I had no idea what deck to play for Grand Prix Montreal. After the Pro Tour, I was pretty set on Temur Marvel, but with a busy week and no time for any prep, I was starting to lose hope in my chances of doing well off the back of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. I looked at the other decks and began my thought process.
Zombies was out of the question. Although it won the Pro Tour, it had to be enemy number one going into the weekend. Marvel decks would be rampant and prepared. Plus I had no reps with the deck, which would only end poorly for me.
Although I seemed to be on a winning streak with Mardu Vehicles, I was also skeptical about this choice. I wasn’t sure if the deck had a good Zombies matchup or even a favorable Marvel matchup. Mardu did have resilient threats in the form of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but I wasn’t sure of the right build or if its clock was fast enough. Plus, looking at Mardu’s performance at the Pro Tour in the face of a Marvel-heavy field had me disinterested.
I have never played a control deck at a Grand Prix and nor did I want to start. U/R didn’t put up good results at the Pro Tour and did not seem in any way incredibly favored against Marvel.
I was in a panic. What was I supposed to do? As time began to run out I thought back to Grand Prix New Jersey. In New Jersey I played Mardu Vehicles, which was probably the correct choice for the weekend, but I didn’t enjoy myself nor did I have the reps in playing the deck, so I had a poor tournament. Looking at some of the Temur Energy-type decks at the Pro Tour, I decided to choose a deck of my creation for the Grand Prix: Temur Monsters.
Temur Monsters by Roman Fusco at GP Montreal
The idea of the deck is pretty straightforward: attack. I wanted to play a deck that put a good clock on Marvel while also including resilient threats. Cards like Rhonas the Indomitable, Lathnu Hellion, and Woodland Wanderer are not the easiest to kill. I didn’t expect to see a ton of Mardu and Zombies late in the tournament, so my goal was to have a good sideboard package for Marvel and win games off of putting them under the gun.
There are two schools of thought when playing a deck like this. My first idea was to go all-in on R/G Aggro – probably playing no Servant of the Conduit and playing more cards like Glorybringer to maximize damage. However, I don’t think that strategy is beating turn 4 Ulamog, so I decided to play the Servants (which add a nice touch to Woodland Wanderer and ramping out a turn 3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance), play 4 Botanical Sanctum, and have a small sideboard package of 2 Negate and 2 Ceremonious Rejection.
I liked having cheap answers to their big threats that were winning them the game. Chandra can also be tough to deal with, but since many creatures in the deck have 4 toughness and others have some sort of resilience like Heart of Kiran and Rhonas the Indomitable, I wasn’t all too worried with 2 Negate to bring in post-board. Rejection was also a nice trick to keep up with Aether Hub or Servant of the Conduit and is a huge win when trading one mana for an Aetherworks Marvel player tapping out for four. If I wasn’t going to be playing Marvel, I wanted to play a list I enjoyed playing and that had a game plan for each different deck in the format.
As for the tournament I had an unfortunate 6-3 record on day 1. Up until Round 9, I was 1-0 against Mardu, and was 3-2 against Marvel on the day. Unfortunately, one of my wins against Marvel had come from defeating fellow Spellsnare writer Riccardo Monico. Talk about feels bad! One of my losses to Marvel being in the hands of friend and fellow New Yorker Juan Pablo, who crushed me with Elder Deep-Fiend – that card is seriously good against this deck.
In round 9 I made a huge misplay. My opponent had a Whirler Virtuoso in play and made a thopter token to block my attacking Heart of Kiran. However, my opponent and I both forgot about my Mangelhorn in play which let him block with the token and saved 4 points of damage. However, I realized the Manglehorn ability too late and it was impossible to rewind the game to that point. Later in the same game I tapped out to play a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship to kill an opposing Virtuoso and establish a board presence.
Sadly, it got Confiscation Coup’d. I looked at my hand of 1 Negate and sighed. It can be frustrating losing to your own mistakes. Granted I’m not 100% sure if I win that game had I remembered my Manglehorn effect or had held up Negate in a spot where I think establishing a board state is important. However I didn’t play perfectly, and it was upsetting to get stuck on 2 lands in game 3. You have to accept your mistakes and move on – I definitely didn’t put enough testing with my deck and should have known what my cards did, but it’s the price I paid for switching to a non-Marvel deck.
Overall I think the deck could’ve put up a stronger performance had I played better and had a more tuned list. Going forward, I would tune the mana base, probably finding room for another red source or two and playing fewer copies of Game Trail. I’d also want to play a full set of Woodland Wanderer – I really like a card I can ramp out with Servant of the Conduit on turn 3. I think the trample ability is super relevant and can help in spots where your opponent has to make 1/1 thopters just to survive.
I really enjoyed playing the deck however. One of my favorite plays of the tournament was having a Mardu opponent Fumigate the board, leaving behind a lone Heart of Kiran. I drew a Skysovereign, played it on an empty board, and passed. My opponent passed back. Boom – Chandra, Torch of Defiance – +1 exile Greenbelt Rampager, play it to crew Skysovereign, crew Heart with Chandra, attack for 10! Unreal.
If you’re looking to try a deck that has decent game against the meta, I’d try it out. Depending how testing goes going forward I may just fly to Omaha in two weeks to cast me some Lathnu Hellion! That card is broken.
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