This is the preconstructed version provided by the game in the “Community Spotlight: Gladiator” deck folder. Below is also the primer supplied by JokerBoney, the originator of the deck!
Cow Tech is a four (sometimes five) colour combo deck that looks to control and ramp in the early and mid game and finish the game either with a Combo finish that involves using Demonlord Belzenlok to draw our deck and then draw a card off of our empty library with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.
The primary strength of playing a deck like Cow Tech comes in part with its novelty, you are playing magic in a way that basically no other deck does. Cards like Dread Fugue and Inquisition of Kozilek are all but dead since to allow Belzenlok to draw our deck we are not playing any cards with a mana value below 4.
As a conceit of the deck we are looking to use the ETB of our friend Demonlord Belzenlok to put the entirety of our deck (minus lands) into our hand. The two major hurdles that come with this are that all of our nonland cards have to have a total mana value of 4 or greater (so that the second clause continues to be fulfilled) and secondly we have to survive the trigger, and in most games of Gladiator you cannot expect to be above 60 or so life or have less than 20 cards in your library, so we have to play some ways to prevent damage – or – a way to give Belzenlok lifelink, since he does the damage to you himself.
Damage Prevention & Lifelink Enablers
- Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord – This WAR Planeswalker is one of the stronger ways to set up Belzenlok because it not only gives them Lifelink, but can also return them from the graveyard to the battlefield (note here that if you are doing this and Sorin is your only way to survive Belzenlok that Sorin has to survive the activation AND if your opponent is aware of the combo they can remove Sorin before the trigger resolves. (note: this is niche and will likely not come up – BUT – Sorin only gives lifelink on your turn so if Belzenlok would come in on your opponent’s turn Sorin does not save you)
- Unbreakable Bond – This reanimation spell is easily the Most Often way that Belzenlok will be returning to the battlefield. It will be brought up again further down the line but using Final Parting you can search for Belzenlok to the graveyard and Unbreakable Bond to hand so that you may immediately (or the turn after) reanimate Belzenlok with lifelink. It can also be easy to “oops” into the combo with this card as once its in hand all you have to do is Mill or otherwise discard Belzenlok and your opponent may just never see it coming.
- Angel of Suffering – This creature has an important role in the deck as being a way for you to stabilize, as long as your opponent does not have Questing Beast or the Adventure of Bonecrusher Giant the average aggressive deck cannot kill you before killing the Angel. For combo purposes, the Angel being in play means that you can just put Belzenlok into play in any way you wish, or – slightly more excitingly if you have Vivien, Monster’s Advocate in play you can -2 this planeswalker – then cast Demonlord Belzenlok – then tutor Angel of Suffering into play. Warning – Angel of Suffering does just Die to Bolt, and most other instant speed removal, tread carefully with this one if you can help it.
The Combo Line Now that we know how we survive with Belzenlok- How do we win? Its all good to draw your deck but if you don’t know what to do with it you can just die on your next turn. There are a few lines that will be discussed here – and most lines that will be played are some permutation of the ones listed below. In short, we need to get Jace, Wielder of Mysteries into play and then draw a card.
- Just Play Jace – It can be as simple as that, with most of your combo lines being over a turn or two most often on the turn you win if you just have after the Belzenlok ETB you can play Jace, Uptick, and win
- “Cow Tech” – Now the Bison Opus, if you do not have the ability to cast Jace there is another plan that allows you to get them into play as well as a draw trigger to allow you to win. This line requires or – you may be thinking about whether or not its worth it considering just playing Jace is 4 mana, but in part of your set up turns you can put Wilderness Reclamation into play which means that you will have this type of mana but in a much more narrow window before giving your opponent a better window to interact. For the purposes of the combo we will be going to our discard step, and discarding down the handsize – Importantly we will be KEEPING: Graveyard Shift or Back for More in hand and DISCARDING: Scholar of the Lost Trove, a permenant that when it enters the battlefield you draw a card (Sarulf’s Packmate), the ever important Jace, Calim, Djinn Emperor or Bartered Cow and Eerie Ultimatum. Once a trigger has been made in our clean up thanks to the “Cow Tech” we can respond to it by casting our Instant Speed reanimation spell that we kept in hand targetting the Scholar of the Lost Trove, when the Scholar is returned it will use its ETB to target Eerie Ultimatum which will return all of our permenants from the yard to the battlefield – importantly the Jace and our creature that enters the battlefield and draws a card, allowing us to win. A major benefit of this line is that it allows you to get cards like Shalai, Voice of Plenty and Thyrx, the Sudden Storm which means if you know your opponent has a walker removal spell or some way to try and interrupt the strategy this line is much harder to interact with short of instant speed mass graveyard hate
Cow Tech History
Now its time for a bit of a history lesson, MTGA did not always have access to Madness cards – only recently did we receive them, but when innovating on this deck in its early days what we realized is for the most consistent combo plan we needed to create a trigger in our clean up step (after discarding down to hand size), and while the Combination of The Gitrog Monster and a land in hand worked to do so, there was only ONE card on arena that on its own created a trigger when discarded within our restrictions Bartered Cow – if you are cow tech’ing in the safety of your own home you do not have to play Bartered Cow especially since the printing of Calim, Djinn Emperor which is much more well set up to assist the gameplan by being useful early game and late.