Aphelios Champion Expansion – Card Ratings

Hi everyone, den here. I started writing for RuneterraCCG this month, mostly focusing on the evergreen topics of the game, and I also posted a Zoe/Aurelion Sol deck guide recently.

This time, I’ve been asked to present and rate the new cards to you, so let’s see if I can guess the impact! Feel free to come and discuss, offer feedback, or roast me for being wrong about the cards on my Twitter.

Here is our rating scale:

  • 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Pre-nerf Vi).
  • 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes. (The Harrowing, Twisted Fate, Mystic Shot).
  • 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes. (Yasuo, Culling Strike, Statikk Shock).
  • 2.0: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks (Vanguard SergeantThorny Toad).
  • 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta (Unstable VolticianParade Electrorig).


There are 5 Moon Weapons, all of which are 2-cost Slow spells. ‘Phase’ keyword means: ‘Pick the next Moon Weapon for Aphelios’.

Calibrum

Deal 3 damage to a target follower.

Phase Severum or Gravitum.

Severum

Give an ally +1|+2 and Lifesteal this Round.

Phase Gravitum or Infernum.

Gravitum

Stun an enemy. If it’s a follower, Stun it again at the next Round Start.

Phase Infernum or Crescendum.

Infernum

Give an ally +2|+1 and Overwhelm this Round.

Phase Crescendum or Calibrum.

Crescendum

Summon a 2-cost follower from your deck. If it has Nightfall, activate it.

Phase Calibrum or Severum.


Aphelios: 3.0

Let’s talk first about the star of this batch, the new Targon champion Aphelios. At first, I thought the card would be very slow to develop as it requires a Nightfall activation to be really effective. The 3/3 stat is very ‘endangered’ right now due to Draven, Miss Fortune, and Fiora forcing decks to play removals for them.

The nerfs of that also happened in Patch 2.1.0 alongside the new card releases will likely slow down the pace of the game, which means Aphelios and his Moon Weapons could actually be very effective now.

I don’t think Aphelios would do as great in a fast-paced deck but instead will need a slower deck that can set him up properly. The champion reminds me a bit of Karma in that regard, as it can really carry a game on its own if played in the right setup.

Among the new cards, only Gifts Beyond (which is also his champion spell) can help Aphelios’s quest to generate Moon Weapons. That could lead to a lot of situations where you will have to throw the first copy of Aphelios under the bus in order to prep the level-up for your next copy of Aphelios down the line.

This is my biggest concern regarding the champion, as Targon isn’t really good when you need to cycle the deck. I’m wondering how often a non-evolved Aphelios will be enough to have an impact on the game.

I’m rating it at 3.0 because I believe the Moon Weapons are strong and flexible enough. That should make Aphelios a solid playable, although I see him more as the second champion in the deck more than the one defining the overall direction of a particular list.


The Flight – 2.0

A 2/1 Elusive for 1 mana looks good, and it draws you a card when it strikes the Nexus. The problem here is that the card does not stay on board after that, and that changes a lot.

To me, this card should be used in decks trying to cycle. The 1 mana cost and Elusive tag can also be very useful to either enable a soft-pass or serve a blocker to an important Elusive unit of your opponent. Also, The Flight can be used as a Nightfall activator.

The card looks good and probably is the closest to being a 3.0, but I think the shuffle clause limits it and so it will end up as a utility card in Nightfall or heavy cycle decks.


Starbone – 1.0

Although there are means to shuffle multiple “The Messenger” into your deck, this looks way too specific and difficult to accomplish when compared to the current meta decks. It should be a gimmick at best.


The Sky Shadows – 3.0

In the right deck, this card should always refill 2 spell mana when played. Tempo decks can make use of it to get early onto the board.

Targon region has many cards to support it (even though the best one – Pale Cascade – just got nerfed), so the guarantee that you will have some mana left to answer your opponent’s next action sounds great.

While the 3/1 stat line isn’t that fantastic, aggressive decks like Diana Nocturne or Zoe Draven could use this card as an additional must-block threat.

Nightfall has been abandoned as a mechanic lately, and seeing cards come alongside Aphelios to help the keyword is great news.


The Fangs – 1.0

4 mana for a 3/2 body is a fairly bad deal, and the Lifesteal doesn’t really save the card. Sparklefly should still remain as a better option to abuse the keyword.

The only thing left for the card is its Invoke clause, but even then, Spacey Sketcher and Zoe look to be miles ahead in terms of tempo – and I don’t think a deck needs more cards than that with that specific effect.

While The Fangs combines several good things, none of them looks to be good enough to get it over the line. 


The Veiled Temple – 2.0

So far landmarks have been pretty disappointing overall, outside of The Grand Plaza and Star Spring. The fact that they do nothing upon arrival, take up a spot on the board, and usually need to be played early in the game to have a good impact means that the payoff needs to be very good.

In the case of The Veiled Temple, mana refill is great, +1/+1 is great – but you’ve already paid 4 mana, while there is a condition that only works once per round. It just looks like a lot of trouble for something that will probably give you back the 4 mana you invested.


The Cloven Way – 3.0

While the Overwhelm tag can help it find a spot in a damage-oriented deck, I think it’s the Nightfall effect that is really important.

The double stun to any follower could be huge when played on a non-attack turn as this sets up a great open attack the next turn. This gives the card some flexibility and allows it to be much more than another Overwhelm unit.

While 5 mana for a 5/4 could be a bit weak in the long run, this unit still reminds of the Mindsplitter, although much more flexible when trying to pressure the opponent.


Stress Testing – 4.0

With Fizz/TF being the top deck in the current metagame, this card is bound to make its early way into the metagame.

In a deck capable of cycling, with a lot of cheap cards to draw into, the Fleeting tag shouldn’t be a problem when this is discarded with a Poro Cannon or Rummage. The ‘remove Fleeting’ clause means Pick a Card can be cast much more easily as there would be no risk of losing cards that can’t be played on the spot.

But here comes the biggest upside of the card: TF can level up on the turn he gets played even more consistently now!

After TF is played with The Blue Card selected, he only needs 7 more draws to level up. Rummage is a 1-mana spell that can draw 3 with 1 Stress Testing discarded (draw 4 with 2 Stress Testings). It also matters that Pick a Card can be used more carelessly now to threaten a level up.

All in all, this is just another utility card that fits the best deck in the game perfectly and should help it remain dominant for the weeks to come. Stress Testing might not be the flashiest card of the set, nor the one that we would like to see succeed the most, but it very well might end up being the one with the biggest impact.


Troll Gifts – 2.0

I am still not sure if this is a 2.0 or a 1.0 in my book, but I felt like grant +2/+2 is a pretty good deal for 2 mana.

Although the Regeneration keyword has kind of disappeared since Trundle got nerfed, there are some cards to benefit from Troll Gifts. I’m thinking about Braum here – an unused champion that is begging for more support. Trundle could also be back in the metagame as a solid champion, and the Troll Ravager is another mid-game unit that could shine with a 5/7 stat line.

I could imagine a more midrange build of Feel The Rush, including this card instead of Troll chant, aiming to just heal a big minion in the late-game. But overall, I think it has to be considered as a card for the future more than an immediate inclusion in the current decks. 


Flurry of Fists – 1.0

When I saw the card, I immediately thought “Maybe Zed can make a comeback alongside Lee Sin”.

Although the card itself isn’t flashy, the Burst speed and the capacity to give Quick or Double Attack might be good enough to splash in a deck with 2 champions to benefit from it.

Lee Sin might be one of the biggest winners of the patch, and flexibility can never hurt. It will be hard for this card to find a spot in his deck as it looks more for stability than highroll potential, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a copy in an old school iteration of Zed Lee. 

Otherwise, the card doesn’t look like it can find a way into the current metagame.


Gluttony – 2.0

The Undying is really happy to see this card, and Anivia could pull off some nice synergies to summon the Rekindler. But the use you can get out of the card isn’t too wide and also requires a specific setup.

The restriction of only Last Breath allies makes the card very narrow and it feels like Glimpse Beyond is miles ahead in terms of power level.

We might see a copy or two in gimmick decks around the Last Breath mechanic, but I can’t imagine this card being relevant in the grand scheme of things outside of an Anivia deck for now. 


Powder Pandemonium – 4.0

Miss Fortune just got nerfed because of the Scouts deck, but her collaboration with Gangplank might have found a new finisher.

The card doesn’t look insane, but GP/MF is a deck that is capable of dealing tons of damage and Powder Pandemonium further increases that amount – by possibly a lot!

Plunder is fairly easy to activate in decks, so we could be looking at an average of 3 or 4 Powder Monkeys and Vulnerable enemies for 4 mana. Summoning 4 monkeys is basically casting a decimate which is a 5 mana card, and this even comes with the ability to pick your trades and attack with dispensable units. That sounds like a great card that should be included on day 1 in the deck.


Wild Claws – 1.0

This is a Slow spell which requires a unit in play and probably also a way to protect it in order to safely resolve Wild Claw.

For 5 mana, this looks like a poor man’s Concerted Strike with a bonus in case of Overwhelm.

I think the card doesn’t fit the current way Overwhelm is used and is way too expensive to find a spot in the current metagame.


Molten Breath – 1.0

Once again, the Slow tag makes this spell extremely hard to use effectively.

At 6 mana, it means you have to either risk losing your unit or have a lot of mana still available.

The condition of your minion needing Fury, in addition, means that this is specific to Dragon decks, an archetype that already sees almost no play.


Conclusion

With the new cards and the balance changes, we should see a pretty big shakeup in the overall environment of the game after the patch.

Although I don’t see anything that could be able to dethrone Fizz TF or even Ez Draven from the top spots in the current tier lists, the return of the Nightfall mechanic and some help to weaker archetypes should give the players lots to experiment with in the coming days.

Thanks for reading, feel free to share what you think the next metagame will look like with us on Discord, and be on the lookout for more guides about the decks rising after the patch!

den

Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yugioh and then Magic. Hearthstone has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. Although it took him a bit to get into Legends or Runeterra, his EU Seasonal Tournament win was the perfect start to get involved in the community. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on the game. Find him on Twitter at @den_CCG!

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