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The Mox Aggro Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Mox Aggro deck archetype for 7 Point Highlander! On this page you will find all the content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Mox Aggro Archetype

Mox Aggro is a collection of decks that have an aggressive game plan and can leverage a Mox Ruby to vault their strategy a turn or two ahead of their opponent. Red is the typical shell for Mox Aggro because ‘burn’ spells serve to both remove opposing blockers as well as deal damage directly to the opponent. However unlike a dedicated ‘burn’ deck which runs cards like Lava Spike (see the Burn Archetype), Mox Aggro focuses on pushing damage by being ‘on the board’ and winning (or going around) creature combat. Therefore Mox Aggro is all about efficiency, which is why you are likely to see creatures with the best mana cost-to-power ratio possible, and multiple versions of successively worse one-mana threats (because you can’t run 4 Goblin Guide). This is where creativity comes in, and you will often see Mox Aggro players experimenting with one-mana 2/1 creatures, each with different additional abilities that might fit better according to their local metagame.

Mox Aggro Deck Lists and Variations

The combination of Red, Green, and White offers some of the most aggressively costed one-mana and two-mana creatures available in Magic. This was even the case in the early history of the game, and these aggressive decks were nicknamed ‘Zoo’ (long before the shard name ‘Naya’) after the menagerie of creatures it ran, such as Kird Ape. Zoo decks have access to a one-mana 3/3 in the form of Wild Nacatl, as well as Watchwolf variants with important abilities like Qasali Pridemage. However Green and White don’t just add aggressive creatures to the mix, but also powerful methods of clearing blockers and pushing through damage like Path to Exile and Rancor.

Deck ListZoo

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Zoo playstyle in only 7 minutes. The list presented is also a Budget version so an option you can play without access to Mox Emerald and Mox Ruby. You can watch it here:

Another option for Mox Aggro decks is to pair Red with Black, and this ‘Rakdos’ build offers access to recursive threats like Bloodsoaked Champion and Bloodghast. These fit the aggressive strategy very well, allowing you to place a lower value on your creatures and go wide with your attacks even in the face a larger blocker. As long as your expendable creatures assist you with getting just a few more points of damage through, it will ensure that the opponent’s life total is within reach of ‘burn spells’ like Searing Spear. If the opponent finally stabilizes and your recursive creatures are truly useless, you can combine them with Skullclamp to draw into burn for their last few life points, or simply fling them directly with Reckless Abandon. Since your aggressive game plan will almost always place you on the front foot, your high life total will be put to good use as Necropotence will ensure that you don’t run out of steam.

Deck ListRakdos Aggro

The third style of Mox Aggro is designed to prey upon decks that are attempting to do degenerate things, such as casting a sequence of non-creature spells, or looping key cards from the graveyard. By dropping Red entirely and focusing on the creature suite available in Green and White, canny players can fill their aggressive deck with creatures that ‘just so happen’ to punish these less-than-fair strategies. Whether it is as niche as Thalia preventing that one Storm opponent in the tournament from ‘combo-ing off’, or as common as Qasali Pridemage destroying the plethora of powerful artifacts in the format, each of your Green and White creatures in this deck ‘hates’ on something. Early in Magic’s history, two-mana creatures with 2 power (much like Grizzly Bears) that also ‘hated’ on a particular strategy were dubbed ‘Hatebears’.

In this Highlander deck almost every creature plays a role in shutting off or delaying an opposing strategy just long enough for you to attack their life total from 20 to zero. The Hatebears deck will not only opt to play less aggressive creatures because of their ability to punish opposing strategies, but even run cards like Green Sun’s Zenith and Eladamri’s call to consistently find the correct hate piece for the right matchup due to their one-sided game-warping abilities. Whilst Green-White is the most popular colour pair, Hatebears decks have been seen in Red-White, Black-White or even Mono-White variations. In general, although Hatebears is a little slower and is closer to the Midrange spectrum than the other Mox Aggro decks, it makes up for this in the consistent ability to punish ‘unfair’ strategies and police the metagame.

Deck ListHatebears

The next version takes a completely new take on the term ‘Mox Aggro’ by playing as many Moxen as it possibly can! Mox Opal, Mana Crypt, and Sol Ring help vault artifact-based aggro decks ahead of the opponent, just like the conventional Mox approach. However with the plethora of colourless threats available, these variants can also make use of lands like Ancient Tomb to play a similar ‘explosive mana development’ role. Even though the mechanic is rarely actually seen, ever since Mirrodin the keyword ‘Affinity’ has been associated with artifact aggro decks. The Highlander Affinity deck excels at pairing the degenerate mana-sources of old, like Mishra’s Workshop, with the modern day artifact pay-off spells such as Mystic Forge, Steel Overseer, and Arcbound Ravager. Affinity is definitely the deck for you if you want to enable the most explosive starts possible in the Mox Aggro deck archetype, and close the game with all manner of aggressive finishers, from Traxos Scourge of Kroog through to The Antiquities War!

Deck ListAffinity

For a deep dive into the this specific version of Mox Aggro, be sure to check out Affinity in 7 Point Highlander, a Deck Primer by Angus Mackay.

Building Mox Aggro on a Budget

If you like the sound of Mox Aggro but you are on a budget, there are certainly options available that do not require the cost of a Mox Ruby and Co. All Mox Aggro decks operate on the same aggressive principles and are designed to be fast and consistent regardless of whether they draw their one or two ‘Moxen’. So unlike a dedicated Combo deck that absolutely requires its namesake card to function, Mox Aggro can make use of alternative points configurations. For example, the Zoo Deck Tech video above depicts a version of the archetype that focuses on Wasteland, Stripmine and powerful Equipment to get the job done. Likewise, a Rakdos Aggro deck can be built without Mox Jet as cards like Umezawa’s Jitte and even Lutri, the Spellchaser have been demonstrated to provide reach to aggressive decks in any colour combination. Decks like Hatebears have a variety of options for appropriate Points configurations in that mitigate the loss of a Mox Pearl, such as Strip Mine and Skullclamp. When on a budget, 2-colour decks like Hatebears are particularly good as they will only require access to a single original ‘dual’ land (Savannah), and even then playing a basic land will not impact dramatically on win-loss equity. Further, the role that Hatebears can play by punishing degenerate archetypes actually makes this budget deck even better positioned if the rest of your local metagame involves high powered Combo and Control decks!

Playing 7 Point Highlander on a budget? Don’t forget to listen to listen to one of the 7 Point Highlander Cast’s seminal episodes on how to construct a good deck whilst on a shoestring!

Podcast – Building on a Budget

Highlander Mox Aggro Video Content

Compiled below are links to some excellent YouTube resources that can help you see versions of the Mox Aggro deck archetype in action.

Watch this video to see Zoo in action:

Watch this video to see Rakdos Aggro in action:

Watch this video to see Hatebears in action:

Watch this video to see Affinity in action:


Where to next?

Did Mox Aggro fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? Want to know more about other Aggro decks? Visit the Aggro hub here.

Some of the decks like Selesnya (Hatebears) Aggro can also evolve into a Midrange deck with the appropriate card choice tweaks. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Midrange decks or those that have a Midrange element to them, visit the Midrange hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.