Top 5 Aggro Decks in Dominaria Standard
Standard is in a pretty rough spot right now. After Pro Tour Dominaria, the format looks solved. Goblin Chainwhirler is the new boogeyman and Red decks are everywhere. So, Rodrigo decided to take a look at Aggro in Standard and ranked his top 5 Aggro decks in Dominaria.
There were no surprises during the Pro Tour weekend; Red is the best color in Standard, period. It has the best under-costed creatures, powerful four-drops like Hazoret, the Fervent, Rekindling Phoenix and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and a format-defining card in Goblin Chainwhirler.
Although we could spend an entire article discussing whether or not to ban the ominous three drop, today I would rather prefer to dive in into some other aggressive strategies that performed well in the past few weeks in addition to highlighting the newest black-red and mono red list at Grand Prix Copenhagen, so let's start our ranking:
5. Mono Black
|2Desert of the Glorified||4Dread Shade||1Cast Down|
|4Ifnir Deadlands||4Gifted Aetherborn||2Doomfall|
|4Memorial to Folly||3Glint-Sleeve Siphoner||4Fatal Push|
|3Scavenger Grounds||3Gonti, Lord of Luxury||4Vraska's Contempt|
|13Swamp||2Knight of Malice||1Aethersphere Harvester|
|2Noxious Gearhulk||2Liliana, Death's Majesty|
|2Arguel's Blood Fast / Temple of Aclazotz||1Bontu's Last Reckoning||1Cast Down|
|4Duress||2Essence Extraction||1Fleetwheel Cruiser|
|1Glint-Sleeve Siphoner||1Gonti, Lord of Luxury||1Hour of Glory|
|1Never // Return|
Willy Edel went 7-3 in the Standard portion of the Pro Tour with this awesome mono black deck full of 2-for-1s such as Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Noxious Gearhulk, plus, quite a few utility lands that give the deck more interaction in the mid to late game.
Knight of Malice and Dread Shade are the main additions from Dominaria alongside Cast Down and Memorial to Folly. The Knight is great against W/U decks thanks to his hexproof from white while Dread Shade is very reminiscent of the good old Nantuko Shade, hard to kill with the direct damage red decks pack once you have enough swamps in the battlefield.
4. Steel Leaf Stompy
|2Aethersphere Harvester||1Blossoming Defense||1Crushing Canopy|
|1Ghalta, Primal Hunger||2Lifecrafter's Bestiary||2Nature's Way|
|2Negate||2Nissa, Vital Force||1River's Rebuke|
|1Skysovereign, Consul Flagship|
Another notable 7-3 list direct from the Pro Tour was piloted by Panagiotis Papadopoulos. This is a slightly different take on mono-green stompy which tries to be more resilient to Goblin Chainwhirler archetypes, with only 4 Llanowar Elves making up their one-toughness package.
More interestingly, it adds a blue splash to play Commit // Memory, which helps to counter board sweepers and a way to get rid of problem permanents like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, giving the deck a little more reach to close the game before control decks can stabilize.
Territorial Allosaurus debuts on this shell as a big daddy in order to provide a huge body to reduce Ghalta, Primal Hunger's cost and also be able to deal with other creatures in the late game, if it gets kicked.
3. White-Black Benalia
|4Concealed Courtyard||3Knight of Malice||4Fatal Push|
|2Ifnir Deadlands||4Scrapheap Scrounger||2Gideon of the Trials|
|4Isolated Chapel||4Toolcraft Exemplar||4Heart of Kiran|
|8Plains||4Walking Ballista||4History of Benalia|
|1Scavenger Grounds||3Ixalan's Binding|
|1Shefet Dunes||3Karn, Scion of Urza|
|1Heartless Pillage||1Ixalan's Binding||1Karn, Scion of Urza|
|2Lyra Dawnbringer||2Shalai, Voice of Plenty|
Direct from Martin Hansen's Top 16 in GP Copenhagen, we have this fresh list built around the Legendary Saga from Dominaria. For starters, it has 8 creatures that can be crushed by Chainwhirler, like of Toolcraft Exemplar and Walking Ballista, but you can always play around it and hold your Ballistas until they are at least 2/2.
Both Gideon of the Trials and Karn, Scion of Urza provide aggressive abilities while also being more than capable of crewing the Hearts. Post board, it can push the curve up a bit with more Karns and some Fumigates against more aggressive decks, allowing the deck to play defense when it needs too.
One thing worth considering is the low creature-density of the list for Scrapheap. Perhaps M19 will provide some other valuable creatures to make your scroungers more resilient.
2. Black-Green Constrictor
|4Aether Hub||2Bristling Hydra||3Adventurous Impulse|
|4Blooming Marsh||4Glint-Sleeve Siphoner||2Blossoming Defense|
|7Forest||4Jadelight Ranger||2Aethersphere Harvester|
|2Ifnir Deadlands||4Llanowar Elves||1Vraska, Relic Seeker|
|4Woodland Cemetery||1Rishkar, Peema Renegade|
|2Fatal Push||1Karn, Scion of Urza||2Lifecrafter's Bestiary|
|1Nissa, Vital Force||2Thrashing Brontodon||2Vraska's Contempt|
The enegy based deck from Kaladesh block continues to be a strong contender, although it's currently outmached by red decks. This list comes from the Pro Tour as well with a 7-2 record, piloted by Forrest Kamperman, as no B/G Constrictor list made the Top 8 in GP Copenhaguen.
There are more energy cards in this shell, at least when compared to other versions seen shortly after Dominaria's release. Some cards have resurfaced, like Bristiling Hydra and Rishkar, Peema Renegade leaving Merfolk Branchwalker to the side in order to face less pressure from Chainwhirlers.
Adventurous Impulse and Woodland Cemetery are the main inclusions from Dominaria since Karn is no longer in the main deck, but rather a one-of in the sideboard alongside Thrasing Brontodon, which is also very narrow in a field full of Red decks. Aethersphere Harvester is becoming more and more common in these kinds of shells too.
1. Mono Red Aggro / Black-Red Aggro
Red Deck Wins by Tobias Maurer
|3Bomat Courier||3Lightning Strike|
|4Hazoret the Fervent|
|2Kari Zev, Skyship Raider|
|2Aethersphere Harvester||3Chandra's Defeat||3Chandra, Torch of Defiance|
|2Fight with Fire||3Glorybringer||2Pia Nalaar|
Rackdos Aggro by Francisco Sanchez
|2Aether Hub||4Bomat Courier||3Abrade|
|4Canyon Slough||1Glorybringer||1Cut // Ribbons|
|4Dragonskull Summit||4Goblin Chainwhirler||1Shock|
|13Mountain||2Hazoret the Fervent||3Unlicensed Disintegration|
|1Spire of Industry||2Kari Zev, Skyship Raider||2Chandra, Torch of Defiance|
|2Pia Nalaar||2Heart of Kiran|
|1Abrade||1Aethersphere Harvester||1Angrath, the Flame-Chained|
|2Chandra's Defeat||1Cut // Ribbons||2Doomfall|
|2Duress||2Glorybringer||1Hour of Glory|
Chainwhirler decks are a defining feature of the entire Standard meta, so they obviously are the best aggro deck in the format. There are several variants though, and it's up for debate as to which is the best.
The lists you see above are from GP Copenhagen where mono-red defeated black-red in the finals, similarly to the Pro Tour. Both rely on the sweet synergy between Chainwhirler and Soul-Scar Mage as well as Bomat Courier, Hazoret, the Fervent, and Rekindling Phoenix.
Mono Red represents the faster strategy, with a lower curve, ten one-drops, only 7 four-drops and no Glorybringers in the main. Ahn-Crop Crasher and Earthshaker Khenra are the defining cards that differentiate the deck from its black-red brothers. Both are hasty threats that prevent opposing creatures from blocking effectively.
The sideboard has the tools to go bigger with Chandra and Glorybringers to face grindy matchups. Although mono-red is favored against blue-white, its matchup against black-red is worse, since black-red decks run more removal and late-game threats than mono-red.
Black-red aggro, on the other hand, has access to some other tools like Unlicensed Desintegration and Doomfall, giving a wide, more powerful range of removal options to help interact with opposing decks.
Only eight dual lands alongside some Aether provide for the black splash. Scrapheap Scrounger has proved himself worthy as a recurring threat that can also crew Heart of Kiran. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is another main deck haymaker than allows you to go big and cast multiple spells on the same one turn, crew Hearts, and potentially even ultimate for the win.
So, this brings us to the end of this article. Currently it might feel like there's not much room for innovation in Standard, but you can always tune your deck of choice to improve your percentage against it.
Regarding a Chainwhirler ban, I think it's worth waiting since we have a new set coming soon and a debilitating rotation just after the summer, so let red mages enjoy their last hurrah before the format changes dramatically. If Chainwhirlers continue to show their dominance after that, it's worth considering dropping the hammer, but, for the time being, we will have to wait and see.
Thanks for reading.
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