The Weekly Guild Build: Obey the Cow God

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StarCityGames.com!I’m starting up a week off, capped off by Grand Prix: Hiroshima. Lord knows, I’ve got enough writing on my plate at the moment. The fact that my builds haven’t had actual battle testing irks me, so I’ll note that my next installment will cover a Top 8 Sealed deck helmed by myself. A little taste of victory enlivens the writer’s wit. (It has nothing to do with bragging. No, not in the slightest.)

I hope the Ferrett’s having a wonderful vacation. I’m starting up a week off, capped off by Grand Prix: Hiroshima. Lord knows, I’ve got enough writing on my plate at the moment. The fact that my builds haven’t had actual battle testing irks me, so I’ll note that my next installment will cover a Top 8 Sealed deck helmed by myself. A little taste of victory enlivens the writer’s wit. (It has nothing to do with bragging. No, not in the slightest.)

Forgive me for a quick digression, but I’ve found my niche in Coldsnap draft. It’s my favorite deck, and it smashes much face. (I’ve also heard a few stories about Tsumura liking it as well.) I have veered off into other routes before, but they just didn’t sparkle.

Obey the Cow God is a great song by Primus. It’s also a great draft strategy. The pick order’s very simple. Take Surging Might. Take Aurochs. You’ll want to have at least three Auroch Herds, preferably five. You’ll want to draft at least 3 or 4 Bull Aurochs. You’ll want to have at least three Goblin Rimerunners. If you can grab them, Rimehorn Aurochs rock the house. The strategy’s pretty simple. Play Bull Auroch early, and slap a few Surging Mights on him. Keep the path clear with Rimerunner, while playing 3/3s for four on occasion. Be sure to stay on curve, and smash through whatever defenses your opponents throw up. If your board starts to slow down, just sit back and let your Auroch Herds develop, then send the herd at him. It works quite nicely.

In the Aurochs archetype, I prefer running Red for Rimerunner. You won’t get a lot out of Skred, as there just aren’t that many snow cards in the deck. Surging Flames is reasonably handy, but won’t take out any major threats. Rimerunner keeps them from blocking appropriately, and I’ve taken them out of packs with Skred before. However, if you see Juniper Order Ranger early, it may be worth jumping into white instead to pick up Gelid Shackles instead. You’ll usually have a 4/4 Auroch or two sitting on the board late in the game waiting around for its friends, so don’t usually worry about attacking that much.

This weekend’s draft went exactly according to plan, with one omission. I didn’t grab nearly enough Bull Aurochs for my taste. A semi-final exit wasn’t in the cards, but at least it’s good practice for Hiroshima this coming weekend.

Here’s my pick order for a Red Auroch draft.

1. Resize – If you can pick this baby up, you’ll lose fewer fights than Superman. And you’ll be picking a lot of fights.

2. Surging Might – Here’s your card advantage engine. Throw these on Aurochs. Any Aurochs, though you’ll want them on Bull Aurochs for preference.

3. Rimehorn Aurochs – This guy’s the top cow. He calls the shots, he makes the decisions, he tells people where to go and what to do. He’s also quite reasonably priced. Two are ideal. If you can grab them early, start taking snow-covered lands to start calling the shots.

4. Auroch Herds – You don’t want to play with any more than four of these. They make fine blockers for the time you’re setting up your big stampede.

5. Goblin Rimerunner – I promise you a Red Auroch deck, and I finally got to a Red card. Rimerunners tear your opponent’s defense into shreds in the early game, and they add up in the late game. You want three to four of these.

6. Bull Auroch – This is your Grizzly Bear of choice. No one plays with 1/1s anyway, so you’re not losing out on the toughness department all that much. Three to five are ideal.

7. Surging Flame – Your spot removal spell of choice. Skred’s just not going to be reliable, and you’re more concerned about early blockers than late blockers. Hit them early, hit them often.

8. Simian Brawler – A reasonable amount of beef for four mana, and he fits a hole in the curve.

9. Boreal Druid – Acceleration, and it attacks on occasion. What’s there not to like? It gets you to four or five in a hurry.

10. Into the North – As good an accelerant as you could ask for. (Of course, that means you have to draft a few snow lands.)

The wildcards? Ronom Hulk’s an evasion creature at times. He smashes face randomly, but will never trample. So don’t bother slapping Surging Might on him unless you know he’s got a clear shot at glory. To be honest, I’d take Surging Might instead of Hulk out of the first pack. Rimescale Dragon’s a nice finisher, if you can get him. You could run a few Plains and splash for Juniper Order Druid, who complements an army of cattle nicely.

I’ll note that I’ve tested this strategy fairly extensively. However, this is a strategy best fitted for my local Japanese metagame, which may not suit your local situation. You have been warned.

Enter the Sealed cardpool.

Pencils away, people. (I can write that without any pretense whatsoever.)

Solid playables: Carom; Conclave Equenaut; Divebomber Griffin; Ghost Warden; Veteran Armorer

All of the above are fine. We’ve also got a huge evasion card, Concerted Effort. Sure, it requires an evasion guy to stick around for a turn afterwards to see any benefit. We need gain, so we’ll take a risk.

If we want to play the stall game, Conclave Phalanx and Dromar Purebred make for decent bodies on the ground. On the other hand, we don’t have a ton of evasion, so they’re covering for no one.

Solid Playables: Repeal; Silkwing Scout; Vedalken Dismisser

I don’t really care for Enigma Eidolon all that much, as Blue mana’s always in demand. There’s very little depth here, but we have a little tempo advantage here, so it’s always worth considering splashing. I doubt it’s going to happen, though.

Solid Playables: Dimir House Guard; Disembowel; Macabre Waltz; Sewerdreg; Stinkweed Imp

I’d note that I rate Sewerdreg as a solid card in Sealed, but he’s not nearly as good in draft. Black’s near ubiquitous in Sealed, but less so in the more choosy format. Mortipede and Crypt Champion often show up as well, and it’s always good to make a mental note of Shred Memory, more for the Transmute than for the hardcast.

Solid Playables: Er… Ogre Savant, I suppose. If you’re playing Blue.

I really wanted to find something to list in the solid playable section, but I could not do so in good faith.

Solid Playables: Aquastrand Spider; Farseek; Fists of Ironwood; Gather Courage; Ghor-Clan Savage; Moldervine Cloak; Root-Kin Ally

Good green as usual. The cards lack a certain degree of independence, they all need a little hand-holding, but they’re all able to get the job done. (That may be the theme for this week.) You’re going to be in big trouble in the face of strong removal, though.

Five signets? Nice. There’s always something to be said for smooth, reliable mana, though we’ll see if we can cut a land by means of a Karoo.

Boros Garrison and Izzet Boilerworks? Great, if we were going to run Blue.

Solid Playables: Assault Zeppelid; Dimir Guildmage; Drooling Groodion; Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi; Leafdrake Roost; Mourning Thrull; Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

Niv-Mizzet is an invaluable addition to any team. Of course, in order to accommodate his dragonish excellency, you need to accommodate his finicky mana costs. Not easy. I wonder how much his personal trainers cost.

Simic brings us fliers. Leafdrake Roost’s initial investment is demanding, but afterwards you won’t be complaining. Assault Zeppelid’s strictly business, but as efficient a Hill Giant as you could ask for.

On the Black side, Dimir Guildmage’s solid. He can void opponent’s saved tricks and fill your own hand. But you knew this already. Drooling Groodion’s steep Black commitment usually pays off, turning ugly combats your way.

Here’s what I came up with this week.

1cc: Gather Courage
2cc: Aquastrand Spider, Dimir Guildmage, Ghost Warden, Mourning Thrull, Veteran Armorer, Carom, Dimir Signet, Farseek, Fists of Ironwood, Golgari Signet, Macabre Waltz, Selesnya Signet
3cc: Stinkweed Imp, Moldervine Cloak
4cc: Dimir House Guard, Mortipede, Concerted Effort
5cc: Conclave Equenaut, Divebomber Griffin, Ghor-Clan Savage, Root-Kin Ally, Sewerdreg
6cc: Drooling Groodion, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Disembowel

Boros Garrison
5 Forest
3 Plains
5 Swamp

Converted mana cost chart:
1: S
3: CS
4: CCS
6: CCS

Don’t give me a hard time with where I put my casting costs.

Blue and Red just couldn’t bring enough to the table to keep in consideration. The White creatures are passable, the Black creatures and removal are passable, and the Green creatures are… passable. The best way to smash through is Concerted Effort, and if we have a good enough stall, we’ll be able to lock that board up and win a few games.

If I had had more time, I would have found some way to throw in Assault Zeppelid and Leafdrake Roost. Unfortunately, time ran out. Bring your thoughts to the forum.

A good player could take this deck to a 4-2 record at a PTQ, if they played around each and every trick an opponent could throw at them. (At the same time, that player could take this deck to a 2-4 record at the same PTQ.)

I’m hard at work on a guide for Kobe, so if anyone has any suggestions or inquiries as to what to do while they’re at the Pro Tour, shoot. The key tip to know is that while Kobe isn’t really all that exciting or marvelous a city, it’s only thirty minutes away from Kyoto, the best city for tourists in Japan bar none. So don’t be surprised when I use the ol’ bait and switch maneuver.

Eli Kaplan
japaneli at gmail dot com