CKL Plays (Modern) Bloodbraid “Value” Zoo

After testing a few Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks and being absolutely obliterated by Bloodbraid Elf, we’re starting to think that its not Jace that we should be worried about in this wild new format.  To test that hypothesis, we’ve assembled “Bloodbraid Zoo”, a Naya midrange creature deck taking advantage of Bloodbraid’s cascade by running as many powerful three drops as we can pack.  This deck can close out games very quickly with an aggressive curve started by Wild Nacatl on one or can go long via a value package featuring Knight of the Reliquary, Tireless Tracker, and Courser of Kruphix.  Though we came into this week fearing an onslaught of control decks packing JtMS, Bloodbraid has put creatures back on the map in a big way!


I’ll be the first to admit that, at first glance, these creatures seem likely an unlikely bunch and Nacatl’s early clock seems contrary to a value plan.  What I’ve found is that early aggression from the Cat Warrior can be the perfect set-up for a turn-three Knight of the Reliquary or similar.


This build looks very similar to, but seemingly less focused, than the GW Valuetown decks that play a full four Collected Company.  What’s the difference and what does Naya Zoo offer that GW doesn’t provide?

For starters, Bloodbraid Elf replaces Coco here.  The cards have obvious similarities in their ability to find three-cost creatures and put them directly onto the battlefield but Bloodbraid shines in a few ways.

  • Barring countermagic, Bloodbraid garuntees two hits.  Collected Company can “brick”.
  • Bloodbraid plus Cascade will require two counterspells (or a well-timed Counterflux) to be completely dealt with.  Typically, you’ll get at least something out of the deal.  Worst case scenario, that “something” is a 3/2 haste creature.  Not too shabby.
  • Rather than aiming for a long game, Bloodbriad can cascade into a non-creature burn spell applying some major pressure.  This deck can play a much more aggressive line.

Smash Smash Smash

Battling back against nearly 200 life gained via Proclamation of Rebirth and Martyr of Sands.

While the Valuetown package works very well in the right situations, sometimes its best to just turn sideways and smash your opponent’s life total as fast as possible.  For that, we’re packing 7 burn spells and a few neat little “tricks”.  Let me start by saying, this deck is still being tested.  So far, I’m happy with the numbers that I’ve come up with but I’m not 100% on all of these inclusions.

When the board becomes congested and opposing creatures stand in the way of that one last attack, you’ll want something that can get your 7/7 Knight of the Reliquary through.  For that, I’m trying Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Ghor-Clan Rampager.  Ajani’s -3 ability is always a blow-out as long as your opponent isn’t keeping an army of Lingering Souls tokens.  Otherwise, ticking up to grow your Birds of Paradise seems like a fine back-up plan as the eventual ultimate basically says “I win the game now”.

In the case of Ghor-Clan, using the Bloodrush ability is not casting the spell so it cannot be countered.  The creature you chose to target can be removed, however.  When you’ve got a group of creatures crashing in, a combat trick to this extent is nearly always a blow-out.

Naya Bloodbraid Deck Tech

Naya Bloodbraid Decklist

Credit is due to MTGO user Betrix2688 who 5-0’ed with this similar deck during the first ‘data dump’ since BBE was unbanned.

Creatures (28)
Bloodbraid Elf
Courser of Kruphix
Birds of Paradise
Renegade Rallier
Knight of the Reliquary
Noble Hierarch
Qasali Pridemage
Scavenging Ooze
Tireless Tracker
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Wild Nacatl
Voice of Resurgence
Selfless Spirit

Spells (7)
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix

Planeswalkers (2)
Domri Rade
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Lands (23)
Ghost Quarter
Horizon Canopy
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Stirring Wildwood
Tectonic Edge

Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Ghost Quarter
Gaddock Teeg
Fiery Justice
Path to Exile
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Grim Lavamancer
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Thrun, the Last Troll
Reclamation Sage
Courser of Kruphix
Aven Mindcensor

Round 1 vs. Mono U Turns

Round 2 vs. Bogles

Round 3 vs. Tribal Zoo

Round 4 vs. BR Hollow One