Daily Digest: Traverse Zoo

Ross Merriam explores a deck his pal explored that was built by someone else. Got that? Here, let’s have Ross Merriam explain. SCG Baltimore is starting soon!

For those not in the know, The_Gunslingers is StarCityGames.com’s own Todd
Stevens, and with the amount of time we spend on the road or at SCG Tour
stops, he had advance knowledge of this spicy little number being posted.

Normally that would make me less likely to feature it in this space,
because Todd doesn’t need the ego boost, but it’s hard for me to resist
such a unique collection of utility creatures and removal spells. Plus, the
deck isn’t a brew of his, but one of a fan of his stream that wanted to see
it in action from a known player.

While the list, with its many singletons, is difficult to parse at first
glance, it’s a pretty straightforward aggro deck with efficient creatures
backed by removal in the form of burn. The spice comes from Traverse the
Ulvenwald, which is enabled by cards like Mishra’s Bauble and Seal of Fire
and lets you play a small toolbox.

I like that the toolbox here is restrained. There’s a Remorseful Cleric to
hit graveyards, which is quite relevant in the current Modern metagame, a
Qasali Pridemage to answer troublesome permanents, a Magus of the Moon to
lock out decks when the opportunity presents itself, and a Hazoret the
Fervent as a big, powerful threat in the lategame and potential burn spell
off the top. That’s all you need and going any deeper in the maindeck
dilutes the core of the deck too much.

I was even tempted to go further with a utility land besides Horizon
Canopy, say Kessig Wolf Run or Gavony Township, but with a low land count
of eighteen and a full three colors it’s both hard to utilize these lands
and a significant cost to add a colorless land. It would have to come at
the cost of another spell, at which point it’s not nearly as desirable.

There are of course some powerful bullets in the sideboard, where they
belong, so you can be powerful and proactive in game 1 and then sideboard
into the necessary disruptive elements. That’s some solid, disciplined

The card I’m most skeptical of is Vexing Devil since you don’t need to go
too hard to enable delirium, but the four damage is valuable in a deck with
so much reach so it serves a dual purpose, which I like.