Cheap meta and potentially strong Legends of Runeterra decks for new players (copy/paste from reddit
(Skip to "Dirt Cheap" or "Budget" if you just want the decks.)
If you're a new player to Legends of Runeterra, welcome! This guide lists decks that are either in the meta or have a version with a high win rate in Mobalytics. These are not weaker versions of strong decks, they are strong or potentially strong decks that don't require many Champion wildcards.
Besides the fun and deep gameplay, Legends of Runeterra has a generous free-to-play economy and you can collect every card F2P in a reasonable time. Paying for cards isn't necessary but is also extremely fair if you want to speed things up a bit. $1 buys you 1000 shards of cards of your choice, so $35 or less will buy just about any exact deck you want.
In any case, your resources will be tight in the first weeks and it'll take you about a week or two to build your first deck with 6 completely new Champions F2P with Region Road rewards. Most meta decks will require 4-6 Champion wildcards to build, and in the long run that takes about 2-3 weeks.
This guide lists cheap and (potentially) strong decks that require 3 or fewer Champion wildcards to round out your deck variety while saving for more expensive decks. I split the decks into 2 categories:
- Dirt Cheap: require 1 or fewer Champion wildcards to craft
- Budget: require 2-3 Champion wildcards to craft
I cut it off here because there are many more meta and strong decks which only require 4 Champion wildcards. It would be too much to list them all!
Besides the starter champions that everyone gets, I'll also include these champions as part of your collection that do not require a wildcard:
- The 2 copies of Ashe as part of your day 7 log-in reward.
- Any non-random champions you get from expansion-locked Region Road rewards. For example, you are guaranteed a copy of Sejuani from the level 23 Freljord region road because she is the only Freljord champion from that expansion. If you craft all copies of these Champions before reaching the reward, they will be replaced by random Champions.
Because these cards sometimes require more time to collect, I'll call out when these are used. I'll also provide a very rough (over?)estimate of the shards needed to craft the deck.
For each deck, I'll provide a sample deck code. You can copy the code and import the deck in the Legends of Runeterra game to examine it. There are often multiple versions of the same archetype, so feel free to change a few cards if you like or find another version on Mobalytics.
It's almost certain I won't have every deck on this list. I might try to keep this updated sometime after major patches, but no promises!
Dirt Cheap (0-1 Champions)
Elise Burn, Shadow Isles + Noxus
Meta, 8k shards, 1 Champion, 0 Epics
The absolute strongest dirt-cheap deck you can build, Elise Burn swarms the board with semi-evasive Fearsome units and finishes with burn. This deck tests your ability to push enough combat damage to put your opponent in burn range and using Noxian Fervor and Imperial Demolitionist at appropriate times so they don't get countered.
For an even cheaper version of this deck, you don't have to craft the third copy of Elise. You can replace it with any other card that makes sense such as 1x Darius (free), another copy of a card already in this deck, or even 1x Fading Memories or Brother's Bond.
Championless Undying, Shadow Isles + Bilgewater
Non-Meta, 10k-12k shards, 0 Champions, 3-4 Epics
The Undying is a unit that resurrects itself and grows every time it dies. These decks take advantage of that with self-sacrifice cards and the Vulnerable mechanic. Undying decks are flexible and can be built with more control tools (first version) or more aggression (second version).
This deck can have a hard time blocking and mostly wins by attacking so you must adjust your gameplan depending on your matchup. It's especially important to manage your board limit in this deck. You also need good mulligan skills so you don't brick your hand with a bunch of unplayable cards.
Some versions of Undying decks run one copy of 1-2 Champions to trick opponents during the mulligan but this is not necessary. Other versions use Demacia instead of Bilgewater for cards like Relentless Pursuit and/or Tianna Crownguard, Single Combat, Vanguard Redeemer, Laurent Duelist, and Radiant Guardian.
Championless Poros, Piltover & Zaun + Freljord
Non-Meta, 11k shards, 0 Champions, 5 Epics
Wait, are Poros actually viable!? This deck peaks around turns 5-7 by playing some medium units for cheap with either Professor von Yipp and/or Poro Snax. Ideally, you end up swinging with a bunch of buffed Elusive poros for the win. Play this deck if you want a cheap deck that everyone thinks is meme tier but has surprising teeth and rewards good decision-making.
This deck is not straightforward to play! It has removal, it has buffs, and it has self-discard. Losing your cheap units before they can be buffed is potentially game over. The timing of when to drop Professor von Yipp and whether to play your cheap units or hold them for von Yipp is especially important.
This deck is low risk since it's so cheap to craft. It requires 3 niche Epic cards (Aurora Porealis) and 2 more useful Epic cards (Progress Day). Some versions of this deck include either 3 copies of Braum (everyone gets 1 copy as a starter card) and/or 3 copies of Vi (1 copy in the level 23 P&Z Region Road). It's unclear whether adding Champions makes the deck better or worse.
Zed Elusives Aggro, Ionia + Freljord
Non-Meta, 8k shards, 0 Champions, 2 Epics
Zed Elusives revolves around buffing hard-to-block and hard-to-remove Elusive units. Key skills include saving mana to counter removal and timing the play of your units, especially Navori Bladescout and Kinkou Wayfinder. This deck is nowhere as strong as it was pre-nerfs but it should still be playable.
This deck only runs 2 copies of Zed which every player starts with for free. Zed is usually an anti-aggro tool that forces your opponent to sacrifice blockers. He's only a damage threat when you run into a control deck that didn't play a cheap blocker and you have mana saved for buffs. Because his Shadowshift Champion spell is very weak, you almost never want to draw multiple copies of Zed and the deck is happy with just two copies except in extreme aggro or very slow control metas.
To save on resources, you can replace the Windfarer Hatchlings with 1x Battle Fury and 1x (free) The Empyrean.
Budget (2-3 Champions)
Kalista Endure, Shadow Isles + Freljord
Meta, 15k shards, 3 Champions, 0 Epics
This self-sacrifice deck has a strong aggressive gameplan and a scary finisher. It can be blazingly fast, but unlike Spiders Burn, few of its creatures have evasion and its scariest burn spell requires setup. The aggro plan mostly has to deal damage the "fair" way. However, Kalista Endure can also play the slow game and stall to drop a giant They Who Endure. Unlike the slow inevitability of Undying decks, this deck has immediate threats of Kalista, They Who Endure, and Atrocity. Key skills include managing your board limit, triggering Kalista's level up, and playing around counters with Atrocity.
Ashe Midrange, Freljord + Noxus
Meta, 16k shards, 2 Champions, 4 Epics, 7-day log-in and level 23 Freljord reward
Ashe Sejuani is a mid-range deck that plays big creatures, gets favorable trades with Frostbite, and generates card advantage through Trifarian Assessor. It can win with the standard midrange value gameplan, by wiping weak boards with Reckoning, or by leveling Ashe and freezing their entire board to prevent blocks. The deck can play on curve but can be more effective if you play for the combos and synergy in the deck.
Unfortunately, this deck can take a while to compile cheaply since 2 copies of Ashe are gained for the 7-day login reward and 1 copy of Sejuani is gained on level 23 of the Freljord region track (if you craft 3 copies before-hand, they are replaced by random Champions). This deck is not built around Sejuani and you can temporarily replace her with 2x (free) Darius or 2x Rimefang Wolf for a cheaper version of this deck.
Anivia Control, Freljord + Shadow Isles
Meta, 20k shards, 3 Champions, 5 Epics
Anivia is a slow control deck that wins by ressurecting and cloning Anivia using Rekindler and Harrowing. It plays tons of healing spells and removal, making it a strong choice against burn aggro decks with fragile units. Play this if you like control decks that slowly grind down your opponent's health total and their will to live. Like most control decks, the main skill with this deck is surviving aggressive and mid-range decks and playing to out-value other control decks.
This deck relies on drawing Anivia so it never plays another champion to make the Entreat tutor more reliable.
Lee Sin Combo, Ionia + Targon
Meta, 22k shards, 3 Champions, 6 Epics, level 23 Ionia Reward
When Lee Sin is leveled up and has Overwhelm, he deals double his attack value as unblockable damage straight to the opponent's Nexus. This deck is is built around that 1-hit kill with the rare and inconsistent fall-back plan of buff stacking another creature. You'll want to find and play Lee Sin on a turn when you can protect him, cast Zenith Blade on him, buff his attack, level him up, and stop any other attempts at counterplay.
Make no mistake, this is one of the hardest decks in the game to play. It can have some dead draws and has a difficult time against aggressive decks. Managing your cards and mana so Lee Sin levels on the right turn is extremely important.
Heimerdinger Control, Piltover & Zaun + Targon
Meta, 20k shards, 3 Champions, 4 Epics
Heimerdinger decks slow down the early game, play a Heimerdinger with protection when it's safe, and generate tons of value from getting a free unit after playing a spell while he is on the board. Targon versions of this deck can also win by Invoking a big win condition with Starshaping while Heimerdinger gums up the board.
Most versions of this deck currently also include 3 copies of Vi (1 copy available in level 23 P&Z reward). This solo-Heimer version seems to have a similar winrate and trades Vi for more removal. One benefit of solo-Heimer is the 4-mana Champion tutor spell that the Solari Priestess can Invoke will be guaranteed to pull a Heimerdinger.
Garen Elites Midrange, Demacia
Non-Meta, 18k shards, 2 Champions, 6 Epics
Garen Elites is a straight-forward mid-range deck. You'll play lots of units, buff them up with Battlesmith or Vanguard Bannerman, and attack. For The Fallen is the reason you run Elites and it lets you develop aggressively into board wipes or trade your board in combat. It often wins the game combined with Relentless Pursuit. This version runs more combat tricks so you may want to bank mana on some turns instead of playing on curve. This archetype sometimes splashes Shadow Isles for Harrowing or Ionia for Deny.
Garen is the only Champion with the Elite tag, so he's the only one that fits in this deck.
Fizz Elusives, Bilgewater + Freljord
Non-Meta, 17k Shards, 3 Champions, 3 Epics
Fizz Elusives plays like a more extreme version of Zed Elusives. Rather than going wide, this deck tries to make one or two giant Elusive units with Starlit Seer. This deck has an unusual playstyle and may take a few games to learn. The general strategy is to mulligan everything for Starlit Seer, protect it for several turns, and slowly chip away at your opponent until you build and draw your giant Elusives. Save mana to keep your creatures save from removal if possible, especially the 0-mana Warning Shot for Fizz.
Most versions of this deck also run 3 copies of Twisted Fate, but that doesn't seem necessary.
Darius Sejuani Overwhelm, Noxus + Freljord
Non-Meta, 16k shards, 3 Champions, 2 Epics, level 23 Freljord reward
This deck runs an aggro package featuring units with Overwhelm. The finisher is Decisive Maneuver. Besides the attack buff, the stun removes an enemy unit from combat and allows a unit with Overwhelm to bypass the block and deal its full attack to the enemy Nexus (units without Overwhelm will still be blocked after a blocker is removed). Death's Hand has a similar role and deals 3 damage to the enemy nexus when used on an enemy blocker against an Overwhelm attacker.
Alternate versions of this substitute Sejuani with 2 copies of Trundle (1 copy in the level 28 Freljord reward). It also meets the criteria for a budget deck but it's similar enough that I don't think it needs to be listed separately. See below for another version with Sejuani and Tryndamere.
Sejuani Tryndamere Overwhelm, Freljord + Targon
Non-Meta, 16k shards, 3 Champions, 2 Epics, level 23 Freljord reward
Sejuani Tryndamere Overwhelm is similar to the other Overwhelm aggro deck. It loses Decisive Maneuver in exchange for beefier and buffed units. Battle Fury costs more but provides a similar top-end finish.
Ezreal Corina Control, Shadow Isles + Piltover & Zaun
Non-Meta, 23k shards, 3 Champions, 8 Epics, 4-day log-in reward
Corina Control slows the game down with removal spells until it can wipe the board with Corina Veraza and kill the opponent with Commander Ledros and Ezreal. The defining characteristic of Corina decks is they play very few creatures to take advantage of Corina's ability. It was a meta deck at one point, but nerfs to Vi and Brood Awakening and the rise of other control decks saw it fall out of favor. Still, it should be viable and it's an option for a slower control deck.
There are still versions of Corina Control that run 3x Elise and 3x Vi (technically also requiring only 3 Champion wildcards with the level 23 P&Z reward), but this solo-Ezreal version seems to be doing better.