by The Grand Plaza, Soul Shepherd and Moonlit Glenkeeper.
Your champions will need support to win the game, because Lucian is easily removed and Hecarim can be Stunned with a Pirouette, Guile or even removed through a Disintegrate. But, even then, don't hesitate to try and win with them, because they are the fastest way to victory, and this matchup is still based on speed.
Akshan Lee Sin - This is another Combo list against which you have the advantage, as you tend to be faster. Their answers are inefficient for dealing with Lucian, making it extremely trivial to level him up as long as you do it in a single turn.
In general, with The Grand Plaza, you can remove the Eye of the Dragons and Akshan, which are the most important pieces for this deck's early game. Other than that, if you get Spellshield with Shroud of Darkness or a Sultur for Lucian and Hecarim on a combo turn, victory is almost guaranteed.
Ornn Trundle Timelines - This time, we have a slower Midrange list, with a relatively small number of removals. It is quite easy to combo with Lucian or Hecarim and defeat them before they start dominating the board, as long as you aren't highrolled to hell and back by Combat Cook.
Draven Sion Samira - More aggressive lists with Burn elements are your biggest nightmare, but this is the worst of all of them. Not only their Burns can be used to prevent your Lucian from leveling up, but many units in their deck have 3 health. Some have Fearsome, which affects how consistent the plan of using The Grand Plaza to reduce their aggressive pressure is, besides the fact you can't use your main blockers.
However, as this deck has less removal and fewer beefier units, it is quite easier for you to level up Lucian accidentally, or remove a great portion of their units with The Grand Plaza + Haunted Relic.
Thresh Nasus - This matchup is right up there alongside Draven Sion as one of the worst matchups for this deck for similar reasons. Not only do they have removals to interact with your main way of winning the race against aggressive decks with Lucian, but their main threats against you in this matchup are Fearsome units.
On top of it, your deck will naturally speed up the level up progress of both Thresh and Nasus. Basically, your best win condition is the same as the one against Draven Sion: try to survive until turn 6 and pray so that one Hecarim attack is enough.
Fast, But Very Important Tips
- Soul Cleave and Fading Memories can be used in many creative ways that you might not see at the time. For instance, if you're in a situation in which your opponent has no Fearsome blockers, using Soul Cleave or Fading Memories on Moonlit Glenkeeper can end the match. If you have a level 2 Lucian on board, using Fading Memories on Sultur can give you a Husk which can be consumed next round, so you can Rally.
- Rarely play Lucian if you can't level him as soon as he is played on board.
- Don't be afraid of passing your first few turns to get more protection or combo pieces. Your deck is capable of setting up extremely explosive turns, which even when they're "delayed" are still quite strong. You only need to start moving from turn 3–4 onwards to try and level up Hecarim.
- If you use Shroud of Darkness on Sultur or Moonlit Glenkeeper, the one who gets the Spellshield will be the Husk and the Sapling, respectively, which can be interesting to grant Spellshield to something permanently, or if you want to guarantee a specific removal.
- Don't be afraid of blocking 1 cost units with your own 3-health units, such as Soul Shepherd and Moonlit Glenkeeper, in aggressive matchups, as your main focus in these matches is to buy time enough to play one of your combos.
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