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[EFFORT GUIDE] Icebow, From Zero To Hero

Note: I will use some parts of my 2.9 guide since many things are similar.


Icebow is one of the few viable Xbow decks today (the others being 2.9, 3.0, and 3.1).

This deck is commonly hated because it can rocket cycle unfavorable matchups.

And of course, many just call it rocket cycle. However, it wasn't like that in the beginning.


Before modern Icebow 3.5, we had Icebow 3.3: a High skill Xbow deck.In Icebow 3.3, rocket cycling was very risky as its defense is not as solid as 3.5.

The person who made Icebow 3.3 popular was Karnage.

The deck can be seen below.


Now, because of this deck's problems, the modern 3.5 was born.It can be seen below.


II-Differences with 2.9:

2.9 mainly relies on cycle speed to get a lock. Icebow focuses on creating an impenetrable shield and forcing your opponent to overcommit to get an Xbow lock or rocket cycle.

III-Card Analyses:

1-Xbow: The main win con of this deck. Is used defensively or offensively.

2-Tesla: The main support card for Xbow and the primary defensive building.

3-Ice Wizard: A great defensive card. Slows down troops for the tesla or Xbow to murder them at a distance.

4-Knight: The main mini tank of this deck. He can defend the Ice Wizard and tesla while they attack from a distance.

5-Rocket: The secondary win con and the big spell of this deck.

6-Nado: The secondary small spell of this deck. Pairs well with Ice Wiz and Rocket.

7-Skeletons: The main swarm/cycle card of this deck. Cheap and effective.

8-Log: The main small spell of this deck.

IV-Main Card Synergies:

Ice Wiz Tesla.Ice Wiz Nado.Ice Wiz Knight.Knight Tesla.Rocket Nado.Xbow Tesla.Tesla Nado.

Now, we start the guide:

1-The Basics:

1a-Starting a Match:

With Icebow, it is overall safer to wait for your opponent to play if you have a bad hand.

Here are some good (and bad) first plays to do:

  • Splitting skeletons. Very safe.
  • Logging the tower. Not too safe but not risky if you have nado in hand.
  • Ice Wiz in the back. Risky. You are wasting a great defensive card.
  • Knight in the back. Same thing as Ice Wiz.
  • Tesla in the middle. Safe against everything but balloon, Sbarrel, lavahound, and siege.
  • Xbow. Unless you know what your opponent is running do not do this.
  • Rocketing the tower. Worst play to make.

1b-Card Placements:

1baa-Offensive Xbow's:

Standard Xbow Placement: One tile below the bridge, and one tile to the side of the arena. This placement is an offensive one. It is good for three reasons:

  1. This gives you some space to place troops such as knight in front of the Xbow.
  2. This increases the chances of your opponent failing to distract your Xbow with opposite lane tanks.
  3. Most of the time, you can use the tip of the log push these tanks away from the Xbow’s range allowing it to lock on the tower.

The placement can be seen below:

Standard Placement

Opposite Lane Punish Xbow Placement: One tile from the bridge, one tile to the opposite side from the bridge’s center. This one is mainly used for punishing plays against Giant, Golem, and Balloon on the opposite lane.

The reason is that you can put down a tesla in the middle to pull the Giant, Golem, and Balloon to the opposite lane, effectively splitting their win condition form the support making your time much easier.

The placement can be seen below:

Opposite lane punish placement

Middle Xbow Placement: At the middle 0 tiles from the river and the Xbow’s range is barely touching the tower you are attacking. You want to use this placement when:

  1. Your tower is down but you still need to attack the same lane. This is because they can attack the Xbow from 2 sides as opposed to 4.
  2. Playing against Giant Double Prince and they have just used a ranged attacker (like Ewiz). This will make the Giant and the support walk a farther distance which gives you time to kill everything and get a lock.

It can be seen below:

Middle Xbow Placement

1bab-Defensive Xbow's:

First, why do we need defensive Xbow’s?

  1. Defensive Xbow’s can snipe buildings from your side of the river.
  2. They can add a second layer of defense.
  3. If your opponent doesn’t use a spell on it, you can cycle back to another Xbow and overwhelm them.

Anti-Fireball/Rocket placement: 6/7 tiles from the king (or 4/5 from the bridge) and one tile away from the weak tower. This placement prevents damage from the fireball your Xbow and the weak tower. It also prevents damage from the rocket on your tower.


Anti-Rocket/Fireball Placement

Anti-Fireball/Poison/EQ/Lightning placement: Basically, one corner of the Xbow is touching the opposite tower’s outer corner.


It is my goto placements since it gives you space in the middle to place a tesla.


NOTE: For all these Xbow placements, the Xbow can be placed higher to snipe buildings/troops.

1bba-Defensive Tesla's:

Classic Placement: 3 tiles from the bridge. Should be used against ranged/melee troops, hogs, and fast win cons as well as most other units.An image is seen below.

Classic Placement

Anti-Tank: 4 Tiles from the bridge, should ONLY be used against SINGLE tanks because it can be bypassed easily by ranged support.


Anti-Fireball: Same thing as classic placement.

Anti-Poison/Lightning/EQ: One Tile Higher than the classic one.

1bbb-Offensive Tesla's:

These Tesla's are to be used to support an offensive Xbow.

Anti Hog/Balloon/Ranged Troops/Small Units (Excluding Musketeer): As close as possible to the Xbow. Used when you have an elixir advantage or when you are sure you can breakthrough.

Anti-Small Units tesla.

Anti Tanks: 1 tile away from the Xbow. Should be used against melee tanks that you can kill. You SHOULD NEVER USE THIS AGAINST GOLEM SINCE GOLEM CAN DESTROY BOTH THAT XBOW AND YOUR TESLA.

“Imma Cycle to Another Xbow” /Anti Lavaloon Tesla: A tile or two closer to your Xbow than the classic defensive one. Basically, you wanna use this tesla when you are facing lavaloon or when you can’t breakthrough. If you Xbow and your opponent golem’s same lane, use this tesla as nothing will stop that golem from destroying that Xbow. If you are lucky and the tesla survives, cycle to another Xbow and counter push.

Ant-Lavaloon Tesla.

Now, if there is a reason for not being able to place a tesla in the middle, you should place it like an Anti-Poison Xbow.

2-Main Techniques For Having Success With Icebow:

2a-Card Counting:

Card counting is knowing what your opponent has in hand.To do this, know this one fact: When you play a card, it will be back in your hand after you play 4more.

2b-Elixir Counting:

This is knowing how much elixir your opponent has. To do so, find the number of elixir you spent, the number he spent, subtract them, and subtract the answer from your elixir count.

Since I am not too good at explaining these things, I recommend you guys check out Vuilkan's video's on these topics.

2c-Elixir Management:

Basically, do not overcommit by 2 or 3 elixir. For example, if my opponent uses a hog rider and I have no tesla or nado, I should defend with skeletons + log and take one hit instead of ice wiz + skeletons + log and take zero (unless it is overtime).

You never want to spend more elixir than your opponent. If you have to, at least 1 elixir if possible.

3-Counter Decks:

1-BarbHut GY.

2-Golem Lightning.

3-Golem Clone.

4-Xbow 2.9

5-RG Cycle.

4-Basic Midladder Guide:

People in low to mid ladder are almost always higher level than you, so at the start of the game, you should be playing defensively.

Make sure to never rocket cycle in midladder. Rocket is one of the best cards for countering midladder decks.

Use defensive Xbow's. Many midladder players will either leave them alone or not have a big spell to use on them.

Make the overcommit. For Example, after you play Xbow and they play valk, play knight to force them to play something else (and since many midladder decks are heavy) they'll generally overcommit.

Many midladder decks have many tanks. In this case, you cannot outcycle them. You have to break through by brute force. Whether it is gaining an elixir advantage or killing their tanks.

Know your building placements. There are specific anti-spell placements to avoid giving your opponent value. Also, there are specific placements you should do in certain situations.There are many times I have used an Anti-Fireball Tesla and the opponent tried to fireball it and the tower and missed it completely.

Dirty Building Bypass Trick: If your opponent plays a building 5 tiles from the river, you can place an Xbow in the classic placement but one tile higher in the opposite lane to bypass it and attack the tower.

Know your numbers: When you are going to spell cycle your opponent’s tower at the end of the game, make sure you know how much damage your spells will do. It will make finishing the game much more easier and less stressful if you know when you are able to win. This could also ensure that you don’t accidentally miscalculate and leave the opponent’s tower with 20 hp after you use a valuable rocket on the tower.Basically, start rocket cycling when their tower is two rockets and two logs away from death.

Use offensive Xbow's when they cycle a 4 elixir card or higher in the back. This will force them to split their push.

Never use defensive Xbow's in single elixir unless it is to snipe spawners.

Don't waste the Ice Wizard. He is a powerful card that can help you defend against the biggest pushes.Same goes for nado and rocket.

5-Some Matchups Guides:


Against splashyard, you want to go opposite lane as them. You should try your best to get a lock in single because in double it is almost impossible to do so.

You want to pressure the once you have an elixir advantage, or if they cycle a card like ice wiz or knight in the back. By pressuring them, you will force them to defend your Xbow's and make them not have enough for a GY push.

If you are unfortunate to face a GY push, place an Ice Wiz to defend the GY, nado their tanks away from your tower so that it can help against the GY. Place a Knight + tesla to kill their tanks, and log away any excess skeletons. You can also use rocket on their tanks.

You should use defensive Xbow's in double elixir to:

1-Bait out their poison.2-Help defend against GY.

In double elixir, play defensively. DON'T ROCKET CYCLE. (Unless the tower is like 1 rocket away from death)

If you haven't gotten a lock yet, you are doomed. Try to rocket knights and Baby d's with the tower.

Note, if a tower trade is inevitable, do it. GY suffers more against tower trades than Icebow.


This is a fairly easy matchup. Once you activate king, it is game over.

They cannot rocket cycle you, as you can Xbow.

To get an Xbow lock against bait, make them overcommit and once they are down 3 elixir, Xbow at 7.If they inferno, skeletons + log should take care of it. If they knight you can kill it. If they rocket, you still get 500 damage.

Defensive Xbow's are gold against logbait. This makes them unable to play princesses or gangs.If they ignore it, go with an offensive one. They will have to use knight + rocket then you can get to another offensive Xbow quickly or a defensive one.

5c-Golem Lightning:

This is one of the most tough Icebow matchups.

Xbow opposite lane as soon as possible in single elixir when they play a 4 elixir card in the back. Use the punish placement. Golem won't be down in time and even if it is down in the opposite lane, a tesla will pull it to the opposite lane towards the Xbow.

If they golem in the back, pretesla and ice wiz. Save your rocket.Defend the tesla and Ice Wiz with knight. Cycle back to another tesla after it gets lightninged.If the push is huge, rocket nado it. Nado + Ice Wiz is gold against this matchup.

Use defensive Xbow's in double elixir. You can use it in the Anti-Lightning position to snipe at a distance, or in the place of the tesla since it is way tankier.

If you ever need to rocket cycle, do it when the tower is 2 rockets and 2 logs away from death.

If you defended their golem push and they are not back to a golem, use an offensive Xbow and make them overcommit. Try to get a lock if possible.

5d-Xbow 2.9:

Against Xbow 2.9, you should try to survive single elixir. They can easily outcycle you and distract your Xbow's for as long as they wish. They can also fireball your Xbow and the tower.

Be offensive. Offensive Xbow a lot and make them overcommit. If you do make them overcommit, offensive Xbow at 8.

Rocket their Xbow and use something like log to prevent taking 500 damage. If they manage to outcycle your rocket, use knight + defensive Xbow (anti fireball) to kill their Xbow. Try to not use tesla against offensive Xbow's. Use it only as a last resort since it is a soft counter.

In double, rocket all defensive and offensive Xbow's. Try to be more aggressive than them.

If you just have defended an Xbow and have a 5+ elixir lead, rocket their tower for damage, but be prepared to defend all offensive Xbow's.

Go with offensive Xbow's when you have the elixir lead. Rocket nado if they use ice golem + Xbow close together.

5e-RG Lightning.

You have the matchup here. Xbow offensively in single after you have defended an RG and have an elixir lead.

Snipe defensive buildings with defensive Xbow's.

Use offensive Xbow's when they RG in the back in single. Save your tesla for the RG. Prepare to use ice wiz nado to defend if the tesla dies or gets lightning.

Defensive Xbow's are gold in double. They help bait out the lightning.

Rocket their Ewiz's or 4+ elixir air attackers and the tower.

Rocketing the RG and the tower is not a bad play as long as:

1-They RG in the lane you are attacking.

2-They do not have heal spirit.

You should only offensive Xbow in double if you need to get a lock.

Rocket Cycle when their tower is 2 rockets and one log away from death.

5f-Megaknight Decks:

Xbow offensively when they are down 5 elixir in single.

Save your knight for the MK. You can also use tesla + skeletons/ice wiz to kill the MK.

Rocket 4+ elixir troops in the back.

If you are playing MK bait, activate king with nado. Use tesla's for Sbarrels and knight for MK.

Against MK WB, save tesla for WB, knight for MK, and Xbow when you have defended and they are not back to MK.

Defensive Xbow in double. These two MK decks do not have a big spell. Dealing with two Xbow's (one defensive and one offensive) will be a nightmare for them.

Do not let the MK jump on anything. Use skeletons to tank his jump.

Against MK midladder decks, break through with brute force.

Make them overcommit.

Use a knight + tesla to defend your Xbow against MK if you severely need a lock.

Rocket cycle if you have a 4+ elixir lead or if you have a defensive Xbow down and is prepared for anything and everything.


Again, you have the matchup.

Xbow same lane as the hound, and use a tesla to take care of the loon. Rocket Nado if needed and Ice Wiz nado if no balloon is present or you do not have rocket.

If they use barbs against your offensive Xbow, use something like Ice Wiz + log + skeletons to make them overcommit.

Save your Xbow. Never defensive Xbow and always Xbow same lane as the hound unless the lavaloon player switched lanes.

If the lavaloon player switches lanes to make you Xbow in the lane that you are not attacking, Xbow in the offensive opposite lane punish placement. Use a high tesla to pull the loon to the Xbow and Ice Wiz the hound and its support. Use nado if the balloon will get a lock.

Rocket cycling is not a good idea. Rocketing the lavaloon pushes is.

6-Rocket Cycling Guide:

Rocket cycling has become a main strategy of Icebow. So let us cover it.

1-Rocket Cycle when the opponent's tower is 2 rockets and 2 logs away form death.

2-Rocket the tower if you can also rocket a 4+ elixir with it too.

3-Don't rocket cycle favorable matchups like lavaloon.

4-You can rocket the tower if you have nado in hand and a healthy tesla down against many decks like hog decks.

5-Rocket the tower is you have a 4+ elixir lead.

6-Never rocket cycle against sparky and Xbow for obvious reasons.

7-If it will be a game of tower damage, you can rocket cycle but be prepared to defend. This should be done in triple elixir overtime.

7-Common Mistakes:

1-Rocketing the tower brainlessly.

2-Wasting the Ice Wiz or Knight.

3-Not spacing out troops enough.

4-Not having a game plan.

5-Using the wrong card placements.


7-Not switching lanes against Poison or EQ.

8-External Links and Such:

Great Icebow players to learn from:

  • Karnage
  • lemonTree68
  • SFIX
  • BestNA
  • Vulkan (great at it but doesn't main it)

Youtube Link's:

BestNA's Channel

lemonTree68's Channel

Vulkan's Channel

CWA's IceBow Mistakes (Featuring Karnage)

One Hour of the best Icebow Gameplay featuring Karnage

Vulkan's FAQ's and Card Counting Tutorial

Vulkan's Elixir Counting Tutorial

Vulkan's Quick Elixir Counting Guide

SirTag's Icebow Guide

Other Links:

My 2.9 Guide

I hope this guide helped you all.

Stay Safe and Goodbye.

Written By RinasSam.
FOSS (Free and Open Source) Guide: Can be taken, modified, and redistributed without my permission under the condition it is FOSS too.

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