Aggro

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'Aggro' (short for 'aggressive') refers to a fast-paced strategy that uses a low mana curve and a combination of combat and damage-dealing effect to reduce enemy life totals to 0 as quickly as possible. Aggro is usually used as an umbrella term for many early-game focused strategies, such as Burn, Voltron, infect, and even some Tribal.

Aggro decks may appear in any color combination, but commonly include red and/or green.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Common cards found in aggro decks include:

Popular aggro commanders include:

Strategy

Aggro decks most commonly take the shape of a creature-based deck, often overflowing the battlefield with many tokens or with a few very high-powered creatures. Once a board presence has been established, aggro decks commonly use spells and abilities that increase the potency of these creatures (such as Overwhelming Stampede, Shared Animosity, or Craterhoof Behemoth to deal lethal damage to opponents.

Aggro decks also make use of removal spells in a manner somewhat unlike other strategies. While other deck archetypes make use of removal spells to eliminate enemy threats (that is, cards that may deal them damage), aggro decks are more likely to use their removal on cards that get in the way of their own oncoming army of creatures (a removal style commonly referred to as 'tempo'). If an aggro deck can eliminate the player who owns a dangerous card, that card will also be removed, so aggro players focus their efforts on their opponents rather than cards their opponents control. Aggro decks may even occasionally seek to limit enemy resources, in an effort to prevent opponents from casting meaningful spells that would stall out the aggro player's damage capabilities.

Themes

These are common deck archetypes that employ an aggro strategy:

Tribal

Tribal decks tend to have different play patterns depending on the tribe. Some tribes, like Goblins tribe and Warriors tribe, find themselves under the Aggro archetype. While they have differences between each other, they share some similarities such as the slow-ish start (at least in relation with other aggro archetypes). They also have plenty of great support and can scale better than most.
Popular Commanders/Cards:

Voltron

Voltron is a commander-centric aggro archetype. Rather than assembling an army of creatures, these decks focus their efforts on increasing their commander's power and combat capabilities, quickly eliminating other players with commander damage.
Popular Commanders:

Infect

Infect decks use poison counters to eliminate their opponents. Rather than deal 40 damage to each opponent, they need only focus on dealing 10 infect damage to each opponent, vastly shortening the effort it takes to achieve lethal damage. Infect damage can be a quick method of victory for aggro players, though the pool of creatures with the infect ability is much more limited.
Popular Commanders/Cards:

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Aggro decks can be far more fast-paced than many other archetypes are capable of handling. Aggro decks can sometimes present lethal board states before other, slower strategies have even established pieces of their primary game plan. Aggro decks can easily exploit opponents whose decks provide powerful late-game synergies, but who take too long to get there.
  • Aggro decks are highly interactive, often forcing enemies into difficult situations that will significantly disrupt or delay their own strategies. Opponents are frequently forced to forego taking actions that benefit their own strategy, and must instead take actions that simply prevent them from being eliminated.
  • Aggro decks thrive on momentum; if uninterrupted, their multitude of powerful creatures will often compound and can take over a battlefield in very short order. They tend to be singularly unrivaled in combat, rarely presenting an attack that opponents my block profitably. They may even play fast and loose with their own life totals and use it as a potential resource, unconcerned with whether they have lots of life as long as their enemies have 0.

Weaknesses

  • Many aggro-based cards are designed for 1-on-1, 20-life formats, rather than the multiplayer, 40-life format of Commander. Aggro players may find it difficult to present damage that scales as powerfully to the increased life totals and increased number of opponents. Even if they are able to swiftly eliminate one opponent, it is likely that focusing their attentions on one player will allow another opponent enough time to set up their strategy and/or find an effect that will eliminate or stall out the aggro player's plans.
  • Mass Removal is the bane of the aggro strategy, often resulting in a loss so burdensome that the aggro player is unable to meaningfully re-establish their momentum. This can be especially difficult for aggro players if they have run out of cards in hand and do not have a method of card draw that will help them find more powerful creatures to deploy. In some cases, this tempo loss can be so severe for an aggro deck that even if they do re-establish their powerful army, they still are unable to achieve victory against opponents whose decks become more powerful later in the game.
  • Aggro decks run the risk of running out of gas or stumbling on tempo even when opponents do nothing to disrupt them. Aggro decks that fail to find enough powerful creatures, or cards that help make them lethal, or that cannot deploy their own threats quickly enough, may lose out on the window of time needed to eliminate opponents before those opponents are able to stabilize.

References: