Zoe and New Targon Cards: In-Depth Review and Ratings
Hi, Random7HS here. I have been a Masters player since beta and I routinely compete in community tournaments, such as Duels of Runeterra (my achievements there include finishing 1st, and 2nd). This is my first time writing card reviews, so comments and feedback are very appreciated. I will be answering questions on this Reddit post and in this Discord channel.
Here is our rating scale:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Pre-nerf Vi…).
- 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…)
Zoe – 2.0
My first impression of Zoe is that the card is extremely similar to Teemo. Both are 1 mana 1/1 Elusives. Both are hard to level up and extremely susceptible to removal spells and Challengers.
However, there are a few key differences. Teemo, upon a Nexus Strike, adds Poison Puffcaps to your opponent’s deck to deal damage later. Zoe, on the other hand, creates a Supercool Starchart, which can invoke a Celestial of that costs 3 or less. In this regard, Zoe seems similar to a Rivershaper.
Zoe’s level 2 effect in the correct deck is extremely good. You can summon an Elusive unit to end games if you have a big enough board. You can even play around The Ruination by first summoning a unit with SpellShield. Playing a unit with Barrier essentially activates board-wide Brightsteel Formation’s effect.
Unfortunately, the strength of level 2 Zoe is a double-edged sword because it meant that Riot had to make her level up condition extremely hard to accomplish. Zoe will pretty much only level up in aggro metas with next to no removal spells or Challengers. However, in such a meta, it is likely that you would already be in a winning state by the time Zoe levels up.
Zoe mainly fits in a deck that can keep Zoe alive and take advantage of an extra card she generates. If you can keep Zoe alive, she is very similar to Soraka in that you will gain access to a consistent stream of value. Note, however, that if you already have a Supercool Starchart in hand, Zoe’s won’t generate another copy until you have played the first one. This essentially adds a cost of 2 mana to Zoe’s ability every other turn.
Precipic, a writer at Mobalytics, came up with a deck idea involving Starlit Seer, Elusives, and Zoe. It’s similar to Teemo Sejuani, but much more focused on gaining value from Zoe instead of Sejuani. It’s a pretty neat idea, but I’m not sure it is good enough to become meta-relevant.
The big issue with Zoe is that she is a champion. You have to dedicate a whole champion slot to a card that has a very similar effect to a simple follower which is Spacey Sketcher. In order for a deck with Zoe to become meta-relevant, that deck would have to be just as good as Targon decks running Leona, Diana, Aurelion Sol, and/or Soraka – which doesn’t look likely at this point.
Supercool Starchart – 1.5
Supercool Starchart is a narrow Behold the Infinite. Because it is more specific, it also seems slightly better. I could see decks that desperately need access to Equinox playing this card as extra copies of Spacey Sketcher.
However, Behold the Infinite almost never sees play right now because it adds a cost of 2 mana to any card it invokes. Unfortunately, other than Equinox and maybe The Serpent, I can’t see any Celestial that costs 3 or less as being worth that 2 extra mana investment. The Messenger becomes a 4 mana 2/2 draw 1 and The Trickster becomes a 5 mana 3/3 elusive – neither of those is particularly impressive.
I do not expect to see this card played in any deck except as a fourth copy of Spacey Sketcher.
Spell Thief – 2.5
Spell Thief was the card I was the most excited to see. In metas with copious amounts of high-value spells, I could see a home for Spell Thief.
For example, if you are playing against Zombie Ashe and they play The Ruination to set up for Harrowing next turn, you can steal their Ruination and negate their play. Against a Feel the Rush deck, you could potentially answer their Feel the Rush with your own.
Spell Thief is also very similar to Nab, in that your opponent now needs to both play around spells in your region and spells they have previously played. Unfortunately, Spell Thief does come with a 1 mana overhead and is not the most consistent card – especially against decks that play too wide a variety of different spells.
Starry Scamp – 2.0
Starry Scamp is a very good tempo card. On turn 1, a Targon player can play Spacey Sketcher into The Serpent into Starry Scamp. This card also essentially offsets the cost of Supercool Starchart by allowing you to summon a 2/2 for free after spending 2 mana on the Starchart itself.
However, I don’t think that this combo is good enough to run Supercool Starchart. Targon already has a really good early game tempo with the Solari package. In most metas, I do not see a reason to run this card. In aggressive metas, however, I could definitely see a home for this card.
Sparklefly – 2.0
Sparklefly looks very similar to Kinkou Lifeblade. Inside Targon, the most obvious comparison is Lunari Shadestalker. Sparklefly seems like it was designed to work with gems. With a gem, Sparklefly becomes a 3 mana 2/2 with Elusive and Lifesteal.
In an aggro meta, Sparklefly forces an answer out of the opponent. Outside of that, Lunari Shadestalker serves the same purpose with an extra attack and HP.
When Targon first came out, I played a Taric/Vi/Sumpworks Map/Gems OTK deck, designed to swing for 20 damage with elusive Taric and Vi in one turn. Recently, Jeff Hoogland made a similar Teemo/Vi/Assembly Bot/Gems deck revolving around the same concept. Neither of these decks were particularly good, but I could see a similar concept with Victor and Nyandroid.
Sleepy Trouble Bubble, Paddle Star – 3.0
Sleepy Trouble Bubble essentially reads as 5 mana deal 4 damage. One of Targon’s biggest problems as a region is that it has no removal outside of Invokes and Sunburst.
Sleepy Trouble Bubble + Paddle Star deal enough damage to remove Miss Fortune, Maokai, Ashe, Twisted Fate, and Elise. However, all of those cards cost less than 5 mana, so Sleepy Trouble Bubble is still essentially trading down. Another big problem with this card is that most high-priority targets that cost 5 or more usually also have 5 effective HP, (Vi, Garen, Gangplank).
Paddle Star is also a card that can be main-decked independently of Sleepy Trouble Bubble. Similar to Ravenous Flock, it deals 4 damage to stunned units and can combo with Leona to clear pesky units. However, unlike Ravenous Flock, Paddle Star costs 3 because Paddle Star does not necessarily need an activator as you can cast it to remove units after they attack.
Black Spear is another card often used after combat. However, Black Spear can be activated on your own attacking turn by strategically sacrificing units. Additionally, your opponent can play around Paddle Star by simply not attacking with their valuable units. The main upside of this card compared to Black Spear though is that it can be used when you do not have a unit to sacrifice.
Overall, in metas in which there are a number of high priority 4-heath targets that need to be cleared, I could definitely see a home for Sleepy Trouble Bubble/Paddle Star in mono Targon lists. However, if Targon is paired with another region with other removal spells, it’s likely that the other region’s removal spells are going to be more cost-efficient.
Unfortunately, I don’t see most of these cards making a big impact in the competitive play, except in specific metas. I think the removal cards have the most potential to be played. I really wish that the other cards seemed more viable because the artwork is really well done.
However, by design, Zoe and her support cards are really hard to balance without either being too weak or too strong. In most cases involving new cards, I actually prefer cards to be a bit on the weaker end to be buffed later instead of shaping the meta for a few weeks and then get nerfed.