Deck of the Day – Modern Naya Zoo

If aggressive decks or lunch breaks are your favorite thing, then Naya Zoo is the deck you’ve been looking for.

This deck will commonly win on turn 3. By turn 4, it’s looking to finish the game—or it’s losing. There are games where a few top decks could win it much later than turn 4, but that’s rare. So many of the creatures are bad draws later on in the game that you can’t hope for much better than that—but they’re all outstanding in the first few turns.

Wild Nacatl was banned in Modern. Nacatl is so good that this deck is essentially splashing white lands solely to pump it to a 3/3. This is the best turn-1 play around, as it’s the biggest thing you can create. While many decks are playing cards like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile, they have to have one to deal with the first Nacatl, and continue to need more for each subsequent animal out of the Zoo.

Kird Ape is essentially Wild Nacatl junior, but the single point of power is a big downgrade for your clock.

Goblin Guide is broken. Just straight broken. Sure, sometimes you give your opponents a bunch of lands and “card advantage,” but who cares when you kill them so quickly? This will often be your turn-2 play to maximize damage, but any reasonable curve works well in this deck.

Experiment One is another creature you really want to get out on turn 1. This gives you draws like Goblin Guide into Nacatl to now have a 3/3 Mutant attacking alongside the Guide on turn 2.

Vexing Devil is one of the weaker cards in the deck, but 1 mana for 4 damage is still a huge threat in a deck that’s powering out tons of damage quickly. The Devil will still evolve your Experiment One even if it doesn’t stick in play, although usually when the Devil does stick around it’s because your opponent has a good answer—the other times, it’s because they are simply dead.

Burning-Tree Emissary and Reckless Bushwhacker are where the real Magic happens. This combo is what leads to the quickest kills the deck can stitch together. Any 1-drop into BTE and Buchwhacker on turn 2 will deal 8 or more damage. Nacatl into BTE, BTE, Bushwhacker is a turn-2 attack for 12—this stuff really happens! It also doesn’t have to be turn 2. Sometimes you’ll unload some additional powerful creatures and combo off turn 3. Bushwhacker is outstanding in this deck, especially with so many 1-mana creatures to go along with the “free” BTE. A turn-3 Nacatl into Bushwhacker represents an additional 8 damage out of nowhere. This is the power engine.

The other card that represents more damage than is fair is Atarka’s Command. Dealing 3 and pumping your 2-5 creatures is just far too much damage for a single 2 mana spell. Preventing life gain is another bonus, but this is another way to end games on turn 3 and usually the card you most want to top deck every turn after.

Rancor and Ghor-Clan Rampager are some efficient ways to push through extra damage. There are bigger creatures in Modern, such as Tarmogoyf, and since you want every card in your deck to deal damage, this is the best way to force it through. Rampager will power through a large creature, deal damage, and your animal will stay alive. Rancor will likely cause your creature to trade off in combat, but it will come back for more. At 1 and 2 mana respectively, they both provide a real punch, and Rampager can be hard cast in a pinch in games where you draw too many lands, especially after a sweeper.

Lightning Bolt. I don’t think more words are needed to describe this card other than the name. It’s Lightning Bolt.

There have been many versions of this deck, but the version that I built was the closest variation of what Kyle Boggemes championed to win the Michigan Modern State Championship. His list used Simian Spirit Guides, but they don’t do enough for me (cutting a land and a Bushwhacker from my list). This deck is super explosive and can even win the game before your opponent has the mana to cast Anger of the Gods. While sweepers and life gain like Kitchen Finks are really strong against this deck, it’s also one of the fastest and most powerful decks in all of Modern.

Naya Zoo

Athena Huey, Day 2 at GP Los Angeles

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