Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Play to Win: Why I Play Aggro

So I noticed a comment on my last post about my bad draw misadventures with Circus:

"that's why i don't like rush decks
It depends on what your opening hand is plus top decking twice as much as a regular deck"

That's one of the most common misconceptions about aggro. Let's break down the comment.

"It depends on what your opening hand is"

That is definitely the case for any deck - but in actuality, there is less of a probability of aggro getting a bad hand (since the curve distribution is skewed towards the low drops).

"plus top decking twice as much as a regular deck"

Ah but there's a flaw in assuming that topdecking is bad - assuming that topdecking means you've exhausted your hand, that should mean you're winning!

In Animals, topdecking usually means you've dumped a bunch of ninjas onto the board. In a deck like Hybrid NVS or Earth Tempo, that means you've hit them with some jutsus or Bashfulness in Earth's case. In traditional Tempo, that means you've played some free BR missions.

In all those cases, it means your opponent is under pressure and in a bad spot. In this case, your topdecking might actually be a superior situation to your opponent's full hand. You just have to draw something to blow the game open (I trust you ARE playing those... right? Shion, Baki, NVS, etc.). Your opponent, on the other hand, is forced to draw enough answers to the situation to answer the threat your deck is presenting - and then after that, they still have to actually win the game!

I've actually theorized a bunch of reasons why I prefer aggro decks... here's the whole list, conveniently typed in cliche form.

1. "You play to win the game!" - I would much rather prefer to force my opponent to interact with MY strategy rather than try to interact successfully with my opponent's strategy. The reason for that is...

2. "There are no wrong threats. There are only wrong answers." - When you play a deck predicated on reacting to the opponent's strategy, there are times when you'll be unable to answer your opponent's threats (whether due to not having the right answer or simply being unprepared for something you didn't see coming). I'd rather be on the side with the threats than the answers.

3. "My favorite combo is a ninja and Shadow Clone Jutsu." - There's an elegant simplicity that comes with savagely beating your opponent upside the head while they're trying to develop a board. Either they block and you blow them out, or they don't block and you take enough BRs to set up your kill shot.

4. "Better lucky than good." - If your opponent misses a drop, you will demolish them with an aggressive deck. And if you are more skilled than your opponent, forcing as many decisions on them as possible leaves them open to making more misplays. With an aggro deck, if they make the wrong call... they lose. Simple as that.

5. "Time is money." - Aggro (and swarm in particular) decks are ridiculously favored when going to time. Furthermore, playing a fast deck lets you get more downtime in between rounds to rest up.

6. "A bird in hand..." - Most decks are unprepared to face against a swarm or tempo strategy game 1 - rather, they rely on sideboarded cards to shore up the matchups in games 2 and 3. Here's the kicker though: they won't always draw those sideboarded cards, or you might be able to win through them (I won through Buying Time, Crying in Vain, and 2 Secret Meeting in one game at the Chunin). Furthermore, your opponent is no longer playing the optimal version of their deck. As an aggro player, provided you can win game 1, you only have to win 50% of the next 2 games. And if it goes to game 3, you know what hate they've brought in! You can do that, can't you?

And it just might be that aggro is easier to play and requires less testing. I am rather lazy, after all.

And a quick overview of the weaknesses of aggro, since it's not all rainbows and unicorns in Magical Christmasland.

1. "I'm Spartacus!" - Most decks will play most of the same early game ninjas (aggro just plays more of them). That means if your opponent hits their curve going first, you are going to need something extra to push for those first few BRs.

2. "Always a flaw in every plan." - When you don't get those early BRs, it becomes much, much harder to win with aggro. Your opponent's card quality is simply better than yours, and the longer the game goes on, the more those incremental differences add up.

3. "Circle of Protection: Red" - Every round against a competent player, you will see hate. Everyone good will have a sideboard against aggro. However, this will be true unless you play something completely out there. (Can't hate out Ninjaless Mill!)

4. Shino - yeah, that guy's a douche.

-Josh post signature

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
way to smack me in the face :]

Blogger Josh said...
It was a good starting point...

Updated the article with a few more paragraphs that I just thought of now!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
how can earth side against aggro?
already running pressure....and pic book

Anonymous Anonymous said...
How often are you going to keep bringing up my double secret meeting shenanigans?

Blogger Josh said...
Until something tops it!

Anonymous Mike Alpers said...
And runner runner Mangekyo isn't a bit crazier then winning through double sercret meetings?

Anways, the article was amazing/hilarious. Great job nakama.

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