zameckguildmage

BUG Aggro for Standard Gatecrash

A lot of people decided they’d jam a few cards from Gatecrash into their Thragtusk or Sphinx’s Revelation deck and call it a day. Can you really blame them? One of these cards is absurd and creates an enormous amount of advantage; the other is a clunky over-costed life gain card. It’s a very, very good card in the current meta… but it just seems so beatable when you give it a second look. Cards like Appetite for Brains, Essence Scatter, Spell Rupture, Slaughter Games andĀ Rakdos’s Return tear these strategies apart. Thragtusk seems to find it’s way in every green deck, and it should be due to it’s splashable nature. Fortunately for us, a lot of players rely way too heavily on Thragtusk and seem to think they are safe when it resolves. Let’s show them that Thragtusk is not the solution, that Sphinx’s Revelation won’t win you game the anymore, that you are never really “safe” in Standard.

I’ve just finished a streaming session (http://twitch.tv/team/southfloridamagic) testing a BUG Aggro list that I found on Reddit. I think I ended up going 5-2 on the night, losing a close match to Boros Aggro and getting mana hosed against one of the easier American Midrange match ups. I also piloted the first draft of the deck last week at Geek Xtreme Entertainment and made it to the Top 8 before losing to Mike Danto’s horde of Thragtusks and Angel of Serenitys.

But wait, I thought you said Thragtusk was beatable and was easy to overcome?

It is! After finishing those games I immediately sought answers to Thragtusk for my BUG Aggro deck. What can I do to stop this beast? This is an aggro deck, who cares about a clunky 5/3? After more thinking and replaying the game in my head I realized Angel of Serenity was the true problem. Let’s fix our list a bit, shall we?

(Credit to http://reddit.com/u/ciderlout for coming up with his initial list.)

So this is an aggro deck. Some games you’ll be opening strong with Experiment One, Strangleroot Geist, Rancor and a Spell Rupture. This is pretty much enough to beat most decks in the meta right now. You’re small guys regenerate, have undying, and Rancor is pushing through. You are getting value from green cards that is usually reserved for blue. Follow this up with a Spell Rupture, which X=4 with Rancor on Strangleroot Geist and a beatable answer is not resolving. Drawing into your charms or Snapcaster Mages just adds to your insurance policy at this point.

Zameck Guildmage is an odd card that doesn’t see play anywhere else in the major meta, and with good reason. It’s not a card that has immediate impact, it doesn’t have haste, it’s mana intensive, and it doesn’t race. However, in our list this card is an engine that gives aggro something it normally shouldn’t have: card advantage. The synergies with Experiment One, Strangleroot Geist, Young Wolf, and Dreg Mangler are superb. Undying counters never stick around since you pay 2 mana to remove the counter and draw a card. There are so many tricks with the evolve and scavenge mechanic that you just find yourself constantly placing +1/+1 counters on your creatures only to remove them later and draw even more cards. Rarely does one find themselves top decking, in fact you usually end most games with two to four more cards than your opponent.

The other odd card here is Duskmantle Seer. This card received a ton of hype and then never found a home. Most players are trying to jam this in mid range or control decks and he simply doesn’t belong there right now. He needs to be the high end of the deck, not the middle of your curve. In our list, fifty three of our cards costs two mana or less. Usually you are causing more damage to your opponent with his trigger than they are to you. Couple this with a 4/4 flying body and he’s a great finisher in an aggro deck. He pushes through Restoration Angel, holds Rancor very well (which flyer doesn’t?) and generates even more card advantage to boot. I traded for five of these cards last weekend, and will continue to do so while they are under priced. Duskmantle Seer is the real deal.

Let’s get into the sideboard. Our number one enemies are Thragtusk, Angel of Serenity, Geist of Saint Traft, and Terminus. Appetite for Brains deals with a majority of these cards which is why we run four. With Snapcaster Mage we should be shredding our opponent’s hand apart to clear the path for our little guys. If their hand is empty of good threats, we follow up with Dimir Charm to keep their good cards in the graveyard instead of their library. I really don’t have an answer for Geist of Saint Traft other than racing or trading. Usually I’m fine with trading, but if they manage to stick a Spectral Flight or Runechanter’s Pike we have a problem. Abrupt Decay stems the bleeding hear, but doesn’t solve the issue.

Gruul, Naya, Jund, Rakdos, Mono Red Aggro decks
+3 Abrupt Decay
+1 Dimir Charm

-4 Spell Rupture (on the draw)

-3 Duskmantle Seer (on the play)
-1 Spell Rupture (on the play)

Spell Rupture is considerably weaker on the draw since you want to be casting this card after your smashing face, not to prevent incoming damage. Duskmantle Seer is also akward in this matchup because it could very well end up killing you. By turn four you find yourself at six or less life against Boros or mono red and the last thing you want to do is commit four mana for a suicidal blocker. I’d rather keep that four mana for Snapcaster Mage + removal. On the play we put the Spell Rupture‘s back in, taking out the Duskmantle Seer. We are now the aggressor and Spell Rupture will really throw the tempo swing back in your direction.

American Midrange / Flash decksĀ 
+2 Dispel
+2 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Abrupt Decay

-1 Ultimate Price
-1 Unsummon
-1 Dimir Charm
-2 Spell Rupture

We upgrade our Spell Ruptures by turning them into Dispels. Most of the creatures the deck plays aren’t a huge threat so we can just Dispel every counter, tempo card, or Sphinx’s Revelation they cast for one mana less. Deathrite Shaman is a big deal for them because it hurts the graveyard which Snapcaster Mage and Moorland Haunt often rely on. Lastly, we bring in another Abrupt Decay to deal with Runechanter’s Pike.

Jund Midrange decks
-1 Dimir Charm
-1 Unsummon
-1 Abrupt Decay
-1 Ultimate Price
-2 Simic Charm

+4 Appetite for Brains
+2 Essence Scatter

The big threats to us are Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Olivia Voldaren. Huntmaster is the easiest to manage because we can go toe to toe, but Olivia stealing our creatures is an issue. An even larger issue is Thragtusk resolving and clogging up the board for a few turns. Appetite for Brains takes all of these cards out of their hand while we rush in for as much damage as possible or until we resolve a Duskmantle Seer. If we can avoid Olivia, Duskmantle will take the game over and end things for them very fast.

Naya Midrange
-1 Dimir Charm
-1 Ultimate Price
-2 Spell Rupture

+4 Appetite for Brains

In my play testing, which hasn’t been enough, I’ve encountered Cavern of Souls in some of these lists. If they are playing of Cavern, we take out a few counters. If they aren’t we take out Simic Charms instead. All of threats are easy to deal with, even a lone Thragtusk is very beatable. The problem lies with the end game Angel of Serenity that clears our board. We are fine with creatures going to the graveyard, but not being exiled. Another card that I’m thinking about testing in this matchup Mizzium Skin which could do a lot of work against Angel of Serenity and Aurelia’s Fury. This is probably the toughest match up for the deck. The key to winning is a solid hand and keeping them off of multiple Thragtusk and an Angel of Serenity.

 

Control decks
-1 Ultimate Price
-1 Unsummon
-1 Abrupt Decay
-1 Experiment One

+1 Dimir Charm
+1 Duress
+2 Appetite for Brains

Supreme Verdict is an easy card to deal with since we have undying and scavenge to back us up. Terminus is an issue which Dimir Charm and Spell Rupture take care of. Appetite for Brains and Duress just tear their hand apart leaving them with a loose game plan and keep off their crucial turn four through five plays. I haven’t had much of an issue against control deck yet, and this is probably the easiest match up in the current meta.

The sideboard still needs some work, and I need to find a way to get Unsummon out of the list. I’m just not convinced it’s the best card even though it’s given me a few wins. Perhaps I’m too greedy with the powerful charms we have at our disposal. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them; you can leave comments in the area just below this article.

See you at SCG Daytona.

 

 

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