199So, it was really hard for me to think about any other deck than Zoo this week. As I said last tuesday, with fechlands getting lower prices (around 14€ as we speak, at least in the case of the non-island searching ones), Zoo might become a good, if not the best, option for people looking for a way to begin playing Modern.

Looking around the interwebs, I found this:

Interwebs Zoo (Modern)

Land (20)
Wooded foothills
Windswept Heath
Arid Mesa
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Grounds
Temple Garden
Plains
Mountain

Creatures (24)
Wild Nacatl
Kird Ape
Loam Lion
Steppe Lynx
Goblin Guide
Ghor-Clan Rampager

Spells (16)
Boros Charm
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile

This is not the definitive list yet, though. My intention is to make a powerful list that can offer strong performance and explosive gameplay with some removal/reach to help the pilot make the last few points of damage. Path to Exile is the only concession we make to pure removal: that’s because it can remove blockers and just running it will make Twin (not our best matchup) have to be a bit more cautious and try to combo one turn later. The most important caveat though is the price of this list, as there is no way we can build this for less than 200 euros.

Let’s see what we have, how it helps our plan, and how it can stand further budgetising:

loamlion3Wild Nacatl
Kird Ape
Loam Lion

Delver of Secrets does not always flip, but we can trust this trifecta to consistently fulfill their potential to become ultra-efficient threats. Nacatl will most often his the opponent for three by turn 2, and it will trade favourably with Snapcaster Mage, Dark Confidant and other small creatures. Three points of toughness are very nice in the first turns. Kird Ape and Loam Lion are not as impressive, but they keep the favorable trading with lots of important creatures in the format and work great. Out of these only Loam Lion could potentially be axed in favour of a more consistent RG creature base. Nevertheless, we are going to need white for Path to Exile and Boros Charm, and we need Plains for Wild Nacatl to be useful, so we might as well play the Lion.

These three, in conclusion, are well worth it and we should run them. Also, they are all really cheap.

Goblin Guide

This guy here is run in Burn, and that speaks wonders of his efficiency. We might be giving the opponent cards, but this list is definitely not about card advantage, but about not giving the opponent time to play whatever they have in their hands. Remember we also see what they are going to draw: write it down and keep it in mind.

The only problem: 15€ each. It could prove difficult to fit this in the list if we are to keep it under 200€.

SteppeLynxSteppe Lynx

The initial list runs 12 fetchlands, which makes it easy for us to consistently have this be another Loam Lion. Further budgetising could mean cutting some fetchlands though: Arid Mesa is still 25€ (and, strangely, rising) and a playset of them means half the price limit. Playing only 8 fetchlands would make the Lynx not so much worth it. Also, while Steppe Lynx hits for 4 on turn 2 and 3 sometimes (and is therefore a beast), it can also fall prey to Electrolyze. Actually, two cats can die to a single electrolyze, which is worrying.

Ghor-Clan Rampager

This cannot be countered and pumps creatures big. Combine it with Boros Charm and we’re looking at a single Wild Nacatl dealing 14. Magical Christmas land, but still. It can be played as a creature, of course, but pumping is what this card is here for mostly.

I would find it weird not to play this.

635032499323720796Boros Charm

Three modes, and they are all useful. Protecting all your creatures can be a great answer to Anger of the Gods, this deck’s greatest enemy; four damage to the dome could be all that’s standing between you and winning the game; and double strike can be a blowout in certain situations, such as a creature already pumped by Ghor-Clan Rampager. We love Boros Charm. Also, they are really cheap, so we can play four without making much of a dent in our budget.

Lightning Helix

An aggro deck such as this one will not generally care much about life totals. We will generally bolt ourselves more than our opponents will though, as we really need those shocklands online ASAP. Therefore, a bit of lifegain attached to a lightning bolt easily makes the cut. Also, not really expensive! My local game store has them for 2.5€ each, so 4 fit in the deck without a problem.

Lightning Bolt

Are we discussing this? We run red, we need to remove blockers, we might need some reach in turns 4-6 to end the game, we play Lightning Bolt. Actually, the reasoning could very well be ‘We run red, we play Bolt.’

Path to Exile

Premium removal. This does not double as reach, but it is a lot more solid: it will remove from the game any pesky blocker and let you continue beating face. Or it could remove Deceiver Exarch when a Twin player hopes to combo on turn 4. Or… so many things. It is always useful to be able to remove enemy creatures from the game. Let’s not forget we could potentially target one of our creatures to pump Steppe Lynx. It will not generally be what we want to do, but it could mean those two last points of damage.

THE BUDGET

We completely omitted Tarmogoyf, and we actually have a non-budget reason for it: It is too slow for this deck. We genuinely don’t want to play it. Even without it, though, the deck costs around 250€, which is a bit more than what we had originally planned.

Goblin Guide is the biggest offender in the creatures. The playset is 60€ at least, which is more or less what we need to cut. Experiment One is a very good option, even though it just can’t hit as fast. The second Evolve trigger, though, will make it bigger than Guide, and it will not have the card advantage drawback. We could make the cut.

12 fetchlands are ideal, but I think ten of them could be enough. We need to crack fetches to give Steppe Lynx a boost, of course, it’s only they are still a bit expensive. Cutting a couple of Arid Mesa also brings the deck’s price down to the 200€ we intended on spending.

If we take both routes at the same time, we end up with a pretty manageable price and a respectable deck:

One Drop Zoo (Modern)

Land (20)
Wooded foothills
Windswept Heath
Arid Mesa
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Grounds
Temple Garden
Plains
Mountain
Forest

Creatures (24)
Wild Nacatl
Kird Ape
Loam Lion
Steppe Lynx
Experiment One
Ghor-Clan Rampager

Spells (16)
Boros Charm
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile

Total Price: Around 180€.

I am going to test the deck during the next three weeks at my local game store, facing a varied meta (we are lucky to get a respectable number of players regularly), and I’m going to report back with my findings. I really, really hope I’ll be able to recommend this deck to everyone.

That was all for today. See you next week, and let’s see how much attention you pay to the newest decks out there: What am I going to be talking about? A clue:

Jeskai_Ascendancy

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