Ionia is on the rise again with the arrival of the new set and the Patch 4.3.0 Rotation.
With the arrival of the new champion, Sett, and the mechanic of his support followers, which create the card Coin, a new control list has come up and dominating the ranked ladder. In this article, I'll teach you how to play Karma Sett, the control deck with the best late game of all time!
Sett & Karma - How the list works
This deck is a race against the clock the whole time. Your role in the match is to be the player who answers the board the whole time until your opponent runs out of resources to finish the game.
During the game, your opponent will try to deal the highest amount of damage to your Nexus as quickly as they can. But never fear, because your deck automatically wins when you have a level 2 Karma on board, at least 3 Coins and any card that draws other cards. That is because you can easily recycle this list and have turns in which you spend more than 25 mana, and do several actions.
This number of actions in a turn always results in: you either completely resolve your opponent's board and still have a board full of units with a hand full of cards, or you build a win condition with the cards created throughout the match.
Let's take a look at the deck and comment on a few of its aspects, as it is a quite complex list.
The list has the Piltover&Zaun region as support, and, historically, Piltover&Zaun has always been one of the best regions to support Control archetypes, because you have access to cards that draw other cards and also direct damage removal spells.
Dealing damage to the enemy units, instead of slaying them to remove them, has been a recurrent theme of the new set. But, to deal plenty of damage, you have to play several cards, and that is why Ionia comes into this archetype as the dominant region.
The Coin mechanic allows you to play many cards in one turn without much issue, even more so with a levelled Karma on board, as she will duplicate any and every spell played by you. This way, when you deal damage, this damage is always doubled if level 2 Karma is on board.
You must have realized this deck doesn't have a very clear win condition, and for that reason, I separated a part of this article to talk about that.
How to win with a deck with seemingly no win condition
The main goal of any LoR list is: to win the match. So, it is important to have in your deck cards that, when played, allow you to win a match. However, Karma has always been the protagonist of lists that create their win condition throughout the match. That means, cards that win you the game won't be in your initial deck.
Karma and Zoe, for instance, was a list that had as its main win condition playing the card Starshaping, which healed your Nexus and created a Celestial card. And only after a long time, this celestial which was created would win you the match.
Karma Sett is sort of like Karma Zoe, but in a less radical way, and more optimized. You can have multiple win conditions throughout the same match. The hard part of playing this deck is identifying these win conditions and executing them.
The Most Common Win Condition
Besides dealing damage to the enemy Nexus, you'll be obliterating cards on their board. As much as the damage isn't very explosive, you'll have complete control of the match's rhythm by then. It will be impossible for your opponent to compete with the value you'll create on board with these two levelled champions on board.
Eventually, you'll deal Nexus damage with Sett and your opponent won't have anything to do. It is very common to force your opponent to run out of cards in a match as well. And you'll realize that, in most games, you won't even have to reach a win condition, because your opponent won't have resources to win the game, and will simply surrender.
Alternative Win Condition
This list, besides being classified as a Control/Combo deck, can also be classified as a Slow Burn deck.
By using the cards created by Karma herself, or her champion spell, Insight of Ages, it is possible you create spells that deal direct Nexus damage, such as Mystic Shot. And remember a level 2 Karma on board doubles the damage of your spells - a Mystic Shot played against a Nexus with this champion on board deals 4 damage, for instance.
This way, in some matches, the best path to victory is hoarding these spells that deal direct Nexus damage in your hand, and, when you have levelled Karma on board, you play all the spells against the enemy Nexus.
This list's Mulligan strategy can be called conditional or situational, because it depends a lot on the matchup you're facing. Even then, there is an ideal hand that you will gravitate towards to, in general.
An example of how your ideal initial hand should be, regardless of the matchup:
The hand above plays well against almost everything in the meta. However, the greatest secret to the Karma Sett list is you understanding what you need to neutralize your opponent's strategies. And for that, you must have at your disposal specific cards against specific matchups.
For instance, in case you face a Control list, the highlighted initial hand above is still good, but it would get better if you traded Mystic Shot for a Pit Professional. That is because against a Control list you'll hardly need Mystic Shot in the first few rounds. Pit Professional is much more consistent than the direct damage spell in these situations.
This list wins against practically all control decks available in game, so in case you're facing - Jayce Heimerdinger, Norra Veigar, Caitlyn Annie or any Seraphine list, you can be sure you have the advantage.
Your win rate will average around 50% against the slower Midrange lists, but the plot thickens against more aggressive lists.
— Leona Samira is one of the lists that destroys our deck completely. The combo of board pressure with Daybreak cards, added to the value generation and the flexibility of Samira make this Midrange list almost unstoppable. Your only chance of winning is in case your opponent never draws the Noxian champion, and you have early blockers and Concussive Palm.
The Samira Leona list is quick enough to not allow the game to go to turn 10, this way preventing you from having a levelled Karma on board. And, usually, when you finally get to turn 10, it's already too late.
— Gwen Demacia is another list that can apply a lot of pressure against Karma Sett through multiple attacks. But, in case your opponent doesn't have on board an Opulent Foyer, it is possible you win. This way, their Hallowed stacks won't be as explosive.
Otherwise, it is quite hard to stop the mid-game turns pressure the Gwen Demacia list presents. This deck attacks multiple times, and forces you to spend your Coins before turn 10, which makes your hand quite weak when Karma is finally on board.
The ideal hand against Gwen Demacia is:
— Mono Demacia is another list that mows down Karma Sett. The first turns of the Elites deck are very strong, and with ease your opponent will have on board more than 3 3/3 units very quickly. And you won't be able to play absolutely anything to answer that. When you finally have mana to answer the board, your opponent is already setting up lethal.
It is very hard to play a bad initial hand when you play Mono Elites, because the cards are very cheap. As a result, this deck is very consistent, and, in general, will always have enough pressure to prevent Karma and Sett from playing.
The ideal initial hand to play against Mono Demacia is:
Another factor is that the Deep list also doesn't care if their units are removed - actually, the deck benefits from it. So, when a card in the Deep deck is removed from the board, that's a better move for the Deep deck than for the Karma Sett list, as it speeds up Maokai's win condition.
Historically, the Deep list always shows up as a strong option in the meta to answer very strong control lists. And in this meta in particular, the Nautilus Maokai list is possibly one of the best options to hit Karma Sett head on.
The ideal initial hand to play against deep is:
Quick but very important Tips
— Sett only gets his barrier during the first attack this champion declares, that means, if he is challenged in an opponent's attack turn, he won't get a barrier throughout the combat.
— In mirror matches, whoever has the Attack Token on even turns, usually is in the advantage. That is because you play your Karma first and then your opponent is forced to play their Karma back in answer, which brings the action back to you.
If you've read this far, now you know the secrets hidden in the strongest control list in the current meta.
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