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Against the Odds: 35 Rhinos (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 207 of Against the Odds. Last week, we tried something different with the Against the Odds poll, with a bunch of options that were featured four years ago on the first-ever episodes of the series. In the end, it was Siege Rhino from the infamous 34 Rhinos deck that came out on top. As such, we're heading to Modern today to try to top 34 Rhinos by playing 35 Rhinos! Can slamming Siege Rhino into Siege Rhino into Siege Rhino work as well in Modern as it did in Khans of Tarkir Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: 35 Rhinos

 

The Deck

One thing people have been asking for a lot lately is for us to revisit some of the earliest Against the Odds cards now that we have a bunch of sets available. Well, today's our first shot at giving a classic Against the Odds card a second chance at glory. When it comes to building 35 Rhinos, the main challenge is finding a way to fit that many Siege Rhinos in a single deck. When you consider we need 20-something lands, this doesn't leave much room for non-Rhino, non-land cards. Thankfully, Modern offers a couple of cards that are actually two Siege Rhinos in one, which helps us beat our old record of 34 Siege Rhinos while still (hopefully) having a somewhat functional deck. Let's count down our Rhinos!

1 to 4: Siege Rhino

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The most important Siege Rhino in our deck is literal Siege Rhino. While perhaps not quite as insane in Modern as it was in Standard, a 4/5 trample that comes along with a free Sovereign's Bite is still a legitimate threat, and even more so when we have at least one (and often more) coming into play each turn. The biggest reason why literal Siege Rhino is important is that it enables many of our other Siege Rhinos, so getting at least one real Siege Rhino on the battlefield is essential to the function of our deck.

5 to 12: Rhino Tutors

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Our next group of Rhinos is cards that can efficiently find us our literal Siege Rhinos. Thanks to our five-color mana base, Bring to Light is essentially a Siege Rhino that costs one additional mana since we can search our library for Siege Rhino and immediately cast it for free. Meanwhile, Eladamri's Call is technically a Siege Rhino that costs two extra mana since we need to spend two on the creature tutor and than pay for Siege Rhino itself, although the fact that we can break it up over multiple turns makes it cheaper than it looks. Together, these cards make sure that we have at least one (and hopefully more) literal Siege Rhinos on the battlefield early and often.

13 to 16: Eternal Witness

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While Eternal Witness can technically get anything back from our graveyard, in 35 Rhinos, it's basically another copy of Siege Rhino. If a literal Siege Rhino dies, Eternal Witness can get it back to our hand so we can recast it. And if we don't end up with a Siege Rhino in our graveyard, we can always bring back a Bring to Light or Eladamri's Call to tutor up another Siege Rhino

17 to 30: The Double Rhinos

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Cackling Counterpart and Quasiduplicate are basically cheat cards for 35 Rhinos because each is technically two Siege Rhinos in a single card since either can copy a Siege Rhino twice! Quasiduplicate has the upside of being cheap. If we have six mana, an extra card in hand, and a Siege Rhino on the battlefield, we can cast Quasiduplicate twice, make two more Rhinos, drain our opponent for six, and have Rhino Tron on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Cackling Counterpart is a bit slower when it comes to making two Siege Rhinos since it costs seven to flash it back from our graveyard, but being instant speed offers some nice surprise Rhino value, making a 4/5 out of the blue to eat an attacker or pressure our opponent once we untap.

31 to 34: Phantasmal Image

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Phantasmal Image is our cheapest Rhino, being only two mana to Clone a Siege Rhino that's on the battlefield. While the drawback is that it's also our most fragile Siege Rhino (dying to literally anything that can target it thanks to its illusion text), the upside is that it offers our fastest way to assemble the devastating Rhino Tron. If we can play a literal Siege Rhino on Turn 3 (with the help of our non-Rhino mana dorks), we can untap the next turn and, with the help of Phantasmal Image and either Quasiduplicate or Cackling Counterpart, add two more Rhinos to the battlefield, giving us three Siege Rhinos (probably better know as Rhino Tron), which is oddly almost as unbeatable as actual Tron for a lot of Modern decks.

35 (or more): The Mimic

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Our 35th Siege Rhino can actually be an infinite number of Siege Rhinos, but we're just counting it as one: Progenitor Mimic. On level one, Progenitor Mimic is an expensive way to make a Siege Rhino, copying one for six mana. The upside is that once we have a Progenitor Mimic Siege Rhino on the battlefield, we get another Siege Rhino for free on each of our upkeeps! While six mana is a lot in a format like Modern, our few non-Rhinos help us ramp into Progenitor Mimic, and we can also tutor it up with Eladamri's Call when the situation is right.

Non-Rhinos

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

While playing a 100% Siege Rhino deck sounds fun, sadly, four mana is a lot in Modern. If our deck could only play a Siege Rhino on Turn 4 and start making more Rhinos on Turn 5, we'd be dead before our first Siege Rhino hit the battlefield in a lot of matchups. As such, our non-Rhino cards are in the deck for two reasons: they either speed up our Rhino plan (with Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise, we can play our first Siege Rhino on Turn 3) or to help keep us alive long enough to cast our first Rhino (with Path to Exile giving us a way to kill our opponent's early-game threats).

The Matchups

The matchups for 35 Rhinos are pretty simple: we crush fair decks (and also apparently Burn, thanks to Siege Rhino's incidental lifegain) but struggle with unfair decks, where playing a Siege Rhino on Turn 3 followed by two more on Turn 4 isn't all that good if our opponent can simply go infinite and kill us through Siege Rhino's lifegain. Tron is also pretty rough—while Rhino Tron is much more fun than traditional Tron, it apparently isn't quite good enough to beat traditional Tron with any regularity.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with 35 Rhinos and won three, giving us a 60% match win percentage and making 35 Rhinos solidly above average for an Against the Odds deck. More importantly, we played a lot of Siege Rhinos. By my count, across our five matches, we played a massive 25 Rhinos, which is pretty impressive. Oddly, I'm pretty sure that our record with 35 Rhinos in Modern was exactly the same as 34 Rhinos in Standard, so apparently Siege Rhino really is a cross-format all-star (and it might deserve a second look in Modern now that Burn is so popular and the format has shifted to being somewhat more fair thanks to the Stoneforge Mystic unbanning).

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Next week, we'll kick of Throne of Eldraine season with a special episode. I can't tell you what it is, but there's one card from the set that seems designed to be an Against the Odds card. If you're a fan of the poll, don't worry; it will return next week and be overflowing with sweet new Throne of Eldraine cards!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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