The Modern format can be complicated. As far as being new player friendly goes, there are quite a number of interactions and mechanics seeing play that require a substantial amount of prior knowledge before being able to successfully maneuver your way through a tournament. The cascade mechanic and split cards specifically have faced a fair share of rules edits and judge calls over the years, and have the potential to be some of the more complex types of cards and mechanics to explain to someone who’s never seen them before. Today, we’re going to try and cover both as we cover a deck loaded to the brim with both. Let’s take a look at Crashcade, aka Temur Rhinos.
Budget Modern Temur Rhinos by Darren Magnotti
Temur Rhinos is a one of several cascade decks currently seeing play in Modern. The main game plan is to abuse the construction of the deck in order to reliably staple the card Crashing Footfalls to each of the eight cascade cards in the deck.
For those unfamiliar with the interaction, when you cascade, you exile cards from the top of your deck until you find a card that costs less than the card with cascade. That found card is then cast for free, disregarding timing restrictions. The deck is built in such a way that the only possible hit off of a cascade is Footfalls. Because the deck wants to keep all of its cards above two mana value in order to enable these cascade shenanigans, it needs to stretch a bit and play some atypical cards in order to make plays in the first two turns of the game. Fortunately, the split cards’ mana value counts as the total combined value of both halves of the card (so while it’s not on the stack, Fire // Ice has a mana value of four) and the three-mana cascade spells don’t “see” them as viable hits.
Feeling dizzy yet? I did say this might get complicated. With the intricate card interactions explained though, the rest of the deck is relatively straight forward. Ultimately, Temur Rhinos is a tempo deck that looks to outpace its opponent by making and enabling plays that generate more value per mana on average. In the non-budget version of the deck, having access to a plethora of “free” spells makes this an extremely simple task because the deck has a bunch of options that can be made without tapping a single land. Here, we need to bend the definition of “tempo” a bit and play more of a reactive midrange game, but the overall feel of the deck is still similar.
Obviously the main threats in the deck are the 4/4 trampling Rhino tokens, which on turn three are typically enough to outclass any creature threat on their own. They’re the main payoff and why the deck is constructed the way that it is. However, the deck also relies on a handful of other value-oriented threats to help apply some pressure.
Without access to some of the free spells that the non-budget version runs, this list is leaning more heavily into a burn-based package to help close that gap. Bonecrusher Giant and Twinshot Sniper provide fair burn spells attached to relatively decent sized bodies. The additional creatures can then be copied as well by the likes of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to apply additional pressure. Fable of course is a tremendous utility piece as well, providing potential ramp and card filtering on top of the value engine on the back side. Magus of the Moon is a threat that attacks on a different axis, with the capability to lock a greedy mana base out of the game entirely.
Running the cascade plan means resorting to some less-than-typical slots in the interaction suite. As previously mentioned, this version of the deck takes more of a burn slant, with Fire // Ice and Dead // Gone as the main spells used to clear the way of pesky blockers and smaller threats on an opposing board. Both of these spells have two-fold function, with the capacity to clear the way of low toughness creatures and to temporarily incapacitate a larger creature. Many games can be stolen by Icing a key blocker or Gone’ing something that the opponent has invested several resources in like a Murktide Regent.
Moving on to the stack-interaction, Failure // Comply acts as the Remand to our Splinter Twin, effectively stealing a turn from an opponent and buying additional time that can be used to further set up the cascade finish. Returning a spell to hand rather than having it land in the graveyard can be quite potent against some strategies, though this card is largely included for the sake of having some form of defense against an opponent looking to use a spell to answer the Rhinos.
Without any fanfare or ado, this deck gave a phenomenal performance. Even through the handicaps of a missing Fury and Force of Negation, the core of the deck and some tight play were enough to deliver two consecutive 4-1 results. Not only is the fundamental game plan incredibly powerful and difficult to answer, but the deck is capable of pivoting in and out of the beatdown role very well. Its simplistic design makes for relatively mental-tax-free games, while the burn package allows for an in depth and complex mathematical frenzy on occasion that keeps long periods of piloting the deck interesting. The mana is a non-issue with so many untapped lands, and while it may have been through luck, Magus only locked me out of playing spells twice.
The deck attacks the format from several angles while relying on two tremendous methods of swinging games in its favor, which combine in such a way that it should be obvious as to why the deck sees so much competitive success. It just has an answer to everything on top of a clock that is incredibly difficult to outpace. This list is excellent for any midrange pilot looking to take their first steps into the format with a list that they can upgrade to something with a well deserved tier one rating.
Modern Temur Rhinos by Randy Horsley
Speaking of upgrades, the list doesn’t get particularly complicated moving into the full version; just a lot more expensive. To maximize points from the Magus/Blood Moon plan, fetches are definitely needed, as well as the second Otawara to deal with any of the myriad answers that people are packing for these cascade strategies.
Outside of the mana base, the majority of the upgrade cost comes from the free spells, which are essentially required to participate in a competitive modern event these days. Force of Negation, Fury and Endurance offer such a robust suite of answers to the entire format while enabling the plan of tapping out for the Rhinos much more reliably. For anyone who’s absolutely in love with the pitch Elementals and other free spells in the format, this deck takes excellent advantage of most of them.
That’s all for today! As always I hope you enjoyed the list. These competitively slanted articles are always interesting because that’s not a field that I take much part in these days, but you can still probably expect them for every other modern showcase. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.