Time to Talk Temur

Chantelle CampbellStandard

After Temur Energy’s outstanding performance at the World Championships, many would-be National Champions sleeved up strategies to stand in the way of the new Best Deck. From Heart of Kiran and Toolcraft Exemplar to God-Pharaoh’s Gift and The Scarab God, main decks and sideboards were diverse in their game plans to stop thopters and Glorybringer alike, but with three of the United States Nationals Top 8 and the entirety of the Canadian Nationals Top 4 on Temur, it doesn’t look like they succeeded. And with top results at many Nationals as well as the World Championships, you could say that Temur has officially established global dominance.


The Role Players

Energy is a powerful mechanic, but there are certain cards that any energy deck needs to support its strategy. Attune with Aether, Aether Hub and Servant of the Conduit enable you to easily play three (and sometimes four!) colors, providing the flexibility to cast a Whirler Virtuoso on three, a Bristling Hydra on four and a Glorybringer on five.

Another key role-player that is often overlooked is Rogue Refiner. Refiner’s card-drawing ability allows the energy deck to more consistently hit five mana on fewer lands, while its 3/2 body allows it to trade effectively with most creatures in Standard.

Harnessed Lightning is another card that I would classify as a role-player (though it could be argued that it is a payoff), enabling you to clear annoying threats or simply net energy as needed.


The Rewards

The cards above give you access to beautiful mana to curve out with, but what do you cast with it? Longtusk Cub, Whirler Virtuoso and Bristling Hydra are three of the most individually powerful cards that reward you for stockpiling that sweet, sweet energy. In a format with few board-wipes and an abundance of one-for-one removal spells, Virtuoso and Bristling Hydra are the spells to beat.

Being able to top out at Glorybringer is another boon to playing this deck. A hasty threat that needs to be dealt with at instant speed, this dragon has become a 4-of in every Temur main deck. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is another great pay-off that doesn’t get countered by an Essence Extraction, and can also deal four damage to your opponent’s most pressing threat while providing a clock that can stand up to Fumigate, Settle the Wreckage, or board stalls.


The Flex Spots

These are the cards that can vary from list to list and main deck to sideboard, depending on personal preference and metagame expectations. There are a lot of options here, so I figured I’d list some of the most common choices.

Abrade and Magma Spray are good additional removal spells that often see play in some numbers over and above the four Harnessed Lightnings. Abrade can also make quick work of an opposing Aethersphere Harvester, and Magma Spray is one of the few clean answers to threats that can be recurred from the graveyard, such as Earthshaker Khenra and Scrapheap Scrounger.

Essence Scatter, Negate, Supreme Will and Commit // Memory can all provide Temur with the tempo advantage it needs to truly punish with its quick beatdown draws. Protecting early threats while buying a couple more turns to attack is usually all the deck needs to close out a game. Confiscation Coup, a Mind Control effect that doesn’t require you to return the stolen card back to your opponent, can also provide the tempo swing needed to clear up a pesky board stall or deal with an otherwise unbeatable threat.

Carnage Tyrant is also been cropping up in Temur main decks and sideboards in light of U/B Control’s recent rise in popularity. An uncounterable, hexproof threat that can trample through an opposing board seems like a no-brainer. Another dino-myte card (yay, dinosaur puns!) that has helped shore up both aggressive and graveyard-based match-ups is Deathgorge Scavenger. Its ability to gain life in the face of Ramunap Red or exile an Angel of Invention before an opponent can return it to the battlefield with their God-Pharaoh’s Gift makes it just versatile enough to merit more than a couple sideboard slots.


To Splash or Not to Splash

One of the most contentious conversations surrounding Temur recently has been whether or not to splash black for The Scarab God (and sometimes Vraska, Relic Seeker or even Hostage Taker). While The Scarab God was initially great tech in the mirror, most decks have evolved to prepare for it with some number of Confiscation Coup in the main deck or sideboard. The fourth color can also be a strain to your mana; in the early game, you might need to Attune with Aether for a blue source and you may not see a second Attune to fetch that Swamp, forcing you to spend energy to generate black mana from your Aether Hub or Servant of the Conduit (where one energy could be the difference between giving your Bristling Hydra hexproof and letting it die). Most pros don’t recommend the black splash, but if you think your meta is unprepared to answer The Scarab God, it is still a fine choice.


What to Sleeve Up

If I were looking to play Temur this weekend, I would probably start here:

Seth Manfield’s Temur Energy, US Nationals Top 8, October 14-16, 2017

4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Whirler Virtuoso
3 Glorybringer
4 Longtusk Cub
3 Bristling Hydra
4 Rogue Refiner
1 Carnage Tyrant
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Attune with Aether
2 Confiscation Coup
4 Harnessed Lightning
1 Supreme Will
1 Magma Spray
1 Essence Scatter
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Aether Hub
2 Sheltered Thicket
1 Mountain
3 Spirebluff Canal
3 Forest
1 Island
4 Rootbound Crag

Sideboard (15)

1 Magma Spray
1 Carnage Tyrant
2 Nissa, Steward of Elements
2 Negate
1 Deathgorge Scavenger
2 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Vizier of Many Faces
2 Slice in Twain
1 Spell Pierce
1 Abrade

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It’s important to note that, with one main deck Carnage Tyrant and fewer Abrades and Magma Sprays, this list seems more geared toward a control- and mirror-heavy metagame, and loses points to decks like Ramunap Red, Mardu Vehicles (which seems to be seeing a resurgence), and B/R Aggro. However, if you feel confident in your match-ups against those decks, or if you feel, like I do, that aggressive strategies will be underrepresented in your local metagame, I think something along these lines is a solid choice for your next Standard tournament.


Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Whirler Virtuoso” by Lake Hurwitz