The Energy Format

SCG Invitational Day 2 Standard Metagame

Temur Energy — 46
Four-Color Energy — 20
Ramunap Red — 14
Sultai Pummeler — 4
Esper Approach — 4
Sultai Energy — 2
U/W Approach — 2
Abzan Tokens — 2
G/W Approach — 1
Bant Approach — 1
U/W Cycling — 1
Jund Energy — 1
Temur Aggro — 1
Treasure Red — 1
Mono-Black Aggro — 1

Notable Facts:

  • 292 copies of Attune with Aether
  • 72% of the decks were energy based.
  • 65% Temur/Four-Color Energy
  • The Mono-Black Aggro deck had a copy of Chandra’s Defeat because Frank Skarren is stubborn.

Attune with Aether
Even with all of the recent format warping archetypes we’ve seen in Standard, I’ve never seen one so ubiquitous in the metagame The raw power and flexibility of the energy decks make it difficult to justify playing anything else at the moment. When presented with this information, it’s easy to dismiss this format as abysmal.

A dearth of diversity and a broken mechanic; these have been indicators of broken Standard formats in the past. But the most important indicator of a bad Standard format is stale and miserable gameplay, and the current one doesn’t suffer from that. Decks like Aetherworks Marvel and Saheeli Combo were severe offenders of this in their respective formats. The gameplay patterns these decks created were repetitive and completely infringed on what should be possible in Standard. Games had the ability to end out of nowhere, and they always played out the same exact way. Energy mirrors are dynamic enough to continually captivate interest despite the high volume of them. The majority of games are replete with interaction and meaningful decisions. Even this deep into the format, there still seems to be no real consensus on how to approach the matchup.

For a while, even I was hesitant to play Temur Energy because I couldn’t figure out the mirror. But after a poor performance in the last MOCS Playoffs with Mono-Red, I refused to let myself make the same mistake again at the SCG Invitational. I began tirelessly working on the deck for the Invitational, and I was really enjoying playing the deck and solving its matchups. Despite being behind the pack in my understanding of the deck when I started testing, I quickly found myself pulling ahead. Going into the event, I knew I was going to have a huge edge in the Standard portion of the tournament.


This is the 75 that my brother and I registered for the tournament. We went a combined 14-2 in the swiss with all losses belonging to me. Of the sixteen matches, twelve were against Temur or Four-Color Energy, and we had a combined record of 11-1 in the matchup. The sole loss was the result of me mulliganing multiple times and playing atrociously.

Dan 8-0d the swiss, and finished with a record of 9-1 before losing to Sam Black in the semifinals. This already impressive feat is made even more impressive when you take into account that the only other time Dan had played this format is when I beat him in the Semifinals of the Dallas Open, another tournament Dan crushed without playing a single game prior to. Thinking of it now, I actually don’t even know if my brother has played a single game outside of a tournament in years. He definitely has some holes in his game, but the fact that he’s able to win as much as he does is a testament to his remarkable innate ability. But back to stroking my own ego, it’s also a testament to the fact that I’m a Constructed mastermind because he always plays my lists and follows my matchup plans.

So if you’re looking to crush your next Standard event, this is same information regarding the list and matchup notes I provided my brother with before the event.

Notable Choices

Bristling Hydra
2 Glorybringer: This is the biggest difference between my list and most others. Basically every other straight Temur list I’ve seen runs at least three copies, with four being the most common amount. While I’ll never claim that Glorybringer is anything less than a great Magic card, I don’t think it’s nearly as good in the mirror as most other people seem to think it is. The easiest way to get an edge in the mirror is to be able to break serve, and Glorybringer can be a liability on the draw. In theory it seems like Glorybringer would be a good way to catch up on the draw, but it rarely works out like that in practice. I would always lose with multiple copies stranded in my hand as my opponent beat me down with Bristling Hydras, or just leveraged their on board advantage and held open Harnessed Lightning to avoid getting blown out by a Glorybringer. I decided on two in the end because drawing multiple copies on the play is great, and drawing multiple copies on the draw is not.

4 Bristling Hydra: I really don’t know where the rumor started that Bristling Hydra isn’t good in the mirror. I can absolutely assure you that is fake news. It’s always the best creature in play, and I always want to draw multiple copies. It’s on a very short list for best card in the Temur mirror. It’s also one of the best cards against Ramunap Red. If you’re playing regular Temur, playing less than four copies of this card is incorrect.

1/1 Vizier of Many Faces: Vizier is one of the best cards you can play in the mirror. It can be a huge liability against something like Ramunap Red, but I went with one copy main as a nod to the popularity of Temur. It also aligns well with the plan of trying to steal more games on the draw. On the draw you can copy opposing Hydras on curve, and come out of the exchange ahead if you trade them. It’s also one of the only ways to catch up from a turn four dragon on the draw. I considered playing an additional copy in the board over the Confiscation Coup, but ultimately decided on one of each. While I do think Confiscation Coup gets worse postboard, as people frequently trim on Cubs and Virtuosos, getting cheesed out by The Scarab God or Hazoret was a real concern. I also had sideboard plans that involved cutting Abrade in the mirror, and wouldn’t want to be short on answers to something likeSkysovereign, Consul Flagship.

1 Torrential Gearhulk: For some reason, Gearhulk seems to only be popular with the members of Team Ultimate Guard. I’ve been incredibly happy with this card in my board. In any match where postboard games go longer, it serves as additional copies of the instants in your board, and it has the ability to be a huge tempo swing in the mirror. Based on my experience with the card and the fact that its championed by some of the best players in the world, I’m pretty surprised it hasn’t caught on more.

Sideboarding

Temur Energy/Four-Color Energy(Play):

On the play, you just want to stay aggressive and try to snowball your advantage on every turn of the game. When you’re attempting to be proactive, it’s important to limit the number of reactive cards in your deck and keep your threat count high, so the Abrades are an easy cut. I like trimming Virtuoso as well. Drawing one copy is important, but postboard games tend to be longer and they’re very bad in multiples.

Temur Energy (Draw):

  • -1 Magma Spray
  • -2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
  • -4 Longtusk Cub
  • +1 Vizier of Many Faces
  • +1 Supreme Will
  • +1 Confiscation Coup
  • +2 Chandra’s Defeat
  • +1 Abrade
  • +1 Torrential Gearhulk
  • Four-Color Energy (Draw):

    On the draw, you need to make sure you don’t fall behind. Longtusk Cub comes down too late and the Planeswalkers are difficult to protect. You go back up on removal, and you lean on cards like Chandra’s Defeat and Torrential Gearhulk to create tempo swings.

    Ramunap Red:

    The games get a lot easier after boarding here. You should have a enough cheap removal to deal with their early threats, and from there you just start deploying your creatures and clogging up the ground. The easiest way to lose is to get cheesed out by Hazoret, so the Confiscation Coups are quite valuable. I’d advise against using them liberally.

    Pummeler:

    The matchup is a bit closer than I would like it to be. You have a ton of removal, so you can generally just kill all of their early plays and finish the game quickly. But if the game ever stalls, the advantage shifts in their favor. If your Bristling Hydra’s are staring down theirs, they're significantly more likely to be able to break the board stall before you do.

    W/U Approach:

    Longtusk Cub
    This is maybe your only bad matchup. You’re a large dog Game 1, and a heavy favorite after boarding. Overall, I like Temur in the matchup, but almost always losing Game 1 does make it difficult to win a matchup consistently. How your board is relatively straightforward. Removal spells are bad, counterspells are good. I’d like to be able to cut Vizier and not have to board one in, but I don’t have enough sideboard cards for the matchup at the moment. If they’re playing the Black or Red splash, you can keep both copies of Coup in over the the Viziers. The most important thing to note is what constitutes a keepable hand in the matchup. Longtusk Cub is the most important card to have in your opening hand, and I’ll keep anything that resembles a keepable hand with a Cub. Even if your hand has something like two Negates, you can’t keep it if you don’t have a clock.

    So if I’ve managed to convince you that this Standard format isn’t as bad it seems and that you should give Temur Energy try, I’ve hopefully provided you with enough information to play on an even playing field with all of the grizzled Temur veterans out there.

    I really do think people should give this format a shot. It’s definitely not perfect, and if WOTC announces tomorrow that Kaladesh block is banned, I’d probably be happy. Having a format like this every once in awhile isn’t too bad, though. Standard is small card pool with a million players trying to solve it everyday. Sometimes it’s going to get solved, but it’s important to know that solved doesn’t have to mean ruined. Diversity is just one of the many things that make Magic great, it’s not the only thing. Getting to play some really fun and interactive games is great as well, and this format definitely offers that. I can handle one more set with Attune with Aether.


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