Aggro Decks With Zendikar Rising

Joe Soh

Joe Soh


Oh man I love set rotations. Fresh formats are always great to brew new decks, finding hidden gems in the format, tweaking out the final few cards on what works to push a deck to tier 1 or just casual FNM decks.

I’ve especially been looking forward to this set rotation as I really didn’t like the state of previous Standard. I did enjoy the last month after the banning, but now it’s time to explore all the new possibility of aggro decks ahead of us!

Let’s Go Aggro in the New Standard

Mono White Aggro

Starting with Mono White Aggro, my weapon of choice since my transition from MTGO onto MTG Arena, and I’m already loving the new list! While I will be missing the 《Venerated Loxodon》 curve, this deck feels like it has so much options and answer, a luxury that Mono White Aggro never had.

Giant Killerスカイクレイブの亡霊光輝王の野心家Basri's Lieutenant

We have 16 1-drop, and most of them comes with flexibility that scales well into the later game. Between 《Giant Killer》 and 《Skyclave Apparition》 we have 8 removals without taking a spell slot. We also have board wipe protection in form of 《Luminarch Aspirant》 and 《Basri’s Lieutenant》.

Seasoned HallowbladeMaul of the Skyclaves

But the biggest draw and what I’m most excited to be doing with this deck is to be attacking with 《Seasoned Hallowblade》 carrying 《Maul of the Skyclaves》! This combination will be very hard to deal with for decks without exile effect, and even if they do, they only have 4 turns to put it to good use or it’s game over.

Mono Black Aggro

I really want to believe this is an aggro deck, but the deck has so much staying power and it feels like the deck is better on turn 10 instead of turn 2! We are able to put pressure on the early game with our low early curve into 《Demonic Embrace》, but our card quality gets better as the game progresses.

Skyclave ShadeNullpriest of OblivionNighthawk Scavenger

《Skyclave Shade》 becomes a recursive 5/3, 《Nullpriest of Oblivion》 keeps bringing more creature back to the the board, and 《Nighthawk Scavenger》 will be a huge lifelinker! As most of our creatures have lifelink, 《Castle Locthwain》 drawback becomes negligible as we will be gaining life from every combat.

Hagra Maulingアガディームの覚醒

The double face card enables the deck to operate smoothly, giving us land drops when we are low on lands, and additional spell at the later turns at relative low cost. While 《Hagra Mauling》’s effect is pretty straight forward, 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 seems like a really powerful magic card that could be further exploited in the right shell.

《Archfiend’s Vessel》 seems like a good start, and 《Mire Triton》 fuels it well. Perhaps even a combo kill with 《Terror of the Peaks》? I’m not sure how we can get to 8 mana in these colour combinations while fueling our graveyard, but hey, an idea is an idea!

Orzhov Cleric

Speaker of the Heavens光輝王の野心家

Man I just can’t resist a good Orzhov deck, and one that seems to use 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 really well! An early 《Speaker of the Heavens》 into 《Luminarch Aspirant》 are going to get angels into play at a really fast rate, or we can easily bring them back via 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》 or 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 as the game gets longer.

We may no longer have 《Ajani’s Pridemate》, but 《Cleric of Life’s Bond》 is a solid replacement, being both the engine and payoff by itself. 《Taborax, Hope’s Demise》 proves yet another pridemate-proxy while creating board wipe protection.


《Demon’s Disciple》 seems like an interesting choice here, but it goes so well with eating up an 《Archfiend’s Vessel》, turns extra 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》 into more removals, or “Cycle” through with 《Taborax, Hope’s Demise》.


But the reason to explore into the Cleric archetype is really all about 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》. 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》 provides a reasonable body, but the ability is just insane when every of your creature has to be dealt with in the early turns, only for 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》 to continually bring them back. In fact, 《Orah, Skyclave Hierophant》 is the card you want to draw as many as you can every game as they immediately give you double trigger if you play it while you have on in play!

Boros Warrior

Kor Blademaster恐れなき探査者、アキリKargan Intimidator

Now that we know 《Seasoned Hallowblade》 with equipment is good, how about making it great by giving it Double Strike with 《Kor Blademaster》? Or maybe just drawing a card with turn with 《Akiri, Fearless Voyager》? We won’t even be needing removal (《Shatterskull Smashing》 is almost free, so we’ll take it) as 《Kargan Intimidator》 can just turn all their creatures into Cowards, rendering them unable to block.


《Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients》 seems like a card that will be great in the right deck. She can make blockers to carry equipment for free, find our missing supporting warrior or equipment, or act as a conditional removal as well. While I’m looking at this deck as putting support around 《Seasoned Hallowblade》 + Equipment, maybe we should be looking it as a 4-ofs Nahiri deck instead?

Dimir Rogue

SlitherwispZareth San, the Trickster

A lot of players have been really excited about Dimir Flash since the printing of 《Slitherwisp》, and maybe it’ll finally work with all the new tools and the new big bad boy in town, 《Zareth San, the Trickster》! Putting a 《Slitherwisp》 on board is great when it turns all our creature into cantrip, but that was about it previously.

Jwari Disruption

Now our opponent has to deal with 《Slitherwisp》, and literally every other creature in the deck or we’ll just ninja in a 《Zareth San, the Trickster》 to take over the game. Or maybe just flash it in after they used up all their resources? I’ve always been a fan of 《Force Spike》, and 《Jwari Disruption》 fits perfectly here as a tapland in the early turn, or countering something bigger, which we then steal it with 《Zareth San, the Trickster》!

The strategy sounds great in an ideal world, but in the world of 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, it’s going to take some guts to put 《Zareth San, the Trickster》 to the big test.

Gruul Adventures

Finally, what better way to celebrate the return of aggro deck? Jason Fleurant pilot Gruul Adventure to win The Bash Bros Battles full of Omnath variants for the first weekend of Zendikar Rising Standard!


First weekend in and I’m loving the set with all the new possibilities it brings. I surely hope the format turns out to be more aggressive after seeing ramp everywhere for so long!

One thing that stands out are how easily we can slot in the double face cards into all our deck to get additional value, but this may not be true if the format does turns out a lot more aggressive as constantly bolting ourselves is a terrible recipe in a creature-based format.

Let’s welcome the new Zendikar Rising Standard and get the beatdown going!

Joe Soh (Twitter)

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Joe Soh

Joe Soh Joe Soh is a veteran player from Malaysia. He achieved many things like four Grand Prix top 8, winning Nationals twice, and went 11th place at Pro Tour San Diego 2007 (Two-Headed Giant) with his brother; Terry Soh. Recently, his constructed skill is rewarded and he won the whole thing at Grand Prix Kobe 2017 with an interesting Orzhov Eldrazi, and went 9th place at Mythic Championship Cleveland 2019 with Mardu Vampire. Read more articles by Joe Soh