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Video Deck Tech - RG Aggro (Standard)
Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
2/29/2012 11:21:00 AM
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Ever since I began playing Magic, some sixteen years ago (geez...), I've had an affinity toward RG Aggro. Not the degenerate, “dump all of the artifacts from our hand out in one turn and make combat miserable for you” Affinity, but an affinity of love. When I first started playing, I was like everyone else. I would build 100 cards decks, with no more than one or two of each card that I liked - since that was what I owned - and ram them against similar decks played by my best friend, Richard. Truth be told, we had no idea what we were doing.

Eventually in the 7th grade I began playing Magic with my good friend Chris Carter. I would go on to play Magic with Chris for quite some time, but not before he trounced my 100+ card monstrosity with his 60 card monoblack deck. This deck had it all: Hyptotic Specters, Sengir Vampires, Bad Moons...you name it. I had never seen such a streamlined deck before, nor had I know something was possible, but I knew I wanted one.

It was around 8th grade when I found someone else who played Magic at school, another Chris even. I told him of my problem and told me he would help me with my deck. I brought my trainwreck of a deck over to his house and after looking at it, he just said what I imagine today would amount to a simple "no." Just no. He took every good green and red card I had - a single Storm Seeker, a single Shivan Dragon, an Erhnam Djinn, a Lightning Bolt, a Fireball, etc. - and he made me the second best 60 card deck I had ever seen. (Out of two, if we're counting.)

I took this deck and I played against Richard with it and that was that. He was upset, understandably, and told me that "he could win too if he had Chris build his deck for him." He was right. I kind of felt like I had cheated in the "gentleman's game" we were playing with one another, but at the same time, I also felt as if I had evolved; and I knew there was no turning back.

RG Aggro by Frank Lepore
Main Deck
Sideboard
1 Acidic Slime
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Daybreak Ranger
1 Garruk's Companion
2 Hellrider
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
4 Strangleroot Geist
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
Creatures [25]
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Green Sun's Zenith
3 Sword of War and Peace
Spells [11]
4 Copperline Gorge
8 Forest (262)
2 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Kessig Wolf Run
3 Mountain (259)
4 Rootbound Crag
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


1 Acidic Slime
1 Ancient Grudge
3 Corrosive Gale
1 Garruk Relentless
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Manabarbs
2 Naturalize
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Now it goes without saying that RG Aggro decks have come a long way since then. You don't need me to give you a run down of how creatures have improved, but what you do need me to do - or rather want me to do, I assume, if you're reading this article - is show you how the latest iteration of RG Aggro plays out.

Well, without further ado...

T2 RG Aggro vs. UB Zombies, Match 1, Game 1



T2 RG Aggro vs. UB Zombies, Match 1, Game 2



T2 RG Aggro vs. UB Zombies, Match 1, Game 3



T2 RG Aggro vs. Red Deck Wins, Match 1, Game 1



T2 RG Aggro vs. Red Deck Wins, Match 1, Game 2



T2 RG Aggro vs. Red Deck Wins, Match 1, Game 3



T2 RG Aggro vs. Junk Pod, Match 1, Game 1



T2 RG Aggro vs. Junk Pod, Match 1, Game 2



Sorry for that dude raging at me after the Red Deck Wins match. I just overlooked the fact that he was at two life since I didn't assume he would let himself get that low when he could have easily played the card in his hand - whether it was a land or a spell - and kept himself out of Galvanic Blast range.

As you can see the list I'm playing here is the same exact list that Jackie Lee took to the Top four at Grand Prix Baltimore this past weekend. The only difference is that I removed one Sword of War and Peace for one Garruk's Companion. This should be explained:

You see, the Germans - and some Americans - were playing a similar RG Aggro list at Pro Tour Dark Ascension that had three Garruk's Companion in it. I thought this card was awesome as Strangleroot Geist five through seven, as it let you sneak in damage past tokens, and also allowed a Sword to trigger if the Companion was chump blocked. It also increased the abundance of your two drops. Anyway, while that is the reason I added the Companion, that is not why I took out that Sword. Truth be told, I took out one Sword because...well, simply because I only have three on MTGO, and even though I would still run four in the deck, I still think there is incredible value to be gained from the Companion.

In addition to the Companion, the only other change I made was adding two Naturalize to the sideboard in place of a single Ancient Grudge and the Tree of Redemption. The reason was that I feel like I have a pretty bad match up against Heartless Summoning, since I have no way to actually get rid of the namesake card or things like Oblivion Ring and Honor of the Pure. I cut one Ancient Grudge since it fills almost the same role, and I cut the Tree of Redemption since your red match up shouldn't be the worst anyway since both Huntmaster and Sword of War and Peace gain you some life.

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Moving on, the deck runs eight one drops that produce mana, mostly to accelerate you to your threatening four drops, and they are threatening. I've seen some lists opt for Hero of Oxid Ridge, and while he's fine too, I've actually fallen in love with Hellrider (feeling similar to Kibler on the matter). Now accompanied by Huntmaster of the Fells and a single Thrun, the Last Troll - and technically three Phyrexian Metamorph - you now have a four drop suite that would make even Jace, the Mind Sculptor jealous (maybe not; it takes a lot to make that dude jealous).

The deck is so straightforward that it becomes elegant: play guys quickly, attack with them, limit your opponent's forces. The one problematic matchup I see the deck having is Frites. You don't have many ways to deal with their guys from the graveyard - specifically Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - outside of Phyrexian Metamorph. Unfortunately by the time you're able to counter with a Metamorph, the damage is usually done. I can see perhaps adding some Grafdigger's Cage to the sideboard, but other than that I'm not sure if there are any viable options in red or green that can deter or prevent an Elesh Norn from eating our face. We could add Nihil Spellbombs and hope that we can pay the black from a Birds of Paradise for Value; that might be just as good as Cage, come to think of it. Boy, what I wouldn't give for a Loaming Shaman right now. Go ahead and hover over that guy if you're unsure of what he does.

One more card I want to shine some light on is Red Sun's Zenith. I posted about this on the MTGatTCGplayer Facebook page, so if you aren't following us, go ahead and do so; if you are following us, then you're going to hear this again. I heard a story this past weekend from a friend who played Red Sun's Zenith for one on a larger creature, then Doom Bladed it away to remove it from the game entirely. I thought this was just epic, and it made me realize that Red Sun's Zenith could be an awesome answer to troublesome threats right now.

Not only does it shuffle back into the deck to give you a certain amount of inevitability with Ramp decks, but in regular RG Aggro it gives you a really efficient way to take care of things like Strangleroot Geist, Gravecrawler, and Geralf's Messenger for good! Sure, it costs a little more than something like a Galvanic Blast, but it has tremendous flexibility, and it only costs a mere two mana to remove a Gravecrawler or a Strangleroot Geist from the game and three for a Messenger

I think this list might be close to what I'm running this weekend at the Open in Tampa. Either way, the deck is definitely one of the premier aggro decks right now and it's somewhat hard to fight against with all the resilient creatures and two-for-ones. That's all I have for this week, though. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

Oh, wait...

BONUS Next Level Tezzeret list!

This is a deck I put together the other day and it has been performing really well in testing so far. It has a lot of ways to shut off a lot of different strategies in Standard right now. While I'm not going to go into card choices, right now, since I'll probably cover this deck next week, I did want to get it out there as I thought a lot of people might enjoy it.

Next Level Tezzeret by Frank Lepore
Main Deck
Sideboard
1 Acidic Slime
4 Glissa, the Traitor
1 Hex Parasite
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Trinket Mage
2 Wurmcoil Engine
Creatures [15]
2 Garruk Relentless
3 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Planeswalkers [5]
2 Batterskull
3 Go for the Throat
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Ratchet Bomb
4 Sphere of the Suns
2 Sword of War and Peace
Spells [16]
4 Darkslick Shores
2 Evolving Wilds
5 Forest (262)
4 Hinterland Harbor
2 Island (253)
3 Swamp (256)
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


1 Acidic Slime
2 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Elixir of Immortality
3 Flashfreeze
1 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Naturalize
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Perilous Myr
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Okay, now that's all!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
FrankLepore on TwitchTV



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