As sweet as Kaladesh limited is, I had to resist the urge to spend all weekend playing prerelease events on MTGO. The siren song of Standard had me in its grip, and it was time to dive in! My first real Kaladesh event is next Sunday in a PPTQ, and I’m looking to start off the season strong. No big standard event this weekend was a bit of a disappointment, as it would have been great to see how the metagame corrected itself against the breakout deck (RW Vehicles) from last weekend, and check out what people came up with to beat the prevalent Smuggler’s Copters that run our current standard skies.
Copter is going to be the card to be ready for next weekend, with its breakout weekend highlighted by a staggering 32 out of 32 copies in the SCG Indianapolis Open top 8. When I wrote about it last Sunday, I had no idea it would be quite that dominant. Obviously great, but I was surprised to see Ponder/Jace, the Mind Sculptor levels of representation in its first top 8. This weekend would have been a great time to show off some sweet anti-copter tech/strategies, but we’ll just have to wait for Pro Tour Kaladesh in Honolulu this weekend to see what the best of the best come up with. We’ll see if they’re shooting ‘em down, or crewing copters themselves. (Smart money says they will be piloting!)
Temurge is something I’ve been testing in Standard so far, and since it was the thing I was most comfortable with in the previous Standard format, and I had the most pieces of already. Here is the list I’ve been jamming with so far.
Temurge by Austin Mansell
1 Nissa, Vital Force
I know, I know. No Smuggler’s Copters? What kind of deck doesn’t play Smuggler’s Copter! How can you talk about how great and dominant it was and not play the break out card? Well, hopefully by ignoring the little 3/3 by completely going over the top of it. Temurge would have most likely been called the best deck at the end of the format if it wasn’t for the utter ridiculousness of Collected Company. CoCo was the one thing holding Temurge back at the end of last season, and with its rotation, a lot of pro’s were hyping Temurge up as being one of the best level 1 decks coming into the new format. So why did no one play it at SCG Indianapolis? Honestly, I have no idea other than the fact that maybe it just wasn’t particularly exciting. The existing shell doesn’t utilize too many new cards, and it was a known quantity, meaning people would be expecting it and know how to play against it. Week 1 formats often favor aggression and proactive game plans, so I could understand avoiding 0/3’s for 2 and flying 1/1s for 3.
Luckily for me, I’ve had no problem crushing copters thus far on MTGO. Temurge is incredibly consistent and resilient thanks to it’s incredibly high amount of cantrip-like cards. Vessel of Nascency, Grapple with the Past, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Primal Druid, and Pilgrim’s Eye all let the deck skimp on lands and keep low land count hands, because your cards will naturally ensure you hit land drops. Vessel and Grapple actively dig towards Emerge threats or Emerge fodder when necessary, all while adding card type for Delirium or hopefully milling over Kozilek’s Return. The deck feels incredibly smooth so far and I’ve been consistently impressed with its ability to come back from overwhelming board positions.
It’s that comeback ability that I think makes Temurge an excellent anti-copter choice. In addition to being able to sweep or tap down threats at instant speed with Elder Deep-Fiend, Temurge is simply one of the best decks at casting an early and delirious Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Momma spider is simply one of the best anti copter cards available. Even if the baby spiders are answered with a Declaration in Stone, the big widow hangs out and bats copters out of the sky no problem. A Depala, Pilot Exemplar and Veteran Motorist might let the copter attack into Ishkanah and simply bounce off one another, but you aren’t taking damage from it anymore which simply means more time to start setting up Deep-Fiend chains, or resolving Emrakul, the Promised End. Oh I haven’t mentioned Emrakul yet?
Holy crap is that card dumb. I had no idea of the insane power (and immense joy) that comes with Mindslaver-ing your opponent. I have yet to lose a game where I have resolved Emrakul. I’ve had multiple opponents cast Lost Legacy against me naming Elder Deep-Fiend, and I’ve won every single one of those games by simply Traverse-ing for an Emrakul and crushing them with their own cards. One of the inherent strengths of Temurge is its diverse threat count, especially post board. Between Emrakul, Deep-Fiend, Ishkanah, Wretched Gryff, and the big planeswalkers, there are simply too many angles of attack to disrupt. The key is to just not die before you start resolving them.
So how do we not die then? It comes down a lot of the time to Kozilek’s Return. Setting up the flash back on KR is often the difference between losing a game or an easy victory. Taking a turn off to cast it on turn 3 and maybe killing one creature often seems to be the right play if it means setting up a turn 4 emerge fodder, turn 5 emerge threat. Luckily we also have 8 cards that dig multiple cards deep all in the hopes of milling it over as well. Play towards setting up KR and you’ll often be so far ahead on cards that your opponent won’t be able to catch up.
Setting up Ishkanah is also one of the best ways to not die. The widow and her brood clogs up the board so well it is often correct to aggressively push towards delirium by blocking with an artifact creature if it means turning on delirium. Taking a redundant land instead of an artifact creature with Vessel or Grapple is also often correct if it means you’re getting delirious.
One of the best ways to not die is also simply by killing your opponent (obviously). Close the door on your opponent and prevent them from drawing their outs by beating down. If you can set up a turn 4 Deep-Fiend while also tapping down their lands during their upkeep, that will often give you enough of a tempo advantage to pull ahead. A turn 4 5/6 is often big enough to dominant the board, plus the Time Walk certainly doesn’t hurt. Chaining Deep-Fiends with Traverse or Sanctum of Ugin is often enough correct and should be kept in mind. You have a tool box of options, and that versatility is one of Temurge’s greatest strengths.
The main 60 has felt great so far, while I’m still tuning the board. Gnarlwood Dryad might be a relic of an older format. The premiere threat in the format is a flying 3/3 so I’m not sure how great the ground pounding deathtouch-er really is. He’s been solid against the human based aggressive deck so far, but I’m not sure if they are relevant or popular enough to warrant its inclusion. The counter magic has been great and works especially well in conjunction with the post board Tireless Trackers. If anyone has any questions on boarding or card choice feel free to write me a comment and I’ll do my best to explain my conclusions! Hopefully my tournament report next Monday will be exciting and come along with an RPTQ qualification!
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