# ARAM: Strategy & Tier List

If you haven't seen it already, Runeterra's newest game mode is out: ARAM. It's very much unlike the existing game modes of Constructed or Expedition. Instead, the Champions are at the front and center, much like the ARAM mode of League, I assume. Here's a brief overview of the rules (but you should really just go give it a spin -- games are fast, casual, and completely free!)

  • Your opening hand will be 4 Champions; you can mulligan any to draw up to 4 new ones
  • The rest of your deck is automatically generated based on the Champions you start with
  • On the first round, you'll draw 2 extra cards for 3 total
  • Both players start with 3 mana (and gain 1 more per round as usual)
  • When a Champion dies, a copy gets shuffled back into your deck

Back? Curious about how to play better? Okay then. ARAM is a super-high variance format, and for the most part asks you to play a solid game of Runeterra. But there's a decent amount of intricacy in the mulligan (as close to deckbuilding as exists for this game mode) Read on for some ARAM-specific advice, as well as a complete guide to which champs to mulligan and which to keep.

# General strategy

  • The most important thing you can do is to curve out with champions on turns 1 through 4 (aka on 3 to 6 mana). Champions are much more mana-efficient plays than normal cards, which is compounded by the fact that the typical non-Champion card in your deck is pretty awful (think bad to Counterfeit Copies unplayable in Expedition, let alone Ranked). This means your mulligan strategy should revolve around finding a good Champion curve.

    For example, even if Lux is quite decent, you can ship her when Anivia or Sejuani are already in your opener to try and find a 3-cost. And on the flip side, you might hold onto Katarina if you're on the play and the rest of your hand is all garbage.

  • Most champions are pretty hard to level. You just won't have enough synergy in your deck to flip Ashe, Yasuo, or Shen, since your themes are diluted across 4 different champs, and a lot of the cards that come with e.g. Ashe don't even trigger Frostbite.

    The exception to the above are champions that level through combat, since random combat is the name of the ARAM game. Zed, Garen, or Kalista are examples of champions that frequently hit their back sides.

  • Since you start on 3 mana, basically all the champions that cost 3 or 4 are quite good, and you should keep them. Meanwhile the ones that cost 2 or less don't have enough impact. For example, turn 1 Teemo will flip on turn 5, but both players will have had a total of 25 rather than 15 mana by that point in time, so the board will be dominated by much larger units.

    But also, the 7+ cost champions are pretty sketch -- they stay dead in your hand for too much of the game. I'd rarely keep them (though wouldn't be too unhappy to mull into a Tryndamere)

  • A champion's power level can change a lot based on whether you're attacking first or second. If you're going first, then the odd-costed champs get better. Zed or Garen will be able to attack immediately and start getting their bonuses. And vice versa; an even-costed champ like Hecarim is much better if you can curve him exactly with 6 mana and slam with all the units.

  • Combat tricks are really good. Save them for your champs! You can think of something like Whirling Death or Prismatic Barrier as being a fifth champion that only costs 3 mana. With one of these, it's often worth saving spell mana to defend against anything your opponent can do (even if you must forgo playing a champion on that turn).

Alright, onto the tier list!

# S-Tier: Haha, easy mode

  • Zed: The best champion to lead on, especially on the play. None of the other 3-mana champs block him properly, so he either levels immediately or your opponent throws a creature under the bus to avoid it.
  • Sejuani: Murders (basically) every other champ in the game, AND leaves behind a 5/6 Overwhelm. You can also use her defensively, e.g. stopping a Hecarim attack on a critical turn.
  • Anivia: Never dies, and makes combat a lot more annoying for your opponents -- they can no longer block to leave a bunch of units at 1 health.

# A-Tier: Always keep these

  • Garen: You can "combo" with Single Combat or Concerted Strike, but he's just solid all around.
  • Yasuo: 4/4 Quick Attack punches through everything, and blocks a lot too. He's impossible to flip but you might snipe a card or two with his passive.
  • Miss Fortune: Hits hard early on, and grants a nice bonus every attack afterwards.
  • Twisted Fate: Super flexible, though it's a lot harder to draw 8 cards in ARAM so you're mostly just relying on the front half.
  • Draven: Beyond having great stats, it turns out that a lot of cards in your deck are straight awful and you wouldn't mind tossing them to get Draven's axes.
  • Vi: Will reliably kill off any opposing champ, and sometimes sticks around to do it again.

# B-Tier: Probably keep, unless you have a better champ of this cost

  • Lux: Her package comes with a decent number of 6+ cost spells; I haven't had any issues triggering her.
  • Shen: Surprisingly good body that holds off against all of the 3-drop champs. One of the only defensive champion options, incidentally.
  • Jinx: You're mostly playing this for the body; I've never seen her flip.
  • Thresh: Not as efficient as Sejuani or Vi, but will still kill a decent number of cheaper champs. Note that your deck usually has one or two more champs in it, so you can actually trigger his ult.
  • Kalista: Good early stats, and can level pretty easily to stay relevant in later turns.
  • Hecarim: Excellent at pushing a ton of damage into their face.

# C-Tier: Probably mull, unless it lines up with your curve & attack token

  • Quinn: One of the weaker 5-drops. Since she's split across two bodies, neither one is usually effective at punching through any of the other midranged champs.
  • Ashe: Just too fragile; at 4-mana, she trades down to all the 3s, as well as random other followers your opponents may draw. Plus it's very difficult to find enough frostbite to flip her around.
  • Vladimir: Fine body that threatens direct Nexus damage at your opponent.
  • Darius: He can hit hard, but doesn't help control the board; one of the costs of having a 6-drop is that you couldn't deploy him in the early turns, and unlike the others Darius doesn't help you catch up.
  • Katarina: Awkwardly, you don't really want to play her on turn 3 since you'll lose the Blade's Edge, plus you're setting yourself down on tempo. But in the late game she becomes a real threat.
  • Maokai: I've actually been kinda impressed by this hunk of wood - he's one of the rare defensive champs and can really grind out a game.
  • Fiora: In Expeditions, Fiora is great for her ability to snipe smaller units, and also for the alternate win-con when she's backed by a few combat tricks. Neither is as relevant here; opposing units are almost always larger champs, so she never seems to come close to killing 4 units.
  • Ezreal: A lot of the above applies to Ezreal as well; Mystic Shot is less helpful when basically everything is 3/3 or bigger. Plus, he's awkward on turn 3 since you'll discard the first Mystic Shot to no avail, and not that impressive on turn 4 or onwards.

# D-Tier: Always mull

  • Lucian: 2-drop champions are super awkward; basicaly every 3-drop is just better, since spell mana you save isn't worth the drop in stats. Lucian is a bit better than most since he threatens to be relevant in later turns.
  • Lee Sin: He's not that hard to trigger once or twice, but at that point you just had a worse Thresh. I'd rather mull for champs that do something on their own.
  • Karma: Way too fragile for 6 mana. The stream of free spells doesn't go far enough to make up for this.
  • Tryndamere: Reasonable card, but if he's in your opener then you missed playing a champ on some early turn.
  • Swain: Not _impossible_ to flip, but not particularly easy and rarely worth it since it's hard to make use of his ult.
  • Braum: Kind of a meme, since all the midgame champs outclass him. I still like his old version better.
  • Heimerdinger: Too hard to pull off, and the payoff isn't really there. You might get like one or two bots out and it looks kind of breakeven, but you might also just die in the meantime to their bigger units.
  • Gangplank: You can't play around the kegs, and there's kind of one fewer turn to level him up, so he's basically just a vanilla 5/5 Overwhelm.
  • Elise: Unfortunately, basically every other champ eats her in combat, and the fact that you start on 3 mana reduces your time to get free spiders. Plus it's really difficult to flip her, which is where a lot of her power level is in Expeditions.

# F-Tier: Did you mull into this? Unlucky...

  • Teemo: Still better than most followers, but the opportunity cost was that he could have just been some other champion that actually impacts the board.
  • Nautilus: You start with a 40-card deck (not the 30 of Expedition), and have very few sources of Toss. Plus you'll rarely see even one other Deep unit. AND he's a 7-drop. Hard pass.
  • Fizz: A complete meme. Especially since everyone starts on 3 mana, the 2/1 on board is never relevant, dying to everything else anyone is playing.

Thanks for reading along! May you mulligan into your favorite champs and topdeck all the right synergies 😃