Every week I'm tasked with the difficult job of deciding which deck to run through its paces and put my own spin on from an inbox of many. Last week things came a little easier, however. I made a post to Twitter offering to purchase a Thragtusk and an Armada Wurm from those who might be selling them on Magic Online to get some games in with, when I received the following reply:
“I'll give you one for free if you review my deck and provide solid feedback! You could even make an article of it...deal?”
Now I'm not usually prone to accepting bribes, and I often have a hard time accepting “gifts” like this, but nonetheless, I replied telling him that it was a pretty good deal and that he should email me the decklist. Shortly after I had an email from Jeffrey-Joy Stam containing the following list:
As a big fan of both Selesnya Aggro and Azorius Aggro, I really liked what I saw. I've died at the hands of a rabid War Falcon more than once if I recall correctly. (Can Falcons carry rabies? No matter!) The point was that I thought both decks had their pros and their cons, and with the mana we currently have access to in Standard, there was little reason why the two strategies couldn't be combined!
Let's see how the deck played out of the box...
Bant Aggro vs. Selesnya Midrange
Bant Aggro vs. American Midrange
Um...well, that went well. It's awkward when someone sends me a deck and I have a hard time telling what's wrong with it - if anything - right off the bat. It leaves me with very little to criticize, but I know there are some things.
First off, let's be honest: Silverblade Paladin is one of the best cards in the format. To only run three is criminal. While I will sing the praises of Lyev Skyknight quite loudly, I still think that Silverblade Paladin is the better three drop and is more worthy of a fourth slot, especially with Rancor in the deck, and especially since the Skyknight needs a blue mana, which is nowhere near as easy to cast. After all, giving your Precinct Captain double strike and trample, as well as +2/+0...well, that's pretty good. Or your Sublime Archangel. Or your…anything.
Did you guys know that BR decks have been pretty popular recently? Did you know that Knight of Glory is pretty good against them? Did you know that following a War Falcon, a Knight of Glory on turn two is one of the best plays this deck can make, allowing you to build your own Delver of Secrets? But what can we take out to make room for it?
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Well, jumping right into the four drops, I think Restoration Angel is a little out of place in this list. I love the card, but what I often want to do is blink a creature with an “enters the battlefield” ability, and this deck has few of them. I think, as far as four drops go, Sublime Archangel is the much stronger inclusion in this deck, especially considering two of the best cards in the deck: Rancor and Silverblade Paladin. I can't think of a better way to exploit giving every creature exalted than by also giving them trample or double strike (have I emphasized that these two abilities go well together yet?).
The last change I could make was the land. Gavony Township is awesome and we all know it, but it's better in the midrange decks where we have mana elves and humans to not only accelerate into an activation, but to receive the counter bonus as well. In this deck we run an objectively low 23 lands, and we may never even be able to activate the land. I think the better land for this deck is actually Moorland Haunt. It interacts favorably with several of the cards in the deck, from giving you a nigh endless stream of evasive attackers to enchant with Rancor, to more creatures to receive exalted, to more creatures to soulbond with. The deck does have some rather heavy mana requirements, from things like WW on turn two, to WG, to UW, which means I'm more than okay with only running the one colorless land.
I'm...not sure what I was playing against in that first game, and while it might not have been that great of an example, I feel like these games still give a good idea of what the deck is capable of and what kind of strategies it can implement.
One thing I didn't get to changing was the sideboard, and the reason was because it basically felt fine. I thought all the cards were fairly useful in certain situations. I like having Oblivion Rings to deal with Detention Spheres. I liked having Detention Spheres to deal with...anything. I like Counterspells to slow down the already slow decks. When you know what stops your game plan, Nevermore can be quite useful. Rest in Peace is obviously a powerful card right now. And I even liked Clone to bring in against opposing Geist of Saint Trafts or Thragtusks. Finally Faith's Shield is one of my all-time favorites in this archetype, and I love bringing it in against other aggressive decks as a trump card.
I really like this deck and I think it's pretty solid as far as aggro decks go. The mana isn't as perfect as the pure GW and UW versions, but I think you manage to Reap the benefits of both colors here; most notably in the form of Geist of Saint Traft, Rancor, and Lyev Skyknight.
If you guys get a chance to try it out I highly recommend it. A big thanks to Jeff, both for providing me with some cards, and for an awesome list to try out! Thanks, Jeff!
That's it for The Leporatory this week! Let me know what you guys thought and, again, you can send your ideas to Leporatory@TCGplayer.com! As I mentioned, I've been getting a lot of requests each week for help with decks, so if I don't get back to you, I do apologize, but I definitely do read all of your emails! Thanks to Stefano for sending me the awesome list!
As usual, I'll be back with more Magic later this week. so thanks for reading and I'll see you then!
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