Bloodsoaked Champions and Mono Black Aggro by Ashley Knox

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Bloodsoaked Champions and Mono Black Aggro by Ashley Knox

Khans is here, long live the khans!

I loved Return to Ravnica block but I honestly won’t miss it, [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] was a really tedious win con and pushed out non-UW based control decks. [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] was probably a necessity in the end when it was a piece of the puzzle that was keeping mono blue devotion in check.

The most oppressive forces in block were the two card combo of [card]Sylvan Caryatid[/card] and [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and the haymaker that was [card]Elspeth, Suns Champion[/card]. I’ve not much interest in doing anything midrange and prefer more aggressive strategies so I’ll be investing myself in forcing my opponent to think do they block with Caryatid and lose it to a boon or do they block with a courser and lose it to anything I could feasibly have.

One of the decks that showed promise in Theros block was the mono black aggro list, Sebastian Knörr managed to make Top 8 with the following list at Grand Prix Manchester. He managed this in a field that I would be expecting to see in the next few months – although we’d now include the [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] and friends into the equation. It’s very possible that this would be the aggressive direction you would want to be taking and [card]Stoke the Flames[/card] is a hell of a card but I really like the power of discard spells when people are playing on these terms. The loss of [card]Duress[/card] is a large hit but when midrange strategies are stabilising with Courser or Polukranos variants the power to just remove it and keep them off balance for the rest of the game feels like a real powerful angle to be coming from.

This is the Top 8 list from the Grand Prix Manchester, you can see it in action as you can see from the first game this is a deck to be reckoned with even with a clunky opener like he had though realistically you aren’t beating Fabrizio in a match. I feel that the new Bloodsoaked Champion will be pivotal in getting around the drown in sorrow for the decks that play it.

[deck] 22 Swamp
4 Gnarled Scarhide
4 Herald of Torment
4 Master of the Feast
4 Mogis’s Marauder
4 Pain Seer
4 Spiteful Returned
4 Tormented Hero
2 Boon of Erebos
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Thoughtseize[/deck]

[deck] 3 Bile Blight
1 Boon of Erebos
2 Brain Maggot
3 Feast of Dreams
3 Odunos River Trawler
2 Read the Bones
1 Silence the Believers[/deck]

Quoted as saying that [card]Mogis’s Marauder[/card] was one of the most powerful cards in the deck I would believe him and would still think that to be quite true in the new Standard.
The deck has lost very little in rotation and in fact gained a few new tricks.

ulcerate

Described as a “black Bolt” I wouldn’t be playing a set of these but the effect of having one or two of them really gives your opponent something to think about when you attack into their [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] with even a single black mana available. In concert with [card]Blood Soaked Champion[/card] you can happily two for one yourself in battles with [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] and [card]Siege Rhino[/card].

despise

Though this card is universally despised, the power of going turn one guy, turn two guy & steal your [card]Sylvan Caryatid[/card] on the play or whatever piece they were intending on stabilising with on the draw. You do however have access to [card]Thoughtseize[/card] so you probably want to max out on those first.

champion

Saving the best for last, this guy is all shades of awesome. A recurring threat that allows you to overextend somewhat into opponents without access to [card]Anger of the Gods[/card]. I’m the sort of guy who is in the market for [card]Savannah Lions[/card] with downside as it is, so when it’s got a sweet reward that benefits you for just doing what your deck was supposed to do then I’m definitely in.

The current list is as follows though I could see myself splashing white for [card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/card] as that card is all kinds of business.

[deck]22 Swamps
4 Bloodsoaked Champion
4 Tormented Hero
4 Gnarled Scarhide
4 Pain Seer
4 Mardu Skullhunter
4 Herald of Torment
4 Mogis’s Marauders
3 Bile Blight
1 Ulcerate
3 Thoughtseize
1 Hero’s Downfall
2 Boon of Erebos[/deck]

[Deck]1 Whip of Erebos
1 Thoughtseize
3 Despise
1 Bile Blight
1 Boon of Erebos
1 Empty the Pits
2 Hero’s Downfall
3 Grim Haruspex
2 Pharikas Cure[/deck]

I’m hoping to be jamming this for the first few months in standard, making changes to it as everything around me develops. I feel like [card]Grim Haruspex[/card] is a fairly easy switch in for the Marauders for some games, has a mild synergy with binning off your Champions and really helps keep you ahead in attrition matches.

[card]Bile Blight[/card] could be the real deal, doing its best impression of a [card]Rubblebelt Maaka[/card] when it comes to combat similar to [card]Ulcerate[/card] but with the marginal upside of being fairly decent in clogged board states and a very corner case of protecting one or two of your Champions from [card]Anger of the Gods[/card].

The struggle is real in this deck, the existence of [card]Reclamation Sage[/card] lead me to cutting the overall number of enchantment creatures as getting one of your guys sniped then another blocked just seems –ev.

The bestow that still exists is something little guy aggro decks want to as being to do something with your mana is really powerful in the later game as the eventual grind out occurs and really adds to the efficiency of your threats. An honorable mention should probably go out to [card]Mardu Skullhunter[/card] I believe that though he’s a bit of a nerd we were in the market for a two mana 2/1 anyway so one that helps us get ahead by forcing our opponent to make choices from as early as turn two and as we’re already playing discard effects it becomes more likely to not just be a straight miss.

Mardu-Skullhunter-MtG-Art

I expect some sort of nonsense with [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] to be a legitimate strategy in the upcoming months which is perhaps as a concession to lead me to include Pharikas Cure and Whip though I was tempted to include [card]Eternal Thirst[/card] for racing situations though it matches up poorly to removal.

[card]Empty the Pits[/card] could be an absolute dud though I feel it could be excellent as a way of coming back into the game from Wraths and a long game of trading resources. Hopefully you’d be able to cast it for 4/5 and just win on the spot.

Ultimately I think this deck will be a good choice early on, it’s very basic and on par with what most other people will be doing but against an opponent who has their first play on turn three you’re just massively ahead and unlikely to lose that match when they fear the courser block.

Thanks for reading,

Keep it grim.

Ashley Knox

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