The Temur Elementals deck has existed for a while, but it was never very good. It gained some interesting toys in the previous two sets, but even those weren’t enough to push it to Tier 1, or even Tier 2 status in Standard. So, what has changed now to make me think it’s good?
First, Temur Reclamation is gone. Temur Reclamation was the most-played deck in the previous Standard and that wasn’t a good matchup. That alone could be the reason that Temur Elementals never really took off.
The second reason is that the metagame shift of not having Teferi, Time Raveler and Wilderness Reclamation in the format happens to push out some of the cards that were the best against Temur Elementals. For example, in the previous format, you saw a lot more maindeck copies of Mystical Dispute and Aether Gust than you do now, and Elspeth Conquers Death is also not played as much.
This is not to say these cards see no play now — Aether Gust in particular is still a thing in maindecks — but they definitely see play in much smaller numbers than before. One of the biggest issues with Genesis Ultimatum is that it was hit by all the color hosers that were seeing maindeck play, and now that this is no longer the case, the card is much more powerful.
Here’s the list I’ve been playing:
- 3 Paradise Druid
- 1 Arboreal Grazer
- 4 Risen Reef
- 4 Omnath, Locus of the Roil
- 4 Leafkin Druid
- 4 Cavalier of Thorns
- 4 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
- 4 Terror of the Peaks
The name of the deck is Temur Elementals, but this is fundamentally a Genesis Ultimatum deck — the entire deck is built to maximize the power of that card and I believe the deck would not be competitive without it. There are very, very few battlefields that the right Genesis Ultimatum won’t swing, which means that, similarly to Temur Reclamation, you can go over the top of anything they’re doing if you’re allowed to do your thing.
If you’ve never played with or against Genesis Ultimatum, it’s easy to underestimate how powerful it can be because of all the enters-the-battlefield triggers. In this deck, even the bad Genesis Ultimatums are often very good. For example, if you get four lands and an Omnath, Locus of the Roil, that still gets you an Omnath enters-the-battlefield trigger, 7/7 worth of stats, four new cards, and four untapped lands. Now you start adding Risen Reef triggers and Terror of the Peaks triggers and a lot of the time they just die that very same turn.
You also need to remember that, unlike similar cards of the past, if you reveal a nonpermanent card, you just put it in your hand. So, if you hit other copies of Genesis Ultimatum (which are the only nonpermanents in the maindeck), you just get to draw them. After sideboarding, you often have more spells, so it’s more relevant there. Plus, if you hit something like Hydroid Krasis, you don’t have to cast it for zero and put it straight in the graveyard — you just draw it instead.
I think you want them to be cheaper ramp (you can’t start every game on Turn 3), but I am not convinced that the spread I have is the best. Paradise Druid’s biggest strength was that it was the best versus Teferi, Time Raveler, since they couldn’t Time Walk you on Turn 3 with it, but now that this is no longer relevant, there are other options worth exploring — you could play Gilded Goose (which might facilitate sideboard Wicked Wolves), Incubation Druid, or even Ilysian Caryatid
I’m still playing Paradise Druid for now because it’s the best with Terror of the Peaks, but I am in the process of testing the other alternatives because I’m not convinced Paradise Druid is the best one anymore.
The second slot I am not sure about is the fourth Terror of the Peaks. Terror of the Peaks is an incredible combo with Genesis Ultimatum and with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, and it is the card that lets you go over the top of everything, so you certainly need to play them in some numbers, but it does not really follow what the deck is trying to do. The “3 damage” ability, for example, might as well not exist in this deck, since it doesn’t really deal chip damage — it wins the game convincingly or not at all.
That said, it’s a reasonable card to have in the mid-game or in the super-late-game, and right now I’ve been happy with four copies. It wouldn’t surprise me if I cut one in the future though, as I think the fourth Terror of the Peaks is the worst card in the deck (and I sideboard it out quite often because it’s the least synergistic piece).
VS Sultai Ramp
This matchup is highly dependent on the list they’re playing. The more discard they have as opposed to counterspells, the better it is for you. Yyour deck is so full of powerful threats that if they discard the first couple you’ll very likely draw another one soon and then you just slam it, but if they have counterspells, then you waste your turn trying to cast something and they deal with it for one or two mana, which means they get to develop their gameplan and you don’t.
Another card that makes a huge difference is Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Some Sultai lists don’t run her, and I think that makes everything much easier for you. The lists that run both Nissa and a lot of counterspells, however, are problematic. If they cast discard into Nissa you can often just cast something else and fight it, as you have a lot of haymakers, but if they cast Nissa into Aether Gust they get to Time Walk you while having a ton of pressure and then at that point you’re in trouble. Past that, be careful to not run headfirst into Extinction Event — if you have the choice of playing another five-mana card or an Omnath, for example, diversifying your costs is probably better.
This is my general guide, but sideboarding also really depends on their list. Against some lists, you might actually want Mystical Dispute or Aether Gust, but as a general rule, the more discard they have, the fewer counterspells you want in your deck. The best way to beat discard is to just get lands on the battlefield and then topdeck a powerful card, so you often can’t afford to draw a mid-game Mystical Dispute or Aether Gust. The same philosophy is true for more dedicated discard decks (e.g. Orzhov Blink with Yorion) — try to develop your manabase and don’t worry about discarding your big spells, because you’re going to draw more big spells over the course of the game.
If they have a lot of counterspells, you could consider some Disputes yourself. If they have absolutely no discard and many counters, then Hydroid Krasis is a little worse, and Paradise Druid a little better. If they don’t have Nissa then you don’t need Mass Manipulation and could consider something else instead (and what that something else is depends on whether they’re more discard- or counterspell-heavy).
VS Temur Adventures
Temur Adventures can beat anything if it gets a great draw, but as a whole I’d say you’re favored. Your engine is just faster and more powerful than theirs and you go over the top of them unless their draw is great and they start copying Fae of Wishes with a ton of mana very early on. The main way you lose is an aggressive draw from them (usually with Lovestruck Beast) coupled with Brazen Borrower and Fae of Wishes for disruption, but if both players are just “setting up” in the early turns then you should have the advantage.
Post-sideboard things don’t change much — I think your Plan A is better than being reactive, so your deck remains mostly the same, and so does theirs. Some people have multiple Aether Gusts to bring in, though, so watch out for that.
VS Mono-Red Aggro
This matchup is all about Cavalier of Thorns and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath from your side, and Embercleave from theirs, since it’s the only card that actually lets them push through damage once you cast your blockers (though sometimes they have a super-fast draw and you die even without Embercleave). Try to preserve your life total early on and don’t be afraid to trade your mana creatures (Paradise Druid and Risen Reef) for their early plays — you will win the long game regardless.
After sideboarding, things improve a lot for you, as you have a lot more ways of managing Embercleave. Your win condition is still Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, so you don’t need all the other end-game; all you need to do is survive. Since you’re lowering your curve a decent amount, I think it’s fine to take out a land as well.
VS Mardu Winota
This matchup is a bit different from Mono-Red because Uro doesn’t win the game singlehandedly — they can actually go over it. That said, they are slower and give you more time to set up, and given enough time you can actually put up enough defenses to survive Winota attacks. You’re not going to beat their best draws, but you can certainly beat their medium ones.
I don’t like having both Aether Gust and Redcap Melee in my deck — they’re both only really good versus Winota and having four of that effect is too much. I’d rather focus more on my own gameplan and hope they don’t have their best draws.
VS Mono-Green Aggro
This is the easiest of the aggro decks, as they don’t have many ways of pushing through your blockers and also aren’t fast enough to stop you from winning most of the time.
In general their creatures are bigger, so Omnath doesn’t kill much and Flame Sweep is not good enough. If they are playing a version with many more small creatures, you can bring it in.
VS Various Flash Decks
Flash decks can be an issue depending on their draws — their best draws are unbeatable but their bad draws don’t do anything. I would say that overall you’re not favored Game 1, but you often only need to resolve one thing so you can certainly win.
What you do after sideboarding is going to depend somewhat on the composition of their deck and what colors they are (if they are the Dimir version then you obviously don’t want Aether Gust; that’s for the green build), but the important thing is to take out Genesis Ultimatum. Having a seven-mana sorcery that gets hit by all the color hosers is a liability in this matchup, and you don’t actually need it to win.
Regardless of what version they’re playing, Games 2 and 3 are better for you, as you get Mystical Dispute to force through your stuff and resolving even one of your cards can be enough to win the game.
VS Temur Elementals
This matchup in Game 1 is all about goldfishing, and whoever has the best draw wins — there’s really not much to say about it.
Out (on the play):
In (on the play):
Out (on the draw):
In (on the draw):
I will admit I am somewhat at a loss on how to sideboard versus the mirror, as there are more than 60 cards that are good. Originally, I was taking out two copies of Genesis Ultimatum in this matchup, since it gets hit by all the cards they might bring in against you, but after playing more, I’ve concluded that all I want to do is to resolve that card; instead of not having it so I don’t run into their Mystical Dispute, I’d rather have two so that the first one is countered and the second one resolves.
Mass Manipulation is incredible on some battlefields, but often stealing one or two creatures is not enough to swing the game and it also runs into Mystical Dispute, so I haven’t been bringing it in, but if they have planeswalkers (Nissa, Ugin) I think it’s better. If they have four Aether Gusts but no Disputes, then Mass Manipulation becomes a lot better as well.
On the play I think you can afford to be a little more proactive, so I only bring in one Aether Gust even though it’s a good card. On the draw I think you want that as a speed bump so I have both.
Overall, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Temur Elementals. I think it’s inherently very powerful, so it’s good versus most rogue decks that people play (Orzhov, Grixis, etc), and then you at least have game versus all the Tier 1 decks. If you’ve never cast a Genesis Ultimatum in a deck like this, I recommend you do it at least once. You are definitely missing out!