Updating Temur Tower After Utrecht

Last weekend, I finished in 11th place at GP Utrecht with Temur Dynavolt Tower. Ever since the PT, I have been mostly playing Standard—two weeks ago, I wrote about all the decks I’ve tested. Of those, U/R Control was the most promising, but I still felt like there was something missing. I didn’t how to fix it, so I started gravitating toward G/B or Mardu, both of which are great decks. Then, about a week before the GP, I opened up my Twitter page and the first thing that caught my attention was a link to this deck list—a Shota Yasooka special:

Temur Tower

Shota Yasooka

After just a couple of games, I was hooked. It felt like I was doing something uniquely powerful and a lot of fun at the same time. The biggest difference between this build and others is how well this deck utilizes energy. Dynavolt Tower makes even cards like Attune with Aether and Aether Shield Thief feel busted. I played the deck for a week straight, went 5-0 in multiple Leagues, and talked about it with other pros, including my CFB Ice teammate Joel Larsson. This is the deck list Joel and I submitted:

Temur Tower

Okay, let’s talk specifics.

The mana base is one of the best things about the deck. We are only playing 21 lands, which might seem like a low number for a control deck, but you have 4 Attunes for a total of 25 sources. We tried 22 lands for some time, and cutting back to 21 was one of our last-minute Friday changes. You really don’t want to flood out, plus almost all of your cards cycle so that should make mana screw less likely.

We also changed the number of basics from the original deck list. You are actually heavy blue, so playing 1 Island doesn’t make much sense to me. I feel like the second Island is mandatory and it should even perhaps be 3 Islands and 3 Forests, as drawing multiple Forests in your opening hand can be awkward—you really only need one. Lumbering Falls is also quite good. It doesn’t hit as hard as Fumarole, which is relevant against Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but it’s immune to removal spells, which makes blocking with it much safer.

Attune with Aether is actually the best card in the deck and the main reason you’re playing green. It just goes so well with Tower. If your opening hand has 3 or more lands + Attune, you should strongly consider not casting it and waiting for Tower so you get more energy. When searching for basics you usually go for Island, as you need two or even four blue sources quite often. You very rarely want double-red, especially in pre-sideboard games, and you basically never need double green.

Glimmer and Harnessed Lightning are so good in this deck—I would play like 8 of each if I could. The last 4-of we have is Tower. I actually tried cutting one, but it’s just so good with everything that’s going on that I wouldn’t recommend going below 4.

My initial thought when I saw Shota’s deck list was to reduce the number of Sheilded Aether Thiefs, but as I kept playing the card kept over-performing for me. It’s better than Aether Meltdown in this deck as it’s really good at blanking Scrapheap Scrounger and Toolcraft Exemplar, and it’s a potent weapon against Saheeli decks, letting you just draw infinite cards. I don’t think you should play 4 as the card gets awkward in multiples, but you’re always happy to draw 1. Thief is also a reason to play only 3 Anticipates, as they both fill the same role in trying to find your good cards.

We changed the Void Shatters to Disallows, which felt like an obvious change to me. I can see the logic behind playing Void Shatter as it exiles Scrounger and makes Torrential Gearhulk worse, but Disallow is more versatile. In a field with so many planeswalkers, I think it’s where you want to be. It also has the added bonus of being great against the U/R Prized Amalgam deck. Countering the trigger of Stitchwing Skaab is nasty. We also played 3 Negates main deck. Negate is excellent in this format and only weak against B/G—it shines against Mardu and all of the Saheeli decks.

Shock over-performed at the GP. We swapped the numbers of Incendiary Flow and Shock last minute, and I was glad we did. Having 1-mana spells to go with Dynavolt Tower is perfect. Tower + Shock can even shoot 4+ toughness creatures, which came up multiple times in the tournament.

The main-deck Natural Obsolescence might seem weird, but I think it deserves its inclusion. The only matchup where it’s truly bad is the 4c Saheeli deck and even there you sometimes get to kill a Thopter token from Whirler Virtuoso. That may sound bad, but Virtuoso is one of the few ways to lose in that matchup, so it’s actually helpful from time to time.

The hardest thing for me to decide was whether to play 3 or 4 Gearhulks. The card is very strong on its own, but sometimes you can be stuck with multiple copies in your hand and that’s not where you want to be. In the end we decided to cut the 22nd land and then it made sense to play only 3.

Let me just start by saying that I think it was a mistake to play Rogue Refiner. I wasn’t happy with it in testing as it turns on your opponent’s removal. Most of your cards are instants, which makes tapping out for a medium 3-drop much worse. On the other hand, I felt it would be weird to play Attune and some artifact removal as our only green cards. It’s definitely strange to play a color only for a mana fixer, but it was dumb of me not to try. Attune is just bonkers in this deck because of the 2 energy clause, and it’d justifiable even if it were the only green card. Throughout the tournament, most of my friends shared my conclusion that we shouldn’t play it in the future. Some of them went even further and decided to stop playing with it immediately.

Can’t blame you Petr!

The Sideboard

We have the 4th Negate, which you board in against basically everything but G/B.

We have 3 Dispel, as I felt it was the best card in the mirror, which started popping up on MTGO before the tournament so I thought it might be popular. The matchup is all about Glimmer and counter wars, so having a 1-mana counterspell is huge.


We have 2 extra artifact removal spells in the form of Release the Gremlins and Natural State. That brings us up to 3, which I think is the ideal number versus Mardu. Natural State was our nod to the Fevered Visions deck, because we knew Thomas Hendriks would be playing that, so we wanted to make our matchup against him better.

I wasn’t sure if Dragonmaster Outcast was worth playing as it’s much worse in the Temur control mirrors because of Tower. I still like it against all the 4c decks, so we ran with it.

Confiscation Coup continues to be excellent against B/G decks, and it should be included in most blue decks going forward.

We changed Kozilek’s Return for Radiant Flames because we felt like we needed some extra answers against Whirler Virtuoso. It’s obviously worse against Mardu as instant-speed is important, especially with Vehicles and Scrounger in the format, but I got to kill Depala once.

Whirler Virtuoso is one of my least favorite cards in Magic right now, but it’s quite good against Mardu and decent in the mirror so we played 3 copies to round out our sideboard.

As for the actual tournament: It started well with a 9-0 on Day 1, which was a first time for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convert that into a Top 8. I lost my first two matches on Sunday, and then made a mistake in my win-and-in that may have cost me the game. I had some trouble sleeping throughout the weekend, mostly because I was sick and super excited about going 9-0, which played a role. Other than that, I felt like I was playing very well the whole tournament and I can’t say that I’m disappointed with finishing in 11th place.

Over the course of the GP, I played against:

  • 8 Mardu (once just RW), going 7-1
  • 2 B/G, going 1-1
  • I lost against Martin Juza’s Energy Jund deck from the PT, and won against B/W Control

Overall, it wasn’t the most diverse metagame. Mardu is just stupidly strong, and even though I had such a positive record against it, I think that was mostly luck. Don’t get me wrong—I think the matchup is favorable—but if Mardu has the nut draw 1-drop, 2-drop, Disintegration into Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, it just beats everything and there is very little you can do to stop it.

Moving forward, this is the deck list I’d recommend.

Temur Tower, Updated

Cutting the Refiners meant I got to change the mana base a bit by adding an extra land, which in turn meant that I could play the 4th Gearhulk. I was happy with the sideboard, so that remains unchanged.

Sideboard Guide

Try to be flexible with your sideboarding, as it changes a lot depending on which cards you see from your opponent.




This is more or less how I would sideboard against the pre-GP-Utrecht versions of Mardu. Against the version that won the tournament it might be correct to keep some number of Disallow, as it’s important to counter their planeswalkers. Radiant Flames gets a bit worse when they replace Motorist with Ballista, so feel free to change it up depending on what you see. Like I said, I went 7-1 against this deck while having 4 virtual mulligans in my deck. If people keep using the planeswalker-heavy, Ballista version, that should be good news, as it’s easier to deal with.




Here the sideboarding varies a lot depending on what version they’re playing. Shock is good against the energy version, but not against the Sylvan Advocate one. Radiant Flames can also come in, though I haven’t tested it as much. We added it last minute, but it does sound good in theory. Release the Gremlins is also a potential card to bring in if you see Harvester and Bestiary game 2. My recommendation is to practice a lot, and in the end you will get a feel for how you want your deck to look like in post-board games. This matchup is tough and it can feel hopeless at times, as Constrictor is really good against your deck because you don’t have that many answers. Overall I think it’s close to 50/50, but be ready to lose a bunch of games where they go Snake into Rishkar and you just die.

4c Saheeli



Again, sideboarding changes based on their version. If they have Marvel, bring in Confiscation Coup. On the draw, Shock is better than Harnessed Lightning because it kills Servant of the Conduit. Overall I like this matchup. Once you resolve a Tower it’s really hard for them to win. Common ways to lose are a fast planeswalker or unanswered Virtuoso. It’s important to preserve your life total to avoid the latter, so be careful.




I’m not sure how good Virtuoso is, but at the GP Joel told me he thinks it’s great, so I would listen to him and try it. Moving forward, if this deck becomes the control build of choice, it might be correct to cut Outcast and play something like Jace or Confirm Suspicions. Jace in particular seems promising, as tapping out for Tower or Glimmer is not an uncommon play and Jace punishes that.

I had a blast playing with this deck over the past week. It definitely feels like it has what it takes to become tier 1 in Standard, and I might just run it back in Barcelona. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!


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