How to Play Go Dark (Senna Veigar Control)
With Worlds still jogging around people’s memories, there were a couple of standout lists that out-performed popular opinion.
The highest among them was Yamato with his take on Darkness.
I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and in a ladder that was quickly infused with this powerful control menace, I wanted a way to break down mirrors while maintaining the base structure of the deck.
To hear more about my experience at Worlds, check out my recent article, How WhatAmI Qualified for LoR’s Worlds (Americas Deck Lineup + Recap).
Deck Code: CEBQCAYFCADAKCQ2LVPGFGABUYAQEBIFBAEQIAYFBIAQJUIBAECQKDQBAQCTQAIBAUOQCAIBAUHQ
[See Go Dark deck details]
The issue with trying to go over the top in a control mirror is exactly how hard this deck was setting up to deal with all comers.
Any small threats will fall to the fact that there is almost nothing but removal here. Any large threats simply get Minimorphed or Aloofed away.
I started out looking at Rekindlers and Mist’s Call and was finding that games would often simply go to decking out anyway.
Which, other than not being a particularly fun way to play Legends of Runeterra, was also a ridiculously hard state to control victory in. Something had to be done.
Enter Go Hard. If going over the top isn’t going to be sufficient, sometimes you just have to get creative.
This deck loses very little from putting Go Hard in over Vile Feast, and with nine pieces of card draw as well as the Catalogues you can actually get it to go off quite often.
With this engine in place, you are never going to deck out, which makes you quite favored in the unreasonably lengthy mirror matches.
As an unintended side effect you also gain some impressive percentage points into the random Poppy piles the tend to dominate this archetype.
That matchup still isn’t favorable by any means, but the ability to fully clear your opponent’s board, often at fast speed if Senna can help out, is huge.
Few things are more fun than putting two Go Hards on the stack and watching a six wide board of Yordles dissolve, generally quickly followed by a concession.
Phase One: Charge it Up
This phase looks approximately the same no matter which game plan you are focusing on.
If you are looking to be a more traditional Darkness deck then this is where Catalyzer and Veigar do their job. While more is always better if you can get Darkness to three or four you are generally in good shape.
Be careful here because if you prioritize your power too much over your nexus health you can get in trouble. Always remember you’re a control deck with multiple different win conditions. As long as you can stay alive your deck is bursting with value cards to keep your engines running.
If your hand is looking more toward the Go Hard game plan, say you have the card itself, a draw spell or two, and a Catalogue we’re still thinking in much the same way. We want to get our engine online as quickly as possible. This particular one needs four triggers total instead of the suggested one or two to boost darkness, but they’re much easier to get access to.
Phase Two: Shut Them Down
Whether you are along the Darkness line, the Go Hard line, or sometimes both, your midgame is all about being the hard control deck you are. Whatever threats your opponents make are going to die in a hail of drain and damage spells.
During this phase of the game, the most important thing is to understand your priorities. Think through the board state and your opponent’s hand state and try to decide which things need to be taken away and which you can afford to leave on the board for a turn or two.
On some level, this is always going to be the part of the game where your life total is a resource. We have an almost obscene amount of healing in our deck so it’s ok to take some significant amounts of damage in the name of value and stabilization.
That said a lot of decks are also packing high levels of reach these days. Get Excited, Mystic Shot, Decimate, Fervor, even Double Up have been making cameos at high levels.
Take your opponent’s probably hand state in mind whenever you can to help inform where it’s ok for your nexus health to be. Aloof Travelers can help out enormously with the information gathering here based on what it discards.
Phase Three: The Burn
The other cool thing is that this deck’s win conditions at the end of the day are all burn-based. Whether we are packing someone’s bags multiple times fueled by a Catalogue or laughing maniacally with Veigar as he throws giant balls of Darkness at our opponent’s face, our endgame becomes very hard to interact with.
This feels extremely necessary in the midrange meta that we find ourselves in and is part of why I wanted to build this version of the deck in the first place. What this also means is that you have chances against previously almost unwinnable matchups.
Again, I won’t call it exactly favored, but instead of starting a match against Bandle Tree and feeling that creeping sense of existential angst that signals a loss, there’s hope.
You can set up board states against their infinite value nonsense where Pack Your Bags clears you for a lethal swing. Or even funnier you can simply Aloof away the Bandle Tree if there are no Minimorphs around to protect it.
Obviously, the main one is Go Hard. This gives your deck an entire second game plan to revolve around and turns certain matchups completely on their heads. The best part here is the synergy it has with the main game plan.
Senna, who is one of your biggest threats and Darkness creators, has some broken interactions with this card. First of all, she lets you Pack at Fast speed, which is pretty nuts all on its own. If it ended there it might be enough.
However, if you have copy number three and four of Go Hard in your hand and Senna in play, because they won’t have transformed yet while on the stack, Senna will let you cast Pack as a one mana spell. They tried to nerf it, but it just keeps coming back.
Second and a little more under the radar is Aloof Travelers. This extra bit of disruption can be just what the doctor ordered in many situations. Hitting a Dreadway, Gangplank, Sion, Shelly, or even occasionally a Poppy can be absolutely game changing.
Don’t sleep on these grumpy fellows, they are the real deal. Every deck I find room for them in seems to just get better and better. I called it when I saw them drop and I haven’t felt any urge to go back on it, these might well be the most powerful card of the Bandle City set.
- Understanding both the board state and your hand state is key with any deck but especially so with this one. A lot of the time people simply care way too much about their champions but remember that Veigar and Senna both have four health they can sacrifice in defense of your nexus.
- Much of the time you will have such a ridiculous amount of value ready to go that the only important thing is to weather the storm till your engines can bring you home. In that case, into the fight they go.
- Sometimes though you have to be greedy and keep your win conditions alive. It’s all about the specific situation and the play pattern of heavy decision making is one of the things that I love about this deck in particular.
High agency high decision-making decks are my jam as much as crazy “oops I win,” burn is. This deck manages to hit both of those points for me so if you enjoy Runeterra for many of the same reasons I do I suspect you’ll have a good time with it.
The grindy playstyle is definitely not for everyone, so only pick this one up if you enjoy the particular brand of catharsis that comes from a helplessly screaming opponent on the other side of your computer screen as you blow up everything they try to accomplish.
Last but not least, an important question for our benevolent card creators. Where’s the love for my main man Mr. Nocturn, huh? Can we get a rework here?
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).