Modern Zoo deck

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The Zoo or simply Zoo is a multicolored Aggro deck for the Modern Format extending an archetype of deck.

Description[edit | edit source]

The deck is named Zoo for the wide variety of creature types that appear in it, most often animals. [1] The deck will often play Naya colors (red, white and green) but will use every color in the color pie at times. It thus sets itself apart from other aggressive decks which are often mono-colored and/or tribal based.

Most current Zoo decks will feature Wild Nacatl, followed by the stable Kird Ape or Loam Lion, as well as Tarmogoyf, who is often a 4/5 or 5/6 for 2 mana. Towards late game they have some sort of beater in the 3cmc slot like Knight of the Reliquary but more recently Loxodon Smiter.

Zoo usually employs either some burn or a full suite of burn, either to burn creatures out of the way, or to finish off someones life total.

Sample Zoo deck - FLAKO (3-1) MODERN DAILY 03/31/2015  
Planeswalker (2)
2 Domri Rade
Creature (28)
2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
Instant (8)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
Land (22)
4 Arid Mesa
2 Forest
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Plains
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
60 Cards
Sideboard (15)
3 Blood Moon
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Choke
1 Fracturing Gust
3 Rest for the Weary
2 Stony Silence
1 Sword of Light and Shadow

History[edit | edit source]

Zoo was one of the most anticipated decks at the start of the format. In the transition from legacy it only lost Chain Lightning, as well as a few cards that it wouldn't use often like Mother of Runes or Sylvan Library. However, due to its natural weakness to combo, it didn't fare all that well during the beginnings of modern.

Eventually, Zoo being Highly tweakable, took up blue and became more tempo. It took the name counter cat, or aquarium (see below). During this time, Zoo became the most played deck as it was king of the aggro decks, as well as being able to stop combo decks (control at this point was almost non-existent).

After this time 3 cards that zoo was using was banned. Green Sun's Zenith, Wild Nacatl and Punishing Fire. For a time, zoo was abandoned, but eventually its highly tweakable shell would come back into use, this time under Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Which hurt the tempo decks at the time, as well as combo.

While Jund is King of the hill in modern, Zoo was Tribal Flame Zoo (See below) as well as Boom//Bust Zoo, aiming to punish greedy mana bases.

Zoo remained tier 2 without Wild Nacatl, and became more Gruul oriented (See Below) and creature heavy in order to provide constant pressure and speed only seconded by Affinity.

On February 3rd, 2014, Wild Nacalt was unbanned because, "At the time Wild Nacatl was banned, we hoped that this would allow room for other aggressive decks to shine. Artifact-based aggressive strategies have remained popular and a few other aggressive decks have emerged, but the Zoo decks eventually disappeared as a result of the ban and nothing else emerged as a viable traditional aggressive deck. We expect that with the return of Wild Nacatl, those decks will return as a viable option."

Zoo did come back, and has remained a constant in the meta game since the cats return.

Counter-Cat/Aquarium[edit | edit source]

Counter-Cat is a variant of the Zoo introduced by Brian Kibler and his crew at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011. Unlike more traditional Zoo variants, it leaves out Black and taps into blue for the capabilities of Bant Charm and Counterspells in the sideboard. Thus the deck moves slightly out of straight-up aggro play and becomes more off an Aggro-Control deck. The deck primarily relies on Knight of the Reliquary to provide a flexible manabase and as a late-game finisher. Josh Utter-Leyton piloted an identical maindeck to a top 8 finish, but with different sideboard choices.

Counter-Cat - Brian Kibler - Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011  
Creatures
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Gaddock Teeg
4 Knight of the Reliquary

Spells
4 Green Sun's Zenith
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Lightning Helix
3 Bant Charm
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Lands
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Arid Mesa
2 Marsh Flats
1 Scalding Tarn
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Steam Vents
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Forest
1 Plains
Sideboard
2 Negate
4 Flashfreeze
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Bribery
3 Aven Mindcensor
2 Gideon Jura
Josh Utter-Leyton's sideboard  
3 Aven Mindcensor
3 Flashfreeze
2 Gideon Jura
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Rule of Law
1 Tectonic Edge
3 Unified Will

Tribal Flames/Haunted Zoo[edit | edit source]

As the meta game started to show Jund as the top dog, and regular Naya Zoo had a bad match up, Zoo opted to go the more explosive less consitant route for a time. It played the best of what modern magic had to offer creature wise, backed up with the explosive Tribal Flames. However it was at the cost of a shakey mana base.

Deck  
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Bloodbraid Elf

4 Marsh Flats
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Arid Mesa

1 Misty Rainforest
1 Blood Crypt
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Steam Vents
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Stomping Ground
1 Godless Shrine
1 Mountain
1 Plains
3 Treetop Village
3 Path to Exile
4 Lingering Souls
4 Lightning Helix
4 Tribal Flames
4 Lightning Bolt
Sideboard
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Stony Silence
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Rule of Law
3 Molten Rain
2 Shatterstorm

Gruul Zoo[edit | edit source]

As Jund died down after the banning of Bloodbraid elf, and Gatecrash came out, Zoo became more focused on g/r. The reason for this was because of Experiment One's ability to replace Nacatl, and the explosive power of Burning-Tree Emissary. This new version of zoo was much more creature heavy and put speed pressure on opponents.

Deck  
HermonHero (3-1)
Modern Daily #5738529 on 07/25/2013
Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online

Main Deck
60 cards

4 Copperline Gorge
1 Forest
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
2 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
4 Verdant Catacombs
19 lands

4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Experiment One
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Goblin Guide
4 Kird Ape
2 Strangleroot Geist
4 Tarmogoyf
30 creatures
2 Colossal Might
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
1 Pillar of Flame
11 other spells
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Dismember
3 Molten Rain
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Torpor Orb

Nacatl Returns[edit | edit source]

In 2014, Nacatl is unbanned. With it is zoo's real return to the format. During this time, there was a debate as to what would be the best zoo in the format. Zac Roorda delevers with Dark Naya

Deck  
Zac Roorda
Modern Grand Prix before Pro Tour Fate Reforged
Creature (26)
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
2 Noble Hierarch
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Qasali Pridemage
3 Anafenza, the Foremost
4 Siege Rhino
3 Loxodon Smiter

Instant (12)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
Land (22)
4 Arid Mesa
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windswept Heath
2 Temple Garden
2 Stomping Ground
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Godless Shrine
1 Blood Crypt
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Forest
Sideboard:
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Wear // Tear
1 Destructive Revelry
2 Kor Firewalker
1 Slaughter Games
2 Choke
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Stony Silence
1 Grafdigger's Cage
3 Volcanic Fallout

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Melissa DeTora. (May 20, 2015.) “Modern Cats”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.