February 24, 2015

Temurtifacts

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Do I really need an excuse to build something unusual?


Not really. But my ReConstructed readers certainly help make sure that I always have plenty of exciting rogue options to work on! You all are awesome.


What do I mean, exactly? Well, first, welcome to Temur Week!


Now, you might have an idea in your head of what a Temur deck looks like. You know. Rattleclaw Mystics and Savage Knuckleblades and Stormbreath Dragons (oh my!) and the like. This is a fairly regular submission I see week in and week out and one that, if you're interested, I recently covered, here.


This week's deck is decidedly not that.


No. It's time for something a little off the beaten path. It's time for…Temur Artifacts?!?





Nekomata-sensei's Ferocious Aggro

































The Battle Plan


So…what is going on here?


Well, there are a couple key elements. First and foremost, this is a very aggressive Temur deck. Your goal is to kill your opponent under the weight of a bunch of huge creatures that come out early and hit hard—but they aren't the usual suspects.


Okay, so Frost Walker isn't that far out there. But Illusory Angel isn't something you tend to see in most Temur builds. And then you get to the Ensoul Artifactwhat?!?


That's right: this Temur deck beats you down quickly not only with traditional Temur cards like Frost Walker, but also Ensoul Artifacts! Between the Walker and Ensoul you have multiple two-drops that put 4+ power onto the table. Bam!


So, what are the keys to refining a crazy deck like this going to be?


Well, first and foremost, it is going to be working on the deck's core: what strong Temur cards might be needed to help make this deck work?


Secondly, how can we push on the artifact theme to make it worth it? Right now, it's kind of haphazardly strewn around with a few cards—but it isn't really worth running two Ensoul Artifacts and a small handful of artifacts. You're too likely to draw an Ensoul and not have a good target. Instead, I want to jump onto this crazy, thrashing hog with the full velocity of a huge jump, and either land smack-dab on the hog's back with a loud "yee-haw!" or end up face down in the mud.


Let's get looking!


Deck Breakdown


Which cards can stick in this deck and which just have the illusion of being good? Let's run through the deck card by card and talk about what should stay and what should go!


Elvish Mystic



As a green staple, this card is a key way to cast your larger threats quickly. In this deck in particular, it serves an important role as both a way to get up to three mana—where some of your strongest cards live—on turn two, and also as a card that costs one mana to help with Illusory Angel in a pinch. I definitely want to play four copies.


Illusory Angel and Hewed Stone Retainers



Ah, now we get to something a little more off the beaten path. Check out this motley pair of three-mana cards.


Both these cards are very similar, with the Angel of course being better as a flying creature. The Angel gets a pretty safe pass from me, and is actually pretty well positioned: it blocks cards like Mantis Rider and flies over the top of a lot of cards that gum up the board. If you can cast it on turn three with a card like Ornithopter it is great, and even on turn four along with a one-drop it's passable.


Hewed Stone Retainers, on the other hand, is a tougher sell. While it is an artifact so you can Shrapnel Blast it up to the dome, I don't think I could ever play Hewed Stone Retainers in good conscience before I started playing any Savage Knuckleblades. And while I appreciate what these stony creatures are trying to do here, I just don't think it's worth it to retain them any longer.


Angel can stick around. Sorry Retainers!


Frost Walker



A two-mana 4/1 hits hard—provided it can get through. The drawback of dying when target doesn't come up that often, since most of what would target it would kill it anyway. So mostly, the question is if a 4/1 for two is good enough.


And in this deck, which wants to hit hard early, I'm going to give it a pass. This is exactly the kind of card which, if your opponent doesn't have a creature to stand in its way, can really nip at his or her bones. Let's make sure to play some cheap removal spells going forward, since clearing the way for these is going to be important, and carry on with all four.


Ensoul Artifact and Shrapnel Blast



These cards are incredibly powerful—provided you have the artifacts to fuel them. It's all about ensuring you have the ways to start the engine. And I believe this deck can get there.


At that point, it's all about maximizing their power. You want to be able to Ensoul Artifact on turn two (and hopefully attack if you played a turn-one Ornithopter!), and if you draw two Shrapnel Blasts you want to be able to huck two artifacts at the dome for 10 damage to finish off your opponent. This is where playing such an odd aggressive strategy really begins to pay off. If we add in some more artifacts, we should be good.


I want to play four copies of both, with the note that we need to up the free artifact count as we go along.


Ornithopter and Briber's Purse



Speaking of artifacts, here are some of the culprits right here!


These two cards serve a split role in this deck.


For one, they are zero-mana spells that work to help cast Illusory Angel on time. But the primary use most of the time is going to be enchanting them with Ensoul Artifact or flinging them away with Shrapnel Blast—and that's where they really shine. Turn-one Ornithopter with a turn-two Ensoul Artifact lets you attack with a 5/5 flier—on turn two! That sure puts the pressure on quickly, and only a handful of decks are equipped to efficiently fight that.


Briber's Purse, while mostly included as a free artifact, actually works really nicely here. While there are certainly other zero-mana artifacts you could play—Tormod's Crypt to help fight graveyard strategies, for example—the Purse serves an additional duty here by letting you attack through if you play it for a couple counters! Remember earlier when I was talking about ways to help get Frost Walker through? Well, you can cast a Briber's Purse to bribe your opponent's single blocker and serve on past!


If we're going to make this artifact theme work, I'm going to need these. Namely, I'm going to want the full set of each. It's a lot, but it helps make Ensoul Artifact worthwhile and the cards can certainly do things on their own. It's a big change, but four of each it is!


Flamewake Phoenix



The Phoenix is a great aggressive card overall. However, it doesn't fit that well into the game plan this deck is trying to employ of playing overstated creatures early and attacking repeatedly. While if I could just snap my fingers and sometimes have a Phoenix during a game of Magic I would, there are some better options.


In this case, the option I'd prefer is Savage Knuckleblade. Now, the Knuckleblade is a bit awkward in this deck because Darksteel Citadel does you no favors in helping to cast it on time. For that reason, playing the full set of a little suspect: if I had a hand with multiple uncastable Knuckleblades that would certainly be fury-inducing. (Especially because you ideally want a red left over for haste too.) However, with a smaller number, that's not going to happen as often and I'm more likely to see it when my deck is in a position to cast it. I'll play two copies.


Yasova Dragonclaw



Yasova comes out quickly—especially off of Elvish Mystic—and instantly begins to warp the game around her. Your opponent has to leave back extra blockers appropriately, and even then you can still grab his or her creature and begin serving in with it.


Oh, and did I mention she's a 4/2 trampler to boot?


While Savage Knuckleblade is a bit hard on the mana to play consistently on turn three, Yasova is lovely at only being a single green to cast, so she's a lot more manageable. I'd like to move up to three copies of this Dragonclaw.


Shaman of the Great Hunt



As a 4/2 haste, this card certainly fits the theme of keeping on the pressure. You can swing in with all of your creatures and make them even larger than before. And if the board stalls out, with the sheer number of huge creatures in this deck you could draw a fistful of cards.


However, I'm really looking to keep the curve in this deck low. With cards like Yasova around, this deck has sinks for lots of mana already that are still plenty potent. While Shaman is a solid card, it isn't quite what I'm looking for here.


Crater's Claws and Wild Slash



These cheap, versatile removal spells go a long way in this strategy. They help punch your Frost Walkers through early, and then Crater's Claws in particular can go to the dome later on to close out the game.


With Claws and Shrapnel Blast, it's not unreasonable to close out many games where the opponent is on 15 or less even if you can't attack with burn spells! It just takes a swing or two from a 5/5, and your opponent is right in burn range.


I'd like to condense this slot together into the full set of Crater's Claws: anytime you want to get one of your creatures through, you're going to have a 4-power creature, since all of the creatures you want to get through have 4 power. In those cases, you can still cast Crater's Claws for one mana to Shock something. In the long game, Claws is a lot more powerful. While you do give up the flexibility of an instant for that, it's worthwhile: you can double Claws someone to death pretty easily.


The full four Claws it is!


Temur Battle Rage



Talk about a card that can hit hard! For two mana, you can push through a lot of damage with this. Cast it on a 5/5 and kill your opponent's creature plus still trample over! Brutal.


However, it's unfortunately a nonbo with your Frost Walkers and it's the kind of card that is only good in an already good situation. I'd rather have Shrapnel Blast than this as a finisher. Goodbye, Battle Rage!


Stubborn Denial



I have always been a huge fan of Stubborn Denial—or as we call it in R&D, "Stubs." However, this deck wants to be so aggressive and putting on pressure early that it can't really afford to draw this and have its style cramped. (Plus, it doesn't even protect your Frost Walkers from removal.) While it's a reasonable sideboard card, I don't want it main deck.


Temur Ascendancy



While this deck does have a lot of 4-power creatures, Ascendancy has a few issues. First of all, it doesn't even work with Ensoul Artifact to draw a card. Second, it costs the full boat of Temur mana and if I'm going to risk playing a card with that mana cost I want to cast on turn three despite playing four Darksteel Citadel, it's going to be Savage Knuckleblade. While I appreciate what it's going here, the Ascendancy isn't quite for this deck.


All right! So, with all of those changes in mind that brings the deck to:




Bam! Talk about a Temur deck unlike any other. I've never seem Temur played like this—and it looks like it hits hard! Really, it just takes one or two hits from a big creature and you're already going to be right in range to burn them out.


If you're looking for something fresh and exciting to play in Temur, here's something your opponents may have never seen coming.


Have fun with huge creatures!


Honorable Mentions


What were some of the other exciting Temur decks that were sent in this week? Let's take a look!







Brandon Crawford's Infinite Genesis































Takuya Tomomizu's What's the Temur




































Itou Kazunari's Thanks, Opponent!



























Kajiwara Tomoki's Temur Control




































Andrew's Atarkill!!






































Andrew Weisel's Savagery of the Kraken






















Dragon Age


Well, here we go into the future.


Next week heralds the beginning of Dragons of Tarkir previews!


Dragons on the horizon means that there won't be any deck-building challenge for this week…but the next two weeks will both be previews of new cards! That seems like a pretty fair tradeoff. I have a very exciting preview card I can't wait to show off to everyone next week, and I expect it will generate a ton of chatter. But you'll just have to remain patient another week to find out what it is. Be sure to come back then!


In the meantime, if you have any comments or thoughts on this article, Standard, or otherwise, feel free to send a tweet my way or ask me a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to see it and take a look! It's always great to hear from you all. And if you do take today's deck out for a spin, let me know how it goes! The deck is a blast.


I'll be back next week with something I'm very excited to build with. Until then, may you throw 5/5 artifacts at your opponent's head for the victory!


Talk with you soon,


Gavin


@GavinVerhey


GavInsight






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