Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grove Level Zoo becomes Zenith Zoo

This month I had the unexpected opportunity to travel to Roanoke for a Legacy GPT. Recent set releases had a lot of new ideas floating around my head, but I really hadn't played enough over the last few months to evaluate such changes. I ended this small tournament day with a 2-3 record, having scooped a team member into the top8 in the last round. (Congrats to Jeff to winning the GPT!, good luck in the GP.) It became really clear that even my possible 3-2 finish for the day, my deck had become under-matched, and really needed to be brought up to date. Let the work begin! My prior list can be found here, the only difference being that a fourth Goyf replaced the fourth Lavamancer.

I began by pulling the Grave package, and replacing it with a more traditional Zoo utility lineup. I'm not sure this is the correct call, but the surprise value of the Grove Package has run it's course on the local level, so it's time to at least test other options.
  • -4 Grove of the Burnwillows
  • -2 Invigorate
  • -4 Swords to Plowshares
  • -3 Punishing Fire
  • +4 Path to Exile
  • +4 Lightning Helix
  • +1 each Taiga, Wooded Foothills, Sacred Foundry, Stomping Ground, and Dryad Arbor.

Some of these land choices are just temporary. They are what I had, and I don't want to purchase new duals or fetches until I am reasonably sure I have my card selections and mana balance correct. Wastelands may even be good considerations, depending on how deck selections shift over the coming months. It is also worth noting that 100% of the land now represent a basic land type. Next up were my changes to the creature base.

  • -4 Kavu Predator
  • -2 Umezawa'a Jitte
  • -1 Kird Ape
  • +3 Green Sun's Zenith
  • +1 each Gaddock Teeg, Knight of the Reliquary, Harmonic Sliver, and Farhaven Elf.

The Zenith Package not only makes my creature drops far more reliable, it also gives me on demand access to ~74% of the creatures in my deck. This allows me to run a tool box of utility creatures, and experiment with different mixes. I really think this is the future of Zoo decks, and deserves a great deal of test consideration. If they ever print a green creature which gets strong with the presence of a plains, it could easily replace the Kird Apes, and a Lavamancer. The deck would not only be much less dependent on red mana, but would give Green Sun's Zenith access to roughly 91% of the creatures in the deck. That may well be reason enough for Wizards to never print such a card. As it stands, if GSZ are counted as creatures, as they practically are, creatures represent ~43% of the main deck. This number jumps even higher, an even 50%, considering 4 of the fetchlands can grab Dryad Arbor too.

Last up is the adjustments to the sideboard. Since the creation of this deck, my sideboard has simply been a cobbled up collection of hate for what ever decks I thought I may face on any given day. I had no real plan. I had long wanted to develop a toolbox style sideboard with effective silver bullet cards, and a plan to implement them. It just never really happened. Enlightened Tutor seemed like a great way to accomplish this goal, but I really had nothing beyond a basic concept. I borrowed some ideas from Outlaw, and jumped ahead several months in testing with the following board.
  • 3 Enlightened Tutor
  • 2 Umezawa's Jitte
  • 1 each Ethersworn Canonist, Null Rod, Pithing Needle, Wheel of Sun and Moon, and Gaea's Blessing.
  • 1 each Eternal Witness, Ghostly Prison, Vexing Shusher, and Meekstone as experimental slots.
  • 1 slot yet to be determined
This still has a ways to go, but thanks to Mr. Outlaw, it is way better then anything I ever had before. My guess is Eternal Witness may be a better maindeck call then the mana fixer. Meetstone also seems like a nombo with the deck concept, and needs to be replaced with a better answer to huge creatures. I have my eye on Broodhatch Nantuko to hill this role? I am also very interested in the new Mental Misstep as a way out against combo. That has been a matchup without answers for way to long.

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