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Standard Updates on the Eve of the Pro Tour


Hey everyone!

Today I want to share my testing with new Standard as Hour of Devastation has shaken up the format despite it being a small set. So far historical data on Standard exists from Magic Online events and the SCG Opens and there’s plenty of room for improvement before the Pro Tour. Note that these decks may not be good immediately after the Pro Tour, but can be correct in certain metagames. The Pro Tour is sure to turn the format on its head, which means when the dust settles you can attack from an unpopular angle.

I played in Grand Prix Toronto and did badly. This meant I got to think about Standard as many of my friends played the PTQ on Sunday. I thought I would learn more about the format by observing rather than playing and I think it paid off.

Let’s get to it!

Temur Energy

A deck that has me excited is Temur Energy. This is because it’s capable of interacting with the opponent while also being proactive. Abrade is the only new card I like, but it should get a revamp to adjust for the new metagame:

Woodland Wanderer
My team initially identified Woodland Wanderer as a powerful threat in the new Standard and this was reinforced after I saw John Roberts 24th place deck from SCG: Cincinnati. While the list didn’t look good to me it was centered around making Woodland Wanderer great again.

Siz toughness is the magic number to survive Hour of Devastation, Lightning Axe, the back side of Kozilek's Return, and runs over Torrential Gearhulk and Elder Deep-Fiend. It dies to Fatal Push, but revolt is currently not easy to pull off and can require a suicide attack from the opponent. ur Control can hit it with Harnessed Lightning, but won’t always have three extra energy. Mardu Vehicles can hit it with Unlicensed Disintegration, but is very good at attacking Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It also dodges popular Red removal such as Abrade, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Chandra's Defeat, Nahiri, the Harbinger, and Glorybringer.

The drawback to playing Woodland Wanderer is Dusk // Dawn. Negate is in my sideboard almost exclusively to defend from the powerful sweeper. This isn’t the end of the world, but be careful about overextending versus wu Monument. Another awkward spell to play around is Spell Queller; Woodland Wanderer does not want to get hit by this creature since it comes in as a 2/2.

I can protect against spot removal spells with the two copies of Blossoming Defense. Negate was tested in the maindeck, but was too clunky. Tireless Tracker also works well with Blossoming Defense as you can cast it on turn four and make a clue while having a way to counter a removal spell.

Verdurous Gearhulk
The mana base needs to accommodate casting a creature that requires four colors on turn three. Aether Hub, Servant of the Conduit, and Channeler Initiate can make White and Black mana so Temur Energy is a natural fit for Woodland Wanderer. Since there are already seven 2-drops I don’t have room for Longtusk Cub. That’s all right because I need to raise my curve to get paid off for being able to produce so much mana.

I could push the mana even further to cast Woodland Wanderer by adding a Swamp. This is a close call, but I have another Lumbering Falls in its place for now. Attune with Aether makes this single basic land have a big impact on the likelihood of casting wanderer as a 6/6.

Verdurous Gearhulk is my fifth 5-drop to supplement Glorybringer. I’m taking advantage of Red being so popular in the metagame and adding additional creatures with large power and toughness.

Elder Deep-Fiend is a powerful creature in Temur Energy, but it’s hard to fit it in the same deck as Woodland Wanderer. I want more 3-drops to emerge, which implies Whirler Virtuoso would be added as an energy sink. The entire package is too many slots and Virtuoso is a bad mana sink compared to Tireless Tracker. This is important because I don’t want to flood out thanks to the seven mana dorks. I don’t need the ? body as badly with Woodland Wanderer to survive Hour of Devastation either. An Elder Deep-Fiend version is still powerful because Whirler Virtuoso being part of the shell is strong against Mono-Red.

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
I’m down on Bristling Hydra because Hour of Devastation will be played in the good control decks and it requires nine energy to survive. The Black midrange and control decks will also have Doomfall to make me exile the 4/3.

Many Temur Energy decks play a sweeper in their sideboard, but I don’t think this is the way to fight Zombies, Monument, Mono-Red, or Vehicles. Since I can’t cut mana dorks because it would weaken Woodland Wanderer, so I prefer Magma Spray and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship to fight creatures. This is a good strategy because the opponent will expect to play around Radiant Flames after board anyway. The common approach for Zombies is to go bigger after board so they are less vulnerable to popular sideboard cards. Magma Spray only works when you apply pressure which makes the monsters essential to the game plan.

The last card I want to discuss in this deck is Confiscation Coup out of the sideboard. This can be a powerful threat against bg Constrictor as well as Ramp. Stealing Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger out of Aetherworks Marvel was strong, but they would be left with the ability to simply cast another Eldrazi the following turn by activating Marvel. Now that the Ulamog deck casts it from their hand, taking the 10/10 is better value because they would need another Eldrazi in hand. Since I don’t have an energy-sinking creature I will be able to easily make six extra energy before stealing their bomb.

I would suggest this deck if players at the Pro Tour figure out a way to consistently beat wu Monument and pack enough hate for Mono-Red. If Dusk // Dawn is everywhere this deck isn’t where I want to be.


Esper Vehicles has been picking up steam lately, but I prefer Mardu. This is because Hour of Devastation isn’t countered by Spell Queller and it’s better to be proactive. Esper also has a tough time against aggressive decks because it relies on tempo which makes it harder to turn the corner.

Mardu is able to win tournaments in the new Standard environment despite getting minimal tools in recent sets.

Here’s a unique list that gets to use one of my favorite new cards from Hour of Devastation: Ammit Eternal.

Ammit Eternal
I was inspired by a br Aggro deck created by Jackson Hicks. It could certainly give opponents the biz, but I still prefer Mardu Vehicles.

He basically built a new archetype on the strength of Ammit Eternal. This creature has plenty of draws to Mardu Vehicles, too. Five power means it can crew Heart of Kiran. Afflict 3 is a powerful mechanic that gets better the more damage your deck is capable of dealing.

I made some tweaks to the deck to add to the power of Afflict. Glorybringer comes out of the gate faster than Archangel Avacyn. Exerting the dragon can help clear the way to reset Ammit Eternal as a 5/5. Ammit is a dangerous creature that will eat the slower and more powerful removal spells which is perfect because it allows Glorybringer to survive more often.

Cut // Ribbons is also capable of clearing the way for Ammit and can also deal damage at the end of the game. The double-Black half of Cut // Ribbons can take some effort to cast so I adjusted the mana accordingly. Two Shambling Vent and four Canyon Slough will help cast Ammit Eternal on turn three and also provide plenty of options for mana sinks.

There are only three Magma Sprays in the sideboard, but you can play more if Mono-Red does well at the Pro Tour. Pia Nalaar is the cut for Ammit Eternal which can be correct in certain metagames. I expect more Magma Sprays, and Ammit lines up well against nimble removal compared to Pia. You could go all out on Red hate and add Blazing Volley to your sideboard, too.

The rest of the deck is pretty straight-forward and a good choice for the current Standard.

Temur Ramp

Hour of Promise
I worked on this list with Tyler Hill. It takes a traditional ramp strategy and adds some interactive cards and powerful creatures at the start of the curve. My big issue with the gr Ramp decks is they are too focused. Ramp had a bad showing in the early weeks of the format in the same way Aetherworks Marvel was a flop when it first became popular. I recall the ug versions that fell apart if the Marvel was countered. It turns out that playing game-ending threats doesn’t mean that’s all the deck should be designed to do.

Ulamog decks are currently weak to aggressive strategies which have showed no signs of slowing. Rather than ramp in the early turns I need to tread water and kill creatures which means Walking Ballista gets the nod.

Rather than play bad ramp spells such as Beneath the Sands I stick with only Bounty of the Luxa and Hour of Promise. Both of these ramp effects can generate card advantage when they aren’t helping you cast Ulamog. Bounty of the Luxa can act as a mana-sink with Walking Ballista or simply act as a Planeswalker that’s immune to Hour of Devastation. Abrade being so popular makes me not want to play Hedron Archive.

Sylvan Advocate can grow quickly to a ? with vigilance thanks to Hour of Promise ramping. The single Lumbering Falls can turn into a 5/5 with hexproof that is searchable with Hour of Promise.

I originally played Hour of Devastation, but turned toward a ug deck the Eldrazi splash. Matter Reshaper is an early threat that replaces itself alongside Rogue Refiner. It’s helpful to have plenty of blockers against Mono—Red as it will be a challenging matchup. The format will adapt, but it could be strong enough to survive.

B/R Midrange

If you like casting medium-sized spells that happen to be chase rares I might have a deck for you . . . 

I have seen this deck post some top finishes on Magic Online PTQs and I think it’s pretty powerful.

Liliana, the Last Hope is well-positioned against all of the aggressive decks currently running wild. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ensures graveyard strategies won't punish you for doing nothing but murdering creatures. Glorybringer and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner pressure the opponent while also generating card advantage.

br has the tools to fight aggressive decks, but can fall prey to ramp strategies. Lost Legacy is a concession to Ulamog. I think this deck has what it takes because Ramp should be under the radar while aggro is so popular.


If you want to beat down first and ask questions later I would recommend this deck:

This deck is cheap, efficient, and very powerful. It won’t end up being the format’s end boss as players are already finding ways to adapt, but strong enough to run wild when the hate isn’t prevalent.

I think Mono-Red will have a target on its back coming into the Pro Tour, so don’t play it if you prefer other strategies. Some decks are powerful enough to get on the bandwagon, but that’s typically the case when the Plan A is nothing but a distraction. I played Aetherworks Marvel when it was the best deck because while the opponent was trying to fight your marvel it was easy to win with Tireless Tracker and friends. Mono-Red only knows one trick, so fighting the hate will be frustrating.

I’m going to stick with my core competency: getting value.

Temur Tower

I love me a good control deck, but I have been more proactive in my old age:

Dynavolt Tower
ur Control has a horrible matchup against Mono-Red, so I wanted to try something a little different. I got a good glimpse of ur as I was watching Adrian Sullivan play the PTQ and got some good insights about how to approach building control decks.

Dynavolt Tower helps you kill creatures at instant-speed without tapping low before your opponent’s second main phase. I also want plenty of Magma Sprays, and tower helps team up to take down big monsters.

Since Abrade is so popular at the moment, I want to have more than four Torrential Gearhulks to actually win the game. Dynavolt Tower is a way to overload artifact hate since they get better in multiples, but a single copy can still take over the battlefield.

I want to add Green to help generate extra energy with Attune with Aether. Lumbering Falls is another draw to playing Green mana as I am always scared to activate Wandering Fumarole in the first game due to removal spells not having another target. Tireless Tracker is also way better than Thing in the Ice out of the sideboard as a way to transform against opponents that are light on removal. Life Goes On is one of my anti-aggro sideboard cards that only comes in against Mono-Red. I can activate Dynavolt Tower to shoot down a creature and then gain eight life.

Struggle // Survive is another draw to Green as I get a maindeck answer to graveyards. It’s functionally Murder in this deck, but the spell in the graveyard also provides energy with a tower in play. I take the split card synergy further by playing two Commit // Memory in the board to interact with graveyards and generate more energy. The common wisdom against control decks is to jam a bunch of Planeswalkers and other weird threats that are difficult to answer at once, but Commit is versatile.

I don’t need to maindeck Hour of Devastation because Dynavolt Tower can pick off small creatures and Planeswalkers so I would be overpaying for the effect in the maindeck. It’s still a powerful card that I would like access to against decks after sideboard when my towers are under more pressure.

Disallow is a card that typically doesn’t interest me as many activated abilities that are useful to counter can be avoided by using Void Shatter instead. This is no longer the case as I need to stifle the activated ability from Ramunap Ruins out of Mono-Red. I can also stop Gate to the Afterlife from searching for God-Pharaoh's Gift.

I’m at a loss for what to play in Standard and I’m sure the Pro Tour will shake things up even further. WOTC has done a good job from keeping anything too obviously dominant heading into Pro Tour Kyoto. There’s a sweet deck for everyone and I’m happy about that.

Thanks for reading!


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