It seems like Standard has begun to firmly solidify with B/G Delirium and W/U Flash having risen to the top.
- 1 Pilgrim's Eye
- 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 4 Grim Flayer
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 10 Plains
- 7 Island
- 4 Prairie Stream
- 4 Port Town
I’d say B/G Delirium is the top dog right now. It’s the safe consistent choice that I think also has the slight edge against W/U Flash, which is right on its heels.
If you have a deck that beats B/G Delirium and W/U Flash, you are good to go. Play that sucker and win. That’s pretty much the entire story of Standard right now.
There are other archetypes that are putting up results. Lagging slightly behind in third place and going for the bronze driving a stylish Fleetwheel Cruiser are the red aggro decks, usually of the Mardu variety. I would rate the red decks as slightly below B/G and W/U in terms of effectiveness.
This picture of the format has not changed since the Pro Tour. Pro Tour Kaladesh saw both the rise and immediate fall of Aetherworks Marvel, which was exciting, but since then Standard hasn’t really had too many surprises from what looked to be such a diverse format. Most of the diverse and interesting decks have begun to be slowly pushed out of the format.
Someone save this card. It’s too cool to just die like this.
Credit for that goes to B/G Delirium and W/U Flash for not only being tough to beat but also being doubly difficult to beat as a pair. As time has passed they’ve both been improved upon and tuned a great deal, and lists are starting to look more and more similar while still being difficult to conquer.
That’s Standard in a nutshell.
Now let’s crack that nut wide open.
I have been part of the resistance trying to find the answer. Mostly I’ve been trying to supercharge Energy Midrange, and I think I might have struck lightning.
This might be close to the final form for Energy Midrange, or there might be more secrets to uncover. For now, I’ll provide a detailed breakdown of the deck along with a matchup and sideboard guide, and my thoughts on what it takes to beat B/G Delirium, W/U Flash, and red aggro decks.
Even though Temur Energy as it is now might look odd, the deck is very powerful, and I think it’s favored against the major decks in the format.
I’ve had success playing it online and finished 5-0 the last two leagues I’ve played in (although I finished with a disappointing 3-3 record in the MOCS Qualifier this weekend).
I don’t claim that Temur Energy is going to crush W/U Flash and B/G Delirium with the greatest of ease, but I think it has a slightly favorable matchup against both, as well as the aggro decks.
Temur Energy was slowly formed through constant tinkering and tuning. No one is going to think of this deck out of the blue; it just took shape, slowly evolving through adaptation after adaptation. With my Pro Tour R/G Energy deck as the starting point, I just tried to adjust to hurdles the other decks of Standard threw at it. I will admit it looks like a pile, but it is a well-adapted pile!
Mistakes molded it. What was needed molded it.
Now it’s a lean mean, hydro-powered, clean burning, pure Energy machine.
Whirler Virtuoso is the main inspiration for the blue splash. It’s easy to compare to Pia Nalaar, which is a solid card already. It has solid stats without much more consideration. But wait, there’s more!
Whirler Virtuoso is great at generating energy to sink into other cards and is also an excellent energy sink in the late game to bring an army of Thopters to your side of the battlefield.
It’s good in the early game at gumming up the ground with two or more blockers.
The deck was weak to fliers from W/U Flash, like Selfless Spirit and Archangel Avacyn, but Whirler Virtuoso is good at blocking to buy time. It’s also good at old-fashioned racing.
Thopters are great at pressuring planeswalkers like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and they also do an excellent job of protecting our own planeswalkers.
The icing on the cake that makes its virtues oh-so-tempting is that it fills out our three-drop slot in the deck nicely compared to other cards like Voltaic Brawler who were already competing with plenty of two-drops.
There are plenty of vehicles in Kaladesh, but there’s no coupe. If that’s what you’re in the market for instead you’ll have to settle for hijacking other vehicles with a Coup.
Confiscation Coup is a great top end to the deck. Stealing valuable targets creates a nice tempo swing and a two-for-one. Depending on how much energy you have, you can even take bigger targets, or if you’re stealing something smaller, you at least get to pocket the leftover energy.
Common targets for Confiscation Coup include Smuggler’s Copter; Tireless Tracker; Ishkanah, Grafwidow; Mindwrack Demon; Grim Flayer; or Archangel Avacyn. Just watch out for Reflector Mage from U/W Flash taking back what you stole.
Confiscation Coup can also hit more exotic targets like Aetherworks Marvel, Hedron Archive, Dynavolt Tower, Torrential Gearhulk, or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. That sort of versatility makes it powerful in almost every matchup.
Jace may seem out of place, but I assure you that’s not the case.
At first glance, Temur Energy may appear to be solely an aggressive deck. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets hasn’t seen that much play, even in some control decks. So why is it here?
The bounce effect is good at pushing an advantage, pressing damage, or taking out an opposing planeswalker. Using the bounce also works to protect Jace and set up to draw cards in future turns. In plenty of games where you start out as the aggressor your opponent may have shut down your offense and the board begins to stall. That’s where Jace, Unraveler of Secrets really shines.
Drop Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and start drawing cards and soon it will be your opponent who’s pressured to break through a board stall to try and kill Jace. Temur actually provides a good defensive wall of creatures that’s difficult to break through.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
B/G Delirium is all about stalling the board and getting to the late game. Now that Aetherworks Marvel has been pushed out of the format by W/U Flash, there isn’t anything to take advantage of its glacial pace of leisurely taking control of the game by gumming up the board and getting card advantage.
B/G Delirium is powerful in Standard because it will disrupt what you’re doing early on and then dominate the late game.
Temur Energy is capable of matching and surpassing B/G Delirium in the late game as long as you’re able to snowball an advantage in the early game.
There are basically four stages you’ll progress through as you play vs B/G Delirium.
Stage 1: Grim Flayer.
If they connect with an early Grim Flayer, that can be lights out right there. This is where Incendiary Flow shines, since a 2/2 Grim Flayer or a Tireless Tracker are its best targets.
Stage 2: Liliana, the Last Hope.
If Liliana, the Last Hope sticks around, you’re going to be at a major disadvantage. Thankfully, Temur Energy is very good at killing Liliana, the Last Hope. Bristling Hydra is almost impossible for them to kill through conventional means that aren’t Hissing Quagmire or To the Slaughter.
Keep the pressure on, get good trades, draw cards.
Stage 3: Ishkanah, Grafwidow.
Turn 5 delirium and Ishkanah, Grafwidow are tricky to deal with but not impossible. If you don’t already have a board presence or they have a Liliana, the Last Hope active, you’re probably in big trouble at this point.
Longtusk Cub, Tireless Tracker, and Bristling Hydra can push through Ishkanah, Grafwidow, but it takes time. Those three can pump themselves up and almost always make blocking awkward in general, especially if your opponent has to factor Harnessed Lightning into the mix.
Confiscation Coup can also outright steal any bigger blockers.
Ideally, your best bet is to start drawing cards while you’re squishing Spiders. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and Tireless Tracker do good work here.
Stage 4: Emrakul, the Promised End
You don’t want to get to this stage. If you’re far enough ahead, you can beat Emrakul, the Promised End, but if you’re that ahead you probably should’ve already won. That’s why it’s important to start out strong and snowball a win before it gets to this point.
B/G Delirium Sideboarding
Whirler Virtuoso is pretty bad against Ishkanah, Grafwidow, but it’s great against To the Slaughter, which is one of their best cards against you due to its effectiveness against Bristling Hydra and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Whirler Virtuoso is mostly just fuel for Aetherworks Marvel otherwise.
Aetherworks Marvel basically converts all your cards into energy, which gets converted into more cards and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets then gets more cards, and those cards get converted into energy which get converted into more cards. The cycle of life.
Clip Wings is worse than Plummet against W/U Flash, but I found myself wanting a good answer to Mindwrack Demon, and Clip Wings also makes Emrakul, the Promised End laughable. Just make sure the airspace is clear of all Pilgrim’s Eyes.
W/U Flash is powerful not just because it has good cards but because it’s versatile. When trying to sideboard against W/U Flash you might try and be prepared for Archangel Avacyn, only to find yourself losing to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, or Smuggler’s Copter backed by Reflector Mage and Spell Queller.
W/U Flash is not just difficult to sideboard against, you might draw the right cards but still make a misplay, play around the wrong card, or just get plain overpowered if they curve out.
The fundamentals of the matchup are similar to the way you play against B/G Delirium. Pressure in the early game to establish a lead and then switch to card advantage grind mode.
Killing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is not that hard, but even just its emblem can cause problems. Whirler Virtuoso will majorly come in handy in any race situation.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and Incendiary Flow are vital for freeing your creatures from Spell Queller.
Archangel Avacyn is very good against us, so try and save up a Harnessed Lightning or Confiscation Coup. Don’t make a stupid attack into Archangel Avacyn.
W/U Flash Sideboarding
Natural State and Root Out are great answers to Stasis Snare and Smuggler’s Copter.
Post-sideboard gives a lot more wiggle room since we have more answers to Archangel Avacyn in Plummet and another Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.
Mardu Vehicles can take advantage of a format that isn’t prepared for it. It abuses Smuggler’s Copter to the extreme, and games where you draw Smuggler’s Copter go much smoother than games you don’t.
Temur Energy is in pure defense mode. Just try and remove their early drops, build up as much of a board as you can while not getting hit too many times by Smuggler’s Copter, and try to be able to kill Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on sight.
Mardu Vehicles Sideboarding
Post-sideboard becomes much better once again since we have plenty of removal for vehicles alongside some mass removal in Radiant Flames. Once again Skysovereign, Consul Flagship gets to play clean up duty as our curve topping trump card.
There you have it, my take on Temur Energy, which I think is overpowered (pun intended).
Where is Standard headed? Will rogue decks rise up? Is Energy the answer? Will the already established decks only get better and continue to put up the majority of results? There’s still plenty more Standard left to be played.