Aphelios Zoe Vi
The untrained eye could look at Zoe Aphelios and see “Invoke control”. Counter-intuitively, it’s quite the opposite.
Zoe Aphel is a discard aggro deck that has similarities to Fizz Lulu. Fizz Lulu relies on Lulu buffing a Flame Chompers! in the early game, and closing out the game with Yordles in Arms .
Compared to Fizz Lulu, Aphelios Zoe has more “orthogonal win conditions” like Aphelios out-valuing the foe, Zoe leveling and granting the entire board Elusive, or The Winding Light buffing five small units, akin to Yordles in Arms .
In the current meta, Aphelios Zoe seems to be the better fit than Fizz Lulu due to their more valuable champions, as well as the recent nerf to Yordles in Arms .
Let me start by saying that Zoe is one of the champs I like best, and that Aphelios is actually the champ I like the most – he got me into playing Competitive LoR over Expeditions.
I’ve written multiple guides on Aphelios archetypes, especially on Aphelios Viktor, which can be considered a forerunner of this deck. As a matter of fact, the only reason I’m not writing a guide on Aphelios Zoe Vi is that there already is one!
With that out of the way, you will of course get a biased opinion from me. And my opinion is that the deck is absolutely nuts! =)
In the games I tested Aphelios Zoe Vi, I climbed several ranks in Diamond. The deck works especially well against aggro decks like Annie Jhin, due to our ability to match them with unit numbers, but out-value them with card draw.
Aphelios Zoe almost beats everything the meta has to offer – from Viego Noxus to Fizz Riven to the aforementioned aggro lists.
The only thing the deck struggles against is reactive archetypes that dab into Shadow Isles or Piltover ‘n Zaun. This includes the likes of Annie Elise and Heimerdinger Jayce.
And Lissandra Taliyah might be our biggest adversary, due to their AoE removal and our inability to chump-block Frostguard Thralls.
In my personal experience, Aphelios Zoe is super fun to play and has different win conditions that keep the deck fresh even after your 20th game. As long as you can avoid some pesky SI PnZ homebrews and Thralls, you’ll be doing a lot of winning.
Just a heads up though – the archetype is quite difficult to pilot. From deciding your discard targets, to what win condition you should actually go for (Do we out-value the opponent with Aphelios? Do we attempt a Zoe level-up? Or do we go for a The Winding Light lethal?), Aphelios Zoe has a lot of decisions to make.
But that’s exactly why I love this list – You always have something to learn, and get rewarded for making the right decisions! =)
Annie Elise is a control deck that plays around Ravenbloom Conservatory and Catalogue of Regrets. It’s one of the few decks that maximize Tybaulk’s summon effect, by running many Drain effects and small units.
Naturally, the deck works very well against aggro thanks to said healing cards and chump blockers.
Annie and Elise are the perfect champions to strengthen our early game and have the potential to become game-ending threats if not addressed.
Since the deck runs so much removal and Skills, we’re able to proc Ravenbloom Conservatory reliably. It’s another story to know when to play Tybaulk without dying, but our cheap drain effects, that benefit twice as much from the damage increase and healing, go a long shot.
I actually beat my first opponent with Elise, thanks to almost exclusively drawing spider cards. Imagine going into this thinking Annie Elise is a control deck, and ending up killing your opponent on round six with six spiders on the board! =)
I discovered this archetype (as probably everyone did that know Annie Elise) through Bajatak’s Twitter post. As he states in the Tweet, Annie Elise is an incredibly difficult list to pilot that will often be lost in the Mulligan.
Knowing what you want in which matchup is key. Against aggro it’s pretty straightforward: find removal like Vile Feast, and House Spider or Elise.
Against midrange and control, it becomes a lot more tricky though.
Do we want Disintegrate in our starting hand? Elise?
Bajatak replied in the comments to this question, that we most of the time search for Catalogue of Regrets to not run out of value.
This makes a lot of sense. We barely run any card draw in the deck, but play three copies of Go Hard. The card can feel like a huge brick in the wrong matchup though, especially if you draw it early and are forced into shuffling more of them into your deck.
Deciding when the right is to play Go Hard, or when to hold back and tank damage is one of the many intricacies of Annie Elise that I found myself struggling with.
I’ll probably need to play more than 50 games with the archetype to get a solid understanding of it, and hundreds of games to feel comfortable with it.
Still, I find Annie Elise can be incredibly fun to play with its reactive playstyle and many decisions to make. Just don’t go in expecting you’ll get one puzzle, like with most other decks – you’ll get three every turn! =)
Better avoid… Twisted Fate Bard
This deck does one thing very well; it baits strong players into thinking it might be good. While it feels really good to highroll Chimes and flip Twisted Fate, this deck is just really clunky. Surprisingly, I had to worry about decking out quite frequently.
I did change the list from the monstrosity our editor Herko dug up from the data. This list is the final build I settled on and I still don’t think it’s worth playing if you’re trying to climb.
Marai Greatmother is a really funny addition to a deck that cycles so much. You will almost always have the mana available to cast something and I think it actually improves the deck.
Bard Twisted Fate’s problem is that it’s awkward. Bard wants you to hold units in hand, as does Twisted Fate (because almost all your units draw), but you need to play out units to be mana efficient. Having both your champs cost four mana plays into the deck’s awkwardness as well.
If you do decide to play this deck you’ll want to flip Twisted Fate as quickly as possible. This becomes surprisingly easy if he gets a few Chimes on him because the deck is composed almost entirely of card draw. Eventually pray you can close out with a few buffed elusive units, Prowling Cutthroat.
I really hate this deck. I didn’t win a single game of test-piloting TF Bard. I actually came close in one game. “Leer, how the **** is that even possible?” you might ask, justly so. I aggro’d my opponent down… until I had to develop a Mystic Vortex =))))))
Frustration aside though, the concept of TF Bard doesn't seem terrible. Bard plants tons of Chimes in your and what do you wanna do when all the buff bells befit your deck? Draw them of course!
Thus pairing Bard with Twisted Fate, who loves drawing cards, is more than a solid idea.
The problem this list runs into is that it lacks win conditions. If we don’t draw Twisted Fate and level him, there’s no way for us to win the game. But the deck doesn’t run any protection for TF. Hence, if our opponent plays a single Mystic Shot, we lose the game.
Having an 18/20 Maduli, The Gatekeeper on board might be a fun experience, just until it gets chump blocked by our opponent’s 1/1 Spiderling. The deck lacks Overwhelm effects like Might to justify focusing on growing our units to unseen heights.
Also, a lot of the cards in the list don’t benefit our game plan at all. Make it Rain and Shakedown might have very specific situations where they are okay, but 80% of the time they are dead meat.
Why do we even play Shakedown? We don’t have enough value in our deck to out-control our opponent, and no finisher to win the game on our own. The best option we have is praying that our foe concedes because he sees a leveled TF.
And have I mentioned that we play Bone Skewer in the deck?!
The whole archetype seems to suffer from the fact that we combine two bad regions that don’t have 40 synergistic cards. Unfortunately, Bard’s region limits the card pool too much, and he needs a more solid region like Demacia to function properly. Twisted Fate Bard might just be the proof of that fact!
This deck is a longtime favorite of mine and one I’ve slowly tweaked as time goes on. I can’t decide on my current preferred champion split and Sqweeby was making a case for Viktor, so I’m currently testing out all of them. They all serve a different purpose but can act as a win condition if they get going. Feel free to default to a more normalized champion split with any of these champs.
With the addition of Revna, the Lorekeeper, this deck got a decent upgrade. I’ve never really liked the lists with Boom Baboon and I feel that Station Archivist is mandatory for the deck so I’ve adjusted accordingly.
This deck still centers around its powerful round eight – getting double mana and a free unit off of Trundle’s Ice Pillar is too much for most decks to handle. You’ll want to control the board as much as possible while also trying to plan ahead and keep mana for Buried in Ice if you need it.
I think this deck is fairly well positioned at the moment and you can find a lot of success with it.
You can tweak the list as you like but I wouldn’t cut Station Archivist or Aloof Travelers. I’ve seen some people go without Buried in Ice and I don’t like that much either.
You can all thank Zorig for this one!
The Stagehand is surprisingly really good in this deck and I was told Zorig was the one to first add it. I played a lot of this list on my own climb to Masters, fine-tuning the ratios.
I really like the one-of Syncopation at the moment, Darkodius argues for the second Homecoming instead. I think Syncopation provides a lot of surprise kill potential and protection while Homecoming is too costly.
This deck wants to play as it always does, if more aggressively.
With a full set of Shadow Apprentice I often found myself keeping opening hands of entirely one-drops when attacking on even rounds. Most of the time you will still want to be mulliganing for your power cards (soldier generators) – Azir, Emperor's Dais. If you already have those it’s ok to keep Irelia and other stuff. Just have a plan with your mulligan.
Come out of the gates swinging and find an opening to get Field Musicians down. Once you’ve done that most of your cards will cycle if you have a soldier generator, which you looked for in the mulligan.
The Stagehand can be used to remove pesky blockers and up your potential damage output. Sometimes they’re just four damage plus the sand soldier in the early game, and that’s ok!