Introduction to Aggro Decks: What You Need to Know
Hey guys! Modded here with part one of my new series on Aggro decks!
I hope that you learn the following things from this article:
- The Difference between Face Aggro and Aggressive Control
- What a Face Aggro deck needs to be competitively viable
- What Face Aggro decks are most vulnerable to
- Why certain classes don’t have strong competitive decks
Let’s start, shall we?
Face Aggro ≠ Agressive Control
These deck types have two very philosophies:
Face Aggro – Throw damage at your opponent’s face until they die, ignoring all but the most dangerous threats. Doing this allows you to win before your opponent can draw and play their answers.
Aggressive Control – Keep your opponent’s board clear for as long as possible, using the most efficient trades possible. Attack your opponent with any left over damage. If your opponent draws answers, you take less of a loss due to the fact that they have no board presence.
The former is faster leaving your opponent less time to save themselves. The latter is slower, but more resilient against your opponent’s answers.
Aggressive Control, on the other hand, prioritizes removal of your opponent’s threats and then being the aggressor. This allows you to make the most efficient trades possible, preventing your opponent from being able to stop you dead in your tracks with a single card. The most famous of this type of deck is ZooLock, though Tempo Rogue and Tempo Warrior also fall into this category (albeit they’re slower than ZooLock).
This series is dedicated to Face Aggro, and will not cover decks that go for board control.
What Makes Face Aggro Work?
Not every class can have a strong Aggro deck, here’s what a class has to offer in order to have a competitively viable deck:
- Strong Cheap Minions
- Cheap Damage Spells/Pumps
- Cheap Removal
- Immense Card Draw
All competitive Face Aggro decks have most or all of these components, and decks that can’t supply these simply don’t succeed.
Strong Cheap Minions
Cheap minions are what allow you to fill the board with threats at a significantly faster rate than your opponent, while mana is the primary constraint, and not yet the lack of cards.
Cheap Damage Spells and Pumps
Sometimes you need something your opponent can’t stop, and this is what fits the bill. Expensive spells that deal less damage than their mana cost (like Starfire) are usually not used due to their secondary effect not being appreciated and it delays their use and costs you tempo. Spells like Soulfire, Eviscerate and Kill Command let you keep chipping at your opponent’s life total, ignoring taunts. Whilst they leave nothing behind for your opponent to deal with, it’s more cost-effective than a Charge minion that dies for free to an AoE spell. Pumps have the advantage of usually being cheaper, but they are useless without minions that can attack. Their cheapness make them indispensable tempo boosts (ie Power Overwhelming, Cold Blood and Blessing of Might).
Immense Card Draw
These decks burn through cards extremely fast, requiring cards that draw a ton of cards. Commonly used are cantrips like Loot Hoarder, multi-draws like Coldlight Oracle and other combos. Pre-nerf, Hunter refilled with Starving Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds, Warlock uses its hero power, and Shockadin uses Divine Favor. Without a way to draw cards, Aggro decks cannot not succeed as they will burn out (enter topdeck mode) too quickly. Due to the cheapness of Face Aggro’s minions, they can’t afford to enter topdeck mode as they’ll end up with more than fifty percent of their mana untapped, allowing the opponent to come surging back since the Aggro deck has run out of steam.
Vulnerabilities of Face Aggro
AoE Spells are another big weakness of Face Aggro. Since many minions used in Face Aggro have only one health, they can be removed quite efficiently with AoE, shifting the Tempo advantage to the defender and away from the aggressor. Additionally, since Face Aggro tries to ignore enemy minions, AoE doesn’t consume the entire turn as there are still minions that can pick off the next wave of minions, as well as beat down the aggressor’s face.
Healing Spells are also quite devastating for Face Aggro. These spells are very cheap, and effectively stall out the game for yet another turn. Since Aggro decks themselves are on a clock, the ability to both stall and build your board in the same turn in especially hard on them.
Why Certain Classes Don’t Do Aggro
Only a few classes seem to dominate the Aggro scene, despite attempts by many to make other Aggro decks work. The problem is that a few classes are missing some key constituents of a viable Face Aggro deck.
Shaman is also lacking in cheap minions, it’s only good cheap aggressive minion being Flametongue Totem, which is useless by itself. Feral Spirit is more defensive than offensive (and it’s not cheap once you factor in Overload), and Dust Devil is just terrible. With the one health and massive overload (if it were a 2/2 and not a 3/1 it would be considerably better). Card draw is problematic, with the only multi-draw being Mana Tide Totem which is not aggressive and is only guaranteed to be a cantrip.
Warrior is lacking in card draw mostly, Battle Rage doesn’t work well as all the minions have too little health to reliably take damage and still be alive. The lack of cheap aggressive minions is also limiting, it only has Cruel Taskmaster and Kor'kron Elite. Additionally, Warrior is lacking good damage spells, its only option being the mediocre Mortal Strike. Whilst Warrior does have access to weapons which are incredibly effective in Face Aggro, it’s not enough to overcome its other weaknesses.
Priest Aggro is a laughable concept, as it is a class terribly lacking in aggression. The only decent aggressive card it has is Mind Blast. The lack of ability to draw a lot from your own deck without heals (heals aren’t aggressive by their very nature), no aggressive minions/pumps, no mana efficient damage spells (Holy Fire is way too late, the heal is irrelevant in Face Aggro) aside from Mind Blast make any attempt at a Face Aggro deck with this class doomed from the very start.
I hope you learned a lot about Face Aggro today, stay tuned for part two where I will specifically go over Warlock, Hunter, and Rogue Aggro! I will be giving decklists and detailed explanations of how those decks work, card choices and how they would respond to different scenarios.
If you have and questions or comments, please leave a comment below, I love to hear your feedback!