Vayne Aatrox came back into the meta with all its might, and, recently, is the most popular competitive list among players on the American server. In the last grassroots tournament hosted by Mastering Runeterra, out of the 8 final lineups, 6 brought a version of Vayne Aatrox. And, as this deck is one of my favorite lists, I decided to bring you a definitive guide on how to play this archetype.
Also at the request of my Brazilian readers, and grassroot tournaments comrades, I come reveal the secrets of this very hard, but very complete list.
Vayne Aatrox - The Most Complete Deck of All Time
My love for this archetype started after this year's April Runeterra Open, in which both finalists brought this list. After that, the archetype has always made punctual appearances in competitive players' lineups in all grassroot tournaments, and also in Riot-official tournaments.
As it happens, this list has tools which, if well-used, can perform well against any other deck. But handling these resources and knowing when to be aggressive, or defensive, are the greatest challenges the deck gives its pilot.
The list is made up of an extensive range of Darkin equipment, which, alongside some Demacia followers and many protection spells, form a deck which allows you to control the opponent's board, besides attacking multiple times.
In general, competitive LoR decks always perform better if the player adds to them their personal touch. That personal touch might be a copy of a particular card which wins a few matches the player doesn't like to face, for instance. Knowing that, I believe the Vayne Aatrox list, out of all the decks in the game, is the one which most allows players to adventure with deck building, bringing new ideas, tech cards, and even allowing them to play with the number of equipment the deck brings.
A strong example of that is the use of Quinn in this list. It can be used as one, two, or no copies, and that is gonna depend on the player's taste a lot. Throughout the article, I'll help you figure out when you must bring each one of the equipment, and when you must and mustn't use Quinn.
“Let us hunt those who have fallen to darkness”
This list has so many win conditions that it is hard to point all of them out at once. For that reason, we'll go by parts.
To sum up, all win conditions in this deck are based on having an expressive board value advantage. Be it for the number of attackers you have, or the quality of a certain follower's stats and keywords.
As a result, always try to make the best possible play in your turn, which will lead you to some proactive decisions. This list wins by putting on constant pressure threatening multiple attacks and decisive strikes against your opponent's key-units.
The deck's main unit is Ranger-Knight Defector. She will be responsible for carrying two very powerful keywords, Scout and Tough, which, when added to any equipment in the deck, transform this unit into a threat.
Something that you must have in mind when you play Vayne Aatrox is to always try to strike with your equipped units, whenever possible. The spell World Ender is one of the deck's finishers, and the cost of this card is reduced any time a Darkin or an equipped unit strikes. Unlike other decks, the finishers in this list are not that direct, and they need a setup to work.
For instance, Ranger-Knight Defector, which needs to be equipped to be effective, and World Ender, which needs you to strike at least 3 times with equipped units to be played. If we're pessimistic, these slow plays and setups seem to be a bit too specific and leave the deck a bit inconsistent - and that is true.
But, on the other side, if the Vayne player can identify which plays are the best, and how they must act to deal with their opponent's win conditions, they'll be rewarded with the most satisfactory LoR gameplay possible.
Building the Deck
As we mentioned before, this deck can be built in many different ways to perform in many different ways, depending on what the Vayne player wants. But the main difference is the number of equipment copies. Have in mind that each serves a different goal:
The Darkin Spear - Performs well against direct removal lists and against Piltover & Zaun decks. This equipment helps you block better, and, in general, makes your deck have a higher extra life due to the stats this card shares to units on the top of your deck.
The Darkin Harp - Performs better against decks which don't have direct removal and don't interact with your board, unless by attacking with their units. The Harp helps you always have strong attackers which aren't easy to block.
The Darkin Ballista - It is an equipment which helps you at the end of the game to remove key-units from the board, and it is a card that performs better in slower metas. This card, if played as Naganeka of Zuretta, is one of the best removals for cards such as Karma, Senna and other control units.
The Darkin Bloodletters - This helps you keep board pressure, always giving you attackers. This is the most important equipment in the current meta, in which competing with your opponent's damage is much more relevant than controlling their boards. If your opponent is forced to block your units, you're already ahead.
Other weapons are not that popular, but can still be used.
The Darkin Fan - Keeps you healthy.
The Darkin Lodestone - Helps you concentrate stats on an important unit.
Another discussion about this deck is the number of Quinns you must bring in your list. I particularly prefer not to bring her, as I prefer the consistency of drawing Aatrox without depending that much on the champion's automatic draw effect. But the benefit of bringing Quinn are:
- A 5-mana unit which positions two blockers immediately.
- A champion with strong defensive stats, which brings you for free a Challenger unit which matches a lot The Darkin Harp.
- Scouts really match the deck's strategy, and allow you incredibly strong plays when combo'd with Rally spells.
This list has a sort of complex strategy, which forces the player to understand their matchups a bit. To sum up, look for card combinations which resolve a strong play in your opponent's deck.
Example: If you're playing against a shrooms list, it is interesting to have in hand Fish Fight, some equipment, and another unit, so you can strike Puffcap Peddler. Against a Neeko deck, it is nice to have Vayne early, as it tends to stay on board, as Neeko doesn't interact with the enemy board.
But the secret formula is always having at least one Darkin equipment, a Challenger unit, and some champion. The strongest hand, not considering the matchup, must look something like this:
Against a Control matchup, Ranger-Knight Defector is always the most important card, which, if it drops on board on curve, already speeds up your game plan enormously.
One of Jinx's frustrations is your Ranger-Knight Defector's Tough keyword, which really reduces the reach of removals this aggressive list has. In general, it is very hard to deal damage against Blocking Badgerbear too, which is a 4/4 unit for only 3 mana, one of the deck's best blockers.
Blocking Badgerbear alone destroys this deck's hopes and dreams. And as the Fizz Samira list also doesn't interact with the opponent board as easily as you do, the Challenger units will have no problem attacking and pulling the enemy followers.
Azir Nasus - This deck was made to beat Vayne. Besides being a list which brings the best equipment removal in the game, it is a deck that places a landmark as its main win condition, And as Demacia as a region is the worst at dealing with that sort of threat, there's not much your list can do about it.
Not to mention Nasus easily grows enough to escape the reach of any of your units, making your strikes and attacks, which are important to your deck, useless.
Shen Jarvan IV - This list carries the biggest weapon against the Vayne deck, Barriers. Barriers, besides preventing your equipped units from applying their cost reduction to your World Ender, kill your units when trading too. And losing units to another Demacia deck is the worst thing that can happen.
This is a very polarized matchup, and you'll hardly be able to attack and be successful. The Shen Jarvan IV list is more efficient at controlling the board, though it has a worse endgame. But, hardly the game will ever reach the later turns, as, until then, you've already lost your whole board.
Ashe LeBlanc - This deck also carries one of the best answers to attackers, which are Frostbites. This strategy completely frustrates your plan of attacking with equipped units. Another very important factor is that Ashe can easily level up and be an aggressor, and if this champion attacks, it removes blockers from the other side.
And, as your deck can't establish a board full of units which block, easily the Ashe player will be able to deal a lot of damage, preventing you from blocking, and striking with your units.
Fast, But Very Important Tips
The best tip I can give you is to look at the Vayne Aatrox guide I wrote a few months ago. There, the tips are still valid, and I teach you how the Assimilate effect, which only exists in the card World Ender, works, and which is quite confusing to understand on its own.
Go ahead and read the rest of the article, so you can compare with what the meta was before, and how it is now, and how the Vayne list adapted throughout time.
It is funny to compare how the mulligan strategy we had before for this list entirely changed. In general, the deck stood up the test of time, but it really got much more complex to understand and play, and that is why I'm writing about it again.
Don't forget to share and comment on this article on social media. See you next time!