Type II Mad Cow

An Aggro Addict’s Dilemma

I am an Aggro Lover if ever there was one. You've got your Weenie, you've got your Tribal, your straight Aggro, your Aggro/Control… to me, it’s like crack. So, of course, when Ravnica hit the scene, I went to MTGS to read the spoiler. I wanted efficient creatures for two or three mana. And I got 'em. They were Boros. Boros Swiftblade. Great supporting cards for Aggro, like Lightning Helix. Boros has Red, so it gets things like Char. Boros decks really, really look like Sligh. I love Sligh.

So here is that dilemma that article sub-headings are always telling you about: White has some awesome, ridiculously efficient creatures that I, as an Aggro Junkie, love like a firstborn child, but I don’t like White. I don’t want to play White. And I don't like Boros.

So I decided almost immediately that White was not an option. Boros was not an option. That’s how strictly I adhere to my weird rules, it’s just the way it goes. I said, “I’ll just play Golgari. They've got some good stuff for me in there.” Well, yeah. Dark Confidant. Ink-Eyes, Servant of the Oni. Hypnotic Specter. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I started building up an Aggro Deck.

And then I realized: Green was dead weight. It really wasn’t much more than a splash. I used it for mana acceleration like Elves of Deep Shadow, and to pay for the little tree in the upper right-hand corner of Putrefy.

That was the lightbulb moment. I personally thought that, despite the White, the Orzhov Syndicate was pretty cool in theory. So I figured to build a Deck that was half White Weenie, half Black Aggro. What’s White, Black, and aggressive all over? A Mad Cow.

The Decks

The decks themselves are both very well known tournament-worthy archetypes. I think it’s very much worth it to have a little history lesson, and go back through the development of White Weenie and Black Aggro.

White Weenie:

Stupid White Knights with
their "truth" and "justice"...
First comes the White Weenie. Here is a deck that has been around since forever. It has drifted in and out of tournament viability, but since the very first sets there have been goodies like Savannah Lions, Swords to Plowshares, and Crusade. Here is one of the earlier builds of White Weenie, made and played by Tom Chanpheng in the 1996 World Championships. He even won!

Notice the synergy between Zuran Orb, Lodestone Bauble, Land Tax, and Balance. The deck has a basic Weenie strategy other than that, with fast creatures, some removal, and Serra Angel for a finisher.

Here is a Weenie deck that won the 1999 U.S. Nationals, designed by Kyle Rose:

This is a good idea of your general Weenie build. Efficient two-drops with evasion. ‘Nuff said.

With those two examples, you can get a decent idea of what we're looking at. Weenie decks have been around for a while, and they regularly include…
A). Creatures with evasion.
B). Some removal.
C). Enchantments/permanents that boost your creatures.
D). A finisher of some sort.
There are variants, and sometimes you get those weird decks, but these are some rules to use when identifying White Weenie.

Black Aggro:

Dude, she's hot. I'd tap that.
Now for Aggro. Although the seeds were planted very early, (Hypnotic Specter and Juzam Djinn), Control has always been the more major mainstay of the coolest color in Magic. However, aggressive “Suicide Black” decks began popping up on the tournament scene. They used fast, undercosted creatures with life-loss drawbacks, and then Hatred as a finisher. Here is David Price’s build, which won 4th place at Grand Prix Seattle in 2000:

Here is the more recent “Black Hand,” as built by Gregg Weiss:

As you can see, this deck uses quick beats and then finishes with card like Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni or Umezawa’s Jitte.

So that’s what we got. Now what say me and you put these two decks in 18-wheelers and drive ‘em at eachother at a bazillion miles per hour?


I began to think about how I wanted to go about combining these decks. I came to the conclusion that it would be best to break the deck into parts, and brainstorm about what the options would be for said parts. Then I’d narrow it down to what I was sure to put in, and decide numbers once all that dirty work was done. I figured in a deck like this, you want one-drops, two-drops, finishers, removal, and then stuff like Specter and Jitte.


The first turn is important in an aggressive/weenie deck, so I knew I had to have some good one-drops. Go. Look at the type two legal one drops. Go on. Look.

The good ones are all White!

So it was gonna be Weenie one-drops. Here is the original list of consideration for this category (you’re insane if you think I’m going to go through every one-drop one by one and talk pros and cons) [aww but what about Caregiver? -Ed].

Savannah Lions
Suntail Hawk
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Lantern Kami

Evasion is very valuable in a one-drop. I decided that the Hawks and the Kamis were going to be in the deck. I think that this deck really only needs one two-power-for-one-mana creature, and decided on Isamaru

Second Turn of Doom

Turn two is a pivotal turn for Mad Cow. Some of the best stuff in this deck is playable on turn two. So I decided to make a bigger list to carve down.

Dark Confidant
Hand of Honor
Hand of Cruelty
Kataki, War’s Wage
Nezumi Cutthroat
Leonin Skyhunter
Raving Oni-Slave
Samurai of the Pale Curtain

Pretty good (for a White chick).
Skyhunter. I had to run it. So awesome. This card brings me close to pissin’ myself, it just rocks. Then we have Confidant, which was one of the inspirations for this deck in the preliminary stages. It’s just really good with small creatures. Toss it on turn two, turn three you got a few lands, and BOOM! You have a Weenie Output Machine. I wanted to run one more two-drop, and this was the hardest. I offed Kataki and Samurai, because they seem like sideboard cards to me. Hand 1 and Hand 2 seem kind of mediocre in this deck. Slave… eh. No. So I picked Cutthroat. It is an arguable pick, but I like the evasion, and its mana cost isn’t intense the way some other two-drops' costs are.

Hypnotic Specters

I thought quite a bit on this category, and here are the options:

Hypnotic Specter

All in all, I think that Hypnotic Specter was the only one who ever stood a chance here.


Here it goes:

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Yukora the Prisoner

I had a pet rat. She
wasn't a Ninja, though.
This was a toss-up between Ink-Eyes and Kokusho. I ended up going with the former. The Ninjutsu is just too useful in Aggro, and the ability works well in many situations.


I’m also running Umezawa’s Jitte, Kiku’s shadow, and Last Gasp for removal.

The List

So here it is. I think that you can infer why I used what numbers of things.

That’s the deck. If you skipped all of the other stuff and just looked at the list, well… you saved a lot of valuable time.

Playing the Deck

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “OMG! u ppl rite t3h dek but u not tell how 2 play it! OMG!” If you could just calm down and refrain from bludgeoning me with a lamp, I can explain how to play this deck. Now, I know what someone else here is thinking. “I find this to be a rather inane section of this article, which is already mediocre at best, as Aggro decks are incredibly simple. I personally prefer a more blah blah blah blah blah!” Well, you’re right. Aggro decks are fairly straightforward. However, I feel that it’s important to lay down some guidelines for optimal kickassness.

The Rules

1. The first rule of Mad Cow is you don't make Fight Club references.
2. The first turn just depends on what you have. Play what you think will work the best.
3. On the second turn, if you have options...
Play Skyhunter vs. Aggro.
Play Confidant whenever you think you can get away with it.
Play Cutthroat if the other deck definitely has no Black.
4. Try and get as many men into play as possible on turn three when facing a deck with any speed. Any two-drop/one-drop combination.
If you have a Specter and are facing a slower deck, go for it.
If you think you can really clean house by getting a Jitte at least in play and equipped next turn, do it.
5. Pretty much no matter what, use turn four for more creatures. Sometimes a throw-a-Jitte+equip-a-Jitte thing can take an enemy by surprise, so that's good too.
6. Turn five is a good turn to Ninjutsu in Ink-Eyes or throw on a couple of finishing touches like killing their creatures with Shadow.
7. By turn six, you should...
A. have won the game.
B. be close to winning.
C. throw down a finisher or a couple last minute creatures.

Keep that in mind.

The Sideboard

I think this should go under “Playing the Deck,” because it has less to do with the general strategy and more to do with how to deal with other people’s strategies. Here is mine:

Paper over light... this
dude bears striking
resemblance to a lantern.
This sideboard is made to deal with my metagame, where I have to deal with “Dredge Pact.” I wanted to side thngs that would wreck decks, but also had a creature attached to them. A little extra finisher, a little extra beats, a little mass removal.


I’ve done extensive testing with this deck, and it’s very good. Gifts and slower Control can’t handle the quick rush of creatures. Mid-speed Aggro decks are generally screwed over, because they rely heavily on their finisher, and I can chump-block and use my evasion cretures to overwhelm the opponent. The hardest matchup is easily Boros Weenie, because the strategies are functionally identical. It just becomes a speed match.

So go ahead and toy with it. Try your own builds, test, and repeat. But remember: “Don’t make it suck completely.”


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