Is Temur Reclamation Still Core Set 2021 Standard’s Best Deck?

The Core Set 2021 Standard metagame is solidifying, but what’s on top, and is that the right deck to run? Five SCG creators say what they’d play!

Breeding Pool, illustrated by Jenn Ravenna

Welcome to What We’d Play! With Core Set 2021 shaking things up, many are unsure what they’d play in Core Set 2021 Standard. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making over the next handful of days! Be sure to vote for what deck you would play at the end!

Autumn Burchett — Temur Reclamation

The new Tier 1 of Core Set 2021 Standard has quickly established itself to be Bant Control, Temur Reclamation, Rakdos Sacrifice, and Jund Sacrifice. Core Set 2021 is a fantastic set on a few different levels, but the power level of Standard was already so high that a more modestly powered set was never going to shift what decks were at the top that much.

Of those archetypes I’ve always found Bant Control to feel kind of clunky and soulless, and I’ve not had a great amount of experience with the Sacrifice decks. Meanwhile Temur Reclamation is my favourite deck to play in Standard and I’ve been running versions of the archetype ever since I registered the deck for the Mythic Invitational sixteen months ago. Which is to say something would have to go very wrong, or there would need to be a huge shake-up in Standard, for me to not just register Temur Reclamation every single tournament until rotation hits.

Regarding the specifics of my list, I have a strong preference for Storm’s Wrath instead of Flame Sweep, as it is much more potent against Mono-Green Aggro and that deck’s parade of four-toughness creatures. Having at least one copy of Spectral Sailor in your sideboard is pretty much required in my mind, as that card is back-breaking against Bant Control: sneaking through all their countermagic, being hard to kill, helping kill low-loyalty Teferis, and then taking over the game by drawing you obscene quantities of cards. Purphoros’s Intervention is a nod to Rotting Regisaur specifically as that card is the main plan against you from the Sacrifice decks in sideboarded games and it is a particularly hard card for most other red removal spells to deal with.

Shaheen Soorani — Bant Ramp

In Core Set 2021 Standard, Temur Reclamation is king.  This creates a clear restriction for deck choice for any tournament-goer.  I have worked on Bant Ramp for quite a bit and I am excited about its chances against the best deck in the format.  Although it lost in the finals last weekend in the SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier, it has proven to be one of the best choices to defeat Temur Reclamation, while having a decent aggro matchup on the side.

The maindeck here is great against most of the field and looks to the sideboard for help against Temur Reclamation.  Countermagic; Narset, Parter of Veils; and Heliod’s Intervention give the sideboarded games more interaction compared to the tap-out style of Game 1.  Interaction has been mediocre in the maindeck against the rest of the field because of how important the early-game ramp is and the power level of the late-game spells produced by them.  It’s all about the explosive Turns 3 through 5 that make Bant Ramp a generally formidable deck.  The addition of Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse and Scavenging Ooze has given Bant Ramp some early pressure as well as effective late-game mana outlets. 

All these elements make Bant Ramp my Core Set 2021 Standard deck of choice moving forward.

Cedric Phillips — Mono-Green Aggro

I can readily admit that there’s nothing sexy about playing Mono-Green Aggro. 28 creatures, four removal spells, two Viviens, and a fun-of Ranger’s Guile alongside 25 lands don’t really jump off the page as being all that exciting or format-warping. But as long as Temur Reclamation and Bant variants continue to be the decks to beat in Core Set 2021 Standard, I will continue to smash the ladder on Magic Arena. Here are the Cliff’s Notes:

Aether Gust being a maindeck card in Core Set 2021 Standard doesn’t make your deck worse — it’s a Doom Blade that gives you an option. If I told you Doom Blade put your Questing Beast on top of your deck to cast again next turn instead of into your graveyard if you want it to, you’d probably be okay with that, right?

Because Temur Reclamation and Temur variants are the best decks in Core Set 2021, players cannot afford to play many (if any!) maindeck sweepers like Shatter the Sky and Storm’s Wrath because they’re simply too poor against the Simic-based decks in the format. That’s something you get to take advantage of.

Sacrifice decks are scaling back on Priest of Forgotten Gods and Claim the Firstborn because… you guessed it… they (mostly) suck against Temur Reclamation and Bant variants. Which means you, once again, get to take advantage.

No one is really gunning for you. I will admit that this deck is finally starting to pick up in popularity given Corey Baumeister’s Top 8 in the SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier this past weekend (which he accomplished with a lot of bad cards in his 75 — love you Corey!), but don’t be surprised to see a lot of tweets over the next week about “How surprising it is that Mono-Green Aggro is really good in Standard!” when I’ve been telling you that for three weeks.

And for goodness sake, do not play The Great Henge. It’s a total blank against all of the Simic-based decks, AKA the most-played decks in the format. Do you seriously think that thing is gonna help you keep up against Nissa, Who Shakes the World; Hydroid Krasis; and/or Expansion // Explosion?

Ari Lax — Jund Sacrifice

I won’t promise Jund Sacrifice is an absolute best deck in Core Set 2021 Standard. It operates on the same level as the rest of the format and has some losable or even bad matchups.

But it has a pedigree of being powerful, made huge changes to optimize over Ikoria Standard, and got significantly more powerful on those same axes with Core Set 2021. It also is well-positioned against Bant, the deck most represented in the SCG Tour Online Qualifier Top 8. And Jund Sacrifice was the best-performing major deck in that event, even if the win percentage was just barely ahead of Bant and Temur Reclamation.

Plus, have you played Bant mirrors in timed Arena events? I have and I want no more involvement in that garbage.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Temur Reclamation

Before Core Set 2021, I was confident that Temur Reclamation was the best deck in the format, as most of the matchups ranged from very favorable to even. Right now, I believe the deck has gotten worse, but it’s still very good and in my mind still the best deck (though not to the extent it was before).

The biggest shift in the metagame is that now there are more flavors of aggressive decks and they’re as a whole stronger. In the previous format, I felt that you could easily morph into a control deck that won with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath against any aggressive deck. Nowadays, the aggressive decks can play Scavenging Ooze and stop that plan from working. On top of that, the variety in the aggressive decks makes them hard to sideboard against. Aether Gust is very good versus Mono-Green Aggro, for example, but does nothing versus Mono-Black Aggro.

I would say that, all in all, your matchup versus all the aggro decks got worse. In return, your matchup versus the other decks got better. Temur Reclamation isn’t the only deck that has to react to the surge of aggro, as Bant Control has to do so as well, which makes all the current lists worse versus you.

I’m not a huge fan of the list that won the SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier this weekend — and I’ll elaborate on this more in my article this week — but overall I prefer a more traditional approach to the deck and still think it’s the deck to beat in Core Set 2021 Standard.

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