Do you miss Aphelios ever since he got nerfed?
I know I do… and, with Aphelios Lux, we might have found the first viable, non-Copium Aphelios deck since his balance change.
As fate wants it, I got “Between Worlds” Seasonal Champion Painas with me today! He’ll be commenting on some key points, adding depth to the guide with his expertise in the game and experience with the deck.
Aphel Lux is a board-centric deck that wants to survive long enough to Invoke powerful Celestials who close out the game.
What is Aphelios' role?
Let's start by stating that Aphel's main purpose is not to stay forever on the board and to level up. Sometimes it happens, but that's a "win more" kind of thing!
That's also the reason we only play him as a two-of:
Aphelios' main purpose is to create a threat your opponent has to remove, while simultaneously generating a Moon Weapon in hand. If you play Aphel and your opponent spends a Thermogenic Beam or Cataclysm to remove him, you trade two cards for one since you have the created Moon Weapon in hand.
We will more often than not pick Crescendum on play, since tutoring Petricite Broadwing is very strong. We also run protection spells like Shield of Durand to save our champs, as well as to capitalize on the Formidable keyword.
Also, note that if you play both Aphel and his created Moon Weapon on the same turn, you can play another card before the enemy removal spell resolves, to generate his Phased Moon Weapon in hand. This happens fairly often in my games.
Now, it's true that Aphel's three-cost weapons synergize with Lux. This makes him a relevant threat even if we draw him on turn 6+ where some of his Moon Weapons usually fall off – But especially in the mid to late game, his created Moon Weapon is all that matters. Gravitum can stun a chunky boi against Pantheon Yuumi, or Severum played on a Celestial ally can heal you 8+ life to survive your foe's rally turn.
“Against aggro, sometimes, you need to pick Severum over Crescendum to recover some Nexus HP,” Painas says. “And though Infernum is the worst Moon Weapon, in some spots it can enable your big Elusive Celestials to push lethal damage without getting chump-blocked.”
I can't stress this enough: Aphel is not there to survive for long.
If you have a protection spell in hand as well as Lux, it's better to keep the spell for Lux. Oftentimes, Aphel will tutor the Petricite Broadwing, create Calibrum in hand, and fall off. The Moon Weapon phased from Calibrum isn’t very powerful in a lot of matchups – in the early to mid-game! – and we don't want to waste three mana to phase a new one.
(Compare this to the argument that Gravitum or Severum are great reactive cards in hand. We don’t want to play them right away to create a new weapon with Aphelios on the board. Rather, we want to wait and force our opponent to play around our Moon Weapon in hand.)
“It’s also important to plan your next turn in advance,” reminds Painas. “For example, if you have a Moon Weapon in hand, think about how you can play it next turn before playing two other cards. Aphelios won’t create the new Moon Weapon if you have the old one in hand, so be mindful to not waste the Weapon generation!”
And besides all this rational, logical stuff, he's also there to get people interested in the deck. We all miss Aphel, and who would play a random Lux deck without him? =)
Lux is our final champion. Just like the two before, she is an incredible value generator thanks to her Final Sparks. Some of our (created) spells, like Sunburst and Falling Comet, level her up in one go. Cheaper spells, like Guiding Touch and Moonglow, make us flexible enough to create a Final Spark with an awkward counter on Lux.
Now, let’s talk about what each follower and spell accomplishes:
Petricite Broadwing is the reason this deck works.
“Just remember to not block Quick Attack units like Gnar with Petricite Broadwing, since it will lose its health (and thus attack) before striking back,” explains Painas. “You may block them if you have several buff spells in hand that you’re ready to invest though!”
We can pick Equinox to silence a Fated unit or tempo-generators like Gleaming Lantern. We can pick Crescent Strike against Demacia decks to counteract Rally effects, or stun a Gnar. We can pick The Trickster against swarm decks to push nexus damage, or The Messenger for additional value in any matchup. The Serpent is useful against aggro decks, as well as for removing medium threats like Bandle City Mayor with our pump spells.
The third and final use of Duskpetal Dust, which is easy to forget, is its utility in the late game. It can be the final spell Zoe needs to level at Burst speed, or it can create a Final Spark through Lux if she has counted to five – for example through Starshaping or Meteor Shower. Finally, it can be the second spell that Aphelios needs to see for him to create his Phased Moon Weapon.
Solari Priestess is a powerful value generator (like almost any other unit in our deck!) that can Invoke Celestial cards that are (once again) adaptable to the situation.
The strongest pick from her choices is usually Falling Comet, for matchups where you need to remove a key threat like The Bandle Tree or Trundle. Do not pick this spell though if your foe lacks those threats, or you already have removal like Sunburst in hand.
If we don’t need to pick Falling Comet, or don’t see it in our choices, ask you this:
Do you need to remove a medium-sized threat like Veigar or Gnar without losing too much tempo? -> Pick Meteor Shower or The Warrior. Do notice, tought, that these two cards can be tampered with: The Warrior can be stunned, or the target’s health buffed out of range.
While those last two cards tend to be better tempo and value plays, they are not reliable. You have to be very careful and assess the risk you take before picking one of them!
If you don’t need to remove an enemy, nor lack a turn four or five play, pick The Golden Sister. They are great units that work well with your pump spells and force your opponent to react to them.
Talking about pump spells, here they are:
Guiding Touch is probably the least “pumpy” of them, since it only heals the target. It can keep Lux alive or replenish the health and attack of Petricite Broadwing. Worst case, you target your Nexus to cycle it!
The inclusion of Sharpsight shouldn’t come to you as a surprise. It’s one of the most efficient pump spells in the game. While there are not many Elusive units in the current meta, the +2|+2 buff is good enough for us to run it.
Hush is an incredible silence tool, especially against so many Pantheon decks running rampant. While we seldom need more than one – as we can also Invoke Equinox – we have two copies in our deck to increase our chances of drawing one. This is a general rule of thumb for the number of cards you run in a list:
3 copies – We want to draw the card in every game and don’t mind having more than one copy in hand.
2 copies – We want to draw the card in most of our games, but don’t want to end up having two copies stuck in our hand.
1 copy – We want to draw the card in some of our games.
This also explains the reason for our single Concerted Strike: It’s a potent removal tool that can kill almost any unit under the right conditions. But its high cost means we don’t want to draw it against faster tempo decks, or if we don’t have two units with high enough attack on board.
Its five-mana cost makes it awkward for Lux, but as we already said, we run enough one- and two-mana spells to flip her anyways.
Note that Living Legends will level Lux, but won’t create a Final Spark in hand. This is due to your hand being filled with Celestials before Lux would create a Final Spark, which your hand no longer can hold.
This took me way too long to figure out, and I thought the game was bugged. 😀
General Gameplay Tips
- Be comfortable with your Invoke choices before the game
There is no good excuse to not think before the game about what you want to find with your Invokes.
Or is your foe a Rally deck, for which you want to have a Crescent Strike ready?!
Thinking about this before the game will simplify your complex decisions later on. It will also help you to decide what cards to keep in the Mulligan phase.
- Remember Aphelios' role.
As stated at the beginning, don’t tunnel-vision onto Aphelios. As long as he fulfills his role in tutoring Petricite Broadwing and/or creating another Moon Weapon in hand, it’s okay to let him die.
“Let him die if you have Lux to protect against removal-heavy regions [like Piltover and Zaun]” Painas adds.
I know, this breaks your heart. But it’s the way this archetype works, sorry.
Concerted Strike has the upside of being Fast speed and thus a better reactive tool, but loses the silence effect and requires big enough units on our side. "It also loses the ability to directly generate Lux’s Final Spark," Painas says.
Never include more than two Concerted Strike!
Having Single Combat for these types of situations can be grand – the downside being our general lack of units. If we already have a Pale Cascade and Hush in hand, Single Combat won’t do us any favors in improving our board state.
Painas is not a big fan of the Single Combat tech. “Petricite Broadwing and Sunburst are your deck’s main “solutions” against those threats,” he explains. “Single Combat can be great versus Veigar, but not so great versus Gnar, except combined with Lux's Prismatic Barrier.”
Solari Sunforger is the perfect anti-aggro tool, especially when you face a lot of Draven Rumble or Gnar Ziggs. Run this as a two-of.
Blinded Mystic is an additional silence effect if you want to be even more consistent against Pantheon decks. It also provides another blocker for your board.
Run this as a one-of and replace one copy of Sharpsight with it.
- Always keep Zoe in the Mulligan
I can’t think of a single matchup where Zoe is a wasted keep. She will always trade at least one for one and can become a win condition, as described above.
The combo is simply too strong not to.
Click on the enemy’s name and get linked to a popular decklist!
Senna Veigar - unfavored
Darkness is one of the worst matchups for us, and unfortunately the most popular deck in the current meta.
Petricite Broadwing is terrible in the early game, as it trades one for one against Twisted Catalyzer while allowing them to buff their Darkness. The card becomes more useful later on though, for removing their champions.
The problem is that they have enough cheap tools to keep their champs alive, especially with Transposition protecting them from our hard removal.
Thus, instead of attacking their champions, we can only challenge them in value generation. If we find Solari Priestess and either overwhelm them with The Golden Sister, or create additional value through The Traveler, we might be able to outlast them. This usually requires them not drawing their champs though!
“Most of the time, you win this matchup through being the aggro player,” Painas explains. “Try to 'curve out' your units with a Vanguard Sergeant. Play an early For Demacia! and rely on your opponent not having their one-of The Ruination.”
Pantheon Yuumi - slightly favored
We do everything we can to find an Equinox. If our opponent has a unit on board and we have Zoe – we attack with her anyways. The risk of running into Sharpsight is worth the reward of Invoking an Equinox!
While our best way to win this matchup is to not lose, Pantheon can still do some nasty things. This is why this matchup is only slightly favored.
Hush is really good against Pantheon, though you might need to remove his Spellshield with a slow spell first. Remember that Yuumi’s +2|+2 buff won’t get silenced, and she will continue to buff the silenced unit!
“As mentioned by Leer, all Celestial generators are great in this matchup,” says Painas. “If they also play Taric, it’s worth considering to pick Crescent Strike over Equinox, usually in the mid to late game, if the foe doesn’t have a big unit on board.”
Pyke Rek’Sai - even
Invoke: Every choice can be good depending on your hand and the board state!
We want to have as many units as possible, to block theirs. Equinox rises in value the later the game goes, especially against their Overwhelm units Xerxa'Reth, The Undertitan and Xer'sai Dunebreaker.
Petricite Broadwing is also great at killing a Lurk unit on turn two or three, before it grows to three attack.
Stunning Rek’Sai with Crescent Strike can be game-winning. Overall, if they don't want to risk missing a Lurk, they’ll have to open-attack as long as you hold a Celestial card that could be a stun.
“Aphelios can also create that great stun :P,” reminds Painas.
This matchup is highly luck-based. If they get the attack token on turn one, their winning chances increase by 10%. If and how many Pykes they see in their Prediction is also RNG-dependent. This deck can high roll and frustrate you out of your mind, or low roll and frustrate the opponent out of their mind.
Tristana DE - slightly unfavored
The good news: We are able to compete with the value of their card-generating plays.
The bad news: They out-tempo us.
Chaining Crescendum into Calibrum with Aphelios works well in this matchup. Playing his Moon Weapons for three mana means losing in tempo though, which the foe is usually playing for. We also lack cheap removal for Tristana.
That's why we want to trade as many of their units away as possible. Be careful to not play into Ranger's Resolve though. My rule of thumb is to let only one of their units survive the trade if they should have it.
Scouts - favored
Since they rely on their well-statted units to survive, and benefit from board-wide buffs, we want to trade as many units as possible early.
Aphelios can come in clutch in this matchup. While we would like to pick Calibrum with him, we can’t Phase an immediately useful Moon Weapon then. It’s still best to pick Crescendum and swiftly create Calibrum. Don’t be afraid to use Gravitum on a Scout unit, especially if it means that one of their champions can’t level up.
The Warrior and The Golden Sister are Tier S picks in this matchup. While the sisters out-trade a lot of their two-attack units, The Warrior – who is the resurrected Pantheon, or Atreus btw! – removes their champions while also surviving the trade. Scouts has no protective tools besides their pump spells and the Barrier effect from Golden Aegis, so The Warrior will always find value in this matchup!
“You have enough ways to deal with enemy champions,” explains Painas. “But be careful when using your attack token. You don't want to attack with a Petricite Broadwing on board, if they could develop Miss Fortune afterwards. In this matchup, you can proactively play Shield of Durand in case you would burn mana (e.g. turn one nothing, turn two Petricite Broadwing, turn three Shield of Durand without attacking]]).”
Trundle Gnar - unfavored
Their gameplan is to play a lot of units that have a weak body but a powerful summon effect – like Aloof Travelers or Icevale Archer – and transform them into a strong unit through Concurrent Timelines.
While that also makes them a value-oriented archetype, they have two key mechanics to blow us out of the game:
First, they can play Ice Pillar on turn eight, transform it into a real eight-drop, refill their mana, and play a second eight-mana card. This combo overwhelms us, and comes into play just in time before we can lethal them with The Great Beyond or The Immortal Fire.
Zoe can become an interesting win condition, as this is one of the few matchups where she might level up. In one game, my opponent even had to Entomb her to prevent her from leveling, winning them the game.
“Also, if you have the attack token on turn six, a wide attack with For Demacia! is great if you can prepare it,” says Painas. "If the opponent has Buried in Ice as an answer, you will have those (still buffed) units ready to attack on turn eight!”
Akshan Sivir - even
Invoke: Any unit, Crescent Strike
Our bread and butter for this matchup is Petricite Broadwing. It threatens their champions, while both decks have equal access to pump spells. If we time it right, and always keep two mana open to prevent our opponent from playing their champs, we are at a decisive advantage.
“Akshan with his Quick Attack, and Sivir with her Quick Attack and Spellshield are problematic if they develop them during their turn,” adds Painas (since we can’t deal with them on the same turn, and they will have enough mana for spells to protect them from our Petricite Broadwing attack the next turn).
This matchup is also a perfect example of how to use Aphelios: Since they are also playing Petricite Broadwing, as well as tons of removal spells like Single Combat, there is no way that Aphel will stay on the board for long.
Despite that fact, he is the key to winning this matchup. When we play him, we tutor Petricite Broadwing with Crescendum, and when they try to kill him, we create his Phased Moon Weapon in hand before he dies. This will usually lead to a two-for-one, or even three-for-one card advantage in our favor.
Don’t try to save Aphelios!!
When it comes to closing out the game, it can become tricky. If we play The Great Beyond and tap out of mana, they could just play a Sivir, The Absolver, and Rally. Be very careful with tapping out of mana against Akshan Sivir!
Since they run Golden Aegis, Crescent Strike becomes valuable later on. But again: Don’t waste this card early to save you Aphelios, he won’t create any Moon Weapon more powerful than Crescent Strike.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Aphel Lux shares regions with Pantheon Yuumi. While the first slaps medium-sized asses, our beloved muscleman spanks the thickest, most legendary butts.
In a Bo3 environment like Tournaments and Gauntlets, it’s difficult to argue for Aphel over Pantheon if you want to maximize your winning chances. However, since you’ve read this guide this far, you’ve probably taken a liking to Aphelios Lux and don’t care about optimization!
If you want to bring this deck with two other strong companions, you could go for a triple Petricite Broadwing lineup with Akshan Sivir and Scouts!
The trouble comes with the ban strategy though. While most Demacian decks collapse against aggro, this one wants to ban Darkness and Gnarlines… which Akshan Sivir and Scouts actually are good against.
Nonetheless, since there isn’t much aggro around, this lineup will be favored into most of the field. We’re especially favored into other Demacian lineups bringing Scouts.
Many thanks go to Painas for his insightful contribution, sharing his valuable time for this article. Also, without Herko Kerghans’ and Hydroflare’s editing magic, this text wouldn’t read nearly as fluently as it does!
If you want to read more by me, consider subscribing to the Premium Membership (link) of our website. There are a lot of guides available – alongside many other benefits – including my Pantheon Yuumi DE one!
Thanks for reading and see you next time! =)