Tell no Tales: A Study on Mono-Fire Grimm Aggro

Let’s pretend that one day Grimm got mad, so mad that he forgot how to tell stories. All he wants is for his Fairy Tales to fight all day. Crime and Punishment everywhere! Dragons! Chaos! Because why not?

In my previous article, I’ve ended with speculations on what the Fire Aggro Grimm deck from the Spring Open looked like. Unfortunately, the deck turned out to be Light/Fire, which has all the makings of a good Grimm deck, but man, I was hoping for something more radical, like the Fire/Water Odd Grimm deck it fought in the finals, which showed that Grimm don’t need to tell Tales to win.

So we go back to the Mono-Fire Grimm idea.

First, we take a look at what we lose. Tell a Fairy Tale is the best card that we’re throwing away. It’s what makes a Grimm deck borderline unfair by being able to call Resonators like Hamelin’s Pied Piper. We also lose a fair amount of utility from Dream of Juliet, and Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor. From the sideboard, we lose specialized removal in the form of Return to Stories, and additional protection from Realm of Pure Spirits.

In return, we’re gaining the following:

Cheap Removal

Thunder was already in our default list, but having some space freed from the deck allowed us to add Crime and Punishment and Duel of Truth. The former is a great way to kill J/Resonators alike, especially for doing as little as being chump-blocked by Cheshire Cat. The latter is super useful in the list you’ll see below, because we’ll be using him on Kai, the Frozen Heart most of the time. As an added bonus, we also get to play Rapid Decay, which is great against most aggressive decks.

Immunity/Access to Split Heaven and Earth

Without split, Fire decks have less reach against us, and have to take the battle to the field, where Grimm has the advantage. On the flip side, more sideboard space means we can allocate some slots for Split, which can give additional reach against other multi-colored decks.

The Game of The Robe of the Fire Rat

The Robe is an interesting card. Other Fire decks have it in their sideboard for mirror matches, and it works great. We’re allocating some sideboard slots for it too for the same purpose. The cool thing is that they can’t bring in theirs in game 2 and expect 100% efficiency from it because most of our Resonators aren’t Fire. On the flip side, we can bring in ours against Fire decks and they’ll keep them at bay all day long.

Consistency

The number one benefit of going mono is that there’s no chance of being color-screwed. Even Light/Fire Grimm had instances where he doesn’t have a Light Stone on turn 3 to Tell with, and sometimes it matters, especially when we’re being rushed and have to pull out a quick Piper for defense. That aside, Grimm is already consistent, and it’s just icing on the cake to be able to cast our spells anytime without worry.

So what’s the list we’ll be looking at? Here’s the first version:

Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 Thunder
2 Crime and Punishment
2 Duel of Truth

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
1 The Little Prince
2 Gherta, the Tear of Passion
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Glinda, the Fairy
4 Kai, the Frozen Heart
3 Oz, the Great Wizard
2 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
1 Etna, the Snow Queen
3 Blazer
1 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
3 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

10 Magic Stone of Flame

Sideboard:
4 Split Heaven and Earth
3 Robe of the Fire Rat
3 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
2 Rapid Decay
1 Crime and Punishment
1 The Emperor in New Clothes
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon

Going back to Tell a Fairy Tale, at first glance it might seem like a big loss, but give me a chance to explain why it’s not. Back in CMF and TAT, this spell was dominant because it can call an early Piper, which can wreak havoc if the opponent is caught unprepared. However, the metagame has gone a long way since then. Even before MPR, Cake Zone and Stoning to Death have long foiled any Tell shenanigans. Pale Moon is now experiencing a resurgence thanks to Campanella, while Dreams of Wonderland have found favor in Odd Grimm aggro decks. In MPR, Crime and Punishment is cheap removal, and Blazer can gobble up any Piper that’s out in the open.

The other big reason why Tell isn’t that big of a loss now is because of Kai, the Frozen Heart. For the same amount of Will, Kai does the same thing that you want Tell to often do – bring a huge threat to the board. Granted, he does almost nothing unless there’s a Gherta on field beforehand, so it falls to us to shape the early turns in a way that we can safely drop Kai on turn 3 without being too disadvantaged. In the worst case, Kai can still duel while encased in ice (and win most of the time), or we can pitch him to Grimm’s Activate ability for a more relevant Resonator.

Discussing Kai inevitably brings us to his partner Gherta. As I’ve written before, Gherta is a beast when all three of her abilities are activated at the same time. Heck, even Swiftness and Target Attack is a big deal. What most people don’t give her enough credit for is that she’s huge for her cost as well. 6/6 for 2 without any downside is great value, and is a reasonable turn 2 play if nothing else.

With Tale also gone, we reduce the numbers of its primary target – Pied Piper. He’ll still be useful in some matchups, so we need at least a copy, but since we’ll be hard-casting him from now on, we don’t want to draw him until we actually need his abilities. Etna is also there to fill the gap should we need a more immediate impact.

What we’d like to draw and play on turn 5 is Blazer. He has a more immediate impact, a lot more threatening, and very resilient to removal. However, as we can play one copy over and over again, we don’t need a full set in the deck as it’ll just clog our hand.

One copy of The Little Prince makes it to the deck in the off-chance that we need his (kinda useless) healing. He’s a good 2-drop though, and can quickly grow to a 10/10 on turn 3 if everything goes well on-curve… but I wouldn’t rely on him too much.

The rest of the deck is your usual Grimm fare, with Gilles and Little Dread added in for additional punch. I feel like 3 copies of Gilles is the right number for the deck because I want him to swoop in as much as possible and end (or steal) games with his 2k ATK.

From the sideboard, we’re getting all the advantages that Fire offers. As I have mentioned, Rapid Decay, Split, and The Robe are all important. The extra copy of Crime and Punishment is optional. Now that Addition: J/Resonators are a thing, Emperor finds some use again. A third copy of Little Dread rounds up the list as another effective tool in mid-range matches.

In case you haven’t noticed, the deck is what you can call a “good-stuff” deck, where you put in the best cards that the color/Ruler can offer. This is one of the main reasons why we can forego the protection granted by Light, because most of the cards are individually strong and can stand for themselves. We’d love Kai to eat a Stoning because it meant one less removal to target our other Resonators with. Blazer can keep coming back. Gilles can resurrect itself, and Little Dread can wreak havoc on her own. In other words, the deck oozes with value, which is complemented by Grimm’s versatile selection.

In theory, the high individual value of most cards in the deck will be able to overcome situations wherein utility cards like Dream of Juliet are needed. For example, we can just brute-force an opponent that hides his resonators behind Realm of Pure Spirits with our superior-bodied Resonators as opposed to finding our way around the Addition:Field. It also helps a lot in topdecking, as we’re more favored to find a card with reasonable impact as opposed to a useless one.

This bullheaded approach is not without weakness though. Playing on the curve without any means to ramp means that we can fall prey to countermagic or decks which pack a lot of 1-for-1 removal. Putting one Resonator per turn means that faster decks can out-tempo us with cheap removal or bounce spells while they keep wailing with their smaller Resonators. Also, the deck is susceptible to Flying J/Resonators, so watch out for that too. And being Fire, we don’t have direct solutions to these other than plowing forward.

But oftentimes, that’s all we need to do to win.

Until then!

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