To say I’ve been having a streak of bad luck on Magic Online would be an understatement. While I would often be willing to attribute this bad luck to my own poor decisions or misplays, this time things seem a little different. If you managed to watch any of my stream last Tuesday, you would have seen opponent after opponent simply have everything they needed to smite me. It wasn’t ideal, but such is Magic from time to time.
My recent experience suggests that nearly 4 out of 5 decks you’ll face in the Standard queues end up being some version of Temur, whether Saheeli combo or Tower control. While I’m not sure how the deck we’re looking at today performs against those decks, what I am sure of is that it’s a breath of fresh air in this Mardu/Temur world. Take a look.
The deck in question was piloted to a Top 8 finish in an SCQ IQ by my pal Joslyn Lambaria. At first I was a little skeptical as, outside of 4 Stasis Snare, the deck didn’t pack many ways to disrupt the Saheeli combo. Then I realized that it had 4 Walking Ballista as well, and 8 cards is a good number to disrupt the opponent.
This list is similar to the G/W Tokens builds prevalent before Kaladesh entered the equation, and have mostly fallen out of favor. I always wonder if there’s a legitimate reason for that, like the deck being genuinely poorly positioned, or if people don’t actually test the deck out enough against the new meta to even be sure. It feels very hivemind-y—if no one sees anyone placing highly with a deck like this, they just assume it’s bad, so no one plays it, and therefore no one sees anyone playing it, etc. It’s cyclical.
All that aside, Josyln did manage to Top 8 an event with the deck, so let’s see how it performs in this rock/paper/scissors meta.
One of my favorite things about the deck is how many cards manage to “turn on” Lambholt Pacifists, which was one of my favorite creatures in Shadows over Innistrad. Heart of Kiran does it, Nissa can do it with tokens, Gideon can do it by turning into a 5/5 or with his emblem, Gisela, and Avacyn do it. Nearly every permanent in the deck can successfully allow the Pacifists to attack, which is pretty nice.
Similarly, nearly every card in the deck can crew Heart of Kiran as well, including Lambholt Pacifists. They’re kind of like best friends from different worlds in that way. One downfall of a lot of your cards is how easily they fall prey to Dynavolt Towers: Gisela, Lambholt Pacifist, the planeswalkers, Tireless Tracker, and Walking Ballista. Heart of Kiran might be the only one that’s safe.
One thing I did want to see was the addition of Bruna, the Fading Light in the main deck. This is such a card-advantage-intensive format that, even as a 7-drop, getting back an Archangel Avacyn or a Gisela, the Broken Blade—especially a Gisela—is some solid value. The fact that she has a cast trigger is also great in a world of Disallows.
The Fumigates did feel a little out of place at first, but I would be lying if I said they weren’t useful. This is a format where a little life gain and a board wipe can be instrumental. While it doesn’t take care of the Vehicles, it’s certainly a roadblock, and you have the Stasis Snares to take care of the more problematic creatures like Scrapheap Scrounger. This is also a format where a card like Natural Obsolescence can find a home in the main deck, and I wouldn’t even mind playing that over the 2 Declaration in Stone.
Winning the majority of your matches is usually a good sign in this metagame. Playing against some non-tier-1 decks was another. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you later!