Hey guys, Jasensational here.
I’ve done it. I’ve cracked the Daybreak archetype. And it's good. Really good. I would personally rank it as one of the strongest Midrange packages right now.
Not only do I think it is really strong, it’s also really fun. The deceptively simple curve to the Daybreak archetype branches out into some incredibly combo-y turns six and seven to stun-lock your opponent and push lethal damage in one swing.
So today, I am dedicating an entire article into breaking down Leona, the Daybreak archetype, and everything else in between. I won’t be covering a specific deck per say, but I’ll cover everything you need to know to start off on your own.
The Core of the Daybreak Package
Let’s start with the core of the Daybreak Package. These are the essential cards that I think are required to make the archetype work.
These two cheap units make up our early plays. It’s important to level up Leona as fast as possible in this deck, so we want to be able to activate Daybreaks on turns one and two when we can. Even into the midgame, when we have leveled up Leona, these cards provide cheap ways to activate additional Daybreaks and convert them into stuns.
Three Solari Soldiers and two Solari Shieldbearers is where I would start. They’re the best blockers into any aggro matchup, but are low impact in the late game. Can consider a third Shieldbearer if aggro is of concern.
This is probably our most important Daybreak card, and enables our board-wide stuns to close out the game. Early on, it helps us stay alive by acting as a development punisher (and as a Daybreak of course to advance our game plan).
With a leveled Leona on board, Sunhawk will activate two stuns in one action, allowing you to lock your opponent’s board out of blocking. Having Solari Sunhawks on board also vastly increases the impact of our Morning Light which we’ll talk about in a bit.
This is an easy 3x in the deck. Would not advise going lower.
This is our value card. It’s the only three-mana Daybreak card, which gives us access to additional value to fill out our turns. Having three Solari Priestesses fills in our curve nicely and keeps our hands going if we do not draw Rahvun, Daylight's Spear
Falling Comet is one of the only options for hard removal, The Traveler gives us a turn-four play, and Written in Stars critically allows us to look for Leona. Prioritize these three invokes depending on your hand and situation.
This card is a little more situational. I would only play Solari Sunforger if the deck you are building has access to strike spells such as Single Combat to maximize the ability to gain life out of it. Otherwise it can get denied with stuns or Noxian Fervors.
With three Leonas as our main four-drop and three Priestesses to also generate us high cost units, I only include two Sunforgers as they can clog our hands.
The absolute unit and engine to this deck.
Rahvun, Daylight's Spear allows us to Daybreak multiple times in one turn, giving us both the additional stat boosts from cards like Solari Soldier, but most importantly allowing us to proc Leona’s ability to stun on Daybreak activation. If we can chain multiple Daybreaks in a single turn, we can remove most of our opponent’s units from blocking.
I’d run five of these guys if I could, but I’ll have to settle for three..
This is a card that, when I first built out my Daybreak decks, I heavily undervalued. But as I experimented more with the archetype, I found it to be everything the deck needs.
It acts as a one-mana Daybreak activation (remember: Daybreak = Stun) that uses spell mana, allowing us to bank mana and combo harder on attack turns. With Rahvun, Daylight's Spear on board, we can activate both the Daybreak and Nightfall effects of the card, essentially acting as a one-mana draw two.
BUT IT GETS EVEN BETTER.
Not only does Nightfalling the card with Rahvun still count it as a Daybreak, but it ALSO GENERATES ANOTHER Daybreak card which continues the chain of stuns.
Now, we won’t always have the luxury of playing Heavens Aligned with Rahvun on the board. Sometimes, it can come in handy as a quick stun combined with Leona, but I will generally Nightfall the card on turn four to look for either Rahvun, Daylight's Spear or Morning Light to play on turn five.
This is it. The culmination of your game plan and the finisher to our combo.
So why is this card so good?
But its strongest aspect is the ability to activate ALL of your Daybreaks on board, so long as Morning Light itself is played as a Daybreak.
With Leona on board, this will give you two stuns. For every additional Solari Sunhawk we get another stun, making three or four stuns in one action very possible. If we can set up the board correctly before we play Morning Light, we have very powerful ways of ending games.
Because this card generally requires a pretty heavy set up, I only include two copies in my deck. We also have the ability to generate additional copies through Rahvun or Heavens Aligned if needed.
Of course, we can’t forget the star of the show, Leona.
With her recent buff in the last patch – which gave her Overwhelm on her level two – she is able to punch through blockers or give us that extra few points of damage we need to close out a game.
But even better than that, she comes down with a stun, a well-statted body, and a stun engine that will punish your opponent for developing into their turn.
Leona is the second half of the Rahvun engine, as she gives us the majority of our stuns.
The Overall Gameplan
Our game Plan for the first few turns is quite simple. Curve out, and activate as many Daybreak’s as possible so that we can level-up Leona quickly.
It’s not necessary to gain value out of our early units, as it is more important to get the Daybreaks going. The only potential exceptions are our stuns like Solari Sunhawk and Leona that can be used on defensive turns to stall the game until we assemble our combo. If we have other plays to make, we should take them.
The part that is a little bit unintuitive is how many of our Daybreak units we are willing to trade off.
Since we know that our Daybreak units can get huge upswings when we play Morning Light later, we want to preserve our core cards. If we can help it, do not trade off Solari Sunhawk or put Leona or Rahvun, Daylight's Spear into harm's way. It is better to take a few extra points of damage and then catch the opponent off guard in a one turn kill swing after stunning the opponent’s board.
Here’s a quick sneak peek (turn 6 by the way):
How can we build Leona?
So the Daybreak archetype is only half of a deck. What region does Leona pair well with and how can we best utilize her mechanics?
Let’s explore two decks that I have made, starting with…
This first brew explores pairing the Daybreak package with Demacia and Galio. The idea here is that Demacia gives us access to Single Combat and Concerted Strike, which synergizes with our Solari Shieldbearer and Solari Sunforger.
This allows us to utilize its +0/4 buff on Daybreak to value-trade a unit or gain additional heal from the Sunforger.
But where the deck really synergizes well is with Galio. As the Daybreak style of gameplay already wants us to hold back our key units until our swing turn, we can easily flip Galio on turn seven, or as early as turn six with Written in Stars.
With a flipped Galio, we can attack twice on the same turn while stunning units with our Daybreak cards, or turn things around on defensive turns and make it very awkward for our opponent to attack into us. There is also a cheeky one-of Golden Aegis to combo with Morning Light on turn six.
The second deck I have for you pairs Leona with Ionia.
Ionia gives us access to a very vital card, Deny.
Since we can stun many of the opponent blockers out of the way, we are usually incentivized into developing into our attack turns – which makes us vulnerable to Slow-speed punishers like The Ruination or other board clears.
Being able to Deny hard, single-target removal spells is also important to protect our key pieces, which stat buffs cannot do.
And if we need a bit of protection, we have the most efficient defensive spell to help out: Twin Disciplines.
In longer, drawn out, value oriented matchups, Yasuo is actually able to shine as a great finisher tool. Once Yasuo is leveled up, suddenly your stuns become very efficient removal tools, allowing you to deal five damage to a unit every time they are stunned. This quickly allows you to snowball board advantage, even on defensive turns, giving you room to threaten very powerful open attacks as well, something Daybreak usually lacks.
Otherwise, Ionia is able to amplify our general stall gameplan with cards like Homecoming and Concussive Palm, that can give us fast speed punishers when our opponent attacks to play around Leona’s stun.
Strengths and Weaknesses
If we compare the similarities between Demacia (from Galio Leona) and Ionia (from Yasuo Leona), we can see that both regions have two aspects that supplement Leona’s game plan:
- Protection cards, and
- A secondary win condition.
In general, Leona and the Daybreak package excel into board-centric decks – the less interaction, the better. Our units are well-statted and are able to block, and we have plenty of stuns to stall attacks against decks that go tall. The same holds true on our attack turn. We can completely stun out our opponent’s board while attacking with a six-wide board of our own.
However, given the general one, two, three curve nature of the deck, there is an opening for aggro/burn decks to take advantage by swarming us in early turns. Decks like Spiders or Pirates can sneak under us and set up strong open attacks to play around Daybreak stuns. As Targon lacks Fast-speed responses, we’re dependent on our paired region to try to fill the weakness. Depending on how you build the deck, you can supplement your early game from other regions as needed.
Finally, if we are not in regions with Ionia/Counterspells, we will suffer into Shadow Isles Control decks and other Noxus Tempo decks. A few Vengeances and The Ruinations can remove our board, or Ravenous Flock can efficiently take down our midrange units. If we lose Rahvun, Daylight's Spear, it can be hard to refill our hand with enough value to close the game.
Play threats sparingly, take advantage of turns where the opponent develops units, and consider what the second region pairing brings against control heavy decks.
This concludes my writeup of Leona and her Daybreak archetype. She’s a super interesting champion, and I hope this article gives you some motivation and guidance to take Leona in your own unique direction as well! Try her out, you might surprise yourself.
Let me know if you have any questions! You can find me here:
Discord: Jasinsane #0246