Decks to Consider: Players Tours 3&4

John Rolf

John Rolf

Introduction

It appears as if Standard is Temur’s world and we’re all just living in it. Players Tour 1 and 2 concluded last weekend, and Temur Reclamation emerged as the clear deck to beat. It was the most played deck by a wide margin, put the most pilots in top8, and even won both tournaments.

Wilderness Reclamation

Many players (myself included) are now deciding what to submit this coming weekend for Players Tour 3&4. The dominance of Temur Reclamation has left competitors asking: how does one attempt to approach such a lopsided metagame? Is Reclamation even beatable? Should I just play it myself? Today I’ll present the three archetypes I’m most likely to play. I’ll talk briefly about each including some pros and cons of choosing them. Hopefully, I can shed some light on the big picture.

Before I go forward, let me make something clear: in today’s Standard, you must have a compelling reason for not playing 《Growth Spiral》 and 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》.

Deck #1: Temur Reclamation

No surprise here. It’s safe to assume that this will be the most played archetype this weekend, and I will undoubtedly be operating off that premise. It comes in at the #1 spot for decks I am likely to play because it is by far the safest choice and has easily proved itself across both of the Players Tours.

Shark TyphoonUro, Titan of Nature's WrathExpansion+ExplosionNightpack Ambusher

It can attack from a wide variety of angles thanks to 《Shark Typhoon》, 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, 《Expansion/Explosion》, and 《Nightpack Ambusher》. I’d be shocked to see anything come close to it in terms of decks played. Therefore, it should go without saying that you NEED to have a plan for it coming into this weekend to maximize your chances of success. This can mean playing Temur Reclamation yourself and tuning your list for the mirror or tuning and building another archetype that beats it (if such a thing exists). But you must be prepared, as you will be playing it in the tournament very often.

Commence the Endgame

What makes having a deck that gets close to or above a 50% win-rate against Temur Reclamation challenging, is, as mentioned above, just how flexible this deck is. It has the best proactive game one strategy in the format (《Wilderness Reclamation》 + 《Expansion/Explosion》), all while having the ability to win numerous other ways. If you get too focused on preparing vs. any singular plan, you will make yourself weak to another. You can attack one facet of the deck, but addressing all of it is a challenging task, if not an impossible one. Prepare for the combo too hard, and you’ll make yourself weak to 《Nightpack Ambusher》 post-board. Go overboard on counters and risk being exploited by 《Shark Typhoon》 and 《Commence the Endgame》.

Strong Temur Reclamation players are acutely aware of how you will try to interact with them post-board and know how to press their strengths in flexibility. It’s not uncommon for them to trim the number of 《Wilderness Reclamation》s post-board or cut them all together — making it even more difficult for the opponent be prepared. Open deck lists only exasperate this issue, as you won’t be able to catch them off guard with a plan. I don’t have a great recommendation on overcoming this other than trying to keep some amount of balance post-board otherwise, they will find a way to exploit you. Having some amount of proactivity is nice, as it’s hard to “go over” Temur Reclamation since it’s excellent at playing long, drawn-out games, which tends to favor them.

Mystical Dispute

There is no deck I’m aware of that convincingly defeats Temur Reclamation in a full match, but if there is, we will find out next weekend. Expect Temur Reclamation to be the most played and most dominant. If you find something that does defeat Reclamation, while remaining functional against other strategies, I highly recommend playing it.

If you do decide to play Reclamation itself, make sure that not only have a coherent strategy for the mirror but that you are comfortable executing it. It’s easy to get outplayed in these matches, even for very strong Magic players. Opportunities to represent cards you aren’t holding come up a lot in Reclamation mirrors so be on the look out for spots like that where you can gain some equity. Something as simple as stranding 《Mystical Dispute》s in your opponent’s hand and making sure yours get used (even if just on a 《Growth Spiral》 or 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》) can be the difference between winning and losing a game.

Pros and cons of playing Temur Reclamation:

Pros:

Cons:

Deck #2: Bant Ramp

Note for this list that Deltour has made the recommendation to “swap 《Temple of Mystery》s to max out 《Temple of Enlightenment》s, maybe slot in another white source over a green source.”

Teferi, Time Raveler

Bant is the second deck I’m considering for the tournament. If there is any deck that can consistently beat Temur Reclamation, I think this is it. The draws to playing it are clear — it has access to 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, which is the single best card against them. It shuts down 《Wilderness Reclamation》s, shuts down their counters, and shuts down their ability to play spells on your end.

Temur Reclamation does have ways around 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, most notably an EOT 《Shark Typhoon》 and attacking it (cycling gets around 《Teferi, Time Raveler》‘s passive ability), a 《Blast Zone》 on 3, and countering it before it resolves. If you can set up a spot to force one through, though, you are in a pretty sweet spot and are making things hard for them. If you can keep ticking 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 up, it becomes even more difficult as they need a giant shark to attack it down. If not, the 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 will just bounce the shark token to get rid of it.

Dovin's VetoShatter the SkyGlass Casket

Choosing Bant also allows you to play 《Growth Spiral》 and 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 (two of the very best cards that Standard has to offer) and strong counterspells like 《Dovin’s Veto》. Bant has robust tools against aggressive strategies, with access to 《Shatter the Sky》, white-based removal, and some green cards to shore up the ground. This could be relevant if people try to go under Temur Reclamation by submitting aggressive decks. Even 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 provides an excellent roadblock and can buy you some time. A card that presents problems for Temur Reclamation like 《Rotting Regisaur》 is much less of a concern as Bant. You can simply bounce it more reliably with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 to slow it down.

Narset, Parter of Veils

I’m certainly looking at Bant as a strong contender. It’s just hard to go wrong in choosing it, as you get to mash a bunch of great Magic cards together and back them up with counters. I like it better than UW control even though there is a lot of overlap in cards. I say this because it can actually close games, which is something you need to do against Temur Reclamation. If you submit it I recommend including more main-deck counterspells than normal as well as 2-3 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 for Temur Reclamation.

Pros and cons of playing Bant Ramp:

Pros:

Cons:

Deck #3: Rakdos Knights

Rakdos Knights?! How is it even playable you must be asking. Let me start by saying it’s not inherently a strong deck, but hear me out for a second. Given that Temur Reclamation’s popularity is exceptionally high right now, we know Bant and Reclamation players themselves will have their decks tuned for it. Not doing so will put themselves at a disadvantage to it, a place no one wants to be in right now.

The cards that are good against Reclamation are bad against aggro. Every 《Shatter the Sky》, 《Flame Sweep》, or 《Scorching Dragonfire》 in a competitor’s deck directly lowers a player’s odds of winning game one against Temur Reclamation. The same goes for slots in the sideboard. Every slot the Temur Reclamation or Bant player devotes to aggro in their 75 lowers their odds against the two decks that will be the most played. Further, cards that are good against Bant aren’t good against aggro either.

Rotting Regisaur

As a result, this should, in theory, be a great week to bring an aggro deck. 《Rotting Regisaur》 and company do not care about 《Mystical Dispute》s, 《Negate》s, and 《Neutralize》. Additionally, I expect a decline in Jund Sacrifice. Temur Reclamation is simply favored against it, especially when two equally competent pilots face-off. I don’t think it’s a good choice for this weekend, even with sideboard slots devoted to the Reclamation matchup. The majority of competent players will come to a similar conclusion. This leaves us with a tournament full of Temur Reclamation designed to beat Temur Reclamation and Bant designed to beat Temur Reclamation.

Temple of Malice

So what’s the problem then? The problem is the available aggro decks in Standard are not inherently good, as they are both inconsistent and have bad mana (outside of the mono-colored ones). It’s hard to build a viable aggressive BR deck when the only fixing available that doesn’t come into play tapped are four shock lands. Most of the aggro decks are one dimensional like Mono-Red and Mono-Green and as a result, easily exploitable post-board. It’s one thing to be able to pick up game one against Reclamation and Bant tuned for a control arms race, but winning the match is another thing.

Aether Gust

Part of what led me to Knights is that it’s less disrupted by 《Aether Gust》 (a card that Elias Watsfeldt, winner of Players Tour 1 was playing four of main in his Temur Reclamation list). 《Aether Gust》 is often problematic for aggro decks, especially Mono Green and Mono Red, as it allows opponent to interact with large swaths of cards at instant speed on crucial turns throughout the game. Frequently this, combined with a 《Scorching Dragonfire》 or something similar, is just enough to allow them the breathing room to survive and win. 《Rotting Regisaur》 and other black creatures do not care about 《Aether Gust》. Knights has some Red cards, but they are cheap and can be put back into play much easier than a 《Questing Beast》 or 《Torbran, Thane of Red Fell》.

Agonizing RemorseDrill BitTournament Grounds

Furthermore, black offers a relevant sideboard with discard in 《Agonizing Remorse》 and 《Drill Bit》 for when Temur Reclamation and Bant players reach for their sweepers. Conversely, a deck like Mono-Green has virtually zero sideboard playable sideboard cards. Finally, 《Tournament Grounds》 is appealing to me as it gets to operate as a bad 《Blood Crypt》 5-8, something other two color aggro decks just sadly don’t have access to. I refuse to put come into play tap lands into any deck looking to beat down with one and two-drop creatures.

Knights is far from good, though. It’s a risky deck, with risky mana, but has some high upside if you get paired vs. Temur Reclamation enough and run hot on die rolls. Pinto went 3-0 against Reclamation, and the matchup seems good in theory to me. My testing has shown this as well, as 《Rotting Regisaur》 is just very hard for them to answer.

Flooding can be an issue though, and some of your draws can be anemic, especially without 《Stormfist Crusader》 (the most important card in the deck alongside 《Rotting Regisaur》 and 《Embercleave》). Knights is absolutely terrible against Jund Sacrifice and can almost never beat it. Luckily, I don’t expect much of that this weekend but proceed at your own risk. I don’t think Jund is a good choice at all, but others might, and that would punish choosing Knights or another aggro deck.

Stormfist Crusader

I haven’t tested much of Knights vs. Bant yet, but a lot is going to depend on their version and to what extent they have slanted their deck to beat Temur Reclamation and the mirror. One thing I’m working on is finding a replacement for the 《Shadowspear》 in the main as well as the 《Stonecoil Serpent》s. They don’t make a lot of sense to me and I think I’d prefer just to be more aggressive for this week’s meta. I’ve been testing more 《Blacklance Paragon》s and 《Robber of the Rich》, though the latter has been hard on the mana. The only other aggro deck I’m considering playing is Mono-Green, as I believe it to be much better than Red, which is almost unplayable at this point.

Pros and Cons of Knights:

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion

That’s all I’ve got for today. I want to wish you all the best of luck if you’re playing Standard this weekend. I honestly don’t know what I’ll choose to play. The meta is not the most enjoyable nor diverse. I think Temur Reclamation will give me the best chance to win, followed by a well-tuned Bant list with plenty of counters and 《Narset, Parter of Veils》es. But part of me (very likely against my better judgment) wants to play something aggressive and see if I can’t take advantage of unprepared lists. We will see.

Until next time,

John (Twitter)

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John Rolf

John Rolf John Rolf is a pro player from United States. In the 2017-2018 season, He top8ed in Pro Tour Ixalan with his favorite 《Hazoret the Fervent》. Furthermore, he constantly left the good results in GPs and PTs, he finally reached Platinum Level from Bronze Level season starting and accomplished his first world championship appearance. With Brandon Ayers who is the teammate and best friend in the same town, he joined Hareruya Pros in the 2018-2019 season. Read more articles by John Rolf

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