Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.
This particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of articles. Click on the spoiler box below to learn more:
We intend to publish a total of 10 deck guides for the most popular archetypes of the Cosmic Creation meta that are aimed to help both ladder and tournament players.
The main focus of these guides will be on exploring the featured decks’ matchups. I will be evaluating how decks stand against each other and assign percentages to determine how favorable/unfavorable particular matchups are. Additionally, I will be providing in-depth advice on how to play out those matchups, how to mulligan, and will be laying out the tech options that exist.
While playing on the Ranked ladder, you can use this advice to strengthen your knowledge and boost your confidence piloting against popular meta decks. If you are a tournament player, the matchup tables provided in these articles will help you build optimal line-ups.
After this series is released, we also plan to tie everything together with the comprehensive matchups spreadsheet of Cosmic Creation meta based on the info provided in the articles.
Going forward, I intend to continue writing new guides for other archetypes that were not featured yet and adding them to the series, while also keeping previously published guides updated as much as possible. Over time, the purpose of this series is to include a competitive-oriented guide for every prominent deck in the meta, backed up by in-depth matchup info.
This guide is dedicated to Targon Plaza – an archetype that comes in many flavors and has been taking over the ladder since the introduction of The Grand Plaza.
Please be welcome to also check out our other guides of the series: Fiora/Shen guide, Ezreal/Draven guide, Zoe/Lee Sin guide, Scouts guide, Kench/Soraka guide, and Discard Aggro guide. Next week, you can also expect to get similar guides for Ashe Noxus and FTR Control.
Note: as soon as these guides are published the links to them will be also added above.
Archetype: Go Big/Control.
This deck is built to abuse The Grand Plaza landmark. Leona/Aurelion Sol was already a powerful archetype before The Grand Plaza arrived, but lacked efficient removal tools and was very reliant on Single Combat. Now, with the new landmark, this archetype has a much easier time controlling the opponent’s board early and in the mid-game.
The Daybreak package is extremely effective at slowing down the opponent’s aggression. It gives you strong-statted units like Solari Shieldbearer and access to a lot of healing with Solari Sunforger. You also have Burst-speed healing with Guiding Touch and Starshaping. Hush is another powerful tool that will often help you delay or prevent the opponent’s gameplan. All these stalling tools are there to make sure you can survive for a very long time.
This archetype has one of the most powerful – if not the absolutely strongest – end-games of the meta. It is extremely difficult to beat such powerful threats as Aurelion Sol and Celestial finishers. This deck can level up Aurelion Sol with ease thanks to its heavy board presence. It can even cheat out Aurelion Sol on turn 8 thanks to Eclipse Dragon.
There are many different versions of Targon Plaza. In this particular guide, I will talk about Garen/Aurelion Sol build. The version with Zoe/Aurelion Sol is currently the most popular one (here is a guide dedicated to this specific version, written by Den), and Leona/Aurelion Sol is another successful variant of the archetype.
While I feature the Garen version in this guide, I do not claim this is the strictly better version.
- The Zoe version is best against decks that are unable to deal with Zoe effectively. However, it is worse in the midgame, especially when it comes to the ability to leverage Plaza’s power.
- Leona is a very strong defensive champion and will force the opponent to open-attack.
- Garen version is the most grindy one. He is amazing with The Grand Plaza and helps you accelerate the game with his level-up. It is also the less interactive version, as it has neither Solari Priestess (read: no Falling Comet), nor Concerted Strike. However, it runs a very high amount of healing and value-cards to stall until the late-game where you’re pretty much uncontested.
- If you want to, you can also explore some of the lesser-played options, like Lux. This version is one of my personal favorites.
- Be mindful of Aurelion Sol level-up. This deck can easily level-up Aurelion Sol thanks to its heavy board presence and high-attack units (Solari Sunforger, Garen, Eclipse Dragon…). The Grand Plaza can help too, as well as the Fury keyword and Pale Cascade. If you’ve managed to level Aurelion Sol up and the opponent can’t kill you or Aurelion Sol right at the start of the next round, you pretty much have won the game.
- Make good use of The Grand Plaza. Your landmark is your easiest way to control the opponent’s board. You should plan ahead so you have a good unit to play on each of your attacking rounds to remove an opponent’s unit. If your hand is somewhat low on such units, look to play spells (Guiding Touch, Starshaping) and weaker units (Egghead Researcher) during the opponent’s attacking turns where you can’t benefit as much from the Plaza effect.
- Represent Judgment on the opponent’s attacking round, if you don’t have a better option. It can be very oppressing for the opponent to see you still have 8 mana open in time for their attack. They have to play around Judgment (especially if you have Garen on the board), so it might force them into very sub-optimal attacks. However, be mindful of the counters they could have to Judgment. If you think they have one of those, representing Judgment is far less effective.
- Be careful how you manage high-cost Celestial spells. While the likes of Supernova and Cosmic Rays can be tempting, remember that you need to ‘behold’ another Celestial card to cast them. Sometimes when playing Starshaping, you just have to be disciplined and pick a unit (or Living Legends).
General mulligan tips:
- The Grand Plaza is the core card to the archetype and helps you control the board way easier. You should actively mulligan for it, and keep it in every matchup.
- Against aggro and midrange archetypes, you need defensive options for the first few turns, like Solari Shielbearer or Solari Sunforger. Egghead Researcher can be a good keep if his stat line does well against the opponent’s deck, but it’s not always the case.
- In grindy matchups, don’t be too afraid to keep expensive cards like Eclipse Dragon or Aurelion Sol – especially if you have both. You want Aurelion Sol on turn 8, and you will likely draw some of your stalling tools in time anyway – because your deck is filled with them.
Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.
Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Solari Shieldbearer, Egghead Researcher, Solari Sunforger; Garen, Grizzled Ranger, Hush, Pale Cascade, Single Combat – if you have a good hand.
- They tend to run out of value if you can survive their early/mid-game aggression. Often Aurelion Sol is not even necessary to close out – focus on defending yourself and preventing their plan.
- Plaza is a very powerful card in this matchup. Scouts are a very board-centric archetype, if you start picking off their key units with your big Challengers the game gets very tough for them.
- Miss Fortune is the priority target for your Challengers and Single Combats. They can level her up very quickly. Be aware that they have means to protect her (Sharpsight, Riposte, Ranger’s Resolve, Brightsteel Protector).
- Hush can be very useful against their combat tricks and the Grizzled Ranger’s Last Breath effect. You can also use it on Miss Fortune before they attack – it will prevent her ability, and she also won’t progress her level-up that round!
- It’s very tough for them to play around Judgment. Often they have to attack into it no matter what and hope you don’t have it. If they don’t, you’re happy to see them slowing down while you scale into the late game.
- Be aware of Relentless Pursuit, this is their best tool to get a powerful attack in while you’re tapped out and can’t use your stalling tools.
How to tech:
Leona, Solari Soldier
Aurelion Sol, Starshaping
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza; Solari Sunforger, Hush or Pale Cascade, Eclipse Dragon – if you already have The Grand Plaza; Aurelion Sol – if you have Eclipse Dragon and a good hand.
- Create a board of big units (Solari Sunforger, Garen, Eclipse Dragon) so their units can’t survive combat. If they can’t get their units damaged without them dying it’s hard for them to use their healing synergies.
- Plaza helps you a lot; it makes your units even bigger and forces combat with their key units.
- You don’t have ways to deal with Star Spring until very late into the game. If they play it early, do everything to limit their healing. Don’t let their units survive on low health. Use Hush, Pale Cascade, and Single Combat during Combat to answer their protection spells.
- While Soraka/Kench has made a reputation for winning with its landmark, don’t forget they can also beat you down. Boxtopus and Shakedown can pull away your blockers so their big Star Shepherd hits your Nexus.
- Hush is a great answer to stop Star Shepherd.
- If you can slow down their landmark and survive their Star Shepherd, you’re favorite in the late game. They don’t have an easy way to deal with Aurelion Sol, and they struggle against Celestial cards (a special mention goes to Cosmic Rays).
How to tech:
Divergent Paths, Solari Priestess, Dragon’s Clutch
Starshaping, Grizzled Ranger
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Eclipse Dragon, Aurelion Sol; Garen, Grizzled Ranger or Solari Sunforger – if you have Plaza.
- In this matchup, you have the advantage both in the early and in the very late game. However, with their ramp, they have a window where they can out-tempo you with an early Feel the Rush, and Atrocity can be a potent finisher.
- In the early game, they are more focused on the ramp and small removal, and you can use that to get ahead on the board. Use The Grand Plaza to deal with their Wyrding Stones, and with bigger units like Trundle (Garen or Eclipse Dragon can do that).
- Establish a board presence in the early-to-mid game, it will make the transition into the late game much easier. It can also allow you to win through sheer pressure and/or level up Aurelion Sol very quickly.
- When ahead on the board, play around The Ruination.
- Feel the Rush is the main threat as it allows them to gain a lot of tempo and pressures your Nexus with Overwhelm.
- Aurelion Sol can block their 10/10 Feel the Rush units without dying if he has the Grand Plaza buff.
- Supernova, from the Celestial pool, is a clean answer to Feel the Rush.
- Hush can help a lot too – it’s an effective way to deal with Tryndamere or minimize the damage from Trundle.
- Their other way to win the game is with Atrocity, be careful to not go into its range.
- Once you get past Feel the Rush threat, you can often outvalue them as the game goes on. There they have fewer threats than you, and you have a Supernova, which is an extremely strong removal against them.
- The Immortal Fire can be stronger than The Great Beyond because they have cheap spells to break the SpellShield. However, The Great Beyond is better against a Frostbite, so evaluate the context carefully.
How to tech:
Judgment, Solari Shieldbearer
*There exist numerous versions of Targon Plaza decks, the main two variations currently being Garen/Asol and Zoe/Asol. The advice in this section is mainly intended for use when facing the Garen/Asol version. Be sure to make adjustments when playing against another version like Leona/Asol.
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Eclipse Dragon, Aurelion Sol, Starshaping.
- Having The Grand Plaza in this matchup is very important, as it allows you to take good trades if the opponent mirrors your units without Plaza. For the same reasons, having multiple Plazas – more than your opponent – can be pretty helpful as well.
- This is a very grindy matchup. While you don’t want to fall too much behind on board and mana, taking some damage early is not a big deal, as you both have many stalling tools, healing, and value.
- You can start using Starshaping pretty early, so you have more mana available in the late game.
- Having Eclipse Dragon on turn 7 into Aurelion Sol on turn 8 is very important in this matchup. This play provides a lot of value and a solid win condition.
- Once a player pulls ahead, leveling up Aurelion Sol is the way to capitalize on the advantage and win the game.
- When no player manages to pull ahead and level up Aurelion Sol, this matchup turns into a ‘value war’. However, don’t underestimate tempo, or big Elusive threats like The Great Beyond.
- In the Celestial pool, Supernova is a very valuable card as it can deal with 2 big threats at once.
- Single Combat and Hush can remove Spellshield from Aurelion Sol or The Great Beyond before you cast Supernova.
- The Great Beyond is far more valuable than The Immortal Fire – the latter is far less resilient against Obliterate and Hush.
How to tech:
Solari Priestess, Dragon’s Clutch
Grizzled Ranger, Solari Shieldbreaker
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Solari Shieldbearer, Solari Sunforger, Single Combat; Grizzled Ranger – if you have Plaza and attack token on turn 4.
- They have a lot of cheap units, try to keep up with their early pressure.
- Solari Shielbreaker is a perfect card to slow them down.
- Plaza can help you gain back control of the board
- Solari Sunforger restores the Nexus health lost in the early turns.
- When you play Solari Sunforger, you really want to have a Single Combat as a backup – they’ll often try to use Glimpse Beyond on the blocker to deny the healing.
- As Pack Your Bags approaches trade away your small units and focus on playing spells and big units that will survive Pack Your Bags.
- If you don’t have Plaza avoid playing Grizzled Ranger until Go Hard has transformed. He is bad against Go Hard, but great against Pack Your Bags.
- Leveling up Garen accelerates the game and lets him survive Pack Your Bags.
How to tech:
Solari Soldier, Radiant Gardian
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Hush; Solari Sunforger, Garen, Eclipse Dragon, Aurelion Sol – if you already have a good hand.
- They can’t do much against Aurelion Sol and he is easy to level up in this matchup. Your goal is to survive until then by preventing Lee Sin from killing you.
- Hush is a premium tool to delay their lethal or straight-up kill their Lee Sin. Be very picky about how you want to use it.
- Avoid using Hush on an Elusive unit. You can sustain their Elusive damage with healing and get rid of the units with Challenger or Single Combat instead. Losing a Hush early puts you in a difficult position later against Lee Sin.
- You can use Hush to remove Lee Sin’s Barrier and kill him in combat. Be careful about Concussive Palm though.
- Hush erases Lee’s buffs and keywords, so it can delay their lethal even if Lee Sin has already put the kick on the stack.
- Be aware that they can pre-emptively use Bastion to protect Lee Sin from Hush.
- Their defenses are quite ineffective against you if you get Plaza online, as you can directly remove Eye of the Dragon and prevent them from creating endless blockers. If they can’t race you with Lee Sin, you are very favored. Leveling-up Garen helps to put even more pressure on them.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Solari Shieldbearer, Hush; Grizzled Ranger – if you have Plaza.
- Hush is a key card to defeat their combat tricks. Value it highly – you need to find the right moment for it.
- Look out for buff on Rivershaper: playing Hush on it would remove both the buff AND Rivershaper’s draw.
- Be careful when setting up trades, they have many combat tricks and Riposte can lead to some blow-outs.
- Keep spell mana up so they have to play around your possible answers.
- When you approach Asol turn, try to set up a big board so he levels-up quickly. Even with level 1 Asol you’re still at the risk as Brightsteel Formation and Rivershaper give them a powerful late game.
- Avoid taking high-cost Slow Celestial spells, especially if they had Rivershaper proc during the game, and/or have some cards stuck in their hand for a long time. You don’t have many Deny targets in your deck (only Judgment, and champion spells), so big Celestial spells give huge value to the Deny stuck in their hand.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Solari Shieldbreaker; Egghead Researcher, Grizzled Ranger, Solari Sunforger, Garen, Hush, Pale Cascade – if you already have a good hand.
- Their best shot to win is through their tempo advantage. While they are not an aggro deck, their powerful midgame can be tough to stand against.
- Ashe can be very obnoxious. You tend to have a small number of units that are big, so Ashe’s ability to Frostbite on-attack matters a lot. Her level up is also a very potent win condition.
- She is a priority target, use The Grand Plaza and Single Combat to remove her as quickly as possible.
- Try to use your Single Combat (or Judgment) when they can’t answer it with a Frostbite (Brittle Steel, Flash Freeze, Ashe’s Flash Freeze, Harsh Winds).
- Use Hush on your own unit to un-freeze it. It can help you take better trades, save a key unit like Aurelion Sol from a Culling Strike, or help to remove their unit with Single Combat or Judgment. You can also use it on a leveled Ashe to allow your Frostbitten units to block.
- While their main win condition is to win through tempo, don’t underestimate their late-game power. They can gain a lot of value through Avarosan Hearthguard and Trifarian Assessor, and they have powerful finishers like Ashe and Captain Farron.
- Try to keep control over the board so they can’t play a Trifarian Assessor for big value.
- Aurelion Sol and The Great Beyond are your most powerful finishers – SpellShield protects from Frostbites.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: Egghead Researcher, The Grand Plaza, Solari Shieldbearer, Solari Sunforger, or Grizzled Ranger; Single Combat – if you already have a good hand.
- You have a lot of healing, but still, be conservative with your Nexus health. They can put you under a lot of pressure in the mid-game, and they can finish with an insane amount of reach in the late-game with Ezreal and Farron.
- You should often prioritize playing out several units in a single turn over one big one; they have efficient ways to get rid of a single big unit, like Noxian Guillotine or Arachnoid Sentry.
- With Arachnoid Sentry, they can stop the unit you gave Challenger to with Plaza. However, Arachnoid Sentry is also one of their most powerful offensive tools, so making them use it in a defensive way can be beneficial.
- When they’ve used Arachnoid Sentry on Grizzled Ranger with Plaza buff, you can use Single Combat to trade your away Grizzled Ranger, and you’ll then get a Challenger buff on your Badgerbear, ready to attack.
- You can try to make Ravenous Flock or Guillotine fizzle with your healing.
How to tech:
Radiant Guardian, Leona, Solari Soldier, Solari Priestess, Rahvun, Daylight’s Spear.
Judgement, Garen, Hush, Grizzled Ranger, Egghead Researcher, Pale Cascade.
Mulligan for: The Grand Plaza, Egghead Researcher, Solari Shieldbreaker, Solari Sunforger; Single Combat – if you have a good hand; Grizzled Ranger – if you have a good hand with Plaza.
- Discard Aggro is a very fast deck, looking to flood the board with very cheap/free units, backed up by Discard synergies and cards like Arena Battlecaster, Vision, and Crowd Favorite.
- Because of how aggressive they are, you need to put up good defenses in the early/mid-game. If you can survive, it is very easy to beat them later when you have a lot of mana for powerful plays and heals.
- Solari Sunforger is probably your best unit in the matchup. It can often trade with a Crowd Favorite or even take 2 trades, all the while keep sustaining your Nexus. And obviously, he has a great synergy with Single Combat and Plaza.
- Hush can sometimes be tough to use. However, it is a great answer to a Crowd Favorite, and can also help against Draven.
- In the midgame, Jinx and Augmented Experimenter can give them more fuel. However, you do have strong removals against Jinx (Plaza, Single Combat) and the Augmented Experimenter is often too slow against you. The most dangerous part of the gameplan is their early board flood.
How to tech:
Leona, Solari Soldier
Aurelion Sol, Eclipse Dragon
Thanks to its ability to effectively stall games, Targon Plaza can reach its powerful late-game consistently, which makes it one of the major contenders in the current meta. This deck also has a pretty even matchup table, allowing for a consistent climb at the hands of a good player.
Like I said earlier, this guide is part of a series where I’ll go over all the top decks in the meta so you have all the resources needed to learn the deck you want and improve as a player. This series is my most ambitious project so far, I hope it will be helpful!
If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉
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Thanks for reading!