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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Mar 27 2018 12:00pm
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When Wizards of the Coast announced the new Challenger Decks, I was excited. I am the perfect target for them: I only have a casual interest in Standard, and can't be bothered building a new deck all the time to take to FNM. This product would great for both myself and my kids as a way to get us back playing the format without having to do a ton of work.

This series of four articles will put all of the Challenger Decks through their paces in a friendly Standard league on Magic Online, the closest thing I can think of to what a normal FNM would be like. I'm going to play the decks as they are, before offering some budget-friendly upgrade ideas. I'll run you through how the matches play out and give my overall thoughts on the deck.

First up: Hazoret Aggro.

Hazoret Aggro
Challenger Deck, 54 tix

Creatures (23)
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
4 Bomat Courier
4 Fanatical Firebrand
1 Glorybringer
3 Harsh Mentor
1 Hazoret the Fervent
3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
3 Soul-Scar Mage

Planeswalkers (1)
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Spells (12)
2 Abrade
4 Lightning Strike
2 Magma Spray
4 Shock

Land (24)
20 Mountain
4 Sunscorched Desert
 
 

 

This is a pretty straightforward aggro deck, based off of the current Mono-Red Aggro deck that is popular in Standard. It's also likely the deck I would pick up first to try, as it suits my play style perfectly. With eleven one-drops, I'll be looking to beat down as quickly as possible, using the burn spells to remove blockers and keep the pressure up. Let's see how it does in a league.

Match 1

I was on the draw in game 1, and had to mulligan to six cards. My opponent started by casting Commune with Dinosaurs and Thunderherd Migration, revealing Tetzimoc, Primal Death. At this stage I had no idea what I was facing. My opponent played no other creatures though and my Bomat Courier, Harsh Mentor and Ahn-Crop Crasher got in for a bunch of early damage. Eventually my opponent cast Tetzimoc, wiping my board, but I was able to draw four cards off of the Courier before that. One of those cards was Hazoret, and as I had my opponent on 3 life, I was able to get the win in.

I sideboarded out the Magma Sprays and bought in both copies of Kari Zev's Expertise. I was on the draw again, and this time my opponent played early copies of Wayward Sawtooth and Walking Ballista. Unfortunately for them, I had a Harsh Mentor on the board, so their Ballista really hurt them to use. I ended up forcing them to use it or lose it by Shocking it, all the while my creatures were getting in for a bunch of damage, their Sawtooth unable to block.  Thrashing Brontodon threatened to slow me down, but I top-decked Chandra the turn after they played it, allowing me to kill it and push through for lethal. 

A good start for the deck, with a 2-0 victory. 

Match 2

I started on the draw again, and again had to mulligan to six. My opponent was on white/black vampires; an early Legion's Landing and Dusk Legion Zealot and Queen's Commission stopped me dead in my tracks; I tried my best to remove the blockers but the one-for-one removal was just too inefficient. Eventually, my opponent played a Crested Sunmare which was too difficult to deal with.

On the play in game two, I got off to a very fast start with Bomat Courier into Kari Zev into two Ahn-Crop Crashers. My opponent was able to deal with Bomat Courier with a Fatal Push but I was just too fast, and they conceded on turn 5.

Game three was similar to game one. My opponent was able to play a Martyr of Dusk into a Legion Lieutenant, and followed up with a Queen's Commission and Call to the Feast. The flood of 2/2 lifelinkers was just too much for me to deal with, and I conceded the game.

So a 1-2 result, taking me to 1-1 (and 3-2 in games) overall. I really had no sideboard options here; something that could deal with multiple tokens would have been nice, as it was just too hard with one-for-one removal.

This would have been nice this match

Match 3

I lost the dice roll for the third time in a row, and this was my opening hand:

So another match starting on the draw with a mulligan to six. My opponent was on white/blue Gift. I got off to a fast start, with a couple of Fanatical Firebrands, Harsh Mentors and a Kari Zev. For my opponent's part, they only played a Minister of Inquiries, followed by Strategic Planning to put both God-Pharoah's Gift and Angel of Invention into their graveyard. They followed up with a Refurbish to get the Gift on to the battlefield, and targeted the Angel; a 6/6 flying lifelinker was way to difficult for me to deal with, and I lost soon after.

I sideboarded in the Sentinel Totems and Magma Sprays, taking out a couple of Shocks and the Soul-Scar Mages.

I chose to play in game two and curve out with Fanatical Firebrand, Harsh Mentor, Ahn-Crop Crasher and Chandra. My opponent slowed me down a touch with a Fairgrounds Warden, but it died to a Lightning Strike. A single Angel of Invention as well as a late Authority of the Consuls slowed me again, but I was able to kill the Angel and, eventually, my opponent.

My opponent started game three with a turn one Authority of the Consuls and I knew this was going to be tough. This game was a real grind; I had early creatures that kept gaining my opponent life, but I was able to keep chipping away. I had a turn four Chandra again and was able to get my opponent down to 3 life before they stabilized with a well-timed Fumigate. I did draw four cards off a Bomat Courier but, unfortunately, they were all lands! I was able to draw two more Couriers and a Kari Zev over the next few turns, but my opponent was able to play Sacred Cats and Champion of Wits, eventually allowing them to get a God-Pharoah's Gift out. I couldn't find my Abrades to stop it, and my opponent was then able to run over the top of me.

This match was close, and I feel I could have gone 2-1 if the Courier hadn't drawn four lands. I was literally a Lightning Strike away from winning the game. The record is now 1-2, and 4-4 in games.

Match 4

Yet again I lost the die roll and was on the draw, though I didn't need to mulligan this time. My opponent was on some sort of weird Blue/Red artifact deck that was playing cards such as Storm the Vault, Sailor of Means, Treasure Map and Pirate's Pillage. There isn't much to say about this match; it was an easy 2-0 win (despite being stuck on two lands for all of game two) as my opponent just seemed to be durdling around. I'm not sure what their game plan was; I assume it was something to do with the mana from Storm the Vault, but I am not sure. I just played my creatures and attacked, winning with little to no resistance.

That takes me to 2-2 and 6-4 in games. 

Match 5

I finally won die roll and chose to play. My opponent was again on white/black vampires. I curved out nicely in game one, with Soul-Scar Mage into Kari Zev into Ahn-Crop Crasher. I was able to use Shock and Lightning Strike to take care of their early creatures, and my opponent stumbled on two lands allowing me to win.

I decided to try sideboarding in the Magma Sprays and Pia Nalaars for this next game, taking out Abrade and a couple of Ahn-Crop Crashers.

I began on the draw with a Bomat Courier into a Soul-Scar Mage. My opponent played Adanto Vanguard. Unfortunately for them, they didn't seem overly aware of how the rules work; I used Shock on it with the Mage in play, and they paid 4 life to give it indestructible. This doesn't work (the Mage changes damage to -1/-1 counters) and, upon realising, they conceded.

So I finished with a 3-2 record (8-4 in games). This is fairly impressive, and could have been even more so had a little bit of luck with die rolls gone my way. In fact, I didn't lose a game I played first in.

Upgrades

There are certainly some upgrades you can make to the deck to make it even better. Here, I will present you with an upgraded deck list that will cost you no more than 100 tix.

The first thing I would do is remove the Harsh Mentors. In most cases, these are no better than Grizzly Bears. I would start by replacing them and one Soul-Scar Mage with four copies of Earthshaker Khenra. This is a very cheap but very powerful upgrade for the deck. The Khenra is going to be so much better in just about every situation.

Next, I would remove the remaining two Soul-Scar Mages and Glorybringer for three more copies of Hazoret the Fervent. Afterall, the deck is called Hazoret Aggro! Hazoret is an important part and you want to draw it in every game. It is important to note that this does change how you should play the deck slightly; for Hazoret to be good, you want to dump your hand as quickly as possible.

Next, I would drop one Sunscorched Desert and one Mountain for two copies of Scavenger Grounds. This then allows us to free up three spots in the sideboard by removing Sentinel Totem. As replacements, I would add a copy of Aethersphere Harvester and two more copies of Abrade. This gives us a deck worth 99 tix: 

Hazoret Aggro Budget Upgrade
by The_Wolf, 99 tix

Creatures (23)
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
4 Bomat Courier
4 Earthshaker Khenra
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Hazoret the Fervent
3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Planeswalkers (1)
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Spells (12)
2 Abrade
4 Lightning Strike
2 Magma Spray
4 Shock

Land (24)
19 Mountain
2 Scavenger Grounds
3 Sunscorched Desert
 
 

 

With these simple upgrades, the deck will become much more potent. The sideboard should be tailored to what you are seeing; for instance, I would probably add two copies of Blazing Volley instead of Key to the City because I faced two Vampires decks. 

That's it for this week. Join me next time when I take Vehicle Rush for a test drive.