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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Aug 21 2013 8:23am
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Welcome to another Becoming A Modern ManIn this article I'm going a little off the beaten track with an interesting deck that I'm calling Zookeepers.  The deck is very similar to Domain Zoo, using multiple duals to maximise Tribal Flames and combining that with small aggressive creatures.  The reason I call it Zookeepers instead of Zoo is because rather than Kird Apes and Loam Lions the creatures are Snapcaster Mages, Delver of Secrets and Deathrite Shaman, who aren't your usual Zoo inhabitants.

Let's take a look at the inspiration for the deck:

I've made a few very minor tweaks to the deck mainly changing the sideboard so it accorded better with cards I owned.
Here's what I'm currently running:

The deck is quite unusual but the strategy is pretty sound.  Cheap effective creatures and a fearsome burn suite to finish your opponent off with. One thing that I found interesting playing the deck was that a lot of players considered my deck to be a Control deck, whereas I see it as more of an aggressive deck.  The fact is the deck is capable of wearing both hats, against more passive decks it can be aggressive and force the action whereas against aggro decks it can use its various removal spells to kill off creatures and then grind out the game with Deathrite Shaman activations and Lingering Souls tokens.



Delver of SecretsInsectile Aberration
Delver of Secrets
Delver is a very powerful one-drop.  He's fallen out of favour in both Modern and Standard, perhaps largely due to the lack of Ponder and Preordain to support him but he remains a very powerful creature.  A early flipped Delver can start taking big chunks out of your opponent's life total, which makes it all the easier to finish them off with your burn suite.

Deathrite Shaman
Deathrite Shaman
Deathrite is fantastic in this deck working as mana producer in the early game, maximising our fetchlands and fixing our slightly awkward colour combinations, and in the late game the Shaman is a serious threat eating up graveyards.  Shaman is also capable of mitigating  the life loss from our very greedy manabase with it's life gain ability, which has saved me on a few occasions.

Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
We round out the creatures, which seems to be who's who of the best cheap creatures printed in recent times, with the ever powerful Snapcaster Mage.  Snapcaster Mage + Spells tends to be a pretty good combination and he works fantastically with our burn spells.  Snapcaster + Tribal Flames though is the real highlight allowing you to squeeze a full 10 points of damage out of a single Tribal Flames, at which point your opponent is half dead.


Sleight of Hand
Sleight of Hand
Sleight is a powerful draw spell that can help us find the cards we want.  I'm not sure if we shouldn't be playing Serum Visions instead just because it has better synergy with Delver, but I'm working from the original list here.  I would be tempted to try our Serum Visions over Sleight of Hand.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
This card doesn't really need explanation.  1 mana, 3 damage, goes to the face or removes a creature.

Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Another card that needs no introduction.  One of the best removal spells in the format, deals with pretty much everything.

Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce is a cheap way to protect your threats and also disrupt your opponent.

Tribal Flames
Tribal Flames
The deck is rather heavily based on the power of maxing out a Tribal Flames.  5 damage for just 2 mana is extremely powerful, especially when you can reuse the Flames with Snapcaster Mage.  Thanks to the Ravnica duals, and the fetches to search them up, it takes as little as 3 lands to get your Tribal Flames dealing a full quarter of your opponent's life total.

Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana Leak is a great way to protect your threats as well as disrupt your opponent, particularly in the early stages of the game.

Lightning Helix
Lightning Helix
This deck is very aggressive in its use of fetchlands and Ravnica duals, which tends to take a toll on your life total.  Helix is perfect in that it is a very powerful burn spell but also mitigates the life loss you take from the duals and fetches which can cause some problems against aggressive decks.

Izzet Charm
Izzet Charm
Izzet Charm is a nice one-of in the deck which can provide you with a counter, removal or card draw depending on the situation.  You'll probably be using the counter or removal modes more often than the draw and discard mode in this deck but having options is always profitable.

Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls is a very efficient token creator and can be a very serious threat to an opponent, particularly if they are lacking flyers.  Lingering Souls is very good at getting in the last points of damage necessary or buying you time when you are on the defensive.

With a five-colour deck that is looking to maximise Domain as soon as possible unsurprisingly the manabase is rather complicated.  I copied the land setup from the original list so I'm not too sure on what the perfect setup is but these numbers worked fine for me.

Blood CryptTemple GardenSteam VentsOvergrown TombHallowed FountainSacred Foundry
Ravnica Duals
The Ravnica duals are essential for giving us the colours of mana we need as well as providing us with multiple basic land types to set up big Tribal Flames.

Scalding TarnArid MesaMarsh Flats
Zendikar Fetchlands
The fetchlands help us find our duals, which is crucial considering all the different colour combinations we have in our deck.  They also help us find the missing land types we need to maximise Domain for our Tribal Flames.  The fetchlands are also excellent fodder for our Deathrite Shaman which helps us fix our mana a little more in a tight spot.

The sideboard is in need of some work, in theory we can play sideboard cards from any of our five colours so there are a lot of potential sideboard options.

ShatterstormTimely ReinforcementsAncient GrudgeMolten RainInquisition of KozilekNature's ClaimBack to NatureRelic of ProgenitusSowing Salt

The current sideboard is definitely less that optimal but it shows you some of the options available.

Perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly this deck is far from cheap with all the fetchlands and duals it requires.  A playset of Snapcaster Mages and Deathrite Shamans will set you back a bit too.  If there is one good thing to be said about the deck's selection of cards it's that there are a lot of Modern staples in the deck.  If you are already playing Modern there's a good chance you have some number of the cards in the deck already and if you have a large collection you may be able to throw this deck together pretty easily. 

Main Deck

3 x Scalding Tarn= 64.95
4 x Arid Mesa= 51.88
4 x Marsh Flats= 36.28
4 x Snapcaster Mage= 24.36
4 x Deathrite Shaman= 23.24
2 x Blood Crypt= 7.64
2 x Hallowed Fountain= 7.50
1 x Sacred Foundry= 4.81
2 x Path to Exile= 4.40
1 x Steam Vents= 3.80
1 x Overgrown Tomb= 3.28
4 x Lingering Souls= 2.92
4 x Lightning Helix= 1.04
4 x Delver of Secrets= 0.44
4 x Lightning Bolt= 0.32
4 x Sleight of Hand= 0.32
2 x Spell Pierce= 0.16
1 x Izzet Charm= 0.13
4 x Tribal Flames= 0.12
2 x Mana Leak= 0.06
Total: 237.65 tix


3 x Inquisition of Kozilek= 2.04
1 x Sowing Salt= 1.56
2 x Molten Rain= 0.56
1 x Shatterstorm= 0.31
2 x Timely Reinforcements= 0.14
2 x Relic of Progenitus= 0.14
1 x Back to Nature= 0.11
1 x Nature's Claim= 0.08
2 x Ancient Grudge= 0.04
Total: 4.98 tix

Grand Total: 242.63 tix


My first matchup is somewhat of an epic against a Merfolk deck.  We have a lot of removal which is obviously a plus for us as killing Lords will make their offense a lot tougher.  Obviously we need to be somewhat careful with our life total as they potentially have unblockable threats thanks to Islandwalk.  Provided we can deal with early threats though I think we are generally in a reasonably good position against Merfolk but it can be close.  Also, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner is a very good sideboard for them as well. 

Our second matchup is against Valakut.  This matchup is very difficult as our fetches and duals are harsh on our life total which means they don't need to put in as much effort to get the Scapeshift kill.  An aggressive draw can win you the game but this matchup seems tough.

Our third matchup is against Mono-Blue Tron.  This matchup played out pretty well for us and I think generally it's pretty good for us.  Provided we can get off to a good start we can usually finish them off before they start doing anything crazy with their Tron mana.  Sundering Titan is certainly an issue with our greedy manabase but we are really hoping to win before that becomes a problem.

Our fourth and final match is against a Storm deck (sorry the audio seems to be particularly choppy in the later part of this video).  The Storm deck we faced was a little unconventional in its use of Quicken so perhaps this is not completely indicative of the matchup but we do have some good tools against this deck.  Deathrite Shaman can eat up the spells in their graveyard making Pyromancer Ascension and Past in Flames worse and we have some early countermagic to hit key spells.  The matchup is still tough if they have a good hand but Relic of Progenitus and enchantment removal from the sideboard can help somewhat.

This was an interesting deck but I fear it's a little bit too suicidal and greedy for my liking.  Playing so many duals and fetchlands as well as spells with awkward combinations of colour requirements can make life harder than it has to be.  When the deck is firing on all cylinders it's a lot of fun and very powerful but I think running so many non-basics and being slightly careless with your life total puts you in a high risk situation, particularly with all the non-basic hate that is around in Modern.

Well that's all I've got for you for now.  If you enjoyed the article please leave a comment and feel free to check back over the other articles in this series.  As for what is next I'm currently working on a UWR Gifts Control deck which will probably be the subject of my next article. 

Thanks for reading,
Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


Very interesting deck. It by romellos at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 08:57
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Very interesting deck. It reminds me Yound Delver, yet it has some different approaches. I think I may try to run some Young Pyromancers in this deck, at least to see how it will work.

Great work...

Thanks a lot Romellos. Young by olaw at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 06:22
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Thanks a lot Romellos.

Young Pyromancer certainly seems to be popular in the UR Delver decks recently. It would probably be similarly powerful in this deck. Definitely something that would be worth a try.

This reminds me of my "Dark by 3drinks at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:44
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This reminds me of my "Dark Naya Domain" I had in Legacy at one point (which admittedly was kind of jank, lol). I do <3 the deck, something about maximizing Domain is a cool thing for me to try and "force".

Something I liked in my deck was my playset of Knight of the Reliquary - with all the fetchlands these guys are regularly 6/6s for three cmc, with potential to grow more. Additionally since this is Modern, Tarmogoyf seems well positioned here or, failing that if you don't own the bastards, then Watchwolf. I also had moderate success with some Woolly Thoctars too - but they conflict with your Knights which are generally superior, so I probably wouldn't do more than two.

If life is a problem, perhaps some Scavenging Ooze would be in order? As an added bonus it stops Kitchen Finks and Strangleroot Geists if those are a problem.

Knight of the Reliquary is by olaw at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 06:21
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Knight of the Reliquary is certainly a good shout, I hadn't considered the Knight but it would certainly be very powerful. Tarmogoyf would also be great but alas I don't own them. I feel like Loxodon Smiter would be better than Watchwolf, though obviously slightly more expensive, just because it's a more formidable creature and doesn't die to Lightning Bolt. The one thing I would say about your suggestions is if you were adding more big green creatures to the deck you would probably want to change the manabase somewhat. In the current list green is actually the least important colour in the whole deck. UWR is the main base of the deck, then Black allows us to play Deathrite Shaman and flashback Lingering Souls (making it the fourth most important) and Green allows us to play Deathrite and activate it's life gain ability (least important). If the deck became more green heavy, I think you might want more green duals, possibly a Stomping Ground and/or a Breeding Pool.

I thought most Domain Zoo by Bazaar of Baghdad at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 20:45
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I thought most Domain Zoo lists ran 4x Geist of Saint Traft as standard - any comment as to why not included?

There are certainly a lot of by olaw at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 06:31
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There are certainly a lot of different ways to build a Zoo deck. Geist was a staple back when ChannelFireball were playing the deck in the 2012 Players Championship. I actually see it less in Zoo decks these days but I couldn't really tell you why. It seems like a solid inclusion and one worth a try.

I don't currently own Geists, though I'm hoping they will drop in price once they rotate, so I might try them out if I get a chance to pick them up.

Really Awosome.. by Raman Mahajan at Fri, 08/23/2013 - 03:05
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I can only say that this one is Awesome....Health and Fitness | Health care