Is Nocturne Top Tier? Exploring Most Promising Ways to Build Nightfall Decks
Nocturne has been quite a hot topic since his champion card got revealed. I have heard opinions from both ends of the spectrum – ranging from ‘trash’ to ‘amazing’! I am in the latter camp, and I believe it is because of the champion’s versatility, immediate effect on the board, and supporting package. It is my opinion that variations of Nocturne decks will end up in Tier 1 or Tier 2 as staple aggro decks. So first let us examine him more closely and then I will break down 3 decks using Nocturne.
Two Ways to Build Around Nocturne
I think most people underestimated Nightfall before the set went live. His archetype looked clunky from the outside, but once you learn the nuances of piloting it, it actually feels amazing. That speaks to the strength of the archetype as a whole, but Nocturne by himself is a beast as well. There are two ways to build him: either a dedicated deck that aims to level him up, or just a list that uses him as a solid 4 drop for his play effect.
The closest another champion we have seen like this is Sejuani. She could be built around (Gangplank/Sejuani) to get her to level up consistently, and once she did she could control the board with Frostbite. Or she could be thrown into decks because of her powerful play effect (Ashe/Sejuani).
I am following the same patterns here. In a full-on Nightfall deck, you will want to level up Nocturne by attacking with those Nightfall units, and then continue using that synergy to reduce the power of your opponent’s units while giving everything on your side of the board Fearsome. When this does go off, it can be very strong. It can feel like a similar line of play that Ashe has, since you can freely attack with your units and your opponent will not be able to block. That is a major win condition of a Nightfall-focused Nocturne deck.
On the other hand, Nocturne just being used for his Play effect is still a very viable strategy. This can even happen on turn 3 if you drop a Lunari Duskbringer and save some spell mana turn 2. I compared Nocturne to Sejuani earlier, and the similarity continues because Nocturne will grant an enemy unit Vulnerable while reducing the opponent’s attack values. There are two ways to take advantage of this. Either grant an important target Vulnerable while reducing it’s attack in order to get a favorable trade essentially using this Play ability as removal, or use the power reducing effect to sneak Fearsome damage through to the Nexus early. I could go on about the versatility of my new favorite champion, but let’s dive into some brews.
Nocturne/Diana Nightfall Aggro: Tier 2
This first one is pretty on the nose. There are only 2 regions that have the Nightfall keyword, and only 2 champions that also have it, so it is a clear pairing to run.
In this deck, Nocturne should level pretty consistently. The core of this deck comes from the early game pressure with Lunari Duskbringer feeding into your other Nightfall units. Playing a Crescent Guardian early is great for some face damage through Overwhelm. Getting Nocturne out early can work too, but you might want to keep him for when he is closer to being leveled. You can also have a lot of early advantage by pressuring with your Quick Attack/Challenger Diana.
The Nightfall mechanic as a whole plays very fast, and very aggressively. Each turn is like a puzzle, and you have to figure out your order of operations to get maximum value. This really relies on you being able to maximize your mana and know when to save spell mana.
The most versatile thing about the Nightfall archetype actually comes from the spells in my opinion. There are only 3 spells that you need. Pale Cascade is an amazing combat trick that also replaces itself. Unspeakable Horror is a solid early game poke that can also hit Nexus and on top of that, refreshes your hand with a synergistic card. Lastly, Stalking Shadows (in my opinion, one of the top 5 cards of the expansion, but that’s another article) is an amazing card here. While being an insanely cheap card draw spells, it also sets up your future Nightfall triggers, including ones you just found with the card.
Using spell mana to sequence unit- and spell-casting on the same turns to enable Nightfall on-curve is the heart of the archetype. The 3 spells mentioned provide a lot of great lines of play, and keep your card advantage up while playing this aggro deck.
Overall I am guessing this particular build will land pretty high on the Meta Tier list, coming in around Tier 2. It is a new very aggressive deck that has a lot of staying power in the mid game. It also has solid reach to close the game out with some direct damage from Doombeast and a decent amount of Elusive options.
Nocturne Mistwraiths Aggro: Tier 1 or Tier 2
Risen Mists is among the cards I am most excited about from all of Call of the Mountain. Introducing a spell-based way to make a Mistwraith opens up a lot of possibilities. We have all seen the strength of the Wraithcaller, it even had to receive a nerf during Open Beta season. So it is my opinion that we can fully bring the Fearsome meta back.
In this deck, Nocturne will only level on rare occasions. We are using him here for his Play effect like I described before. Pairing Frenzied Skitterer with Nocturne and a ton of Fearsome units can allow you to have a strong finishing power while getting multiple Mistwraiths onto the board will help you control the mid-game.
Using Haunted Relic to level up Kalista is a neat trick. In her Level 2 form, she has the ability to revive Wraithcallers on-attack that will in turn summon more Mistwraiths. The best thing is that the addition of the Nightfall package makes this deck much more flexible – not just a one-trick pony combo pile.
But the main reason I think this is the strongest way to build Nocturne is because of Risen Mists. Being able to summon a Fearsome unit at Burst speed, that will most likely have a high attack and will also boost the attacks of your other Mistwraiths is absurd. This allows you to open attack with a surprise Burst-speed unit your opponent can’t react to with Slow spells or units of their own. It also has flexibility on defense to burst in a surprise blocker, and again normally this won’t just be a 2/2, but of a much higher attack.
I will also say Doombeast was very underrated by just about everyone. That card offers a ton of finishing power and sustain to keep you in the match. Remember this is an aggro deck, so focus on tempo and keep pushing Nexus damage through.
I am guessing this deck will be even higher rated than Nocturne/Diana eventually. Obviously it won’t be the same exact cards, but the idea of using Nocturne and Mistwraiths seems like the next evolution of Fearsome decks. It will fall into the Tier 2 or even Tier 1 tier because of strong flexibility and very scary tricks.
Day and Night Midrange: Tier 3
Ever since Daybreak and Nightfall got revealed, people were very excited to build around both in the same deck and see how the synergy works. Instead of going the Leona/Diana route, I wanted to try Leona with Nocturne.
The idea behind this was if you’re stunning their strongest units, and also have a good amount of Fearsome units attacking, you should be able to get a lot of damage through in the middle rounds. This one lacks the aggressiveness of the previous two decks, but does gain some nice control/sustain aspects. The added synergy of using Daybreak cards to then trigger your later Nightfall cards can make for some very strong rounds. It’s on these rounds that you can really take advantage of your opponent and push some heavy damage through.
Overall I think this deck is very solid, but easily the slowest of these three. Depending on where the meta lands, slowing down could cause this deck to lose some power. I’m guessing this deck will land no higher then Tier 3, because it is just not as flashy as the first two decks, and not as straightforward of a pairing as Leona/Diana. If you are looking for a slightly more off-meta Nocturne deck, this is a fun option.
As you can probably tell since you have made it this far in this article, I am beyond excited for the possibilities around Nocturne. In the first few days of playing, we have already seen Diana and Nocturne have great success. That pairing was the most obvious for Nocturne, so it makes sense that deck is showing up strong in week 1. Once the meta stabilizes a bit more, I think a Fearsome variation of a Nocturne deck will make its way into the meta and find a home at the top of the tier lists.
So what do you think? Am I crazy or is Nocturne indeed as flexible as I have described? Only time will tell but if I had to put my money down somewhere, it would be on Nocturne!