Ixalan and forward: ‘Got a lot of Energy’
Canadian rapper “Drake” and the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour now have two things in common: they clearly have an affinity for the card Baleful Strix and they’ve both ‘got alotta energy’ as it were. And I can tell you first-hand that boy did Pro Tour Ixalan have a lot of energy. Temur, four-colour and Sultai energy decks represented half of the Standard metagame and what looked to me to be even more of the “top player” metagame.
Toronto player Daniel Fournier certainly made case for choosing Red at the PT with his 9-1 record but I’m ready to call it — the energy resource is broken.
As you can see from the decks I’m about to show you, the Servant of the Conduit, Attune with Aether, Longtusk Cub and Rogue Refiner package is more or less synonymous with winning matches in Standard at this point. As I said above, I’ve decided that this style of deck, all hinging around Attune with Aether, is the best thing to be doing in Standard and I’ll be taking that decision with me to Grand Prix Atlanta this weekend. With that said there are obviously pros and cons to each iteration. So let’s work through each archetype and then talk about just why energy is so busted.
Sultai Energy- Seth Manfield
For this section I’m going to mostly insert the perspective Gold Pro and Toronto local Paul Dean gave me about this deck. Paul tested in the same group as Seth and helped work on this deck. They played the deck at the Pro Tour because they thought it’d be good against the “expected” Temur deck. What I mean by this is that they expected a lot of Scarab Gods and very few Glorybingers, which, for the most part is what they got. The heavy red builds with Glorybringer, Chandra and Abrade pray on this deck but Genesis and Revelation as a team were able to get underneath and leverage Blossoming Defence effectively against slower opponents.
Going forward this is the deck I’d expect to be a bit worse. More people will play Abrade to beat Winding Constrictor, Pharaoh’s Gift and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and most pros are talking about going back to Glorybringer Temur. Despite all of that this is quite the piece of deckbuilding and certainly something to be aware of going forward.
Temur Energy- William Jensen
As you’d imagine this is level one, which makes a lot of sense because Jensen and his Peach Garden Oath teammates invented that level. Huey played a very similar list to the one he won World’s with and you can’t really blame him. They were very heavy on Confiscation Coup which I think is pretty smart considering they needed to find a way to break serve against The Scarab God.
This is actually the deck I expect most people to move toward headed to Atlanta. Iterations on traditional Temur have the best matchups across the board and against red, but are worse in the mirror. I’m considering this and the next deck for this weekend.
Four-Colour Energy- Mike Sigrist
This was certainly the most “techy” list from the weekend. It was the traditional Temur-splash-Scarab God deck but with a few twists and a couple six-mana planeswalking pirates. It’s clear that Channel Fireball put a lot of work in with the small touches they made like identifying Chandra had gotten a lot better in the metagame and hedging their removal against smaller creatures to stay alive longer.
It’s hard to overstate just how smart the uptick in Chandra, Torch of Defiance was for this event as it’s just one of those things that goes so nicely with how they built the deck and was also a perfect metagame call. I expect this to be the deck most grinders gravitate toward for this weekend and is certainly public enemy number one.
Four Colour Black Energy- Kenji Tsumura
This deck propped-up on Magic Online the week before the Pro Tour as the brainchild of online genius Logan “Jaberwocki” Nettles. This is the level three deck that goes even bigger than the biggest of the Temur midrange decks. This deck plays the midrange deck better than anything in the format does.
It’s so hard for me to not play Jund, and that’s what this is. But, it’s just not good enough against Hazoret Red and that’s a matchup I’m just not willing to sacrifice. With all that said, if the world is dusting off their super-stock Temur decks, than this might be the way to get an edge.
Why energy is busted
Here’s my take: Magic is inherently a game of trading resources. Life totals, damage, cards and tempo and adding a tangible resource like energy to that mix is certainly a vicarious move. In order to make a move like that it is important to weigh the benefit of that resource, and how it interacts with the rest of the game. Ask questions like, can I destroy their energy? Will my opponent be at a disadvantage for spending time accumulating energy?
In the last few weeks I’ve heard a lot of talk about the card Solemnity and other ways to interact with energy and how there should have been something more incidental. In my opinion it’s actually my second question that’s more important. It’s just free to accumulate energy, you get to play efficient and powerful cards that just come with two-thirds of a Thopter token or a Hexproof Bristling Hyrda activation. You’re simply playing equally powerful cards to everything else in Standard but getting more from them.
That is too good.