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Hail to the True (Scarab) God: Sideboarding with 4C Energy

Temur Energy has been the star of the show. It won the most recent Standard MOCS and it has been putting up other insane results like what we saw at GP Denver with Brian Braun-Duin, Corey Baumeister, and Brad Nelson decimating the field and Brad winning the whole event.

But the winning deck list wasn’t what caught my eye. That would be the deck that Michael Jacob used to finish 12-3 at the event, falling just short in the last round of earning his spot back on the Pro Tour. Here’s his list:

4-Color Energy

Michael Jacob, Top 32 at GP Denver

A number of people have already written short blurbs about this deck. So rather than give you the overview of another Temur deck, I’m going to focus on my strategies against specific matchups. You’ll see more of this in the video series, but if you’re looking for an overview, Eric Froehlich did a wonderful job here. In his article he gives a detailed breakdown of the card choices, the logic, and what’s important about Michael’s list versus the pure Temur lists.

Sideboarding

Temur Energy Mirror

This matchup has 3 phases. The first phase is seeing if one player can run over the other with Longtusk Cub. Longtusk Cub excels against red, damaged-based removal because it can grow in size rapidly. Against things like Fatal Push and Stasis Snare, it’s a little less likely to shine. In the first 3 to 4 turns of the game, each player will jockey for battlefield position and see if they can run the opponent down with Cub. The second phase of the game is hitting your land drops and not letting a Chandra or Bristling Hydra put you into a card advantage abyss.

Chandra’s ability to play multiple spells or draw multiple cards can put games out of reach, and Hydra is basically unkillable due to hexproof and its size. It’s important to trade for this card when you can!

The third phase of the game is the late game where players are digging for as many 5-drops as they can. Thankfully, The Scarab God is worth many 5-drops as it plays the ones from the graveyards as well. The Scarab God cannot really be answered and runs away with the game until people play some counterspells for it, or potentially cards that go even bigger.

Out

In

I’m not totally convinced of cutting more Servants, as you want to be able to play the most powerful cards as quickly as possible. That being said, the games tend to go very long when a player doesn’t get run over that I think shaving them for more powerful options like Tireless Tracker is the way to go. Another card you could consider shaving is Whirler Virtuoso. The card is important for pressuring planeswalkers and preserving your life total, but doesn’t pack a big punch unless you’re applying pressure. The focus of the matchup here is to survive and stick a Scarab God to run away with the match.

Ramunap Red

This is an exciting matchup to play. I think the red deck is slightly favored overall, but the Temur Scarab God deck has the haymakers to swing the matchup. Here you want to focus on trying to make a large creature that you’re confident will stick around. A 4/4 Longtusk Cub, basically any Bristling Hydra with some energy, or an Aethersphere Harvester. Each of these threats are tough for the red deck to get through. Things like Earthshaker Khenra can’t prevent them from blocking, and many times exerting an Ahn-Crop Crasher won’t yield positive results.

One tip is to always look to attack back. You don’t have access to life gain outside of the 1 Harvester. The red deck will kill you if you let them see 22 cards. You need to be using the sizing of your large, green creatures to pressure them. Whirler Virtuoso is also key here to allow you to chump block with your excess energy, and in many scenarios trade off for Falkenrath Nobles and such, as it does a phenomenal job mitigating the power of the red “can’t block” effects.

Out

In

I’m still not sold on Radiant Flames. I think they’re solid, but not a show stopper. As some of the red decks will just go big every time (something that I believe they shouldn’t do in this matchup), a Flames down the stretch will leave you looking foolish as it stares down their Glorybringer and Hazoret.

The same things are true in the sideboard games, however. Look to stifle their early rush. An early removal spell can be key, and turning the corner with Whirler into a large Cub or Hydra will brickwall the ground for you at a high life total. Find a big threat and start clocking them, as you need to make sure not to get burned out or surprised by multiple “can’t block” effects when you lack the Virtuoso or the Harvester to put the nail in the coffin.

Zombies

Zombies is the matchup I have the least experience with. But the key here is get them into a spot where they cannot continually build a large board. This means stifling their building process with things like Cryptbreaker, which allow them to fuel up on cards, and Diregraf Colossus from triggering more than once and making a Zombie hoard. You cannot stop them forever, as Liliana’s Mastery and Dark Salvation will eventually make too many Zombies and sometimes at too large a size.

The key here is to find a spot to turn the corner. This usually comes in the form of flyers like Glorybringer, Whirler Virtuoso, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Sometimes you can control the board with The Scarab God if you’ve gotten far enough in front of them on the board, but if you can’t, focus on chipping away at their ground forces by putting them into spots where they need to block or risk taking large amounts of damage.

Out

In

Here, my goal is to control their little threats more, and make my ground creatures more potent. After sideboarding, when you have the Radiant Flames, you’re better set up to take advantage of Chandra, Torch of Defiance on the play. It’s possible you’d rather cut them on the draw for the copies of Whirler Virtuoso, but I think that Chandra plays a key role in your ability to turn the corner by producing mana the first turn or two on the battlefield, and then drawing cards and looking for the powerful flyers to close the game out.

Feel free to add in the comments below if you’re looking for feedback with other matchups. These are the three most prominent right now in Standard, and the ones I wanted to focus on. I’ll be back later in the week with a video series with Michael Jacob’s Temur Scarab God list!

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