I've seen the random list here and there over time and straight up pretty disappointed. Either the lists are ancient so no relevance to current stuff, or they're building with no research/deep thought or they're trying to be cute with little combos that are hugely mana intensive/unaligned with the concept of the deck.
Now, am I going to fall into the same traps? Quite possibly, but I have put in the time and card research to remove as much of personal shenanigannery a I could. I still do not have a solid sideboard for this unfortunately, as testing has proven difficult with only a couple places playing pioneer near me, and only rarely, and at difficult times. One night does not give enough information about sideboarding for me to make those decisions.
Long spiel over, wtf am I doing? We'll, Assault Formation is a card I thoroughly enjoyed years ago, as smacking people around the head with an ox and a camel was just funny. With modern now being the horizon format and more attention being paid to pioneer, I decided to try make a deck that works here where things are more fun. Let's get to the card choices;
Assault Formation is obvious as the build around, but also because it's harder to remove and easier to cast than any other option. Huatli, the Sun's Heart is copies 5-7 as she costs only one extra, isn't splashing into a third colour, has a decent amount of loyalty for a planeswalker, and her ability can buy a surprising amount of time versus some of the more aggressive or mathematical decks. Effect copies 8-9 are Bedrock Tortoise. This turtle is really good lategame, isn't removed or prevented by MV reliant cards as easily, and its other ability to give your team hexproof also means it can't be interacted with on your turn when you want to swing out for a lethal strike.
You See a Guard Approach does a similar job in protection and attacking, either tapping down a blocker, preventing a dangerous attack, or protecting your creatures from a threat. This does sacrifice the potention total board protection of Mizzium Skin but expecting more than a couple creatures on board at a time just isn't reliable, and Triton Tactics/Dive Down may give an effective +3/+3 with the hexproof, the flexibility of approach is more likely to do more damage and protect more over the course of the game.
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive is the last real "I will attack and you will die" enabler, but only works with an assault effect in play, so 3 is the most I can say playing, as being legendary and reliant on other cards to be effective in helping other cards is nearly too much. That being said, it is a kill on sight card, as the effect when sustained is too good not to at least try to make an impact. Attempting to attack for 17 unblockable with one creature (will explain soon) is worth the effort, and that's not even magical Christmas land. Access Tunnel as a one of is to capitalise on exactly this, but due to the coloured mana demand that's as cute as that's going to get.
To keep up with some other decks as well as maintain a strong board, Arboreal Grazer and Gilded Goose are both substantial in their impact. The accelerated mana early helps get down threats as well as the assault effect that makes them threats, but also function well when the accel is no longer needed, with grazer acting as a 3/3 and goose a 2/2 flyer. Goose is also demonstrably important when it comes to combo and aggro, as alongside Huatli the lifegain involved can put you out of reach of decks long enough to steal the win.
Aegis Turtle is a 1 mana assaulted 5/5, which for a vanilla is the bare minimum. Any suggestions with defender will be ignored, and the available 0/4s are just not good enough. The difference between 20/5 and 20/4 is enough to justify, as this deck cannot waste turns on funny nonsense and taking a turn less to win is just as good if not more so than maybe buying a turn with an etb. Oh, and the exploit Naga is garbage. It seems a mainstay in builds of this deck but it is so bad versus other options and kills your own threats, giving your opponent more turns to win over the course of the game despite you maybe setting them back a turn at the time.
Surge Mare was in my small experience absolutely bonkers. Reading the card feels like it's almost good, but actually no it's just good. Green devotion struggles with this thing, and being able to loot even without an assault effect in play is pure function. The fact that the decks removal can make the horse theoretically unblockable is just extra gravy.
If turtle and horse are beatsticks, the crab Charix, the Raging Isle is the shotgun. 4 mana 17 damage is insane, and it has a little bit of inbuilt protection. This crab kills people dead. 3 of due to high mana cost, legendary supertype, and room needed in the deck.
Last but by Odin not least is the interaction. Spell Pierce is a powerhouse, and in future the last copy will be in a sideboard. Planeswalkers, Coco, combo, and other counterspells fold to this card. I'm pretty sure that this deck doesn't have a very good discovery matchup, but I wouldn't know as my game versus the deck ended 2-0 with 1 spell Pierce game 1, and 2 in game 2 causing scoops. The second piece of interaction is surprisingly, at least to me, Rapid Hybridization. A 3/3 is nothing to this deck compared to some of the crazy creatures in the format, horse ignores it's existence, and a 1 mana removal spell is very efficient. If there's a better card I would love to know, but the low cost, destroy instead of bounce, and low relative downside for the deck keeps this up for me.
Cheers for your time, and how you enjoy the deck! Any ideas would be wonderful, as I definitely want his to be as good as possible and I am not an MTG encyclopaedia for all cards, interactions, and meta.
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