The Karma Sett archetype, after the nerfs, reached a very neutral state in the meta, and ever since the Coin got changed to focus speed, this list no longer breaks through the 50% win rate barrier in the ranked queue. In tournaments, it is no longer one of the most favored choices for Control players.
However, a new, upgraded version of this archetype is starting to gain popularity in the community, and can be one of the best alternatives to answer the meta: we're talking about Seraphine Sett Karma!
Seraphine Sett Karma - Reinventing an Archetype
Seraphine has always been one of the community's favorite champions, and, every time they can, competitive players try to make her work.
As it so happens, competitively, the random spell she creates in hand when summoned is enough to disrupt any strategy and make your opponent get lost in the process of playing around the cards in your hand.
Now, in Standard, we can finally abuse this champion's mechanic, pairing her with Ionia's supporting spells and units, and bringing back a well-beloved card by competitive players into high-level tournaments: Catastrophe.
This rising deck is conquering the ranked queue, particularly due to its matchups against strong lists in the meta. In general, Control decks such as Vaults Nasus, Heimerdinger Jayce and other slow strategies can't hold off the amount of value that Seraphine's deck can create late game.
Another great matchup which popularized this deck is against the Vayne Aatrox deck, possibly the most popular deck in the format currently. Ionia is one of the best regions equipped to deal with Midrange strategy, and, as the meta is full of those types of decks, you can be sure Seraphine Sett Karma is a safe strategy for the competitive scene.
Piltover & Zaun is possibly the best region in the meta, and, as this is a deck which benefits a lot from playing new cards, this is the best region to do it. Many Piltover & Zaun cards are self-sufficient, or they tutor other cards, which create some type of value.
This deck has many different win conditions, so let's go through each one.
The first is attacking with your Catastrophe, a 30/30 unit with Overwhelm. For that, you must play 20 cards with different names, and draw or tutor a Purrsuit of Perfection. This strategy is easier than it looks, as Back Alley Bar is a landmark that discounts the cost of new cards in hand, causing a lot of things in your deck to cost 1 or even 0 mana. This way, you'll easily have turns in which you'll play many cards, progressing the prerequisites of Purrsuit of Perfection.
This is the greatest difference this archetype has compared to its classic version, because in that version, the deck is much more dependent on having your champions in hand, Coin and other card draw engines at turn 10. With Piltover & Zaun cards and Seraphine's support, the deck doesn't need to win the match by exhausting your opponent's offensive resources. Now, you can just be proactive and also attack with big units.
Secondly, another win condition is your level 2 Sett, attacking and removing enemy units, and also obliterating them with Show Stopper. This condition is similar to the main win condition in Karma Sett's classic version. You will be practically exhausting your opponent's resources, preventing them from attacking and positioning units.
You won't be necessarily winning the game through dealing lots of damage against your opponent's Nexus, but just preventing them from doing that is enough so that, at one point in the match, the little damage you deal every turn is game winning.
And, lastly, your only copy of Karma works exactly the same as this archetype's classic version. You can wait until turn 10, and double all your spells. Karma creates random resources at each Round End for you too, which creates a combo with our general strategy.
Attention: this list is very hard to play, as in every match you'll be working with randomly created cards, and, as a result, you'll need to be a bit creative regarding how you'll approach the game, and the matchups.
This deck counts with many strong resources and tools to give you escape routes out of any adverse situations, and allows you to win many games which in theory you weren't supposed to win. But, for that, you'll need to think a bit outside the box, and manage your created resources carefully.
This deck has the most complicated mulligan strategy of all time. The only card you should always keep in hand is Seraphine; the rest really depends on your matchup.
And, as a result, you'll need to understand how every meta deck you'll face along the way works. If you're playing against a Jinx list, for instance, it is always nice to have cheap removal spells in hand, such as Mystic Shot and High Note, and some low-cost blocking units, such as Forge Chief.
The perfect hand against aggressive lists should look like the following:
The perfect hand against combo lists should look like the following:
Against Midranges with lots of weapons, Unworthy Soul is a precious resource which must always be in your hands.
The perfect hand against Midrange lists should look like the following:
Vayne Aatrox - Historically, Vayne and other Midrange decks have lots of issues when facing Ionia and its Stun spells, besides its recall effects. These resources, added to the extensive package of cheap removal and healing cards, eliminate any chances the Vayne list would have.
Which is odd, once the classic version of this archetype has always been quite bad against Vayne. As it happens, Seraphine, bringing a more proactive game style, allows this Control list to be a bit more dynamic and prepared to absorb Demacia's pressure.
Though Jayce is a very strong deck, during the match against Seraphine, it is quite frequent that the Ionia list creates a lot of value, and plays a lot more cards in a turn when compared to Jayce's deck, which spends more mana in general. And, as a result, it is quite common, at some point, for the Jayce player to run out of cards at the moment they need the most, such as removing a key piece from Seraphine's board, which opens up precious windows for the Ionia list to dominate the match.
Jhin Norra - Lovingly nicknamed "Bandle City Yasuo", this list is great against Seraphine. The finishing combos in this deck don't necessarily require its units to attack. As a result, this deck doesn't suffer against Ionia's stuns. And it also doesn't suffer against heavy removals, as Avenging Vastaya is a resource which can stop Seraphine's developments enormously.
They can develop units using Norra's portals, and that is very strong against Control strategies in general, as it is never possible to prepare against the random threats efficiently.
Teemo - The shrooms deck is popping up in the meta again, and it is one of the best alternatives to play against Control lists. This deck forces card draw and wins matchups through shroom damage, which are interactions Control decks usually can't deal with.
Not to mention many cards in the Seraphine list which draw cards die in the player's hands, as they don't want to take damage from the shrooms by drawing cards. The shrooms deck also has win conditions which aren't based on units attacking, and that is why Seraphine's list removals many times are useless in the match.
Jinx Kennen - Though not very consistent, it is still quite fast and popular among players in the ranked queue. As it happens, the speed with which Jinx's deck dictates the match is a bit too much for Seraphine, which, frequently, won't have resources enough to deal with the attackers, and particularly deal with the burn elements in the Jinx deck.
Fast, But Very Important Tips
Seraphine, despite being a champion which needs to be on board at all times to improve the deck flow, it is a very dispensable unit, and can be sacrificed frequently. Many times, playing a second Seraphine on board to create resources is better to keep yours at the current state of the game.
The secret here is to know when to play Back Alley Bar: always look for turns in which you have the attack token, and mana enough to be safe and not get hit with an open attack from your opponent in the next turn.
Unlike the deck's classic version, this list doesn't abuse the Coin mechanic with Karma, and, as a result, the use of this card ends up being focused only on guaranteeing you the advantage in a random turn, not necessarily on turn 10.
Karma only works on turn 10, but, in some matchups, and in very specific cases, you must play her on board before that so that she can create resources for you. In case you and the opponent have no resources in hand, and everything you have left is a Karma, you should play her on board.
Spend your mana moderately, but keep in mind that you should level up your Sett, and for that, you need to spend 40+ mana. So, at certain moments, it will be necessary to spend more mana than normal to progress this win condition.
Avoid at most attacking with Sett if your opponent doesn't have good targets to remove on board. That will force them into a wall, and they won't be able to develop important pieces for their game.
When your opponent reaches the turns in which they'll develop their most important units, hold as much as you can your removals, so you can kill them as soon as they're played. Don't go around spending your mana uselessly.
To play this deck optimally, the Seraphine player needs to hand-read their opponent's hand. So, keep an eye on how your opponent behaves and punish wrong plays - if your opponent makes a mistake, they'll hardly come back into the game.
A good tip to hand-read correctly is to play reactively, and wait for your opponent to do something that isn't aligned with the current game state. Example: in case they don't develop a champion on curve, and takes too long to play, they'll probably be waiting for you to spend your removals.
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