My deck’s been banned again, what do I do?
If you haven’t already quit the game citing a total loss of confidence in the Standard format, this might be a good time to consider a choosing a new list that has potential to prey on a Standard meta primed for change.
If you are upset about the banning, it is justified. Speaking from the perspective of a player who steered clear of Marvel (and Standard altogether) as long as the deck reigned supreme, I am concerned for the health of the format and any investments I make in it. It makes me second guess playing the “best” deck at any moment knowing that if that deck is over-represented, there is a good chance that it will be met with a banning. I’ve been there! I bought into Splinter Twin just days before it was banned in Modern; I nearly replaced every card in my Birthing Pod deck with a promo or foil version before it was taken from me as well. While it stings initially, recognizing an impending freshness to a very stale metagame can be encouraging.
Here’s the good news. Many decks, such as Legacy Miracles and Modern Dredge, are able to survive such harsh bannings and evolve in spite of them. Today, I’d like to make the case for a very easy transition to Temur Energy.
First, let’s consider what decks remain after we say goodbye to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
You Said His Hunger was “Ceaseless”?
Now that we are no longer concerned about a turn-4 eldrazi titan taking our lands, the remaining decks attack on a few similar axis:
- Creature Aggression: Zombies, BG Energy, RG Pummeler, Temur Energy
- Planeswalkers: Mardu Vehicles, BG Delirium
- Counter/Burn Control: UR Control
Since Marvel performed a weird amalgamation of all of these strategies including an element of “oohps, I win” via Marvel/Ulamog that demanded answer, its removal from the format will help us to focus in on the perfect counter to the strategies that remain. Previously, so many of our sideboard slots needed to be devoted to stopping an Aetherworks Marvel as early as turn 3. In fact, with Marvel representing over 30% of the meta, many decks included answers in the main.
So What Will Thrive after Marvel?
Given our quick analysis of the remaining decks after Marvel’s ban, I expect to see a few cards rise to the top.
“Nothing can be said to be certain except Gideon and taxes.”
Mardu Vehicles was the de facto best deck before Marvel took over. I expect to see its return. I don’t think anyone will be surprised that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar will benefit from clear airspace on turn 4. When there is no more fear of sudden death via Marvel, dropping a 4-cmc planeswalker to advance your board state seems like the right thing to be doing.
For that same reason, other planeswalkers are likely to see more freedom to thrive. Since we aren’t so focused on either stopping Marvel shenanigans or playing as aggressively as possible to race them, a slower advantage engine via Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is likely to return as the marquee strategy of the format.
With that in mind, I expect stock in Glorybringer to increase.
While it was rather lackluster against Marvel strategies, Glorybringer one of the best counters to the aforementioned planeswalker strategies. If your opponent resolves Gideon, Ally of Zendikar vs. an empty board, Glorybringer is likely one of the only cards that can effectively deal with the situation. We’ve all experienced the uphill battle of trying to beat down a Gideon while our opponent continues to ‘poop out’ 2/2 chump blockers. While you devote valuable time and resources to one big problem on the other side of the table, the other guy has committed just 4 mana to the initial cost of the problem and has plenty of untapped lands to advance his or her board state out of control. Add Heart of Kiran to the mix and you find it even more difficult.
Glorybringer. Enough said.
Another card that wasn’t incredibly impressive against Marvel but remains a very powerful aggressor vs. the rest of the field is Bristling Hydra.
Bristling Hydra takes advantage of the “I have energy and you can’t stop me” effect; meaning, it allows you to use resources that are impossible to interact with to make a creature very hard to interact with. You can’t stop me!
Beyond that, the hydra can quickly outgrow any creature in the format (aside from Ulamog-god rest his soul). If you can resolve the Hydra vs. UR Control, it will apply exactly the right kind of pressure and often cause your opponent to tunnel vision on a clever way to kill it. Use your energy sparingly and prepare for a surprise block from Torrential Gearhulk and this guy can take over the game.
Against the ‘go-wide’ strategies, we have a number of options available. Some of the easiest to cast happen to be red cards.
Beyond the obvious benefits of having access to these ‘pyroclasm’ effects, red provides a number of valuable removal incentives to deal with pesky creatures powering zombie synergies or vehicle strategies.
Lastly, Confiscation Coup really seems to shine against creatures who don’t cost 10 mana. Paying 5 mana for a removal spell and a creature of your own is quite potent, especially when that creature originally had plans to protect a planeswalker.
Notably, Confiscation Coup can target a creature or artifact, so dealing with an opposing vehicle is always a possibility. The same cannot be said of sorcery-speed removal spells.
Temur Energy seems to provide quite a few useful tools for combatting what I predict the meta to look like post-Marvel.
1 Bristling Hydra
2 Magma Spray
1 Baral’s Expertise
1 Confiscation Coup
2 Incendiary Flow
2 Radiant Flames
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Modifications to the Marvel-Era List
At first, I’ve only made small changes to Marvel-pointed sideboard pieces as many of them function quite effectively against other strategies in the format. Manglehorn, for example works quite well against Mardu Vehicles so I’ll be keeping those around. As the format solidifies, more drastic movements can be made but maintaining awareness for artifact strategies will be important given that Mardu Vehicles is likely to remain.
I’ve entirely removed Ceremonious Rejection to work more burn spells into my deck. While Ceremonious Rejection is effective vs. Heart of Kiran and friends, burn spells like Harnessed Lightning and Magma Spray provide a more universal response to those sorts of problems as they are also useful against zombie and energy strategies.
I like Chandra, Torch of Defiance quite a bit going forward and expect it to be very good but I’ve never been a believer in running too many copies in the maindeck. The card feels rather ‘win-more’ due to its inability to deal with a tempo deficiency in the opponent’s favor. Playing a Chandra vs. a swarm of opposing creatures feels like playing a 4-mana burn spell to remove just one of them.
Instead, I’ve opted for Arlinn Kord in the maindeck instead of a second Chandra. I believe Kord is quite underrated. This card provides tons of utility in that it can push forward an aggressive strategy with her frontside +1 ability or she can create blockers and bolt creatures via her +0. I feel like Kord does a better job of fitting into a wider range of situations than Chandra and seems better positioned against what I expect to be a meta full of creatures.
Who’s Hungry Now!?
I’m excited about this one. I truly believe the time for Temur Energy is coming. While Standard figures itself out, rather than totally reinventing the wheel, choosing a deck that is well-positioned against the knowns will often bear more fruit. This is the one.
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