Big Zoo In Modern

Championship deckbuilder Sam Black plays his update of the deck he took to Pro Tour Born of the Gods, which he considers a very reasonable choice for Grand Prix Richmond.

GP Richmond

Today I’m going to play my update of the deck I took to Pro Tour Born of the Gods, which I consider a very reasonable choice for Grand Prix Richmond.

In the first game, my opponent had all the pieces before I had enough mana to play around them. That will happen some portion of the time against Splinter Twin with basically any deck. Game 2 I had plenty of pressure, mana, and answers, so there was very little my opponent could hope to get together in the short time before I put the game away. This game was a good demonstration of why Zoo is good against Twin.

In game 3, I don’t think my opponent played well—I was very low on answers, but I had a Wear // Tear that could potentially interact. If my opponent had just left three mana up on my turn, I would have had to respect the possibility that I could die if I spent my mana, but they kept tapping low enough that it was safe for me to cast additional threats and died quickly in a game they might have won by paying life a little more aggressively to have mana up. Basically, my opponent was (presumably) playing the cards in their hand rather than playing the information game against me that Twin needs to play to buy time for free.

Game 1 it was pretty clear that they had Chord of Calling, but I think it was right to play the Knight of the Reliquary since I don’t really like just giving them a ton of time there. But it’s possible that it’s better to play Tarmogoyf and pass with Lightning Bolt up just in case he actually can threaten a win there. Of course, as it played out, the Knight was better. The second Chord of Calling for Spellskite was unexpected. I think the correct play was actually to not attack with the Knight so that I could play the Tarmogoyf while threatening both Scavenging Ooze and Lightning Bolt, and I just constrained myself too much. Birthing Pod is a really hard card to play against, which is one of the big strengths of the deck.

The second game was epic, and I really have no idea if I played every turn right with Chandra, Pyromaster. It’s possible I should have let Chandra die earlier and more actively pursued the Thundermaw Hellkite plan. I really have no idea.

It’s not clear to me that leading with Lightning Bolt rather than Noble Hierarch in game 3 would really have changed anything substantially one way or the other. Doing more things before Linvala, Keeper of Silence came into play certainly would have helped, but not so much as to change the outcome of the game. An active Birthing Pod is just very difficult to beat, especially when at all constrained on mana.

In the first game, I was able to get an aggressive start and stay ahead, and the Loxodon Smiter was just icing. For both games 2 and 3, I was severely mana constrained against good draws, and it didn’t pan out. It’s possible that I shouldn’t keep hands like that because games can go that way, but in general against decks with a lot of one-for-ones, especially discard and spot removal, I like to keep spell-heavy hands as much as possible since they’re always good in attrition battles.

That first game went surprisingly well. While it felt like I didn’t have a lot of pressure, my creatures were so big and he took enough damage from lands that the burn added up really quickly.

Game 2 was a reasonable example of what you’re usually looking for against Twin after sideboarding—while it often feels like G/R decks are pressured to close out games before blue decks “take control,” in this matchup actually winning is difficult for them because of your disruption, and they end up with a lot of useless combo pieces and low-impact, overly narrow blue cards. This means you can generally comfortably play a long game, especially since so much of their power comes from the ability to tap you out with Deceiver Exarch. As the game goes later, that threat diminishes, and you can just win a long game with big creatures that their burn spells are no longer effective against.

GP Richmond