Urza’s Still Alive!

If you’re a fan of competitive Magic — Modern in particular — then your eyes were probably fixated on the results from the SCG Opens these past couple weekends. My team and I came out in full force at the Open in Columbus two weeks back, with five of the six of us playing a brand new Temur Urza deck.

We were short one copy of the deck so fellow Face to Face writer Daryl Ayers resorted to playing his Amulet deck. While one team came in 27th and narrowly missed Day 2. The other team landed in the Top 4 and both teams did quite well with the brew.

As usual, I was playing Urza and I was doing well with it. And if you’ve followed any of my content over the last little while this is nothing new. The combination of Urza, Oko and [Card]Mox Opal[/Card] have dominated Modern tournaments and I haven’t been able to put them down since their respective printings.

The cool thing about the last few week is that it’s usually just one or two people on the team leading the charge when it comes to deckbuilding. But this time it really was the whole team crammed in the hotel room and built Temur Urza. MTGO open on my laptop, discussing theory and moving numbers around. Eventually we landed on a place we all felt good about and began building the physical copies. It was pretty cool to see that level of cooperation. I’ve been a part of teams before that didn’t manage that aspect as well. Probably one of the good parts about being on a team with so many long-term veterans (okay, old people) of the game.

[Deck Title= Top 4 SCG Columbus, Temur Urza – Pete Ingram]
[Creatures]
4 Gilded Goose
4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
4 Urza, Lord High Artificer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Oko, Thief of Crowns
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
2 Experimental Frenzy
1 Mox Amber
3 Metallic Rebuke
3 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
4 Mishra’s Bauble
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Aether Spellbomb
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Waterlogged Grove
1 Flooded Strand
1 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
1 Steam Vents
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Mystical Dispute
3 Veil of Summer
1 Experimental Frenzy
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Disdainful Stroke
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
3 Blood Moon
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

The very next week the open was populated by lots of copies of our new deck. Even Oliver Tomajko Top 8’d the Grand Prix in Austin, Texas with a few changes on our Temur list.

Urza was once again carrying his loyal pilots to the finish line left, right and center. That is, until Monday. When everything changed.

[Card]Mox Opal[/Card], [Card]Oko, Thief of Crowns[/Card] and [Card]Myconsynth Lattice[/Card] were banned, leaving the Modern format reeling. But fear not, as far as I’m concerned, Urza is not dead yet!

You see, the more that the pre-bran Sultai Urza list became a control deck, the less it benefited from Opal anyways. The deck lost a touch of speed and some of its broken turns in favour of the added interaction and ability to take over the game. So I want to start my post-ban Urza brewing with some heavily interactive decks.

With Opal not being an intrinsic part of our deck we are also less weak to hate cards like [Card]Karn, The Great Creator[/Card] and [Card]Stony Silence[/Card]. What’s more is that Lattice ban will also reduce the number of Karns in the format, so there are less hate cards we have to worry about. Especially if we’re going to return to leaning on the [Card]Thopter Foundry[/Card] and [Card]Sword of the Meek[/Card] combo.

Today I’m going to walk you through three test builds for the post-ban era that I think will all be effective at fighting the new Modern world. We’ll be approaching the deck from a couple different colour options, but also positioning ourselves for a different style of game play (Control/Combo/Mid-Range).

Now, it’s been one day since the announcement. So by no means are these decks refined. But I really wanted to give you an early impression of where I’m trying to take the deck with the bans changing the game:

Test Build 1: Dimir Urza

[Deck Title= Dimir Urza – Eli Kassis]
[Creatures]
4 Urza, Lord High Artificer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Fatal Push
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Thopter Foundry
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
3 Whir of Invention
3 Engineered Explosives
2 Thoughtseize
2 Inqusition of Kozilek
2 Cryptic Command
2 Archmage’s Charm
1 Deprive
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Pithing Needle
1 Nihil Spellbomb
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
6 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Mystic Sanctuary
1 Watery Grave
1 Sunken Hollow
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
4 Ashiok, Dream Render
2 Battle at the Bridge
2 Dead of Winter
2 Mystical Dispute
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Damping Sphere
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

This one might be my favourite deck so I decided to start out with it. It will play a lot like a Dimir Control list would and wants to abuse [Card]Mystic Sanctuary[/Card] as much as possible.

The first thing I did was add in a couple more lands to account for the extra mana we lost without [Card]Mox Opal[/Card] and the benefit of [Card]Gilded Goose[/Card]. Step two was slowing down the opponent to match how we have been slowed by these changes. For that I added in more discard spells for turn one and more creature removal to the maindeck in [Card]Fatal Push[/Card]. If your deck is going to slow down, you need to have the requisite early interaction to slow your opponent down to your speed.

Once we get to the middle stages of the game, we can threaten to counter their important spells. And if they don’t cast them we get to start using [Card]Whir of Invention[/Card] to tutor up our combo pieces. Potential weaknesses to this deck are it’s sometimes clunky hands. Whir decks can have a difficult time emptying their hand if your draw doesn’t come together.

That said, I was really impressed by [Card]Achmage’s Charm[/Card]’s versatility in the pre-ban versions of Urza, and it can serve as a powerful card draw spell in a pinch.

Test Build 2: Grixis Urza

[Deck Title= Grixis Urza – Eli Kassis]
[Creatures]
4 Urza, Lord High Artificer
3 Goblin Engineer
3 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
4 Thopter Foundry
3 Engineered Explosives
2 Thoughtseize
2 Fatal Push
2 Pentad Prism
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Pithing Needle
1 Aether Spellbomb
1 Deprive
1 Archmage’s Charm
1 Dead of Winter
1 Cryptic Command
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
5 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave
1 Sunken Hollow
2 Mystic Sanctuary
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Ashiok, Dream Render
2 Blood Moon
2 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Mystical Dispute
2 Battle at the Bridge
1 Damping Sphere
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
1 Dead of Winter
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

This second build moves away from the interactive aspects slightly, trying to strike a balance between combo and control.

What it does better is abuse value creatures in Emry and [Card]Goblin Engineer[/Card] — a tried and true Urza strategy from last format. If the format starts settling in a way that doesn’t have an abundance of creature removal spells than I can see this list starting to dominate. If there’s more removal like I suspect there will be, then we will see the first build have more success.

This is actually my least favourite of the three builds, but depending on what the new meta looks to be I could be completely wrong and it’ll be all about doing something like this.

If there’s one thing we do know for sure — Emry is a busted card.

Test Build 3: Temur Urza

[Deck Title= Temur Urza – Eli Kassis]
[Creatures]
4 Urza, Lord High Artificer
4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
3 Goblin Engineer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Mox Amber
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
3 Wrenn and Six
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Deprive
2 Archmage’s Charm
2 Cryptic Command
2 Galvanic Blast
1 Aether Spellbomb
1 Pithing Needle
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
2 Lonely Sandbar
2 Mystic Sanctuary
2 Steam Vents
1 Breeding Pool
4 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Forest
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Ashiok, Dream Render
2 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Lightning Bolt
2 Nature’s Claim
2 Blood Moon
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Damping Sphere
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Now in my mind this list is the most fun.

Here we lose the Thopter/Sword combo but pickup the card advantage and control plan.

We start by using [Card]Mox Amber[/Card] in a similar way to how we were utilizing [Card]Mox Opal[/Card]. [Card]Wrenn and Six[/Card] turns on Amber as well as Emry in the early game and allows for some powerful card advantage-fueled openings.

Many of these lists are relying on [Card]Mystic Sanctuary[/Card] locks, but this list also has [Card]Wrenn and Six[/Card] to rebuy lands after they have gone, which works nicely with Emry milling over your library. This list feels like it would perform the best in the early and late stages of the game.

Urza offers so much value in a four mana package that it only makes sense that with every passing month the deck has been getting more and more midrangey. This Temur list may seem a little whacky at first, but it flirts with a lot of that value that has made Urza so good even before the bans. Maybe this is the next step for the archetype.

***

If you’re looking for more content from me you catch my stream at Twitch.tv/EliKassis and if you’re down to subscribe you’ll also get to join my private Discord that’s become a mecca of all things Urza related in Modern (Post-Ban we will evolve don’t worry). I’m also going to be launching a second Discord soon with Team BCW so stay tuned to my Twitter for updates.