Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017

Fournier’s Take: Temur at Nats

Fournier’s Take: Temur at Nats

The first Canadian Nationals since 2011 is now history, and what an event it was. About 420 (blaze it) players fought through 12 rounds of Standard and Draft, and when the dust settled, we were left with a particularly strong World Magic Cup team. Kale Thompson is an underrated and deserving champion, and Lucas Siow is straight up one of the best deckbuilders in the world. Just don’t ever look at his Modern decks. Check out Keith’s recap of the top 8 action here. The event was absurdly fun. It was great to play the Pro Tour format (the best format) with all my friends and catch up with acquaintances from around the country.

That said, Nationals – the tournament – didn’t work out all that well for me. I started off hot, winning a Trial on Friday to secure a second bye in Standard, but, despite that start, I only won a single match of Standard in the main event. Admittedly, I only had to play four rounds of Standard, but I lost the mirror both times it came up and took another loss to Esper Tokens. I’m not entirely sure if I did something horribly wrong or if I just got unlucky. Variance was certainly at play, as I felt summarily outdrawn during most of my mirrors, but I don’t like just blaming luck for losses. When you lose by drawing significantly more lands than your opponent, it’s generally wise to think of how you could build your deck to include more mana sinks or other ways to mitigate that disadvantage. On the other hand, it’s also important to recognize when your deck was absolutely fine, and the variance inherent in the game simply wasn’t on your side during the games you lost.

I think it’s a bit of both in this situation. My list was by no means bad, but it might have been suboptimal, choosing to forego the whole Torrential Gearhulk plan seemingly favoured by many players over this Nationals weekend. In its stead, I tried to be more efficient and play cheaper spells that could interact profitably with the clunkier cards that others were playing. There’s definitely a lot of room to explore more options with this deck. Gerry Thompson reached the finals of US Nationals with a Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, and Lucas Siow was playing Carnage Tyrant, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, and Search for Azcanta. I’m going to be exploring a bunch of these topics as I start testing for PT Ixalan in earnest, so I won’t be able to discuss them in my column. Instead, we’ll cover some extremely un-fun, yet important topics.

In the meantime, here’s my list and a sideboard guide for my Nationals deck. Despite my unsatisfactory 34th place finish at the event, I do believe this build still has legs, especially if the metagame continues to shift towards Sultai Energy and other odd decks that are very soft to Glorybringer. This build maximizes the consistent aggressive angle of the deck, which is its inherent advantage against all the slower strategies using Hostage Taker and The Scarab God.

Temur Energy by Daniel Fournier

Before we go into the sideboard strategies, I have a few notes about the maindeck. You might note that there are no copies of Sheltered Thicket and only 21 lands. My illustrious editor, Keith Capstick, ran the numbers and came to the conclusion that in the straight Temur version of the deck, assuming no Torrential Gearhulks, the 22nd land was unnecessary. This lower land count as well as our aggressive game plan encourage lands that come into play untapped, so extra Rootbound Crags are a no-brainer.

The removal distribution was decided on with the assumption that a clean, low-to-the-ground build like this one wouldn’t need a ton of extra help to beat Red, and so the weak Magma Spray was unnecessary. Instead, we could play extra Abrades and Essence Scatters to maximize our strength against God Pharaoh’s Gift decks and Energy matchups.

Vs Mirror
Play
+1 Essence Scatter
+1 Vizier of Many Faces
+1 Confiscation Coup
+1 Chandra’s Defeat
-2 Whirler Virtuoso
-2 Abrade

Back around the time of the last RPTQ, my plan, and the common prevailing wisdom, was to board out Servant of the Conduit on the play because you couldn’t afford to draw blanks in the late game when you were down a card. In a world where Bristling Hydra and Chandra on empty boards are nigh undefeatable, being able to deploy these cards early is unbelievably strong. On top of that, the high removal counts in these decks these days makes Longtusk Cub on the play less likely to be able to take over the game post-board, and committing hard into a Confiscation Coup is a huge risk.

The cards we board out here are pretty straightforward. Abrade is less important when our opponent is on the draw and should have Cubs out, and Whirler Virtuoso is simply not at its best in the mirror. It’s good at preventing you from dying in a close game, but isn’t great at being proactive.

Draw
+1 Vizier of Many Faces
+1 Confiscation Coup
+1 Essence Scatter
+2 Chandra’s Defeat
-4 Longtusk Cub
-1 Whirler Virtuoso

Our plan on the draw is simple. Our Cubs are bad, but our opponents’ Cubs are good, so we need to have Abrades in. We also have to respect the threat of Glorybringer on 4 or 5 while we’re on 3 or 4 mana, and so an extra Chandra’s Defeat comes in, allowing us to break serve and get ahead on tempo.

Vs Red
+1 Essence Scatter
+2 Chandra’s Defeat
+1 Aethersphere Harvester
-2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
-2 Longtusk Cub

Pretty straightforward. Our maindeck is built reasonably well for the matchup, so the sideboard isn’t stacked to beat it. Chandra is obviously too slow and hard to defend, and Longtusk Cub is terrible in multiples. An additional Essence Scatter comes in as our most efficient answer to Hazoret the Fervent. Also consider bringing in Confiscation Coup if you think they’re going extra big.

Vs Sultai
+1 Essence Scatter
+1 Vizier of Many Faces
+1 Confiscation Coup
-3 Longtusk Cub

Our deck is very good in this matchup, and they don’t gain the tools to swing that around post-board. Longtusk Cub is a liability against Fatal Push and Hostage Taker, so we switch those out for our midrange package.

Vs UB
+3 Negate
+2 Nissa, Vital Force
+2 Spell Pierce
+1 Essence Scatter
-3 Abrade
-4 Harnessed Lightning
-1 Glorybringer

This matchup, as with all control matchups, is pretty rough game one, so we have a pretty sizeable sideboard for it. Use your counterspells very aggressively to get ahead on board, as Bontu’s Last Reckoning is rare and has a huge drawback. Take out some Servants for Harnessed Lightning if you see Hostage Taker, but don’t preemptively board expecting problem creatures.

Vs Approach
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Nissa, Vital Force
+3 Negate
+2 Rampaging Ferocidon
-3 Abrade
-4 Harnessed Lightning
-2 Whirler Virtuoso

The story here is pretty much the same as against UB, except that they’ve got a thousand-and-one wrath effects. Be very careful playing around Settle the Wreckage and Fumigate. We board out Whirler Virtuoso over Glorybringer because of its weakness to those cards. Try to cast Rampaging Ferocidon before you expect them to try to play their first Approach to lock out the game.

Vs Abzan Tokens
+3 Negate
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Rampaging Ferocidon
-2 Essence Scatter
-3 Abrade
-2 Harnessed Lightning

This deck is unique in that while it generates a bunch of creatures, all your removal is more or less terrible. It’s wise to keep in a couple copies of Harnessed Lightning to try and clear the way when you have an aggressive draw, but otherwise the objective here is to beat them up in the air while hopefully disrupting their plan with our sideboard cards. Rampaging Ferocidon is outstanding in this matchup – use it as a followup to a Fumigate for maximum effect.

Vs Esper Tokens
+3 Negate
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Rampaging Ferocidon
+1 Essence Scatter
-3 Abrade
-2 Harnessed Lightning
-3 Bristling Hydra

More or less the same situation as the Abzan Tokens matchup, except Essence Scatter is in so we can beat up on The Scarab God. This is probably our worst matchup, and game one is particularly difficult.

Vs Esper Gift
+3 Negate
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Rampaging Ferocidon
+1 Confiscation Coup
+1 Essence Scatter
-4 Harnessed Lightning
-4 Bristling Hydra
-1 Servant of the Conduit

We have all the tools to make this matchup very favourable over the course of a match. Play very conservatively around their ability to put a Gift in play, and be ready to bring Harnessed Lightnings back in if you see a ton of Angel of Sanctions.