Hunting for the Best Aphelios Deck
After some time with the new patch, we are all still mooning around about what is to be done with this old favorite.
My name is Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and today we’ll be looking at a bunch of the different attempts that have been made at an Aphelios archetype and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
We’ll be looking at five lists:
- Rubin Pile
- Blood Moon
- The Bomb
- Moon Fish
- Moon Fae
For more Aphelios decks created by the community, check out the Mobalytics Deck Library.
1. Rubin Pile
Deck Code: CEBQGAYJJFQNSAIBAMCAKAIBAQ2AKBADBERVIVS4AECQIGACAECCMJYBAMCAWAICAQEAKAIBAQNQGAYJBFKWEAIDAQGQCBIKTAAQCAQEAE
Different forms of Aphelios paired with Piltover and Zaun have been by far the most popular attempts. I’ve seen Zoe, Viktor, Vi, Jayce, and even Caitlyn attempt this pairing. This is the version that I have settled on for now but I am far and away from declaring this to be a finished list.
This is probably the most tempo based on all the different variations. We can still play the control game when we need to, but you can tell in the number of Starshaping we are playing that we are quite happy to be aggressive given the slightest opening.
We also reflect that in the suite of burn to end games, including the current often overlooked all-star Aftershock to punish Sun Discs when they lack a Spell Shield. That said, an early push or an Infernum slapped on a Vi and we are just as happy to send it upstairs. Don’t despair when Spell Shield shows, just light them up.
You are still sporting some serious late-game power, but this is the version that will probably have the worst time keeping up with other late-game decks. Even something like Pantheon can be difficult as we lack Sunburst or any other hard removal type options.
2. Blood Moon
Deck Code: CEBQEAYJJHMQCAQCAMDQSAQBAMXDOBIFAMEROS2WLRQACBAJBUAQGAYNAEAQGMYBAIBQCBABAIBQQAIDBFKQCBADAIAQKCIO
Next on the list is my personal favorite variation on this theme, and definitely a deck that tilts itself a little bit more towards the control end of the spectrum. That said, you’ll notice a distinct lack of the capability to shape stars here. Instead, we are relying on the old faithful burn with Captain Farron and the Swain/Leviathan Lock.
While I love shaping a star as much as the next card slinger, right now things are often simply moving too fast for that to be an acceptable way to end a game. Instead of being ok taking hits and healing back up, we are much more focused on controlling the board in the mid game and then breaking through
What that does mean though is that our opponent can almost always see our game-ending turns coming. Infernum on a Swain or Decimates off of Captain Farron aren’t particularly sneaky. Luckily there is the power to spare here, so stealth is not often a necessity. And you will still occasionally get turns with a huge number of Stuns breaking through what looked like a stalled board.
3. The Bomb
Deck Code: CEAQSAYJBELUSTCUKZOGBWIBAMCAGCJDJNKWEAIFBEFACAIFDEAQCAYJAI
You guys know me, there was no way I could get through an entire article talking about Targon decks without mentioning my first love. This one is the far end of the spectrum when it comes to late-game power because at some point you can either explode your opponent’s entire board or throw giant Celestials at them.
We turn in this direction when Aphelios mirrors become too common and the boards are getting clogged left and right. Sometimes when everyone gets too value-heavy then the only answer left is to go as completely over the top as possible. How better to do that than a fifteen-mana Slow spell with an absolutely killer animation sequence?
Where we fall off a little bit in power is the audible clunk that can occasionally be heard when looking at one’s hand. It is depressingly easy for us to be out-tempo-ed in the early and mid-game before we get all of our engines up and running at full blast.
Another important thing to remember when playing this variation is when you should be on the Aphelios plan and when you should be on the Invoke plan. You will often be presented with both, and committing too much to moon boy can slow down your late game power spikes too much and let others back into the game.
4. Moon Fish
Deck Code: CECAIAYJENEVZWIBAMBAMGBGFUBAKBQFBMAQGBQRAICAGCJKGNKFMAIEAYHAA
While we are not doing anywhere near as degenerate things as old-school Starfish, there is still plenty of combo nonsense to go around in the combination of Bilgewater and Targon. Both of your three cost champions can win the game on their own and synergize impressively well together on top of that.
The thing that sets this version apart is the sheer ridiculous stat line that it can create in the mid and late game. You’ve still got just a touch of control, but we are much closer to a Combo deck than anything else. Making giant units that are either Elusive or ready to put on an Infernum and go to work is a great time.
It’s also worth remembering that this deck gets to run basically nine champions. Fleet Admiral Shelly is a terror with the wide boards we set up and will demand the removal or run away with a game in short order. Often after answers have been used on our actual champions, Shelly is happy to clean things up.
Being a combo deck, we will be the most vulnerable of all these archetypes to more aggressive foes. We’ve still got some solid early game, but as the mid game turns to start we will often find ourselves having to race and not particularly happy about that position.
5. Moon Fae
Deck Code: CEBQQBIKCMQDDEIBUYA2OANXAHMQCAICAYXAGAYJEMZ5SAIBAICQVMIB2IAQA
I wanted to call this deck “Auri,” but I think that might be too obscure a reference for most folks, so Moon Fae shall remain. Also known as “Aphaelios,” this is an interesting pile I have seen running around lately that leans quite heavily into the combo plan.
Making units large and getting them Double Strike or Elusive is a great way to end games. Making a Spell Shield bearing Owl Cat that unit, let alone a Fizz, is the stuff of Control Players’ nightmares. Attach has always been a nasty mechanic for control decks to deal with and this deck does not disappoint.
Her we get to fall firmly into the anti-control category, throwing away our late-game staying power for tempo and hard to interact with combo. There are nine points of card draw in this deck though, so don’t underestimate their ability to keep up a few turns longer than you think they should
It is quite a fun thing to me that Aphelios decks have been one of the most played archetypes of this expansion and we have yet to hit on the best region to pair him with, let alone the best build of that deck. It means there is so much more out there to discover which I love.
This is probably in part due to the abundance of Mono Shurima that has been saturating the ladder, and how good a matchup it has into Targon. As that craze begins to die down, these are some great starting points if you are looking to push the envelope on Our favorite moon lad’s new purpose in Runeterra.