Last week I had a look at some of the decks being played in Modern. My actions were not entirely just for you guy,s as I had a Modern PTQ to attend last weekend, so I combined both tasks.

After all my research, what did I play? RG Aggro!

As I mentioned last week, a copy of this deck had won a PTQ in the States the week before. The list I printed then was lifted from a Daily Event but, with some more searching, I eventually found a copy of the winning deck.

[deck]Main Deck:
2 Arid Mesa
1 Forest
2 Misty Rainforest
5 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Stomping Ground
1 Teetering Peaks
2 Verdant Catacombs
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Experiment One
4 Flinthoof Boar
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Goblin Guide
4 Kird Ape
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Seal of Fire
4 Searing Blaze
Sideboard
3 Blood Moon
2 Deglamer
2 Dismember
2 Grim Lavamancer
2 Shatterstorm
2 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Volcanic Fallout[/deck]

You should know by now that I love aggro, so I just couldn’t resist. I had been tempted by Affinity, but there were two problems:

1. I don’t own many of the more expensive pieces of the deck. I could probably arrange to borrow them but I am lazy.
2. With Eggs and Tron still a threat, Affinity gets splash hate in sideboards even if it isn’t seeing much play anymore, which can make games 2 and 3 pretty tricky.

Why do I like aggro? Because I like to call the shots. I like to come out of the gates with guns blazing and I like catching my opponents with their pants down. When you play aggro well, it’s beautiful. You have to order your plays exactly—or lose a point of damage that could cost you the game.

Unlike decks that plan to enter the mid- to late game, you can’t rely on the superior power of your cards to cover up small mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I know mistakes with all decks can cost dearly, but you don’t have time to recover from them with aggro. There won’t be any topdecking (unless it’s a final Bolt). If your opponent starts to recover from the initial onslaught, you are probably done.

I didn’t know if this deck was any good. I mean, it won so it can’t be that bad. I had no time to test, so I went in cold. Here’s what I learned about the newest aggro kid on the Modern block:

You may have noticed this deck is remarkably close to Standard legal. Yet, it really can hold its own in Modern, with [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] being a key player in the strongest draws. I want to talk about the aspects of this deck that I love, and where I feel it can be improved.

Introducing the new [card]Wild Nacatl[/card]: [card]Experiment One[/card]!

[draft]experiment one[/draft]

I was really sceptical of this card, but I was so wrong. I know people have been playing it in Standard for a little while, but I haven’t played Standard in months. I may be late to the party, but this guy is awesome—if you design the deck around him. In Modern, you can power him up to a 3/3 on turn two far more consistently. In Standard, you really need [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card]. In Modern, you get [card]Kird Ape[/card], whose big butt is surprisingly helpful. They banned Nacatl for being a 3/3 on turn two, [card]Experiment One[/card] requires a more constrained build, but 3/3s for one mana are still strong.

I made one change to the list (well I tweaked the lands too but that’s not very exciting). The copy I found running in the Dailies had [card]Rancor[/card]s. I cut the [card]Seal of Fire[/card]s for them. As for why? Well, I don’t have any copies. Simple. Sometimes Magic is a precise science, and sometimes it’s Friday evening and you have to finish your deck.

[card]Seal of Fire[/card] would have been cool as a way to power up [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], but so did [card]Rancor[/card] when its target was killed in response. Speaking of which, it’s a nice way to bait removal spells onto your weakest creatures.

The trample provided by [card]Rancor[/card] gives some nice reach to the deck, and I was very happy with them. Costing a single green mana is also surprisingly relevant. For example, you have played a turn one [card]Experiment One[/card]. On turn two, you play [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] and [card]Kird Ape[/card], powering the Experiment up to a 3/3. But you have a single green mana left in pool. What better way to use it than to make your 3/3 into a 5/3 trampler. Now you have 9 power in play on turn two, and they are at 15. I’m liking my odds for the rest of this game.

The fact that Emissary makes GR is surprisingly frustrating—mostly because you can’t cast [card]Searing Blaze[/card] with it.

[card]Searing Blaze[/card] was super awkward all day, and is one of the cards I would consider replacing. You are not playing many lands, so either you have to play it early to get landfall, which means you aren’t putting a creature down, or you spend turns waiting for a land to turn up. [card]Searing Blaze[/card] is still awesome when it works, but I was constantly frustrated by either not having lands or only having 4-toughness guys to point it at. Replacing these with [card]Rancor[/card]s and not [card]Seal of Fire[/card] may have been the play.

The other card to seriously disappoint me was [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]. It was instrumental in one game I think, but was otherwise lackluster. I think it may have been good once, because people didn’t expect it. If people stop using them it could become powerful again, but my opponents played around the trick. Until then, this card is not worth the slots if a suitable replacement can be found.

I talked about using [card]Seal of Fire[/card] to power [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] up. Some lists aren’t running the two-drop menace, but this was target for which bloodrush was nice—and adds a creature to the graveyard. I did manage some value from this once. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] is hard to grow alone with this deck, but if your opponent isn’t helping, then it’s probably fine anyway. Besides, it’s nearly always the first creature to die, so it hardly matters. It is one of the few late-game topdecks this deck can find to bring a game back into contention after an opponent has stabilized, and he is great with Rancor.

I think that’s all my points on the main deck. It’s a bunch of four-ofs, so there isn’t much variation. Game-winning hands should be able to put out a lot of power quickly, and that either requires multiple one-drops or a Burning-Tree Emissary.

Onto the sideboard!

I ran a different sideboard from the original list:

3 [card]Skullcrack[/card]
2 [card]Domri Rade[/card]
2 [card]Smash to Smithereens[/card]
1 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
2 [card]Dismember[/card]
2 [card]Act of Aggression[/card]
2 [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card]
1 [card]Gruul Charm[/card]

Mostly, I want to talk about my super secret tech: [card]Domri Rade[/card].

[draft]domri rade[/draft]

You have 27 creatures, so he draws you a card just under 50% of the time. This provides card advantage in the late game, which I really wanted against the control decks that should be boarding into a Wrath effect. Also, his ultimate is a big threat they have to prevent. I had lots of cards used against him over the weekend to stop that from happening. Even when he doesn’t net you a card, he can inform your plays for the turn, which should prove handy.

While I used him against blue decks, it’s possible he could also find a home in the mirror as the -2 ability becomes more useful, plus, I’ve heard that drawing more cards than your opponent is good. However, it’s probably just a race, and a three-drop that can’t attack or block isn’t going to help with that. Worth thinking about though.

[card]Gruul Charm[/card] is my other spicy inclusion. Definitely a miser’s card, but its “creatures without flying can’t block” mode won me at least one game. Its other mode provides a way past [card]Lingering Souls[/card] tokens and other pesky fliers. It’s certainly not the strongest of the Charms, but I really liked having one copy in my board.

Here are some guidelines for boarding with the deck:

Vs. UWR-type Decks:

This is the matchup the deck is best at. Game one, they just can’t handle the pressure of your average draw and they need some serious business in their sideboard to take the match. However, you are vulnerable to sweepers, so this is where [card]Domri Rade[/card] comes in to keep the creatures flowing as they struggle to find yet more answers.

In:

[draft]2 Domri Rade
3 Skullcrack[/draft]

Out:

[draft]4 Searing Blaze
1 Rancor[/draft]

Vs. Pod

I played this matchup just once, and I’m thankful for that. It’s awful. They just have so many 4-toughness guys and life gain, topped off with a combo finish to close it out quickly. I think this is a matchup you have to dodge, as victory is unlikely. I stated incorrectly that Pod is weak to aggro last week. Turns out I meant Pod is really good against aggro, it just doesn’t much care for the counter spells and the point removal spells the blue decks run these days. As futile as it may prove, I would board as follows:

In:

[draft]2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Ancient Grudge[/draft]

Out:

[draft]3 Ghor-Clan Rampager[/draft]

Vs. GR Tron

I didn’t face this matchup, but you aren’t as weak to [card]Pyroclasm[/card] as other aggro decks, hence why the original list was actually boarding [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card]. [card]Act of Aggression[/card] is pretty important here, allowing theft of [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] to get in for the win. [card]Karn Liberated[/card] is not very good against the deck, so I definitely feel favored overall.

In:

[draft]3 Skullcrack
2 Act of Aggression[/draft]

Out:

[draft]4 Searing Blaze
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager[/draft]

Vs. Affinity

Another terrible matchup. While I like my game against other aggressive decks, Affinity is different. It has very explosive starts and trumps your creatures by using evasion and lords. The original list ran [card]Shatterstorm[/card], and while four mana is a lot for this deck, it’s possible the matchup is unwinnable without them. Not that I’m convinced they would help, and I died before I could have cast it both games, but I also didn’t have an out in my 75 to the situations I found myself in.

In:

[draft]2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Ancient Grudge[/draft]

Out:

[draft]3 Ghor-Clan Rampager[/draft]

Vs. Twin

I didn’t play Twin all day, but this is the main reason why [card]Dismember[/card] is in the board. On reflection, is should probably be [card]Combust[/card]. I was hoping to make use of it in other situations, but I didn’t board it all day, so maybe it’s just wrong to not have [card]Combust[/card].

In:

[draft]2 Dismember
2 Act of Aggression[/draft]

Out:

[draft]3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
1 Rancor[/draft]

Vs. Aggro Decks

I didn’t actually play the mirror, but I did play against Goblins. Depending on exactly what sort of creatures you are up against, [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] may or may not be your friend. Consider carefully. I probably wouldn’t bring him in for the actual mirror, as almost all of your creatures have 3 toughness.

In:

[draft]2 Grim Lavamancer
1 Gruul Charm[/draft]

Out:

[draft]3 Ghor-Clan Rampager[/draft]

As you can see, I boarded out the Rampagers frequently. They certainly lose value as they become expected, and are an easy place to make room for more dedicated cards.

I might consider maindecking some [card]Blood Moon[/card] instead. People have stopped playing around them automatically, so you should net some victories. Alternatively, try trawling through GR Modern creatures for some exciting replacements. One common suggestion was [card]Keldon Marauders[/card], which will power up [card]Experiment One[/card], but I don’t like his temporary nature.

This deck is really fun and quite powerful, but it also felt a bit like I was playing Standard with [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. Surely we can do better in Modern? However, I’m at a loss as to how. Power creep is mostly in creatures at the moment, which explains why so many Standard-legal cards are in the deck. However, if you have any ideas of what the deck could do from here put them in the comments or Tweet them @onionpixie. I want to make this deck better! I’ll see you next week.