After week one in any format, there’s always a default aggressive deck. Going into this weekend, many people thought it might be a Red-Black build with madness and artifact themes. The interesting thing about this deck is that there are many ways to build it, ranging from mostly one-drops to some that go all the way up to three and four mana. Let’s take a look at Eric Hawkins’s take on the archetype:
Red-Black Aggro - Kaladesh Standard | Eric Hawkins
- Creatures (20)
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Falkenrath Gorger
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Inventor's Apprentice
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- Spells (20)
- 4 Alms of the Vein
- 4 Fiery Temper
- 4 Key to the City
- 4 Smuggler's Copter
- 4 Unlicensed Disintegration
The focal point of this deck is Smuggler's Copter. This is the card that lets you hit hard early in the game, sculpt your draws, and chip in for flying damage once the ground stalls out. The key is that it’s a cheap, aggressive card that deals big chunks of damage and enables madness. That makes cards like Falkenrath Gorger much more attractive, as well as Fiery Temper and Alms of the Vein to close out games. Looting away excess lands is plenty good enough, but adding the ability to net free cards is a big deal in an aggro deck.
The other subtheme in this deck is artifacts. You’ve got two aggressive artifact creatures in Bomat Courier and Scrapheap Scrounger, both of which help you grind out a few extra cards and points of damage in longer games. These help to turn on cards like Unlicensed Disintegration and Inventor's Apprentice, both of which are just too efficient not to build around.
The last piece of the artifact puzzle is Key to the City. This is an innocuous artifact that’s an awesome curve-topper in this deck. It comes down and makes Smuggler's Copter or any other creature unblockable, all while enabling you to fire off a flurry of one-mana, three damage burn spells. And if that’s not good enough? Then you get to start drawing cards and looting through your deck to find the last couple of points you need. This card represents a surprising amount of damage, and is sure to catch many opponents of guard.
But don’t think that this is the only way to build the deck. You can certainly go bigger, push either theme a little harder, or lean a little more into Black than Red. Cards like Bloodhall Priest and Grasp of Darkness are reasonable, if ambitious. Alms of the Vein may be a little too all-in on hyper aggression for a format that looked awfully midrangey. There’s a surprising amount of room to tinker in this deck, and I can’t wait to see how all of the subtle synergies play out.