You CAN Play Type I #57: The Control Player’s Bible Part XXV – Deck Deconstruction v. Aggro

How do you tweak”The Deck” against aggro? Oscar goes over your sideboarding options when playing Magic’s most complex deck!

Manila might be on the opposite end of the world from New York, but everyone tuned in to the CNN coverage last September 11 all the same. I remember the messages on Beyond Dominia a year ago, asking if Matt D’Avanzo and other Neutral Ground players were accounted for. This city was never separated from the events that followed, I suppose. Our president was one of the strongest Southeast Asian supporters of the American response, and US Special Forces troops flew in to help against bandits with terrorist links in our southern islands.

As someone from Southeast Asia, I suppose I find myself hoping that whatever newfound spirit was awakened among Americans doesn’t end with Americans. Very recently, for example, hundreds of Philippine migrant workers were highhandedly thrown out of Malaysia. Children reportedly died in cramped conditions and non-Muslim women – including a 13-year old girl – were allegedly raped by Malaysian policemen. I couldn’t help but wonder why the United States could take a decisive stand all the way to Afghanistan while our own diplomats couldn’t even get to their countrymen in Malaysian jails.

I suppose terror takes on many forms, especially in the Third World.

(But speaking of terror… How could R&D reprint Dwarven Miner and rotate Blood Moon back into the main set??? Now that is pure evil…)

Deck Deconstruction

In the past columns, we walked through the major Type I aggro archetypes. Aggro decks are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the vaunted flexibility of "The Deck," and they pour out threat after threat in an attempt to overwhelm the opponent in a furious, focused assault. We’ve seen how "The Deck" copes against the entire range, from the single-minded blitzkrieg of big men that is Stompy to the more devious threat arsenal of something like The Funker.

(The feature on German TnT is encountering problems, and will follow. My apologies to his fans, but Benjamin Rott, a.k.a. Teletubby, is two oceans away from Manila, after all, and my connection has been erratic thanks to the lousy weather in Manila these days.)

Many readers wrote and asked why specific decklists both for the opponents and "The Deck" post-sideboard were not included. The omissions were intentional.

Some of the best writers present decklists with ready "idiot guides" for sideboarding. If you see one of those familiar "+" and "-" lists, you think you’re good to go, and it’s a big help.

However, I don’t want to spoonfeed anybody, particularly readers who aren’t intimately familiar with the decks presented. Once you see the idiot’s guide, you become tempted to take shortcuts and grow overconfident. You might cut corners and fail to realize that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thus, the features against aggro were kept focused on the actual gameplay. I left out other details that I felt would deemphasize the interactions between various cards.

Now that you’ve seen all these interactions and have had a lot of time to think about what works and what doesn’t, we’ll go to the difficult part.

Magic question: How do you tweak "The Deck" against aggro?

Rotating the bench against aggro

Fighting aggro is almost always about early stopping power. Generally, if you can run the first wave out of steam and survive to the midgame, you can bring your stronger tricks into play while they’re reduced to topdecking.

This means stripping your deck of the less efficient, later tricks, and slipping in spot removal plus an extra silver bullet or two. Reconfiguring against aggro is generally the most straightforward of your sideboard scripts.