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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Karl's Zoo Deck
March 19, 2010

Hello BMoor,

Creatures: 29

[4x] Kird Ape (R)
[4x] Wild Nacatl (G)
[4x] Hedge Troll (2G)
[4x] Loam Lion (W)
[4x] Watchwolf (GW)
[4x] Qasali Ambusher (1GW)
[1x] Sabertooth Nishoba (4GW)
[4x] Woolly Thoctar (RGW)

Other Spells: 8

[4x] Armadillo Cloak (1GW)
[4x] Behemoth Sledge (1GW)

Lands: 23

[6x] Mountain
[9x] Forest
[8x] Plains

This is something I sort of whipped up out of boredom but have come to really love. Its just a simple budget zoo build but I was hoping to change that a little. I'd like to remove all the red cards and change it to just a GW since I've kind of fallen in love with Qasali Ambusher and Hedge Troll. The strategy is fairly simple (after all, simple is what zoo does), drop efficient creatures backed with Armadillo Cloak and Behemoth Sledge and swing until I win. Beside that, there isn't much to it. Anyway, I'd sort of like to keep it casual-ish, though I've been thinking about entering the tournament scene ever since my recent move away from my old playgroup.

Thanks for your time.
This deck fix is going to be a challenge for me, since there are two pairs of contradicting factors I have to account for. Contradiction One: Karl says he wants to keep it "casual-ish", but still wants it to be tournament viable. Contradiction Two: he wants to take the red out and make it a strict G/W deck, but still play it like a Zoo deck, and historically all Zoo decks have had burn spells.
Why does Zoo need burn? As a consent to the reality that Wrath of God and Wall of Roots exist. Sometimes Zoo can't swing hard enough for the win. Burn solves that problem, either by removing blockers or by going to the opponent's face for the final few points. This is known as "reach"-- the ability to win the game outside of the combat damage step. Zoo values it highly.
Luckily, I can make these two paradoxes cancel each other out. Since most tournament-placing Zoo decks run burn, any Zoo deck that didn't would be fairly "casual-ish". So out goes red, and now all I have to do is make it tournament-worthy. Simple, right?
Now, a while back I read an article about Zoo decks which put forth the hypothesis that Time Spiral common Thrill of the Hunt was very potent in them. The theory was that most Zoo-on-Zoo matchups contain a lot of 2/3 creatures-- Kird Ape, Loam Lion, and in Karl's deck, Qasali Ambusher. Playing Thrill of the Hunt on a 2/3 makes it a 3/5, big enough to kill a 2/3 or a 3/3 Wild Nacatl without dying. And because it has flashback, each one copy of Thrill you draw will trade with two of your opponent's creatures, if you play correctly. Thrill of the Hunt can also "trade with" most damage- or toughness-based removal, by increasing your creature's toughness. That's the theory, anyway.
The problem is, you're only getting one extra point of damage for each mana paid. Zoo is an aggressive deck, not one that wants to hold up mana to play pump spells just to protect their creature without doing appreciable extra damage. Straight-up Giant Growth might be a better choice, since it has an equivalent damage output as Lightning Bolt. Unfortunately it's limited to the combat phase, but it can be used both to kill blocking creatures and to do extra damage to opponents, which is everything traditional Zoo builds use burn for.
Since you're running white, and white's strong suit has always been pumping all your creatures, it seems a shame not to include some of that. So why not include both kinds of creature pump in the same card? That's what the folks who designed Sigil Blessing thought!
Now for your creatures. Burn is but one of two things almost every Zoo deck runs. The other is Tarmogoyf. There's just something about a creature who has the potential to grow much larger than its mana cost suggests that appeals to Zoo players. Knight of the Reliquary has that same attraction, but at one mana more and harder to grow, you're going to be struggling a lot without Tarmogoyf.
I'm also fairly partial to Quest for the Gemblades, but I'm not sure if it's fast enough for me to endorse here. Maybe in the sideboard against other creature-heavy decks? Or against decks with Walls that you bash into and can't take down? Or maybe I'm just letting a fondness for a pet card get the better of me.
That's all I can think to do to this deck, Karl. Just remember: if you have a creature and it isn't attacking, ask yourself why.
Good luck!




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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes