Awhile back I took what I called a tribal zoo deck to Modern states. I ended up in the top 8 with the deck and lost to Scapeshift combo. Still a little bitter… It’s been a while since I’ve visited the deck (not because of my bad beats) and the modern meta has changed A LOT since then but when I recently dug it out of my ‘decklists’ folder to do some testing online, I realized that it was positioned quite well. In this post, I’m going to dig into the tier one decks and how 5C midrange fares in the matchup.
First off, this is not a tribal zoo deck. 5C Midrange trades undercosted vanilla creatures for utility creatures that do slightly less ‘bludgeoning’. An example of this is the 3 x Qasali Pridemage in the maindeck. Since this list can hit all five colors consistently on turn three (through fetch lands, shock lands, birds, and hierarchs) any efficient two-drop fills the role of the Tarmogoyf in the ‘Tribal Zoo’ versions of this deck. When you are playing WUBRG, there is much upside to your turn two beater being able to destroy Blood Moon or the occasional Ensnaring Bridge, Splinter Twin, Cranial Plating in addition to merely just dealing 3 a turn.
The primary reason I chose to go the midrange route, however, is the interaction between Snapcaster Mage and Tribal Flames. With Nacatl in the main, there is potential for a very aggressive start which, with the help of some fetch damage, can put your opponent in range of a Tribal Flames flashback over the top for an early blowout. This kind of assault forces your opponent to defend in a variety of different ways.
Having all five colors means that any card is castable making it difficult for your opponent to predict what threats and answers you might run in the deck. While things like Tribal Flames won’t be too much of a surprise in a deck that plays domain, some of the other inclusions, especially the tools in the sideboard might catch them on their toes. The biggest learning curve with the deck is which shock lands to fetch for. I would suggest keeping the casting cost and color needs of the cards that are most important in any particular match up and make sure you always have access to those colors. Often times, this means green and white are available independently of one another (ie-Temple Garden might be a bad choice if you are hoping to ride the back of a Voice of Resurgence to victory). Once you get a hang of this decision making process, you’ll find that the mana base is really quite consistent. Also note that the only two basics in the deck are a forest and plains which allow for you to cast one of the Pridemages when stuck in Blood Moon’s magical ‘mountain land’. Get comfortable with shock damage though, as one of the draw backs to this many fetch and shock lands is starting a game off around 15 life. This makes burn and merfolk tough to beat.
Thanks for checking in. Please let me know what suggestions you might have for the deck as well as experiences you might have with a 5C strategy in modern.