Hello again everyone! Today I’m bringing you a list that I’m very excited to share, as it’s a strategy that hasn’t seen Standard play in quite awhile, GW Aggro! Now this particular flavor of aggro has a +1/+1 counter subtheme, and although it looks gimmicky at first, it’s capable of some extremely powerful turns. I haven’t tracked my exact win rate, but I believe it’s around 15-4, so roughly a 75% win rate. Furthermore, most of these games were played in an Omnath Standard, so if this deck can tussle then, it certainly is capable now. Let’s take a look.
Your gameplan is very straight forward which makes the deck very appealing for first time users. Play a bunch of dudes, put counters on them, and beat face. Can’t get much simpler than that. Let’s break down how each card functions in the deck.
4 Stonecoil Serpent: The perfect curve filler. It can be as big or as small as you want it and it comes built in with counters. Just the perfect card for the deck.
4 Swarm Shambler: Part of the glue that holds the deck together. It’s Thorn Lieutenant-esque ability gives your opponent a hard time if they’re looking to beat you by 1 for 1ing you with removal spells. Although it isn’t the flashiest, you’d be surprised how much value you can accrue from this innocuous 1 drop.
2 Bronzehide Lion: The newest addition to the crew. Although it’s not always the highest impact, a 2 mana 3/3 is exactly what the doctor ordered in this Bonecrusher world. It’s indestructible ability can be hard to trigger early, but the fact that it can pass it on when killed makes this a real headache for decks planning on playing a lot of hard removal spells.
4 Conclave Mentor: More or less the entire reason to play this deck. Winding Constrictor would be a bit nicer right now because Bonecrusher Giant is so popular, but the death trigger is actually quite the nice touch. When you even get one extra counter from Mentor, the card feels very powerful and if left around for too long, can be devastating for the opponent.
4 Luminarch Aspirant: One of my favorite cards from the new set. Not only does this slot extremely well into any white aggressive strategy, it fits perfectly into one that’s trying to abuse +1/+1 counters. As a tip, I try to deploy these before my Conclave Mentors to try and create swingy turns out of nowhere.
3 Scavenging Ooze: One of my favorite cards ever printed, this card is excellent in creature matchups and can truly shine against Rakdos Midrange as well. There’s a chance you want 4 if the popularity of Rakdos shoots up, but drawing multiples is less than ideal and it’s the last creature you want to play on turn 2. Generally you want to try and eat a creature with it when it comes in so you can dodge Bonecrusher Giant and Heartless Act.
3 Skyclave Apparition: Likely the best iteration of Banishing Priest ever, with Bonecrusher Giant coming down in popularity, this can shine again. Skyclave works well against undercosted and oversized threats like Kazandu Mammoth and Lovestruck Beast, making this a great choice with GB’s popularity.
4 Basri’s Lieutenant: Another great payoff to playing a strategy with so many +1/+1 counters. This card would even be playable without the synergy, but with functionally all your creatures having counters, this can make removal spells and combat a nightmare for the opponent. My favorite synergy with Lieutenant is when you have an Ozilith out, you can keep putting counters on the knight tokens he creates, and keep forcing trades. With Lieutenant on board, it can be an infinite stream of beefy creatures, and has won me more matches than I care to admit.
2 Gemrazer: The Great Henge is the best card in Standard, and this is one of the best answers to it available to us. You need to answer Great Henge quickly or it can easily take over the game.
2 Emeria’s Call: A bolt plains that sometimes can win you the game on turn 7. Pretty good. However, if you’re missing the wildcards to craft these, I wouldn’t worry about it.
1 Turntimber Symbiosis: A bolt Forest that hasn’t been particularly good for me. Perhaps it should just be a basic land or another MDFC, but I want to cast it just once before I make my final deliberation on it. However, same with Emeria’s Call, if you’re missing the wildcard to craft it, you can just eschew it.
3 Primal Might: The old Rumti technology. Prey Upon that also buffs is just a great card, no surprise there. You could go 4 main and get rid of the Inscription, but the flexibility of the Inscription has saved me a few times as well. It could certainly go either way and you’ll be fine.
1 Inscription of Abundance: The card isn’t the most impressive, but it certainly has its spots where it can shine. I like the 1 of personally as you mostly want to cast it as a 5 drop anyway to get the full value out of it. However, giving your creature a permanent buff mid-combat is always a great option as well.
2 The Ozolith: The most powerful card in the deck, hands down. This allows you to fearlessly play into removal as the next creature you play will have all the buffs your fallen comrades had. This card was excellent in the Omnath meta, and now that artifact removal and Brazen Borrowers are at an all time low, this makes it even less likely the opponent can remove it. As I explained before, there are so many gross interactions with this card and I would play 4 if it wasn’t legendary, and 8 if I wasn’t getting deck checked (for all the judges out there, that was a joke.)
21 Lands + 3 MDFCs: 24 Lands feels right for this deck, you want to hit your 4th consistently and you are a bit color hungry in both directions.
3 Giant Killer: I probably like this card a little too much, but it does it’s thing so well! Against decks that are relying on big creatures to beat you down, Giant Killer can be a pain for them as you kill their best threat and can continuously tap down their other threats after that! I’m not positive if 3 is the correct number, but I would definitely keep some amount of copies. This is an entirely meta dependent card.
1 Primal Might: The last Primal Might to complete the set. Really good against creature decks.
1 The Ozolith: This is the primary way you’re going to beat Control decks or Rakdos Midrange. If every threat you have is game ending, its way more likely they’ll run out of interaction before you run out of threats. This is the primary way you win the Rakdos matchup.
4 Glass Casket: Aggro decks are at an all time high, and Giant Killer isn’t always great against them. Be wary of opposing Gemrazers.
1 Skyclave Apparition: The last of the set in the 75, bring them in against anything where you have good targets.
1 Garruk’s Harbinger: This card is very powerful but tends to be better in theory than in execution. This card can be excellent against decks like Rakdos, however if they have a lot of Mire Tritons or Scorching Dragonfires, it can be a struggle to make this good. Despite that, I think the floor and ceiling are high enough for this that I like keeping some amount of them in the board.
2 Gemrazer: Same as I mentioned before, The Great Henge is the best card in Standard and you need to answer it.
2 Oakhame Adversary: Green decks are still very popular, so these feel like a free inclusion. If the popularity of Green strategies wane, you can definitely cut them from the list.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
Mono Red Aggro
|+1 Primal Might||-2 The Ozolith|
|+4 Glass Casket||-3 Stonecoil Serpent|
This matchup is excellent for this deck as you can quickly outsize their creatures. Ozilith and Stonecoil Serpent are too slow so those are easy board outs.
|+1 Primal Might||-2 The Ozolith|
|+1 Glass Casket||-2 Scavenging Ooze|
|+3 Giant Killer||-4 Stonecoil Serpent|
|+2 Oakhame Adversary|
|+1 Skyclave Apparition|
This boarding is a bit tougher as it really depends upon if the lists still play Gemrazer or not. However, if the green decks are still on Gemrazer, you need to remove all of it’s good targets. I don’t hate having a single Glass Casket that can get hit as if you draw it late, it’s unlikely that they would be sandbagging a Gemrazer that long anyway. This green creature matchups are probably the best for this deck as we have the same game plan but can easily go bigger and have access to good removal.
|+4 Glass Casket||-2 The Ozolith|
|+1 Skyclave Apparition||-2 Stonecoil Serpent|
|+1 Garruk’s Harbinger||-2 Gemrazer|
This matchup is generally good, barring Rogues absolute best starts. Go up on your removal suite and beat them to death.
|+1 The Ozolith||-3 Primal Might|
|+3 Giant Killer||-1 Gemrazer|
|+1 Garruk’s Harbinger||-1 Inscription of Abundance|
This matchup is definitely one of the hardest ones, but surprisingly I have yet to lose to it. The Ozilith is just a complete house against them and they really struggle when all of your threats are relevant. Furthermore, every list likely has shaved their artifact hate, so Ozilith has free reign over the game. For this matchup, keep deploying threats, sandbag Scavenging Ooze to eat relevant targets, and you should be ok. Most lists don’t run any or many copies of Extinction Event (mine does but I’m the outlier), so feel free to run out all your little idiots.
|+1 Skyclave Apparition||-2 The Ozolith|
|+2 Gemrazer||-4 Luminarch Aspirant|
|+2 Oakhame Adversary|
|+1 Primal Might|
This matchup can be on the tougher side, but you have a lot of interaction to help you out and you can outsize their creatures relatively quickly. You may want to bring in Glass Casket as well, but GB has started picking up Gemrazer, so they can be a huge liability. Stonecoil Serpent can similarly be problematic, but they are the best target for Gemrazer.
|+1 Skyclave Apparition||-2 The Ozolith|
|+2 Gemrazer||-1 Scavenging Ooze|
|+1 Primal Might||-1 Bronzehide Lion|
If they curve Glass Casket into Skyclave Apparition, then this matchup feels unwinnable. However, if they don’t just have an all removal hand, your fast starts can kill them very quickly. Gemrazer helps mitigate the Glass Casket risk which is really nice so that really just leaves Skyclave Apparition as the problem card. This isn’t an amazing matchup, but it’s more than winnable.
That’s what I have for today! I’ve been really enjoying this deck as it’s fast but also makes interacting difficult for the opponent. Let me know what you think about the deck! If you like my content, you can find more of it on my Twitch! Have a great day!