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By: lowman02, Kyle
Nov 14 2017 12:00pm
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Hello folks,

The Chainsaw Massacre 4.04 had me return to my roots in the 100 card game: White Aggro.  The first deck I ever put together in this wonderful format was White Aggro, chiefly due to the large monetary expense of 100 card mana bases, but also because it felt like it could never lose against RDW, which has always been a popular deck choice with monetary expense also being the primary reason.  I felt it was time to shift my focus from control and midrange after running one control deck (BUG Loam), one midrange deck (4 Color Blood), and one midrange combo (PatternRector) deck over the last few weeks in the event, and I assessed, due to the high number of blue based decks that have done well over the last few weeks, that a pure aggro deck would be well positioned in the meta.

It's raining cats and dogs:

Isamaru, Hound of Konda Savannah Lions

I managed to take the following deck list to first place in the event:

White Aggro
by lowman02 - 115 Cards Total
1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Benevolent Bodyguard
1 Boros Elite
1 Boros Reckoner
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Bygone Bishop
1 Cenn's Tactician
1 Champion of the Parish
1 Consul's Lieutenant
1 Containment Priest
1 Deftblade Elite
1 Dragon Hunter
1 Dryad Militant
1 Expedition Envoy
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Flickerwisp
1 Gideon's Lawkeeper
1 Glory-Bound Initiate
1 Hallowed Spiritkeeper
1 Imposing Sovereign
1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
1 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
1 Knight of the White Orchid
1 Kor Skyfisher
1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
1 Leonin Arbiter
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Mardu Woe-Reaper
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Mother of Runes
1 Palace Jailer
1 Porcelain Legionnaire
1 Precinct Captain
1 Relic Seeker
1 Savannah Lions
1 Selfless Spirit
1 Serra Avenger
1 Silverblade Paladin
1 Soldier of the Pantheon
1 Soltari Priest
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Student of Warfare
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 Thalia's Lieutenant
1 Whipcorder
47 cards

1 Brave the Elements
1 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
3 cards

1 Armageddon
1 Oust
1 Ravages of War
1 Steelshaper's Gift
4 cards
1 Batterskull
1 Bonesplitter
1 Smuggler's Copter
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 cards

1 Always Watching
1 Honor of the Pure
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Land Tax
1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
5 cards

1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
3 cards
1 Arid Mesa
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Flooded Strand
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
1 Marsh Flats
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Mutavault
21 Plains
1 Rishadan Port
1 Wasteland
1 Windbrisk Heights
33 cards

1 Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Crackdown
1 Disenchant
1 Hushwing Gryff
1 Kataki, War's Wage
1 Kor Firewalker
1 Mark of Asylum
1 Parallax Wave
1 Rest in Peace
1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
1 Silver Knight
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Vryn Wingmare
1 Winter Orb
15 cards

Over the course of the last 100 card season, Death and Taxes was the deck that I piloted to the most wins I had.  I eventually surpassed my win percentage with D&T by jamming several tournaments with 4 Color Blood Midrange, but I always felt like Death and Taxes was the more challenging deck to play correctly and therefore I liked it more.  The White Aggro list above is in many ways similar to my Death and Taxes build, they share many cards, but the overall concept of the White Aggro deck is much more turn-key in nature.  It plays far less tech cards main deck and seeks to close the game out as fast as possible at the expense of a larger disruption suite.  D&T was an aggro-control, predatory deck that was designed to break a stale meta and was much more focused on the players of the game and their deck selection than it was on beating a wide meta.   This led the deck to great successes and eventually led to the dominance of G/x, 4 Color Blood decks, that led to a wide series of unbannings to make many other archetypes (specifically blue and black based combo or combo control decks) more viable in the current season 4.  However, with all of these changes and the general widening of the meta, I felt that it was time to show other players that blue based decks were not to be feared--but a less efficient Death and Taxes variant of White Aggro wasn't really the deck I felt did it best.  So I cut down the mana base and slammed the deck as low to the ground as possible, cutting powerful 4 drop cards for cards like Savannah Lions.  I eventually reached a list that had an average CMC of 2.05 and was as lean as I wanted to make it, while still maintaining needed disruption.  The deck certainly still has some taxing effects, but closes out games far more rapidly than its ancestor from season 3.  As the meta widens, players will continue to explore, and I felt that in order to give more hopeful builders a reality check, this deck would be the perfect choice.  It still beats the socks off of RDW (as it did in the finals) and curving 2 or 3 power attackers from turn 1 to turn 3 is still a very good way to win games against control and combo decks.  Plus, it's always nice to run three time walks in this format: Armageddon, Ravages of War, and Winter Orb

Free Wins with Time Walk...I mean Armageddon:

The most difficult challenge with a deck like this is beating G/x midrange.  However, I've teched this list to optimize the number of fliers and first strikers the deck runs, because I think both of these evergreen abilities tend to overpower both the mirror match and the G/x midrange matchup.  Group blocks with multiple first strike creatures tends to exchange very favorably for the White Aggro pilot, and while you're blanking their attacks with ground based first strike critters, your fliers continually peck away at their life total until the opponent just dies.  Some players would tend to think that sweeper effects would dominate a creature based aggro strategy such as this, but there's a reason the deck runs 48 creatures and only 34 lands.  You'll draw more creatures than they'll draw wraths, so I tend to think it has a very favorable matchup against decks that are trying to accrue card advantage through sweeper effects.

First Strike and Flying Winning me a game vs 4 Color Blood (G/x Midrange):

This deck is extremely simple and linear, but has a lot of positive things going for it: 1. Monetary expense (alright, I ran Wasteland and Rishadan Port, but both could be cut) and 2. Only one bad matchup, which is G/x midrange, which it still has tools to fight against. and 3. It beats the crap out of RDW, which is the most popular budget option and still a really good deck in the format. 

We were fortunate this tournament and only had to face one bad matchup during round 1.  The pictures above actually display both game 1 and 2 of this matchup, which we were able to pull wins out of due to the power of Armageddon against a deck that relies heavily on every single one of its lands and simple evergreen abilities blanking my opponent's powerful midrange threats.

Our last two games were a bit more elementary for our build, as we faced down a 5 color Scapeshift Control deck and a RDW deck. 

Winter Orb winning games since '94:

RDW Road Block Technique:

Taking second place, we had a cool RDW deck piloted by littlefield.

Red Deck Wins!
By Littlefield - 115 Cards Total
1 Abbot of Keral Keep
1 Arc-Slogger
1 Ash Zealot
1 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Bomat Courier
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
1 Chandra's Phoenix
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Frenzied Goblin
1 Goblin Bushwhacker
1 Goblin Cohort
1 Goblin Guide
1 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Goblin Ruinblaster
1 Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Harsh Mentor
1 Hell's Thunder
1 Hellrider
1 Insolent Neonate
1 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
1 Kargan Dragonlord
1 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
1 Legion Loyalist
1 Lightning Berserker
1 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Pia Nalaar
1 Rakdos Cackler
1 Reckless Bushwhacker
1 Sin Prodder
1 Soul-Scar Mage
1 Spikeshot Elder
1 Stormblood Berserker
1 Stromkirk Noble
1 Zo-Zu the Punisher
36 cards

1 Burst Lightning
1 Fireblast
1 Flame Javelin
1 Flames of the Blood Hand
1 Incinerate
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Magma Jet
1 Pulse of the Forge
1 Searing Blaze
1 Searing Spear
1 Thunderous Wrath
11 cards
1 Arc Trail
1 Chain Lightning
1 Collective Defiance
1 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Firebolt
1 Flame Slash
1 Forked Bolt
1 Hammer of Bogardan
1 Kari Zev's Expertise
1 Reckless Abandon
10 cards

1 Genju of the Spires
1 Manabarbs
1 Seal of Fire
1 Sulfuric Vortex
4 cards
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 cards

1 Barbarian Ring
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Hammerheim
1 Hellion Crucible
1 Keldon Megaliths
1 Mishra's Factory
26 Mountain
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Smoldering Spires
1 Teetering Peaks
36 cards

1 Anarchy
1 Boil
1 Boiling Seas
1 Disorder
1 Dwarven Blastminer
1 Dwarven Miner
1 Everlasting Torment
1 Flash of Defiance
1 Flashfires
1 Havoc
1 Price of Progress
1 Scald
1 Searing Blood
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Unstable Footing
15 cards

This deck has a slightly higher Converted Mana Cost than our White Aggro build, weighing in at a CMC average of 2.19.  But, especially on RDW, I don't think that's a bad place to be because his build has several sources of red card advantage such as Jaya Ballard, Task Mage, Hammer of Bogardan, and Pulse of the Forge.  This slightly higher curve with recursive cards will tend to favor this build in the G/x midrange and control matchups, which he was handily able to dispatch while playing against 5 Color Scapeshift Control and Bant Midrange.  Unfortunately, these same sorts of cards are also quite poor against the aggro mirror, especially when playing against White Aggro.  However, my hat is off to him, because he certainly exploited his board space to shore up the match we played in the finals with cards like Everlasting Torment, Havoc, Flash of Defiance, Searing Blood, Anarchy, and Disorder.  Unfortunately, he did not win the Anarchy lottery and we drew our hate first in the boarded game we played.

Due to a smaller tournament structure this time around, I won't cover the top 4 decks, but I think it's interesting to note that in all four events of season 4 we've had a different archetype win the tournament each time and this highlights how wide open and viable the different archtypes are post ban list changes.  Linked here are the composite results of the tournament: CSM 4.04 Results.

Lastly, I recorded the gameplay of the tournament here on YouTube: CSM 4.04 Gameplay Video.

Enjoy folks, and join us next Saturday for the Chainsaw Massacre.



Thanks for this nice article by MichelleWong at Thu, 11/16/2017 - 07:06
MichelleWong's picture

Thanks for this nice article Lowman, I enjoyed reading it.

May I ask a question: In your experience what has been your win rate vs Azorius Control with your Death & Taxes deck? I know there are different versions and builds of Azorius Control, but I am talking about the ones you have faced.

In my personal experience, I have found Azorius Control is favored vs White Weenie (Go-Wide and Over-Extend strategies), but is not favored vs the more disruptive build of D&T. Sure Winter Orb and the 2 Geddons are usually insta-wins for WW if not countered, but with no card drawing or card filtering this happens only occasionally.

WW vs. U/W Control by lowman02 at Thu, 11/16/2017 - 12:13
lowman02's picture


I tend to think WW has a lot going for it against most decks that utilize, generally speaking, 4 mana 2-4 for one card advantage cards/wraths to accrue value over creature based aggressive decks. Esper or U/W control tends to fall into this realm. I don't think anyone would say Wrath of God or its progeny are bad cards, but when evaluating them I think it's crucial that I fully understand their cost. If I'm under extreme duress from creatures, then it's likely I'm in a position where slamming a sweeper style effect is utterly necessary on my T4--likely I'm at 8-12 life by this point if my aggressive opponent has been doing their job well--here's the downside--I have to take a full turn off to do this, and I also, outside of FoW or Daze, give my opponent free reign on their turn to cast whatever they'd like. And, this is the turn of these games, as the aggressive player it's my responsibility to know that's what my control opponent is trying to do, and either play cards into it that mitigate it's effect (Selfless Spirit, Hallowed Spirit Keeper, Knight of the Holy Nimbus, Smuggler's Copter, equipment {at the end of the day what is bonesplitter other than a 2 power haste attacker that can't be wrathed}) or only present those threats necessary to get my opponent to wrath on curve--this is where an aggro player turns the game--post wrath you reinvest in the board as rapidly and under countermagic--which could mean something as bad as Elspeth or Gideon, or could mean 2x WW critters that will finish the game in 1-2 turns without further interaction from the opponent. The point is you want to consistently put the U/W control player on the back foot and force them to be reactionary to you. They will get to look at more cards, but through virtual advantage of playing a land lean aggressive deck you'll draw more threats than they will, so I think WW is benefited in the TD war to a large extent.

All of that said, I tend to think the matchup is 50/50, but I certainly am not concerned if I have to face it on the more aggressive build I ran in the tournament detailed in this report or my older versions of the deck.

Hope this helps and thanks for the kind comments Michelle.

Hi Lowman,Thanks for your by MichelleWong at Fri, 11/17/2017 - 05:34
MichelleWong's picture

Hi Lowman,

Thanks for your helpful reply, interesting to note.

May I ask which of my 5 mana sweepers your WW deck most fears:

1. Hallowed Burial
2. End Hostilities
3. Rout
4. Fumigate

Curious to know which of these sweepers most causes you pause.