In a world where players are encouraged to cast giant Eldrazis, everyone figured out it was best to go under rather than fight them head-on. So far, my draft experience has been that actual Eldrazis such as Eldrazi Devastator and Breaker of Armies are near unplayable. The 7-mana ones sometimes make the cut, but that’s pretty much it.
Battle for Zendikar was an attempt to mix Rise of the Eldrazi and Zendikar in the same format. The Rise of the Eldrazi part is barely recognizable, all that’s left are the synergic decks. The aggressive influences of Zendikar, mainly the (admittedly weakened) landfall creatures, are still astonishingly good.
I’m looking at these creatures. They are just completely oversized compared to other 2- and 3- drops. Kor Castigator and Kozilek’s Sentinel compete, yet those are also great aggro cards. The only reasonable creature that blocks them is Fortified Rampart. As for removal spells, only Gideon’s Reproach and Tightening Coils deal with them in a timely fashion. Sure, Touch of the Void and Complete Disregard take care of them, but you are still trading down on mana.
Not only do your creatures outclass the majority of the opposition, the format splits between aggressive decks and synergic decks—I guess there’s a third portion that’s more midrange/control/Eldrazi trainwrecks. By putting pressure on those synergic decks that try to assemble ingest, Processors, and life-drain shenanigans, you reduce your opponent’s window to set up their engine.
“But Pascal, they are awful if you miss land drops.”
If you miss land drops in the first four turns of the game, you’re going to lose anyway if your opponent is doing anything remotely good. As for the turns past that point, play more lands! I frequently play 18 and 19 lands in this format, it sucks to flood when your game plan is to close the game quickly, but if every land you play pumps your creatures an average of +2/+2, those are lands I want to draw. Especially in this format, it’s really easy to have your 18 and 19th lands be “mini spells”—all of the Blighted and tapped lands are playable.
Base colors: Red, Green, or White?
- Red is arguably the best color in the set and definitely the best if you want to attack. You have 2-drops for every kind of aggressive strategy you might like to play. Makindi Sliderunner fits best in RG Landfall, Reckless Cohort in RW Allies, and Kozilek’s Sentinel in BR and UR devoid. The red devoid strategies are not as linear as just turning your creatures sideways every turn, but they are a good mix of synergy and aggression. Kozilek’s Sentinel is spectacular since it blocks AND attacks well.
- Green has Snapping Gnarlid and Tajuru Warcaller as big payoffs, and an even bigger payoff from staying RG is that you get all the Grove Rumblers opened at the table. Swell of Growth is surprisingly great as well (no pun intended).
- White will lead to Ally-based decks. RW is the best color combination for this archetype—Kor Castigator is awesome, and if you can pick up Kor Bladewhirl you create some sick curves that ignore your opponent’s blockers. Gideon’s Reproach and Lithomancer’s Focus fit perfectly as cheap tricks too. Just like Grove Rumbler, you will be rewarded with Resolute Blademasters too! If you pair with green, you usually end up a little more midrange-y than RW, making tokens off Grovetender Druids. I found the best way to avoid durdling too much was to add Eyeless Watcher and Call the Scions, that way you can finish them off with an insane Inspired Charge.
Deck list examples:
The beauty of these new Allies is that they affect your other creatures too. Also, The creatures and spells are very interchangeable here—Makindi Sliderunner and Beligerent Whiptail aren’t even in the list. I would try to avoid playing utility lands in a deck that tries to curve and wants to play 17 lands such as this one.
Unnatural Aggression isn’t as good as other fight spells we’ve seen before, but here in RG it’s still great because your creatures just happen to be bigger than average. Playing 18 lands is a necessity with so many landfall creatures, and I wouldn’t be against cutting a spell for a 19th land either. The cards are not as interchangeable in RG as they are in RW, but they are more powerful. Evolving Wilds is fantastic in this deck, grab them when you can.
Bonus UB Aggro Deck List
You can still beat down even if you are not in red, white, or green, and even if it’s harder, this is a good example of a successful approach.
Thanks for reading and see you this weekend in Madison for the GP!