Legends of Runeterra

Deck tech

Deck Tech: Tempo Pirates - Crush the Meta

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GP/TF tempo deck is a list that shows up since the beginning of the game, great players dominate this archetype and every time midrange is the call, this list comes to crush the meta!

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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About the deck

Gangplank and Twisted Fate is a deck style which we call tempo.

Tempo is the type of deck in which, while we remove an opponent's threats, we are putting our own threats on board.

It is necessary to have a good grasp of the term tempo, which is how much you can deal on board with the mana you have. A classic example is Twisted Fate with the red card, paying 4 mana to put in a 2/2 unit on board doesn't seem that impactful, but the red card causing 1 damage to the opponent's board (or more, if you have kegs) can push slow the opponent so much that this will make your 2/2 very relevant.


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Why play GP/TF?

This deck is capable of a lot, but there is a price to pay. Are you ready to take this risk?

You are going to take advantage of both regions, Bilgewater and Noxus, in which one is very good to hurt units and the other great to finish damaged units, respectively.

In general, it is a very strong list against Midranges, and Legends of Runeterra has proven itself at each passing day to be a game about board domination (basically a midrange game).

It is also a very adaptable list. It has suffered alterations many times, every time the metagame changes, and it changes with it to be able to answer it properly.

Broad View of the Deck

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Because it is a Tempo deck, it can adapt and be more aggressive against more Control matchups and be more reactive in Aggro matchups.

The idea is to be the annoying guy who prevents the opponent from playing during the whole match, using kegs and removals to deal with everything that is put on board while you dictate a game rhythm.

Our focus is not to level up our champions, they are quite strong tools on board even at level 1. The strength is distributed throughout the board so equally, that one level up can go by unnoticed by your opponent. As, for instance, a Whispered Words leveling up your Twisted Fate at burst speed.


Both have different roles, but very important ones.

Twisted Fate

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Our 4 cost trickster is a very versatile champion. We will first get to know his 3 abilities.

Blue Card: refill 1 spell mana. Draw 1.

It is the least used ability in this Champion, though paying "3 mana" to buy 1 is efficient, it is a value ability and we are here for tempo.

Normally it is used when we are at "top deck mode", where both champions don't have cards in hand and having something more will be very impactful.

Gold Card: deal 2 damage and stun the strongest enemy.

It is the second most used card. Used to prevent a dangerous attack and that's it.

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Red Card: it is the icing on the cake of this deck, it is by far the most used card. Alongside Kegs, it is possible to slain a whole board of units and, if you don't kill them, it's going to damage the big units, leaving them vulnerable to Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth, besides causing Nexus damage and activating plunder.


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Gangplank holds up to his Bilgewater reputation, being one of the finishers of this deck. But even though he is one of the big guns, he isn't as versatile as Twisted Fate.

At Level 1, he has good numbers and gives you a keg, which is already great, but the real threat is when he is at level 2.

As he goes into his second form, Gangplank becomes a machine of damage and removal. Every round start he will give you a keg and, when attacking, he deals 1 damage to the opponent's whole board and the nexus - alongside a keg, it is quite a destruction!


Against "swarm" metagames, in which the opponent floods the board with small units, Gangplank is the answer, in which one attack is enough to send them all flying!



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Jagged Butcher is our 1 cost plunder unit. Plunder is a bonus effect which the card gains after some damage was dealt to the Nexus this round. Because it is a 1 mana 3/3, it puts on a lot of pressure and can block fearsomes.

Black Market Merchant doesn't put a lot of pressure on board, but its effect of stealing a card with 1 mana discount gives you value while you put a small body on board.

The stolen card gives you a reading of the opponent's hand, as you can only have 3 copies of each card in a deck. Be creative when you use the opponent's tools in your favor.

Zap Sprayfin is not a plunder unit, but it is an excellent activator of this effect, thanks to Elusive.


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Dreadway Deckhand, as Gangplank, will give you a Powder Keg, which will increase in 1 damage all your spells and skills. So everything that deals AoE damage will benefit a lot from it, like for instance, Make It Rain, Death Lotus and Red Card.

Arachnoid Sentry has two big roles. The first is to ruin an opponent's development by creating a similar effect to Gold Card in which you gain a blocker and the opponent loses an attacker because it is stunned.

The second is to enable Ravenous Flock, it is a powerful removal in which for 1 mana you deal 4 damage at fast speed in any damaged or stunned unit.

Big Guns

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The Dreadway is Gangplank's Boat. It is your "Jack of all Trades", which besides buying you a Gangplank, doubles all damages caused by you.

Captain Farron is a more straight on finisher. Alone, he is capable of dealing 16 damage. Alongside kegs and Dreadway, he is capable of ruining games.



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All are spells which damage units and deal Nexus damage.

Some spells, alongside Powder Keg, are capable of dealing with the small units from costs 1 till 4.

Their focus is to activate Plunder to make your units better and help Gangplank's level up, besides damaging units so that they can be targets for the removals which we are going to talk about right now.


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These are the spells that no matter the metagame, regardless of the size the units come to, it is always possible to answer them.

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As it removes completely damaged units, in the current meta we use only those 2. But there is an arsenal of tools to deal with more complex units, as for instance, Monster Harpoon, Culling Strike and Noxian Guillotine.

Initial Hand and Game Style


The initial hand is the main part of this deck, and knowing your opponent, it is necessary to create the exact strategy for the match.

Against Control: play as aggressively as you possibly can, try to create value out of the units. Gangplank and Jagged Butcher are your 2 cheapest and tougher units, which will have a lot of impact in this match. Lose your Life, but don't lose your Board.

Against Aggro: play as reactive as possible, try to get the most value out of your spells alongside Powder Keg. Lose your Board, but don't lose your Life.

Against Midrange: this is where, as we say in Portuguese, "the son cries and the mother doesn't see". Every deck is equipped to deal with wide boards, and your focus is always to have more Board and Cards than your opponent.

In your initial hand, we prefer cheap units and the removals which we called Enablers.

Whispered Words is a card that you always want far from your initial hand, it is there to give you additional breaths in later turns, in case you had to spend a lot of resources to deal with early threats.

Favorable Matchups

As said above, Midrange is our specialty.


Scouts count with small 1 to 3 cost units and a few 6 cost big guns, doesn't have card draw nor a lot of spells.

A good Keg + Red Card is enough to end the game. Keep your main removals for Miss Fortune, Quinn and Cithria The Bold.

Do not be afraid to spend your resources or trade, as you have plenty of card draw and resources.


It is a dangerous deck, because Fizz is very hard to remove and Aphelios needs to be removed immediately. Luckily, you have an arsenal equipped to deal with this infestation.

Because it has low interaction, you can play for TF and Gp's level ups. An attack from a leveled Gangplank is enough to decimate Fae's whole board.

Unfavorable Matchups

Feel The Rush

It is a tough match, because their removals deal 2 board damage and coincidently most of your units are 2/2 and you have a few key cards such as Gangplank and The Dreadway, which will be victims of punctual removals, such as Vengeance.

Like a good pirate, play as if your opponent doesn't have Avalanche in their deck, unleash your hand and go for the attack.

Another bizarre and quite pirate way to win is to steal their own Feel The Rush

Ziggs Taliyah

It is a midrange deck which ironically gives a lot of trouble for pirates, as their units are very big and very strong.

It has one of the best protections, which is Ancient Hourglass, besides counting with one of the best Keg breakers which is Pokey Stick. After Herald of the Magus drops on board, the champions are granted +2/+2 and overwhelm, and honestly, spending 3 mana to put down a 6/7 Overwhelm Ziggs just seems like bullshit.

Okay, midrange is weak against GP/TF, but Ziggs/Taliyah comes with tools ready to deal with our deck. Good luck trying to remove the champions.



Final Thoughts

Pirates is a deck that urges deckbuilding, as it needs to be constantly altered to fit into the meta. Initially it was a Swain/TF deck, but to deal with this yordle infestation, Gangplank brings out a more interesting tool to the game.

I've reached Masters plenty of times with this idea, so I believe that it's worth the investment if you want to get better as a player and deckbuilder.

If you manage to get a satisfactory result with any alterations, comment down below which one was it! Just remember that Swain/TF was one of the decks that KevinLOR chose to represent Brazil in the Legends of Runeterra World Championship.