Modern Budget Builds: Temur Ponza Rhinos
Modern is a very expensive format. With decks that cost upwards of one thousand dollars, competing while on a budget is an arduous task. To win in modern, decks need to be incredibly efficient and oftentimes the most efficient cards are expensive. Modern Rhinos is an exception to the rule. The combo is cheap, but the supporting cards and manabase are expensive. With this deck we switch around the supporting cards to fully foster a new strategy. This deck is only 12 Dollars online and 85 dollars in paper so it’s a great first deck and, in my testing, very strong as I have gone 4-1 twice in Magic Online Leagues.
This deck plans to win by slowing our opponents down with land destruction and casting Crashing Footfalls and creating an army of rhinos. Normally the Crashing Footfalls is very slow as it can only be cast off of Suspend. However, with this deck we run 12 spells with Cascade. Cascade allows us to reveal from the top of our deck until we hit a card with a lesser mana value and then cast it for free (this gets around Crashing Footfalls restriction). By building the deck with no cards with a mana value less than three we always hit Crashing Footfalls with our Cascaders.
Shardless Agent is a 3 mana 2/2 with Cascade. It effectively is three mana for a 2/2 and two 4/4 rhinos given our opponents have no interaction. Being at sorcery speed makes it one of the worse options but it is still incredibly powerful.
Violent Outburst is the best Cascade spell in the deck. Being at instant speed allows for great flexibility and can demand a lot of your opponent. Casting it when they tap out or on their endstep are both great options to ensure it resolves. I personally love playing it on their end step, having my opponent counter it and then untapping and casting another Cascade spell now that they are out of resources.
The difference in this deck vs other Rhinos decks is that while they run other 3 drops we run none to enable our Bloodbraid Elf. This means when we cast it it will always hit a Crashing Footfalls or another Cascade spell which will in turn get us a Crashing Footfalls. It feels great to untap on turn 4 play a Bloodbraid Elf and Cascade into a Shardless Agent which then Cascades into a Crashing Footfalls. That nets us 13 power across 4 bodies for only 4 mana, an incredibly strong play.
Taking Advantage of a Budget Mana-base: The Tempo and Ponza Plan
In this deck our goal is to make sure our opponents don't get a chance to do anything before we drop our 2 big rhinos on their face. We do this through our removal and what is covered here, our ponza strategy.
4 Boom // Bust
With 9 Indestructible lands one of the best split cards we have access to is Boom // Bust. Boom allows us to target one indestructible land we control and one of their lands to leave us unaffected and destroy one of their lands. Leading on a turn 1 tapped indestructible land and then casting Boom turn 2 sets us incredibly ahead.
Fire // Ice allows us to remove important creatures like Ragavan and DRC but also tap down opponents lands in their upkeep. Chaining these disruption spells before or after casting a Crashing Footfalls can keep your opponents from doing anything while they take 8+ damage each turn.
Repudiate // Replicate is another key disruption piece as Repudiate can counter fetchlands, Urza’s Saga triggers and even an opposing player’s Cascade trigger. I played a game where I played a Repudiate to counter my opponents first land and then Boomed their second which then locked them out of the game entirely.
The ponza spells in this deck allow you to completely steal games from your opponent by just locking them out. Not only that, but a carefully timed Ice or Repudiate can take out attackers and blockers as well as relevant triggered and activated abilities.
4 Twinshot Sniper
Twinshot Sniper is by far the worst card in the deck. A 4 mana 2/3 with reach that shocks on entering isn’t great but what it is used for is it’s Channel ability. A 2 mana shock is pretty much filler to allow us to have 60 playable cards. In most other versions Bonecrusher Giant would be run. In this deck Bonecrusher Giant is not an option as it is 3 mana which would disable our Bloodbraid Elf from always hitting a Crashing Footfalls.
4 Dead // Gone
Dead // Gone is a great split card in this deck. 1 mana shock can kill turn 1 Ragavans and Gone can get rid of pesky blockers on the end step as well as bounce opposing creatures during combat for additional trample damage.
2 Turn // Burn
Turn // Burn is the last few little piece of this deck. Another 2 mana shock is fine, however, in the late game using the fuse cost allows you to kill any creature. On occasion you will cast just Turn but it is rather rare.
The removal in this deck is incredibly sub-par but gets the job done. The inefficiency in the removal is made up for by the threat produced by our 12 Cascaders. You win by tempoing them out and from synergy in your cards, destroying lands early on and casting a Cascade spell wins you games.
Mystical Dispute: Mystical Dispute is for any blue decks. Having countermagic is very important as it can force through your Crashing Footfalls. If your opponent has open mana you often will wait a little so you have protection up. It also can interrupt your opponents game plan very efficiently.
Foundation Breaker: Foundation Breaker is general artifact and enchantment hate. Bringing it in against any deck that is heavy on artifacts and enchantments is obviously good. However you must also think about any deck that runs Chalice of the Void, Void Mirror, or Blood Moon in their sideboard as those cards can shut you down very quickly.
Leyline of the Void: Bring it in against any graveyard deck, especially Dredge. It also can be good against decks like Murktide which are not fully graveyard focused but can slow them down enough for you to force through a blast.
Narset, Parter of Veils: Narset is good for games that go long. Restricting opponents' card advantage and gaining card advantage of your own is very powerful.
Thrun, the Last Troll: Thrun is for Control. He sticks to the board very well and can just beat down.
Repudiate // Replicate: Not all decks run fetchlands so running a full 4 of these can result in some dead draws. If Repudiate is good in game one you also likely want all 4 in games 2 and 3. The card can be very strong in small corner cases so keep your eye out! (It can even counter Chalice of the Void triggers!)
- Mulligan aggressively. You want to slow them down on turn 2 and then cast a Cascade spell on turn 3. With Bloodbraid Elf you want to slow them down on Turns 2 and 3.
- Don’t put too many Rhinos on Board. Two rhinos can win a game and you only have 4 Crashing Footfalls in your deck so running out can lose you the game.
This deck is a great entrance to FNM that can be scaled up over time to the more popular and powerful version. There will be times that people are playing more powerful, more expensive cards will just win games, but this deck can absolutely hold its own. If it can go 4-1 in two leagues back to back on MTGO it absolutely should be a great first deck. Thanks for reading and if you pick it up let me know how you do in the comments! Funny enough while playing this deck on Magic Online my opponent thought the deck was interesting and as we played they ended up actually buying the deck right then due to its inexpensive nature and power.