5 Off-Meta Decks Showcasing New Spells from Aphelios Champion Expansion
Mezume here back to roots with another set of not-so-meta decks for your pleasure and enjoyment!
Last week, we welcomed Aphelios he’s had quite the impact on what we see on the ladder. Twisted Fate/Aphelios seems to be a top contender or maybe even just straight up the strongest deck out there, while the champion himself is possibly the most powerful in the game. Surely he’s up there with Twisted Fate at least.
This is important, of course, as the seasonal cut-off is approaching and soon lots of us will be fighting for the 10 000$ grand prize. In this article, however, I want to look at this champion expansion in a different way. What decks can we play to unwind ourselves from the seasonal preparation?
The lists I want to showcase here are not all competitive – they are presented in an order starting from the ‘most serious’ to ‘the least serious’. The first deck is, in my opinion, the most viable in a competitive environment. The last, on the other hand, is mostly just full of fun and meme potential. Without further ado, these are the decks I have chosen.
Every expansion Bilgewater seems to get more and more
In this case, the new addition is Powder Pandemonium, and it synergizes very well with nearly every tool in Bilgewater’s arsenal. For each time you activate Plunder, this spell summons a
As there are multiple early game cards with Plunder, but also many ways to activate it early, the card can come down as early as turn 4 or 5 with a decent amount of monkeys. This can be used to help control the board and remove the most important targets that like to sit in the back row.
Another use for this card is for pure damage. Summoning up to 6 attackers in one action, that deal damage on death and are ephemeral? That is an insanely good way to finish the game.
There is not much innovation in the first and most powerful list in this piece. Gangplank and Sejuani have always hovered somewhere under the tier list radar, but Powder Pandemonium is a card that brings extra finishing potential to this deck, allowing it to close out games with nearly unavoidable damage.
This strategy relies on damaging the enemy Nexus bit by bit over multiple turns to both put pressure on the opponent, but also level the two champions in your deck. In the best cases, this can happen on-curve!
This deck is fairly midrange-y, so much of the champion progression is done through direct damage cards such as Parrrley, Warning Shot and Make It Rain. Monkey Idol and Monkey Business contribute further during the midgame. There are additional Plunder payoffs like Black Market Merchant, Riptide Rex and more.
The big strength of this deck is in how spread-out its win conditions are. It can take over the board, especially with level 2 versions of its champions, as well as Riptide Rex; but it can also rush the enemy down, using Powder Pandemonium and Gangplank as finishers.
There are tons of fun to be had with this list, as there are multiple decisions you have to make across the game. Oftentimes, the best way to play the archetype is to just “go face”. With the damage you can dish out, but also the levelling requirement of your champions, simply attacking and using your spells very proactively can yield the best results.
Any deck that wants to fight for the board will struggle against you, as levelled Sejuani and Gangplank are insanely strong at helping you take over the field, especially when backed up by Rex. Additionally, if your opponent lacks healing, they will not have an easy time dealing with all the slow burn. The deck’s biggest issue is when it’s fighting against slow, self-sustaining control decks, which can remove your big threats while keeping their Nexus health at a comfortable level.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this deck to anyone, even to those looking for an actually competitively viable deck. Want proof? I brought it to a tournament last weekend and it got banned every single game. This list cannot be underestimated, as it packs a lot of power!
This other deck using Powder Pandemonium plays in a completely different manner and is much more one-dimensional in how it wants to win. It is a swarm-based aggressive strategy involving Twisted Fate and Jinx.
Filled with 1-drops, this deck abuses
Jagged Taskmaster allows your units to be even more of a nuisance, granting all 1-costs in the deck an additional point of attack. With other Plunder cards such as Jagged Butcher, Monkey Business, and even the Plunder Poro, it is possible to quickly stack Powder Pandemonium to 5-6 monkeys. While this list does not have ways to proc Plunder out of hand, it is simple to do so, as you should have a wider board than your opponent in the early game.
With how easy it is to empty your hand, Jinx is a great way to close out the game, as you can level her and start creating rockets very quickly. While a bit of an odd choice, Twisted Fate complements the deck with his versatility, and he also has the synergy with all the cycle cards in the deck, like Pool Shark, Zaunite Urchin, and Rummage.
Having your 1-cost units present a threat of 4+ damage to the Nexus is definitely appealing, but the deck also has some glaring weaknesses. Your entire board, at any point of the game, will mostly consist of units that have 3 or fewer points of toughness. Due to this and the fact that the deck needs to apply board pressure, there is no way to play around any sort of board wipes, other than having enough gas to hopefully redevelop after. On the flip side, the game can easily get out of hand for your opponents if they don’t have any access to sweepers. You’re most likely never giving back the advantage, and with Powder Pandemonium, even if you do, you can still finish off the game!
If you like aggro decks, definitely try this spin; it’s fun, it’s novel and you can attack your opponent with a full board of 5/1 Powder Monkeys!
Ionia has been the recipient of most meme-y and non-competitive cards for many expansions now. At first glance, you could consider Flurry of Fists to be another one of those cards with very narrow use – a fun card at best. When you look a bit deeper into it though, there’s merit to this card, despite how specific it is.
Looking at the effect, it is clear it is meant to be game-ending; yet it still has this small bit of utility in case stars don’t align. When they do, however, it feels really great to cast Flurry of Fists. It has synergies with units that have Quick Attack and as Overwhelm. Attacking twice with Overwhelm on top of it should be able to finish most of the games.
The list for Flurry of Fists is inspired by xTacio, a great Spanish player. This deck is a new twist on Noxus Overwhelm Allegiance – a deck that has been played before with cards such as The Harrowing or Atrocity. This time, however, the new way to finish games can be found in the combination of Flurry of Fists and the recently buffed
Typical for a Noxus Allegiance strategy, the deck relies on board-swarm combined with Overwhelm to finish off the opponent. With a number of cheap units such as House Spider, Legion Saboteur, Legion Grenadier, as well as the Reforge package, lots of damage can be dealt in the early game, followed by champions and Kato The Arm as finishers.
Additionally, spells such as the Whirling Death and Decisive Maneuver are able to help to deal the last bits of damage needed to win the game. The real star of this deck, however, is the combo of Flurry of Fists with Blade of the Exile (or the occasional leveled Draven). With the Blade granting a unit Quick Attack, as well as Overwhelm, Flurry of Fists can allow for insane damage to go through even the toughest of blockers.
This deck is a fantastic punish to strategies that can’t deal with your champions – as they are all big threats if left unchecked. In addition to that, lack of healing or relying on chump blockers will hurt your opponents badly when they are face a list like this.
That said, you can and will run out of value eventually, as you include a lot of cheap cards in the deck. Should the opponent be able to withstand the first wave of attacks, there isn’t too much you can do to set up a new one.
As for cards you can include in this deck, Wild Claws has some synergy with both Darius and a buffed Riven; while Weapon Hilt can provide a more consistent way of creating Blade of the Exile early on.
If you like to smack your opponent with big creatures, but also wish to live the dream of a 10-attack Riven with Double Attack, this is your deck!
Nearly everyone was quick to assess this Gluttony card – it’s Anivia support! While that is true and Gluttony fits very well into an Anivia control deck, summoning The Rekindler if used on her, there are many uses for this spell.
Shadow Isles, having the most amount of Last Breath effects in the game, is obviously going to be the main focus for this card, with the other region most likely only playing a supporting role. One very narrow use of Gluttony could be to supplement a deck using Vaults of Helia (like the one I included in my landmark article), using it on Grizzled Ranger to summon a Radiant Guardian. In this article, I will showcase a different deck – focusing on the synergy with The Undying.
The Gluttonous Undying is a deck that takes a spin on the good old Bilgewater Undying deck. This list wants to develop a big board that is fairly immune to any kind of board clears while using Gluttony to tutor some unfair cards.
In the past, this deck was relying on giving opposing units the Vulnerable status and trading up in value thanks to using The Undying to pull them into combat. While still making use of that mechanic, this strategy adds an additional way of winning – cheating a powerful unit out with Gluttony. It can be cast on a Cursed Keeper to let you summon a 4/3, while also summoning The Undying. You can also use it on The Undying itself to get a 7/7 Ancient Crocolith, or Zap Sprayfin – an Elusive that draws you a card.
The traditional Shadow Isles package is also included: the infamous Barkbeast + Cursed Keeper + Ravenous Butcher turn 2 for a 10 damage attack. With a big sticky board created early on, you will usually be ahead in the midgame, where you can finish things off using Citrus Courier for an extra attack token.
With few ways to interact with the enemy board early on, this archetype has a difficult time playing against faster decks, as well as those utilizing multiple chump blockers. It can punish slower strategies that want to keep the board clear; as the Last Breath units make it impossible to do so efficiently.
Against midrange decks, the single copy of The Ruination can swing the game in your favor. There is one interesting card that I haven’t included in the decklist but that can definitely be a cute way to be more unfair: Brash Gambler. Skipping the on-summon discard requirement with Gluttony and being able to draw 2 cards on-attack can help you outvalue your opponent and take over the game.
Enjoyed playing the Undying decks in the past? This one is a great way to relive this, while also checking out the newest Shadow Isles card! And if you haven’t, just give it a go; getting a free Ancient Crocolith is one hell of a great feeling.
Starbone has a sad story behind it, being a tribute to a developer’s dog. But it is also just a very interestingly designed spell, with some strong synergies with cards such as Messenger’s Sigil, Viktor, and more.
It buffs every Celestial, which could be very powerful in combination with The Golden Sister or some of the cheaper choices. Sadly, the requirement ‘to behold’ The Messenger holds the card back, as there is no reliable way of hitting it early, with cards such as Spacey Sketcher only giving a 3-in-8 chance of getting one. It does, however, allow for some (mostly meme-y) creative deckbuilding, such as for the deck I included below.
The “Good Boys” deck revolves completely around the Celestial blue dogs. Most of the cards in the deck are in it to make The Messenger a real threat or to make sure you draw them.
Despite being mostly a meme deck, this strategy can actually be very consistent at what it is doing. The champions included are Zoe and Aphelios; some of the strongest we have in the game at this point. Between Zoe, Spacey Sketcher, Supercool Starchart and Messenger’s Sigil, it is quite likely that we can have The Messenger in hand by turn 2 or 3.
An additional way to ensure that is via Aphelios: once you’ve cast Messenger’s Sigil, the only 2-cost follower in your deck is the dog! Crescendum will hit it every single time, which is especially strong once they are buffed.
In order to make sure the deck stays strong throughout the game, there are multiple ways to keep drawing The Messenger and other Celestials, as well as buffing them. More Celestials can be created by The Fangs, Solari Priestess, Mountain Scryer, and Starshaping.
The buffing part is taken care of by, first and foremost, the Starbone and Iceborn Legacy. Additionally, you can find Cosmic Inspiration through Starshaping, as well as use Pack Mentality for a final blow. As you are likely to play multiple cards in a turn, The Veiled Temple can help create even bigger dogs for your enjoyment.
Finally, the deck is able to interact with the opponent not only via Obliterates through Invoking, but also The Skies Descend, which can cost as little as 3 if your board is full of cute, little, blue puppies.
The main appeal of the deck is… I mean, who am I kidding, everyone knows what the main appeal is. Puppies! From a gameplay perspective, however, we are looking at a strategy that does not run out of value, has all the upsides of typical Invoke decks, and the overwhelming power of Zoe and Aphelios.
It does lack early game interaction and, of course, runs the risk of drawing the wrong cards at the wrong time, as some of the buffs simply do nothing if you don’t have a board or do not behold a Celestial. It also feels awful sending your dogs for slaughter when they need to chump block.
You can’t resist playing this deck. I know it, you know it, everyone does. Just copy the list, or make your own adjustments and hop into the game. I promise it’ll be fun!
The new cards were not very numerous in the expansion, but this particular case really shows that quality comes over quantity. With only 4 new units, 11 spells, and 1 champion, it could have been a complete flop and yet the team managed to deliver a playable set where everything can at least be experimented with. It has to be recognized what great job Riot is doing at releasing new concepts.
I tried to include some of the more interesting experiments above and I hope I succeeded in providing at least one deck that you will try out and enjoy in any game mode! I can personally recommend all of them, as they are all playable and fun, but if I had to choose one, it would be the Starbone list. Just play it!