Saturday, December 8, 2012

Emergent Archetypes Part 4 - Aggro-Control

Aggro-Control is probably the hardest archetype to draft, with lots of ways to go wrong about it, but also with a great high end potential. It requires specialized cards that are always in high demand and is difficult to play well. The recipe for an Aggro-Control is as follows:

- Two cups of clocks - efficient, preferably evasive small creatures like Dauthi Slayer and Flying Men.
- Plenty of cheap disruption - counterspells and discard are best, like Mana Leak, Hymn to Tourach and Force Spike
- A cup of tempo spells - bounce is the most obvious, Man O'War and Repulse
- Two pinches of card draw/filtering - costing as little as possible. Good examples are Standstill, Preordain and Night's Whisper
- Serve with Equipment and Auras - Bonesplitter and Rancor are the best, but any offensive one will serve

In a clean table, drop an evasive clock and start attacking. Protect it from removal with your disruption. Add creature buffing to make the clock tick faster. Stir vigorously with bounce to keep opponent's big creatures at bay. Cook with card drawing until you win.

UB Aggro-Control

Cube Decklist: UB Aggro-Control
Constructed Decklist: Faeries
Relative popularity in cube: Uncommon

UB is the most common combination for Aggro-Control. The reason is how well black supports this strategy, having access to cheap and offensive creatures with evasion and providing extra disruption with discard. Combining blue's flying and shadow creatures with black's fear and (also) shadow creatures, there should be enough clocks available to make the strategy work. Discard is the most important black component - cards like Stupor, Duress, Hymn to Tourach are invaluable to protect your creatures from the opponent's answers.

Blue is the base of Aggro-Control, and here it should focus on counterspells to complement discard and card drawing. Since this archetype has the most disruption, the pressure will be sustained for longer than other builds. This is where card drawing comes in handy. Black's creature removal plays a lesser role here, but it can be used effectively to force attacks through and keep troublesome creatures away.

UG Aggro-Control

Cube Decklist: UG Aggro-Control
Constructed Decklist: UG Madness
Relative popularity in cube: Rare

UG Aggro-Control draws extra creature power from green's beaters and auras. Since green has no evasion, it becomes less valuable in this archetype, and because blue does not have efficent non-evasive creatures, its creatures are less relevant. This build becomes, therefore, about green creatures and blue spells.

Blue bounce is great when the game's tempo is accelerated, which will be the case as you are attacking with medium creatures aggressively. Card drawing also plays a key role to sustain the offense, and works great with cheap creatures. Green requires cheap and medium creatures, in the 1-3 mana range. They will create very fast clocks quickly, and the biggest vulnerability in this kind of strategy should be circumvented with counters. Auras like Elephant Guide and Rancor help equipment in buffing those creatures, and their weaknesses to removal should, again, be patched with counterspells. The most important cards for UG Aggro-Control are, of course, counterspells.

UG Aggro-Control decks vary a lot, but these are the important components, that can appear in smaller or greater numbers in each deck. It's a flexible archetype, combining green's raw power and blue's trickery, very difficult to play against.

UR Aggro-Control

Cube Decklist: No register
Constructed Decklist: UR Fish
Relative popularity in cube: Rare

While UG Aggro-Control is built to force the opponent to make bad blocks, UR is built to prevent any blocking at all from happening. Although red lacks evasion, the ability is more valuable here than in any other Aggro-Control build, because of direct burn spells. Clearing the path, however, is also red's strength, so creatures that like to attack unblocked like Jackal Pup and Ninja of the Deep Hours can be used for great effect, combined with efficient creature killers, like Arc Lightning.

The disruption will be solely blue's counterspells, so out of all Aggro-Control archetypes, this one has the least capacity to keep momentum. This problem is balanced out by the reach that red provides. Direct burn spells such as Acidic Soil and Browbeat make the offense necessary only to lower the opponent's life total. These burn spells should be played along with their best friends: card drawing.

UR Aggro-Control is an inconsistent archetype, but has explosive draws and excels against beatdown decks that play a lot of burnable creatures. Due to topdecking burn, it's also never truly controllable, so very slow control decks struggle against it as well. It has issues with life gain however, and with midrange, which quickly outclasses its spells.


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