Lets face facts, Innistrad was a pretty awesome block overall, giving us the likes of Snapcaster Mage , Olivia Voldaren, Huntmaster of the Fells, Liliana of the Veil, Restoration Angel, and while they’re not from Innistrad, Thragtusk and Thundermaw Hellkite most definitely made a splash in standard. Then we had some of the smaller impacts like the humans: Champion of the Parish, Thalia, Mayor of Avabruck, and one of my personal favorites, Silverblade Paladin.

In this series we will look at some of the aggro deck types born from the inclusion of the Return to Ravnica block and the 2014 Core Block and potential replacement options for the avid player, including looking at cards that may have been overlooked due to the existence of much better options from Innistrad and the 2013 Core set. To do this, we’ll look at the cards that were so fantastic and see what from the currently existing post-rotation cards might be suitable replacements. Let’s start with Gruul Aggro

The missing cards that hurt this deck was Thundermaw Hellkite, Flinthoof Boar, Strangleroot Geist, and Hellrider, just to name a few and sure enough, that pretty much changes how the deck is run. Some of the replacements are amazingly obvious with Stormbreath Dragon replacing Thundermaw and I suppose you can ramp up to use Xenogos’ hasted Satyrs to try and be as fast as possible, I personally think that Gruul’s time as a powerful aggro color pair is weakening, or at the very least, may no longer be the reigning aggro king. In this new standard, it’s high time to be experimenting with the different colors and seeing what good options come out of it. One option for the aspiring Gruul Aggro player lies with Rakdos.

For instance, take Strangeroot Geist and Flinthoof, good for it’s hasted nature combined with an ability to mostly survive initial death there’s sadly not too good a replacement for the spirit in Gruul colors, but when we switch to Rakdos, we suddenly get access to Spike Jester, Gore-House Chainwalker, and Exava. This brings back memories of early Return to Ravnica, doesn’t it? While Ash Zealot is pretty obvious, Spike Jester seems to have been slept on for it’s 1 toughness, but I think that getting a 3 damage haster out on turn 2 is worth it.

Hellrider meanwhile dominated the 4 cmc slot for aggro decks and for good reason. He gave free damage before the actual damage, that’s amazingly fatal, considering he’s also a hasted creature so he alone could do 4 damage on entry. Unfortunately, there’s not really many cards to replace his effect unless you go like Naya Slivers with the Thorncaster Sliver. Instead, you might want to look to the likes of Exava, who makes those mid to late game Rakdos Cacklers something of a hasted threat, Awaken the Ancient for a beefy 7/7 haster, or if you’re willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of haste for alot more, Ogre Battledriver seems like a viable option.

Theros Black Red Aggro

Creature (30)
Ash Zealot
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Firedrinker Satyr
Gore-House Chainwalker
Rakdos Cackler
Spike Jester
Stormbreath Dragon
Tormented Hero

Land (22)
Blood Crypt
13 Mountain
Swamp

Spells (8)
Lightning Strike
Mizzium Mortars

The deck is very fast and with Exava out, nearly every card you can get is a hasty creature that can change the tide of battle. It can be further augmented and improved I think, but I feel this is a great starting point for BR Aggro. Alternatively, you could just go mono red. A lot of tools are there are being introduced to make mono red aggro a more viable option, such as the high risk, but high reward Firedrinker Satyr, Magma Jet reprint, and with the Searing Spear replacement, Lightning Strike.

Theros Red Aggro

Creature (26)
Ash Zealot
Boros Reckoner
Chandra’s Phoenix
Firedrinker Satyr
Rakdos Cackler
Stormbreath Dragon
Purphorous, God of the Forge

Instant (14)
Lightning Strike
Magma Jet
Shock
Dynacharge

Land (20)
18 Mountain
Mutavault

Relying on the instants to burn a path to victory, the deck is very vanilla and simple, but I kind of like it that way. It can be augmented a bit to include more Boros type cards like Heliod and Ajanji’s Chosen to be a little less aggro, but have an indirect and powerful way to burn players while still being very defensive. Or be more Izzet with Young Pyromancer, and just overwhelming the opponent with tiny creatures that kill them, while casting spells to feed to Niv Magus Elemental. It’s mad brilliance, I tells you. However, monored aggro I feel should be well off. That said, if you’re dead set on the color combo of Gruul, then not all hope is lost, but you just best be prepared to play a little differently a maybe a little more slowly.

Theros Gruul Aggro

Creature (31)
Elvish Mystic
Experiment One
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Kalonian Hydra
Mistcutter Hydra
Rakdos Cackler
Scavenging Ooze
Stormbreath Dragon
Nylea, God of the Hunt

Land (22)
Forest
Mountain
Stomping Ground
Temple of Abandon

Enchantment (3)
Hammer of Purphoros

Planeswalker (4)
Domri Rade

With the lack of cards like Flinthoof Boar, Strangleroot Geist, and Hellrider, there’s a lot to replace, particularly in the haste department, and while we did get some tools in exchange like Mistcutter Hydra, there’s still ground to make up. As such, I feel the inclusion of cards like Hammer of Purphoros and Kalonian Hydra with creatures who will get counters like Scavenging Ooze, Rakdos Cackler, and Experiment One will increase the damage output while Nylea makes those defensive decks regret making an wall of 1/1s. Something else I noticed in creating this deck is that there’s a strange sort of synergy between the Scrylands and Domri, allowing you see if the next card is a creature or not so when you drop Domri, you can get it for free or fight knowing what’s coming next.

There you have it, three deck ideas for the aspiring Aggro players. Are there potentially more? Certainly! There are many potential aggro decks. Next time, we’ll be looking at more potential aggro decks, coming from the archetype of Naya Blitz. Til next time.