fbpx

Valuable Lessons – Orzhov Aggro

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the latest aggressive fad. Black/white aggro was the weapon of choice last weekend for some of the best players in the world at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. I had the pleasure of watching the deck in action last weekend. It certainly has the necessary tools to compete against anything, especially when it wins the die roll.

Let’s start by taking a look at a fairly stock list of the black/white aggro deck:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Godless Shrine
4 Mutavault
1 Orzhov Guildgate
8 Plains
1 Swamp
4 Temple of Silence
4 Banisher Priest
4 Boros Elite
4 Daring Skyjek
4 Dryad Militant
3 Imposing Sovereign
4 Precinct Captain
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
2 Xathrid Necromancer
4 Brave the Elements
3 Orzhov Charm
2 Spear of Heliod
Sideboard
3 Dark Betrayal
3 Doom Blade
1 Orzhov Charm
2 Profit Loss
2 Sin Collector
2 Thoughtseize
2 Xathrid Necromancer[/deck]

I want to jump right into things. I’ve played the deck a good amount this week and I’ve been most impressed with [ccProd]Spear of Heliod[/ccProd] draws, especially those that involve [ccProd]Xathrid Necromancer[/ccProd]. It’s odd, because the deck’s curve is designed to be very low and wanting both the 3-drops seems a little ambitious. That may be true, but there are other cards in the deck which might not be necessary.

Last weekend, I was doing video coverage at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. Orzhov aggro seemed to be the breakout deck of the tournament. I had the opportunity to watch a lot of the best players in the world battle with this new deck. From the games I watched, it seemed pretty clear that the deck wanted four copies of [ccProd]Xathrid Necromancer[/ccProd]. I was especially impressed with [ccProd]Orzhov Charm[/ccProd], and I felt like an extra few removal spells could improve the deck a lot. I thought about the possible cuts we could make from the deck on Sunday night, but ultimately, the insecurity of my travel plans preoccupied my mind too much.

I booked a cab from downtown Fort Worth to DFW International Airport with Josh Utter-Leyton. Utter-Leyton, or Wrapter, had just finished 10th in the Grand Prix playing a BW list similar to the one above. I wanted to play some PTQs, and Orzhov seemed very much like my kind of deck. He affirmed my belief that [ccProd]Xathrid Necromancer[/ccProd] should be a 4-of, but he also made a number of less obvious observations about the strategy. Wrapter wasn’t impressed with [ccProd]Precinct Captain[/ccProd], and he encouraged me to try playing with a more even split between black and white. Instead of being a White Weenie deck that splashed black for a bit of removal and [ccProd]Xathrid Necromancer[/ccProd], we could be playing a deck that’s more balanced between the two colors.

This change has a lot of implications. It means that our [ccProd]Dryad Militant[/ccProd] will get upgraded to [ccProd]Tormented Hero[/ccProd]. [ccProd]Tormented Hero[/ccProd] is a pretty huge upgrade in that it can’t be locked down with [ccProd]Tidebinder Mage[/ccProd] and it can’t get [ccProd]Doom Blade[/ccProd]d.

[draft]Tormented Hero[/draft]

Our [ccProd]Precinct Captain[/ccProd] gets downgraded to [ccProd]Cartel Aristocrat[/ccProd], but I’m not so sure that’s actually a downgrade—there are a lot of situations where we’ll be able to stick a second copy of [ccProd]Xathrid Necromancer[/ccProd] and significantly increase our damage output on the opponent’s end step. This, especially when combined with [ccProd]Spear of Heliod[/ccProd], will allow us to steal a lot of games out of nowhere.

The biggest change is that we’ll be losing [ccProd]Brave the Elements[/ccProd]. Sure, [ccProd]Brave the Elements[/ccProd] can win games out of nowhere, but I’m not sure it’s that good right now. It lets us alpha strike through [ccProd]Master of Waves[/ccProd], but playing a removal spell that just kills [ccProd]Master of Waves[/ccProd] is better in more situations. Even the most controlling decks have a lot of targets for removal spells. (Except black/white Blood Baron Control, but that’s going to be a hard matchup unless we do something crazy, like splash red.)

Playing more black mana means we’ll be able to play maindeck [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd], and additional copies in the sideboard. [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] is really good in a deck like ours. It’s important that we recognize what [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] does in our deck, though, because it’s a lot different than it is in a deck like Mono-Black Devotion or Esper Control. [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] is an awesome turn one play for a more controlling deck, it allows you to do something worthwhile with one mana when you would otherwise just be shipping the turn.

In this deck, though, Thoughtseize shouldn’t be played before your aggressive creatures. Ideally, we want to be Thoughtseizing our opponent the turn before they have access to the card we’re most afraid of. For example, against controlling strategies that include [ccProd]Supreme Verdict[/ccProd], we want to be using [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] the turn before our opponent has access to four mana. Against decks with [ccProd]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/ccProd], we want to fire off our disruption the turn before our opponent has access to five mana. If our draw lacks any removal, then we may need to [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] early against Mono-Blue before they take over the game with an active [ccProd]Thassa, God of the Sea[/ccProd]. It’s important to recognize what the key turn is going to be for your opponent and to disrupt it accordingly.

Here’s the list I would play in this weekend’s PTQs:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Banisher Priest
2 Spear of Heliod
4 Xathrid Necromancer
4 Boros Elite
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Tormented Hero
4 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Daring Skyjek
4 Orzhov Charm
2 Thoughtseize
2 Ultimate Price
4 Temple of Silence
4 Godless Shrine
4 Mutavault
6 Plains
6 Swamp
Sideboard:
3 Sin Collector
1 Swamp
2 Thoughtseize
2 Duress
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
3 Doom Blade
2 Lifebane Zombie[/deck]

Here’s how I would sideboard for specific matchups:

Mono-Blue Devotion

Out

[draft]1 Spear of Heliod
4 Xathrid Necromancer[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Doom Blade
2 Thoughtseize[/draft]

Red Devotion

Out

[draft]2 Thoughtseize
1 Spear of Heliod[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Doom Blade[/draft]

Esper or Blue/White Control

Out

[draft]4 Orzhov Charm
2 Ultimate Price
4 Banisher Priest[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Swamp
2 Duress
2 Thoughtseize
3 Sin Collector[/draft]

Green/White or White Weenie

Out

[draft]2 Thoughtseize
3 Tormented Hero[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Lifebane Zombie
3 Doom Blade[/draft]

Black Devotion

Out

[draft]4 Banisher Priest
1 Spear of Heliod[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Sin Collector
2 Thoughtseize[/draft]

(I would find room for both [ccProd]Lifebane Zombie[/ccProd]s if I was playing against the [ccProd]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/ccProd] version of the deck.)

Orzhov Aggro is a great choice for your upcoming PTQs. The deck gives you an aggressive angle that’s able to dominate long games with incremental advantages. It’s important to pinpoint the most powerful pieces of your opponent’s strategy if you want to disrupt them most effectively. I’ll likely be playing this deck at next weekend’s PTQ, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got as good a chance as anyone to win it.

Share this

Discussion

Scroll to Top