Almost There: Green-White Aggro

Posted in How to Build on November 10, 2017

By Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo has been playing Magic since he was eight years old. At fifteen, he ventured outside of Brazil for his first international tournament, and he's been globetrotting as a professional player ever since.

Pro Tour Ixalan, being held over a month after the set release, didn't see much in the way of true innovation. The Top 8 was certainly diverse, with Ramunap Red, White-Blue Approach, Mardu Vehicles, God-Pharaoh's Gift, and Energy decks all being represented, but those were all decks we already expected. To find something truly new, we have to dig a bit deeper, into the realm of the decks that did not make the Top 8.

This is the deck Eduardo dos Santos Vieira (also known by his Magic Online alias, L1X0) played to a 7-3 finish in Constructed:

Eduardo dos Santos Vieira's Green-White Aggro

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Most teams at the Pro Tour identified that swarming was an underexplored angle of attack, and tried to make Legion's Landing work. For my testing team, that meant a collection of token makers—Servo Exhibition, Maverick Thopterist, Start // Finish, Sram's Expertise, Trial of Solidarity, Oketra's Monument, and so on. This approach was really good when it worked, but it often just didn't work. If one or more of your pieces were disrupted, you'd be left with a collection of underpowered creatures that wouldn't be able to push through.

Eduardo's deck solves this problem by not focusing on the token-makers, but on the creatures themselves. Instead of playing many cards that create multiple underpowered creatures, Eduardo is just playing a lot of creatures that are more robust on their own, and then trying to use those to swarm the board; it's a stompy deck, not a tokens deck. As a result, his good draws aren't as impressive, but his bad draws aren't as bad, because the creatures in his deck actually have power to compete on their own. The deck is also very resilient to removal, due to the high number of embalm/eternalize cards (eleven in total), so it's hard for an opponent to adopt a plan of just killing everything you play.

The key card to this strategy is Appeal // Authority, which can deal a lot of surprise damage for only one mana, regardless of how many Whirler Virtuoso tokens the opponent can generate, since it gives the target trample. If you can use it on any of the lifelinkers (Sacred Cat, Aethersphere Harvester, Legion's Landing tokens), then it'll be almost impossible to lose a race, and if you target a double striker (Oketra the True or Adorned Pouncer), your opponent might just lose on the spot. If they try to remove the creature you're pumping in response, you can save it with Blossoming Defense. Even if you don't have that, the aftermath part of the card still works and lets you push through some damage.

I think that the deck, as constructed, is very good for the metagame we saw at the Pro Tour. It has enough lifelinkers and raw power to beat Ramunap Red (if they don't have Rampaging Ferocidon, it becomes very hard for them to win, and if they do, then you just have a normal game of Magic), and the creature swarm plus pump focus is excellent against Temur. In fact, I believe Eduardo beat five different Temur decks throughout the course of the tournament. If you expect the metagame in your area to be similar to the one seen at the PT, then I think this is a very good deck to try.

The one thing I think you have to watch out for is Walking Ballista. Traditional Temur Energy doesn't play it, and it was by far the most represented of the Energy decks, but Sultai often plays three or four copies, and Sultai won the tournament. Seth Manfield's win will probably cause a resurgence in Sultai Energy, which spells bad news for a deck full of 1-toughness creatures and no removal spells for Winding Constrictor. This is not easy to solve, as there isn't a single card that you can play that just beats Walking Ballista, unless you're interested in Sorcerous Spyglass or, to a lesser extent, Shapers' Sanctuary, which might just be good enough.

My inclination is that, for the immediate future (say, a week), Green-White Creatures will be held back by the Sultai surge. However, I believe Temur to be intrinsically a better deck than Sultai, and I expect it to regain the throne once people understand what they are facing, which probably won't take very long. When that happens, it will be the prime time for green-white to appear. Therefore, even if you believe the metagame is particularly hostile to green-white right now, it's a deck you should keep in mind for when the metagame changes back to what it was at the Pro Tour.

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