Insider: Adapting Temur to New Standard

Mike-Lanigan QS Magic the Gathering MTG

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Over the summer, I played one of my favorite decks of the past couple years, U/g Devotion. Most players thought devotion decks were dead once Theros block had revealed all its secrets, but with every new set release, I pursued the archetypes once again.

It wasn’t until Magic Origins was released that my efforts bore fruit. I and many other authors were filled with delight at the long list of possibilities brought to light by the brilliant finale to the core set model.

While everyone else was brewing U/R Artifacts or G/B Elves, I was working to bring back Blue Devotion. Here’s what I rocked all summer.

One way to discern if your deck has what it takes is to lend it to someone else to see how they do. I put this process to the test with this deck.

One day my shop was running a small tournament while I was busy with store owner stuff. A frequent customer showed up looking eager to play. With a forgotten deck sitting at home, they appeared about as distraught as a Star Wars fan two months from now who failed to preorder tickets.

The player I lent the deck to is not dedicated to the competitive scene, but their goal was to have fun, so I explained the basics and left them on their way. Being so busy, I didn’t have time to think about the results I was entering in, but at the end of the event I was pleasantly surprised to see my deck had made it to the finals.

In the limited time it was legal, I never got a chance to play U/g Devotion at a bigger event. I had so much fun playing the deck though, I didn’t want to let it die when the format rotated.

Porting Devotion to New Standard

When I saw that Lumbering Falls was in Battle for Zendikar, I knew there was a possibility of porting the deck into the new format.

Any manland WotC gives us will see play at some point. Even cards like Foundry of the Consuls or Spawning Bed are good enough for Standard.

Manlands that double as mana fixers are extremely powerful, and provide a strong incentive to build around. Lumbering Falls and its brother Shambling Vent may not be the most exciting examples we've ever seen, but they still present these incentives.

One of the key components of the U/g Devotion deck was the sideboard strategy against control decks. This may come as no surprise, but I was sideboarding in a healthy Counterspell package.

When Mono-Blue Devotion originally thundered onto the scene back in Theros block, players would bring in at minimum a play set of Dissolve. During that time I had a different strategy that worked quite well for me, but when I started remaking the deck with Magic Origins, I remembered back to how the original version played.

Take note that both of the Origins additions, as well as Collected Company, are instant-speed. This means your opponent never knows what type of disruption to expect at any given moment. Your open mana might represent an additional threat, a bounce or tap effect on a creature, or a counterspell.

This ability to play the game on the opponents' turn was the core attribute I was looking to retain in the new build.

This obviously meant various instants and threats with flash, but it also implies high-impact cards that can be slammed into play after you force the opponent to respond on their turn.

Originally, this role was played by Master of Waves and Thassa, God of the Sea. Both of these cards have a dramatic impact on the way the game plays out. Thassa allows you to filter draws and build to unblockable threats, while Master generates a massive number of threats in one card.

Trying to apply this principle to the new deck, I was at a loss. First of all, I didn’t think the deck had enough meat to make it with just blue and green cards, and second there was nothing remotely similar to Thassa or an elemental army in a can.

The Shift to Temur

I began looking to other colors. I was set on the core of Harbinger of the Tides, Bounding Krasis, and Collected Company. If this strategy was going to work, I would need all three of those cards to build around. That meant adding a third color.

One of Standard's underappreciated bombs is Savage Knuckleblade. When I remembered this card existed, I knew I was on the right track.

Players never got used to playing against this card because there hasn't been a deck that could take full advantage of it. Additionally, with the plethora of Siege Rhinos that were stampeding around the metagame, it didn’t seem like the appropriate time to be jamming 4/4’s.

I only needed to cast this guy one time to realize how insane it really is.

As it turns out, you don’t need to worry about a 4/5 because you can always threaten to pump your Knuckleblade. The risk of investing mana to pump in combat is also mitigated by the counterspell suite, which can protect Knuckleblade should they try to Abzan Charm him or the like.

Before I go on, take a look at the list I'm working with.

You'll notice there are no lands yet; the mana base is still a work in progress. That said, the interesting part are the spells.

The one that probably stands out the most is Shaman of the Great Hunt. I can tell you, that guy has been bananas. Like, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Shaman is a great follow-up to any interaction on your opponent's turn. During my first tournament with this deck, I was able to sequence the turns that way, adding a +1/+1 counter to two other creatures in the process. To follow that up, later I drew three cards twice with Shaman's other ability. There are few cards in Standard that can get that much mileage.

The creature base can definitely get outclassed by other decks, but you have many ways to interact with larger threats. The majority of the time you can find some way to force damage through. And you can often just fall back on the power of Savage Knuckleblade. They don’t have many six-point chunks of life to spare, and they may be in chump-block mode faster than they expect.

Speaking of Knuckleblade again, he is the perfect threat for this style of deck for so many reasons.

First of all, Knucks is great to cast on turn three. Sometimes you have four mana thanks to Rattleclaw Mystic, who will let you haste him up on curve. Secondly, he fills the role of a board-dominating threat occupied earlier by Thassa and Master of Waves. Finally, there’s nothing better than this guy to hit off of Collected Company.

Another great aspect to playing Temur is that we have access to the wedge's charm as well. These Temur-specific cards have gone unnoticed not because they aren't powerful enough, but because they needed the right deck to take advantage of them.

Temur Charm, for instance, is Mana Leak, instant-speed Hunt the Weak, or pseudo-Falter. Talk about being prepared for any situation.

Not only can you counter nearly any spell, you can also deal with threats after they resolve. The last option happens to be extremely relevant right now with all the tokens running around. Against Bant Tokens, for example, your game plan if they stabilize is to dig for Temur Charm to push through the final points of damage.

Matchups and Further Development

I've been surprised how well this deck has fared in the current metagame. The hardest matchup is G/W Hardened Scales, which you won’t have to face off against very often.

Hangarback Walker is a pain as well. Sure you can tap it or bounce it, but you don’t really have a good way to deal with it permanently in this color combination. I might need to add Touch of the Void to the sideboard to solidify matchups against the thopter-making machine.

All the other matchups are winnable, and according to my limited testing, favorable.

I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough of the creation of Temur Company. If you love countering spells but also being aggressive, this deck is definitely for you.

If you're playing something similar to this deck, tell me how that’s going in the comments. Let me know if you're on the heavy green version too. I prefer the version that can cast Harbinger of the Tides, but I’m open to opinions. Give this deck a try and let me know what you think!

Battle for Zendikar Price Update

In case you missed the memo, Battle for Zedikar prices tanked hard this past weekend. Nearly every card in the set dropped in value.

We all thought this might happen, due to the highly-in-demand Expeditions forcing more and more product to be opened. The result is a market flooded with cards from the set, which brings overall prices down.

This trend should continue, in my opinion, until Oath of the Gatewatch is released. Take advantage of this knowledge now, and if you haven't already, unload your high-end cards from this set to get the most out of them.

As players race to open more and more product, dealers will be flooded with singles. Speaking as a dealer, even though I know prices are trending downward, I made a note to not be afraid of that knowledge. In the following year, prices will recover due to changing demand from the ever-shifting meta.

The lands, planeswalkers, and Drana, Liberator of Malakir are only some of the cards that are good investments. We are reaching peak supply on this set much sooner than most other sets due to the increased demand of Expeditions. Once someone starts putting up results with any of these cards though, there will still be room for prices to increase.

This is a topic I am always right in the middle of with my store, so I see a lot of real-time data relating to it. If you guys have any questions, please leave them in the comments section and I will cover them in a future article.

Until next time,
Unleash the Temur Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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