Temur Rhinos: Truths About the Best Deck
While 5C Creativity has been my top choice in recent months 2023 is now the Year of the Rhino. In fact, my son, Milo, was born recently and even he is hopping on the bandwagon.
Today I’m going to cover my latest take on the Temur Rhinos archetype as it pertains to how the “best deck” typically evolves in a format.
The maindeck is close to what Oliver Tomajko, Isaac Bullwinkle, and Nathan Steuer have been using to crush both Magic Online and Paper events. I was skeptical of the full playset of Mystical Dispute in the main, but it’s now the way to play the deck.
Dispute wasn’t always in the maindeck, but the strongest decks in Modern play blue: 5C Creativity, Izzet Murktide, and Temur Rhinos. Living End is also making a resurgence as the powerful cascade spell can undo a quick set of rhinos. There are a handful of tier two decks that don’t play blue that are still good matchups: Hammertime, Rakdos Scam, and Golgari Yawgmoth.
Temur Rhinos has been a contender in Modern ever since Shardless Agent was reprinted in Modern Horizons 2, but was rarely at the top of the tier list. Mystical Dispute offers a way to truly differentiate the strategy and provide the necessary edge to best the rest of the format.
On the road to Rhinos becoming the current “best deck” it now scales back the amount of threats and instead plays more interaction. More interaction is a common characteristic of the decks favored by the top players to leverage their pilot skill.
Another popular way to take a good deck and make it great is to add another land. It has been commonplace to play twenty-four lands in Temur Rhinos to avoid flooding, but one of the easiest ways to lose a game is to miss the third land drop.
There’s always a struggle in deckbuilding to make choices to increase power or consistency. Early iterations of the deck leaned too heavily on the power side of the spectrum. Mulligan aggressively to the cascade spells and use the interaction to clear the final points of damage. There are many six card hands featuring three lands, a cascader, and two interaction spells that can quickly close a game.
Another deckbuilding consideration made here was to trim on Brazen Borrower. While it’s early interaction that doesn’t interrupt the cascades it’s a weak effect. Game one features fewer Chalice of the Voids and other hate cards to disrupt your Crashing Footfalls. The sideboard games feature extra threats to diversify your game plan making the hate cards less effective. The way to make a good deck great is to play the strong cards even if they aren’t directly related to your primary game plan.
I disagree with the claim that Fury is one of the cards to cut down due to lower power level as it shines in matchups where Mystical Dispute is lackluster. The stock Temur Rhinos deck plays two Fury and three Murktide Regent, but I’ve found there to be diminishing returns on the dragon.
Murktide Regent has proven to be a strong standalone threat in Temur Rhinos. The first delve spell, Murktide or Become Immense, is powerful as no other card in the deck cares about the graveyard. Each additional delve card forces you to fill the graveyard earlier and more often. I’ve liked Murktide in games where Rhinos is leaving up interaction as a two-mana 6/6 with countermagic up is powerful in Modern.
As Temur Rhinos becomes more popular the win percentage will drop. This occurs as more inexperienced pilots adopt the deck and the number of hateful sideboard cards increase. Favorable matchups, such as Rakdos Scam and Golgari Yawgmoth, will declinel and Living End will continue its comeback. This self-fulfilling prophecy will create a more favorable metagame for maindeck Mystical Dispute.
The sideboard begins with eight straightforward slots: four Force of Negation and four Endurance. These are two of the best sideboard cards in Modern.
Endurance is not only graveyard and Mill hate, but can recycle Crashing Footfalls in games that run long. A double-green mana cost puts it at odds with Blood Moon so I would rather not have both in my deck simultaneously. Living End is one of the exceptions as I will pitch cast Endurance often.
Force of Negation helps shore up the Hammertime and Amulet Titan matchup. I don’t like to board them against a potential Chalice of the Void unless there are plenty of other good targets.
The maindeck doesn’t feature any green pitch cards which makes suspending Crashing Footfalls an obvious early play. After sideboard make sure to consider a topdecked Endurance or Force of Vigor if they’re added to the deck.
Blood Moon’s stock is still high given the presence of 5C Creativity. Temur Rhinos is pushing out some of the greedier manabases.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is the uncommon choice out of the sideboard. Mystical Dispute is the preferred spell to play in the maindeck as holding up a counter after resolving Crashing Footfalls is preferred to casting another threat.
Fable plays well with Blood Moon out of the sideboard. The treasures allow for green and blue mana if you’re forced to play the Moon ahead of searching out basic lands. I can also board in Blood Moon more aggressively with the ability to rummage them away when the color screw plan doesn’t work. It’s common knowledge Blood Moon is in the Rhinos sideboard and the opponent will fetch basics more aggressively.
The Fable plan also gets stronger after sideboard because the opponent’s deck will be filled with cascade interaction. A generically powerful card, even if it doesn’t close out the game quickly, becomes more desirable.
That’s all I have this week. Temur Rhinos is the deck to beat and has a chance against any archetype. The relatively simple decision trees give you time to think more about your opponent’s game plan and conserve brain power in larger events.