With the popularity of the Eternal format going up due to the Runeterra Open Tournaments, this format has never been more competitive. After two weeks of nonstop prep, the community created one of the most consistent and strong decks of all time to play the most important Runeterra tournament: Samira Seraphine.
This is, maybe, the most recommended competitive list to be played in the next Runeterra Open on June 17th, and that is why I felt the need to bring a complete guide on such a complex and intriguing deck as this one.
Analyzing Samira Seraphine
This deck is extremely hard and not at all intuitive, but, once you understand the basic concepts of the list's main combo, it is almost guaranteed that you'll have a lot of success with it. The Eternal format allows you to play all cards available, and that allows for certain forgotten archetypes to come back to life and be revisited quite frequently.
At the beginning of the Eternal format Runeterra Open tournament season, there was a list which was a mix of the old Noxus Control archetype, with a new combo approach using the card Plaza Guardian. This list, which brought Samira and Seraphine, conquered the hearts of all competitive players who were more inclined to Control decks immediately.
It is incredible how a deck with more than 25 distinct cards can, in every match, consistently build a board full of 6/6 units with Quick Attack; Plaza Guardian. The 6/6 statline is considered premium in Runeterra, because not many followers can block a 6/6 unit on board and come out on top. And if it is already quite hard to find a decent blocker for Plaza Guardian, imagine finding 5 decent blockers - and all of that before turn 7.
The deck has an enormous rooster of cards that don't come in more than one copy in the list, making it one of the most flexible decks there are in Runeterra. And, due to the massive amount of card draw and value generation this deck has, it is quite common to always have at your disposal cards that fix your matchups for you.
So, if we need blockers, be not afraid, because you can play a Jury-rig; or, if we're experiencing many issues against many small units, a Death Lotus saves us for certain. The deck seems to conspire in your favor very frequently when well-played, and that is why you should be careful: as much as it is quite easy to identify the main strategy in this list, it is a bit tough to execute it.
Saying it like this makes it sound easy, but you need to play differently than how most players are used to. This list isn't about a responsive Control deck. Samira Seraphine's deck strays far from the Control archetype, and falls into the spectrum of pure combo lists.
For that reason, you need to take on a more dynamic and aggressive approach, unlike the responsive approach many players take when they bring that region combination, Noxus and Piltover&Zaun. It is quite common to find yourself in situations in which it seems like your hand sucks, and the plays won't take you anywhere relevant.
But thankfully I'm here to show you that, indeed, actually, everything is very in sync and well-structured!
The first concern with any match with this deck is that you need to level up Samira as quick as you can. This champion is the main engine here, and she'll carry the game for you. It is extremely easy to abuse her Rally effect, due to the interactions with low-cost spells that this deck has.
That is without mentioning that a Seraphine on board with Samira, doubling spells, enables you to Rally with just 3 spells, instead of 6. That happens because, when Seraphine doubles a new spell, that spell doubled counts as a played card, and adds counters to Samira's effect. So, you can see that if you have both champions on board, both level 2, the game is almost won.
Don't be afraid of playing cards such as Encore, or playing a Mystic Shot on your opponent's units, without playing around answers. You must always perform as many actions as possible, but very carefully, so you can reduce the cost of your Plaza Guardians as soon as possible.
Once 10 spells have been played by you and your Guardians are already costing 0, it is quite likely that you have at your disposal cards that can tutor Plaza Guardian, such as Legionary Charge, which will always bring you a Guardian, and Time Trick, which allows you to predict a card before drawing it.
After you have a handful of Guardians costing 0, and both of your champions on board, at level 2, it is quite easy: just hit with your units mercilessly, and Rally with your Samira as many times as you can.
This deck has a Mulligan strategy which is quite simple, though the game mechanics are complex. Just always look for your champions + other 2-cost spells that make sense with your matchup.
It is very important that you always identify what is necessary to win a specific matchup. That means that, if your opponent is aggressive and has many low-cost units which attack early on, looking for a Mystic Shot is a priority for you.
Or, in case your opponent is playing a Control deck that doesn't do anything early game, looking for an Encore might be more important than having removals in hand. The perfect hand for Samira Seraphine against an aggressive matchup should look like this:
The perfect hand against a Control matchups should look like this:
This deck is relatively new, but it already has quite an array of decks that were built around this deck in the competitive ecosystem. Though Samira Seraphine is dominating the ranked queues and tournaments, there are, yes, bad matchups against this deck, which are quite polarized.
Pirates: Miss Fortune Twisted Fate - Classic Pirates is strong in Eternal and was one of the protagonists in the Runeterra Open finals on June 10th. Though the lineup that brought this deck wasn't the winner, this list brought high-level players very far in the competition, and that is why the popularity of this list is increasing.
A big reason why this list has been popular is due to the simple fact that this deck wins against Samira Seraphine by a lot, because Pirates is possibly the fastest and most versatile combination that exists in terms of Aggro lists in Runeterra. Pirates is just too fast, and it is impossible to compete with the aggressive rhythm of this list while playing with our combo.
Timelines - Usually, I don't generalize archetypes and always bring comparisons with specific lists, but today I bring an exception. That happens because every version of Concurrent Timelines wins against Samira Seraphine.
If there is a deck that can compete with the overwhelming value of Plaza Guardian's statlines, that deck is Timelines. It is way too easy to build, early on, a gigantic unit, with many keywords, whereas Samira's list is still juggling its cards, trying to make its combo happen.
Vayne Jarvan IV - This matchup tip has just come out of the oven, and it is fresh. This deck is a variant of the Jax Ornn list and was quite popular on the first day of the Runeterra Open on June 10th.
The idea here is to solve a few of the issues that Jax's deck had while facing this Samira archetype, with strong and aggressive Demacia cards. And, at the same time, continue working on the same threats that the classic Jax list has always had.
It is still a very new deck and can change a lot until the next Runeterra Open, but, even then, save this list in your pocket in case you want to win against Samira.
Karma Sett Shadow Isles - It was to be expected that Control decks would be able to deal with combo lists, once the pieces that form the combo and make it happen are the champions Samira and Seraphine, and what isn't missing in the game are ways to remove them.
But, it gets worse when you realize the game rhythm declared by the Samira deck is fast enough to prevent any actions from being done as answers on the other side. Not to mention that, as the combo player is always working with a board with very few or no units, many cards in Karma's deck end up "dead" in the Control player's hand, as they'll probably not have any targets to play their removals until all Guardians arrive.
Ryze - Ryze suffers a lot against your list, and for the same reasons as other Control lists also do. The Guardians combo is way too fast.
But, the presence of cards such as Aftershock and Piltovan Tellstones make it even harder for Ryze's combo pieces, the landmarks, to stick, which makes this matchup, which is already quite hard, become even more complicated.
But not everything is sadness, once not all players adopt this aggressive approach from Samira's combo list. And, as a result, many players can also deceive themselves by thinking they'll need removals to win the game, considering cards such as Mystic Shot are almost useless early on against Ryze.
If you're playing with Ryze, you can win a few matchups against oblivious players who are not that well-trained with the Samira deck. But remember, Ryze is never supposed to win this matchup against you!
Aphelios Viktor - This is another list that exploded in popularity after the Open, as it is one of the most consistent decks in the meta. But, the Samira combo is too strong for this list. The defensive resources that this deck has when it comes to answering extensive boards are very limited.
Clearing the board has always been a tough task for Piltover&Zaun as a region, and this reigns supreme in the Aphelios list. This way, as much as both these decks share some mechanics, such as benefitting from performing countless actions in one turn, at the end of the day, Seraphine always creates more value and will win the game, by herself, against Aphelios.
I need to comment, as well, that the consistency regarding card draw in both decks is phenomenal, but Samira's card draws always tutor parts of its combo. And, on the other hand, Aphelios still needs to count with a bit of luck when drawing answers, making this list less consistent when compared to Samira regarding card draw.
Fast But Very Important Tips
- As much as Seraphine is super important for the combo to work, she is disposable most times early game. That happens because, occasionally, it's best you hand in a Seraphine in a block, and play another that is in your hand, so she can create a new spell for you.
As this deck does many actions, it is normal to run out of cards to play if you're too eager early on. And, as a result, creating spells with Seraphine may be a way for you to stabilize the game.
- It is important to pay attention to Samira's level 2 stacks. Remember to always attack with this champion until she has stacks up to the letter "A". Be careful not to Rally without declaring an attack first. If you have a level 2 Seraphine on board, you only need to play 3 new spells to Rally instead of 6.
- Sputtering Songspinner can be played on turn 4, once you benefit immensely from playing numerous spells with your deck.
- Avoid using Ezreal in this deck. This champion, though it matches the archetype, gets in the way more than it helps you, because he takes the spot of a Samira or Seraphine in your deck, and this list doesn't work without them. Not to mention Ezreal is quite slow for the current game state, and will hardly be an alternative win condition for your list.
If you've read this far, now you're a master with the Guardian deck! Don't forget to share and comment on this article on social media.
See you next time!