Tribal Thriftiness #23 – More TT Aggro, or “When Good Aggro Decks Go Non-Aggro”

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Thursday, May 15th – A Mono-Green aggro player somewhere down in the cockles of his heart, last week Mr. Tribally Thrifty put together a budget Mono-Green aggro deck for play at the FNM level. What happened? Did the deck succeed or fail?

A quick aside before getting to the meat of the article:

I don’t like, necessarily, being reminded of my age. It’s often quite hard on me, just going to Magic events, when I know that I’m generally one of the oldest people in the room. My local FNM contains mostly people that I am 10-15 years older than. But it’s okay – by socializing with them, I establish in my mind this thought pattern that I am actually much younger than my actual age.

So being at a Duran Duran concert, with people my actual age, is something of a shock. I know I came from the 80’s, a time when boys like me would attend school dances and dance, un-rhythmically, to whatever music was playing. What I had not realized, until Monday, was that those boys still don’t know how to dance, as they were more than willing to prove.

I almost took video of them. I ultimately decided against it. It’s like looking your mortality in the mirror. It’s like looking in the mirror and, in my case, finally giving up the claim that your grandfather was totally grey-haired by 25, so what of it? I think I’d rather continue life, content in the false belief that I am 25 or 29 or Some Younger Age, and not quite move into the… ahem, middle ages.

Last week I left you with this deck:

TT Aggro v1

4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Groundbreaker
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Safehold Elite
2 Spike Feeder
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher

4 Giant Growth
2 Stonewood Invocation
2 Creeping Mold
2 Overrun

16 Forest
4 Treetop Village

4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Firespout
3 Krosan Grip
2 Mercy Killing
2 Gleeful Sabotage

A lot of helpful suggestions came by the way of the forum, but I still decided to run this “as was” for purposes of, shall we say, education? I am woefully out of touch with the metagame in my area, and I wanted to get back into the “feel” of playing competitively before making a bunch of changes to the deck. The only change made was the addition of the Mercy Killings as the last sideboard slots.

In the first round, I am given a trial by fire: Faeries, straight out the chute. Now, I have played Faeries before, but always with reactive “control” decks. I tend to stew in my own thoughts during these matches, and since I am not necessarily a good control player, I tend to miss obvious tricks. This is especially the case with Faeries, where I have often blundered into Spellstutter Sprites simply due to the fact that I can’t read Bitterblossom or remember it’s a durned Faerie itself. So I welcome the chance to play with my eyes closed, pumping out big creatures and hopefully not tripping myself up too badly.

I win the die roll, and my opening hand includes a Llanowar Elf and a Groundbreaker. Knowing that Faeries has a bit of trouble when they’re on the back foot, I keep it, and play out my Groundbreaker on turn 2. My turn 3 Boggart Ram-Gang meets a Rune Snag, but I feel like I am ahead and should be pressing my advantage. I make a couple more creatures, and my opponent does his best to keep up, playing out Pestermites and Spellstutter Sprites to stem the flow. When I finally go for the Overrun to win the game, he reluctantly has to let it through.

I got to thinking, though, that Overrun is probably not so hot against a deck that has not only ways of countering the spell, but also has ways of maliciously tapping your guys after it resolves, thus making you lose both the spell and your attack. So I side out the Overruns and the Spike Feeders, and bring in the Firespouts.

With my opponent on the play in game 2, the entire tempo of the game changes. He’s got that extra land, so can Rune Snag my turn 2 three-drop. He plays out Bitterblossom early, puts a token in front of my forced-into-attacking Tattermunge Maniac, and proceeds to play his game. I never mount much of an offense, and what I do end up playing gets stolen by Sower of Temptation.

In game 3, I outthink myself and forget to Play Good Magic. Trying to get around his (once again) early Bitterblossom, I start committing too many creatures to the board, only to be blown out by the sideboarded Damnation.

I really hate Faeries.

I think it’s a requirement to get a fast start with this deck, as if you give them any inch, they’ll take it, and then beat you about the ears with it. The other option, I imagine, is to sideboard twelve cards against them, but it kind of defeats the purpose of being a “beatdown” deck if you’re forced into a reactionary role.

In the second round, I am paired against a young man and his Treefolk deck. Boggart Ram-Gang is the hero here, bashing through Walls of Roots and letting me steal victory.

The third round is against Elves, and I think once again that my strategy is going to be to go as much “all out” as I can. There’s no countermagic to worry about – it’s really only the ability of the Elves deck get more mileage out their creatures than I get out of mine. A single Imperious Perfect, for instance, can turn off a Boggart Ram-Gang, and that seems less than fair.

We trade some early damage in game 1, until I am forced on the defensive thanks to the Elves’ removal and a 4/5 Tarmogoyf, which pretty much can eat anything I have. I try to trick my opponent into blocking a Safehold Elite, hoping to take it out with the Giant Growth in my hand, but he just shrugs and lets it through. I instead am forced to play out another blocker, and it’s suddenly a struggle just to keep out of Profane Command range. Eventually I run out of ways to block, and Profane Command comes and finishes me off.

The second game is a blowout. While we both make creatures early and smash them into each other, he has the option of killing my guys and regurgitating his own thanks to Profane Command, which he happily does, more than once. Also, Mercy Killing is only great if those three 1/1 tokens that you just gave your opponent aren’t suddenly 2/2’s thanks to Imperious Perfect. Rabbits!

The thoughts about my experience: Well, for a beatdown deck, I’m surprised at how it didn’t. But it could just be user error …

Mono-Green Aggro: You’re Doing it Wrong

Not quite ready to cash in my Green chips yet, I decided to poke around the Internetz and see what I could find. Lo and behold, Star City had a pair of big Standard tournaments this weekend … and what’s this? A Mono-Green Aggro deck in the Top 8?

As some people in the forums suggested, it appears that the way forward is to use the great Green/White “Godly” enchantment, Shield of the Oversoul, and to maximize its effectiveness by using as many Green/White hybrid creatures as you can. Daniel’s deck also uses Wilt-Leaf Liege ($9) to continue on with the maximization, and runs a total of 19 Green/White creatures. Certainly the Shield merits some consideration, and while the Liege is out of the price scope of this column, you could certainly use them if you had some.

Some other suggestions from the forums:

Flame Javelin: True, it’s a four-mana burn spell that this deck could play, and it’s not like you should reasonably expect your Faeries opponent to Spellstutter it (if they can, you’re probably going to lose anyway) – but six mana is a hefty investment. At five mana, Overrun should win you the game. It’s possible that you would need to use Flame Javelin on a Wilt-Leaf Liege or a Mistbind Clique just to not die.

Moonglove Extract: I like this idea much better. Not that the deck needs another three-drop (it probably doesn’t), but it is colorless removal that takes care of a lot of problem guys: Scion of Oona, Imperious Perfect, Lord of Atlantis, Kitchen Finks, and Rhys the Redeemed, for example. The two damage is not inconsequential in today’s Standard, although you may end up having to couple it with some combat damage to take care of the bigger boys.

Elvish Hexhunter: Now that Shield of the Oversoul seems to have a place in Standard, it would appear that Elvish Hexhunter could be quite beneficial. My only concern would be pulling out of the one-casting-cost critters, which both seem to be necessities. But a good sideboard choice – better than Gleeful Sabotage, I bet.

Thornweald Archer: Blocking flying, great. Deathtouch against guys toting Shield of the Oversoul… not really helpful. What other big flying thing is out there?

The deck does need more of a game against Faeries. Daniel used both Squall Line ($1) and Cloudthresher ($5), and I could see Jagged-Scar Archers maybe having some impact – it will always kill a Faerie token, at least. Or should.

Durn Faeries.

In the interest of trying out the Flame Javelin, I’ve put two in the sideboard. The deck has gone up to 12 Green/White creatures to double up on the Shield, and has replaced the Spike Feeders with two Jagged-Scar Archers. There are now 18 Elves in the deck, enough to fuel both Jagged-Scar Archers and Wren’s Run Vanquisher.

Thanks for everyone’s input!

Until next week!