I finished 19th with Simic Aggro in the $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier. I wasn’t sure about playing either an aggro deck with a linear plan or a full-control deck. I tried several versions but decided that this format is too unexplored and an aggro deck would be best for a tournament.
My chosen deck (outlined below) has a solid game plan where the goal is to rush big creatures and control the board through combat and counterspells.
SIMIC AGGRO – DECKLIST
Why play this deck?
This is a strong deck that works well against control decks by using cards that survive mass removal (Old-Growth Troll, Rhonas the Indomitable, and Collected Company) and that put five counterspells in the main deck (Decisive Denial and Miscast). The low-cost blockers counter aggro decks because a 4-toughness on turn 2 is devastating.
Let’s analyze the cards.
4 Pelt Collector: Unlike Llanowar Elves, this isn’t as good as 1 mana drop, but it puts pressure on your opponent starting in turn 2 because you can play power 2-5 creatures. There will be some games where Pelt Collector could easily be a 1 mana 4/4 trample.
4 Barkhide Troll: I haven’t been impressed by this card, but I’d like to find a replacement 2 mana drop to play only two copies of it. It remains your bigger drop at turn 2 if you miss to play Llanowar Elves at round 1.
3 Scavenging Ooze: A must in this format! This card is green’s counter to Arclight Phoenix, which is popular in current Arena ladders. Further, you can exile the Familiar from the graveyard against the Cauldron Familiar – Witch’s Oven combo. It’s ability of gaining life could be crucial in some aggro match-ups.
4 Steel Leaf Champion: I’m in love with this card! For 3 mana, it has an incredible body that puts a lot of pressure and works extremely well with the 6 fight effects we are already playing (2 Primal Might and 4 Decisive Denial).
Further, it avoids getting chump blocked with its special ability, giving us a bonus against decks that play small creatures like Cauldron Familiar.
4 Old-Growth Troll: You have to think about this card as a “3 mana: put 2 4/4 into the battlefield”. That will make you slam 4 copies of it in the main deck, no questions asked, even if it is not entirely true.
In a lot of games, this card alone let me keep a huge pressure before AND after a Wrath of God, sacrificing the Forest enchanted after the mass removal.
2 Garruk’s Harbinger: Don’t forget this card can be the target for black spells. I’m playing 2 copies because not all opponents are black decks, but, if uncontested, it works like a draw-engine for this deck.
2 Rhonas the Indomitable: Because it is Legendary, I’m only playing 2 copies. A three mana 5/5 deathtouch indestructible that discourages attempts to chump block your creatures. Remember that it can’t target itself with its pumping ability.
4 Collected Company: This is a good late-game card for pulling out more creatures since it can put any creature directly into play, and it is a great way to come back after a mass removal. Think about cutting one copy after game 1 if your opponent plays a lot of Grafdigger’s Cages.
2 Primal Might: This card kills creatures and can push through some extra damage, which is important when playing UG colors because you don’t have much removals. I play just 2 copies because I don’t want to play it as a sorcery pump spell and risk an easy 2 for 1 if I’m playing against a deck full of removal and with few creatures.
4 Decisive Denial: Finally, a card from Strixhaven! This versatile card is the main reason for the deck’s competitiveness and can work like a counterspell against non-creature spells. It can also be your removal if your opponent is playing a creature.
1 Miscast: I played 1 copy in the main deck to have an extra counterspell, but this card doesn’t suit a wild format like Historic and is best in the sideboard.
Regarding the mana base, if you are playing this deck in MTG Arena and you have Hashep Oasis in play, you must focus and manually tap your lands before casting a spell because the autotap of the game will try to avoid tapping it for green mana and deal you 1 damage, which could be a fatal mistake.
An example would be if you have 3 Breeding Pool and 2 Hashep Oasis in play and your cards in hand are 1 Steel Leaf Champion and 1 Decisive Denial. If you cast Steel Leaf Champion and you don’t pay attention, the autotap will tap all 3 Breeding Pool leaving you untapped with just 2 Hashep Oasis and unable to play your Decisive Denial. Please think about your choices when you have Hashep Oasis in play.
2 Vine Mare: This is a perfect answer to a close match-up like Jund Sacrifice. It can’t be blocked by any creature of this deck (all creatures are black with the exception of Goose). Combining this card with Rhonas is a great way to take the game.
2 The Great Henge: This card is helpful for grindy match-ups where you want to overload your board. It is a great draw engine after trading resources with your opponent in the early game.
3 Reclamation Sage: The field is full of targets for this card, including Grafdigger’s Cage, Torrential Gearhulk, Witch’s Oven, Trail of Crumbs, Bolas’s Citadel, Baffling End, and Seal Away. I’m testing it against Orzhov Auras because after sideboarding they go to 4 copies of Heliod’s Punishment.
2 Unsummon: You need a good sideboard plan against Orzhov Auras, because you may not have time to play your fight spells before one of its creatures gets too big. Unsummon is a cheap way to gain a window to inflict some damage and slow down your opponent.
SIMIC AGGRO – SIDEBOARD GUIDE
Probably the worst match-up of this deck, and I think this is the only match-up where the winning the dice roll is relevant.
We cut Garruk’s Harbinger because it is the best target for Lightning Helix. This is a good match-up for Simic because Jeskai plays 4 copies of Lightning Helix as removal and Simic has lot of 4/4 or bigger creatures.
This is a new deck, but Simic looks too fast for Dimir. They play at least 1 Mazemind Tome, 1 Wishclaw Talisman, 1 Search for Azcanta (sometimes more targets), that’s why we bring one Reclamation Sage in.
Simic Aggro looks to be a top tier for Historic right now, and I hope it yields great results for players that will use it.
This is it for today, I’ll see you in another article, always here on 95mtg.com!