For the third straight time I’m writing about aggressive decks, and it’s not by coincidence. A metagame is shaped by the decks at the base level – where aggressive, proactive strategies can be found. They often set the pace of how fast or slow a format is, and creates a basis on how good the other deck types are.
For example, in a format with cheap, efficient Resonators, aggressive strategies can be considered good. Soon however, players might find that the format too have big, useful creatures that halt these aggressive strategies, and takes over the game soon after – thus we now have mid-range decks in the mix. Players then realize that to beat these big creature decks, one viable option is to go even bigger, or snuff them out with cheap removal and halt their slow offense by grinding them out of options because hey, we have drawing power and they don’t – now we have some form of control decks popping up. Let this trend keep up a bit and the aggressive players start taking notice of how “slow” the format is becoming, and then punish it by playing something that kills fast enough before the more cumbersome decks set up.
Combo decks just mind their own business regardless of what’s happening.
Going Big vs Going Wide
Aggressive options generally fall into two forms of offense: going big – which is playing progressively bigger threats per turn, or turning a smaller Resonators into a bigger threat via pump spells. It relies more on the quality of the threat rather than the quantity of it available.
In order for these big threats to stick around and do damage, they’re usually protected with spells that enable them to survive removal (e.g. Breath of the God), or combat (e.g. Evolution of Limits, Addition: Resonator that adds more ATK/DEF). The main drawback of this play style is that you concentrate a bulk of your offense onto one end, so it goes without saying that once it dies, it’ll be hard to recover because the rest of your offense is smaller by comparison, and thus easier to handle.
For example, I consider my Bahamut and Snow White decks as “going big” in terms of offense, as they tend to play a bigger threat after the next, culminating in a J-Ruler activation. While it doesn’t have protection spells to save my Resonators from removal, it contains some form of reach instead which deals the last few bits of damage should my attacks wear off.
The other form of offense is going wide, where you go for the quantity of threats rather than quality. The idea here is to swarm the opponent quickly with multiple, cheap sources of damage, so even if they take one out with removal, the rest of the team still keeps pounding. One-for-one removal doesn’t do well against these guys because their power level is evenly spread out, so killing one of them doesn’t affect their offense much.
The main drawback of this kind of strategy is that cheap guys are generally weak. They won’t do much later on in the game when matched against bigger, costlier threats. Swarm decks are also prone to mass removal or Area of Effect (AoE) spells. Should you happen to commit all-in with your guys and they died to AoE, you’ll be way behind the game.
Despite both types of offenses being linear in nature, most decks contain a bit of both (sometimes unintentionally). Draws with multiple 1-drops for example, will force you to go wide even if there are other bigger threats in your deck.
Or maybe your deck swarms first, then turn the small guys into bigger threats later, like this one:
Ruler: Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale
10 Magic Stone of Wind
4 Cowardly Lion
4 Heartless Tin Man
4 Brainless Scarecrow
4 Dorothy, the Lost Girl
4 Oz, the Great Wizard
4 Refarth, the Castle in Heaven
4 Silver Shoes
4 Evolution of Limits
3 Realm of Evolution
3 Oz’s Magic
2 Absolute Cake Zone
The Oz lineup of Resonators are some of the best aggressive drops because they have ways to grow out of their mediocre starting stats via the “achievement” counter mechanic. Cowardly Lion, for example, is one of the best one-drops in the block since he can potentially spiral out of control if left unchecked. Heartless Tin Man, on the other hand, has a natural synergy with the deck’s plan to buff Resonators with its numerous Additions. Finally, Brainless Scarecrow rewards you for swarming, by entering as a 1-cost 500/500 as long as the other two are around.
I previously had less copies of Oz, but after reading through his text, I realized that there are more possibilities to it than just getting a free Oz’s Magic (which is good in itself). Notice how the wording says “spell” – which in FoW, translates to either Summon Spells, or Normal Spells. He can get anything that costs 1. Or maybe not. It was pointed out to me by Jason from the FoW-US group that spells only count Standby, Instants, and Chants. He also pointed out that Oz is outside of Thunder and Rapid decay reach, so he’s kinda good still. Thanks Jason! 😀
You know what else costs 1?
The Oz trio. Silver Shoes. Evolution of Limits. And if you splash a second color (like Red), he can fetch Huntsman, Rapid Decay, and Thunder too! Or Tinker Bell, and Cheshire if you’re playing Grimm. He’s a multipurpose tool whose main function helps the primary strategy of the deck, but also fetches crucial cards when needed.
Behind Dorothy, the Lost Girl’s happy-go-lucky, somewhat derpy look hides the fuel that keeps the Oz engine running. Her Awakening ability can seem random, but the fact is that you’re refilling your hand with more threats. Sure it sometimes whiffs and hits nothing, but that’s part of the nature of card games. But boy, when it hits, you get to have an army in your hand.
Remember to always, always keep track of her continuous ability, because it enables something an aggressive deck normally can’t do – which is to ramp resources. The deck benefits greatly from this because we want to J-Activate our Ruler as soon as possible.
Little Red’s second Continuous ability is nuts. Evolution of Limits is already great value for what it does, but with her around it’s lights out for your opponent if they let any of your threats through. But that’s just one of the things they have to worry about – there’s Refarth, Realm of Evolution, Silver Shoes, and achievement counters which turn the weak, fragile Oz group into huge monstrosities. It’s also a great thing that she protects herself from Fire and Darkness spells and abilities, so sorry, no Bloodsucking Impulse or Duel of Truth for Little Red.
As I’ve mentioned above, the rest of the Normal spells all help in buffing Resonators and pushing damage, but I think Absolute Cake Zone deserves a special mention here.
I initially thought that in a format that’s geared towards playing Resonators, this thing would be obsolete, but I was wrong. Behind every Grimm Block deck lies one or two abilities that play a huge part in its plan – Tell a Fairy Tale, Stoning to Death, Alice’s World, Xeex the Ancient Magic, Treasury Items, etc.
This card throws a wrench on those.
Granted, with two copies it doesn’t appear much (and it doesn’t really need to, since we’re on the proactive end that’s putting out all the threats), but you can count on it messing up your opponent’s game plan on crucial moments.
Gameplay and Weaknesses
If you’ve played a Grand Crusader deck in WoW TCG before, you’ll feel right at home (and perhaps a little nostalgic) because this deck follows the same game plan – you play small, early threats, then pump them for huge amounts and overwhelm your opponent later on.
And that’s actually it! Just keep attacking until they give up, and protect your guys with cake if necessary. Use Dorothy to reload, and Oz to pump them further or find a crucial spell to threaten them further… like more small guys to snowball into victory with.
But therein lies the weakness of the deck – it needs to be able to get a solid footing (having small Resonators on the field) before it can steamroll your opponent. That means you need to get your Oz guys out ASAP, because a slower start will cripple your offense especially if your opponent is able to answer your threats 1-for-1. What happens then is that you’ll be left with Additions in hand and waiting for your next Resonator to show up – giving the opponent more time to deal with it.
The other big weakness of the deck is this guy:
Here are a few other points to consider when playing the deck:
- You have to mulligan aggressively for early drops. Two 1-cost Oz guys, and an Addition are good, but more is generally better.
- Keep Refarth, the Castle in Heaven whenever it shows up. It’s a world of difference to J-Activate Crimson Girl manually compared to using it with Refarth. For one, it costs less resources, and you can do it as early as turn 3 if you need to. Finally, multiple copies of Refarth aren’t so bad since you can Banish the existing one easily for more benefits.
- When to play Dorothy: She’s generally good in any stage of the game, but as a general rule, play her when you’re ahead but after the other guys. For example, if you have some Oz guys in play, playing Oz, the Great Wizard on turn 3 is generally better since he can buff them immediately with Oz’s Magic. Dorothy isn’t too threatening by herself – it’s her ability to fetch threats that makes her a powerhouse. It’s also interesting how she gets more out of Cinderella’s glass slippers rather than the story-related Silver Shoes. :))
- Speaking of Cinderella, always keep the Ashen Maiden in mind when playing against Darkness decks, since her ability has the potential to wipe your board early on. It might be best to actually play Refarth or Realm of Evolution to somewhat counter this. The good news is that there aren’t many popular AoEs in Grimm block to worry about.
- Against other aggressive decks, it’s oftentimes better to trade Resonators and keep their board clean, since yours will eventually grow out of proportion and become difficult for them to deal with.
- Against control, keep going at them and reserve Absolute Cake Zone for the most crucial of moments.
Opportunities and Upgrades
It’s worthwhile to consider splashing a couple of other colors to provide the deck with a different angle of attack and cover some of its weaknesses, such as Fire for removal (and Beowulf shenanigans), Darkness for Pumpkin Witch alpha strikes (and removal), and Light for other angles of attack or protection (e.g. Aesop, Rapunzel).
As for more Wind options, Xeex the Ancient Magic shines here with four modes which an all be used at the same time. Depending on your local metagame, it might take the place of Absolute Cake Zone, and probably a copy or two of Evolution of Limits. Glinda, the Witchc is also good, but not necessary in a deck with a spread-out power level such as this – she’s better suited for decks with huge, single threats. However, the ability to disrupt the opponent’s Normal Spells make her a good sideboard consideration against some decks. Against the mirror match, it’s probably a good idea to pack Christie, the Wind Tracker / Helsing, the Vampire Hunter, and add Silver Bullets and Elvish Archers on the sideboard.
Finally, Feethsing, the Wind Holy Stone is good as an additional form of protection.
So despite the linear strategy the deck has, it’s actually a bit flexible to build and benefits from other colors, but is equally capable even if it stays all-green. Always weigh the pros and cons when adding other cards and colors to the deck, and always keep in mind the metagame that you’re taking it to.
Other than that, keep steamrolling your foes.