Top 8 Magic: Standard Wolf Ratios

🍎 iTunes: apple.co/Top8Magic
🎧 Anchor: anchor.fm/top8magic

BDM and Magic Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz climb back on the virtual bicycle to resume creating new episodes of the game’s longest running (okay, okay, walking) podcast about all things MTG. In this episode the duo talk about:

-Zvi’s wolf ratio — how often has he cried wolf accurately and how many times has it just been a stray dog? SPOILERS Wilderness Reclamation was a MF’n wolf.
-This weekend’s upcoming Player’s Tour Finals Top 8 and the various weapons the 8 players will be bringing to the table.
-Their picks for the winner of the event. SPOILERS: Zvi does some math. Brian plays a hunch.
-Gab Nassif’s Historic control deck and what Zvi has done to tinker with it for the upcoming Historic Open.

The Hat Squad
2 Oath of Teferi (DAR) 200
5 Island (SLD) 64
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
3 Plains (SLD) 63
3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria (DAR) 207
1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria (DAR) GR6
4 Shatter the Sky (THB) 37
4 Shark Typhoon (IKO) 67
2 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
3 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
4 Mind Stone (WTH) 153
1 Dovin’s Veto (WAR) 193
2 Omen of the Sea (THB) 58
1 Essence Scatter (IKO) 49
3 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
4 Glacial Fortress (XLN) 255
4 Raugrin Triome (IKO) 251
4 Field of Ruin (THB) 242
1 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
1 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238

Sideboard
2 Aether Gust (M20) 42
3 Dovin’s Veto (WAR) 193
2 Essence Scatter (IKO) 49
1 Search for Azcanta (XLN) 74
3 Grafdigger’s Cage (M20) 227
2 Tale’s End (M20) 77
2 Cleansing Nova (M19) 9

Your hosts:
Brian David-Marshall – @Top8Games
Zvi Mowshowitz – @TheZvi

Temur Rec may just be unstoppable!

Temur Rec is an interesting deck. It’s been around for a long time and is on its way out the door in fact. It’s leaving a heavy footprint however because the deck is universally agreed upon to be the best deck in Standard at the moment. It is “The Deck to Beat”.

Still there’s a lot to talk about. What’s the ideal list? Which cards are traps and which cards are people sleeping on? I usually like to start with how I would build it and then go through the card choices one by one.

However please note that my list is intended for open decklist tournaments. The reason that matters is there are cards that are meant to be feints or cards that force your opponent to respect certain aspects. Without such cards in your list, your opponent is freer to sideboard in a manner that can be devastating for you.

The best example of this I can give is submitting a Bant list with no main deck counter-magic. That makes for very easy play from the opponent’s side of things and even if it’s not great in the main right now, in an open decklist world I would still try to cram a couple.

So here’s what I’ve come up with:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3229919

With the rise of Breeding Pool in Standard we can actually main deck hate cards like Aether Gust. With Temur being top deck and many people adapting by running Mono Green aggro, some are playing four copies of Aether Gust, but I prefer three as the main deck number. This slightly reduces the variance of drawing too many against decks that aren’t playing Red or Green.

Storms Wrath hitting planeswalkers has elevated it to being a main deck card as well. It’s nice to have a mixture of wrath effects and situational answers. Because Temur Rec utilizes Blast Zone so well, I have been comfortable with just one copy in the main deck. The backup sideboard copies rarely come in except against the all-in aggressive strategies.

Most of the list is stock of course, there’s not a ton of flex spots in these lists. I am choosing not to run Opt as I feel it makes the deck thinner on actual threats. There aren’t many turns I want to be spending time/mana and having so little deck manipulation that it rarely helps matters much. To me Opt is a card that helps you mulligan less, but in a London mulligan world I would rather get a fresh six cards more often than not. This deck surprisingly mulligans well for a combo deck.

Because of the absence of Opts and this deck\s desire not to miss land drops I have decided on 29 lands. The third Castle Vantress was an easy inclusion because of how well it pairs with Wilderness Reclamation. The second Mountain is sure to be questioned, but there have been many games where I needed to Fabled Passage for a second in order to cast an Explosion or a Storms Wrath. I also like that with six basic lands our Fabled Passages are drawing live more often. So this has been an easy decision in my list.

Brazen Borrower is mostly good for Shark Fights and against Teferi, Time Raveler. I feel strongly that the right number if you want any at all in the main deck is one copy. Too many and you run the risk of having a very mediocre card drawn often in other matchups. That being said in the matchups where it’s good, it’s actually great!

The main deck Ambushers are something that people have gone back and forth on. My decision to run two copies in the main actually arrived through strange circumstances. I was playing against Mardu Knights and game one I cast Growth Spiral on turn two. Then turn three, I used Storms Wrath to get a 4 for 1. Then somehow lost the game anyway. In game three when I went Growth Spiral into Ambusher I crushed and somehow felt as if I could no longer lose. I tested the theory that Ambushers were similar to Wrath effects in other matchups and found that to be true for current Standard. After finding three copies to be too many and one would be drawn too little, I settled at two.

Some key strategy points are 2-landers generally aren’t keepable, but 5 landers are. Blast Zone and Reclamation can be a surprise same turn play and blow up almost any number most games. On Arena typing in QQ will auto tap your lands but not always give you the best combination of colors. If you don’t put a stop on your own end step, you’ll blow right through your Reclamation trigger. Expansion is a very useful card when your opponent is casting a Growth Spiral or even better when it’s a Cultivate. If your opponent isn’t playing Green or White they probably do not have a good answer for a resolved Shark Typhoon. Then you can win the game over the next few turns as you develop a small army very quickly.

On the draw you can frequently sideboard out the second Mountain when you are cutting most of the red cards in the appropriate matchups. I personally do not think Aether Gust is very good against post-boarded Bant decks so you can find room by shaving those down to one or even zero. When playing against aggressive strategies like Mono R or Mono G, you want to make sure you conserve your key pieces of removal for the important bigger threats. In the meantime progress your board state and just continue to be the better deck at going over the top.

Conserving your Reclamations for when the opponent is tapped out or tapped down to one mana is a key turning point in most games. The card Dovin’s Veto can be a pain but can still be played around. Narset’s Reversal actually plays around it quite nicely as you can explosion for a large number into a veto. When they cast Veto target your own Explosion and get a copy for the same X amount and an extra Explosion for next turn sitting in your hand. Meanwhile their spell countered nothing. If you ever get to cast Reversal on a Thought Distortion you’ll probably do the happy dance as well.

In theory this should be all you need to get started, but repetition is important for really nailing down the nuances to this deck. It’s surprising just how many lines you might find this deck capable of when you really start analyzing it all. You’ll also find that most games are/were winnable if the correct approach could only be found.

Bant is kicking Temur where the shark don’t shine!

Just in case the title didn’t say it all, let me be clear. The Standard format has been dominated for quite some time by Temur Reclamation. Many decks have had to adapt their strategies or approaches in order to keep up with this titan of Standard. Luckily for fans of not playing Red we have just the ticket.

Bant and Sultai are sadly the last two combinations that include the most important color combination in Standard… Simic! The data is showing Simic to be far and away the best combination and that might be due largely in part to the card Growth Spiral. Ironically Explore didn’t have much of an impact on Standard, but things change vastly based upon the cards they have to interact with.

Today I am going to focus on a build of Bant I have been working on. I’ve gone one step further and supplied a handy sideboard guide to go with it. Then I am going to post a couple other approaches to the format that I’ve been having some fun with. First however, here’s the main concept.

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3183535 

M21 has supplied us with Jolrael and Scavenging Ooze. The rest is traditional Bant before the new set emerged. However, these two cards have made a dramatic difference. Bant used to have an issue with a slow start for hands that did not include Growth Spiral. Now we get to add to the statistical significance of having an early powerful play by slamming one of these two drops down instead.

The best part is if they are answered early than our opponent hasn’t progressed. They’ve fed our future Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath another card to cannibalize as well as given our Elspeth Conquer’s Death a target to return later.

Let me give you a sideboard breakdown of how I would approach a few matchups and then we can discuss the strategy a little further down below.

Sideboard Guide

Temur Rec

In- 2 Casket, 2 Narset, 1 Reversal, 2 Wilt, 2 Typhoon, 2 Veto, 1 Ooze
Out- 2 Ugin, 3 ECD, 2 Shatter, 1 Uro, 2 Hydroid Krasis, 1 Tef4, 1 Nissa

Bant Ramp

In- 2 Narset, 2 Typhoon, 2 Veto, 1 Ooze, 1 Casket
Out- 2 Gust, 2 Shatter, 1 Uro, 1 Tef4, 1 Temple of Plenty, 1 Ugin

Mono Red

In- 3 Casket, 2 Shatter
Out- 1 Tef 4, 1 Uro, 1 Ugin, 1 Ooze, 1 Jorael

Mono Black

In- 3 Casket, 2 Shatter
Out- 1 Tef 4, 1 Uro, 2 Ugin, 1 Shark Typhoon

Gruul Aggro/Mono Green

In- 3 Casket, 2 Shatter
Out- 1 Tef 4, 1 Shark Typhoon, 1 Ugin, 1 Ooze, 1 Jorael

Jund Food

In- 2 Wilt, 1 Ooze, 1 Shatter, 2 Veto
Out- 2 Jorael, 2 Shark Typhoon, 1 Uro, 1 Tef4

Temur Adventures

In- 2 Wilt, 2 Veto, 1 Shatter
Out- 1 Ooze, 1 ECD, 1 Ugin, 1 Tef4, 1 Uro

For Adventures we are moving away from some of the redundant copies that aren’t a part of the base of this deck, meanwhile bringing in some focused cheap answers to prevent them from doing their thing to us. It’s important that we both apply early pressure and try to disrupt their card advantage chains.

For Food it’s not too dissimilar. Both these decks are essentially combo decks and Wilt comes in a lot against combo. Only this time we aren’t as worried about playing pressure since we have the means to play the control role and not worry about dying to a sudden Bolas Citadel thanks to Dovin’s Veto and Wilt.

For Mono Green Aggro we of course board in some early answers and take away some of the slower more situational cards. This is the most commonly played matchup on the Arena ladder right now so it helps to board correctly and learn how to play the matchup correctly. Gemrazer makes for very interesting games and targeting Stonecoil Serpents with Glass Casket is an ideal play to make. After that it’s tempo and remaining the better “go over top” deck is important.

Mono Black is similar to the Green plan but the matchup gets even easier. Only beware of getting left without an answer and expending them too early on bad aggro creatures. That may cost you when a 7/6 dino gets a big upgrade and takes to the air.

Mono Red is the same thing but Embercleave is scary and surprisingly Tef3 is the answer. Tef3 prevents the alternate casting of Embercleave from being active and so you can simply outpace their bad creatures.

For the mirror match you want to be threat dense but also threat diverse. The more reactive player tends to lose unless they have the perfect answer for each threat at the perfect time. The usual sideboard strategy on both sides is bringing out their sweepers and bringing in more aggression.

Finally brings us back around to Temur Rec, where the four copies of Mystical Dispute are their only hope of not dying to an early Teferi, Time Raveler. Play this game careful and do not over extend, but at the same time throw them soft balls while they are only ramping and you’ll eventually come out on top.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Here’s a couple other lists I have been working on to tide you over in the meantime.

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3183547

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3183548

 

Simic Flash! Gruul Smash!

M21 hit the mean streets and now we are seeing a lot of new takes on old builds. Simic Flash was a tier below 1 for the last few months, but we’ve seen a resurgence with the addition of a “Mana Leak” in Lofty Denial. This card has replaced Quench rather nicely as having a much higher payoff and almost the same base.

Rewind to top off the high end of the curve has also brought an extra powerful card that lets you prevent the opponent’s play and slam a Nightpack Ambusher on the same early turn. From there you can play draw go and keep on gaining additional advantage while holding off the opponent from making any powerful plays with additional countermagic.

Mind you this deck is not my own. I certainly do not like people stealing the credit of others. Now I won’t leave you hanging longer, here’s the list that has already put up some great results online.

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3160922

This deck preys upon the format front runner Temur Reclamation. The combination of ramp, big creatures, and counter magic tends to outclass the overcosted cards in Temur Reclamation. Most combo decks have a difficult time with this combination. In addition this build has a favorable matchup against other big Green decks.

If you feel the meta is shifting towards a bunch of Mono Red or White…. Abandon Ship! While Teferi, Time Raveler can be a problem for this deck. We also have a lot of ways to counter it, attack it, or even in some cases play through it. Bant can be a closer matchup, but with the right draws you’ll be a heavy favorite.

When sideboarding it’s important to note that the count of flyers is proportional to the use of Lofty Denial. Sideboard cards out with care and know which cards should exit alongside their counterparts. I love bringing in Sublime Epiphany against anything that isn’t super fast aggressive decks. It’s incredibly hard to play around and can do some devastating things.

Because we do not have access to good removal, your answer to other aggro decks is typically by bringing in Lovestruck Beast and playing a good defensive game. Generally you’ll need to sacrifice some of your countermagic role to accomplish that tactic. Don’t forget to sideboard in Wilt against Mono Green surprisingly enough.

Now on the other foot there’s another powerhouse that utilizes green in the format. This deck has been in development with none other than Andrea Mengucci. He paired Green with red and utilizes a somewhat midrange build to give his Gruul build more room to go over the top with card Advantage.

Here’s the list:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3160924

My favorite addition to this Gruul strategy is actually Scavenging Ooze. It cleanly answers opposing Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. The reason that’s super important is Uro generally outclasses the creatures in Gruul. On top of which it gains them life back from tempo loss and puts card advantage into the mix. Truly an overpowered card in many ways.

Thankfully Scavenging Ooze can pluck it out of the graveyard before it becomes a problem. It even ensures the grave is empty if answered, making sure Uro won’t have enough fuel for a few extra turns. In matchups against aggressive decks it applies a growing body with life gain and when it Mutates, becomes an even larger trampling threat capable of putting games away quick.

Other new M21 additions are Elder Gargaroth which has so many abilities and amazing stats for five mana that it hardly needs explanation on why it’s worth an inclusion. I’m mostly surprised it’s not a legendary creature.

The other cool addition is Terror of the Peaks. I’ve seen this card added to a few other old shells. Brad Nelson recently won a Star City Games Qualifier with his build of Temur Elementals that also included Terror of the Peaks. Just from a glance the deck utilizes Genesis Ultimatum and Terror of the Peaks to make large favorable destructive swings.

Radha, Heart of Keld is nice flood protection. Ensuring you additional land drops and improving draws is important in a Gruul shell. I do not know if this card is optimized for this deck, but in certain matchups it certainly goes a long way. My personal feeling is the stats on this card are just a little too underwhelming.

The singleton Primal Might is kind of a fun one of, but I wouldn’t give its inclusion too much thought. My guess is the fourth Domri’s Ambush was a flexible spot and the possible upside of Primal Might was worth the additional cost of the spell comparably.

Most of my thoughts on Gruul are in theory as I have not gotten in many reps with the deck yet. I would imagine that Gruul has more card advantage consistency. It’s extra weak to cards like Aether Gust still unfortunately and that card is being run in large numbers. Smaller fast aggressive decks can sneak under if they materialize their game plans and push through the finish line with cards like Embercleave or Torbran, Thane of Red Fell.

Other midrange decks I can see being this deck\s natural prey. Although Bant may have a comparable chance just on the power level of Elspeth Conquers Death alone. Generally speaking these decks need to be proactive on the mulligans and keep hands that materialize strong early game plans. If you fall behind the deck lacks good comeback power. That being said it can grind an opponent into the dust very quickly as well.

Hopefully these starting points help fuel you to good performance in any of your online events. Personally I’ll be testing Standard quite a bit for the upcoming Pro Tour Finals event in a few weeks. Check back for more decklists, updates, and strategy!

Everything you need to know about Standard for the PT!

The title leaves some big shoes to fill, but I’m confident we can get anyone from zero knowledge of Standard to tournament ready pretty quick. For starters, some may not know but there are Regional Pro Tours going on online via the Arena platform.

We have seen an overall dominance of Temur Reclamation across the first few tournaments so far. This deck looks something like this list by Jean-Emmanuel-Depraz.

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3117141

This deck tries to ramp out lands. Play a Wilderness Reclamation to net a lot more mana and then abuse it with spells that can be enhanced with even more mana. Such as Expansion // Explosion or Shark Typhoon. The fact that it has the best creature in Standard with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath as a backup plan should tell you why this deck is so powerful.

So if we can establish that this deck is the deck to beat, then we can talk about how the metagame unfolds from here. Temur’s natural enemy has evolved into Bant Control. This is because Bant has access to four copies of Teferi, Time Raveler. The reason this is so important is because of the end of turn restriction on Wilderness Reclamation. If you can’t play instants then you do not get to take advantage of the mana. On top of it, it makes any counter magic nearly unplayable. It bounces the giant Shark Typhoon tokens we make and also nets the controller card advantage. You could kind of say it does it all!

Let’s look at the Bant list that took Louis Del Tour to a top 4 performance in RPT1:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3117154

So instead of relying on Wilderness Reclamation for all the additional mana. This deck uses Nissa, Who Shakes the World to gain additional mana. This allows for more main phase interaction in the form of Hydroid Krasis, which kind of does it all with size, evasion, life gain, and card advantage. Bant seeks to play the long game and win through repetition value accrued through the usage of planeswalkers. Do not be surprised to go from a really high life to dead in a few swings with the giant creatures this deck produces however.

So if Temur Reclamation is top dog and Bant is favorable against it, why not just play that right? Well it’s because there are other top contenders for which Bant is not favored. One such deck is Jund Sacrifice or Jund Food as it is sometimes called. This list was piloted by Eduardo Sajgalik to another RPT2 Top 8 performance:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3117161

Jund Sacrifice is built more upon two card interactions that accrue value and then eventually death to the opponent. Bolas’s Citadel can be a late game finisher, but Witch’s Oven Cauldron Familiar and Mayhem Devil present enough of an aggressive threat that the game may not even go long. While lists can be adapted to change results, Jund Sac is considered to be a favorite against Bant Control due to its powerful creatures that need to be singularly answered.

So just play Jund Sac right? Again no, because Jund Sac has a very hard time fighting against the speed of Temur Reclamation and that\s the most played deck. So welcome back to the Rock, Paper, Scissors world of Standard right now.

So what should you do? Well you can either jump on one ship and try to find a good sideboard plan to adapt for your bad matchup without it costing you too many points in the other matchups or the mirror. Or you could go rogue and try something some have had success with as well.
Fellow Rivals player Eli Loveman piloted a BR Aggressive strategy to a RPT2 Top 8 performance as well. His list shown here:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3117167

This has many of the elements that Jund Sac has without the addition of the card advantage aspect that strangely the color green has given it. This deck can run over Temur Rec before they can begin to setup and provide an adequate battle against the more controlling decks like Bant.

The development of a card like Fiend Artisan is exciting to see, because it is obviously powerful albeit limited by certain limitations. The cost to sacrifice being one plus the converted mana cost of the creature it gets is akin to using Green Sun’s Zenith to locate a creature. If a card costs one additional mana it is less effective in general. However this card gains advantage in that your creatures produce useless additional creatures ripe for the saccing. Which means it is card advantage and Fiend Artisan develops into a powerhouse itself as it grows with each activation.

Its not an easy choice to just say sure that’s what I will play then. Decks like Rakdos Aggro can be very draw dependant and have very little in the way of producing much of a fight when they flood out. This deck often squeaks out the win just before your opponent can stabilize and therefore it’s also extremely important to play precisely.

Ultimately I would say that you should pilot what you feel comfortable with. If you do decide to go rogue from the Rock, Paper, Scissors setup, be sure and test the big three matchups and try to ensure that at least two of them are favorable. Otherwise abandon ship! Ultimately try your best to have fun and adapt strong play centered around this principle. It will help anyone to grow into their happiest most winningest self. Thanks for tuning in and see you next time!

Top 8 Magic: You Still Had All These

🍎 iTunes: apple.co/Top8Magic
🎧 Anchor: anchor.fm/top8magic

The longest running Magic podcast is back with a new (and long-running) episode. Brian David-Marshall is once more joined by Magic Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz as the pair discuss the upcoming Players Tour, recent bannings, the changes to companions, and how Zvi’s Stompy deck has found a lane in the Standard metagame.

With Magic 2021 spoilers coming fast and furiously they spend the rest of the episode going through the cards and trying to determine if the reprinting of Baneslayer Angel means that we are going to see R&D start to shift further away from Mulldrifters over the coming year in an effort to pump the brakes on the crazy Standard rollercoaster we have been on for the last year and a half.

Your hosts:
Brian David-Marshall – @Top8Games
Zvi Mowshowitz – @TheZvi