I've been playing plenty of Temur Rhinos lately and I've settled on a list. Not only have I been doing well in my events, but I also ventured into coaching the deck. I played through a couple leagues and Modern Challenges last week which was very fun and learned a lot.
Today I'm going to share my updated list and how to sideboard. This is a good time to share the update as the SCG Invitational is quickly approaching.
Let's get to it!
As always, there are twenty-eight spells that I wouldn't consider cutting:
- 4 Crashing Footfalls
- 4 Violent Outburst
- 4 Shardless Agent
- 4 Brazen Borrower
- 4 Force of Negation
- 4 Fury
- 4 Fire // Ice
Here are my remaining eight flex slots:
4 Dead // Gone - I've mentioned this before, but this card always exceeds expectations. It was only a matter of time before I included the full playset in the maindeck.
2 Cryptic Command - This is my signature card. It has continued to impress, but there are concessions to the mana base to support . As Rhinos becomes more popular, bounce spells become more important as anything larger than 4/4 can profitably block your tokens.
2 Seasoned Pyromancer - I cut the third Pyromancer for the fourth Dead // Gone. I wanted extra help on the draw because the mana base has a hard time supporting two Gemstone Caverns with Cryptic Command in the deck. The color requirements are alleviated by going to two Pyromancers, too.
Half of the flex slots are dedicated to staving off early aggression and the remaining four help if the game goes long. A 50/50 split has felt like a good balance.
There are some new developments in the sideboard:
1 Blood Moon - The stock lists play three, but I haven't been impressed outside of the Amulet Titan and Tron matchup. Between cascading and holding up Mystical Dispute my 3-drops are already overloaded. Tron and Amulet Titan aren't very popular at the moment, but you can play more Moons if this isn't the case in your local paper metagame.
Savvy players know to play around Blood Moon after sideboard making it risky to have too many copies in your deck. Your plan can even be revealed with a cascade revealing too many cards.
1 Prismari Command - My low commitment way to destroy Chalice of the Void and Engineered Explosives after sideboard. I wouldn't play more than one because the extra copy wouldn't come in often outside of the Hammertime matchup.
4 Force of Vigor - This is your best card against Hammertime which is one of the strongest decks in the format. Don't play less than four. I only side it in against artifact and enchantment decks and not to destroy Chalice and Engineered Explosives as it's too narrow.
One of my biggest issues with the Four-Color Rhino deck is that Yorion makes you less likely to find Mystical Dispute and Force of Vigor after board. These two cards are likely to be high impact in their respective matchups.
80/60 = 1.33 (33%) more cards when Yorion is your companion.
If you play four Mystical Disputes in an eighty card deck it's the same as playing three (4/1.33) copies with sixty cards. This is a large difference as the effect is powerful and unique.
3 Endurance - It's possible to play four Endurance to improve the matchup against Rakdos Lurrus, Dredge, and Living End. I don't want four Endurance to be part of the flash game plan against Azorius Control which makes the fourth copy fairly narrow.
Violent Outburst can be played on the opponent's turn after they cast a spell which could gain 9-12 life.
Splashing a color to interact with Burn is a losing battle as the painful mana base will undo the extra life gain. Four Color Yorion can interact with Solitude and Omnath, but it comes at a price.
I view the two Weather the Storm slots as flex slots. Swapping two Blood Moons is a metagame call. Burn is currently well positioned and the stock sideboard cards don't interact favorably in the matchup.
The conventional wisdom is to mulligan every seven card hand without a way to cascade into Crashing Footfalls in Game 1. I tend to keep more sevens without a cascade spell based on the opponent's companion status.
If the opponent reveals Lurrus then it's highly likely Fury, Dead // Gone, and Fire // Ice will line up well in the matchup. This means I can not only keep cascade hands, but also hands with Red removal. The one exception here is Mill so there is some risk.
When the opponent reveals Kaheera, the Orphanguard, I'm up against Azorius Control or Elementals. Both of these decks play Teferi, Time Raveler meaning Force of Negation is important in the matchup. The eight Red removal spells (Dead // Gone and Fury) are weaker.
Yorion, Sky Nomad also indicates a slower matchup where raw resources matter. The Four-Color piles and Azorius Control also play Teferi, Time Raveler meaning Force of Negation is potentially crucial. Again, with eighty cards it's the same as playing three Teferis in a Kaheera deck so I can respect it slightly less.
Kaheera and Yorion decks both have the potential to include Supreme Verdict.
Most creature decks play Lurrus meaning the Red removal is weaker against decks without a companion. Golgari Yawgmoth is an exception. Most linear decks don't play a companion making Force of Negation more likely to be strong. I'll mulligan more aggressively in these matchups because their plan likely can't be contained with just one piece of interaction.
The play and draw also impacts the mulligan decision. Teferi can come down ahead of cascade spells when the opponent is on the play. You need five mana to bounce Teferi with Brazen Borrower and cast a Cascade spell on the same turn. The opponent will likely tick up Teferi to five loyalty and play around Fury.
In matchups where the Red removal shines the game may be over by the time you make eight or 10 power on the third turn on the draw. The game can't only be about making rhinos as it's not a game-ending effect.
On the play you will be under less pressure when waiting for a Crashing Footfalls to come off Suspend. Fire // Ice will also be more powerful to use as a Time Walk on the second turn. The cascade spells are also more likely to close the game when the opponent has one less turn to try and stop the Rhinos.
After sideboard the opponent will likely have a hateful artifact to interact with your nut draw. This means Chalice of the Void, Void Mirror, and Engineered Explosives. I'm less interested in the cascade spells after sideboard and value keeping hands with lands and spells.
The hateful artifacts can be bounced and destroyed meaning they play out similarly to Blood Moon against Tron. Simply playing the hate card is not enough; it must be backed by pressure.
I also know precisely the interaction I want after sideboard so it's less of a guessing game if my keep without a Cascade spell will pan out. Some matchups, like Burn and Dredge, don't have much meaningful interaction so I have to mulligan more aggressively to find my fast draw.
Temur Rhino Mirror
Don't get too cute in this matchup. Gone can bounce a Rhino token, but it costs an entire turn. Mystical Dispute can counter a Crashing Footfalls or protect your rhinos against opposing Dispute or Force of Negation.
Endurance is part of your flash game plan, but the 3/4 body is quickly invalidated by a 4/4 rhino.
Fire // Ice is dramatically different on the play and draw. On the play, the second turn Time Walk is less important because Rhinos starts playing on the third turn. On the draw you can Ice before Violent Outburst and Shardless Agent. This can be played around by not cracking a fetch land on the first two turns. This line can be the difference between winning and losing.
Fury can be pitched early to kill a Rhino which isn't a good exchange, but can be justified in the name of tempo. The mid game features low resources as both players 2-for-1 themselves with forces and a 3/3 double strike can dominate.
The mirror is tricky and every card plays a role. In a matchup that is potentially dictated by tempo there are many different outcomes. The best advice here is to be flexible in what you prioritize. Creating rhino tokens is the primary objective, but there are crucial decisions along the way.
Since I'm boarding in Force of Vigor, the Blue cards become less useful after sideboard. Ideally, I stop the initial onslaught and get to hard casting Force of Vigor. Cryptic Command is a less powerful four-drop than Force of Vigor so it gets the axe.
Hammertime is a very tricky deck. I watched Will Kreuger's stream (Xwhale) to learn more, but I didn't fully comprehend until I played the deck for myself. Hammertime can come up with some pretty intricate lines and you will be faced with many life or death decisions.
I think the matchup is slightly favorable, but you can't just sit on a pile of removal and expect to win. Not only do they have Lurrus and Urza's Saga, but even Esper Sentinel can generate card advantage.
Petty Theft can bounce a Sigarda's Aid when a Hammer is on the stack so it won't enter the battlefield equipped.
- -2 Cryptic Command
- -2 Seasoned Pyromancer
- -2 Crashing Footfalls
- +2 Weather the Storm
- +2 Force of Vigor
- +2 Mystical Dispute
Burn's primary hate in the sideboard is Roiling Vortex. It deals us five damage when we cascade or pitch to cast Force of Vigor. I still want Force of Vigor to kill Eidolon as we also take four damage when playing a cascade card.
Cryptic Command is difficult to cast because I need to prioritize fetching basics to conserve my life total. Seasoned Pyromancer is in a similar situation. The matchup is about speed and not dying and these flex slots are about making the game go longer.
I swap two Crashing Footfalls with Weather the Storm to increase the odds of cascading into life gain. If I were to suspend Footfalls on the first turn it's likely that I need to fetch a shock so naturally drawing them is not appealing.
Winning the die roll is crucial. If you lose the die roll and find yourself down a game then Weather the Storm gives you the best chance to win a post board game on the play and draw.
The first game favors you if they don't begin with an early Murktide Regent. Your Red removal can take care of Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler. When you spend early turns bouncing Murktide it's only a matter of time before it comes back. A 5/5 Murktide that is recast is still large enough to hold off your rhinos.
A savvy Murktide player will play around Fury getting a 2-for-1 so it's typically just throwing two cards at their one-mana threat. Force of Negation is in a similar spot because you are exchanging two cards to stop their two-mana spell. If a card won't kill me and it's cheap then I'm not a fan of using a pitch card to interact.
Mystical Dispute is the strongest card in the matchup. Not only does it stop the early Murktide that was so threatening in the first game, but it also forces through a cascade spell on the fourth turn.
Murktide boards in a few one-mana counters and a couple Engineered Explosives which is a big upgrade compared to Lightning Bolts and some Unholy Heat they remove.
As expected, the Red cards aren't great in the matchup. I want to play like a flash deck after sideboard; sticking one threat at a time to play around Supreme Verdict. As a general guideline I try to wait to hard cast Force of Negation when possible because Supreme Verdict can undo any tempo. This is the tricky part to get right and is a judgement call. Do you throw away cards to generate tempo or will slow and steady win the race?
Similar to the Murktide matchup, I don't want to pitch a card to cast a free Force of Negation to stop a one- or two-mana spell. The difference is that Jund Sagavan takes longer to win the game than Murktide making Fury a better mid game topdeck.
Endurance can slightly shrink Tarmogoyf, but between their Urza's Sagas and your Shardless Agents there are plenty of uncommon card types on both sides. I mainly have Endurance to flash in and eat a Dragon's Rage Channeler that must attack or a Ragavan.
Bounce spells are strong in this matchup because they not only kill Construct tokens, but also temporarily answer Tarmogoyf which is large enough to block rhinos.
Force of Vigor wasn't great against Tron as it was basically a way to destroy an Expedition Map or Chromatic Sphere on the first couple turns. I didn't start feeling confident about the matchup until I brought in Mystical Dispute instead.
If you choose to play the second and third Blood Moon in the sideboard I would cut the last two Dead // Gone. This is honestly only a mild upgrade as using Gone to bounce Wurmcoil Engine or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can be a game-winning play.
That's all I have for today. Temur Rhinos continues to be a great metagame call. The deck is a lot of fun and I would highly recommend this list. If you're interested in coaching you can contact me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading!