Deck Tech: Esper Aggro

This week, we are heading to the first weekend of Aether Revolt Standard, for a look at Esper Aggro. Julian John just missed out on Top 8 with this deck, coming 10th at SCG Standard Open in Columbus on the 21st – 22nd January 2017.

The first few weeks of any new format are ruled over by fast, aggressive builds. This deck takes on the appearance of an aggro deck early game, moving over to tempo later on. Julian’s list starts very similar to an aggro vehicles deck, with a playset of Toolcraft Exemplar, Thraben Inspector, and Scrapheap Scrounger. These creatures work well with each other, allowing you to apply early pressure. This is amplified with the new Heart of Kiran, which can be crewed by either the Exemplar or the Scrounger or the two Thalia, Heretic Cathar also in the main deck. Thalia is a great answer the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian combo decks. At the top of the regular Vehicle deck curves is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, here we have a full play set unlike the usual two main.

From here on however,  Julian breaks away from the more established Mardu Vehicle strategy, and instead takes the deck down a tempo route. We do have an Archangel Avacyn which is sometimes seen in vehicle decks, she is great later on the in-game when you may swing in with the team forcing your opponent to make unfavourable blocks, flashing in Avacyn to give indestructible hopefully clearing their board whilst yours stays in tact. Once the board state is established, this deck runs cards such as Spell Queller and Metallic Rebuke to keep up an advantage, either protecting his creatures, or stopping the opponents from playing their own threats. Metallic Rebuke is great as you can either attack with Heart of Kiran and still use it for Improvise or you can tap your clue tokens. We then have Stasis Snare and Declaration in Stone. These white removal spells exile instead of destroy, allowing them to handle almost any threat and to pick off anything that may have slipped through being countered. This deck also included a single copy of Always Watching giving the wall of hard-hitting creatures, that can be built up, to work in both attack and defence.

The land base is fairly straight forward, with a healthy split of both white and blue sources. Concealed Courtyard is included to help recur the Scrapheap Scrounger, and a single copy of Westvale Abbey to offer an alternate win condition. The sideboard has more removal and counter spells, which can be swapped in to deal with more specific threats, as well as some more utility creatures, two of Selfless Spirit and a single Gisela, the Broken Blade.

Why didn’t this deck make top 8? There seemed to be a lot of G/B Aggro/Delirium at the event. Likely these decks were too quick with low-cost creatures with useful keywords like Menace, Flying, Trample, Lifelink or Deathtouch strapping these creatures up with counters from Rishkar, Peema Renegade who also ramps you to Verdurous Gearhulk early. With their creatures down they then have efficient black removal like Fatal Push, Grasp of Darkness and Walking Ballista. Sideboards often running Murder and Natural State, Julian’s deck, I imagine, struggled in this match up.

Lands (24)
Concealed Courtyard
Port Town
Prairie Stream
Westvale Abbey

Creatures (20)
Thraben Inspector
Toolcraft Exemplar
Scrapheap Scrounger
Spell Queller
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Archangel Avacyn

Other Spells (16)
Declaration in Stone
Heart of Kiran
Always Watching
Stasis Snare
Metallic Rebuke
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Sideboard (15)
Ceremonious Rejection
Blessed Alliance
Quarantine Field  
Selfless Spirit
Always Watching
Spell Shrivel
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Archangel Avacyn  

So, what do we think of Julian’s build? Personally, I like his take on an aggro deck and plan to play it, I have made a few tweaks for my local meta. With the rise of the Saheeli copycat combo, I have found Authority of the Consuls is a great sideboard addition. I’m also a fan of Linvala, the Preserver, due to the increase of aggressive creature deck, such as Green/White Token. If you have found this deck tech helpful why not subscribe for the latest updates to the website and come back next Monday for more decks from the wonderful world of competitive Magic.

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