Aether Revolt is sure to change the way that Zoo decks are built in Modern. A strong Limited uncommon has enabled a fast and punishing strategy to be even faster and more resilient.
Renegade Rallier is a 3/2 for 3, which is nothing to get excited about. If you’ve enabled revolt, however, you can return a permanent from your graveyard with converted mana cost 2 or less to the battlefield. That can be a complete game-changer.
With cheap creatures, you are now far more resilient to removal. With a permanent that deals damage in Seal of Fire, you add reach and the ability to kill 4-toughness creatures on a single turn. The floor on Rallier, however, is returning a land. Modern brings you the ability to pack your deck full of fetchlands. By playing a fetchland and using it, you trigger revolt. You can then bring that back into play with the Rallier for a little ramp, or to get two more activations of landfall triggers in a single turn.
The ability to trigger landfall twice per turn is already powerful, but to get 4 triggers on turn 3 is unbelievable. This makes Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede absolute monsters. A turn-1 Steppe Lynx attacks for 4 on turn 2 in this deck. If you follow that up with either another Lynx or a Geopede, your turn 3 can be lethal. A pair of Steppe Lynx with a fetchland and Rallier generates 16 damage on turn 3, and it’s an additional point with a Geopede. That’s blisteringly fast.
You don’t need landfall creatures to power out quick wins. Wild Nacatl is still a 3/3 creature for a single mana. You still have Tarmogoyf as a massive threat that we all know can take over any game of Modern. You can also bring these creatures back from the graveyard with Rallier should they fall prey to a Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, or Fatal Push.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben makes sure the unfair decks play on a more manageable axis. Your Living End opponent now needs to have 5 mana to both cast their cascade spell as well as their Living End. Storm is going to have a real tough time. And decks looking to cast a sweeper as early as possible will struggle to do so, or to dig to find the lands and spells they need.
Naya offers some real nice removal spells. With a deck that’s looking to go aggro extremely quickly, you’re not concerned about the ramp Path to Exile provides the opponent since the game should end before it matters. When you curve Lynx into Geopede into 3-drop, it would normally be a challenge to find space on the curve to cast your 1-mana removal spell. When your 3-drop is Rallier and you’re returning a land to go for lethal, you gain the mana you need to clear the way. With Lightning Bolts to also help get your creatures through or give you some additional reach, this deck can be extremely tough to beat.
Narnam Renegade should almost always be a 2/3 deathtouch creature for 1 mana. This is great against burn decks, and it can trade with bigger Eldrazi or Tarmogoyfs. Knight of the Reliquary is your top-end to make sure you have tons of landfall triggers, a creature to end the game with, and a way to find your utility lands.
I fully expect Rallier Zoo to take most of the market share away from other Zoo and Blitz strategies. I love what the deck is capable of doing, and how powerful Rallier is in Modern!