pie chart

Naya Zookeepers (1st place RCQ)

Pioneer Aggro Competitive Haste RGW (Naya) Zoo



I've been tinkering with this deck for a few months now in anticipation of giving it a real test in a competitive environment. This past Saturday I got the chance when I took it to a RCQ and managed to place first. I want to give a few caveats first before I get into the deck description.

  • The RCQ was not a big RCQ and it did not have the two biggest bads of the format, Rakdos and Mono-G Devotion
  • I did play against other competitive decks such as Azorius Control, Boros Convoke, Archfiend Alteration, Enigmatic Incarnation, etc.
  • I have been playing this deck (sans Boros Charm and Atarka's command) on Arena against Rakdos and Mono-G Devotion since those decks are just as prevalent there.

I will attempt to explain everything about the deck as best as possible. I have concluded I need to make some small changes to card picks before the Regional Championship in Atlanta. This is my first time ever going to something like this and I am incredibly excited for the opportunity.

So first off, the tier 1 matchups:

Deck vs Rakdos: Basically I bring in the roasts and play a game of racing for damage. Roasts are to deal with Sheoldred. Everything else in the deck is reasonably within reach of the regular burn spells. It's a hard matchup overall but often it feels like it can come down to a coin flip because unlike Mono-G devotion, Rakdos doeesn't get above 5 toughness.

Deck vs Mono-G Devotion: Bring in roasts, burning hands, and Kari Zev's. The bigger burn spells help deal with the bigger creatures (though cavalier is a consistent issue due to 6 toughness). However Kari's Zev's acts ass a cheeky booard swing being able to take their biggest guy and swing in with him as well as being able to drop another 2 cost spell whether its to remove another big creature or drop a fast swinger. The big thing is to remove creatures quickly as they hit the field when possible. Tajic helps boost your creatures making most green creatures within lighting strike range even if it's a bad 2 for 1 exchange. You can bring in Alpine moon to hit the Nykthos but that's a risky choice as Mono-G can work around not having Nykthos.

Deck vs Azorius Control: This is a fairly easy matchup. You can bring in cindervines but ultimately it's unnecessary (Cindervines will be replaced with instant speed artifact/enchantment removal). But this is an aggro deck that dabbles in midrange capabilities. You're generally faster and since all your creatures have haste being able to draw, drop, and attack in the same turn keeping control on the backfoot.

Deck vs Sackdos: This is an okay matchup. Better than Rakdos Midrange, worse than Azorius control. Played against it consistently on Arena. Gameplan is to just remove the problem cards Familiar, Cauldron, and Devil. Continue the strategy of turning cards sideways and keeping them on the backfoot. Getting Fleetfoot is a game changer and can really make their strategy feel hopeless.

Deck vs Mono-W Humans: Another hard matchup like G Devotion. They race like you but their creatures get stronger as thy do. Removing cards as they hit means a lot. Don't be afraid to keep burn heavy hands. Don't be afraid to bring in a couple roasts to deal with Adeline as she is the biggest problem card in the entire deck. The rest of your burn plays well with the rest of the decck.

Deck vs Abzan Greasefang: Side in Artifact removal and just keep Greasefang off the field. Yes they can recur but it's more of a combo deck than midrange. As long as those stay dead you will be fine. Chariot is a pain but even killing one cat keeps that off. If parhelion hits it's an uphill battle but not necessarily a losing one.

The Deck The deck is pretty straightforward. It uses the advantage of haste creatures to keep opponents on the backfoot. The creatures all do something useful beyond just having haste.

Creatures Kumano vs Kakkazan - deals damage, exiles problem creatures, boosts your own creatures

Phoenix Chick - Has evasion, can be recurred, quick early damage that often goes unchecked

Earthshaker Khenra - Keeps early creatures from block, can be recurred late game

Robber of the Rich - Pulls cards your opponents deck making them mis land drops, giving you more options, or just robbing them of essential pieces

Samut, Vizier of Naktamun - can attack and still block, has first strike, good draw engine

Tajic, Legion's Edge - Can be given first strike, boosts your 2/x creatures into 3/x creatures. Incredibly relevant in the format.

Fleetfoot Dancer - Has trample, and gives 8 point life total swings most games, hard to remove with 4 toughness and 4 mana cost

Non-creatures Boros Charm - Good first game sweeper protection, 4 damage to the face is relevant for closing out games, double strike can be useful on a card like Fleet foot or Tajic

Atarka's Command - Looking to probably replace, feels dead in many games

Lightning Strike - obvious reason is obvious

Play with Fire - Again obvious reason is obvious

Lands Only land to note is Boseiju and he's there for MANY reasons which seem obvious. Otherwise the land base is balanced.

Sideboard I am just going to label the decks the card will be most likely sided to fight against

Alpine Moon - Looking to replace

Burning Hands - Mono-G Devotion (seriously the deck is that problematic)

Cindervines - Greasefang, Enigmatic Incarnation, Azorius Control, Sackdos, other enchantment/artifact heavy based strategies

Fry - Spirits (Mono, Azorius, and Bant), Control (Azorius and Dimir), Phoenix

Kari Zev's Expertise - Mono-G Devotion, Enigmatic Incarnation, Archfiend Alteration

Rampaging Ferocidon - Boros Convoke, Mono-W Humans, Elf's, Angels

Roast - Mono-G Devotion, Rakdos Midrange, Pheonix, any deck with big butts

So that's the deck. Overall it has performed exceptionally in the months I have been testing both online and on paper. As long as Regional Championship Atlanta is Pioneer then I will be bringing this deck with me (also as long as the format doesn't suddenly do a massive shift in what decks are being played).

It's awesome to win a RCQ and get to go to Atlanta. I hope I do well and if I don't it's definitely an experience I'm sure I won't forget. Feel free to drop questions, comments, etc. Thanks for taking a look.

PS: The name Zookeepers. After making this deck (with help from my best friend Don) we noticed that it followed a similar strategy to the Naya Zoo strategy. However there were no animals in the deck like in Zoo. So since they were all humanoids it seemed appropriate to call the deck Naya Zookeepers.


Updates Add

Part 1: A new card appears

So I made one more change before Atlanta thanks to the new Ixalan set. I was dreading this set heavily because it's almost impossible to tell if a card in the set is going to upheave the metagame before Atlanta that could just make my deck irrelevant. Luckily while there have been some decks making small gains, overall the meta remains relatively unchanged. That's not to say a deck couldn't make a big entrance but I think with 3 weeks till the tournament I shouldn't worry too heavily.

What I did not expect was for a card to drop that would cause me to change my mainboard. Yet here we are. After some testing I've decided to take Fleetfoot Dancer out of the main board. I had said to my testing group before that if Bloodbraid Elf was in this format, I would snap run it over Fleetfoot Dancer. Lo and behold, Wizards gives us Bloodbraid light. Geological Appraiser is that card. This is still not an easy decision as Appraiser does not have haste like all my other creatures, but in reality that's fine because it can fetch a haste creature thanks to discovery (better cascade?). It was not an easy decision as Fleetfoot had some nice keywords to go alongside it's 4/4 body but for the manacost, and lack of impact on the board it seemed more and more obvious that I needed to run appraiser.

Obviously I lose some aspects I previously enjoyed from Fleetfoot, mainly lifegain to help offset heavy life loss. However in return I get a card that is a 3/2 which gets me another card to cast for free. If I discover into a sideboard card like Kari Zev's Expertise then it's pure value that I can't argue with. Also the ability to put that card into my hand if casting it's not a good option gives it a bit of flexibility which is also nice.

So there's my final change to the deck before Atlanta, sans some major meta changing deck appearance.

Part 2: The deck vs the meta

So let's talk against the meta. I expect to be playing mainly meta decks in Atlanta with the occasional spicy brew or new comer deck. So here's how I suspect my deck will perform against the meta decks of the format and what I believe my win percentage will be.

Rakdos Midrange: Tough match up. Game 1 favors them but game 2 with witch stalker frenzy it becomes much more even. Not a BAD matchup but definitely a coin flip IMO. They may have heavy removal but I excel on the top deck with haste creatures. Appraiser also make's top decks less painful due to the discover mechanic. 50% W/R

Izzet Pheonix: A deck I'm really not too worried about. Game one is a coin flip as while the deck does have removal, bouncing my board means little when I can easily drop and swing on the same turn keeping pressure. Yeah they have good burn removal, by my deck goes for the throat on practically every play. Post game 1 I just board in Frenzies and rest in peace making game 2 and 3 very much weighted in my favor. 55-65% W/R

Green Devotion: My pain in the ass matchup. Luckily it's dropped in the metagame from it's previous place, but it's still tier 1 and very used. Game 1 it's a guaranteed loss but I'm winning 1/3 if not 1/4 of the time which isn't great. Game 2 and 3 isn't a sudden guaranteed win, I just even the playing field. I side in Witchstalker Frenzies but also Kari Zev's Expertise making it harder for them to stop my damage. 40-50% W/R

Rakdos Sacrifice: This is a deck that I don't do well against on game one, not Green devotion bad though. It's just a rougher matchup because their deck can prey on decks like mine with their steal effects. However game 2 and 3 rest in peace really kills their strength and can heavily turn the game in my favor. Aside from that it's just burning the important creatures that cause me problems. 45-55% W/R

Mono White Humans: This is a tough deck that can really cause me problems. Like Green Devotion it isn't a guaranteed a loss but it's very much a major uphill battle. Games 2 and 3 isn't BAD still but it can still be a struggle. This is my other Achilles heel deck but overall I know what to expect this game to be like. My biggest target to remove is Adeline and for obvious reasons. Outside that really everything is some kind of threat to take seriously as they all quickly outpace my own deck in creature number and size. Witchstalker frenzy becomes a big friend in this matchup. 40-50% W/R

Boros Convoke: So this one is....weird. I played this deck in my RCQ finals and won 2-1. The deck works well, and does it's thing...well. But it doesn't interact much and you NEED to interact with my deck or my card advantage due to Samut can be a problem. I expect my creatures to trade with other creatures and that doesn't bother me because my top decks are better than most other decks. Really it's a matter of how quickly they pop off. If it's average I think I'm fine. If it's slow....lol. If it's fast then I need to be more calculative in my attacks. Game 2 and 3 is bring in Atarka's command and make their blocks extremely unprofitable. 40-60% W/R ??

Lotus Combo: This is the type of deck my excels best against. Combo interacts little and wants to be left alone while it does it's thing. Mine loves being interacted little with and being able to do it's thing while the other guy doesn't do a ton until they do one thing a lot. Game 2 and 3 I side in rest in peace and wonder if they scoop when they see it. I realize Lotus Field can do multiple things to help create fail safes but Combo decks biggest weakness is Aggro. 50-60% W/R

Part 3: There's my evaluation. I think my chances across the field are fair and even. I realize I'm playing the fairest type of magic imaginable but that's fine. Sometimes fair magic can win better because it's doing things that are easy to do because it's fair and straightforward. Wish me luck in three weeks and my plan is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.



97% Competitive

Revision 6 See all

(2 weeks ago)

-4 Fleetfoot Dancer main
+4 Geological Appraiser main
Top Ranked
  • Achieved #2 position overall 3 months ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Pioneer 3 months ago
Date added 3 months
Last updated 2 weeks

This deck is Pioneer legal.

Rarity (main - side)

9 - 0 Mythic Rares

27 - 12 Rares

18 - 3 Uncommons

4 - 0 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.05
Tokens Earthshaker Khenra 4/4 B, Spirit 1/1 C
Folders Uncategorized, New decks, Pioneer ideas, Other Decks I Find Interesting, Neat Decks, Pioneer decks, Non-Commander Decks for Playtesting/Inspiration, Pioneer and Modern decks, Pioneer, Decks I want to build
Ignored suggestions
Shared with