The Demise of Aggro in Historic

Online Magic forum

Posted on Jan. 6, 2021, 4:25 a.m. by loricatuslupus

What with everything going on in the world I, like many others, have been playing an increasing amount of Arena over the past year or so. Standard is as Standard does and I won't complain about that - I tend to avoid it apart from when a new set releases anyway - and that didn't used to matter because Historic was so excellent, with a diverse range of decks and strategies. For fun best-of-one I predominantly play an Orzhov vampire deck (The Drain Train) or sometimes a more silly Mardu troll one (They See Me Trollin', They Hatin'), and win or lose enjoyed the back and forth of playing a match. Even playing against Control, while sometimes frustrating, at least feels like a game where my opponent reacts to my plays and I can try to bait out counters or force sub-optimal board wipes etc. Now over half of games feature Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and that's just not a card I can compete with. I should clarify that at 8CMC I think he is perfectly reasonably costed and SHOULD be a game ender, but I can't beat him being consistently cast or cheated in on turn five - especially when the Uro that helped get him there undid the first two turns of damage with his incidental lifegain and I now have only three or four to kill my opponent before they exile my entire board with enough loyalty to do the same thing the following turn. What, if any, are the options for aggro players? If you go all in and dump your hand on the field to attack for as much as possible ASAP (traditional way to beat combo or midrange decks is to race, right?) and can't kill them you lose literally everything. If you hold cards back you run the risk of not having enough of a clock, and also have to spend a turn removing Ugin before you can rebuild anyway. In the meantime your opponent just completely ignores you and does their own thing - even running hand disruption such as Thoughtseize is of minimal benefit when their ramp cards are also cantrips and cards in the graveyard help them escape Uro. I no longer feel like I am having fun, and honestly can't understand how playing out the same game every time can be enjoyable for the ramp players. Is there an answer, or do I just have to accept that best-of-one Historic is just no longer a place I can play the decks I enjoy? Traditional is fine as I run Simic Merfolk with mainboard counters and can bring in lots of hate but sometimes I just want a quick game, and with Historic being ranked play only it feels bad conceding when I see I'm against another UGX deck...

LeaPlath says... #2

I will suggest that the issue is not the meta but the decks you are playing. Your deck isnt doing anything efficent or powerful enough compared to the other aggro decks like RB sacrifice, RG Ember, Mono Red, Auras, or even the more midrange decks like Arcanist.

In addition you are playing a lot of bad 1 ofs or expensive ones like Haunt or cards that require investment while not maxing out on your potential aggressive starts by not maxing out Knight etc. Stuff like a 1 of Cling etc help you not lose to Uro but you dont want to be not losing. Especially in Bo1. You want to be trying to win with everything

You dont win by playing a resources game or grinding them out like you are suggesting. You win by trading your cards for life asap and hoping they dont have any way to make those trades unprofitable.

January 6, 2021 6:28 a.m.

loricatuslupus says... #3

That's fair enough, but my point is that I enjoy playing these decks and don't want them to just get completely more often than not just because I haven't optimised them against one or two cards. I'm not expecting to win all or even most the the time playing jank but I'd still like to have fun and losing the same way to the same cards without even feeling like my opponent has any interest in what I'm doing categorically is not fun. I think my point also stands for more optimised aggro decks who would need a good hand to outpace ramp before Ugin drops on turn five. I know it can be done and my complaint isn't that he or the archetype is unbeatable, rather that the format itself is becoming more hostile and less interactive (which I personally find less enjoyable). Interestingly, the card you bring up as being poor - Haunt - is IMO one of the best cards in that deck and I defend its inclusion having played extensively with and without it. Yes, it's expensive but I never plan on casting it unless things have gone very wrong: Sorin cheats it out. That clause "from anywhere" is extremely important considering how many decks use the graveyard, dodges Fatal Push/Eliminate/Cast Down/Heartless Act and quickly grows beyond what burn can deal with. Wins games if it comes down T3 and isn't answered immediately. Yes Knight is an oversight, should be four of them and two Vampire of the Dire Moon - my mistake!

January 6, 2021 7:51 a.m.

LeaPlath says... #4

Uro is a 4 of. Cling is a 1 of. They have over a 50% chance to see Uro by turn 3. You have a 16% chance to see Cling. You will have a relevant Cling less tham 8% of the time and you arent spending your mana on getting them dead. Event is bad because it goes against your game plan. Shadowspear is meh. Consume is poor.

I stand by Haunt etc being crap. If it is so important then you should be playing 4 to ensure you are seeing it on curve. As it stands you have a 50% to see Sorin and a 16% chance to see Haunt. Even lower chance to see both. It also doesnt play well with the go wide vampire plan the rest of your deck has and doesnt present instant damage.

The best direction for your deck would be maxing out the tribal synergy and go wide plan. Max 1 drops. 2+ copies of 3 drop dranas and vitos. Get a better curve. Having access to more efficent 2 drops like the scavenging and nullpriest would give you some interestng grind games versus aggro and put threats at more spots in the curve so extiction is less efficent versus you without the need for a silly 6 cost who still dies to heartless and extinct on even, which also exiles your lords which is the relevant bit.

January 6, 2021 10:19 a.m. Edited.

LeaPlath says... #5

Also aggro in general isnt very interactive because you should be aiming to negate their interaction via murdering them. Maybe a midrange deck will give you what you want

January 6, 2021 10:20 a.m.

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