Aurelion Sol and Invoke: Analysis and Ratings
Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins, and today, I’m very happy to bring you a competitive-oriented analysis of Aurelion Sol and the other cards Riot revealed in the past 2 days! 😄
Here’s our rating scale:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Sejuani, Riptide Rex…).
- 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 Sergeant, Thorny Toad…)
- 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta (Unstable Voltician, Parade Electrorig…).
Aurelion Sol once graced the vast emptiness of the celestial realm with wonders of his own devising, but was tricked by the Aspects of Targon into revealing the secrets of a sun that he himself created. His awesome power was channeled into immortal god-warriors to protect the apparently insignificant world of Runeterra — now, desiring a return to his mastery of the cosmos, Aurelion Sol will drag the very stars from the sky, if he must, in order to regain his freedom.
Aurelion Sol – 3.0
The very first thing to notice about Aurelion Sol is its mana cost: he is the first 10 mana cost Champion. This very high cost instantly makes him a niche card because there are not too many decks interested in such an expensive card.
Now with that said, we can look at what he has to offer. His keyword Fury isn’t very relevant, because at 10|10 stat line he is already huge and a +1|+1 is unlikely to make a difference, especially with the lack of evasion (Elusive, Overwhelm, Fearsome…). The second keyword, SpellShield is very important and is a very big part of Aurelion Sol identity. It will make him very annoying to deal with, as a 10|10 is hard to kill in combat, and SpellShield will force the opponent to use multiple spells on Aurelion Sol.
Aurelion Sol’s Play ability will help you find a win condition, making your opponent’s life even harder. Even if he successfully removes Aurelion Sol he will still have to deal with the big Celestial card you created. His Round Start ability also allows him to snowball games very effectively if he stays on board.
However, Aurelion Sol has some big flaws: it’s a 10 mana card that neither ends the game right away nor has a huge impact on the board. He provides the sole big body with no evasion the turn you play it, giving the opponent time to try and steal the game, and his level-up is pure overkill. Overall, Aurelion Sol is a very powerful card and he will win games by himself thanks to generating Celestials, but he is extremely slow because of its cost and because he needs time to really gain momentum once you played him.
Decks that use Aurelion Sol will probably be interested in having ways to cheat him out before turn 10. The first thing that comes to mind is ramping with Frejlord cards. Using Thresh to summon him directly on board could also be an interesting strategy, even if it won’t activate the Play ability.
I think Aurelion Sol isn’t oppressive enough for a 10 mana card, but I still like him as a very powerful top-end for a slow midrange deck, or as the entire win condition in a dedicated control deck. He is too slow to be strong against aggro or combo decks, but he is a good champion against slow midrange and control decks. You can think of Aurelion Sol as a win condition that is easy to race but hard to deal with.
Before continuing our review, I think it is important to talk about the Celestial cards and the Invoke keyword. Below are all the cards – 22 total – that you can choose with Invoke (click on the images to enlarge):
Being able to choose a card among 3 cards offered is fundamentally strong because it allows the player to adapt on the fly to what his opponent is doing. Choosing in such a large pool of cards (there are 22 Celestials total) means the opponent will struggle to figure out which Celestial card you found, so it’s going to be difficult for him to play around it.
Most Celestial cards are very strong for their cost, and even those on the weaker side are extremely powerful in the right situation.
- The 0-3 costs are under-costed followers and situational spells (because we have a choice among 3 cards, being situational is not a downside).
- The 4-6 costs are cards that provide either massive board presence (special mention for The Golden Sister), value, or strong removal options.
- The 7-10 costs are all win-conditions in the right situations, and being able to choose with Invoke will allow you to pick an appropriate finisher for the matchup you are playing.
With this in mind, Invoke is looking really impressive, with both strong cards to develop a powerful proactive plan and good tech cards to adapt to the opponent’s threats. I’m loving this mechanic, it provides players with more meaningful choices with a lot of skill-expression. The RNG aspect of it will lead to a lot of different, creative, and interesting games, and the Celestial cards’ design is amazing.
A little clarification regarding the Invoke’s RNG: it has been confirmed that different Celestial cards have varied chances of appearing as choices when you Invoke. Here is a quote from Shawn Main, the Design Lead for this expansion:
Celestials have an individual weighting […]. Generally, units are a little more frequent than spells and high cost cards are a little less frequent. At the extreme, some celestials are 2x as likely as some others.
The following Invoke cards’ ratings are heavily influenced by my opinion of Celestial cards, and so you can expect pretty high ratings overall.
Spacey Sketcher – 4.0
Celestial cards that cost 3 or less are very interesting. Their followers are really strong in the early game, whereas the spells could act as answers to specific situations in the later stages. This makes Spacey Sketcher valuable at any point in the game, which is always a very good sign for a 1-drop.
This card provides cheap access to Celestial cards at the cost of discarding a card. With the power level of Celestial cards being so high, it looks like a very good deal. There are also ways to gain more value out of this card, either by employing Discard enablers (like Jury-Rig) or by throwing away generated cards with very little value (e.g. Gems).
I expect Spacey Sketcher to be the premium 1-drop in Targon and to fit any kind of deck, from aggro to control.
Solari Priestess – 3.5
The 4 to 6 cost Celestial card pool is filled with very impactful cards. Solari Priestess’ weak stat line on turn 3 will create a tempo loss, but the strength of the Celestial card can make up for it later. However, the weak body combined with only invoking expensive cards makes it slow and vulnerable to aggressive strategies.
Daybreak is very easy to activate in any deck, and I think it’s more of an upside for some synergies than a drawback. But, even in a deck without any Daybreak synergy, this card is still looking very good.
Mountain Scryer – 3.5
Allegiance is a huge deckbuilding requirement, but this card is looking like it would worth it. Celestial cards are very strong and reducing their cost makes them even more degenerate.
All this power will be at the cost of an initial tempo loss because Mountain Scryer costs quite a lot of mana and has a mediocre stat line. Most of the time it will not impact combat at all because you want to keep it alive to benefits from the cost-reducing effect.
Hence, I can see this card struggle a bit in aggressive matchups, but overall it looks like a very powerful card. There are some game-winning Celestial cards, and being able to play a win condition a turn earlier is extremely valuable.
Moodreamer – 3.0
For a card with the Invoke keyword and no drawback associated, its stat line is actually very decent, especially in slower decks. Coming only on turn 5 makes it slow and makes the good early Celestial followers less interesting, but this card can help stabilize the board in the midgame in addition to creating a Celestial card.
Lunari Priestess – 3.0
Nightfall, unlike Daybreak, requires some set up to activate and this card is really bad if you are not able to do so. It can make this follower a bit clunky, and the fact this card is a tempo loss doesn’t help with finding the good turn to play it either.
However, its stat line is somewhat interesting as 2 attack will often help to trade her off instead of only chump-blocking. The Nightfall keyword can also be an upside instead of a downside if you play a deck with Nightfall synergies.
If you can find a good turn to play Lunari Priestess, the value it creates associated with the power of Celestial cards make it definitely worth running.
Behold The Infinite – 3.0
Overall, Celestial cards are somewhat over-costed when you add 2 mana to their price, but it is still a fine deal. The ability to choose a card among 3 makes this card pretty polyvalent, making up for the mana used.
This card can find its place in slower decks, especially if they have Celestial synergies.
The Skies Descend – 3.0
This card requires some deckbuilding attention since without a Dragon or Celestial unit on board (or another discount effect) it’s literally not playable. However, Invoke cards provide you with Celestials units that are definitely very strong and there are some interesting Dragons as well (especially the one from Demacia).
If you meet the requirements to cast The Skies Descend, the result would be quite close to a one-sided Ruination. While it’s a mass removal, I don’t think this card really fits control decks because, if you manage to have a good board presence of Celestials and Dragons with a control deck, you are probably already winning the game. However, this card looks like a massive payoff for playing Celestials/Dragons in a midrange matchup. When the game gets stalled out a bit and both sides start to amass a heavy board presence, you can easily throw down this card and instantly win the game.
I didn’t rate this card very high because it is pretty niche: only strong in a single archetype, slow against aggro, and not very good against most control decks. However, if you play a Dragon/Celestial midrange deck in a midrange meta, this is the ultimate payoff in my opinion.
Starshaping – 2.5
The 7+ cost Celestial cards are win conditions. Granted Cosmic Rays and Supernova are not threats but removal spells – still, in most cases, you will pick them in situations where these removals would act as actual win conditions.
With that in mind, we are looking at 5 mana card that creates a win condition in your hand and heals you (most of the time) for 5. Creating a win condition while stabilizing your health points is quite impressive, but Starshaping, unfortunately, is extremely slow and any deck capable of exercising some tempo pressure will punish it unless you are already winning.
However, it can be a good card if your health points are more important than tempo in the mid to late game, as 5 health at Burst speed is a very big heal. For example, I like this card against burn and most Ezreal decks. I think Starshaping is a very nice tech card for slow Targon decks.
Messenger’s Sigil – 1.5
Messenger’s Sigil doesn’t impact the game in any way when it is played, which is usually very bad, even for cheap. Cards like this are usually pretty worthless unless they find a good combo to go with, but so far I didn’t found any strong combos with The Messager.
One interesting synergy with Messenger’s Sigil is Stalking Shadow, to make even more of The Messenger’s. But even in that case, I don’t think it is worth running this card, unfortunately.
Draw effect on a body is usually very strong (RIP Shadow Assassin) because it can be used to thin your deck. However, in Messenger’s Sigil case you are not thining your deck because you have shuffled all of these cycling bodies in your deck, and if anything you are actually slowing down your draw!
That’s all for today! This reveal was very intense, with a lot of cards to think about because of all the new Celestials! I didn’t talk about the few Dragons revealed to put more focus on Aurelion Sol and the Invoke mechanics. Overall, most Dragons are medium cards while the Demacia one, Screeching Dragon, is a very strong one (and is a new unit for Remembrance!).
I won’t be writing a lot of (if any) in-depth articles in the next 3 weeks because I got invited to the Duels of Runeterra Invitational, and another invitational tournament you will hear about soon, so I will have to put more emphasis on training with the new cards.
If you want to still have some content from me during this time, I will still post on my Twitter. I will also stream my runs in these tournaments on my Twitch channel if you wanna see some high-level tournament gameplay (no mic though, I have to be 100% focus during my games). And, speaking about Twitch, I just got affiliated! Thanks to everyone who came by to see my tournament runs, and thanks a lot for the cheerings! I really enjoyed talking with you between matches. 😊
If you have any comments about the article, any questions, feedback, or if you just want to tell me what you think about the revealed cards, I will be happy to answer you in the comments in this Reddit post! 😉