I’ll be honest with you all. I have really felt lost in Standard lately. Besides G/R Eldrazi Ramp, there really just hasn’t been anything that has piqued
my interest in quite some time. I tried playing some games with it and just didn’t like how non-interactive it was in the first few turns, and if we
bricked on the right ramp or if they had answers to it on time, then we would just be so far behind that no amount of Ugin, the Spirit Dragons or Ulamog,
the Ceasless Hungers could bring us back.
I felt like I was adrift in a sea of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Ojutai’s Command, and Abzan Charm; that was until I looked to the one man who I knew would
understand me. The actual Dragonmaster himself, Brian Kibler.
, Brian wrote an article about Snapping Gnarlid being right in
front of him the whole time. I have been seeing posts from people on social media about how insane Snapping Gnarlid had been for them. There were even
pictures of old Gnarls being photoshopped onto a Tarmogoyf, which definitely caught my interest. Fellow Chris, Chris Andersen, had been working on
different G/W base Megamorph decks using Snapping Gnarlid, but it wasn’t until I saw Kibler’s Temur Black deck that I fell in love.
When I first saw this deck, I immediately knew that I had to throw it together. Thunderbreak Regent is a card that I have just been itching to play, and
ever since I saw the Temur White deck from the last Pro Tour, I thought that Woodland Wanderer looked like it could be extremely powerful. After playing a
few games with that deck though, I got turned off to Beastcaller Savant and just wanted something that could fill my curve and put on significant pressure
when needed, and sadly, Heir of the Wilds just didn’t fit the bill.
So I put Kibler’s deck together, fired up the stream, and hopped in a Standard league. The first game I
played was against Jeskai Black where I got to be on the play and led turn 2 Snapping Gnarlid into fetchland (without cracking it) and Draconic Roared a
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy revealing Thunderbreak Regent. I didn’t crack the fetchland because I wanted to be able to attack through a potential Mantis Rider on
the next turn, which is exactly what happened. I played another fetchland, attacked and got in for five and then played a four-drop. I went on to win the
game pretty easily, but I was hooked right away on Snapping Gnarlid.
Throughout the course of the stream, I was asked a lot about if Snapping Gnarlid is better than Heir of theWilds, and I firmly believe it is, at least
against everything but Abzan. It’s always nice to be able to attack through a Siege Rhino, which we can’t always do with Snapping Gnarlid, but the amount
of pressure that Gnarls puts on as opposed to Heir of the Wilds, is just unmatched – especially with so many fetchlands in the deck.
Speaking of fetchlands, the mana actually felt like it was all in the right place, and that’s coming from someone who is admittedly pretty poor at planning
out my fetches right now. Since I’ve primarily been playing G/W Megamorph and Atarka Red, I really haven’t had to navigate the fetchland minefield very
much, but with this deck I felt like I was able to plan out my first few turns pretty well, even when sideboarding into cards like Duress. The only real
change that I would have liked to make to the mana would be to try and find room for a second Lumbering Falls. I never drew it in the games that I played
but always wished that I had.
As far as matchups went in the League that I played, I only lost to Abzan in games where I flooded out pretty badly or I couldn’t stop a Siege Rhino from
attacking and setting up a raided Wingmate Roc from taking the game. Silkwrap for my two-drop, Abzan Charm for my Savage Knuckleblade, and then Siege Rhino
into Wingmate Roc was too much to overcome. Without any good ways to interact with Siege Rhino outside of Self-Inflicted Wounds, I wonder if it might be
better to have a couple Roast in the sideboard alongside everything else.
I beat Jeskai Black, and it actually felt pretty good. Crackling Doom is effective against us, but things like Snapping Gnarlid can help us get under it,
and Rattleclaw Mystic help us get over it. Stubborn Denial and Dispel out of the sideboard are both very good against them, and a 6/6 Woodland Wanderer
will end the game quite quickly. I also really like how Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker plays around Ojutai’s Command, which lets us punish them on turns they
try to take off and get us with the counterspell.
One of the interesting things is how the matchup against Eldrazi Ramp went. I played against it multiple times in the League, and every game basically came
down to some number of the following key points:
– Land a big threat early (Savage Knuckleblade or Woodland Wanderer).
That is a lot of key points, but it always felt like multiple of them came up every game, and I felt in control and way ahead at every point.
Having played the deck already and understanding the different mana points where important things can happen helped for sure, but just pacing properly and
using all of your resources correctly went a long way toward beating this deck over and over online.
This deck isn’t exactly an unknown quantity anymore, but this build is a bit different. There are still three copies of Murderous Cut, but now we have
three copies of Tasigur, the Golden Fang in the maindeck and no Thunderbreak Regents, and without the Dragons, Draconic Roar is gone too. This leaves room
for more Crater’s Claws and other burn spells in Fiery Impulse and Kolaghan’s Command. I do like the value that you can gain from Kolaghan’s Command, and I
like being able to do three damage for only one mana with Fiery Impulse, but not having Thunderbreak Regent just seems odd.
The other big difference is the lack of Snapping Gnarlid and going up to four copies of Lumbering Falls, which to me, makes this much more of a midrange
type of deck rather than something that is trying to apply pressure and then lean on our opponents with cards like Stubborn Denial until they finally break
and we win. I think that it’s definitely worth testing out the different types of builds for this deck though, as Tasigur, the Golden Fang does a pretty
good Tarmogoyf impersonation just like Snapping Gnarlid.
This sideboard has some pretty interesting elements as well, and I especially like Exert Influence and Disdainful Stroke against the Siege Rhino decks, and
the two copies of Surrak Dragonclaw between the maindeck and sideboard are pretty interesting as ways to force through a threat against the control decks.
All in all, I’ve been pretty impressed with Temur Black and will continue to work on it. I don’t really have any events coming up in the immediate future,
so trying to stay up to date on Standard to help friends who are hitting up Opens, Invitationals, and Grand Prix is pretty important to me.
Keeping all that in mind, there were a couple events that happened this last weekend. Most notably, #GPBrussels was taken by storm by Team Eureka and their
Four-Color Rally deck. Going back to Matthew Tickal’s version of this deck, what feels like a million years ago, we see the blue splash for Jace, Vryn’s
Prodigy, but I feel like that’s not the most important blue card in the deck, as Sidisi’s Faithful seems very important as a way to get rid of a
troublesome Anafenza, the Foremost for a turn to fill the graveyard.
- 4 Nantuko Husk
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Grim Haruspex
- 4 Sidisi's Faithful
- 4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
- 4 Catacomb Sifter
- 4 Zulaport Cutthroat
This deck has gotten quite the shot in the arm with Battle for Zendikar. Not only do we have almost perfect mana with all the fetchlands combined
with the Battle lands, but we get a new Blood Artist-like card in Zulaport Cutthroat, which leads to even more combo kills with Nantuko Husk that doesn’t
involve the combat step.
Catacomb Sifter has also pumped some new life into the archetype as well. Being a value-centric deck, the Sifter does everything that we want it to.
Providing multiple bodies for Husk + Cutthroat combos is great, but it also lets us scry to dig for whatever piece we’re missing and can ramp us to the
needed five mana for a Rally the Ancestors for three.
I don’t think that this is the last time that we’re going to see this deck, and I’m pretty happy to be playing cards that interact with Rally and Collected
Company: Disdainful Stroke, Dispel, and Stubborn Denial.
The other event last weekend was #GPAtlanta!
#GPAtlanta was a smash with over 3,000 unique players showing up to play Battle for Zendikar Limited and take part in all of the Commander action
that we had. Last week, I asked everyone to help me with
making a Commander deck, and after reading through what everyone had to say, I think that I’ve narrowed it down to two commanders to pick from.
I like what both of the third colors have to offer to their respective decks (black for Sidisi, and red for Riku), so I’m going to have to sit down with
some decklists and figure out which direction I want to go. I would love to see existing lists that people might have if they already play these
commanders, and then I might even try to build the one I pick online and record some battles.
I’m kind of leaning towards Riku of Two Reflections, as I also really like using Flametongue Kavu over and over to kill things, but I also really like
graveyard interactions and the removal options that black would give us with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, so once again I need your help! Please help me pick a
Commander to build my deck with!