Hey, it’s Mezume here, going off-meta with this new deck guide! In this article, I will showcase an interesting list I have seen get lots of success on the ladder at the hands of one particular player! I copied it, tried it out, and really enjoyed the playstyle.
As nearly every other emerging deck, this one also includes Aphelios, but it comes in a much more aggressive shell than those currently at the top of popularity. This is why I decided it might be an interesting strategy to showcase, relying on swarming the board and rushing your opponent down, while still abusing the overwhelming power of Aphelios to keep up on value.
I present to you a deck I discovered thanks to a player MistAssassin:
This is the list and you can see it is very aggressive, playing a huge number of thirteen 1-drops. The top-end in the strategy are Jack, the Winner, and Citrus Courier. The main win condition is to take over the board in the early stages and never give it back until the enemy Nexus health is down to 0.
Conversely, the main way how we can lose the game is by getting behind on the board, as there are very few ways you can actually regain it. Outside of Jack, there is also no burn damage in this deck. You have one way of coming back in those games, and it is the powerhouse that is Aphelios with his Moon Weapons, having the potential to wrestle the board back in some situations.
Firstly, I would like to touch on the amount of 1-drops and the mana curve in general. As mentioned before, the deck plays thirteen 1-drops, which is a lot even for an aggressive list like this. To compare, a board-based deck that is Scouts usually only plays six, while a deck like Pirates ranges between nine and eleven.
There is more reason to use so many of those cards than just flooding the board; it is to be able to play two of them on turn 2. Because this list runs Aphelios and is in Bilgewater, it has access to the most powerful Crescendum pull: Pablo, the Boxtopus. In order to ensure the 3/4 Challenger unit to always be summoned by that Moon Weapon, there are no other 2-drops played in the deck. To offset this, the double 1-drop turn 2 is what we can aim for, especially when we do not have Aphelios to convert spell mana into a Boxtopus on round 3.
Even without the moon champion, the list is nearly guaranteed to have a powerful turn 3 play, with Miss Fortune being another option. The goal is to finish the game by turn 6 – a one-of Citrus Courier can grant you an extra surprise attack, while Jack can deliver the much-needed extra damage. My opponents have often stabilized at 1 or 2 HP and I was always happy to get the Sleep with the Fishes.
Crackshot Corsair – While the unit itself is pretty understated, its effect is really good and allows to push extra damage in situations that would otherwise be impossible to get out of. Additionally, it has 2 health, thus surviving pings and spells such as Withering Wail. It has synergy with Scout and Rally units which this deck has a total of 5 copies of.
Solari Soldier – Not usually associated with aggro decks, but it is able to push 3 damage on turn 1 nearly every single game it is drawn. In addition, it is very awkward to block, as when it is summoned it has extra stats. A neat trick is to summon it on turn 2 with a Jagged Butcher follow-up. Opponents usually wouldn’t want to block a Soldier before when it is a 3/3, so Jagged Butcher will often proc its Plunder effect.
The Flight – Mostly here to increase the count of 1-drops, it is another aggressive 1-mana card, of which we have not a lot of choice in this region combination. It has the additional perk of being Elusive, which can matter greatly for both blocking a Fizz or Wiggly Burblefish, but also to push some extra damage.
Guiding Touch – One of the few cards in the deck that provides draw and healing. Synergizes with Boxtopus, but most of all, it triggers Nightfall on either Aphelios or Crescent Guardian, which can be crucial in keeping up the aggression.
Lounging Lizard – While this unit will attack at most two times before killing itself, it has to be taken into account that it has Elusive, so most of its attacks will reach the Nexus and it doubles down as a blocker against Elusive strategies. Additionally, we aim to finish the game by the time it kills itself anyway!
Island Navigator – One of the few Scout units in the deck, it works well with Crackshot Corsair, but most of all with Miss Fortune. Going wide and sometimes high-roll a Crusty Codger off of it are also great upsides.
Moonlight Affliction – Because the deck lacks burn for the most part and relies on dealing damage through the board, a card like Moonlight Affliction can sneak in lethal in situations where the opponent could just chump block.
Razorscale Hunter – With multiple priority targets in the meta, granting Vulnerable is a big deal, especially in a deck that lacks interaction. The fact that this unit is a Scout gives us even more of a reason to include it.
Citrus Courier – Especially on the ladder, when your opponent does not know the exact list, Citrus Courier can come as a surprise and clutch out some wins. The deck wanting to close out the game asap, so an extra attack can prove very valuable.
While this list is not completely competitive, the deck has a lot of potential and there is nuance to playing it. Here are a few tips that can help you get a grip on how to pilot it.
Don’t be too afraid to keep Boxtopus – Lunari Duskbringer into
Look out for Jack plus Courier combo – If you will have a defensive turn 6, you can prepare a Jack, the Winner on 5, and use Sleep with the Fishes to proc Plunder on Citrus Courier on round 6. That way, you can surprise your opponent and do some extra damage – or maybe even win on the spot!
Do not be overprotective – While Aphelios can be useful in the backline depending on the situation, it’s rarely correct to hold MF back, especially if you don’t have Scouts in hand. The extra pressure from attacking with Miss Fortune will more often than not result in a better outcome than keeping her in the backrow.
The mulligan for this deck is fairly simple. You are looking to have a decent curve, which means either Lunari Duskbringer + Aphelios, or simply three 1-cost units into a 3-cost, preferably Miss Fortune. Because you generally want to be on the aggressive side of the game, you do not have to adapt too much per matchup – of course, if you’re expecting to have to fight for the board against another aggro deck, Aphelios’ and Miss Fortune’s value skyrockets even higher.
This is a bit of a unique take on playing Aphelios. Instead of taking the value path as most of the decks do, this list looks to use him as an aggressive tool, thanks to his Infernum and Crescendum, while getting the edge in aggro mirrors due to Calibrum and Severum.
It is fairly fun to play and you can look at it as a bit of a different take on swarm strategies; as those do not usually happen in this region combination. I hope you can take the deck to the ladder and enjoy playing it, especially now that the Seasonal race is over, experimenting and losing LP while learning a new deck does not feel as bad!