Sick of CawBoring? BEEF It Up!

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Are you sick and tired of playing your generic Caw-Blade decklist? Doesn’t it get monotonous and repetitive, playing the same seventy-five as you were six months ago? Are you ready to kick it up a notch? Don’t you want to throw something out there that for once your opponent won’t expect? That for once they won’t know the exact decklist you are playing, down to just a few cards? If that sounds like you, then man do I have something for you!

A deep, booming, manly voice comes on the speaker and bellows…

Where’s the BEEF?

Beef it up with BEEF-Blade!

cow plus sign sword


primeval plus sign stoneforge

At the end of April I wrote an article about Caw-Blade with green, how my friend had designed and tested it, and about how another friend qualified for nationals. After just a few short weeks, New Phyrexia came out and everyone forgot about the deck. Adding green mana to Caw-Blade was great against everything but the Splinter Twin decks. Now that the metagame has adjusted, the resurgence of green mana, in what has been called possibly "the best Standard deck of all time" by more than a few influential players, is upon us once more.

Dylan Kiedrowski qualified for nationals and also top 8'd a PTQ with an updated version of the deck. The same basic concepts are present in the deck. One sweet feature of the deck is the ability to gain a huge mana advantage on your opponent by playing Lotus Cobra. The other huge benefit is the inclusion of Primeval Titan as a difficult creature to deal with. Both of those cards are obviously powerful but especially so against Caw-Blade. These types of threats allow you to gain quite an advantage against the current king of Standard. Take a look at the updated list and then follow below for some card discussion.

One weakness of the Caw-Blade lists that are doing well is the lack of Spell Pierce. This was an area that we focused on to exploit with the new version. The card that was chosen to fill this roll is a favorite of mine, Green Sun's Zenith. In this list, Green Sun's Zenith means...

Most of the time Green Sun's Zenith will be cast for three mana to go get your Lotus Cobra, but the rest of the package is versatile and solid. Viridian Corrupter can destroy any of the problematic equipment or other artifact giving you trouble. Oracle of Mul Daya is like a tutorable Jace the Mind Sculptor. Honestly, that last statement is not a joke, she really is that powerful. Finally, if you draw the Zenith late game, it is your win condition by grabbing Primeval Titan. Keep in mind that just having the Zenith as additional copies of Lotus Cobra is usually the right play because being that far ahead in mana will win you most games.

Dylan played this deck against a well rounded field of competitors, not just a bunch of Caw-Blade opponents. The deck has game against every deck in Standard and is favored in most of them. The aggressive decks can be troublesome but if you play tight, the match should be yours especially after sideboard. The following is the list of decks that he played against throughout the tournament.

Pro Tour Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio
round 1 vampires 1-2
round 2 mono red 2-0
round 3 mono red 2-1
round 4 gw birthing pod 2-1
round 5 boros 2-0
round 6 caw-blade 2-0
round 7 caw-blade 2-1
round 8 twin-blade 0-1 intentional draw

top 8 quarter finals four color birthing pod splinter twin 2-1
top 8 semi finals twin-blade 2-1 primeval titan plus equipment
top 8 finals vampires 0-2

Overall, the deck is consistent because you should have a solid play for turn two every game. The manabase provides all three colors on a regular basis and has been well tested, so mana problems are almost never an issue. The main benefit to playing the deck is great numbers against Caw-Blade and Splinter Twin decks as well as solid matchups against the rest of the field. One thing to be careful of is Vampires. If you will notice, this version lost twice to Vampires. It is definitely a winnable match-up but it is quite tough, especially against a good Vampires player. There was some testing of Nest Invader specifically against anyone playing the red/black aggressive deck, but it was cut for consistency reasons. It is possible that the Obstinate Baloth in the sideboard should change into a Nest Invader. The Baloth is not very good and will likely be cut from the deck entirely. It is too slow, especially so when relying on the Zenith to tutor for it.

The other hard match is anything with the Splinter Twin combo. Yes, I said it is a fine match for the deck, but it is actually not all that favorable. Game one against a dedicated Splinter Twin deck can feel almost unwinnable because you have quite a small amount of disruption. The post board games are much more in your favor because you have many cards that come in for that match. When they likely win game one though, and especially if you don't draw well or mulligan, you can easily lose the match, so just be aware of that possibility. The difference is that a deck designed solely to win by Splinter Twin, is really rough, whereas a deck that has a back up plan is much more in your favor. A good example of this is the Twin-Blade deck that runs Stoneforge Mystic and equipment in addition to the Splinter Twin combo. That deck is not nearly as tough to beat as, say, the Grixis Twin deck that is not seeing much play anymore.

Some notes on the deck:

BEEF-Blade is capable of some amazingly sick plays. Lotus Cobra allows craziness like turn three Jace the Mind Sculptor, unexpected Day of Judgments off of triple Forest, Island, Island and a Misty Rainforest, or just the ability to play multiple two cost creatures on turn three.

Mortar Pod is still amazing. It destroys the current Mono Red decks, does work against any Birthing Pod deck slowing them down considerably, and is still good against Caw-Blade and other Squadron Hawk decks like Boros.

Late game you do insane things no other deck in the format can do like equipping Primeval Titan or double Tectonic Edge on their lands. Don't make bad attacks with your Primeval Titan because they might just blow you out in combat by blocking and using their Dismembers. It is usually correct to just wait and equip the titan - it's a sicker play anyway so you get some style points for killing your opponent that way.

Until next time, may your Caw-Blade opponent never see your Primeval Titans coming and unleash that green force in Caw-Blade!

Mike Lanigan

Twitter: mtgjedi

Don't forget to check the Banned Restricted announcement Monday, June 20th.
Some crazy things could happen.

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