When a very strong or dominant list appears, a need for the competitive ecosystem to have a deck that wins against that list also appears, if not, all decks would be one deck. And everyone would live off a 50% win rate playing mirror matches.
That's why there are anti-meta lists that serve as direct traps for the strongest decks. These are decks made to win against the best deck.
But what happens when there's more than one dominant deck in the game?
Before rotation, the Heimerdinger Jayce list was that deck, which is the supreme anti-meta deck. It wins against all the strongest decks that came before it. Actually, this list came to be because of these super strong decks.
And now, post-rotation, a strong candidate to become the new anti-meta deck is coming up in the ranked queues and tournaments: the Udyr Galio list. Let's understand why this deck was built and how to play with the best possible deck to answer the current meta.
At the moment, the most popular list is Ashe LeBlanc, followed by Karma Sett. It is to be expected that more than half of competitive lineups bring at least one of these lists. And in the ranked queue, 3 out of 10 matches will contain one of these two decks.
These are two very strong and consistent lists, that's why there was a need to win against them, and that's why the meta formed itself around that factor. I recommend you take a look at my article about decklist recycling inside the competitive ecosystem, so you can understand the subject a bit better.
However, no deck that has come up so far was able to perform extremely efficiently against these two lists simultaneously. It was known that Demacia is a board pressure region that does well against Control archetype, but it suffers a lot to Ashe LeBlanc's Frostbites.
Until, someday, someone finally revived an archetype that, actually, never really saw any competitive play: The Formidable units.
The Formidable keyword makes the power of the unit that has it to be equivalent to their health stats. That ends up causing you to lose attack points if the unit looses health points, and as a result, this archetype has never been much popular, because the units are relatively too weak. But, Formidable units can't be Frostbitten, as they already have 0 attack points.
In a matchup against Ashe LeBlanc, the Frostbite cards which would be used to make trading easier end up becoming dead cards in your opponent's hand, because they are useless against the Galio Udyr deck. This favorable interaction against Frostbites, added to the interactions Demacia and Freljord have to defend their units, make this list great against Ashe LeBlanc.
But what about the Sett Karma matchup? Due to the Piltover & Zaun removals being, at most, direct damage to unit removals, a Formidable unit gets the spotlight as it can dodge those spells. The follower Petricite Charger can't take damage from spells or enemy skills. This way, it is the perfect card to fight against the Piltover region.
How Udyr Galio Works
This list consists of you establishing a card on board that will suck up all your buffs and protections you have in your list. Usually, that card will be Petricite Charger. This way, only the Shadow Isles region would be able to deal with that sort of threat because of the card Vengeance and other "slay" type cards.
Other than that, if you have a Petricite Charger with a lot of health and Regeneration, no other region can handle that card easily.
Eventually, you'll have priority on board because of your giant units, and your opponent will be forced to make desperate blocks as they try to protect their Nexus.
And some cards will be dead cards in their hands, which will cause them to not have enough resources to prevent your units from advancing.
Regeneration - one of the worst keywords is finally important
Due to the Formidable units losing health and attack points at the same time when they go into combat, the keyword Regeneration, which was never interesting before, can finally be useful.
Currently, the most efficient way to grant Regeneration to a unit is to use Udyr Stances, and that is why this champion and his followers are present in this deck.
Udyr has never had a strong competitive archetype, or even a popular ranked list. But now, he can finally see play, as he can easily bring to the board the defensive resource of the Boar Stance, which grants +2 health and Regeneration to an ally.
Besides increasing attack and health of a Formidable unit, this spell makes all combat trades sort of unfair for your opponent, once your units will always have health and attack full again next round.
Demacia, the Anti-Meta Region
Demacia is the region that has the most tools to fight against the meta. It just needed a pair that would converse well with this region's strategies. And Freljord performs this supporting role beautifully for the Galio Udyr deck.
You have access to Frostbites, health buffs and units that create stances. That, added to Demacia's combat tricks and formidable units, is the perfect recipe for a successful Midrange deck.
Besidse, you also have access to Stony Suppressor, which is a card that, currently, besides ruining the Karma Sett strategy, can also disrupt a lot the Samira Fizz lists that are based on playing numerous spells.
Finishers and Late Game
A question that comes up a lot for players who aren't used to slower Midrange lists is: how do I close out matches?
The first is using Galio as a Rally tool, and preparing two strong attacks in a single turn.
This champion, besides granting 3 health points to your units when summoned, if they are Formidable, will grant 3 attack points as well. Besides it also being the safest way to invest your mana on turn 7, once this champion has the keyword Spellshield, and will hardly be removed instantly.
The second way is using Anaakca, the Darkin Spear. This Darkin is great to declare surprising attacks, as it will bring additional threats to the board which your opponent might not be prepared to deal with.
That is without saying this follower has a lot of health and attack and can be an offensive source which is almost unstoppable in any situation. As much as this list isn't completely prepared to combo with Anaakca, this deck can benefit a lot from it.
I'll talk about them, besides the ones I've mentioned above, explaining the reason our deck is anti-meta.
This is the case of Lurkers Pyke and Rek'Sai. The rhythm of that list is too fast for your deck to have equal ground, and lurker cards will have much more attack than you'll have in health points. This way, it is extremely hard to win against this deck.
Samira Leona has stuns, which completely destroy your dreams of victory. In general, your units will be bigger and ready for combat in comparison to the Samira Leona deck, but that doesn't help if they can't block, as they'll be stunned.
Gwen Demacia is another list that wins against your deck. The units with Hallowed stacks are too cheap and will easily always have stats enough to deal with the extra health your units have. This way, the mid to late game trades will hardly be favorable to you.
And so, you, throughout the match, will be forced to sacrifice some units to save your Nexus, and as we've mentioned in this article, losing units with the Udyr Galio list is almost equivalent to losing the match.
This deck benefits from a conditional Mulligan strategy. This means your initial hand will vary a lot depending on the matchup you're facing. But, there is a hand that is recommended regardless of the matchup as well.
Your initial hands should have the following cards most times:
If you're playing against lists that bring Piltover & Zaun or any Control deck, it is important to always have Petricite Charger in hand.
If you're playing against any other Demacia or Midrange list, Petricite Broadwing is your most important card.
Against any Aggressive deck, it is important to have the spell Single Combat to make your removals easier, as you'll be the responsive one in the match.
Quick, but very Important Tips
— Hyara Allseer is perfect for you to establish a rhythm with your Udyr Stances on board. This unit zeroes the cost of the first stance played each turn, and that's how you don't get punished in case you have one or more Stony Suppressors on board.
— Try to always play Galio on curve, because this champion has the keyword Spellshield and that is extremely strong in the current meta. And he's always a big threat on board.
— Try not to trade unfavorably. If you don't have stats or mana enough to win a trade, early on it's best to concede a few points of health from your Nexus instead of losing your units. Your deck doesn't have much card draw, so any unit lost takes a long time to be refilled on board.
— Always have spell mana banked. This way, you'll always be prepared to defend your followers. And, as well, your opponent will be more hesitant to make riskier decisions.
— Identify pretty early on which will be your win condition, because this is a Power Play list. This means that very hardly you'll have many cards in hand. Besides that, each play you make is slow, and spends a lot of mana, but should be the strongest possible.
This way, you'll lose resources fast and will be forced to adapt to the cards coming from your top deck. In case you identify that you need to win by levelling up your Galio, for instance, invest in that very early on.
If you've read so far, now you have the power to decipher the meta and play the strongest anti-meta list currently.
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