Right now aggressive decks seem to be declining in popularity. Why is this? Well the presence of a card like Hordeling Outburst, which is being played in many of the red midrange decks and token strategies makes it difficult to rely on a deck built around one toughness creatures. Raise the Alarm is an enemy of the aggro decks for similar reasons to Hordeling Outburst. So what tools do the aggro decks have to combat these token generators? Can your aggro deck beat a Doomwake Giant? These are necessary questions that are important to ask yourself before playing a deck like Monored. Monored Aggro had some early success in this format, but it seems that the sligh decks are really struggling at the moment. The most recent iteration of Monored was played by Raphael Levy and Jeremy Dezani at the world championships. Here is a look at their version:
The notable exclusions from this list are the one-drops often seen in Monored decks, like Firedrinker Satyr, Frenzied Goblin, and Akroan Crusader. Foundry Street Denizen and Monastery Swiftswpear are the only one-drops. The deck wants to top out at three mana to allow not only Goblin Rabblemaster to get online, but also the Hordeling Outbursts. One answer to the opponent's Hordeling Outbursts is to simply play your own, to trade off with the opponents. This deck has the obvious synergy of Hordeling Outburst plus Stoke the Flames, but the fact that Foundry Street becomes a 4/1 is also nice. I would like to see maybe one or two copies of Hall of Triumph as a way to pump the tokens and provide some protection against stuff like Doomwake Giant.
The one card that stands out the most here may be Valley Dasher. The creatures in the deck want to be attacking every turn regardless, so the fact that Valley Dasher is forced to attack every turn isn't a huge drawback. With a playset of Titan's Strengths it is easier to make the Valley Dashers big enough to trade with something like Siege Rhino. The creatures oftentimes only need to get in a few early hits, because the deck runs a lot burn. Since there aren't any Akroan Crusaders you don't need to play cards like Hammerhand, instead there are actually a total of 14 maindeck burn spells, which is a ton.
This version of the deck also has the ability to go big after sideboard and play more of a grindy game. The two Temples can come in alongside the full set of Chandra, Pyromasters the Sarkhan, the Dragonspeakers, and the Stormbreath Dragon. While this deck has set itself up in order to adopt to the metagame, and it is a solid version of Monored, there are other aggressive decks that may have more tools to compete with the likes of Doomwake Giant and Hordeling Outburst.
I want to go ahead and talk about Monoblack Aggro. When Khans of Tarkir first came out Monoblack Aggro was one of the decks many expected to be good, but it still hasn't fully lived up to its potential. While it is easy to think that because Monoblack Aggro does play multiple one toughness creatures it may not be right for the metagame, actually black offers some key tools which have the ability to make Monoblack Aggro a good choice right now. Let's look at the list Larry Aleman made top eight of the TCGplayer 5K Open in Indianapolis with:
When playing Monoblack Aggro you are forced to play three different one mana 2/1's because that is what's available as far as one-drops. That's okay though because you have multiple ways of interacting with cards like Hordeling Outburst. First of all there are four maindeck copies of Bile Blight, which is of course the best answer to a problematic creature like Seeker of the Way or any of the token generators. Once you get to four and five mana there are bestow creatures which make your creature bigger, and help get through stuff like Doomwake Giant. Herald of Torment is usually the best bestow creature, but Gnarled Scarhide and Spiteful Returned can also do the trick.
This is also a deck that can reliably cast Thoughtseize early in the game, and that is another way you can take your opponents primary form of disruption and enable your aggressive assault. Oftentimes it will be correct to play a one-drop on the first turn, and then play another one-drop and a Thoughtseize on turn two. The other creature which can help get all your creatures through a bunch of blockers is Mogis's Marauder. Mogis Marauder often is just an eight point life swing, and is one of the main ways to beat creature decks without black in them.
A creature which works will with Mogis's Marauder is of course Pain Seer. Larry is playing Mogis's Marauder and Boon of Erebos to prevent Pain Seer from simply attacking and trading off, the way the deck is constructed it is very likely you can enable the inspired trigger if the opponent doesn't kill the Pain Seer with a removal spell. The last card which may seem strange is the singleton maindeck Empty the Pits. Larry is playing eight fetchlands which helps enable this delve spell, and provides a secondary way to win. Monoblack Aggro is in a reasonable position right now as it seems there are less Anger of the Gods running around right now, than in the past.
For those who are more interested in a two color aggro deck here is a version of BW Aggro posted by ArcRaven:
This list is a bit unconventional, but I like a lot of the ideas at work here. Many of the other Black/White Aggro lists that have done well are quite similar to Monoblack Aggro, and while this deck has some similarities, they are certainly different archetypes. Soldier of the Pantheon is present where Gnarled Scarhide once was, but the one-drops are similar to in Monoblack Aggro. Here though the two drops are both unusual and different. Chief of the Edge is a card that hasn't seen a ton of play, as this is the only type of deck it can conceivably be played in, but the fact that this guy is three power, and can pump other warriors to three power makes him impressive. I expect the Chiefs to see more play in black/white aggressive decks moving forward, though unfortunately not all the creatures you want to play are warriors.
Besides the Chief of the Edge there are two copies of Pain Seer, but then wait a second, there are also two Cavalry Pegasus? This may seem unusual, but Cavalry Pegasus can actually do a lot of work. Right now almost all the inexpensive creatures in Standard operate on the ground, and the flyers that do see play don't come online before turn five, or are flyers you can deal with, like Ashcloud Phoenix and Herald of Torment. Cavalry Pegasus has a similar effect to Mogis's Marauder, which there are also four copies of, and that effect is it makes your team unblockable. The difference with Cavalry Pegasus is that the effect is continuous, but not immediate, unlike Mogis's Marauder.
The aggressive decks really need the full amount of Bile Blights as it is one of the best ways of removing cheaper threats. In addition to Bile Blight there are also four Banishing Lights. This is an interesting choice, because in some ways Banishing Light is worse than Utter End, but it is often the same effect for one less mana. I would likely play some number of Utter Ends, but the idea of having flexible removal spells is very important. With all the threats that are permanents like Jeskai Ascendancy and Whip of Erebos seeing play, having a spell that can deal with any nonland permanent the opponent plays is pretty nice.
For many the draw to play black/white is to have access to Sorin, Solemn Visitor. The argument can be made that Sorin, Solemn Visitor is at its best in an aggressive deck. The reason being is that the opponent will already be on the defensive a lot of the time, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor is a flexible four mana planeswalker, that will provide a relevant and immediate effect even if it dies to a removal spell. I'm actually surprised this list only plays two copies, as I would think that the singleton Whip of Erebos would be better served as another Sorin, Solemn Visitor. I do like having access to ways to pump your creatures which Sorin, Solemn Visitor does, and so does the Spear of Heliod. The importance of having an extra point of toughness is why Spear of Heliod can mean the difference in a game, with the aforementioned token generators and Doomwake Giant being so prevalent.
One potential issue here is the manabase. There certainly should be another Caves of Koilos but by running both Spear of Heliod and Sign in Blood in the same deck, along with only 20 lands it is definitely a risk. The list could use some tuning as it might even need to play Mana Confluence. I do think that Black/White Aggro can be a major player in the metagame, it may just be a matter of making the optimal card choices.
Okay we talked about both Monoblack Aggro and Monored Aggro, so are there are any other viable monocolored aggro decks? The answer is yes, and here is a look at Monogreen Aggro played TurboG73 to a 4-0 in a Magic Online daily event:
Monogreen Aggro was a fringe archetype in the previous Standard format, and hasn't gained any popularity since, which is a bit surprising. Playing big creatures early in the game is actually one of the best ways to fight these Jeskai Token decks. This deck can not only play large big creatures early, it can also play pump spells to finish the game quickly.
In a way this is Monogreen Devotion, because it does have devotion elements, but it is also very aggressive. Both Heir of the Wilds and Swordwise Centaur are fantastic two-drops, and the Swordwise Centaur specifically helps turn your other devotion cards very well. Whenever Reverent Hunter comes down as a 4/4 or 5/5 on turn three, things are looking good. Reverent Hunter is one of those creatures that has a very high upside, but when your opponent is playing removal it's hard to make him very big. Nylea, God of the Hunt and Reverent Hunter do rely somewhat on sticking down an early creature or two, so that it is possible to get the devotion count up. Aspect of Hydra is one of the best pump spells in the deck, and can enable turn four kills.
Rather than burn spells or removal spells this deck needs to rely on pump spells and the occasional Bow of Nylea to get creatures through. Become Immense and Gather Courage can be great in some spots, as these are not cards your opponent is likely to play around. Become Immense can just end the game and Gather Courage can stop your creature dying from a burn spell for no mana investment at all. Besides all these pump spells, there are also a couple of Boon Satyrs to provide a couple pump effects that also help the devotion count, while being a threat.
The deck can come out of the gate quickly and win, but it also isn't scared of playing the role of a midrange deck either. There are four Courser of Kruphix to help turn on the devotion count, as well as Polukranos, World Eater, Genesis Hydra, and Arbor Colossus. Oftentimes you win the game just like a Monogreen Devotion deck would. You make a bunch of mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and use that mana for activations of Nylea, God of the Hunt to make your creatures arbitrarily large tramplers. This is definitely an innovative take on Monogreen that is both competitive and a ton of fun to play with.
Thanks for reading,