Well, the time has finally come. New Standard is here and it’s time to get excited about picking new decks to champion. I consider myself lucky to have two great teams to test with this time around, RIW Hobbies and Team Ann Arbor.
With such a great pool of competitive players brewing and fine-tuning ideas, I’ve been fortunate to have seen a large cross section of different decks. While I would still put my week one bets on G/W Tokens being the deck to beat, the second deck that has been blipping loudly on my radar is Temurge.
Temurge was already one of the best decks in the format before the rotation. If it hadn’t been for Collected Company being such a completely unreasonable, format-warping card, it might have ended up being the best deck. Fortunately for fans of the archetype, the deck really didn’t lose much and in fact gained some nice tools.
Today’s featured deck is brought to you by Zach Allen (of Painful Truths Podcast fame). Zach spent the lion’s share of his testing time tuning and playtesting with the Temurge list. Ultimately, the two of us disagreed slightly about exactly how to build the list and so I’ve chosen to include both.
Temurge only loses a few relevant cards from last season, primarily:
Losing these cards is a little bit rough, but we do get some great new options:
The U/G fast land is exactly what the doctor ordered with regard to making the mana for this deck robust and reliable. One thing I’ve noticed about the deck after playing a ton of games is that making your mana work is particularly important. Executing your strategy is a walk along a razor’s edge and the deck needs to leverage its plays in order to get ahead and enact the endgame.
Green mana is incredibly important early since all of your enablers (Traverse, Grapple, and Vessel) require green. The awkward part is that after you’ve juiced up the graveyard with your early green spells, the deck shifts gears into needing U/U to emerge Elder Deep-Fiend. Not having the requisite U/U on turn 4 to emerge Elder Deep-Fiend is often the difference between life and death.
The first of two slight differences between these two lists is the mana. Zach’s mana is geared toward being a little bit faster (with an emphasis on more enters-the-battlefield untapped lands) whereas I have an extra land and include 2 copies of Evolving Wilds to maximize consistency. I felt the deck was a little light on blue sources, but Zach hasn’t shared that experience, and so I could see the correct build going either way. More games will solve the puzzle.
The other difference centers on how deep we wanted to go on Crush of Tentacles in the main deck. Zach correctly identified that Crush of Tentacles was a huge game against G/W Tokens, which was a tricky matchup. The G/W deck can put down such a fast clock that has some built-in insulation against Kozilek’s Return—planeswalkers and Verdurous Gearhulk. Those two angles backed up by removal for your creatures is a tall order.
G/W is actually quite soft to Crush. Their spells are powerful when curving out but they don’t redeploy effectively, especially not in a world where Temurge can leverage Deep-Fiend and Emrakul to quickly put them away.
Another really cool addition is the inclusion of Vexing Scuttler as a way to recur our Crushes.
Zach is hedging against the G/W match by going heavy on the Crush angle in the main deck. I can’t say that is incorrect if you anticipate a heavily G/W-Tokens-based field. I certainly wanted this option in my 75—I’ve chosen to build my deck a little bit more generically for game 1s with the option to transform into the Upheaval deck after sideboard.
One last thing I’ve developed for the deck is a pretty effective sideboard plan against aggressive decks:
Noose Constrictor is a great early blocker against the R/W beatdown decks that are looking to leverage Smuggler’s Copter and 1cc beaters. Noose Constrictor is also a nice hedge against various U/W Spirits decks (if those show up).
I love the fact that Noose Constrictor can easily outclass individual attackers in combat and offers a discard outlet in matchups where speed is everything. Never underestimate the advantage of discarding a Kozilek’s Return or that last card type to get Emrakul online a turn faster!
You can also emerge off of it in a pinch, which is relevant. Often, people sideboard in removal to tactically attack your emerge enabler creatures in hopes of keeping you from ever firing off a Deep-Fiend (and they are correct to do this). Simply having more creatures to emerge is a boon post-sideboard.
I fully expect Temurge to be a format-defining deck and these lists have a lot of strong technology to consider moving forward. In particular, Crush of Tentacles + Vexing Scuttler seems like an effective way of beating planeswalker decks. Additionally, Noose Constrictor has proven effective against aggressive decks post-sideboard.
At the end of the day you need to ask yourself one simple question: Do you want to be the person who decimates your opponents with Emrakul, or do you want to be the helpless lamb getting Mindslavered by the most fearsome Eldrazi in the Multiverse?
Ah, it feels like I’m home again… I strongly believe a version of this deck will emerge as a tier 1 strategy this October.