The Basics of Aggro – Armored Dragons

Hello again, fellow Kaijudo duelists!  Since last week I talked about a rather complex control deck, I decided to go in a completely different direction this week and discuss aggro!  There has been a lot of interest in the Armored Dragon decks revolving around Hyperspeed Dragon, and I figure now would be the perfect opportunity to go into how aggro operates as a deck, why it works, and give some examples of the current types of aggro decks we're seeing.

The Aggro Playstyle

Control decks usually don't break shields early on, since doing so could give your opponent card advantage, and control decks aim to keep card advantage at all times.  Rush decks break as many shields as they can as early as possible, attempting to end the game preferably before around turns 5-6.  This can ensure that the other player won't reach the mana necessary to play their higher-level cards and make use of the card advantage rush inevitably gives them.  Aggro decks sit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  Aggro decks almost always have a better early game than control, some focusing more on the early game than others.  However, none of them are capable of ending the game as quickly as a rush deck consistently can.  If they let their control-playing opponent get up to a reasonable mana with cards in hand, how can the aggro strategy work?

The answer lies in the two words that I think best describe aggro as a whole, no matter the build: constant pressure.  I don't usually play aggro myself, but when I'm facing a good one, I feel pressure from the level 2 and 3 plays early game, and it just never lets up.  The aggro deck can generally keep card advantage itself, which makes it hard to deal with its constant stream of threats.  It is then able to drop finishers and fast attackers late game to clean up and end the game.  The Armored Dragon versions of aggro play more finishers than usual and rely a little more on the late game, but the idea is still the same.

Sample Decklists

For this article, I'm just going to be focusing on the versions of aggro running the Hyperspeed Dragon engine, since it seems like many people are interested in the card and I wanted to showcase some of the ideas people have already come up with.  Without any real tournament scene yet to really put these decks through the gauntlet, I've decided to play it safe and just show two very capable builds by two players you've probably seen on YouTube.

Carl Miciotto (EarthP0w3R) - WFN Armored Dragons

Water (11)

3 Aqua Seneshal
2 Reef-Eye
3 Logos Scan
1 Spy Mission
2 Veil Vortex

Nature (13)

3 Essence Elf
2 Razorhide
3 Bronze-Arm Tribe
2 Gigahorn Charger
3 Root Trap

Fire (19)

3 Hyperspeed Dragon
2 Bolt-Tail Dragon
2 Bolgash Dragon
1 Lord Skycrusher
1 Moorna, Gatling Dragon
1 Tatsurion the Unchained
1 Chain-Lash Tatsurion
2 Gilaflame the Assaulter
2 Tornado Flame
2 Barrage
2 Comet Missile

Total - 44 Cards

Carl Reddish (thundersultan) - FN Armored Dragons

Nature (20)

3 Essence Elf
2 Razorhide
3 The Great Arena
3 Bronze-Arm Tribe
3 Breach the Veil
3 Return to the Soil
3 Root Trap

Fire (20)

3 Hyperspeed Dragon
2 Tatsurion
2 Bolgash Dragon
2 Moorna, Gatling Dragon
2 Bolt-Tail Dragon
3 Comet Missile
3 Tornado Flame
3 Barrage

Total - 40 Cards

Through all the similarities in play style these decks share, they're built pretty differently, so going over them both should help show how different players build around the aggro template.

The Early Game

Because these two decks are built to focus primarily on the Armored Dragons, which don't really come out until turn 5 and later, these decks can potentially suffer from clogged hands more than other aggros.  However, there's enough early plays in both of them to hopefully hold their own early game and put some pressure on the board.  As you can see, both are running 3 Essence Elf and 2 Razorhide.  Both are great early game options, as Razorhide allows you to build mana while forcing the opponent to go on the defensive and Essence Elf can make things on your side of the field very hard to kill, such as making Hyperspeed get out of Tornado Flame's range.

For more early mana acceleration alongside Razorhide, both players are running 3 Bronze-Arm Tribe, definitely a go-to pick for decks with so many high-level creatures.  EarthP0w3R's deck, since it utilizes Water for draw power, can also get away with running 3 Aqua Seneschal, possibly the best card for the deck to play on turn 3, and 2 Reef-Eye as the only blocker to combat rush decks.  He also chose to run 2 Gilaflame the Assaulter, which thundersultan did not.  This card, though effective as ever, definitely sees more play in builds not so heavily devoted to the dragons.

Keeping a Hand

Like I said earlier, what really saves aggro as a strategy is its ability to keep up with control decks by keeping a constant hand.  This way, it can continue to play things that are hard to deal with turn after turn.  These two decks, since one uses Water and one does not, find different ways to help reach that same goal.

EarthP0w3R's deck uses the Seneschals as I mentioned earlier, which do a lot of good things for aggro.  Also in Water are 3 Logos Scan and 1 Spy Mission, more easy-to-play spells that can be played against control decks to help neutralize some of the discard.  The last draw that EarthP0w3R plays is actually search, in the form of Gigahorn Charger.  It has the limitation of searching only for creatures with 5000 power or more, but in this type of deck, that's hardly a problem as he'll almost always be searching for a Hyperspeed or some other gigantic dragon.

Thundersultan ignored Gigahorn Charger and instead opted for 3 copies of The Great Arena, an interesting choice.  Since his deck is Fire/Nature, Arena serves as his only actual draw power, letting him draw whenever he plays something with 5000 or more power.  Since he, too, is running a large amount of dragons, this card could definitely generate enough advantage to keep his deck rolling when he starts playing them.  Breach the Veil is the other way thundersultan can add more cards to his hand, and at a relatively low cost.  Since 18 of the 40 cards in his deck are spells, there's always the risk of looking at the top five cards and seeing no creatures, but the risk is generally low and Breach the Veil is one of the best options he could use in this type of strategy.

Removal

A main aspect of aggro is the ability to get rid of the opponent's defense.  After all, a deck that focuses so much on aggression throughout the entire game can't let itself be stopped in its tracks by a blocker or two.  Fortunately, Bolgash Dragon helps combat the blocker problem as well as working extremely well with Hyperspeed.  Both players are running two of them, along with Comet Missiles and Tornado Flames in different amounts.  EarthP0w3R's deck can make use of Veil Vortex to bounce things to his opponent's hand, and thundersultan uses 3 Return to the Soil to clear more early-game problems.  Root Traps and Barrages round out this portion of their decks, Root Trap being an obvious choice for its versatility and Barrage helping the deck deal with rush, which can be a tricky matchup.

The Dragons Themselves

Since these two aggro decks focus on the dragons, it's only right that I go over each player's specific choices for their lineup.  The similarities are the 3 Hyperspeed, 2 Bolt-Tail, and 2 Bolgash Dragons.  Bolt-Tail is the go-to finisher even for aggros that don't focus so much on the dragons, being incredibly effective at ending games.  Thundersultan's choice of running 2 Tatsurion and 2 Moorna, Gatling Dragon compared to EarthP0w3R's 1 Moorna, 1 Chain-Lash, 1 Lord Skycrusher, and 1 Tatsurion the Unchained could possibly be because he doesn't necessarily have the draw power and search EarthP0w3R has in his build, so he might not want to run only 1 copy of certain cards.  However, these lineups of finishers are mostly preference choices and the main point is that these decks need the larger amount of finishers regardless of what they are.  Both of these players have YouTube videos of their decks (though EarthP0w3R's video is slightly outdated), in which they explain their reasoning for running the finishers they chose.

And those are the main aspects of aggro!  Though these two decks went about them in their own way, these are by no means all of the options, and aggro decks using Light and Darkness are also very capable.  The Armored Dragon engine is just one way to go about it, and I encourage everyone to experiment as always with versions of these decks and others.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.  Also, I have some good ideas for articles in store for the coming weeks, but please comment below and tell me what you'd like to see!  Until next time, everybody!

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