Moonlight Affliction is the spell that I wanted to build around for a long time. This card was something that so many people (including myself) were terrified of when it first got revealed. It seemed to have some serious potential, but for some reason, it hasn’t seen any play. No one is trying to really enable this card, and it seems like no one on the ladder – myself aside – is actually running it.
So I asked myself, what are ways we can abuse this insanely powerful effect that messes with your opponent’s blockers? The first thing that came to my mind was Swain because his leveled up version has a very threatening Nexus Strike ability. Combine Swain with even more stuns coming from Leona, and you have a midrange deck that can ‘disable’ the opponent’s board entirely, while also running tough defensive units for sustain.
This is a midrange deck that aims to finish the game before turn 10 – however, it still feels extremely ‘control-like’ in the ways that it plays. In this article, I will talk you through the win conditions, core cards, flex cards, matchups, and mulligan strategy of the deck. On top of that, if you want to see some gameplay with the list, you can check out this video here:
The goal of this deck is to set up a board presence and lock your opponent out from blocking as you get the final lethal attack through. You can do this with leveled Leona, leveled Swain + The Leviathan, and/or with Moonlight Affliction.
You need to know how to adapt to different matchups. Sometimes you need to leverage early tempo, put lots of pressure on the opponent, and then finish the game even earlier than normal. In other matchups, we want to play things slowly and really control the flow of the game with stuns and solid combat tricks. And sometimes, the Daybreak curve-out just works out perfectly by itself, operating like a win condition in its own right.
3x Leona: Obviously, Leona is the heart of Daybreak decks. She is one of my favorite champs because of how she can be utilized strongly on both offense and defense in various situations. In this deck, she packs a little extra punch when used with Ravenous Flock or Paddle Star. We want to level up Leona in most of our games and utilize her board control to close out or stall until we have our win condition.
3x Swain: As I stated previously, Swain was the first synergy I considered when thinking of ways to abuse Moonlight Affliction. We aim to get huge Nexus strikes through; we also want to level this champion for even more lockout potential. Typically Swain is not super useful on turn 5 – we want to leverage him later when he has transformed and we have our finishing pieces established.
3x The Leviathan: No man is complete without his boat, and this goes for Swain as well. The Leviathan is extremely important for any Swain deck, as it helps you search for another Swain (which can be used as another Ravenous Flock if you already have Swain!). The damage from The Leviathan helps level Swain up and also (I think you know where this is going) stun-lock your opponent. This works again both offensively and defensively.
3x Ravenous Flock: Even though I made this deck because I wanted to utilize Moonlight Affliction, Ravenous Flock is the most important spell. For 1 mana, dealing 4 damage is really powerful when you have consistent ways to meet the damage or stun condition. In this deck, we have plenty to help with that, and I find that Ravenous Flock really shines.
3x Solari Soldier, Shieldbearer, and Sunforger: The Daybreak curve is extremely important to this deck, so I am grouping them together here. With the addition of the Sunforger, I decided to drop the Solari Priestess. We lose some flexibility but gain a lot of sustain and a solid body on turn 4.
3x Arachnoid Sentry: The Sentry is arguably the most important follower in the deck. The ability to stun a unit on 3, followed up by a Ravenous Flock or Paddle Star is extremely powerful. This helps to slow your opponent’s tempo, build your board advantage, and level Swain.
3x Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear: No Daybreak deck is complete unless you have Rahvun. He is a massively powerful 5 drop who replenishes our hand and enables chain-stuns of Level 2 Leona. This is another way to set up massive attacks or completely shut down your opponents’ offensive capabilities.
2x Moonlight Affliction: And finally we come to the card that was the inspiration for the deck. This spell was over-hyped initially, but it still remains very strong. Even without the Nightfall clause, just being able to silence two units (including champions) is powerful. Multiple times I happened to use this defensively – just to completely brick 2 buffed units. But the main use for this card is to win the game with a large attack and disable your opponent’s blockers. I cannot tell you how many times I have won the game off of this card. I am very happy that this spell did turn out overly strong, but still – right now it is rather underplayed when you take into account its potential.
3x Mountain Goat: Mountain Goat serves two purposes. Firstly, he is a solid attacker/blocker. If you get in more than one strike with him, you are up a lot of value. And in a deck based around stuns, it is quite likely to happen! Secondly, the Gems created are great cards to enable Moonlight Affliction’s Nightfall effect.
3x Pale Cascade: I really wouldn’t consider this to be a ‘flex’ card, but it is not a core card either. The simple fact is Pale Cascade is one of the best 2-mana Burst-speed spells in the game, and if you are a combat-oriented Targon deck, you should be running it.
2x Hush: The same said for Pale Cascade can apply here as well. Technically, we do already have a solid silence spell in Moonlight Affliction. The big reason I still include Hush is because we don’t really want to use Moonlight Affliction as just a silence spell.
3x Paddle Star: I know this inclusion will probably get the biggest reaction out of anything in this deck. Yes, I understand this is a 3-mana Ravenous Flock, in most cases. The question then becomes: is 3 mana for 4 damage still good if the condition is easily met? In my opinion – yes, it is. Ravenous Flock does so much work in this deck, but I found that I needed often and didn’t always have it. At the same time, I found myself with excess spell mana on many occasions. In came Paddle Star! The last reason this card is important to me is because of the non-combat damage it deals, which helps level Swain. This is not a must-have spell in the list, but I have really enjoyed it so far.
Solari Priestess: It is a Daybreak unit that can add a bit of flexibility to your gameplan since there are some really strong Celestial cards you can grab. The reason I don’t include her is that she doesn’t help us establish our board. On top of that, we are pretty mana-hungry in the mid-game, so it can be tricky to find spots to actually play out Celestial cards it generates. Regardless, she is still a solid choice.
Might: This is a really solid option for some extra damage output, especially when played on Swain to trigger the Nexus Strike ability even through a blocker. I haven’t found it to be super necessary, but it can act as a strong surprise factor.
Zenith Blade: Just like with Might, Overwhelm on Swain can be very powerful. This also fits in with the Daybreak package, but in my opinion, it is a little too slow and ‘win-more’ in this deck.
Death’s Hand: This is a way to deal direct Nexus damage to trigger Level 2 Swain’s ability. Death’s Hand also helps level Swain in the first place. If the meta you are seeing has a lot of good targets for Death’s Hand, it could be worth a slot.
Sunburst: Sunburst is a really solid option and I would love to fit 1 or 2 copies of it in the deck. It is a super solid removal, it can also trigger Daybreak for an additional stun with Leona, and it will help level Swain. The main reason it isn’t in the deck is because of its heavy cost.
Daybreak decks have always been easy to mulligan with, but still, there is a little more to this one. Obviously, keeping the Solari Soldier or Solari Shieldbearer is the right call in virtually all scenarios, as well as the Mountain Goat. But what we really want to have as early as possible is a stun-effect and Ravenous Flock. This stun-enabler can be either Leona or Arachnoid Sentry. Both of those will help us establish a super-strong early board presence which you then can ride to win the game. You definitely do not want your combat tricks or any unit that cost 5 or more in the opening hand.
- Lee Sin
Lately, Lee Sin has been a menace. But we actually have a really solid matchup into him. The consistent stuns can really become problematic for their deck – they only have so many counterplay options. On top of that, running multiple silence cards can really shut down Lee Sin/Zoe win condition.
- Plaza Decks
Another popular meta concept that we have a really solid matchup into. Because of The Grand Plaza, they tend to develop instead of open-attacking. That gives us time to set up a solid defense and get off plenty of stuns to stop their offensive pressure.
- Go Hard
This is one of our worst matchups, but luckily the Pack Your Bags nerf has simmered the deck down a bit. Since they have so many units, they can avoid our win condition and consistently put out blockers while building their own win condition up.
Most midrange decks feel like favorable matchups, but Ashe/Sej is closer to 50/50. They normally have a lot of beefy units in the mid-game with Yetis and it can be hard for us to have enough defensive options. They are also stronger in terms of raw stats when compared to us and have really solid combat tricks.
We have a lot of ways to win games vs Ramp. We can stun their big units and get lots of damage through in the mid-game. They normally don’t have a lot of units on board so we can get a lot of damage in. With that being said, Ramp decks can easily get out of hand. They can save the game with The Ruination, and also apply a lot of quick pressure if they ramp early.
Right now, there are a few different aggro decks running around in the wild, but I am grouping them all here for our purposes. I am pretty confident in our matchup against most aggro decks since we have a solid early curve, some great board control tools, and enough healing. Still, if we mulligan poorly and don’t get to see any early units, it can get tough.
Overall, I feel pretty happy with where this deck ended up. It started with a simple concept of trying to build around one card, and could have gone in a lot of different directions, but ended up somewhere pretty unique.
One of the best things about this deck is the matchup table, in my opinion. It has a very solid matchup into a lot of the top meta decks right now, which makes it a viable tournament option, when placed in the right lineup. I plan on continuing to grind with this deck and try a few gauntlets with it in various lineups as well. If you end up trying the deck or making any changes, make sure to stop by and let us know!