With the Call of the Mountain expansion, the old ‘Ruthless Raiders’ deck offering in the store has been replaced with a new deck bundle. This time it features Leona, the ascended warrior priestess of the Solari tribe, and Aurelion Sol, a space dragon and forger of countless stars that dot the night sky of Targon. Last time I concluded that the old deck bundle wasn’t worth the price because the deck itself was rather underwhelming and it was simply cheaper to buy the good cards individually. Will Celestial Radiance outclass its underwhelming predecessor or should you again save your money?
How Does It Play?
This time the deck bundle is all about annihilating your opponent through massive late-game bombs. In this case, it is with the very expensive Aurelion Sol champion, a 10/10 behemoth that generates powerful celestial cards. This space dragon is basically a god and, fitting for such a being, he is so far the most expensive champion in the game at 10 mana. When played he will generate a Celestial follower or spell that costs 7 or more mana in your hand and each round start he will generate another random Celestial card. There are 2 of such Celestial cards at every cost from 0 to 10, and they can only be spawned by cards with the Invoke keyword. Besides Aurelion Sol, there are also Starshaping, Mountain Scryer and Behold the Infinite cards can invoke Celestials in this deck.
Each of the 7+ mana Сelestial cards is a game-ender and can win you the game on its own, but this isn’t what makes Aurelion Sol so scary. When leveled up by having a total of 20+ power on your board he will set the cost of all Celestial cards to 0 as long as he is on the field. As you might imagine, playing The Great Beyond, a 9 mana Elusive Celestial Dragon with SpellShield, or a spell which obliterates 2 enemies at 0 cost is very powerful. If you get to this point you will almost certainly win within 1 or 2 rounds. But getting there is the tricky part because most games in Legends of Runeterra end well before round 10 and if most of your deck consists of expensive finishers there’s isn’t much left to defend you in the earlier rounds.
This is where Leona comes in. She and her fellow Solari warriors will protect you throughout the early- and midgame until you finally have enough mana to play Aurelion Sol. They accomplish this by taking advantage of their Daybreak effects, abilities which only trigger when the card is played before any other card in a round. Leona will stun the strongest enemy if you trigger her Daybreak condition and after leveling up she will repeat her ability each time you trigger a Daybreak effect. Leveling up Leona is very easy. You simply need to play 3 Daybreak cards before round 4 and then play Leona, which will instantly level her up because her own Daybreak ability counts towards her level up condition. Our Daybreak followers are at 1, 2 and 3 mana respectively, so if you have a good starting hand you can play them on curve and get those 4 Daybreak triggers you need for Leona to level up the moment she hits the board.
Leona when leveled up isn’t very threatening. She basically just turns into a version of Minotaur Reckoner because you can’t trigger a Daybreak effect more than once in a round usually. Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear however will make Leona fire stuns like a machine gun. As long as Rahvun is on the field, Daybreak cards will always trigger their effects, even if they aren’t the first card played this round. Therefore leveled up Leona will stun an enemy every single time you play a Daybreak card, effectively shutting down the opponent’s board and threatening the opponent well before even Aurelion Sol enters the battle.
So in a nutshell, the gameplan is as follows: prevent attacks on your Nexus with Leona and her Daybreak followers and then beat your opponent’s Nexus to a pulp by letting Aurelion Sol unleash a horde of galaxy destroying Celestials. This strategy has already found a place in the current meta but does this deck a good job at optimizing it?
How Good the Deck Is?
One of the first things you will notice, if you are aware of the most commonly run types of Aurelion Sol decks, is the total absence of ramp cards which would allow you to play Aurelion Sol earlier than round 10. This deck bundle cuts Freljord’s mana ramp options in favor of a stronger midgame with Leona and a higher focus on Celestials with the Targon allegiance card Mountain Scryer. This isn’t a bad thing, however, since Mountain Scryer is a very good card and besides Aurelion Sol there aren’t many expensive cards to ramp into anyway.
A clear weakness is that the deck focuses a bit too much on the Daybreak strategy and therefore includes a lot of weak Daybreak cards that have no place in a list which also runs Aurelion Sol and the Invoke package as a win condition. Zenith Blade, Morning Light and Sun Guardian are all very slow cards that act as finishers for Daybreak decks but this build wants to win through the might of Celestial units, which the aforementioned Daybreak cards don’t synergize with very well. If you want to go all in with Daybreak cards, then Aurelion Sol is too slow because Daybreak is more of a midrange strategy. The build needs better options to control the opponent’s board if you want to stay with Aurelion Sol and Leona – and Celestial Radiance has a severe lack of these. Still, Sunburst, Starshaping and Mountain Scryer are good support cards for Aurelion Sol so you are already halfway to a good control deck.
All in all, I have to say that this deck is not bad and definitely an improvement over the last deck bundle ‘Relentless Raiders’. Except for some of the weak Daybreak cards, the rest make sense together and synergize well enough to realize the win condition in a consistent way. All the deck would have needed is a few cards from other regions to make up for Targon’s lack of efficient removal and it would have been a lot better, in the current state it’s only just decent enough to not get trampled by every properly constructed deck.
Celestial Radiance provides you with a good template for a bunch of strong meta decks. Aurelion Sol and Leona are a decent pairing, so you can actually keep these champions together while building a viable deck for ranked matches.
The best and cheapest option is to stay with the current champion combination and simply splash a few cards from Demacia. If you want to try something different you can instead go deeper into the Aurelion Sol win condition and ditch Leona for Trundle, which gives you access to cards like Wyrding Stones and allows you to cheat out Aurelion Sol before round 10. Or you can instead get away from ramp decks and instead lean more heavily into the midrange strategy by replacing Aurelion Sol with Diana, creating a deck that combines the strengths of Daybreak and Nightfall cards.
Upgrade Path #1: ‘Celestial Radiance Improved’
Upgrade Cost: 2 Champions, 8 Rares, 4 Commons = 8800 Shards.
As the title of this deck implies, this one is simply an upgraded version of Celestial Radiance which keeps the same champions. Leona and her Daybreak units do a very good job of delaying the opponent while you wait for Aurelion Sol to hit the board.
The original deck is in dire need of good removal options which Targon lacks, so we will splash Demacia for access to Single Combat and Concerted Strike. Another bonus of this region combination is that you get access to Radiant Guardian. She not only fits thematically with Leona, but also a great tool for surviving against aggro with her Lifesteal keyword.
Other powerful additions are Hush and Spacey Sketcher. Hush is a very versatile spell that can protect you against Elusives, stop champions from leveling up, or reset enemies with tons of stat buffs. Spacey Sketcher meanwhile is a good 1 drop who gives you access to Celestials which cost 3 or less mana.
In order to make space for these new additions, you will get rid of the superfluous Daybreak cards like Sun Guardian, Zenith Blade and Morning Light. Instead, Rahvun will provide you with additional Daybreak units to trigger Leona’s stun effect. Broadbacked Protector is good for survival but competes with Leona in the 4 mana slot and Leona does the same job while also not killing herself in the process.
In the end, you will be left with a deck that has a relatively powerful mid-game while also absolutely obliterating opponents in the late game. If you don’t like control decks and prefer something that wins a bit faster you can instead try out the next deck.
Upgrade Path #2: ‘Day and Night United’
Upgrade Cost: 4 Champions, 8 Rares, 7 Commons = 15100 Shards.
By forcing Leona to work together with her former friend and now archrival Diana, we create a pure value midrange deck which combines the best of Daybreak and Nightfall cards.
The game plan is simple. Slam down powerful Daybreak units on-curve until you level up Leona, ideally on turn 4 the moment you play her. Then play Rahvun and stun the opponent’s units so you can beat down their Nexus without resistance.
The Nightfall part of this deck mostly acts as a support for your Daybreak units. Diana and Unspeakable Horror can take out dangerous threats while Lunari Priestess can spawn a useful Celestial card, preferably a removal spell so you aren’t entirely reliant on Unspeakable Horror.
If you want to play this deck but can’t fully craft it yet you can replace Diana with Elise for now.
All in all, this deck plays very similarly to Demacia Bannerman decks. Try to mulligan for a nice curve of Daybreak units and apply extra pressure on your opponent with discounted celestial cards through Mountain Scryer’s ability. If you want to try out a strategy that focuses entirely on Aurelion Sol and tries to get there as fast as possible, you should check out the Freljord ramp path.
Upgrade Path #3: ‘Behold the Dragons’
Upgrade Cost: 4 Champions, 5 Epics, 12 Rares, 13 Commons = 22900 Shards.
This deck utilizes a strategy that hasn’t really ever seen widespread use since the early days of beta – giving yourself a mana advantage to cheat out expensive units as early as possible. Before Call of the Mountain, ramp decks were a very niche and a rather weak kind of deck. Now with Trundle and Aurelion Sol, ramping strategies seem to have finally found a place in the meta.
This deck is similar to ‘Celestial Radiance’ but with most of the Daybreak cards replaced with ramp cards from Freljord. You play cards which give you extra mana crystals like Wyrding Stones or Catalyst of Aeons to get your late-game bombs, while healing your Nexus and playing strong blockers like Trundle to survive the early game.
The expansion provided Freljord with some very strong defensive units and spells that allow you to nuke the enemy’s board, which ramp decks desperately need. Trundle and Troll Ravager can block almost any attacker while surviving with their high health and the regeneration keyword ensures that they stay on the field.
If the opponent’s board gets too wide for your trolls to block, you can simply kill everything with Icequake. This spell will deal 3 to everything but your trolls will survive it and even heal to full health at the end of the round as if nothing ever happened. Avalanche fulfills the same function but at 4 mana you can use it much earlier to get rid of cheap aggro units.
Along the way you will use Kindly Tavernkeeper, Revitalizing Roar and Starshaping to heal any damage that got by your wall of trolls. Starshaping is especially powerful because it can heal up to a quarter of your Nexus health while also spawning a 7+ cost celestial card.
The Infinite Mindsplitter is like Yone on steroids and will stun two enemies of your choice for the rest of the game until it dies or is silenced. This isn’t just useful for protecting yourself but can also give your attackers a clear path toward the opponent’s Nexus. Dragon’s Clutch will always draw you a Mindsplitter and Aurelion Sol. This doesn’t just increase your chances at drawing your win condition, but can also help you with triggering Troll Ravager’s behold a 8+ cost card condition.
The clear weakness of this deck is that it’s very vulnerable against very aggressive opponents that flood the board with units. Ramp decks contain a lot of late-game units so in the early to mid-game you won’t have much presence on the board to defend yourself with. Healing and AOE removal can bail you out but these cards are expensive and can leave you wide open for an open attack. This is why you should aggressively mulligan for your mana ramp cards. If you can get out a Wyrding Stone or Catalyst of Aeons by round 3, you can play Trundle or even an Icequake on round 4 which gives you a huge advantage over your opponent.
Another downside is that this deck is an expensive upgrade because of the high amount of rares and epics it contains. If you are still low on resources you can replace Trundle with Braum and some of the epics with Sunburst, Guiding Touch, or Broadbacked Protector from the deck bundle for now. Fused Firebrand can also replace The Infinite Mindsplitter as a budget option, so you have a second dragon for Dragon’s Clutch to draw.
Once more I’m gonna ask the question that matters most here, is the deck bundle worth the money this time around?
Like last time I will first add up the Riot coin value of all the good cards inside this deck bundle and then compare that to the total price, assuming you don’t get a discount for already owning some of the cards in Celestial Radiance.
In my view, the good cards worth their price are Leona, Aurelion Sol, Solari Soldier, Solari Shieldbearer, Solari Priestess, Mountain Scryer, Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear, Guiding Touch, Pale Cascade, Starshaping, and Sunburst. The total cost of these cards is 1670 and buying the whole bundle without a discount would cost 2016 riot coins.
Therefore sadly, even if the deck is at least decent this time, it’s still not worth it and you should probably just buy the cards individually if you are only interested in getting the competitive Targon cards.