Coldsnap: Aurochs Stampede Review (Part 2 of 2)
Excited to give our giveaway deck a preliminary run-through, Jimi wasted no time in selecting Beyond the Grave to go up against the Red/Green might of the Aurochs Stampede. When we last scouted the deck, Stampede represented itself as a very straightforward beats-style deck with a tribal twist.Would it have the numbers needed to run roughshod over the recursive tricks of the set’s most complicated collection of 60 cards?
Here are our notes from the matchup.
Jimi’s on the play, and she leads with a Swamp while I trot out an early Highland Weald. Jimi only manages to add a Mountain next turn, while I spin a Forest into a Bull Auroch to get things started. Turn 3 is another blank for Jimi. For my part, I manage a Boreal Druid and Orcish Lumberjack for a bit of ramp after sending in the Bull for 2, and then things really start to pick up.
Jimi lands her first critter of the game on turn 4, and it’s no prize: an Orcish Healer. Thanks to my Druid, I’m able to live the dream of an early Hibernation’s End, and I buckle in for a hard ride. Next turn Jimi adds a Skull Catapult to her meager board, while I start off right with a free Boreal Druid thanks to the Hibernation’s End. I then attack with the Lumberjack for some opportunity damage. Jimi blocks with her Healer, then sacs it to the Skull Catapult to smash my Bull Auroch. Nice play.
Now turn 6, Jimi’s deck finally produces a creature that’s more than just nuisance in the form of the Disciple of Tevesh Szat, and its appearance makes my Bull Aurochs start to shake with dread. Back to me, I snare a second Bull Aurochs from my library as I continue to pay on the Hibernation’s End, then send in the Bull Aurochs and the Orcish Lumberjack. Jimi lets them pass, and she’s now down to 15 life. Next turn she plays a Gutless Ghoul, then kills off my Boreal Druid with her Disciple as expected. I respond by Incinerating the Disciple, and she sacs it to the Skull Catapult to kill one of my Bull Aurochs. Not good. After fetching a free Woolly Mammoth, I send the surviving Bull in for another 2, then cast a Tinder Wall.
Now turn 8, Jimi retrieves the Disciple with a Grim Harvest. I snare a free Aurochs, but Jimi immediately kills it off with a Krovikan Rot. Looking to avenge the poor fella, I go in for 5 with my Mammoth and Bull Aurochs, and Jimi’s now at 8 life while I still haven’t been touched. Next turn Jimi sticks Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper, and now I have a choice to make. Do I go with the slow, steady pressure for a couple more turns by paying on my Hibernation’s End? Or do I go for the kill by letting it expire and cast the Shape of the Wiitigo in my hand onto my Woolly Mammoth? Deciding that quick aggression could wrap the game up for me, I look at Jimi’s hand. Two cards. I suspect that if she had the removal, she’d have burned it by now and opt for the Aura. I let the Hibernation’s End go, then drop the Shape of the Wiitigo onto the Woolly Mammoth. I then send the team in- even the lowly Orcish Lumberjack. Jimi trades the Gutless Ghoul for my Bull Aurochs, and chumps the Wiitigo’d Wooly Mammoth with Sek’Kuar. She’s not dead (2 life), but close to it, and I picked off that nasty legend as well.
Jimi’s turn 10 is spent recasting the Disciple of Tevesh Szat. I swing for the kill on my turn, but Jimi stuns me by killing off my enchanted Mammoth with a Dark Banishing. The Orcish Lumberjack slips in for 1 and leaves her on death’s door. I summon another Bull Aurochs and pass. Next turn, Jimi shows her deck’s remarkable resilience by playing an Orcish Bloodpainter, then getting Sek’Kuar back from the dead with a Grim Harvest. For my part, I play a Whalebone Glider, then send in my Aurochs and Lumberjack. Her Disciple snipes off the Aurochs, then she sacs the Bloodpainter to itself to ping my stalwart Lumberjack. So close!
Sek’Kuar makes his triumphant return on turn 12, and Jimi attacks with the Disciple. Knowing I’m playing into her hands but compelled to get rid of the difficult Disciple, I block with the Tinder Wall and activate its ability to kill off her Disciple. Sek’Kuar smiles, and puts two 3/1 Graveborn creature tokens into play, one for each death. My turn 12 is a blank.
Jimi goes on the offensive next turn, turn 13, and cuts me in half with one attack with the two Graveborn and Sek’Kuar. I look to stall with an Aurochs, but it’s picked off with a Krovikan Rot (making another 3/1 Graveborn in the process). Jimi comes from the brink of death to claim resounding victory on turn 14.
On the play, I lead with the heroic Orcish Lumberjack, which Jimi then Death Sparks. Next turn, I play a Gorilla Shaman, which also gets Death Sparked. I finally stick a critter on turn 3 with Woolly Mammoths, while Jimi’s turn is a blank.
Now turn 4, I swing with the Mammoths, then cast a second one. For her part, Jimi plays a Kjeldoran Dead, sacrificing it to itself. I cast a Frostweb Spider after swinging for 6 the next turn, but then Jimi rather cleverly manages to kill off one of my Mammoths once her turn is underway. She pulls both Death Sparks back to her hand during her upkeep, then casts the pair of them. A Barbed Sextant rounds out her turn, and she passes.
I attack for 4 more on turn 6, taking her to 7, then play a Tinder Wall. Now on four land, Jimi leads with a Dark Ritual, triggers the Barbed Sextant (just to cycle it), and casts Dark Banishing on my remaining Mammoth. Following it up with a Krovikan Rot on my Spider, I’m once again impressed with the lethality and stubbornness of Beyond the Grave. Still, next turn I again engage the Hibernation’s End, and Jimi just can’t keep up with my march of creatures: a Boreal Druid, a Bull Aurochs, even a Giant Trap Door Spider. Added to them are an Earthen Goo cast from hand and my forces claim a turn-10 win.
Sending that Jimi’s deck is a bit vulnerable in the early game, I take a gamble with my opening on game three. Jimi leads with a Swamp, I follow with a Forest and a Tinder Wall. Next turn (after Jimi’s blank), I drop a second Forest, sac the Tinder Wall for two Red mana, and lay down a pair of Bull Aurochs. Unfortunately, Jimi’s got the Death Spark for one of them, and there goes my quick start.
Next turn (turn 3), Jimi has another blank as she draws, lays land and passes, while I swing in for 2 with my remaining Bull Aurochs and summon a Giant Trap Door Spider. Jimi gets on the board with a turn-4 Balduvian Dead, while I add a Gorilla Shaman.
Both a little land-shy, Jimi’s turn 5 consists of placing a Casting of Bones on my Bull Aurochs, while my turn is now a blank. A turn-6 Disciple of Tevesh Szat tells me I’m going to be in for a long one. I play an Aurochs and pass.
Now turn 7, Jimi picks off my Bull Aurochs with her Disciple, triggering the Casting of Bones (she discards a Mountain). She then plays an Orcish Bloodpainter and passes. Back to me, I swing in for 4 with the Aurochs and Spider. Jimi blocks the Spider with her Balduvian Dead, but the Aurochs gets in for 2. I play a second Aurochs and pass. Back to her, she sacs the Bloodpainter to itself to pick off my Gorilla Shaman, then activates the Balduvian Dead to turn the Bloodpainter’s corpse into a 3/1 Graveborn, which attacks alongside the Dead. I’m now down to 15 life. I fire back with the team for 8, looking to cut Jimi in half. She trades her Disciple for my Aurochs, so I cast Balduvian Rage for +3/+0 on my Spider to make up the difference. She’s now down to 8 life.
Now turn 9, Jimi lands a Barbed Sextant after I draw my free card from the Rage during her upkeep (Ice Age-era cantrips delay your free draw). Then she casts another Disciple of Tevesh Szat, and swings in for 2 more with the Balduvian Dead, leaving me at 13 life. Jimi has another surprise in store for me on my turn- a Dark Banishing for my Giant Trap Door Spider. I respond with a Stalking Yeti to kill off her Balduvian Dead, going tit for tat, and attack for 2 more with my remaining Aurochs. Next turn sees Jimi playing a second Barbed Sextant, then triggering both to cycle them and ensure that she gets full value from a Soul Burn on my Yeti, leaving her back up to 9 life. I swing in for 2 more with the Aurochs, then follow up by summoning Woolly Mammoths.
Jimi’s turn 11 ratchets up the tension, and I fear a repeat of game one where I just can’t finish her off. She plays a Gristle Grinner and a Gutless Ghoul, though I temper the surge somewhat by responding to the Ghoul with an Incinerate on the Grinner, preventing her from sacrificing it and gaining more life. I’d been saving the Incinerate to finish her off, but I can’t afford to let her develop either. Back to me, I play an Earthen Goo after attacking with my Woolly Mammoths and Aurochs. Jimi uses the Disciple to give the Aurochs -1/-1 until end of turn in order to lessen the damage, but she’s now down to 3 life. Next turn she retrieves the Gristle Grinner with a Grim Harvest, then recasts it. My turn 12 is a blank.
On turn 13 Jimi sacrifices the Disciple of Tevesh Szat to the Gutless Ghoul, gaining 2 life and making the Gristle Grinner a 5/5. She sends it in to thrash me, and I’m now down to 8 life. Taking advantage of the moment, she recovers the Grim Harvest and recasts it, pulling the Disciple of Tevesh Szat back to hand. Not a bad little near-loop, one more mana and she’d have been able to cast the Disciple all over again. Instead she casts another Gutless Ghoul and passes.
Still, it’s not quite enough. Between my growing Earthen Goo (now a 4/4), my Woolly Mammoth, and my Aurochs, all three of my creatures have trample. Swinging with all three, I’ve got just enough for the win. Another close one!
Thoughts & Analysis
Aurochs Stampede is about as straightforward a combat deck as you’re going to find. While I can’t say it let me down- two wins in three games, and the first might have had a different outcome if Jimi didn’t hoard removal until that critical moment- I also can’t say that it was the most exciting deck to pilot. Credit my opponent with some of that- she very astutely recognised the biggest threat the deck could present would be a herd of Aurochs rumbling in, and did everything she could to disrupt me. It would be fair to say, then, that this deck is only as strong as the creatures you’re able to stick, and even many of those aren’t the most exciting of options.
Although it was pitifully poor on removal, the other noncreature spells did a fine job here. Both of the deck’s rares- Shape of the Wiitigo and Hibernation’s End- were solid performers, and had tremendous impact on the game. Whatever selection committee opted to include those gets added points for fun.
Hits: Tribal theme adds a fun twist on a somewhat uninspiring beatdown deck; deck’s rares are fantastic and great fits here
Misses: Steep mana curve can lead to poor draws; light and cumbersome removal (two ‘removal’ cards are attached to creatures) rather disappointing
FINAL SCORE: 3.80/5.00