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By: Plainswalker83, Marcus Brunstetter
Apr 25 2017 11:00am
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Modern is a great format and you can play many different decks and still get some wins. The past few weeks I wrote about 3 different budget decks that had some chance of competing. This week I want to talk about a deck that is a bit pricier but will be much better than the budget lists. 

One of my favorite aggro decks to play in Modern was zoo. Zoo was always an aggro deck filled with fast aggressive creatures and since Modern Became a format the deck was around. Sadly one of the staple cards Wild Nacatl was banned and the deck lost it steam. In February of 2014 (which seems like so long ago) Wild Nacatl was unbanned and the deck has been part of the metagame ever since. Other creatures came along to fill up the zoo and the deck continued to change.

One popular version was Tribal Zoo. It took advantage of all of the fetches and shock lands and played all 5 colors. Doing that made the card Tribal Flames amazing and that along with the creatures allowed you to quickly finish off your opponent. The main issue of that deck was the damage from your lands and the pressure of always fetching for the exact land you needed in a certain situation.

Over time the deck became simplified in color combination and shifted to a more Red Green shell splashing white for some sideboard options and to assure that Nacatl was always a 3/3.

With Oath of the Gatewatch the deck gained Reckless Bushwhacker and then with Aether Revolt the deck gained two more cards.

Here is the full decklist I want to build. 


I am going to replace Bloodstained Mire with Arid Mesa due to price and it fitting the Naya color scheme. I was also thinking of trying out Flinthoof Boar or Turbo Bacon as he used to be called. Other decks run Tarmogoyf and if I had access to 4 of them chances are I would try them in the deck. Other than that most decks run similar lists.

The positive part is that this deck shares a number of cards with the previous decks and if you started building them you can continue to add cards until you have a top level deck in Modern.

First let’s start with the cards you can use from the Mono Green Stompy Deck.

Rancor Experiment One

From the Goblin deck:

Reckless Bushwhacker

Lastly from the Burn deck:

Lightning Bolt Goblin Guide

Most of the other creatures are very cheap.

The expensive cards that you want to pick up are as follows:

Atarka's Command
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Arid Mesa or Bloodstained Mire

With the exception of Windswept Heath all of these cards also can be put toward building Naya Burn. So in essence as you collect these cards for Zoo you are building toward another deck as well.

Modern is great in that way, once you start collecting staples you can have access to multiple decks.

What if you wanted to play this zoo style of deck but you were still on a strict budget?

I have been thinking of some sort of list that could be a more budget option. I do feel that having the full 12 fetches are 100% necessary though. So where could you make the cuts to make the deck more affordable?

The next expensive card is Atarka's Command and technically it could be replaced. The problem is how versatile the card is. No other card will fill that gap. You could go a different direction though.

Hellrider- This creature saw a ton of play back in Return to Ravnica/Innistrad Standard. It was a great finisher in a deck that went wide. In Modern it fails the “Dies to bolt” test but it is still a strong card that can catch a lot of opponents off guard and make combat miserable.

Gruul War Chant- This saw some minor play as well. It is an anthem for attacking creatures and makes blocking a sloppy mess or even impossible.

Gaea's Anthem- Just a basic anthem and with enough creatures out could win you the game.

Maybe you want to ignore the anthem part and put some more burn in.

Skullcrack- This is a natural replacement for Atarka’s Command. It has the negation of lifegain and the 3 damage that comes with it.

Lava Spike- 3 damage is fine and this is a super vanilla form of it.

Perhaps you want to make the deck even cheaper?

You can cut out the white and the revolt aspect and make it a straight Green and Red beatdown deck. If that is the case you can cut the 12 fetchlands which will cut the price down by about 90 tickets. You can keep Wild Nacatl as long as you are fine with him just being a 2 power 1 drop. You can also add these cards.

Kird Ape- you can move up to the full set.
Flinthoof Boar- also add the full set.
Ghor-Clan Rampager- full 4 as well to really blow up blocks and change combat to your favor.
Rancor- increase to at least a 2 of because having the trample allows you to not be so easily chump blocked.
Goblin Bushwhacker- You can add another bushwhacker effect.
Strangleroot Geist -something to be cast off of the herbalists and adds a resilient threat.

Vexing Devil- Sadly there are a lot more answers for this creature with the rising popularity of Fatal Push but it still may be worth the inclusion. The good news is that it does usually evolve the Experiment One.

Scavenging Ooze- is another option that plays well with both of the mana making shamans. It also gives you a good graveyard hate option and some lifegain.

Your manabase could look something like this.

4 Copperline Gorge
4 Stomping Ground
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Forest
3 Mountain

Nothing perfect but solid enough. Personally I would recommend keeping the white and just slowly building toward Revolt Zoo.

My recent plan was slowly adding to the Mono Red Burn deck until I had the cards needed for Zoo.

Step 1 was getting Arid Mesa and some of the red white burn cards like Boros Charm and Lightning Helix. Along with that came picking up a couple copies of Sacred Foundry and Inspiring Vantage.

Then I grabbed some of the Sideboard cards like Path to Exile.

With those small changes the Mono Red deck became a Red White Burn deck.

Step 2: I then picked up the Wooded Foothills and a copy of Stomping Ground. I also grabbed some cards like Destructive Revelry and Ancient Grudge.

Already the deck gets better and then you can pick up a few cards here and there. With each step the deck gets better and you are closer and closer to a Tier 1 Modern deck.

Moving forward I like the chances that both Zoo and Burn have in the metagame. Especially if Death's Shadow continues to be popular. Both decks can outrace most other aggro decks and even fight through the various removal and lifegain spells.

If you like quick matches of Magic and plenty of time for bathroom breaks and snacks then I suggest either Burn or Zoo.

However if you are still on the search for the “right” Modern deck. Continue to come back for the Modern World. I will be on the lookout for fun and interesting decks that make a wave on MTGO. I will also be on the hunt for budget lists that penetrate the top tier and show that you don’t need to invest hundreds of tickets to make an impact in Magic. If you have any brews or favorites let me know and I can even Spotlight them!

Until next time!