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Legacy Weapon – Kird Aping Modern

Life cycles in strange ways. Last year, I lost a PTQ finals in Indy with Zoo. I recently caught the [card]Kird Ape[/card] fever again, and I spent the better part of a week tuning a list for a PTQ in Indiana. My efforts were bolstered by my scouting, which showed there was likely to be a wide-open field, which favors aggro.

I had no interest in a typical Naya Zoo list, and decided early on that I wanted a shell that could abuse [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. As in Jund, the card would serve as a threat, turning binned spells into damage, or as an accelerant for hasty threats like [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]. On top of that it makes [card]Kitchen Finks[/card], the natural enemy of [card]Kird Ape[/card], much more manageable, as you can exile persist creatures with the ability on the stack.

Here was were I started:

“Not Recommended”

[deck]1 Swamp
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Blood Crypt
3 Stomping Ground
1 Forest
2 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Copperline Gorge
2 Scalding Tarn
4 Kird Ape
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Grim Lavamancer
4 Goblin Guide
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Bump in the Night[/deck]

As you can see, I started with burn-style cards like [card]Boggart Ram-Gang[/card], [card]Blightning[/card], and [card]Bump in the Night[/card]. Testing proved disastrous, as time after time I lost my board position only to sit on my thumbs, hoping to draw enough burn in time.

Even worse, the extra draws off of [card]Goblin Guide[/card] gave my opponents a flood of extra lands to pitch to [card]Blightning[/card], a nombo I couldn’t accept. Perhaps if the two cards were intended for different matchups I could see myself shuffling one or the other to the back of my hand, but I wanted to draw both vs. combo. [card]Molten Rain[/card] disrupted better than [card]Blightning[/card], and didn’t care as much about [card]Goblin Guide[/card]’s ability. The card made for a better cascade, too, since it immediately impacted the board.

I shared the list with some friends online, and tested it out against the other members of my car the night before the PTQ. The consensus was that [card]Bump in the Night[/card] is a terrible, terrible card.

Cutting it left me with a problem, though. Without a cheap sorcery, [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] ate a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] too often, which largely defeated the point of [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. I didn’t want cheap discard, like Jund, because I wanted to keep my topdecks strong. In order to make that happen, I needed every card to impact the board, giving me more material to convert into a win.

I eventually settled on a miser’s [card]Forked Bolt[/card] and [card]Arc Trail[/card]. For the last slot, I had a slew of spicy one-ofs spread out, and I asked my car what they thought. I was leaning towards [card vines of vastwood]Vines[/card], but was eventually convinced by Peter Tragos that it was the right call (this is important for later). I was worried about a poor cascade with [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], but reasoned that it would be rare as a one-of, and most of the time I’d have the green to kick it.

At the tournament site, Jacob Baugh recommended [card]Dreg Mangler[/card] over [card]Boggart Ram Gang[/card], and a slide show of Ram-Gang swallowing a [card lightning bolt]Bolt[/card] flashed before my eyes. I snap agreed.

This is what I ran:

The Kird Ape Deck

[deck]Main Deck:
1 Swamp
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Blood Crypt
3 Stomping Ground
1 Forest
2 Mountain
3 Arid Mesa
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Copperline Gorge
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Kird Ape
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Grim Lavamancer
4 Goblin Guide
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Dreg Mangler
4 Molten Rain
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Arc Trail
1 Forked Bolt
1 Vines of Vastwood
2 Abrupt Decay
Sideboard
2 Shatterstorm
2 Sowing Salt
1 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Rakdos Charm
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Torpor Orb
3 Deathmark[/deck]

Even down to the last minutes before deck registration, I was fiddling with numbers and slots. These are a few of the decisions that gave me the most trouble:

Manlands vs. No Manlands

While [card]Treetop Village[/card] looks particularly enticing in this deck, and I wouldn’t be surprised that more than zero is correct, I wanted all of my lands to come into play untapped so that I could cast my spells on time. Waiting a turn to cast a creature with haste kind of defeats the point.

[card]Terminate[/card] vs. [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]

While [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] was a real concern, I wanted my removal spell to hit random artifacts and enchantments like [card]Cranial Plating[/card] and [card]Pyromancer Ascension[/card].

I won a game I probably wouldn’t have otherwise by killing a Signet to prevent a turn three sweeper.

[card thrun, the last troll]Thrun[/card] vs. [card thundermaw hellkite]Thundermaw[/card]

While [card thrun, the last troll]Thrun[/card] isn’t as good of a topdeck as a second [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card], it stone wins situations against decks full of [card]Path to Exile[/card]s and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s. To top it off, those decks are playing a slew of cards to slow the game down, meaning that you’ll have more time to draw into your sick miser.

I was happy with the 1-1 split.

Sideboarding

My sideboard wasn’t perfect, but it was super good.

Affinity

Remove

[draft]3 Goblin Guide
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Thrun, the Last Troll[/draft]

Add

[draft]2 Shatterstorm
3 Rakdos Charm[/draft]

Between [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] and [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], you should be able to live long enough to cast [card]Shatterstorm[/card]. This doesn’t make the matchup good, but it gives you a much needed way of stealing a few games.

UWR Geist Midrange

Remove

[draft]1 Arc Trail
1 Forked Bolt[/draft]

Add

[draft]2 Sowing Salt[/draft]

It seems strange to board in [card]Sowing Salt[/card] against not-Tron, but when combined with the maindeck [card]Molten Rain[/card]s you have a reasonable line that ends with your opponent not casting many spells. Remember, they need to get to [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card] mana, and hitting a key dual can hinder the effectiveness of a pile of fetchlands.

Overall, this matchup is quite strong, and I recommend the Kird Ape Deck if you expect a lot of this archetype.

Pod

Remove

[draft]4 Goblin Guide
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
4 Molten Rain[/draft]

Add

[draft]3 Rakdos Charm
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Torpor Orb
3 Deathmark[/draft]

It’s not that [card]Molten Rain[/card] is bad against Pod, but the cards you’re bringing in are better.

I was expecting to burn out unsuspecting Twin and Kiki Pod players with [card]Rakdos Charm[/card], but ended up playing against Melira Pod twice. Against them, I drew Charm five times, exiling a [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] with persist on the stack, killing [card]Birthing Pod[/card] twice, and burning for the win the other two times.

Jund

Remove

[draft]3 Goblin Guide[/draft]

Add

[draft]3 Deathmark[/draft]

On the play, you can consider keeping the [card]Goblin Guide[/card]s in, but I don’t know what else you would cut.

I love that [card]Deathmark[/card] can answer a turn one [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] as well as a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].

Craziness Ensued

I had some interesting games and general sackitude over the weekend, including:

• Beating Pod in a game with over twenty [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] activations between both players.

• Going turn two [card]Molten Rain[/card] followed by turn three [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] into [card]Molten Rain[/card] against Scapeshift.

• Drawing [card]Arc Trail[/card] and [card]Forked Bolt[/card] against opponents with creatures.

• Using every mode of [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] and loving it.

• Targeting an [card]Arid Mesa[/card] with [card]Molten Rain[/card], as [card]Goblin Guide[/card] revealed a [card]Searing Blaze[/card] on the top of my opponent’s library.

• Having the miser maindeck [card]Vines of the Vastwood[/card] for the win, multiple times, including once against Peter Tragos (Yes, the guy who convinced me to run the card). Thanks Tragos!

• Racing a [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] with a [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] plus three topdecked [card bloodbraid elf]Bloodbraid Elves[/card].

• Drawing seven actual sideboard cards vs. Pod and needing every one.

Lessons Learned

Aggressive decks are awesome for long breaks. The tournament site was overcrowded and heated for the first rounds, and I was grateful to be playing a blisteringly fast aggro deck. Almost all of my swiss matches fell within the 5-10 minute range.

[card]Rakdos Charm[/card] and [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] target the opponent. This wouldn’t matter, except that since we’re running the black mana base, people assume we have discard. Decks like Eggs and Living End will board in [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card], which shuts off the graveyard hate I chose to run. I found this out mid-tournament, which was a nasty surprise.

[card]Rakdos Charm[/card] is still incredibly useful, of course, but [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] is worse than [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card], despite the negative interaction with [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. I might even consider [card]Surgical Extraction[/card], or a maindeck [card]Faerie Macabre[/card] in the [card]Dreg Mangler[/card] slot.

[card]Molten Rain[/card] is much better than expected. Since the Kird Ape Deck piles on aggression, opponents are more likely to fetch out basics rather than shock themselves. This means that [card]Molten Rain[/card] does a lot more work than it usually would, and frequently hits the only dual land to shut the opponent off of a color. The combination of damage and disruption makes it the best cascade hit in the deck.

Aggressive red decks punish those who stumble, and Molten Rain encourages stumbling.

Suspend has two possible triggers to miss. I knew this for cards like [card]Stifle[/card], as hitting the second trigger of a [card]Rift Bolt[/card] has always been a sneaky way to save life points against Burn, but I hadn’t considered the ramifications for the new trigger policy.

Don’t just take your die off of your [card]Lotus Bloom[/card]. Verbally say, “I’m casting this.”

[card]Vines of Vastwood[/card] is the trolliest miser ever. This card caused a lot of sad faces on the weekend. [card]Lightning Helix[/card] is the best card against a [card]Goblin Guide[/card] deck, and this is a counterspell for it and then some. Most opponents have it ingrained in their head to play their removal spells on your turn. Who knows? Maybe you’ll play a Thundermaw or something. This tendency plays into Vines very well.

The best is when the pump gets you the win vs. a non-interactive deck. I exactsies’d multiple combo decks, typically in conjunction with burn or an unknown haste creature. The ability to produce a pile of damage out of nowhere makes it difficult for your opponents to guess how much time they have to set up.

The Result

I wasn’t confident in the deck before the event. After all, it’s a fairly fresh creation, and while I’d tested it against the top decks, Modern can throw some crazy things at you. Playing the deck in a tournament rested my fears, though, and I won almost every game I didn’t flood out, and several where I did. I tore through the swiss at 7-0-1, which was good enough for second seed in the Top 8.

In the end, I lost the finals to Jasper Johnson-Epstein, who was playing a strong burn list.

Here it is, if you’re into that sort of thing:

Burn

[deck]Main Deck:
4 Arid Mesa
1 Blood Crypt
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
6 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Stomping Ground
2 Deathrite Shaman
4 Goblin Guide
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Vexing Devil
2 Hellspark Elemental
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Bump in the Night
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Shard Volley
1 Searing Blaze
1 Sudden Shock
3 Flames of the Blood Hand
4 Rift Bolt
Sideboard
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Spellskite
1 Electrickery
2 Thoughtseize
2 Back to Nature
4 Rakdos Charm
3 Searing Blaze[/deck]

Good luck to everyone PTQing.

Caleb Durward
@CalebDMTG

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