Deck of the Week: BR Discard Aggro

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Editor's note: Please welcome Rob San Juan to Modern Nexus, who will be writing a weekly feature and some other behind-the-scenes content.

Hello, Nexites! My name is Rob San Juan, and I'll be restarting the old "Deck of the Week" segment. This was previously handled by our editor, Jason Schousboe—I'll be taking it over for the days to come. In case you're wondering what this is about, I'll be featuring Modern decks that are under the radar but have performed well in tournaments. Who knows? One of them might just help you win a big one without having to worry about being prepared for by potential opponents.

The recently concluded Pro Tour Ixalan featured the Standard format, so there's not much to see there. However, secretly making shockwaves online is this new black-red aggro deck that went undefeated after 15 games in three different Modern leagues:

This deck is pretty straightforward in its approach. All it wants to do is to punish your opponents using cheap but efficient creatures. A turn-one Flameblade Adept is very lethal, and it could simply end your opponent's night as early as turn three, given the correct sequence of draws and resources.

This deck is all about generating advantage. Discarding cards like Bloodghast, Flamewake Phoenix, and Fiery Temper to your Burning Inquiry, Faithless Looting, and Cathartic Reunion fixes your hand or disrupts your opponents while constantly applying pressure. Cycling Street Wraith gives you a cantrip of sorts that pumps the Adept and your graveyard, while also minimizing the cost of Hollow One (until sometimes, it's basically free to cast!). Then, after all the discard and cycling action, Gurmag Angler feeds off your graveyard which is almost always full to the brim.

Looking at the sideboard, it stays within the deck's concept of being disruptive (by adding Thoughtseize) but still offensive at the same time. It also provides backup that could prove useful in some lopsided matchups. Here, you'll see use for the green mana source that may otherwise seem odd in the flashback cost of Ancient Grudge (besides the fact that your opponent could overthink what you're doing because of the Stomping Ground). The Leyline of the Void basically shuts down most graveyard-dependent decks that could pose problems to our deck. The Dragon's Claw is gas in matchups such as Burn and other rogue decks that are red-heavy.

In a nutshell, this deck is all about hitting hard and ending games real quick. It doesn't require serious planning while playing, unlike Storm and control decks. It barely defends itself in creature-filled boards (Bloodghast can't even block!), but has able-bodied crits to get the job done and, most importantly, threatens your opponent at every turn possible. Just what you expect out of a classic black-red deck.

So that's it for this edition of "Deck of the Week." Stay posted for our next feature next week. Until then, happy shuffling and thanks for reading!

7 thoughts on “Deck of the Week: BR Discard Aggro

  1. Interesting deck. It seems to be the spiritual successor of the RG Vengevine deck from a few months back, but has decided to cash out on the Vine and slam down Gurmags instead. That’s probably the stronger way to go, especially given the disruptive aspects black provides in the sideboard. I’m still not entirely sold on the Call to the Netherworld (is it to pick up an Angler that gets accidentally discarded by a Burning Inquiry or to rebuy a Wraith?), but it looks good.

    1. I’ve had my eye on call to the netherworld for a while as a 0 mana madness card – mostly for collective brutality but this looks reasonable too. I don’t know how much the card advantage pays off here but I suppose it can’t hurt. I would imagine you usually want to rip back a gurmag angler for free, but I can also imagine casting faithless looting, pitching call to get back a wraith, cycle the wraith for free and bam hollow one for 0 🙂

      1. Call to the Netherworld is fine but not stunning (small sample size, about 20 matches). It does a fine job of getting value, and has even won games where I needed a hasty bloodghast and had no lands in hand. It’s one of the cards I cut the most (basically, any fast match-up I don’t bother with it). You do get back Street Wraith about as often as Angler, but remember Angler isn’t just going to the yard via Inquiry / Looting. It gets killed in combat or via terminates etc often enough too. It is your biggest creature after all.

        For what it’s worth, I find these sort of articles almost useless. You could start and finish this article with a decklist, because telling me that Leyline of the Void is good against GY decks isn’t really telling me anything at all. It tells us that the sideboard helps against lopsided match-ups… Well, 1 – every sideboard is meant to do that and 2 – which match-ups are lopsided?! There’s actual 0 information here.

        Having played the deck a bit, combo match-ups are close because you’re basically a turn 4 deck, and on the draw, that’s not always fast enough. When you sideboard in your thoughtseizes, if you get given a non-disruptive fast hand, you are sort of forced to keep it anyway (since thoughtseize won’t necessary win you the match vs a deck like RG Valakut), so it stays likely unfavourable after sideboarding too. Midrange and Control match-ups are fairly positive, because you draw a tonne of cards, have reach in the form of 8 bolts, and bloodghast + flamewake tax opponents resources like crazy. Agro match-ups tend to be favourable too, mainly because your 4/4s and 5/5s are as good as anything else out there. Affinity is tough G1 since you can’t block much (though hardcasting flamewake in your 2nd main is a reasonable play), but the sideboard has a lot of interaction.

        Wish these articles would include a small video set (like SCG do) or at least had some analysis based on games actually played. Channelfireball do articles very similar to these, and the decklist is usually enough – unless there’s some synergy that is hard to spot (which isn’t often the case).

        1. Noted. This isn’t supposed to be replacement for other content on Nexus, more like an extra little, “Hey, here’s what happened last weekend.” They’ll be moving to Monday for this reason. I will also say, though, we’ve had good responses on this type of article, and for players newer to Modern it can be interesting just to get exposure to a large number of decks.

      2. This leads me to wonder why Collective Brutality itself isn’t in the 75. Too slow? Or is it that the flexibility and power are offset by the fact that the deck already does everything brutality does more efficiently/effectively? For example, Thoughtsieze is better at discard, Fiery Temper is better at burn, Etc.

        1. I was also thinking about Collective Brutality when I was looking at this list. The most logical reason I could think of on why it isn’t there is cost efficiency — but that’s only for the main deck. Thoughtseize and CB would be a good tag team post-board and is something that could be considered. If you could test it out using CB instead of the 1-of Call to the Netherworld, please let us know how it turns out.

    2. I really like seeing Bloodghast and Vengevine together. Would have been nice to see vengy here but the Gurmag seems like a better fit due to its size and synergy with the used spells. As for the call, I always see it as a free spell that could net you any of our black crits at some point in the game. It’s arguable that it could be cut, though.

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