Suicide Zoo in Modern: Video Tech

Hey guys! In response to my article about Suicide Zoo last week, I asked my readers which they would rather see: a video about Grixis Control, or one with Suicide Zoo. You guys voted Suicide Zoo, so I did a short Video Tech and then ran the list through an 8-man event to try it out.

Temur Battle Rage art

As this is my first run at producing content in this format, I would appreciate all feedback regarding video quality, presentation, etc., in addition to the usual comments about the deck and gameplay. I feel that an alternating video/written notes structure is best as well, as it can be used either to elaborate on a point mentioned during the video and passed over or highlight a topic I forgot to mention. Let’s begin!

Suicide Zoo Deck Tech

There’s one more concept I would like to mention but didn’t feel like I’d be able to clearly express it in the video: our role in matchups. Due to the explosive nature of our deck we are almost always the beatdown, even in matchups against Burn and Affinity. Not only do we have few (if any) ways to interact with our opponent, every card in our deck is working towards our goal of winning the race. Our opponent is often incentivized into racing us, as our creatures are difficult to block profitably due to our abundant tricks and we often deal 8-12 damage to ourselves anyways. Keep this in mind when boarding, I often leave Dismember in the sideboard even when it has targets, depending on what else I’m boarding in/out. Every cantrip removed from the deck decreases our virtual creature count and makes opening hands slightly worse. Don’t overboard!

Suicide Zoo, by Trevor Holmes

Creatures (20)
Death’s Shadow
Wild Nacatl
Kird Ape
Monastery Swiftspear
Street Wraith

Sorceries (8)
Thoughtseize
Gitaxian Probe

Instants (12)
Become Immense
Temur Battle Rage
Mutagenic Growth
Vines of Vastwood

Artifacts (4)
Mishra’s Bauble

Lands (16)
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Stomping Ground
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Blood Crypt
Temple Garden
Marsh Flats
Sideboard (15)
Nihil Spellbomb
Ancient Grudge
Dismember
Stony Silence
Leyline of Sanctity
Spellskite
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Round 1: Grixis Control

The only thing I would say about this matchup is that Gitaxian Probe and Thoughtseize make it abundantly clear how our deck capitalizes on hyper-efficiency and using life as a resource to keep our opponent on the back foot. At 15:54 we Probe our opponent, revealing his keep of three land, Dispel, Snapcaster Mage, Spellskite, and Cryptic Command. While this hand has some glaring issues (mainly, the lack of removal) it’s still a strong hand for our opponent’s deck, but easily invalidated by a lot of what we are doing in the matchup. After a Thoughtseize taking Spellskite, we easily played around our opponent’s Dispel and just clocked him with cheap creatures while threatening our all-in combo. One of the things I love most about this deck is how horrible it makes opposing “fine draws” look.

Round 2: Storm

The Storm matchup is one that I’m not very familiar with, but it seems to be about as non-interactive as any matchup could probably be. There’s not much that can be said about our strategy besides just attempting to kill our opponent as fast as possible, but we were doing that anyways. Because this matchup comes down to killing our opponent before he can “go off”, post board we should make sure not to overboard and possibly be a little aggressive concerning our mulligan decisions, as slow hands might look fine on the surface but probably aren’t good enough to “get there”. One of the best lessons I’ve learned concerning mulligans went something along the lines of “don’t evaluate hands based on land/spell ratio, but rather look at hands and ask can I win the game with this?”

Round 3: Burn

Burn can be such a swingy matchup, depending largely on the makeup of our hand. Boarding out eight cantrips means that we are doing less damage to ourselves at the cost of decreased consistency. Leyline of Sanctity is not an “auto-win”, as our opponent can still find ways to use his burn spells advantageously. More than anything, the matchup really comes down to how quickly can we find and cast Death’s Shadow. Sometimes, we drop an early Shadow and our opponent is dead the next turn. Other times we can’t seem to get anything going and we’re dead on turn four while our opponent still has multiple cards in hand. I would call the matchup close, probably slightly in Burn’s favor, but I think it’s closer than most people believe. I would have loved to win one on camera to show the naysayers, but we can’t win em’ all. If anyone has Burn online, stop by the stream and let’s play a set!

Conclusion

All in all, Suicide Zoo is an incredibly fun deck capable of some insane draws. The deck has a surprising amount of play to it, and there are many intricacies and complicated lines of play to be explored that aren’t found in some of the other linear strategies. Suicide Zoo is first and foremost a fun deck to play, but I’ve found that the deck presents a unique puzzle that the pilot and the opponent have to get used to solving, and it’s a great exercise and example of one of Magic’s fundamental principles in action. Give the deck a try: I think you’ll like it!

Trevor Holmes
The_Architect on MTGO
Twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming

Trevor started playing Magic in 2011. He plays primarily online and studies Architecture at UNCC. Recent paper Magic accomplishments include a 2015 Regional PTQ win qualifying for Pro Tour: Magic Origins and a Day Two performance at GP Charlotte. He also streams weekdays at twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming! Follow him at twitter.com/7he4rchitect and architectgaming.wordpress.com!

16 thoughts on “Suicide Zoo in Modern: Video Tech

  1. I appreciate you taking the time in between plays to talk about 3 moves ahead. To go through several different lines.

    I do understand the idea of ape over goblin as it isn’t the path/bolt/terminate, but the possibility of the one extra toughness to block something else to survive for your delve/temur

    However, just thinking about it, what about Bob over wraiths. I know wraith helps your starting hand to get lands/buffs. But I hate the multiples in my hand or a draw just a bit later and you are just hovering around 6 life avoid death by bolt

    Just seems like someone would come up with another cycle card.

    But this deck is fun to play.

  2. Thanks for taking the time – I thoroughly enjoyed the videos. Flooding out in Game 2 against Burn was brutal, but I think you made your point: the deck is pretty competitive. I think that the mana base could be tweaked to be a bit more green-heavy (you had a couple of games where a kicked Vines of Vastwood would have been amazing), but overall I’m liking what I saw.

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you like it! The flooding is the most frustrating part of this deck, and I don’t think it can be helped. We are already playing 16 land, with 11 fetches, we just draw so many incidental random lands when we are casting 3 or 4 cantrips a game. I wish there was a way to reduce flood, but it doesn’t seem possible. Maybe the deck would want a one-of Flame Jab or something, but that’s almost definitely bad.

      1. Nice video series – I really enjoyed the Grixis control article as well! Regarding the flood question could something like the new card Magmatic Insight work in this deck, or is drawing two cards not what the deck needs? I notice all the cantrips cost zero.

  3. You write very well Trevor, and I enjoyed the videos as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would love to also see videos of the Grixis Control build you brewed. That archetype is my favorite in modern.

  4. Hey Trevor, thanks for the article and videos! I’ve watched your stream several times and I’m always impressed by your knowledge of the Modern format and your ability to identify the really key cards and interactions in a given match-up. I tend to jump from deck to deck a lot, so I don’t usually get that level of familiarity with one deck. It’s really helpful when you talk through your plays and think one, two, or three turns in advance to show why one play is subtly better than the “obvious” play someone like me might make. It’s really nice to watch someone who does more than just play the cards in their hand without thought, and I’ve definitely benefited from watching you play. Many thanks!

    1. Thanks Jake! I don’t profess to know the most, and in fact I make probably more mistakes than anyone, but I’ve really tried to consciously think about every single play I make in an attempt to get better. I’ve tried to get in the habit of getting up from every match I’ve lost knowing exactly what I could have done to change things around.

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