Tired of losing to Targon disciples? Of seeing Freljord being mistaken as the worst region in the game? Are you sad because Shadow Isles has no good decks in Eternal? Come with me, as Gnar Elise might be precisely what you're looking for.
Both are champions which bring good utility on the turn they're played, and, as they have a subtype, they pave the way for Warden of the Tribes, the deck's main win condition.
The list uses good units for their curve alongside efficient interactions to bring the game to the inevitable turn in which the 8-cost follower guarantees boards which are almost impossible to deal with.
All units in the deck bring some sort of utility to ease your way into victory, which usually comes close to turn 8, but some are worth highlighting as the ones responsible for this strategy's viability:
Though rare are the matches in which this champion levels up, she is also one of the main stars in this list, with a 2/3 body and creating units when attacking.
The spider queen is one of the main units responsible for this list's success in matches against more aggressive strategies. Another advantage: it isn't uncommon to have at least one unit created by Elise by the time Warden of the Tribes is summoned, this way bringing another contribution to your win condition besides her subtype.
The spiders created also make Glacial Saurian's activation very consistent, even in matches with high presence of removals and interactions from your opponent's side. Elise's spell also contributes to that goal.
The card draw brought by Pokey Stick and consequently the increase in the list's consistency is maybe the most obvious reason why this prehistoric Yordle stands out; however, another reason also makes him worthy of the spotlight: Gnar enables unusual victories for this list, as the Overwhelm and Vulnerable provided by his level 2 allow good trades and make it easier for him and other Overwhelm units to deal chip damage throughout the match.
With that, we have games in which it is possible to win even without Warden of the Tribes, finishing the enemy Nexus by using Atrocity. Another alternative is the combination of Overwhelm with Entomb or Gnar's Wallop.
The main star in the deck, Warden of the Tribes, has been rising in popularity in the last few days, so much so that there isn't much to talk about when it comes to its mechanic - if it's in your hand, and you have units on board, usually it is a good idea to play it.
One of the main reasons for this follower's success is because the main Control decks in this meta are Targon decks, which is a great region for removing or silencing a single big unit, but it struggles to find ways of clearing a whole board full of them, which gives this follower a window of opportunity to shine.
Buffed in the last update, Rimefang Wolf now has a good body for its curve, besides the utility of having Challenger. The effect of removing units with zero power has good synergy with the Frostbite interactions and attack debuffs brought by the list - but, furthermore, Rimefang Wolf benefits greatly from the prevalence of Formidable units in the meta, being able to remove even Galio if it isn't dealt with quickly. So, I believe it is an excellent unit currently.
Besides that, the unit's Challenger can be used in a smart way to prevent key developments in its curve, such as Draven, Aphelios and Miss Fortune. Consequently, it will delay the opponent's plan, increasing the odds of the match lasting long enough to reach Warden of the Tribes's turn.
As mentioned previously, Glacial Saurian is another card which benefitted from the latest patch - it lost one health point, but it got the Overwhelm keyword, which has made this card much more powerful, being used in Jax Ornn and Darius Gnar, which shows this unit's recently acquired potential.
In Elise Gnar, it is another way of getting evasion in the deck, it also offers the role of recycling your hand, as a sort of card draw, and with a lot of synergy with the deck - after all, everything has a subtype.
What I like in this deck is that we have many cards which on their own are already considered solid cards, which gives this list further consistency. Ancient Yeti is one of these cards, after all, it has always been present in Freljord meta decks which work with the Overwhelm idea.
Speaking of Overwhelm, this card is another source of evasion to help you finish games, and it has another tag, the Yeti tag - and I daresay this is the best card with this tag. Another advantage to Ancient Yeti is its ability to reduce its cost, offering you the possibility of developing a card with solid stats for a low cost, and which can, on top of it all, be hit with the buffs this deck brings.
Of course that, by looking at our Blacksmith girlie, you can imagine she is in the deck just for her tag. However, Innovative Blacksmith works with two lines in the deck. The first is regarding her healing - even if you heal just one health, it is enough to be the difference between losing or winning an aggressive matchup, even more so because in this list you have Vile Feast.
Its other utility is the keyword it provides from Improvising, which can get even an Overwhelm for you to get another source of evasion!
Something important to understand about the spells in this list is the importance of limiting yourself to as many cheap options as possible. That happens because it is very important, with this list, to develop your key-units as quickly as possible, and this way guarantee the maximum amount of value possible with Warden of the Tribes, which will run you out of spell mana. For that reason, spells such as Vengeance were left out.
One of the greatest advantages of this version compared to other decks with Warden of the Tribes is due to this card.
There are matches in which the 8-cost follower isn't enough to finish the game immediately, which makes the player vulnerable to getting hit with some type of combo or spell damage, or Elusives. Atrocity guarantees a window of victory even in situations such as those, usually dealing around 10 damage to the enemy Nexus.
Wild Mysticism is very interesting, as, besides providing a mana gem advantage against your opponent, - being able to bring Warden of the Tribes' turn earlier - it also offers a 2/2 body which has Overwhelm: Feral Mystic.
This way, it is also a unit which you want to be buffed by Warden of the Tribes, as another source of evasion and more board pressure for a lethal play. Based on that, using this card on turn 6 is strong, after all, when the turn goes back to you, you'll combo with Warden of the Tribes coming down on 7.
Removal and Frostbite Package
Frostbites, buffs and cheap removals are very impactful in this list.
The goal is to be able to develop your units which enable Warden of the Tribes at the same time you deal with key targets on the opponent's board.
We have Vile Feast, which is useful as a powerful tool against Aggro - and, besides healing, offers a blocker and a unit for Warden of the Tribes's win condition. We can't forget that it is also another way to play against Targon, as it is a way to kill Zoe.
Initial Hand and Game Style
This is a deck which greatly values its curve, so keeping cheap units in your initial hand is the recommendation. Ancient Yeti is also always kept because of the value of its effect.
In slower matches or when the initial curve and key cards for the match are already present, it is possible to keep Warden of the Tribes and Wild Mysticism to guarantee that your win condition will be played as soon as possible. The match against Celestials is probably the most common one in which this decision can be taken.
Formidable decks make Soul Harvest a great choice for your initial hand. As for decks which have a higher removal ceiling, Troll Chant becomes more valuable, and with this reasoning, it is important to mention that Gnar and Glacial Saurian give the player the opportunity of defending their units and refilling their hands.
This deck's game style early on is focused on developing its curve, and paying close attention to keeping enough spell mana to be able to defend important units and to answer enemy threats. As for the mid to late game transition, it is interesting to look for windows of opportunity to deal damage with your units and/or force good trades, always being careful not to hand in too much of your board, so you don't risk devaluing Warden of the Tribes' effect.
This list has good tools to deal against the popular Targon lists in the meta. Units such as Elise and Ancient Yeti can many times come down in turns in which it is quite hard to deal with both, allowing you to always put pressure way before Warden of the Tribes' turn. The deck also leans on Challengers and removals which can deal with units such as Zoe, Mountain Scryer and Aphelios, being able to disrupt your opponent's game plan.
Late game, Targon doesn't have good answers for the Warden of the Tribes' turn, and even when it can survive due to the presence of units with Lifesteal or Celestials with a lot of stats, they can hardly resist an Atrocity in the following turn. Three Sisters is capable of Frostbiting or entombing most of their deck's win condition, which allows you more time to prepare an ample board when necessary.
This list, besides having a high number of units which can be hit with Soul Harvest and can also die to Rimefang Wolf, struggles with closing the game against Gnar Elise, as their finishers, such as Galio and Champions' Strength, don't have the same impact against a board which was buffed by Warden of the Tribes. Besides, Elise's early start with Fearsome (or if you get the Fearsome weapon with Innovative Blacksmith) will also make it harder for the Fiora Galio player.
Though it is possible to win this match, this is a considerably hard fight to pilot, because, despite tools such as Brittle Steel and Troll Chant being able to answer that deck's aggressive plays, this opponent also has many buffs capable of saving their units, and, once their champions come down, your tool can hardly stop them.
Considerably more unfavorable than Akshan Samira, the Ionia Freljord list has many tools to deal with Gnar Elise's game plan, being able to Stun and Return your Overwhelm units, at the same time it has more ramp tools than you, which makes them reach their game plan faster than Warden of the Tribes can hit the board.
Gnar Elise is a deck which is really well positioned in the meta, and I hope this article has made it clearer to understand. It has a very simple game plan, but one that allows versatility when planning your turns, and that is why I believe it can please players of many styles.
See you next time!