It has been a week since the banhammer descended and changed the Modern format dramatically. No more Looting or Hogaak, Stoneforge Mystic unleashed upon the format. Modern is a very different beast than it once was and, in my opinion, is better for it. as I have said many times before, Modern is one of my favourite formats, and it has been nice to see everyone get excited about it again. But while everyone else is jamming swords and Batterskull into each and every deck they can, I have a slightly different plan for the new meta game. I’m wanting to Jund ‘em out with a classic archetype: Zoo.
For those of you who don’t know, Zoo is a style of aggro deck that relies on lots of cheap costing creatures to rush at your opponent’s life total, similar to decks like Elves or Goblins. However, unlike these tribal decks that rely on creature type synergies, Zoo decks forgo these synergies and instead focus on efficiently-statted, low cost minions. You could say Zoo decks are equal opportunity employers.
There was a time when these decks were quite popular in the format, but somewhere down the line players seemed to move away from them in favour of other strategies. However, you will still see players sleeving up the occasional Naya Zoo brew and smashing face with Wild Nacatl and the like. However, I believe this deck could see a return to form, provided we drop the Plains and instead throw in a couple of Swamps.
The base of the deck is fairly similar to most other Zoo builds. We start off with a healthy supply of one drop creatures with Experiment One, Kird Ape, and Narnam Renegade. Experiment One is a resilient threat that can survive sweepers (one of Zoo’s biggest weaknesses) while also being able to deal out quite a bit of damage. Kird Ape and Narnam Renegade are deceptively good creatures that will be 2/3’s for one mana most of the time, and the Renegade can be a heck of a roadblock to larger creatures thanks to deathtouch.
As we move onto the two drops, we see the one-two combo of Burning-Tree Emissary and Hidden Herbalists. Both of these creatures can generate mana as they enter the battlefield, which can allow us to quickly empty our hand and put a lot of threats onto the board. Pair them up with our only three drop in the form of Reckless Bushwhacker and it’s possible to swing in for up to seventeen damage on turn two. Round out the deck with playsets of Lightning Bolt and Atarka’s Command for some direct damage, and you have a pretty solid deck.
But what do we get if we splash black into the mix you might add? One word my friends. Value.
First off, we add in a playset of Fatal Push to help take out opposing creature-based threats. Sure, you can’t take out something like a Wurmcoil Engine with Push, but the plan is to have won the game long before the engine would come down. Next, we add in a recursive threat in Scrapheap Scrounger. Your opponents will try to kill your creatures, that much is unavoidable, but with the Scrounger, you can keep putting on the pressure by returning it to the battlefield with the aid of its fallen friends. Exiling removal is always an issue, but if they don’t have a permanent answer to it, they are in for a world of hurt.
Finally, we have a creature that helps us overcome the worst part of any Zoo deck – a lack of card advantage. As you can imagine, once you’ve dumped your hand, you’re very vulnerable to a sweeper. If this happens, it can be almost impossible to rebuild before your opponent can gain the upper hand. That is where Dark Confidant comes into play.
Giving us basically an additional draw each turn as well as a 2/1 body, Bob can help keep our hand and board full of threats. The drawback isn’t even that bad, as apart from our Reckless Bushwhackers, all our spells cost no more than two mana. Given that we are hoping to win the game as soon as possible, this effect shouldn’t have too much of a chance to escalate into a problem. As for our manabase, we will be running a minimum of twelve fetchlands in order to help trigger Narnam Renegade and Hidden Herbalist. We will then fill out the rest of the manabase with a selection of shock lands and basics to help give us consistent access to the right colours of mana we need.
4 Experiment One
4 Kird Ape
4 Narnam Renegade
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Hidden Herbalists
3 Scrapheap Scrounger
3 Dark Confidant
4 Reckless Bushwhacker
4 Fatal Push
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Atarka’s Command
1 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Leyline of the Void
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Kitchen Finks
4 Collector Ouphe
When it comes to the sideboard, we kick things off with three copies of Leyline of the Void. Hogaak might be gone, but that is no excuse to get complacent with your graveyard hate. Next we have a full playset of Collector Ouphe to deal with Equipment and Artifact decks, as well as Terminate to handle any larger creatures. When it comes to control and combo decks, we can take out our copies of Fatal Push and add in hand disruption, in the form of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. Finally, we’re running some Kitchen Finks to help against other aggro strategies.
The deck has done me well in testing so far, and im looking forward to giving it more of a go in the future. Who knows, maybe Throne of Eldraine will give us some new toys in the near future. But what do you think of the deck? Is it something you would want to try out at your local store or FNM? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. While you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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