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Temur Reclamation Might Be The Best Deck In Modern Too

Is Temur Reclamation secretly the best deck in Modern? Ari Lax makes the case with a build creating mayhem on Magic: The Gathering Online.

Wilderness Reclamation
Wilderness Reclamation, illustrated by Tyler Walpole

Let’s start here…

I’ve been pushing Temur Reclamation in Modern for a while simply on principle after seeing other people’s results. Magic Online user Lavaridge won a Magic Online PTQ and a Modern Showcase Challenge basically back-to-back with it, which should turn anyone’s head.

When I started playing it, it was even better than I expected.

The easiest pitch I can make for Temur Reclamation is it’s a list of the most broken cards printed since 2019 that haven’t already been banned in Modern. This is also the reason you don’t see as much of it as you should in the Magic Online metagame: Uro, Force of Negation, and Wrenn and Six are the most expensive cards on the platform behind the “does this even exist” Allosaurus Shepherd.


The same principles supporting Temur Reclamation now are those Autumn Burchett outlined a few months ago. You can even see a fairly similar Temur list floating around, and I want to point out that Autumn’s last list didn’t even play Arcum’s Astrolabe. This deck got Hogaak’ed; the Astrolabe ban just means you can’t make your deck worse by playing it.

The main evolution of the deck since then revolves around Wilderness Reclamation. You should not view Modern Temur Reclamation as the full combo-control split that Standard Temur Reclamation was. You are a control deck, but one with a big finish to crush mirrors and compete in matchups where control normally struggles.

The most important card in your deck is Uro, and I won’t waste much of your time explaining that one.

What the Wilderness Reclamation and Nexus of Fate package offers is inevitability. The Nexus of Fate decks you’re used to leaned on repeatable engines to grind your way to chained Nexuses. Your only repeatable engines are Uro, which kills them anyway, and Castle Vantress, which is extremely expensive and doesn’t actually reduce your library size if you chain away.

Nexus of Fate is here to act as something that will win you the game given infinite time in control mirrors that makes your deck better and better as the game goes long, and to give you some combo plan against other decks that traditionally play long games against control and eventually overpower it.

Wilderness Reclamation similarly is just a nice card to have. It does accelerate the Nexus of Fate end-game, but since that isn’t a top priority it’s often just setting you up to do more arbitrary stuff each turn.

And that’s how we get to Fact or Fiction being a good Magic card in a format notoriously punishing to four-mana spells. There’s the obvious Uro plus cards in graveyard interaction, and the obvious big card draw being good with Wilderness Reclamation, but Fact or Fiction is your self-mill outlet that sets up the Nexus end-game.

It’s also just good to resolve Fact or Fiction these days and it feels great to do again. Modern is a fairer format, and being up two or three good cards ends games. EOTFOFYL2020: retro is back in style.

Fact or Fiction also lets you aggressively leverage a Force of Negation in a counter fight over your threat on their turn, while also reducing the value of their Force of Negation for the same reason.

On that note, try not to lose your Nexus of Fate to Force of Negation’s exile if you are going for that plan.

Just a Fact or Fiction or two doesn’t get you all the way to the self-mill Nexus wins, but Mystic Sanctuary means one Fact or Fiction chains reliably to multiples.

Mystic Sanctuary also implies the Cryptic Command “lock,” but honestly that isn’t too common in this deck. You can loop double Cryptic Command plus Sanctuary, but that just locks your draw step and gets you nowhere without some other action or engine, which we already said this deck is light on. It does come up where you can use the lock to “clear” their battlefield and let Uro actually win the game, but that’s matchup-specific.

Your more common Cryptic Command “lock” is the soft lock of slowly recurring a Cryptic Command to go after spells, which can happen if you have them attritioned out with answers back but don’t have a clean way to win. A blind draw off Cryptic at that point might just be worse than upgrading your next random draw to yet another Cryptic Command.

You mostly want Mystic Sanctuary to let you turn fetchlands into value and to bury your opponent with repeated copies of your best effects. Turns out that is still broken.

On the topic of fetchable lands, Ketria Triome may be the reason this deck wouldn’t need Arcum’s Astrolabe. You are trying to merge Wrenn and Six and Mystic Sanctuary without taking a million damage off your lands, but you get to start so many games with a Turn 1 Triome at almost no cost which covers it all. Similar to Standard, I think access to a Triome is now a defining aspect of Modern blue decks.

That early fixing really helps you cast Wrenn and Six, which finally feels like a broken card in Modern. On the obvious side, the ping deletes some creatures and decks from the format and the ultimate is a clean kill with blue spells in a way it isn’t in Jund, but the +1 finally feels like it does big things here. You don’t have to play a sketchy land like Barren Moor, sacrifice your land drop to Nurturing Peatland, or draw some secondary spell to leverage always having extra lands in hand.

You have Mystic Sanctuary so your fetches are almost spells on the way back, and you have Uro and Growth Spiral to utilize any lands you draw beyond the one-a-turn Wrenn provides.

Growth Spiral also has a lot of stock tied to Force of Negation as “blank blue card,” and if you cut Force of Negation in a matchup it’s reasonable to also look at trimming Growth Spirals if you also don’t need fast mana.

Field of the Dead is still stupidly powerful in this deck, but it’s probably your fourth-best route to victory. Its primary job is to push through Thoughtseize decks that might be able to beat the rest of your deck: exile Uro, pile through repeated spells, and attack your resources for Nexus of Fate. If those decks fall out of favor it can be trimmed or cut from the list, but Jund Guy has been Junding since they were Jund Lad in 2009, so I wouldn’t expect that to happen.

Generally you should prioritize getting the right mana for Uro and Mystic Sanctuary over setting up Field of the Dead. Even if you have drawn Field, a colorless non-Island is enough of a hit that you probably need to prioritize getting the right mana. Ketria Triome again solves some of this and you should fetch the one Snow-Covered Island before one of the two normal Islands.

Remanding your own spells when you have Wilderness Reclamation, a million mana, and a need for something to do is a real play.

Mystic Sanctuary can speed up some Uro kills by letting you flip Lightning Bolt and redraw it in the same turn. In general with an Uro attack trigger you should think about using it to directly recur something with Mystic Sanctuary.

My only other Mystic Sanctuary hint is that you are allowed to respond to the trigger with other stuff, and that you should not fetch after using it. The first scenario is most common when you want to fetch Sanctuary but use its mana to Fact or Fiction into five fresh cards before locking in the next good draw. The second scenario is common when your brain shuts off for 30 seconds.

A quick run-through of flex options:

Sideboarding

VS Uro Decks

This is some classic Temur Reclamation versus Bant Midrange action. You have more mana via Wrenn and Reclamation and more raw card draw, plus the implied threat of Nexus of Fate if things take too long. They have planeswalkers. Make sure they don’t planeswalker you before you out-mana them. Force of Negation is critical as your best line-up with those planeswalkers. Remand buys time but largely aims for Uro escapes.

Even if they have Path to Exile you often end up ahead in Uro fights. Fact or Fiction makes it likely you have all the cards or second Uro to re-escape when they don’t, and Wilderness Reclamation lets you do enough to keep up even if Uro isn’t immediately handled. Reclamation also crushes their Field of the Dead, another positioning edge as long as you don’t die to Teferi of either variety.

Spell Snare is starting to show up in lists. It trading for something isn’t the end of the world unless that’s a stack-winning Remand, but you can probably sniff it out depending on how they play since there aren’t other one-drops obscuring it.

Out:

In:

In Temur mirrors where your opponent will also have Wrenn and Six and Wilderness Reclamation you can include an Aether Gust or two, but the other decks just don’t have targets. Gust is even better removal in Modern than Standard since you can respond to fetches way more often to force the issue of where the card goes.

VS Prowess Variants

This matchup is the same as every other midrange versus Prowess matchup, but Uro is comically better than ever other threat you can slam versus them. Kill their creatures as soon as possible, loop some Lightning Bolts, and just get to the part of the game where Uro lands.

If given the chance to Force of Negation an early Manamorphose while under minimal pressure you should probably take it. Eating two of their mana and a card is about as good as it gets beyond hitting Light Up the Stage. Against the Rakdos Prowess (Lurrus) deck, the card you want to line Force of Negation up with is Cling to Dust, though you can stack Uro’s triggers so you drop a land, sacrifice Uro for a clear stack, and then immediately escape Uro to beat their priority to exile it.

Out:

In:

You can also cut a Cryptic Command or the second Wilderness Reclamation and bring in Shark Typhoon, especially against Izzet Prowess where a flying blocker matters. In that matchup the Mystical Dispute is also good but should be used liberally against early Opts.

The scary things they can do are Relic of Progenitus or Blood Moon you. Relic you kinda just have to maneuver through, but as long as you have one Island your Aether Gusts do good work against Blood Moon. Wrenn and Six is pretty bad against both of those cards since it forces you to extend lands into Blood Moon and is yet another threat that runs into graveyard hate, all without killing anything with one damage.

VS Thoughtseize Midrange

If you simply don’t die and enable Uro or Field of the Dead, you will win the game. If you don’t get those going they can keep up on cards, but those are just what your deck does given time. Think about them being able to exile exposed Uros with Scavenging Ooze or Klothys, God of Destiny, but they don’t have a ton of those cards so it isn’t something you are required to play around.

Out:

In:

Cut the things that don’t easily trade or cycle. Add things that do. Give yourself the most live topdecks possible.

There’s some balancing of how many Aether Gusts or Lightning Bolts you want that depends on how many copies of Lurrus of the Dream-Den or Seasoned Pyromancer they have, but Gust being one of your few ways to clear a Tarmogoyf will always be critical. Shark Typhoon also depends on how many copies of Liliana of the Veil they have, though the default is “a lot.”

Remand may be a play-draw balance since getting the bonus turn against Turn 2 Tarmogoyf is great, but it also depends on the number of three-drops your opponent has. It’s a bad topdeck, but it cycles for their turn which is pretty darn good.

I like Wilderness Reclamation since it lets you really pop off with a single Fact or Fiction draw even if you are short on lands due to being shorted on other material early, but Nexus of Fate is going too big when the matchup is often decided by your action or inaction before the point it is castable.

VS Humans or Other Creatures

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, cast Uro. You have some removal, but not enough to kill everything. Use your removal on the things that will kill you the fastest or the things that will stop you from casting Uro, though Genral Kudro of Drannith can be hard to stop. This is a matchup where the Cryptic Command plus Uro “lock” comes up to let you close out through whatever assorted bodies they have stuck. Wrenn and Six will also bury them on the play and it isn’t shabby on the draw either.

If given the chance to execute it, your Nexus of Fate end-game isn’t bad. Like I said they have more stuff than you can kill, so Nexus lets you win without killing it all.

Out:

In:

That card disparity is intentional, as this list is a bit short on answers to Humans. Against creature decks where you can Aether Gust more things than Noble Hierarch and Mantis Rider, you want those over some of the Shark Typhoon-level threats. Against Humans, the flash Shark lets you block Mantis Rider and Aether Vial’ed random bodies while you manage the most relevant threats. The last slot in here is either one Gust just to trade or an Ancient Grudge to keep Vial manageable.

But being short answers is partly because Mystic Sanctuary plus Anger of the Gods is so stupidly good. That’s the play you should be aiming to set up, and all your best sideboarded hands involve the card. Fetch that second red.

VS Urza’s Tower

This is the matchup Nexus of Fate was made for. Cryptic Command often does a good job of treading water, but you need something to go over their super-late-game threats. Of course, Uro plus Cryptic Command often just kills them anyway, so yet again Uro is the greatest thing possible.

Cryptic Command targeting their lands comes up a lot. Their critical plays that you can’t counter all cost ten or more mana, so you can mitigate that by keeping them off those counts by ticking away their land drops.

Out (VS Mono-Green Tron):

In (VS Mono-Green Tron):

On the play there’s some arguments for Abrade or an Aether Gust since they can line up against Sylvan Scrying or Expedition Map.

Out (VS Eldrazi Tron):

In (VS Eldrazi Tron):

The Mystical Dispute is close to making the cut on the play, but much worse due to Cavern of Souls protecting their initial threats.