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Temur Rhinos in Modern

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Hey everyone!

I've continued branching out in Modern by putting Lurrus back in the deck box and trying a new deck each tournament. Today I'm going to talk about Temur Rhinos as I gave it a spin at FNM; it was both fun and powerful.

One of the best aspects I've found about Temur Rhinos was the ease of play. Grixis Shadow and Temur Rhino games last about six turns on average, but each turn was significantly less complicated. I didn't have to worry about tracking Bauble triggers, cards in the opponent's hand, or presenting a companion. Simple decks are underrated; you can spend more brain capacity focusing on what the opponent is doing. FNM also takes place after a week of work so I'm already not playing my best.

Many of the expensive cards in Temur Rhinos are useful in other Modern and Legacy decks. If you enjoy Force of Negation decks, this is a good entry point as that's a significant amount of the cost.

Shoutout to RIW Hobbies teammate, Zach Allen, for providing insight on the deck. D00mwake has also been streaming the deck and his commentary helped me become more familiar with the archetype. Max Vervoort has also been crushing with the deck on MTGO and helped me make the plunge to explore this deck. I had a serious case of FOMO as he posted Top 8 after Top 8.

Let's get started with my list!


Temur Rhinos has been a competitive Modern staple since the introduction of Modern Horizons 2. It uses Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst to quickly cheat in Crashing Footfalls.

At the core, Temur Rhinos is a tempo deck. Plenty of decks are able to go over the top of 10 power, but it can be challenging to overcome this threat on the third turn.

The Spells

Violent Outburst
Shardless Agent

Violent Outburst and Shardless Agent are the strongest spells with Cascade. They cost three mana, making the deck fast enough for Modern play. One spell can be played at instant-speed and the other has a 2/2 creature attached so they both have their merits. It will be matchup-dependent and context-dependent which one to cast first if they're both in hand. I'll typically begin with Shardless Agent as it unlocks the power of the +1/+0 from Violent Outburst the following turn.

Since the cascade spells can only stop on Crashing Footfalls there isn't much room to customize the interaction.

Fire // Ice and Bonecrusher Giant are accompanied by Fury for an excellent creature removal suite. Between these three removal powerhouses Temur Rhinos matches up very well against creature decks. This deck is a great choice if Hammertime is popular in your metagame. I also faced Humans at FNM which felt like a good matchup despite their disruptive elements.

Bonecrusher Giant
Fire // Ice

Bonecrusher Giant and Fire // Ice deal damage to the opponent which happens to be very relevant in a deck that races to the finish. It's often correct to make chump attacks with Rhino tokens to deal damage to the opponent and get them in burn range.

Bonecrusher Giant can be trimmed to make room for a Cryptic Command. I initially thought Bonecrusher was untouchable, but many Game 1s don't last long enough for the 4/3 to be relevant. If Tron is popular in your local metagame Cryptic Command is a more fun card to cast. Tapping all of your opponent's blockers is also very relevant in this deck.

I don't ever sideboard out Fire // Ice because Icing a land on the second turn followed by Cascading into Crashing Footfalls is the best start against most decks. If you take a controlling role in the matchup then Fire is a high impact spell. It's a blowout to kill Ragavan and DRC on the second turn.

Fury is often a card I will board out all four copies if the opponent doesn't play creatures. It can also damage planeswalkers, but I would rather play Mystical Dispute to fight them.

Bonecrusher Giant is another spell that gets boarded out frequently because they are rarely good against linear decks or Control. The 4/3 body becomes more relevant after sideboard as the opponent is ready for Crashing Footfalls with Flusterstorm, Teferi, Time Raveler, or Engineered Explosives. For this reason, I may leave in some copies when Stomp isn't strong.

Prismari Command
Two Prismari Command can be pitched to both Fury and Force of Negation. In certain metagames a third copy is justified. It matches up well against Hammertime and serves as a way to interact with Azorius Control's maindeck Chalice of the Void. In a pinch you can shock the opponent and create a Treasure token to effectively build your own Stomp. That makes ten spells that deal two damage to the opponent.

There are plenty of matchups where Prismari Command isn't great in Game 1, but can destroy sideboard Engineered Explosives, Void Mirror, and Chalice of the Void in the post board games. It's weak in the mirror because the hate artifacts are symmetrical and would disrupt cascades.

The last burn spell is a single Dead // Gone. This card has made its way into the maindeck recently and plays out better than expected. Fury can deal with Ragavan and DRC on the first turn, but comes at the expense of pitching a Red card. A Ragavan connecting on the second turn can enable some broken draws from Lurrus decks.

Murktide Regent is on the downswing lately, but Gone is a powerful bounce spell against big creatures threatening to block your Rhino tokens. It speaks to the power of tempo effects in Temur Rhinos because it's effectively a fifth copy of Brazen Borrower.

Brazen Borrower not only tempos out the opponent, but can also bounce problematic permanents such as Chalice of the Void and Void Mirror. Since Temur Rhinos takes the aggressive position in matchups without creatures, Brazen Borrower is able to provide a burst of flash damage as well. I haven't found a matchup where I want to board out Brazen Borrower because Petty Theft is more powerful after sideboard and I wouldn't play less than four.

Force of Negation shines when the Red interaction doesn't line up well, making it the perfect hedge. There was a game where I countered a turn one Inquisition of Kozilek to protect my Violent Outburst that ended up being a winning line. Remember you can only pay the alternate cost on the opponent's turn making the instant-speed Rhinos from Violent Outburst safer from counterspells.

The single Murktide Regent looks out of place, but has been good for me so far. Since delve spells have diminishing returns, multiple copies don't play well. The dragon serves as another threat to pair with Rhinos and there are nineteen instants and sorceries to exile. Endurance can target yourself to take additional instants and sorceries out of your graveyard to pump the Regent.

The Mana Base

I haven't had too much trouble with the color requirements in the deck, but I do need to be mindful when fetching. Five mana allows you to cast Petty Theft and Brazen Borrower making triple Blue a consideration. Fury can also be hard cast for five mana so I would also like to have double Red at that point. I may suspend a Crashing Footfalls and cast a cascade spell on the fourth turn making double Green desired.

A single Ketria Triome can be found with the eleven fetch lands. Since suspending a Crashing Footfalls or casting the single Dead // Gone are the only uses for mana on the first turn there are plenty of options to get a land that enters the battlefield tapped and not have to worry about colors for the rest of the game.

I favor suspending Crashing Footfalls on the first turn over fetching Ketria Triome as the Rhinos on the fifth turn are relevant a surprisingly high amount of the time. The opponent needs to plan for turn five Rhinos, but you also threaten more tokens on turns three and four.

Mountain is a basic land to be found off fetch lands to save life. It has less merit than the two Island and the Forest since it doesn't have any additional utility with Blood Moon on the battlefield.

There is only one copy of each shock land because the games go quickly and the second will have diminishing returns. It's reasonable to play a second Breeding Pool as Blue and Green become more relevant after sideboard with Mystical Dispute and Endurance.

There are eleven fetch lands and eight lands to search. This is typically an imbalance, but the games typically end fast enough for this to not be relevant. Misty Rainforest is the best fetch land because it finds Forest and Island which are needed when Blood Moon is on the battlefield.

Fiery Islet and Waterlogged Grove help cycle through the deck as you don't really need more than three mana. It's often a death sentence to miss one of your first three land drops making twenty-four lands reasonable, but you don't want to flood out. Zach Allen suggested playing three Horizon Lands and I've been happy.

Gemstone Cavern looks like a strange inclusion, but some lists play as many as three copies. The difference between going first and second can be ten damage from Rhino tokens and Shardless Agent making it very valuable to steal the initiative. I only want two copies because it's legendary.

I'm not afraid to board out a Gemstone Cavern on the play and it's also reasonable to mulligan mediocre hands on the draw to get another shot at beginning the game with it in play.

The Sideboard

The stock sideboard is:

My sideboard is very close to this as Dead // Gone is a strong card and I want two in the seventy-five. I trimmed an Endurance to fit the extra Dead // Gone.

I tried Jace, the Mind Sculptor as a hammer to drop after a Supreme Verdict sweeps my Rhino tokens, but it doesn't work out well in practice. The biggest issue with Jace is the sorcery-speed threat wasn't cohesive as you will naturally need to play around Flusterstorm.

I also tried Subtlety as a way to interact with Tron's threats, but it again doesn't work out as well in practice since there are so many pitch spells already. Force of Negation and Force of Vigor are important to cast early.

The moral of the story is the stock sideboard looks bad, but plays out much better in practice.

Endurance is strong against Mill as you can put your graveyard at the bottom of your library. It's also the best card available against Living End. After this the applications merely become a 3/4 flash blocker with reach against Ragavan and DRC.

Most matchups won't need either Force of Negation or Fury; if you can't find targeted interaction in the sideboard they can at least be swapped for Endurance as it's a proactive threat.

Force of Vigor is good against Hammertime, Tron, and Amulet Titan. I don't board it to fight potential chalices against an unknown opponent as Prismari Command and Brazen Borrower provide enough interaction. Remember not to pay the alternate costs on Forces against Void Mirror.

Endurance and Force of Vigor are Green pitch spells which don't exist in the maindeck. I will default to suspending Crashing Footfalls on the first turn in Game 1, but it's a consideration to leave them in hand after sideboarding for alternate casting costs.

Card quantity is more important with Force of Vigor and Endurance in the deck. The maindeck has eight pitch spells that are good in different matchups, but boarding one of the two out and replacing it with Force of Vigor or Endurance makes at least seven strong pitch spells in a single matchup.

Mystical Dispute won't often counter Chalice of the Void, but it can hit Teferi, Time Raveler which is another permanent that stops cascade and suspend from working correctly. It's also relevant that you can Dispute a Living End in a troublesome matchup.

Blood Moon is primarily for big mana decks, but can also throw a control deck off balance. There are times you need to play Blood Moon ahead of cascading into Crashing Footfalls meaning you will only have up to two basics in play. This means you can only pay the alternate cost of Force of Vigor and Force of Negation as the ideal basics are Island and Forest in order to cascade.

Remember the opponent likely knows Temur Rhinos has a stock sideboard and they will play around Blood Moon in games two and three.

That's all I have for today. Give Temur Rhinos a try as the deck is very fun. Put 10 power on the battlefield and ask if the opponent can answer it.

Thanks for reading!

-Kyle

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