BWG Aggro in Block

Ravnica block is completely different from the other blocks in terms of the styles of the decks. Most block formats will be based off of some kind of mechanic that the block is known for, but Ravnica doesn't really have a dominant mechanic. So before you can understand the deck I'm about to show you, I should probably let you in on a couple of things about Ravnica block that changes the way the format is played.

Shocklands change the format more than simply being able to play more than two colors. They are the first non-basic lands that count as Forests, Swamps, ect. So that means you can easily play 5 colors if you wanted to and search for the lands you don't have with Farseek. The other thing about the Shocklands is usually they will end up coming into play tapped, which means there isn't going to be much action on the first turn. Just looking at the card pool for Ravnica block makes it even more obvious that there isn't going to be much happening on the first turn. There are only a couple of good 1 drops in the format (sadly Birds of Paridise isn't as popular as one would imagine).

Lack of Mass Removal, lack of good counters
In every block, there was some form of mass removal. Akroma's Vengence in Onslaught block, Oblivion Stone in Mirrodin block, Final Judgement in Kamigawa Block. In Ravnica the best mass removal costs too much and only destroys non-token creatures (Hour of Reconing), or it costs 3 but you have to wait 3 turns or pay a bunch of mana to use it (Plague Boiler). Guildpact gave us Culling Sun and Savage Twister, but that's not as effective as the removal in the other blocks. At the same time, the best counters in the block cost 3 or 4 and have some kind of restriction on them. So for the most part, "draw-go" control is a lot weaker in this block than in the other blocks. This means that you are going to see more beatdown decks and more aggro decks.

Abundance of Beaters
Grave-Shell Scarab, Loxodon Hierarch, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Rumbling Slum, Morii, and Burning-Tree Shaman. The sad thing is that most decks in the format could easily play 3 or 4 of these despite them all being different colors because its so easy to play 3 or 4 colors in the format. The lack of control elements in this format and the abundance of beaters and ability to play more than 2 colors makes for a unique format.

Now on to the deck
Lets get off of Ravnica block in general, and talk about the deck. First of all, this isn't my deck. I was bored one day and just cruising around the forums just to see what people were talking about. I saw the block forums, and I was thinking to myself "Block is about to become popular, I wonder what decks people are thinking of with just 2 sets in the block." I saw a thread started by Feuerdrache who called his deck "Suicidal Martyrdom". Here is the actual thread. After about a month and a half of posting, my version of the deck looked like this.

Saint D.RitualMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Dark Confidant
3 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Dryad Sophisticate
4 Loxodon Hierarch
3 Watchwolf
3 Ghost Council of Orzhova
4 Moldervine Cloak
4 Putrefy
4 Mortify
4 Shrieking Grotesque

3 Forest
3 Plains
3 Swamp
2 Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple Garden
4 Overgrown Tomb

Its pretty much a beatdown deck. All of the cards are either 2 drops, 3 drops or 4 drops, and most of them are creatures with the exception of the removal and the creature pump. I'll go over some of the individual card choices in more detail.

Silhana Ledgewalker, Dryad Sopisticate, Watchwolf and Shrieking Grotesque
These aren't your normal weenie creatures, they all have evasion (with the exception of Watchwolf, who is just flat out huge) So it makes it easier to get damage in at the end of the game when you are facing beatdown creatures that are bigger than you. Evasion creatures like this also force your opponent to waste removal on them if they don't want to die eventually.

Dark Confidant
This is my favorite creature in Ravnica block by far. This is what a beatdown deck loves: card advantage. You would think that Dark Confidant would kill you within a couple of turns with all the 4 drop creatures you are playing. But all of those 4 drops have some kind of life gain ability built in to gain part of the life you lost back. In fact, pretty much every card you would reveal with Dark Confidant will be able to hurt your opponent or give you more life.

Ghost Council of Orzhova and Loxodon Hierarch
The beaters are what really make the deck work. Late in the game you can't rely on weenies and evasion to win you the game, you have to throw in the big bodies. In this block, these are two of the best beaters.

Putrefy and Mortify
Eight handy spot removal cards. Sometimes you need to be able to clear a path for your creatures.

Moldervine Cloak
The most reliable piece of creature pump in a long time because you can dredge it up whenever you want it back. In a deck with around 40% creatures, you can expect to have a good target for this every time.

Notice I didn't mention the sideboard. One of the funny things about Ravnica Block is that there are no hoser cards like you will find in standard. So sometimes you find that there is not much to put in your sideboard. The original sideboard had Last Grasp,Cremate, Absolver Thrull and Orzhov Pontiff. For a while I just let it be. But I would always find myself not sideboarding anything in after games because the cards were either win more cards or really situational. But it was a problem because I still had problem matchups that there really weren't any good sideboard answers for. For example, against BWG Control, they took advantage of the fact that over half of my creatures had one toughness and would play Orzhov Pontiff and Rolling Spoil to take them all out at the same time. There really wasn't an answer to that.... or was there?

I really can't tell you where I got the idea from, because I've slept since then. It would be nice to say that an apple fell from a tree, hit me on the head and I was like "Hey, what a great idea!". Anyway, I'm not going to just flat out tell you what the idea was, instead I will just show you the sideboard.

sideboardMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Farseek
4 Faiths Fetters
3 Grave-shell Scarab
3 Angel of Despair

Some of you might be thinking "Why are you putting lands and mana accelerators in your sideboard? Grave-shell and Angel of Despair? Won't Dark Confidant cost you a lot more life with those cards in the deck?". The cool thing about a sideboard like this is that against decks that you know are going to side in weenie hate (Culling Sun, Orzhov Pontiff, Rolling Spoil), you can take out your weenies and throw in your "control sideboard". Another cool thing to do is just side in 4 Faiths Fetters against control or beatdown decks and use it as extra removal. I have no regrets switching to this type of strategy. With cards like Angel of Despair, I still have enchantment destruction. And Grave-shell gives me an extra creature that is virtually invincable.


vs BWG Control
Since some of you aren't familiar with the decks in block right now, I'll give a brief description. BWG control is very similar to the aggro version except for the fact that it has no weenie creatures, and it plays high casting cost stuff like Debtor's Knell and Angel of Despair. Game 1 isn't easy. You can win if you take advantage of your weenies and Moldervine Cloak. Some versions of the deck play Skeletal Vampire, which is really annoying because they can block your flyers and Ledgewalkers. You will also want to hold back a Mortify if they ever play Debtor's Knell. That card will win the game for them if they have it out for a couple of turns.
-4 Dark Confidant
-3 Silhana Ledgewalker
-4 Dryad Sophisticate
-4 Shrieking Grotesque
+4 Faith's Fetters
+4 Farseek
+1 Orzhov Basilica
+3 Angel of Despair
+3 Grave-Shell Scarab

After sideboarding, the matchup becomes much easier. You have more answers to Debtor's Knell, you have more beaters. Also, since you sided out your weenies you won't be as hurt by any Rolling Spoils that he might side in. Debtor's Knell is still an issue, if you can keep him from keeping that in play too long. Don't forget that you still have Moldervine Cloak. Use that to break ties between creatures. Game 3 you might consider siding back in your weenies if you think he will take out his weenie hate. It depends on who you are playing and if you are playing online or in real life. If you are unsure what to do, it's probably best to just keep the deck the way it is.

vs RGW Zoo
RGW Zoo is an aggro deck that uses creatures and removal from all three guilds in RGW (Boros, Selesnya, Gruul). It is actually very similar to our deck, the major differences being that they don't play Putrefy, Mortify, and the creature all aggro decks love: Dark Confidant. Instead it will play removal like Char and Lightning Helix, and creatures like Rumbling Slum and Burning-Tree Shaman. This is good news for us because Lightning Helix can't hit any of our big beaters, while our removal can hit theirs. Thats a point in our advantage. But remember, they are playing Rumbling Slum, so you are going to have to save some removal for him. Just play your deck like you normally would, and you shouldn't have a problem.

Dark Confidant is your trump card, because the card advantage will put you ahead in the game. Don't play it too late in the game obviously, because then its life loss will kill you. You don't need to sideboard in anything for this match, I wouldn't be that afraid of anything in the Zoo sideboard. Sometimes people side in Ghostaway, a card that can give you problems if you play it with damage on the stack, but just don't let them get you into a position where they get a lot of card advantage out of that card.

vs Gruul Aggro
This deck is annoying, let me tell you that. If you don't have a fast draw, they will steal the game from you. The deck is basically weenie creatures, Char, Moldervine Cloak, and a couple of beaters, including Giant Solifuge. He can be really annoying because the haste will mess up your combat math. If you can get the game under control before the burn becomes too much, you can win the game. Otherwise, make changes for game 2.
-4 Dark Confidant
-3 Silhana Ledgewalker
-4 Dryad Sophisticate
-1 Shrieking Grotesque
+4 Faith's Fetters
+4 Farseek
+3 Grave-shell Scarab
+1 Orzhov Basilica

For game 2 you want to take out all of your weenies, Dark Confidant is bad in this match-up. You want as much life as possible. Siding in Angel of Despair is also an option, but against this deck he's pretty much an overcosted fatty creature, so I usually leave Shrieking Grotesque in. Faith's Fetters gives you life and takes out a creature. Once you have the game stabilized, it's basically their weenies vs your beaters. Grave-Dhell is house against this deck, because he virtually returns to your hand when he dies (sac and dredge him back to your hand). After you sideboard in, you have a good chance of winning as long as they don't have an amazing draw where they hit their first 4 land drops and play threat after threat while you can't play anything till turn 3 at best. But if that happens, there isn't really anything you can do either way.

vs U/R/? Control
This archetype is really a combination of archetypes, but they all have something in common: they play the staple UR cards like Electrolyze, Dream Leash, and they will usually splash a color. Most of the time it's White, but sometimes it's Black as well. Let me tell you the bad news first: this deck is hard to beat. If you try to go the aggro route with your weenies, they will just play Electrolyze and get a 3-1 card advantage on you. If you try and go the beatdown route with Loxodon Hierarch, they will Remand it before it hits play, or just steal it with Dream Leash (when you don't have GW up). Then they will throw down a big flyer and try to win the game. For the White splash version it ends up being Firemane Angel; for the Black splash version it's Cerulean Sphinx and Skeletal Vampire. Then they just beat you down with the same creature until you finally die.

But there is some good news. They can't kill what they can't target! Ride Silhana Ledgewalker to victory, since there isn't anything in the deck that can kill it, and then just destroy any flyer that can block it. More good news, is this deck might not be as popular once people start playing attention to RAV block more, because Gruul Aggro absolutely demolishes this deck.
-4 Dryad Sophisticate
+4 Faith's Fetters

After sideboarding you have a bit more hope, because you can just Faith's Fetters Firemane Angel, or whatever they steal with Dream Leash and just keep swinging. Unless they draw over 3/4ths of their removal, they won't be able to handle the beats you can deal out. Keep in mind that Silhana Ledgewalker and Moldervine Cloak will still pretty much seal the game.

vs Mirror
Generally, the person who can keep Dark Confidant for the longest time wins. So try and kill theirs and put out your own if you can. There really isn't much to say because you have the same deck. So lets just go to the sideboard.
-4 Dark Confidant
-4 Shrieking Grotesque
-3 Silhana Ledgewalker
-4 Dryad Sophisticate
+1 Orzhov Basilica
+4 Faith's Fetters
+4 Farseek
+3 Grave-Shell Scarab
+3 Angel of Dispair

I just said Dark Confidant is really important, and then I side him out, strange right? The reason is because the control sideboard will always take down the aggro part of the deck. Dark Confidant shouldn't be an issue, because now you have bigger creatures and more removal, so the card advantage you gain from that will outweigh the card advantage Dark Confidant gives when he's on the field for a turn or so. Unless they switched to the control version as well, you have a much better chance of winning.

That's all folks

That's all for my talk on BWG Aggro in block, I am going to go onto something else. This is the first article I've done since they stopped putting credits at the end of the articles. For those of you who aren't a part of the Writer's Forum, it does take a lot of work to get these articles on the front page, and I'm not the one who does all the work. Some of these people deserve to be mentioned. Votan, iloveatogs, Avatar and Nex3 work on the banners and pictures from behind the scenes. Goblinboy, Dr. Tom and Binary (I'm probably forgetting someone) help edit the articles before they hit the front page, as well as give advice on how to make it better. But I would also like to give out a special thanks to everyone who participated in the thread that made this deck what it is, namely Feuerdrache, but there were also others that put in their thoughts, sadly its far too many to name just flat out right here.

So having said that, its about time for me to split. See ya!


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