As the Eternal competitive season started, we all started to climb to Masters again. This time, the list I chose was the Noxus Control archetype with Bandle City, focused on Norra's portals. In 3 days, I managed to climb from Plat IV to Masters with this archetype.
In this article, I'll tell you how my journey was, besides teaching you how to play with this list, in case you're interested in playing with this archetype too.
Swain Norra - Just a Bunch of Good Cards
Noxus Control is an archetype that only exists in Eternal currently. Noxus, as a region, went through a drastic review after rotation and, in Standard, it exists only as a support region to aggressive archetypes. But, Control is my favorite archetype - and Noxus Control is my favorite deck type too. I always get very excited whenever I can play these cards in the Eternal ranked season. With that in mind, it was super easy to build this deck and put it to practice.
These lists' main idea is to deal with everything your opponent plays on board, while your board is filled with random units coming from Norra's portals. A great part of the damage you deal overall is direct damage to the enemy Nexus through your units' effects, such as The Leviathan, and damage spells.
The problem is that, even though your removals are cheap, they need a setup to work. Such as, for instance, your enemy's unit being damaged so that your Ravenous Flock can hit them, or using Disintegrate before dealing damage to the enemy unit.
These combos force you to use more than one card in your hand, so, to remove an enemy unit, you always spend two cards or more. As a result, the secret to this entire archetype is finding ways to not be behind in value in the match after you spend your resources to deal with your opponent's board.
Let's see how these deck's mechanics work and its main win conditions.
Usually, the damage coming from a single Swain attack, added to the direct damage you dealt to your enemy throughout the match, is enough to end the game.
This is why it is common to reach turn 7 and spend the whole turn just developing your Leviathan, so you can access Swain and also put pressure on your opponent, dealing 2 points of damage to their Nexus every Round Start.
This continuous stream of damage is key to our archetype, because, if your opponent has some blocker that can stop your Swain attack, the Pings to their Nexus stun units on board, preventing them from blocking. So, if you have a level 2 Swain and a The Leviathan on board, at each turn, the enemy's two strongest units will be stunned, allowing you to attack more easily.
Notice that these plays are very slow, and most decks can put pressure on your list at the same rate as you, or even faster. That is why Norra is here: she'll regulate your first few turns with the portals, which is very important.
Portals can swing the game in inexplicable ways. In general, randomly summoning a unit that costs up to 3 mana is extremely strong. There are just a few units in this range that are bad if they touch your board, even more so in Eternal. As a result, the portal consistency is surprisingly good.
If you manage to play Portalpalooza on curve without losing the game instantly, you've practically won - congratulations! This card is very slow, but, even then, it creates a lot of value throughout the match, and the units you'll get from portals will eventually regulate the game in your favor.
With no portals early on, you'll depend on your cheap removal spells. These cards are great, but if you use them too quickly, you'll eventually run out of cards in hand. Remember that the same cards you'll use to remove 1-cost units are the cards you'll use to remove 10-cost units. We're talking about Ravenous Flock, Disintegrate, Pokey Stick and Pie Toss. These are literally the best early game spells in the entire game.
To sum up: you must control your enemy's board early on, killing their units with cheap spells. You must shuffle portals into your deck as much as you can and play The Leviathan on board as early as you can to get access to your Swain. Your champion will be your greatest finisher, stunning blockers and dealing a lot of damage to your opponent's Nexus.
This list's mulligan strategy isn't that easy if you aren't familiar with the Eternal format. This deck behaves responsively, so if you don't know exactly what your opponent has in their list, you'll be behind. Your mulligan is very different depending on your matchup.
Against aggressive decks, it is fine to keep your low-cost removals in your initial hand, because, in general, they alone are enough to deal with the enemy units.
So, the perfect starting hand against aggressive decks should look like the following:
Against Control decks, it is important you focus on your portals, and focus on having your late game cards available to play them on curve.
The perfect starting hand against Control lists should look like the following:
Notice that Norra is always a great option to keep in your starting hand. This champion creates an absurd amount of value if she manages to attack the enemy Nexus at least once.
Azir Irelia - Azir Irelia is extremely popular in Eternal, and is also one of the best archetypes currently. However, due to the countless amount of cheap removal spells in your list, the early game units in Azir's deck are no match for your deck.
Endure Elise - Last patch, the card They Who Endure got a generous buff, and now decks that bring this unit are one of the most popular decks in the entire game. However, for the same reasons as Azir Irelia, this list doesn't perform well at all against your list: their early game units die very easily.
Thresh Nasus - Thresh Nasus is nothing more than a more modern Endure deck. Previously, the Nasus archetype was considered the best one out of the two, but nowadays Endure and Nasus are at the same level. Even so, this doesn't matter, because it is still a deck that loses to your archetype - a lot.
Nasus can have 9 thousand health and power, or even be levelled up: your removal spells can easily deal with this champion and his Spellshield.
Twisted Fate Nilah - The long foretold prophecy that TF would be broken in Eternal has finally come true, and this list is extremely strong. The only way you'll win this matchup is if you have a Scorched Earth early on to destroy your enemy's Sunken Temple. But, even then, it is still not enough - the TF player will always have more cards in hand than you, at all times.
Nilah's archetype deals a lot of direct damage to your Nexus, and that is an issue, as you won't have any healing tools in your deck.
This list has numerous Burn elements, and that is the only thing your deck can't control. This opponent will ignore your units, play their spells against your Nexus, and kill you. We can't do much about that, other than pray to get a Lifesteal unit from Norra's portals.
Ezreal Seraphine Janna - Even though this is a slower deck, focused on Ezreal combos, this list is extremely efficient against your deck, because it is very well-prepared to deal with your portals and win conditions. Considering that your list is slower too, that gives this Seraphine list enough time to prepare their combo with Ezreal without a care in their mind, all while they control the match.
This deck will force you to take an aggressive approach in the match, which will force your deck to play units, and, consequently, will help level up the enemy Ezreal, because you'll be giving them targets.
Fast, But Very Important Tips
- Preferably, draw cards after you shuffle portals in your deck, and not before, to make it easier to control the board.
- First use your slower spells, and then use your fast spells. Fast spells are more efficient and can make a difference when it's time to remove a big unit later on.
- Your deck works better attacking on even turns, because of Norra, which costs 2 mana.
- If you didn't get a portal after 3 turns, you'll get a portal on the next one without a question, because portals are shuffled in the top 4 cards in your deck.
- Lord Broadmane is one of the most important units in your deck as it is a follower that applies a lot of psychological pressure on your opponent, even more so if they're playing Midrange or Control.
- It is very important that you always position your level 2 Swain as the first attacker on the left every time you attack.
- If you have a The Leviathan on board, and your enemy is losing to its Burn damage, you don't need to attack. Just pass the turn, and see if your opponent can kill your unit. You'll be winning the game either way.
- Don't forget to draw cards to activate your portals, because sometimes it is important to have additional blockers. So, sometimes, playing a Pokey Stick as soon as your turn starts makes a lot of sense if you're a bit bricked.
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