Trample to the 4/4 Beat: Modern Temur Rhinos Deck Guide

About a year ago, Modern Horizons 2 shook up the format. New decks emerged, existing decks got boosts, and some decks became obsolete. Actually, the ground is still shaking now. Fresh from an RCQ victory, here's everything you need to know about Crashing Footfalls, from flex slots to sideboarding!

ff - outburst - agent

Before we crossed the event Horizon, a pet deck of mine used to mess around with As Foretold and Electrodominance. The whole idea back then was to power out Crashing Footfalls as early as turn one (or even turn zero!) with the help of Simian Spirit Guide and the aforementioned cards. However, after the banning of everyone's favorite mana monkey and the Modern printing of Shardless Agent, the old way found itself summarily replaced by a new way.

And what a way it has turned out to be. Temur Cascade, Rhinos, Crashcade. The name varies, but all reference the same plan: cascade into 8 to 10 power by turn three, one of the most imposing board presences you can present this early in Modern. It was a natural transition for me. (I already had those foil Rhino tokens after all.) My first impression playing the deck was shock at the sheer consistency of the turn three cascade. Where my old deck required very specific draws to "do the thing," this one needed just that one copy of either Shardless Agent or Violent Outburst.

I've been hooked on the deck ever since. So my choice for the RCQ season was pretty straightforward.

Temur Rhinos has established itself as one of the top contenders in the metagame in the year since MH2. It features a fast clock and cheap, tempo-oriented interaction to end games quickly. It is highly consistent in achieving its goal of casting Crashing Footfalls on turn three, and it even mulligans fairly well, as sometimes all you need to win is three lands and a cascade spell.

Adventures in Deck Design

Having to rely exclusively on cards with mana value 3 or greater to ensure that your cascade always hits Footfalls has led to some interesting deck building. Adventure cards like Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft and Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp only count the top right mana cost while resolving cascade, and Fire // Ice counts as mana value 4, despite all being potential turn two plays. This gives you the opportunity to interact early, garnering tempo by casting Ice on a land in your opponent's upkeep or bouncing bothersome permanents with Petty Theft to clear the way for your cascade spells on turn three.

brazen borrower fury

Of course, all of the free interaction is vital to the strategy as well. Force of Negation protects your Rhinos both on the stack (when you cascade during the opponent's turn via Outburst) and on the battlefield. Fury clears the way on the ground. This really eases the tension of having to play slightly less efficient interaction as a trade-off for your extremely efficient threats.

There is also some room for personalization and adjustments for local metagames. 54 cards in the main deck are essentially written in stone at this point. But the remaining six can be swapped around and changed depending on what you expect to see at your next tournament. The flex slots are, using my RCQ list above as an example, the fourth Fury, the two Bonecrusher Giants, and the three Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. Lists have been popping up with all kinds of utility cards, for example Endurance, Archmage's Charm, Prismari Command, and Subtlety. Some have even just slotted in an extra copy of Boseiju, Who Endures and Otawara, Soaring City to up both the land count and the interaction for cards like Chalice of the Void.

The Story Behind the Fable

Fable has been making waves in multiple formats since its printing in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, even showing up in some Legacy lists. A week or so ahead of the tournament I saw a few lists with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki in the flex slots of Rhinos. I decided to try it out myself on Magic Online. Five leagues in, I was thoroughly impressed with the card.

fable of the mirror-breaker reflection of kiki-jiki

It does a lot of small things that add up to what is closer to a two- or even three-for-one, something that the Rhino deck values highly. This is because the deck doesn't have any means to generate actual "true" card advantage, for example by drawing extra cards. However, you can easily generate "virtual" card advantage. Forcing your opponent to use two removal spells to deal with your Rhinos, which only cost you one card, technically means you are up one card on your opponent. Fable does similar things.

You get a 2/2, you get to discard potential dead draws to get more shots at what you need, and the back side needs to be dealt with. While you don't have amazing copy targets in the deck, just getting an extra Rhino attacking can be backbreaking. But of course, there is also the potential of "soft-locking" your opponents with any of the Elemental Incarnations. Copying Fury is absolutely brutal for any deck on the opposing side, copying Endurance can lock down graveyards forever, and copying Subtlety can stop big creatures or planeswalkers from coming down until the opponent can cast them twice.

You essentially get to attack from a different, sometimes unexpected angle, all while stretching your opponent's removal and resources even further than normal. I will concede that Fable is pretty atrocious in aggro or combo matchups, as you will see in the sideboarding section. But when you need to grind through counterspells and removal, it does some very heavy lifting few other cards can match, at least for the mana cost.

Sideboard Guide

Sideboarding with this deck is also relatively straightforward. You don't have tons of options for your sideboard to start with, as you are still restricted to spells with mana value 3 or greater. This makes the sideboard clean and simple, usually maxing out on four-ofs.

gemstone caverns

One important thing to note when sideboarding, however, applies if you're running two copies of Gemstone Caverns. Always remember to board one out on the play. While it is amazing when you can put it into play on the draw, drawing your second copy on the play is quite literally a dead draw, as it is a legendary land.

Even though there are only four different cards in the sideboard, it can be helpful to know what to bring in when, and also what to take out! Here are some examples for some of the most prevalent Modern decks.

Sideboarding Aganst Izzet Murktide
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You want to mulligan within reason to find a Leyline in this matchup. Ditching an "okay" seven-card hand can sometimes be the right call. Force of Negation also loses a lot of value when Flusterstorm comes in from the opposing sideboard, making it difficult for you to win counter wars. For that reason, spending the one mana for Mystical Dispute is a better play, as it also has the upside of countering Ledger Shredder and Murktide Regent.

Sideboarding Aganst Four-Color Elementals
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This matchup is tough but even. You want to be leaning heavily into the tempo plan, and if you're expecting a lot of this matchup, I would run Subtlety over Bonecrusher Giant in the main deck.

This matchup is very different pre- and post-board. I will concede that this is a very tough battle in game one, but getting to bring in the full four Force of Vigor really helps swing the odds in your favor.

This sideboarding might seem a little odd, and it is. It's a largely arbitrary swap, only because Fable is not at its best in this matchup. Force of Vigor can snipe Eidolon of the Great Revel without triggering it, and using Dispute as an expensive Mana Leak can be the difference between life and death at times. You just want to stem the bleeding and cascade as fast as possible, as the Rhinos will win the race most of the time.

This matchup is probably the only really bad one Rhinos have. Living End has disruption, their cascade is both bigger than Footfalls and wraths existing Rhinos, and there are a lot of dead cards in game one. Post-board you want to mulligan aggressively for Leyline of the Void as it will be hard to win without one. If you expect a lot of Living End, you might want to double up on both Endurances in the main deck and Leylines in the sideboard.

Game one is tricky. But getting to board in plenty of disruption is very nice and often buys yourself the extra turn or two you need to beat the Titans.

Yawgmoth is one of the more favorable matchups you can find among the top meta decks. Fury just decimates the low-toughness creatures, and since Rhinos trample, they can't be chumped efficiently. You can essentially pressure both their life total and their creature count, two of the Yawgmoth player's most important resources.

Sideboarding Aganst Death's Shadow
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This is another difficult matchup, simply due to the variety of disruption Death's Shadow decks have access to. Drown in the Loch to interact on the stack and Thoughtseize to disrupt the hand. Regardless, Force of Negation is not where you want to be post-board, as two-for-one-ing yourself to fight counters is a recipe for disaster in the face of Flusterstorm, much like in the Murktide matchup.

Tron is a pretty favorable matchup. The quick clock you can present backed up with disruption is very hard to deal with for Tron, as they usually only play one big spell per turn. Force of Negation on Karn Liberated or bouncing Wurmcoil Engine can sometimes just be game over.

Sideboarding Aganst Temur Rhinos (Mirror)
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The mirror match is, sadly, often quite uninteresting. That is because it all revolves around who can resolve the most Footfalls. If you run Endurance in your list, you can target yourself to put Footfalls and cascaders back into your deck to grind out your opponent.

Sideboarding Aganst Four-Color Creativity
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As long as you can prevent the namesake card, Indomitable Creativity, from resolving, this matchup is pretty straightforward. Even when a single Archon of Cruelty hits the board, this is still something you can beat with bounce spells if you're ahead in the race.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.


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cadu58(25.09.2022 22:31)

This article is very very good. The main problem is the word count limitation! Thank you!

RonePro(29.08.2022 09:00)

Amazing job! I have been toying as well with Fable Rhinos, but only adding 2 copies and 2 maindeck Blood Moon. I will surely try your list Jonatan.


MakutoPro(27.08.2022 08:00)

Great article Jonatan! Very well written and tones of useful information.