Cube Draft Strategy: G/R Aggro

Overview

One of the most powerful archetypes in the cube, this powerhouse is always a force to be reckoned with. Huge dorks, lots of burn, plenty of disruption and some of the best threats and answers? G/R Aggro is always dangerous stuff. Let’s delve.

High Picks

Powerful Weenies (Kird Ape, Grim Lavamancer, River Boa, Tarmogoyf, Viridian Zealot)
Burn (Magma Jet, Lightning Bolt, Flame Javelin, Firebolt, Fireblast, Incinerate)
Disruption (Pillage, Wasteland, Strip Mine, Plow Under, Avalanche Riders)
Equipment (Umezawa’s Jitte, Sword of Fire and Ice, Bonesplitter)
Enchantments (Rancor, Elephant Guide, Moldervine Cloak)
Finishers (Demonfire, Cursed Scroll, Stormbind)

Strategy

There is nothing more forward and direct than a G/R Aggro strategy: You play burn spells on their face, you destroy their creatures with bigger creatures, and you run over your control opponents like they’re not there. This is the epitome of Play Dudes And Burn And Win. This is the the easiest archetype to get a hold of conceptually, is the one favored by new players the most, and is the one most likely to steal wins from ‘better’ players.

Quite simply, you want an explosive opening. You really need it, because the way you win games is to use your creatures to get them down to single digits and your burn to take you the rest of the way. Giant Solifuge, aka Cap’n Tickles, is the perfect follow-up to a Wrath of God: A creature that has haste, dealing damage immediately, is immune to their spot removal like Snuff Out or Swords to Plowshares, and deals a whopping four damage for just 4 mana.

The most powerful opening is of course Taiga into Kird Ape. While you don’t have to take mana fixing very highly (I don’t even list it in the High Picks list), if you can snag this crucial land early, it goes a lot further than you think: It can provide the critical mana necessary to play Rumbling Slum or make GG on Turn 2 for your Viridian Zealot after your Turn 1 Jackal Pup. Viridian Zealot is also a fantastic tool for this archetype, as it gives you answers to so many problems (Oblivion Stone, Teferi’s Moat).

Speaking of Multicolor, the hybrid cards in this archetype are pretty much all fantastic. Your best Turn 1 play is probably Tattermunge Maniac (Nom Nom, as we call him) and on Turn 3 Boggart Ram-Gang is the shizzle. Follow that up with Cap’n Tickles or Boartusk Liege and you’ve got yourself a quick win. Speaking of Hybrids, other Hybrids you may want to check out would be Crackleburr, to give you recurring damage, and Nucklavee to get back your X spells. Others such as Kitchen Finks are stellar,a 3/2 that can save you in certain situations but is really fantastic because of the Persist ability. Being able to smash your opponent each turn is of the upmost importance.

Moving on to colorless sources of damage, Cursed Scroll is probably first pickable in this archetype. Your goal is to get yourself down to as few cards as possible anyway, because you’re generally dumping your hand on the table with dudes or throwing your burn at their creatures or face. Cursed Scroll actively rewards you for this behavior, and by the same token, Magus of the Scroll follows the same principle but isn’t as highly pickable because it’s a creature than can be killed, and it costs red mana to play. Equipment is just fantastic in this archetype, allowing your monsters to pick up an Umezawa’s Jitte or just a Bonesplitter to victory. Turn 1 Kird Ape, Turn 2 Bonesplitter Equip is No Joke and can kill your opponent in five turns. The beauty of that play and others like it is that you can sit back against your control opponent, making Wrath of God trade 1-for-1 or 2-for-1 instead of their usual 4-for-1 ratio that can blow you out time after time. Then just lay down your 4/1 hasty monster and kill them with burn spells.

This archetype is simply a blast to play and if unchecked, ie if there is only one person playing this at any particular table, you best watch out. It’s geared to punish control strategies, and it does that with precision. This is an archetype that has to be kept a close eye on, as it can become too powerful without a few foils (mainly in the form of protection creatures, creature removal, and life gain).

Weaknesses

B/W Aggro Discard or White Weenie in general can give you a lot of problems. They have all of the protection creatures you don’t want to see (Paladin en-Vec) along with the life gain you don’t want to see either (Faith’s Fetters). Their Disenchant effects can give you fits on your Cursed Scroll or Equipment, and something as ‘innocent’ as Eight-and-a-Half Tails can drive you bonkers.

While this archetype has no straight ‘foil’ strategy, it can have problems with Reanimator, as it can’t deal with huge monsters easily, and U/W Control can get the upper hand if played incorrectly or if you mana flood yourself out of the game.

Summary

G/R Aggro is a classic Magic archetype, not just a cube one. Like peas and carrots, this combination was made to go together and will always be a factor in your metagame. It’s hard to keep dorks and burn down, and I’m not standing in its way. I do keep a close eye at its power level, but in the end this is the fun goodness the cube was made to create.

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