Daily Digest: Steroid

For today’s Modern Daily Digest, Gerry looks at a variety of similar Naya Zoo decks that have popped up over the last six months in order to explore whether it has a home in the metagame or is just a worse version of the Burn deck.

Remember when Wild Nacatl got unbanned and people thought Zoo would make a comeback as the aggro deck of choice? Well, Snapcaster Mage plus Lightning Bolt had a little to say about that. As it turns out, Burn is a much better “aggro” strategy against those sorts of decks. Josh Utter-Leyton did pretty well at Grand Prix Charlotte with his Wild Nacatl Burn deck, but it still takes a lot for that card to be viable in a Lightning Bolt format.

However, today’s decks are the old-school Zoo – straight Naya, each with its own pump effect for getting over Tarmogoyf and getting in those last few points of damage. Ghor-Clan Rampager is the obvious one, but Colossal Might is another option. Atarka’s Command, Groundswell, Mutagenic Growth, Become Immense, and Rancor are also passable. With either of those, Boros Charm becomes a potent finisher. Vines of the Vastwood is an inefficient pump spell, but it’s a hate card for Splinter Twin, so even it could get the nod.

While Lava Spikes are the most effective way to kill someone when they have removal, cards like Groundswell end up being better than Lava Spike when you have a creature in play. There’s also room to get more creative and play things like Uktabi Drake as an additional “one-drop”.

The sideboards for Naya decks tend to vary. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is great against combo decks (and decks with lots of cantrips), Feed the Clan will probably win you the Burn “mirror,” Pyrite Spellbomb and Path to Exile deal with Kor Firewalker while Path to Exile also doubles as a card you can bring in against Splinter Twin. Destructive Revelry is another answer to Splinter Twin, but you can use it to remove a problematic Spellskite as well.

It doesn’t look like “normal” Zoo is a viable option in Modern, but there’s no reason we can’t still have fun with Wild Nacatl.