I've wanted to talk about aggro decks for a while now but could never decide on which one. After Branden's request of discussing the Stompy deck I ran in Type 3 I figured this is a good a choice as any.
There are essentially two ways to design and play an aggro deck without turning it into an aggro-control deck. The first is the all out weenie approach. You find the most aggressive creatures possible with the smallest mana curve possible. When playing the deck you go for the swarm and kill method. For an example of this strategy we are all very familiar with look at BJ's Elf deck. If left unchecked he can easily amass a very large army of elves and Overrun for the win by turn 5. The major weakness of this type of deck is that you are often one well-timed Pyroclasm away from defeat. If they turn your army of small dudes into 1-3 little dudes going in for the kill becomes more difficult. Examples of creatures you find in this type of deck include any good creature that costs 1-2 mana and has at least two power, one-drops especially (Savannah Lions, Jackal Pup, Jungle Lion, Carnophage).
The second type of aggro is a little more conservative. It basically just always wants a threat on the table. You can drop a few creatures that are better than what is on the board at the time and just attack with them until they are dealt with. You then drop a few more. This method is a bit slower but wont scoop to Wrath of God. Also creatures that cost 3-4 mana are more common than in the weenie builds. Examples of creatures found in this type of deck include Troll Ascetic, Blastoderm, Arc-Slogger, Hypnotic Specter, and Nantuko Shade. These type of decks can be aggro control decks like Fish or Sligh (the original Sligh not the weenie deck people call Sligh now which is actually Deadguy Red) but don't have to be. An example of a non aggro-control aggro deck of this type would be Fires.
Today we are going to focus on the first type of aggro, the weenie deck.
I'm going to take a look at my Type 3 Stompy deck and explain each of the card choices and some of the cards that were in earlier versions but eventually got cut as well as cards that might be in the deck if I owned any.
First here is the deck I played in the tournament:
Before I get to the individual card analysis I want to take a more broad look at the deck as a whole. First I'll talk about the mana.
While there are only 12 actual lands in the deck it has 24 cards that can get you mana. The deck never really needs more than two land in play and can function very well on one land if you draw Quirion Ranger. Also in this deck Land Grant 9 times out of 10 is just as good as a land and often even better since it can thin your deck a bit. Lotus Petal and Elvish Spirit Guide are essentially other one-time use lands that can give you a very explosive start and let you dump your hand very quickly.
I don't think an explanation is necessary here.
I have one and it can lead to some explosive starts on occasion. I do want to mention that it can be a liability if it is your only way to produce mana in your opening hand. Also it can't be sacked to Plant Elemental or Rogue Elephant
Can allow you to drop an extra creature on the first turn or drop something bigger.
Elvish Spirit Guide
Lotus Petal #4-6. Actually this one is better since it also cannot be countered (though I don't know why you would counter a Lotus Petal) and can be pitched to Bounty of the Hunt. I think I even cast it once and beat down with it though that isn't likely to happen often.
With this in play you can run on one land. If you tap a land then bounce it and play it again you will have two mana. This also has great synergy with both Winter Orb and Spectral Bears.
Mana I thought about but ended up not using:
Llanowar Elves / Fyndhorn Elves
These were in the early versions of the deck but ended up being way too slow. They allow you to drop an extra creature on turn 2 but you then don't get to attack with anything on turn 2. Dropping a threat was much more important on the first turn than setting up later mana. After all the deck doesn't need more than two. Quirion Ranger did much better in this slot in testing and was much more synergetic to the deck.
Coming into play tapped is like a death sentence for this deck. The game is normally over about the turn after this can come online.
Likely the best creature in the deck. This thing is three power for one mana. That is an amazing deal. Sacking a Forest isn't a major problem in a deck that can run on one land.
Generally you don't want to drop this guy first if you have other options, especially if your opponent is playing red. Once you get that first hit in however he basically losses his drawback and becomes a 2/2 for one mana.
This is likely the worst creature in the deck and the slot I am least happy with. On one hand he is another 2-power creature for one mana and the 3-toughness is also nice since he likely wont be trading with anything that early but the fading kinda sucks. He only gets in two hits. This would be the first creature I'd change if I had a better option.
Amazing if your opponent is not playing blue and pretty terrible if they are. This is another creature that isn't too exciting but I figured I'd just board him out against blue decks.
I knew I only wanted at max one creature with echo in the deck. This is by far the best choice. Pouncing Jaguar is not even close to being this good. He still isn't that great as echo is very unpleasant. He will usually be the last creature you drop.
I didn't have this in the deck originally and had Harvest Wurm in its space. I don't like using this card as I find it annoying but I gave it a try and found him amazing. I hate that he is so good. Stupid best bear ever.
Creatures that were tested but didn't make the deck:
You needed three mana plus a fourth in your hand. This was clogging up my hand a lot as this deck rarely gets that much mana.
This was not too bad and has decent synergy with Rogue Elephant and Plant Elemental but was the card sitting dead in my hand more than any other. By the time you could cast him you likely would have been able to drop anything else a full turn earlier.
Once I added Wild Mongrel I wanted to see if these were worth using. They were not. Even on the rare occasions where I would draw one plus a Mongrel I would never have free mana to pump it essentially just making it a 1/1.
This actually can be quite good considering the large quantity of nonbasics in our group (thank you Dustin). So why isn't it the deck? I don't have any and they aren't cheap. They probably would just be in the sideboard even if I did though.
This should probably be in any kind of stompy deck. It is absolutely amazing and turns anything into a serious threat. Dropping something like Rogue Elephant on turn one then dropping this on it turn two gives you a 5/3 trample you are attacking with on turn 2. That creature alone will kill the opponent on turn 5 if left unchecked. With even a small amount of assistance a turn 4 kill is quite likely.
Bounty of the Hunt
This is generally either used to deal the last few points of damage or to make sure your creature comes out on top when it is blocked. Unlike Giant Growth you don't need to keep a mana open which is actually not all that easy to do with this deck. It is also another use for those Land Grants and Elvish Spirit Guides when you no longer need the mana. Still one of the weaker cards in the deck though.
Since this deck can run on one land you wont even notice the effect yourself. It can cause some serious problems to mana hungry decks and buy you the time you need to win.
Spells that didn't make the deck:
Too expensive. The deck doesn't usually reach 5 mana.
Playing the Deck:
This will be short. Really all you do is play creatures and attack. Try to drop as many creatures as you can on turn 1. As for which creatures to drop first try to save creatures with echo for last and play the ones without drawbacks that affect your mana first. Against decks that pack mass removal make sure to hold some back so that you don't overextend and thus run out of gas.
Re-Making the Deck:
Since the deck is type 3 and we don't play that anymore I think it makes sense to port it to a different format. Back when I first built it this wouldn't be entirely possible because Lotus Petal was restricted in vintage and banned elsewhere. Also Portal cards were not tournament legal. However since then Wizards basically reworked type 1.5 turning into Legacy. As luck would have it Lotus Petal is fine for that format. Also they legalized Portal for Vintage and Legacy making it possible to make a direct port of the deck to Legacy. In fact the deck as it is right now is Legacy legal. However since you can have 4 copies of cards we definitely want to maximize the consistency of the deck.
With the addition of one extra copy of Lotus Petal, Land Grant, and Elvish Spirit Guide three more Forests were dropped. Because of this the deck could no longer support both Rogue Elephant and Plant Elemental so the weaker of the two was dropped. I tested the mana pretty heavily to make sure the deck could still run on 9 land. A few changes were made in the process. I originally was using Albino Troll where Wild Mongrel is but the echo sucked more than in the 12 land version. Besides the hound wound up once again being amazing. I hate that the card is so good.