We now have had our second glimpse into the roster of Targon champions! Here are my takes on the most recent Leona reveal, and whether she and her associated cards will be competitive. These evaluations obviously change as more cards get revealed, but for now, this is what I am going with! For more of my content on these spoilers check out The Twin Sunz Podcast to hear me ramble on and stay tuned to RuneterraCCG.com as we break down everything that gets revealed!
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…).
Leona – 3.5
Leona and her followers introduce a new keyword: Daybreak. In order to evaluate these cards correctly, we need to discuss the possibilities of this mechanic. This is a bonus you get on a card if that is the first card you played this round, essentially the reverse of Nightfall. This is a much easier bonus to hit on-curve and consistently, but you can’t get the bonus multiple times in a turn (without tricks).
With Leona, we have another 4-drop Targon champion just like Taric, but that is where the similarities stop. She has some strong Stun synergies, which obviously can be paired with packages in Noxus and Ionia. Her level up condition seems very easy to meet, having to only play 4 Daybreak cards. It is even possible to hit this level-up on-curve since she should count her own Daybreak bonus.
Once she is leveled, she will continue to disrupt the enemy board state with more stuns to the Strongest enemy. She will also upgrade her stats to a strong 4|6. You can obviously build around this Stun theme and go as hard on it as you want – but even when treating her ability as just a bonus to building around Daybreak, the offensive and defensive capabilities are still impressive. Having to face a leveled Leona on the other side of the board will put your opponent in a tough situation. If they don’t open-attack, you are most likely going to get a stun off once you drop a Daybreak card. This is also why we don’t get to have Burst speed Daybreak cards in the upcoming set (confirmed by Design Lead Shawn Main) – because that would be absurd!
Leona is going to see play, and I think she just might bring enough to make her way into multiple different archetypes.
Morning Light – 2.0
We have seen a few Slow spells that give your board a buff before, and none of them have panned out to be all that great. The pacing always seems off, and on top of that, you need to already have board control to get real value. This card can get you some high pay-offs for its price if you have a heavy board presence with a lot of Daybreak effects ready to be activated by this. This will fit into a deck that is going full into the Daybreak archetype, but I don’t think it will find a place really anywhere else and might even not find a home at all.
Zenith Blade – 2.5
A single target Slow buff spell seems awkward, but I actually kind of like this one. First of all, this is a Grant effect, so the unit will get a permanent +1|+2 and Overwhelm. The ability to give Overwhelm permanently is very intriguing and can be quite useful especially in a midrange archetype that doesn’t have a clear finisher. The Daybreak clause here is also very nice because it will draw you another copy of this spell (as long as you are running multiple and still have some in your deck), which will keep your card advantage up. I think there is some serious potential here, and this card could sneak into a few decks outside of Daybreak heavy decks.
Sunburst – 1.5
This is the first card in the game that has the ability to Silence a Champion, so that must be respected at the very least. There are few things holding this spell back though. Firstly, Slow speed will allow opponents to easily play around this card, and limit the number of cases when you can even use it as solid removal. Getting to trigger the Silence effect only if this is played as your first card in the round also can hurt your options. Overall Sunburst feels like a card that can be easily played around by Fast spells or even something as simple as open-attacking. Still, the ability to Silence a champion bumped the card from a 1.0 to 1.5.
Guiding Touch – 4.5
In my opinion, this is the clear frontrunner in this batch of cards, at least regarding the variety of uses this will see. This reminds me of a Ki Guardian a lot, being a 2 cost Burst speed spell that has a small effect but also adds a card draw. Healing an ally or your Nexus for 2 in my opinion is much better than giving Barrier to a unit in your hand. This should be a staple in a lot of Targon decks. If the meta has some aggro in it as well, this will be a 3x auto-include if you’re playing Targon. With all of the large board presence units we have in this set as well, this card should find a lot of homes.
Solari Soldier – 3.5
We saw with Rising Tides that Runeterra is not afraid to introduce more 1-drop 2|2’s. The Jagged Butcher sees a lot of play even in decks that are not equipped to trigger his Plunder consistently. For similar reasons, the Solari Soldier will not be overlooked by deckbuilders. Obviously in a Leona deck, hitting a Daybreak as early as turn 1 is really desirable in order to meet her level-up condition. Outside of that, having a 3|3 for 1 mana – even if that buff is temporary – is really strong. It allows you to block Fearsome units, enable efficient trades, stave off some attacks… Get used to this guy.
Solari Shieldbearer – 3.0
Dropping this before your opponent attacks while on defense is going to be a very annoying play. This will often cause your enemy to skip early attacks because there won’t be any acceptable trades on the board. I’m putting this at a 3.0 because depending on the meta, and if we see any strong aggro presence, this card can be teched into decks that even aren’t focused on Daybreak.
Sun Guardian – 2.0
This card feels pretty underwhelming to me. It does have the potential to cause a big swing on the turn it is played, but it has to be an attacking round to make proper use of Overwhelm. The dream with this card is playing it offensively and getting a big hit with it, then possibly triggering its Daybreak in a later round with Morning Light. This is a very specific combo and will find a home only in the niche deck that is fully going with the Daybreak theme. This also seems like a weird card to be of an Epic rarity, whereas the next card, Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear seems much more like an Epic to me.
Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear – 3.0
Rahvun seems like a really important staple in the Daybreak archetype. His stats are passable, and he also keeps your hand fresh by creating a card on Daybreak. That already is pretty decent value. On top of that, he allows you to trigger multiple Daybreak bonuses in one round. This will help smooth some of the inconsistencies of the archetype and allow you to get more use out of your cards. I really like this card as a staple 5-drop for this archetype. It is also possible Rahvun will see a little outside play as well.
Overall these cards have me very excited, and they also show off some of the best art we’ve ever seen in this game in my opinion. The main themes of this expansion are seemingly starting to focus on the strong board presence more and more. This could lead to a meta that is very midrange in nature. Will any of these newly forming archetypes be able to dethrone the current strong board presence decks? Only time will tell!