The Temur Problem

Sheldon Menery is addicted to Temur. He can’t help himself. In his latest Do Over Project effort, he tries to iron out his red, blue, and green demons by working on one of the toughest commanders in the business to build with!

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<p>You know how when someone is about to make a confession, but you already know what they’re going to confess because it’s not a secret anyway? Well, here’s another one. I have a Temur problem. Now, as problems go, this isn’t all that bad. It’s not like it’s self-destructive. I’m not endangering anyone while driving under the influence of Temur. I am, however, filling up the deck shelf. I suppose there are worse things to do.</p>
<p>Coming into this week, I knew that I wanted to put together the next deck in the <a href=Do Over Project. For those of you who haven’t been following along, the Do Over Project is basically “the next 99,” in which I build a new deck with the same commanders (from my original Chromatic Project to build a deck of each of the 27 possible color combinations) but don’t repeat any cards. In my original plan, I was going to allow myself repeats of nonbasic lands that only produced mana, but in a number of the builds, I’ve even avoided that and only repeated basic lands. I’ll continue that here.

I didn’t quite know which deck I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to avoid black. With Shadows over Innistrad looming, I figured that I’d want to wait because there are going to be tons of cool new black cards to choose from. Sure, I suppose I could do the next version of Kaalia of the Vast, but there are bound to be tasty new cards in those colors, so it’s worth hanging on for a month or so. Narrowing it down, I wasn’t quite feeling a two-color (or mono-color) deck, so I was left with the choice of five-color or Temur (since I’ve already done all the non-black shards and wedges). And it’s a convenient way to feed my addiction.

The original Animar deck is about leveraging the commander’s ability, cool enters-the-battlefield effects, and bouncing creatures back to my hand; it also has a crazy number of those creatures (47). I don’t want to repeat (to too great an extent) any of those elements. I also want to do some forward-thinking about the other Temur commanders I have: Intet, the Dreamer; Riku of Two Reflections (which are effectively the same deck); and Yasova Dragonclaw.

It’s too early to think about Yasova. Riku screams doing a copy/clone deck, which means I’m not going to do it. There are some fun copy/clone cards available to me, so I’m going to have that as a small subtheme to this deck. And it would be silly to ignore the fact that Animar can help me cast colorless creatures, so Eldrazi, here we come! That said, I don’t want to be too over-reliant on the commander. It’s not like Animar has experience counters. Let’s look at the list:


Let’s talk about the individual card choices:

Creatures (25)

Aura Thief: Your enchantments are pretty good. I’d like them, please. This card kept me from playing Brooding Saurian.

Bane of Bala Ged: There are a number of creatures in the deck which I’d like to cast for free. This is one of them. People still underestimate the value of exiling things; I’d like to do even more of it.

Body Double: You’ll note that I’ve tried to keep the colored mana requirements to a minimum. That makes it easier to have Animar help cast things and smooth out the mana, since I don’t have all the choices I’d like.

Clever Impersonator: I like that I can copy anything, to include planeswalkers, with this. Go ahead and play great stuff. I’d like to have a copy that I paid less for, thank you much.

Clone: It’s the original, and it’s been eclipsed by Gigantoplasm, but it will always have a special place in my heart.

Coiling Oracle: Best two-drop ever? Voting lines are open now (although, yeah, it’s pretty much going to win).

Courser of Kruphix: This is basically the down-market Oracle of Mul Daya with a slight upside.

Dack’s Duplicate: This card is the reason I went this direction with the deck. It’s the same cost as the original Clone (okay, it has the red component) with haste and dethrone. I predict this will occasionally kill people out of nowhere.

Deceiver of Form: The jury is out on whether this will be cool or just another Essence of the Wild. We’ll see.

Draining Whelk: No one plays original Counterspell anymore, but I’ll be keeping up UU for you anyway.

Elvish Visionary: I need a few small creatures to buff up Animar no matter what or when, so I figured one with card draw would be the way to go.

Endbringer: We’ll see if I can generate enough colorless mana to make this work. If not, I’ll fiddle some more with the land base.

Flamerush Rider: I’ve tried to make this work in a few decks since it came out, but it keeps getting cut in favor of newer stuff. I really want to make it work. I like the dash angle since it’s still casting the spell and buffs up Animar.

Gigantoplasm: Dack’s Duplicate was enough to make me start to feel bad for original Clone. This was just additional daggers.

Glen Elendra Archmage: My dream play is to copy this with one of my clones and then have it persist back and copy something cooler. I know I’ll occasionally get blown out by a Wrath of God (since you have to copy something that was already on the battlefield), but those are the risks you take for the saucy plays.

It That Betrays: There are decks in which It That Betrays seems to fit, like Thraximundar, but they generally have too much trouble casting it. This deck has less of that problem.

Oblivion Sower: Mana ramp and exile, stapled onto a card I might cast for nothing. All the wins.

Reclamation Sage: Speaking of upgrades, sorry, Viridian Shaman. Reclamation Sage is even an Elf, so hit the road.

Sakashima’s Student: I considered a few more Ninja cards, but that seems like it would take me back to all the bounce trickery of the original deck, so I want to avoid that. Sakashima’s Student does stuff even when you can ninjutsu it in.

Scourge of Fleets: There are likely too few Islands in the deck to make this a complete blowout every time, but it’ll get enough stuff to help out. I also considered Llawan, Cephalid Empress in this slot.

Shapesharer: I love the flexibility of this card, especially since I can fool around with some of the other creatures in the deck. Be nice to copy someone’s Blood Artist in response to Austere Command.

Soul of New Phyrexia: I want a little protection for my team, and putting it onto the battlefield for potentially nothing means that I’ll still have the mana up to activate it.

Soul of the Harvest: I need to draw cards and I love to cast creatures.

Woodfall Primus: I would have avoided this altogether had it not been for the trick I mentioned earlier of copying this and then having it persist back as something else.

Yavimaya Elder: I predict picking up the one Wastes in the deck with some frequency.

Legendary Creatures (8)

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: I know it’s not going to happen more than two or three times in the deck’s lifespan, but “cast Kozilek for no mana” is going to be worth it.

Kozilek, the Great Distortion: Ditto.

Mina and Denn, Wildborn: One of the problems with Animar is that it gets chump blocked a great deal. Mina and Denn would rather it did some damage. Combos with Courser of Kruphix for some fun.

Nylea, God of the Hunt: Once again, there’s the trample angle.

Sakashima the Impostor: Of course I’m going to copy Animar! What else would I do?

Thassa, God of the Sea: In our Commander 2015 League, Thassa has shown herself to be invaluable, both with the scry ability and the unblockable ability.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: Am I putting too much stock in the “cast this giant thing for nothing” basket?

Xenagos, God of Revels: Battling, battling, always battling.

Artifact Creatures (1)

Wurmcoil Engine: This card has been around long enough that it’s bounced in and out of decks simply because I wanted to look at some fresh faces. It’s just good. It gets even better with the next card and was what got me thinking about that card in the first place.

Artifacts (3)

Blade of Selves: It’s really too bad that the tokens are exiled (and I’m sure it came up during design or development), because otherwise this card would be even more insane than it already is. With sacrifice outlets, it should be good enough.

Darksteel Plate: Animar dies too easily. We’ll see if we can change that.

Sculpting Steel: The card is in the Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas deck. Seeing it multiple times made me wonder why I’ve never played it in one of my own.

Enchantments (7)

Asceticism: Lighten up, Francis.

Evolutionary Leap: This was Wild Pair right up until the last moment. Then I realized that this is cheaper to cast and can turn Elvish Visionary into Ulamog. For one green mana.

Goblin Bombardment: My second-favorite sacrifice outlet of all time.

Greater Good: And my first. In Italian, the card is Bene Supremo, which kind of says it all.

Outpost Siege: Both modes are pretty good, so I’ll have to look at my hand to see how I’m going to play it. The former is nice because it’s effectively card draw, but the latter is more likely to roast faces.

Primeval Bounty: Everything this card does, to include putting extra counters on Animar, makes me happy.

Zendikar Resurgent: Something tells me that this card will end up on the next Can’t Get Angry list.

Sorceries (8)

Boundless Realms: For the cute interaction with Primeval Bounty, obviously.

Clone Legion: I was going to go with Mirror Match, but I decided I’d rather they stay around for a while.

Cultivate: The original Animar doesn’t have much ramp (in fact, it’s only got Skyshroud Claim), so there is a small suite of it here.

Genesis Wave: The deck doesn’t get out of hand with mana, so I suspect this will always be cast for a modest six to nine mana.

Kodama’s Reach: Along with Cultivate, the best of the ramp spells. It helps you hit that land drop plus add another.

Rampant Growth: Perhaps if I spend earlier turns ramping instead of casting Animar and a bunch of creatures, people will leave me alone. A brother can hope.

Ranger’s Path: The poor man’s Skyshroud Claim, it only gets basic lands in this deck. Still, two lands for four mana is fine. I thought about Dreamscape Artist here, but then we start going down the Harrow line of thinking, and this isn’t a landfall deck.

Tooth and Nail: Hey, there are enormous creatures, and sometimes Animar won’t be around to help cast them.

Instants (8)

Aetherize: If you only take one message from reading me on these pages, let it be what I repeat as often as is possible: Stay in school and play your Fogs.

Arachnogenesis: Even better if they’re Spider Fogs.

Comet Storm: This is just one little bit of direct damage in case of the long game—although I suspect that in the normal range of games I like, twelve to fifteen turns, this deck will either already be doing its thing or a non-factor.

Cyclonic Rift: Sometimes, you just have to Rift.

Evacuation: Occasionally, my creatures will get killed, or they won’t be the best collection of creatures on the battlefield. Since there’s not really Plague Wind in Temur colors, this is my choice.

Reiterate: You’ll see the next three spells all copy. I want to have more than just one because if I have one early, I’ll use it to copy someone else’s ramp spell. Later, it’ll copy whatever super cool thing they’re trying to do.

Twincast: I may have told this story before, so if you’ve heard it, skip down to the next card.

My favorite memory of Twincast came from Gen Con circa 2010. It was the first or second game on Friday, so there was already a large crowd. This kid sat down to play promising his deck was “the most casual ever.” He ramped into turn 4 Tooth and Nail. The crowd groaned. I asked him if I could Twincast it. People gathered behind me to see what I was up to. When I turned my deck upside down to search it, Draining Whelk was on the bottom. The crowd roared.

Wild Ricochet: Locally, we don’t play too much time magic, but it crops up every now and again. For those times, there’s Wild Ricochet.

Planeswalkers (1)

Kiora, Master of the Depths: I’d play Kiora for only the first ability. The ultimate is a little bit of a pipe dream, but who doesn’t love Octopuses?

Lands (15)

City of Brass: Since Rule 4 went away and I’m capable of copying creatures which have activated abilities, I figured I’d give myself a chance to use some of them.

Command Beacon: Whoever designed Command Beacon has an Animar deck and got tired of paying eleven mana to cast it. I’m sure of it.

Frontier Bivouac: I don’t want too many enters-the-battlefield tapped lands, since I almost always want to cast Animar on turn 3, but a few won’t hurt.

High Market: My stuff. Keep your mitts off.

Homeward Path: It might seem weird to have this in the deck, but I’m not really stealing creatures.

Mana Confluence: The somewhat less painful City of Brass.

Minamo, School at Water’s Edge: I have enough legendary creatures to make this worthwhile—nothing too broken (although it gets me thinking that Murkfiend Liege and Arcanis, the Omnipotent is a thing), but good enough.

Miren, the Moaning Well: Because Diamond Valley doesn’t produce mana. That card is terrible.

Myriad Landscape: I’m curious how often I’ll want to not activate the ability just so that I have the colorless mana available.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: Okay, this is less of a good card in the deck than a cute one. First of all, it adds colorless, which is useful these days. Second, it gives me the chance, through cloning, to have devotion of a color that’s not in my deck. Who wouldn’t want to see that happen?

Rugged Highlands: Alt-Taiga.

Swiftwater Cliffs: The Volcanic Island “replacement.”

Temple of the False God: It seems weird to have colorless mana production in an Animar deck, but these are different days.

Thornwood Falls: Does Tropical Island gain you life? I didn’t think so.

Yavimaya Hollow: Might as well say “Regenerate target Animar.” Actually, I wonder what would be a reasonable colorless cost (on a land) to regenerate your commander. Two seems too little; three seems okayish; four is too much. Seems like something to think about.

This will be a fun deck to play. In the end, it started looking like a Greatest Hits album. I didn’t really want it to turn into a good stuff deck, but that’s nearly impossible to do with the cards in the colors. It’s definitely geared toward my particular play environment where not too much broken stuff happens with any real frequency. It’s pretty durdly, which is exactly what I wanted.

This week’s Deck Without Comment is the aforementioned original Animar deck:

Animar, Soul of Elements
Sheldon Menery
0th Place at Test deck on 03-20-2014

Check out our awesome Deck List Database for the last versions of all my decks:


If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987 and is just now getting started with a new saga called “The Lost Cities of Nevinor”), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”

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