Over the next three weeks I will be getting more specific on deck types. Last week I gave you a peek at my thoughts on the main decks in the format, specifically the types that made top 16 in GP Seattle. Now I will give you my versions of these decks and deeper thoughts.
Aggro-Control is a term that is thrown around quite a bit. However, this term is misleading. People use it to refer to a specific style of deck, but in reality any deck falls into this category. There are simply degrees of control and aggression. As far as I can remember, the only decks I have ever seen that were purely aggression were certain versions of Suicide Black and Stompy. As for purely control only the old prison deck that won by decking you with nothing to speed up the process would fall into that category.
There are four major types of cards in Magic: control cards, aggression cards, deck manipulation cards, and mana cards. Granted, these types are very general, but they do cover all types of cards in Magic. A card may be more than one of these types, but all are at least one. The way to classify your deck is by the ratio of aggression cards to control cards. The mana and deck manipulation cards are merely used to enhance the power of the control or aggressive elements to you deck.
This week I am going to talk about the far left (aggression). These decks, while having control elements, rely on putting the pressure on. Truly, the most aggressive decks these days are combo decks, but that is my area of least knowledge, so I won’t touch on them.
The first deck I am going to talk about is Pooh Burn. This deck named after Seth Burn team brought Alex Shvartsman to back-to-back top 8 GP finishes. Here is the list Alex used in Madrid:
4 Price of Progress
2 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Cursed Scroll
3 Ball Lightning
3 Viashino Sandstalker
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Jackal Pup
3 Ghitu Encampment
This deck differs from old red decks in that there is no mana curve. The only creature in this deck that stays on the table is Jackal Pup. The major benefit to this is that you never have to trigger Oath of Druids. There are no two casting cost creatures in this deck, which makes the drawback of Ghitu Encampment almost meaningless. It uses main deck Price of Progress the beat Oath and Slivers.
While this deck doesn’t have the traditional mana curve, it can work in a similar way the old "Sligh" decks did. This deck is fully capable of playing a turn 1 Jackal Pup the spend the next several turns using burn to clear the way of blockers. This gives an implied card advantage. Rather than using burn to directly attack your opponent you use it to remove his creatures and do the damage with a card that stays on the table.
This deck is also capable of pure racing applying pressure in the from of burn from turn 1. My testing revealed this to be the best possible list for this deck. This deck is in my opinion the best choice for the aggressive player right now.
The next deck I will discuss is Deadguy Negator, the deck that Qualified Worth for LA and Dave for NY:
4 Phyrexian Negator
4 Dauthi Horror
4 Dauthi Slayer
4 Demonic Consultation
4 Dark Ritual
1 Kaervek’s Spite
1 Spinning Darkness
4 City of Traitors
This deck as well does not mirror its more traditional counterpart. Old Suicide Black decks didn’t bother with so much discard or even the searching power of Demonic Consultation. Where the Burn deck got rid of threats as they came, this deck tries to stop them before they start. This deck only has one way to clear the path, Spinning Darkness.
Creatures for early pressure, then Hatred or Spite for the kill. There are three major problems with Red. First, all your creatures are susceptible to burn. Second, in a race they have burn to finish it. Finally, Hatred is almost useless as they can burn you or the creature you Hatred. This deck tries to solve the latter 2 problems. While racing, you have both Spite and Spin to help tip the scales in your favor. Also with 7-8 discard spells you can feel confident casting Hatred against Red. The disruption is obviously also good against Counterspells, and can slow combo just enough to give you time to kill.
In testing I made only minimal changes to this deck. I removed the Spin and one Swamp and added a Skittering Skirge and the 4th Unmask. I felt the discard, especially free discard, was essential for a speedy victory. Removing the Swamp was just to test how much land the deck actually needed. It has functioned fine since so I haven’t changed it.
The last deck I’ll discuss on the topic of aggression is Nine Land Green. While this deck has not made impressive showings at any recent Premier events, testing has proven this deck to be a powerful force.
4 Rogue Elephant
4 Pouncing Jaguar
4 Ghazban Ogre
4 Wild Dogs
4 Vine Dryads
4 Giant Growth
4 Bounty of the Hunt
4 Land Grant
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
3 Elvish Lyrist
4 Skyshroud Elite
2 Scavenger Folk
This deck is an aggressive player’s dream. This deck has always been about hardcore pressure from turn 1. Now with the addition of Vine Dryad you can begin playing threats before turn 1. The beauty of this deck is similar to that of the Burn deck. Some of the aggressive elements double as control elements. Giant Growth and Bounty of the Hunt can both double as creature control. Also creatures like Lyrist and Scavenger Folk double as other forms of removal.
This deck will try to win by racing any and all decks. Green is known for inexpensive creatures, and this deck exploits it to the fullest. Quick kills against combo and control, and as fast or faster than any other beatdown deck. Give this deck a try before you write off Green.
What all these decks have in common besides quick kills is they are all mono-color. Consistency is what makes these decks work. Sure it would be great to have the creatures of Green combined with the burn of Red, but the mana wouldn’t work out consistently enough.
These decks are for the type of player who likes to apply pressure and keep it on. The type of player who can properly ascertain the answers his opponent has to his threats and can play around them. If you like playing in the late game, these decks are not for you.
Next week I’ll discuss the more middle of the road aggro-control decks such as Slivers. Until then, work hard and more importantly, enjoy.