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How To Beat Temur Reclamation With A Sharp Stick And Nothing Left To Lose


"Saw Gerrera used to say one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day. They've no idea we're coming. They've no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we'll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win, or the chances are spent." - Jyn Erso, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

The world of Standard right now lives in the shadow of Temur Reclamation, much like the world of Star Wars lived in the shadow of the Empire.

Wilderness Reclamation
Expansion // Explosion

Despite having a target on its head for many weeks, Temur Reclamation hasn't faltered. Far from it, it has routinely been half or more of the Top 8s of the SCG Tour Online events, as well as being extremely popular in other events and on the ladder. Everyone knows it is coming, but most feel as if there is no other choice, no option but to join the tide rather than get washed away.

Bant Ramp, Gruul Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, Jund Sacrifice, Mono-Green Aggro... none have been able to consistently topple Temur Reclamtion.

However, for the SCG Tour Online Championship last weekend, I decided to take a shot at doing just that:

Never one to shy away from risk, I had just played Simic Ramp in Saturday's SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier #4, having a rough go playing against Temur Reclamation 5 of my 7 rounds. With mere hours and a night's sleep away from the big event on Sunday, I wanted to find a path to consistently beating Temur Reclamation, while taking advantage of how inbred the format was becoming.

Aether Gust
Mystical Dispute
Storm's Wrath

Maindeck Aether Gust and Mystical Dispute had become the norm, especially in Temur Reclamation decks looking for an edge in the mirror, while removal was at an all-time low. Mass removal was usually only relegated to sideboards, if at all.

As such, I turned to an old friend.

Venerated Loxodon

Name a better love story than Venerated Loxodon and a motley crew of 1-drops, I'll wait.

While the supporting cast of creatures isn't great, the fundamental strategy is a solid one that lines up exceptionally well against Temur Reclamation. They want to answer a single threat or two while they do their thing, setting up their Wilderness Reclamation engine and eventually winning with a big Expansion // Explosion. By flooding the board before all of this goes down and forcing them to race your clock with a combo kill that can't really go off until turn five or six, you put yourself in a great spot.

Healer's Hawk
Faerie Guidemother

The creature base was chosen with evasion in mind, paying heed to the fact that other decks do exist in the format. Healer's Hawk, Faerie Guildmother, and Gingerbrute can all sneak across for those last few points in a pinch, while fulfilling the primary purpose of being cheap beaters to pump up with Venerated Loxodon and Glorious Anthem.

Seasoned Hallowblade
Selfless Savior
Tithe Taker

The deck also has built in sweeper protection in the amazingly durable Seasoned Hallowblade and the flexible Selfless Savior. Being able to save half your army after a Wrath of God effect will often allow you to swing for lethal on the following turn, helping you keep your foot on the gas when needed. Rounding this out is Tithe Taker, a card that is also good against removal while being a real annoyance for decks like Temur Reclamation that like to play on your turn.

Bounty Agent
Giant Killer
Eidolon of Obstruction

Sideboard options in Mono-White aren't exactly plentiful, but aside from the obvious options like Glass Casket we've got a few interesting ones.

While our deck is build to beat Temur Reclamation, there are still other decks in the format. Bounty Agent is our answer to Embercleave, which is one of the best ways for Mono-Red or Gruul Aggro to take us down. In a pinch it can hit Anax, Hardened in the Forge or Questing Beast as well. Giant Killer is also nice in those matchups, while also being good against Shark Typhoon and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Eidolon of Obstruction helps out Teferi, Time Raveler decks like Bant, while also giving a body that be boosted once to overcome Nissa-animated lands.

Despite the nice round one, unfortunately my tournament wouldn't go so well.

Growth Spiral

I'd only play against Temur Reclamation once in seven rounds, and only against Growth Spiral in two of my total rounds, taking losses against Esper Control, Mardu Knights, and Rakdos Sacrifice. I knew going in that decks heavy on Claim the Firstborn and Mayhem Devil were going to be difficult to beat and this was an acceptable risk, but Esper Control and Mardu Knights were clearly off the radar and outliers in the field of close to 50% Reclamation decks and 70% Growth Spiral decks.

One of the risks of taking a shot in a big tournament is that when you miss, you can lament the fact that you could have just played "the good deck" and regret missing an opportunity. However, I still felt decent about my choice and took solace in the fact that things just don't work out sometimes.

This would have been the end of it until I saw the results of the Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier III, which happened the same day, a few hours later:

Mono-White Aggro | M21 Standard | Hoshi Yuki, 1st Place, Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier III

Perhaps I wasn't so far off the mark after all!

Hoshi's version of the deck was definitely different than mine, but the main idea was the same. Word on the street was that Hoshi beat six Temur Reclamation decks on his way to the title, lending some empirical data to my theory on the way I had hoped it would shake out for me. The Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier was over 1,000 players, making this result stand out even more.

Hunted Witness
Garrison Cat
Basri's Solidarity

Hoshi's deck went in the opposite direction that mine did, choosing to instead focus on durable ground bodies like Hunted Witness and Garrison Cat to give the deck even more resistance against sweepers and removal. Basri's Solidarity is an objectively less powerful card than Unbreakable Formation or other options, but it certainly is the cheapest and fastest option of the bunch.

My fear with these sort of ground creatures was them getting brick walled in matchups that involve creatures, as well as being concerned that Basri's Solidarity was just too "all in" to be consistent. Sure, maybe you make Hunted Witness a 3/3, but when they cast Shatter the Sky and it shrinks back to a 1/1 that feels pretty bad.

With these concerns, I still felt my version of the deck was better. Then I saw this tweet from friend and former World Champion Seth Manfield:

Evolution in action!

While he wasn't entirely clear in his follow up tweet, this appears to be the deck that Seth is playing this weekend at the Player's Tour Finals.

Heraldic Banner

Heraldic Banner is an amazing piece of tech that helps to solve many of the issues I had with Hoshi's deck. With eight actual Glorious Anthems in the deck now, weaker synergy cards like Raise the Alarm and Hunted Witness now look much more reliable, while still keeping the speed and power level of the deck high. Heraldic Banner's mana ability also teams up with four copies of Castle Ardenvale to provide a very nice endgame of pumping out ~3/2 humans every single turn if the game goes long.

The Player's Tour Finals

Beating Temur Reclamation is going to be on everyone's minds this weekend as some of the best players in the world come together to battle in the Player's Tour Finals and I expect White Weenie to make its presence felt. Toppling an empire doesn't always require something fancy, and as the rebels in Star Wars showed us sometimes it just takes a small band of warriors with the right tools to topple the forces of evil.

And as a nice little bonus, this deck is extremely cheap! It is full of commons, uncommons, and basic land for your MTG Arena games, while being less than $10 on Magic Online and around $40 right here on CoolStuffInc.com in paper!

If you like beating down, want something a bit off the beaten path, and really want to beat Temur Reclamation, it may be time to break out those Venerated Loxodons once again and show the big bad that the little guy still has some fight left in them!

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