squadron hawk

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So that others may live.

Two 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawks respond in a combat search and rescue scenario on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Unlike other rescue squadrons, the 56th RQS is the only unit with a dedicated combat search and rescue force to conduct personnel recovery for a joint force. 

(U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Trevor T. McBride, 16 JAN 2015.)

Kill Bill Explains the Five Deck Archetypes of Magic

Are you a relatively new deck builder? Do you feel like when you step into an FNM that your deck ideas are just, well, not working out like they should? Do you feel like the decks of other players are just way beyond yours?

It’s probably because your deck is lacking focus and identity. Every deck, no matter what format it is in, can basically be boiled down to one of five major archetypes. Identifying what you want your deck to do, and what cards you need to do it is an important part of becoming a better deck builder. Let’s look at the breakdown, shall we?

AGGRO

Aggro wins by sending wave after wave of threats at the opponent immediately into the game. The individual threats are small, but together they create a pressure that soon exhausts not only the opponent, but the opponent’s ability to answer your threats, as well.

In order for this approach to work, your threats need to be cheap but of good quality: Goblin Guide; Wild Nacatl; Squadron Hawk. Even still, there will be times an opponent will have more answers than you have bodies. That’s when you bring out the big guns.

But not too big! You still want to be fast! The point is to keep moving, keep pushing! It’s called aggro for a reason! BE AGGRESSIVE!

TEMPO

Tempo is a bit like aggro in that it also seeks to apply continual, unrelenting pressure. However, where aggro does this through sheer numbers, tempo uses one or two potent but efficient threats, and then keeps them alive and untouched through a combination of deflection, evasion, and disruption.

Tempo threats are an elite bunch: Geist of Saint Traft, Delver of Secrets, Truename Nemesis. The spells utiltized by tempo decks primarily exist to keep their threats stable, rather than halt the opponent’s charges. But be careful! If you don’t play tight and lose footing, well…

And that’s bad, because you lack the force to overwhelm if you aren’t one step ahead.

MIDRANGE

Rather than spending their early game attacking, midrange decks focus early turns on accruing additional resources or destabilizing the board plans of their opponents. Doing so ensures that they either accelerate into their mid-game options early or reach them when the opponent has yet to do so— hence the name “midrange”.

This is all just a fancy way of saying one thing: when the actual fight begins, you will be bigger, you will be stronger, you will be tougher.

If you choose, you can rip your opponent’s arm off, and they’ll be more or less powerless to stop you. Midrange enjoys a wide range of threats, like Thundermaw Hellkite, Spiritmonger, and Thrun, the Last Troll. Midrange affords such luxuries either by employing mana acceleration or by strafing the early board with potent removal. However, it has to be careful: dirty tricks and overwhelming early pressure both can make their efforts moot.

COMBO

Combo decks do not play by the rules. They forsake getting their hands dirty in lieu of killing the opponent in one swift (often complex) blow. Even in small formats like Standard, there are thousands of possible card interactions, and combo players look to exploit the most degenerate.

Combo decks require (at least) a bit of system mastery, and a LOT of ways to ensure consistent execution. Your entire deck is a threat; your success will often come down to the pieces that allow you to dig up the right pieces, like tutors and card draw, and cards that prevent your opponent from stopping you. And be prepared to explain, in detail, how your deck works— and to feel like a rock star when everything goes right.

But don’t be like Elle and lose sight (badumching) of your priorities, and be prepared for things to backfire! A B plan is your best friend, so sideboard accordingly!

CONTROL

Control decks are the paragon of defense and forethought. It may look like not much is happening in a game against control, but these games are among the most intense and interactive. Control entirely forgoes early and midgame aggression, and seeks to answer each threat until the opponent has no more.

This is made possible by gaining lots of card advantage— a technical term that basically means you are getting the most mileage out of each card in your deck— while simultaneously halting the opponent in his rude endeavor to kill you. Control all-stars are rarely creatures, but instead are efficient utility pieces like Wrath of God, Cryptic Command, and Vindicate. Eventually, control wins by dropping an inevitable threat that the opponent just cannot answer, like Baneslayer Angel, a planeswalker, or just Celestial Colonnade.

Control players should be advised, though:

Their methods aren’t particularly beloved. Also, their matches can go to the clock a lot, so it is worth their while to work at sharpening their critical thinking so they don’t wind up with a lot of useless draws on their record.

And there it is! Identifying what you want your deck to do, and how you should do it is a vital part of deckbuilding. Control doesn’t want or need small, fast creatures, and aggro doesn’t want 6 mana angels and dragons! Each archetype is huge, and each color and combination of colors has countless ways to support all five; so experiment and see what works! Just remember to stay focused, and kick lots and lots of ass!

05/05/2014 - U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Christopher Goetz, a combat rescue officer with the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, walks from an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during a training scenario May 5, 2014, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. During the mission, a vehicle struck a simulated improvised explosive device, and Airmen with the squadron flew aboard Pave Hawks to reach the scene and evacuate mock victims. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez, U.S. Air Force/Released)

VIRIN: 140505-F-PB969-253

HH-60G Pave Hawks

Two 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawks respond in a combat search and rescue scenario Jan. 16, 2015, on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Unlike other rescue squadrons, the 56th RQS is the only unit with a dedicated combat search and rescue force to conduct personnel recovery for a joint force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Trevor T. McBride)