Number 6: Knight
This is the only pure attack deck that managed to enter the top ten. (55 other pure attack decks failed.) Aggro, as this strategy implies, is to quickly overload the opponent with too many threats. But with the dawn of high class defensive systems, aggro has invariably failed to deliver its potential. Knights succeed where the others failed due to its insane concentration of quality.
Let’s start with the weakest knight.
Student of Warfare starts the game as a lowly 1/1, but levels up cheaply to a dangerous 3/3 first striker. Later in the game, it can hit for 8 damage with double strike. The opponent is forced to spend at least one card to rid the Student of Warfare. You don’t have to over-extend by committing more creatures to the board.
The ranks of the knights are superior to most other creatures at their cost. First strike is a significant advantage in combat. Auto-regeneration and indestructible make it hard to kill. Also, there’s power and land boosting effects. This lets knights keep up with midrange enemies.
There’s even an absolutely crushing one-two sequence. Mirran Crusader is a ridiculously powerful attack unit, protected from 2 out of 5 colors. It has double strike. With Elspeth, who can grant temporary flying, it will win in two moves. Without Elspeth, its a five turn clock. It is common practice to force the opponent into wasting their removal on the lesser knights (shown before), so Knights can play the Crusader unopposed.
For breaking stalemates, knights can even the one-man army: Hero of Bladehold. This bad boy (I mean, good boy!) hits for 7 damage on the first attack, from 3 different vectors. And the calvary grows by 2 every turn. Riders of Gavony makes the entire horde unblockable (this is tribal wars, yeah). And also totally immune to their damage.
With this level of power, it is a well deserved sixth place. And an ominous hint of what lies ahead. Five creature types managed to defeat the knights. They must be absolutely terrifying.
- Colors: White
- Nature: Pure Aggro
- Offensive Feats: First strike, double strike, battle cry, combat pumps, flying (temporary), protection
- Defensive Feats: First strike, double strike, protection, automatic regeneration, indestructible
- Speed: Fast
Number 5: Rhino
Rhinos have been covered before – they are siege warfare specialists, able to form a defensive perimeter and slowly chip away at the opponent. The life gain, life drain, and big rhinos are incredible both defence and offence. Rhinos have both card advantage and card quality advantage.
It is quite common for a control deck to have the ‘wrong answer’ in hand. Multi-option spells avoid this. Rhino charms not only dispatch enemy creatures, but have other applications. Duneblast is a knightmare (literally yes) finishing off every opponent on the battlefield, but leaving behind a Rhino to win with.
Breaking the symmetry, Rhinos are not shy to use dark magic for an advantage. Mind Shatter is horrifying versus enemy control or combo. It strips them of their vital cards. Profane Command is yet another multi-option genius, doing 2/4 things at the same time:
- Resurrecting dead rhinos
- Killing a creature
- Making rhinos unblockable
- Killing the opponent
Green Sun’s Zenith is also multi option. Either it brings Dryad Arbor or Birds of Paradise (making mana), or it summons a Rhino.
The rhinos themselves are medium power threats, not as big as the Eldrazi or Wurms but definitely bigger than aggro tribes such as Knights. They all gain life which neutralizes “first strike” strategies. Rhinos believe in the “second strike” – survive the initial onslaught, counterattack with stronger forces. They can clearly outclass the knights in battle, except for Mirran Crusader who has protection (which Rhinos will just finish off using Duneblast).
So the match between Rhinos and Knights were quite a sight to behold. Twenty turns later, there were scores of dead knights. The rhinos somehow managed to cling on at 1 to 3 life. But with lifegain, this went back to fifteen soon, and rhinos had the advantage in both size and numbers winning the endgame.
- Colors: Every Color Except Red
- Nature: Midrange Control
- Offensive Feats: Trample, Life loss (repeatable), Fear (temporary)
- Defensive Feats: Exile, Mass Destruction, Reanimate Dead, life gain, destroy Artifact, counter Instant
- Speed: Medium
Number 4: Eldrazi
Marketed as a planet-destroying, world-eating alien race, Eldrazi present a difficulty level from “out of this world”. Any physical contest between Eldrazi and other creatures is only going to end one way. The Eldrazi will annihilate its opponent, the ground it is standing on, several neighboring countries, and also the entire plane.
If it wasn’t for their gargantuan real estate costs, no other opponent could win. But Eldrazi, even with a price tag of 15 mana, can still hit the battlefield as early as Turn 3 (thanks to super ramp spells). So they’re quite fast for their size. A dragon looks like a kitten standing next to Emrakul. An army of knights look like an army of ants.
All Eldrazi can win the game AND take out an army if they just hit twice – so what will we do when there’s infinite numbers of them?
Or when the Eldrazi destroy everything before they annihilate everything else?
This is truly one of the most powerful decks, as long as it doesn’t get disrupted. The only way anyone will have a chance to defeat Eldrazi is to stop the spells from being cast. (Trying to aggro the Eldrazi will not work, because lifegain and walls.) Land or hand removal would give rivals a fighting chance. Cos once the aliens reach the battlefield, it’s over.
Even superman can’t save the world now.
- Colors: Green
- Nature: Ramp Control
- Offensive Feats: Annihilator, Flying, Cannot be Countered, Extra turns, Infinite Eldrazi
- Defensive Feats: Walls, Annihilator, All is Dust, Life Gain
- Speed: Fast, unless disrupted