Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Making Magic in the Arena - Temur Elementals

The best side-effect of the recent bans that we talked about the last time we entered the Arena was that it forced experimentation and cracked open a standard that had remained pitifully stagnant despite the influx of new cards from Core Set 2021.

As a result, we're seeing decks that just didn't get played enough due to the homogeneity of the pre-ban environment, like Izzet Tempo and Control decks that actually run counter spells. But we're not here to talk about those decks today. 

Rather, I chose to focus on this rad Temur Elemental concept that's been making the rounds. The elemental-tribal package isn't going to be in Standard for long, since Zendikar Rising is due to come out soon. But since the tools are all here, let's enjoy the moment and play with them while we still can.

Sorry about the hiccup during the final match. Although it was a fantastic game, my internet, specifically on my wired desktop connection, crapped out midway through and I had to both reset both Arena and OBS just to get back into the match. Thankfully, you didn't miss too much. At most, you missed me scrambling to react before the timer expired.

As for the deck, it's got a very interesting play pattern. Essentially, our goal is to ramp in the early game, using cards like Arboreal Grazer, Risen Reef, and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, to rapidly accelerate our land drops. And once we do, we hope to the win the game using an explosive Genesis Ultimatum, to cheat out either and Omnath, Locus of the Roil with some landfall triggers or an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or just to hard cast said Ugin.

And it's in both of those axes that this deck appeals to me. When Core Set 2020 was released, one of the first decks that drew my attention was the Temur Elemental Ramp deck. Both Omnath and Risen Reef were fascinating for the way they interacted with other elemental creatures to create really intimidating board states.

But I also love playing big, splashy spells. Cards like Ugin, the Ultimatums, and Cavalier of Thorns appeal because they feel incredibly impactful once they hit the board. There's something inherently appealing about dump a bunch of mana into one card and practically winning off it's resolution alone. To be blunt, running this deck was mostly an excuse to use those cards without feeling like the deck was weaker as a result.

I was curious why it ran Yorion, Sky Nomad until I ran the deck. When I found while playing is this deck both draws a lot of cards, and sends a lot of them directly to the graveyard. Even in that last match, I had 7 cards left in my library when I finished the opponent off. It needs that extra buffer just to avoid being milled out, and at that point we might as well include Yorion to reset Ugin's loyalty or activate all of those incredible ETB effects on our creatures.

It's a fun deck, and it plays well, despite the fact that it's not long for this Standard. That's really all I can ask for.

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