[A decklist by Neale Talbot]
This deck leans heavily on a shell developed by Rubin Zoo (and by extension of that, Naya Lightsaber by Mike Flores). I’d like to thank Baz & Jay for their help tuning the deck, Bjoern and his friends for playtesting it, and Marshall for his input in the sideboard.
Once Worldwake was released, I returned to the zoo list Kibler played at Pro-Tour Austin. Once I saw the dual man lands from Worldwake and the Next Big Thing, Tectonic Edge, I knew I wanted to be able to tutor for them using Knight of the Reliquary. Which is why I returned to the Rubin list for inspiration, as Flores’ (quite rightly) forgoed the Knight with only Arid Mesa as it’s main pump machine.
The result was Taronga Zoo.
Taronga Zoo has performed very well in testing. The results – before a new sideboard was built – were about 60:40 vs Jund, Vampires & Boros, 50:50 vs Grixis and Lightsaber, and 30:70 vs UWr. This gives us advantage over most of the field, with one particularly bad matchup.
Here’s the list:
Taronga Zoo Decklist
// 24 Creatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Noble Heirarch
1 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Scute Mob
3 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Ranger of Eos
3 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Baneslayer Angel
// 8 Instants
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
// 3 Planeswalkers
2 Ajani Vengeant
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
// 25 Lands
1 Raging Ravine
2 Stirring Wildwood
3 Tectonic Edge
4 Arid Mesa
2 Sunpetal Grove
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Oran-Reif, the Vastwood
3 x Slingbow Trap
3 x Great Sable Stag
4 x Kor Firewalker
3 x Luminarch Ascension
2 x Burst Lightning
The deck has a lot of clear synergies, but a surprising one is mana denial. Between Ajani and Tectonic Edge, with a good draw you can keep your opponent on 2 effective mana for quite a while.
Although only 24 creatures are listed, you’re really running 27+ – three more from the three manlands, and an infinite number you can pump out via Elspeth.
Knight of the Reliquary is a champ, able to tutor up Oran-Rief, a man-land, or a Tectonic Edge. This deck considers Edge almost a spell, rather than a land – “1, destroy target non-basic land, give Knight of the Reliquary +1/+1″. Sounds good to me.
In testing the Manlands have been great. They give you extra reach post Day of Judgment, as well as a beat-down machine. Occasionally you’ll lose one to a Terminate, but if you play smart you’ll generally get around Lightning Bolt. And when they do die, they’re only pumping Knight of the Reliquary. Modular, right?
Ranger has a lot of good targets, but one great move late game is grabbing both a Scute Mob and the Dragonmaster Outcast. The sort of devil’s choice you love to give your opponent. Or a win condition if they don’thave any removal in hand.
The sideboard is mainly to shore up some of your worse matchups, though UWr is always going to be a dog. We had a fair bit of discussion about Luminarch Ascension, Summoning Trap or River Boa, but Luminarch won the day. You lay it down, then apply pressure, and hopefully UWr is spending so many resources in defence they can’t get rid of the Ascension. Hopefully.
Slingbow Trap is pretty spectacular. For G you can kill Abyssal Persecutor, Vampire Nocturnus, Malakir Bloodwitch, Vampire Nighthawk or Broodmate Dragon. For 3G it kills Baneslayer or a Broodmate token. Sure, it’s conditional in that they have to be attacking, but when does Vampires not attack?
Great Sable Stag helps the UWr and Grixis matchups, with some splash damage for Jund. The main thing is to try to play it with the ability to pump with Oran-Rief and get it out of Lightning Bolt range.
Kor Firewalker is just nuts – NUTS – against RDW, and can also turn a match against Grixis. Grixis’ only real removal options are Into the Roil or Sorin.
Burst Lightning helps against Malakir Bloodwitch, slowing down Boros, nuking a Ball Lightning, or just pushing damage across to your opponent.
Other options we considered were:
* Dropping the Heirarchs for Loam Lions and turning on the aggro.
* Dropping the Bloodbraid Elfs for Explore and going for Mana Ramp.
* Playing a singleton Quicksand.
* Getting rid of M10 duals entirely and going the whole hog with manlands.
* Dropping red entirely and heading into some sort of GW Little Kid deck
I’m sure all of these will be attempted in time. But for now the deck is what it is. Hopefully this migraine will go away and I’ll get to play it today at the Good Games 5k Trial. If not, I hope at the very least you get to have fun with it.