Insider: It’s Hard to Be Aggro – Building Aggressive Decks to Beat Siege Rhino

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Wizards is making it hard for aggressive players lately with cards that are extremely difficult to fight through. First it was…

[cardimage cardname='Thragtusk']

Then it was…

[cardimage cardname='Gray Merchant of Asphodel']

And now it’s…

[cardimage cardname='Siege Rhino']

At least there’s no…

[cardimage cardname='Restoration Angel']


[cardimage cardname='Pack Rat']

Oh yeah and how could I almost forget…

[cardimage cardname="Sphinx's Revelation"]

As you can see from this visual trip through Magic’s recent history, being the aggro player can be a difficult proposition. But never fear, I’ll always be here looking for ways to beat down in Standard.

Let’s get back to ‘Goyf Helix,’ which is a surprisingly accurate nickname for Siege Rhino that I heard the other day. Your first hurdle in Standard is being able to overcome a pack of stampeding rhinos on your opponent's side of the board. The solution for some is to just join in the rhino fighting. Here’s the best rhino fighting deck I’ve seen so far.

Not only does this deck have Siege Rhino but it also has some of the best aggressive cards available in Standard. You are capable of some fast damage with this deck and Gather Courage is there to boost you to victory or protect your creatures from Lightning Strike and Bile Blight. This deck has multiple ways to fight through the midrange decks and all the best creatures at every spot on the curve.

Be wary of this deck, as well as other three-color aggressive decks though, because you will deal yourself a significant amount of damage trying to accomplish your goal of defeating your opponent quickly. This damage is definitely relevant and sometimes leads to your demise against any deck with burn spells. Barich’s deck reminds me of some of the Suicide Black decks back in the day. Basically your life total doesn’t matter at the end of the game as long as you are the victor.

As it turns out, Barich and I had similar thoughts recently. His thought seems to be, what’s the best aggressive Rhino deck? My thought was how I can play Siege Rhino and Gray Merchant of Asphodel together in the same deck. Here’s where I am in the process right now of putting this idea into effect.

As you can see, what I have done is to take my idea and combine it with the preexisting Mono-Black Aggro concept. The problem in Standard is that once players get set up for the midgame, it’s quite difficult to break through for damage. In this deck, your early creatures are intended to get in some damage before your opponent is set up, but then once they have a board it’s not as impactful because you have ways to give yourself evasion.

Mogis's Marauder and Herald of Torment help you break board stalls and do some damage to your opponent. Gray Merchant and Siege Rhino give you reach to end games quickly and help you win games where you can’t attack well.

From what testing I’ve done, the deck may need more copies of Erebos, God of the Dead. He doesn’t help with evasion like Thassa, God of the Sea but he is a large, hard-to-deal-with creature that can draw you a couple extra cards. If the games I’ve played are any indication, he will be an active creature much of the time so we may want to squeeze another copy into the list somewhere.

This is a focused tool that’s sole purpose is to attack quickly. You want to be committing as many threats to the board as quickly as possible to overload your opponents’ removal.

Up next we have a build your own Voltron model.

Tom Ross is a master crafter of aggressive decks. In this version he has taken the new prowess mechanic and combined it with the synergistic heroic mechanic to help players everywhere create their own giant hero.

As long as you draw some combination of creatures and spells, this deck has a great chance of winning any game. The problem with this deck, and any deck that relies on balancing creatures and spells, is that sometimes you draw all creatures or all spells. In either of those cases you won’t have the tools you need to win those games. This deck plays very similar to Infect or a Burn deck in that you always need some of each different card type to win games.

When your draws come together, this deck is a potent monster that is hard to defeat. It’s strong against removal, puts on an extremely fast clock, and tutors for the life gaining Ordeal of Heliod against other aggro decks to race them very well. Tom’s list seems more consistent than most others of this design but consistency will always be an issue with decks like this.

Somehow I missed this final deck amidst the plethora of competitive coverage in the last few weeks but it’s not one to skip over. In fact, it scares me how good this next deck is.

If you miss the name of the deck, at first glance it appears quite similar to any other Jeskai Burn deck you are likely to face over the course of any tournament. Sure they have a couple different cards but nothing crazy. We have the normal bad guys, like Seeker of the Way and Goblin Rabblemaster, that steal victories from us all. But once you inspect the rest of the deck you find it’s also a combo deck as well.

Seven cards. That is the only difference between this and a normal deck. Sure we have Retraction Helix and Springleaf Drum, but other than that we are playing a normal deck. That’s not a lot of space taken up by your combo. I’m impressed with how slick and focused this deck tuned by Mr. Firer is. In fact, I’m so impressed with this list that I’m not going to talk about my Boros Tokens deck I’ve been working on because instead I’m going to be testing this deck for the TCG Indy event that’s happening this weekend.

I think this deck is the real deal. Jeskai Token Combo seems poised to do some real damage in the metagame. No matter what I end up playing, hopefully I’ll have an interesting report from the event filled with fun moments, funny stories, and ultimately victory over all the other competitors.

Tournament Tips

Identifying patterns and commonalities in formats will help determine your sideboard strategies. One underlying theme of Standard is that white cards are really good right now. Not just mono-white cards, but cards with white mana. Specifically white permanents and not white spells.

Identifying this occurrence helps us because we have a tool like Glare of Heresy available to us right now. Here’s a short list of cards in Standard that Glare of Heresy is good against.

That’s just the short list--there are other cards you may play against that Glare would be helpful against. This white color hoser is exactly the type of weapon you want in your sideboard to fight against the powerful weapons in the format. That of course means that you yourself will need to be playing white and thus be susceptible to the same great sideboard card, but nevertheless, Glare of Heresy is still well positioned.

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