Esper Aggro by Julian John at SCG Columbus

Creatures (20)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Spell Queller
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
2 Archangel Avacyn
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Non-Creature Spells (16)
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Always Watching
3 Stasis Snare
4 Metallic Rebuke
2 Heart of Kiran
2 Declaration in Stone

Lands (24)
5 Island
7 Plains
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Port Town
3 Prairie Stream
1 Westvale Abbey

Sideboard (15)
2 Selfless Spirit
1 Always Watching
1 Quarantine Field
2 Blessed Alliance
1 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Negate
2 Spell Shrivel
1 Archangel Avacyn
1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
1 Fragmentize
2 Fumigate


At the end of Kaladesh Standard, Esper Aggro in the hands of Team Metagame Gurus started putting up some good results on the SCG Tour, and much of the competitive world noticed. However, with the Standard bannings and new Aether Revolt cards entering the fray, many people believed that the strategy would be out of favor in the new format. Julian John, however, disagreed, and brought the 3-color aggro deck to SCG Columbus on January 21 and 22, and put up an impressive 10th place finish. Funny enough, the only Aether Revolt cards in his deck are the playset of Mana Leak impersonator Metallic Rebuke and 2 copies of Heart of Kiran, so it’s safe to say that the core strategy, despite losing its 2 best cards, is still viable in Standard.

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I’ll be honest, I don’t like Metallic Rebuke as a card at all. However, it seems necessary in this deck. On average, it will be a slightly worse Mana Leak, but the deck needs that sort of card to be successful when a 2 card infinite combo is the level zero of the format. I also think that some of the numbers in this deck are off, and opens the door for awkward draws where the deck never gets to enact its gameplan. The mainboard Always Watching and only 2 Heart of Kiran both seem suspect. Having an aggressive, beatdown game is where this deck thrives, so I think that Always Watching isn’t necessary, and more Heart of Kiran is in order to provide more reliable beats.

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In this format, this deck has a fairly positive matchup against the Copycat decks, but I’m concerned slightly about its matchup against Brennan DeCandio’s winning B/G Delirium deck. This deck struggles when it doesn’t stay on the front foot, and B/G Delirium will be favored in any creature-based board control matchup, and Walking Ballista is sure to take over the game if Esper Aggro can’t kill quickly, which is generally not its main strength. However, various B/G decks populated the top tables at SCG Columbus, which is where Julian John found himself for most of the tournament, and he was still able to put up a 10th place finish, so it’s possible that the matchup isn’t as poor as I believe it to be on paper.

If you’re looking for a Standard deck that does something a little different and has good game against a lot of the metagame, I highly recommend this Esper Aggro deck. Here are the changes I would make moving forward:


-1 Always Watching

-1 Declaration in Stone

+1 Heart of Kiran

+1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar


-1 Always Watching

-2 Blessed Alliance

-1 Ceremonious Rejection

+2 Aethersphere Harvester

+1 Negate

+1 Fragmentize

This is day 28 of’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 27 here, where we covered a successful Standard deck from SCG Columbus that aims to bring a Modern strategy into Standard.

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