Dear Readers, I hope you had a pleasant Christmas! Maybe you got a Magic booster box or an Alpha Black Lotus? I settled with a Vintage Masters one. Non-Foil. Well, better than nothing I guess. Let’s get back to building decks!
In the last article we opened up Temur Avalanche, our second deck from Khans of Tarkir. It is a Green, Blue and Red deck with some morph creatures, some spells that are ferocious and some removal spell in the form of combat spells like Savage Punch. Overall the deck looks like this:
Temur Avalanche by Wizards
I said that, at first glance, this deck should stand a chance against equally bad decks. Reader magikado put it more bluntly by calling the deck awful. He suggested to build it more into an aggressive deck with fast, cheap creatures and removal spells like Force Away and Lightning Strike. On the other hand reader Ergoogre found Sagu Mauler and Secret Plans to move the deck more into the morph strategy. From the look of it both plans seem equally valid. I think after the first matches we will have a better idea of what to develop this deck into. So enough talking, let’s head to the tables.
First round of matches
In match 1 I mulliganned to this starting hand:
I decided to keep it since it had every mana source and I had no idea what to expect from the deck yet. So I put down the Elvish Mystic while she played Soulmender and Ajani’s Pridemate.
She added an Phalanx Leader and buffed him with Scourgemark. Together with the life-gain the Pridemate now had four +1/+1 marks on turn 3. Not good.I blocked one hit with the elf and then played Snowhorn Rider. I drew Savage Punch and used it to kill the Phalanx. She then tried to kill my Rider but luckily I had a Stubborn Denial in my hand.
So I could thwart this attempt and stay in the game. Sadly she found another kill spell two turns later. My Icy Blast could only buy me one turn time and I didn’t find anything useful like Force Away but got Windstorm. So I lost game 1.
Luckily in game 2 she wasn’t as fast so I could play my Summit Prowler relatively uncontested.
She played Abzan Battle Priest who got on my nerves right away. I used Temur Charm to kill the pridemate. In retroperspective I probably should have killed the priest instead.
I played another prowler who got exiled by Banishing Light. She played another pridemate and Soulmender. Didn’t look good.
I finally did the right thing and killed the priest with Savage Punch and then used Force Away on the kitten. She answered with Oppressive Rays on my yeti, who thus turned into a pretty useless piece of hairy meat.
The pridemate came back and so did another Abzan Battle Priest and Soulmender. I could answer that with the mighty Runeclaw Bear. Oh well.
I got overrun by a bunch of life-linkers and lost match 1.
Results Match 1: 0-2 LOSE
Well onto match 2 where I finally saw some of my early creatures.
Strangely enough my opponent had the same idea, so we faced each other with hidden cards.
She decided to quit the fun part by playing Nissa, Worldwaker which is still one of the mightiest planeswalker in Standard. Luckily the only use she got out of her, was one Elvish Mystic. I then casted Temur Charm to prevent her creatures from blocking and beat up the planeswalker.
Sadly Nissa was the least of my problem. She turned the morphed creature up to reveal Hooded Hydra and then followed with a Hydra Broodmaster for good measure.
Just to make me feel worse she also played See the Unwritten and brought an Arbor Colossus and another broodmaster into the game. Well that was that.
In game 2 I could play a morphed Snowhorn Rider and an Alpine Grizzly before she could play anything.
She managed to bring an Arbor Colossus to the table but Roar of Challenge ensured my victory.
Game 3 was pretty bad since I could play nothing while she had a couple of creatures and Nissa, Worldwaker.
I struggled for a bit but was overrun by an army of Forests.
Results Match 2: 1-2 LOSE
In match 3 I was up against a very fast mono-red deck with no spells costing more than 2 mana. Turn 3 looked like this.
And turn 4 of game 2 like this.
There wasn’t much I could do in either game. I was overrun, any defense was burned with Lightning Strike. Sigh.
Results Match 3: 0-2 LOSE
Analysis and first round of changes
I think three lossed matches in the first round is a novum for this series. So it turns out that Temur Avalanche is pretty bad after all. Like I said in the last article the deck has a lack of early game and this is where we lost nearly all games. On the other hand I didn’t feel like this deck has mana issues. There has been no moment where I couldn’t cast a spell due to a lack of mana. This is pretty good, especially when you think back to Mardu Raiders where mana was a huge problem. So where do we want to go from here?
Like I mentioned above there are basically two possibilities. We could go for a strong early game with some cheap removal spells or we could go a route with morph creatures that hold the line in the first couple of turns and then transform into an unstoppable force. Since this is the first round of changes I do not want to decide on the correct approach right now. Instead I think that we can include cards that would serve both ideas.
Look at Rattleclaw Mystic. It is a good 2 power creature for two mana. It has a very neat ability that can erase any mana problems this deck might have. And it can also be morphed, just in case we want to confuse our opponent. In my opinion this is a perfect fit for our deck. I want four of them.
(I) Rattleclaw Mystic +4
Adding cheap creatures allows us to throw out all the ballast. First let us get rid of the cards that we identified as worst in the last article.
(II) Woolly Loxodon -2
(III) Tusked Colossodon -1
(IV) Windstorm -1
Our deck looks much neater now. We got rid of the most useless spells and have a better chance to put a creature down on turn 2 and then use it to ramp up to Snowhorn Rider.
I also want to include another creature. As Ergoogre suggested Savage Knuckleblade is probably the best Temur creature. It costs only three mana, is 4/4 and has a bunch of useful abilities. It may be hard to cast with its cost of GBR but with our mana fixing we should be able to cast it. If we can draw it in one of our upcoming games we might get an idea of what our deck is really capable of. So as a prototype in it goes.
(V) Savage Knuckleblade +1
Out goes one of the more useless creatures. While it has morph it really is too weak to do anything serious.
(VI) Glacial Stalker -1
Okay, great, this is how our deck looks like now.
Temur Avalanche by Gurkengelee
The creatures we just added total for just about 1 ticket. So the overall valuation of our deck is at about 2$. Pretty cheap! So let’s get back to the Just for Fun room and play three more matches.
Second round of matches
In match 1 I decided to keep this starting hand, despite the lack of a green mana source.
It turned out that I was up against another red deck with spells costing not more than three mana so on turn 2 the board looked like this.
This is a neat five damage coming our way. On my turn I played the Rattleclaw Mystic morphed in order to gain access to green mana on my next turn. Sadly it died to Magma Spray. Luckily(?) I found a Temur Banner as a replacement while my opponent continued to beat me up.
On my next turn I decked a Forest (of course!) and played the Savage Knuckleblade and left him on the defense. She played Wall of Fire and decided to not attack. Remember: If you are running an aggressive deck you do not want to include defensive creatures. Certainly not walls. And playing a red wall is close to blasphemy.
On my turn I went aggressive and attacked with the ogre. She blocked with the wall and I activated the +2/+2 ability to remove it. On her turn she attacked and brought me to five which I found pretty comfortable. Until she played Lava Axe.
Game 2 saw an Elvish Mystic on my side and an enchanted Satyr Hoplite on hers. Oh, and an Ornithopter. Because it’s free I guess.
We exchanged some blows and she buffed the Satyr even more. SO I eventually decided to sacrifice the Pine Walker to block 10 damage.
I playded the Icefeather Aven morphed and used his ability to send the beefed Hoplite back to the hand. Pretty neat, the situation looked much better now.
We played a couple of creatures and I started to whack away her life total with my Snowhorn Rider.
While she gathered a mighty army of cheap creatures I could play Icy Blast to tap them all and then Titanic Growth to finish the game. Nice!
In Game 3 I could play Runeclaw Bear while she had a thopter, a goblin and Font of Ire which is like the misshapen cousin of Lava Axe.
I drew Rattleclaw Mystic and used it to ramp up into Alpine Grizzly. She built up a small army but without mana I felt comfortable in sending my two bears to the red line. They died but took three creatures with them.
I played Temur Banner and followed with Avalanche Tusker. Elephants, finally! Not much happened from here on. I bounced her Borderland Marauder when she tried to buff it with Inferno Fist and stomped her with the Tusker.
Results Match 1: 2-1 WIN
Somewhere in the zipping, up- and downloading and transportation of the screenshots during my Christmas travels I lost the screenshots for match 2. But I was up against a Sultai deck that tried to make some Delve plays with Empty the Pits. Was pretty fun to watch but didn’t work out too well. Even my deck was too fast.
Results Match 2: 2-0 WIN
In Match 3 I played against a blue/white deck. We build up some creatures and she had twin Phalanx Leader one of which was buffed with Aqueous Form.
Having two Phalanx Leaders made spells like Defiant Strike double as effective since they stack +1/+1 counters on both creatures. This led to quite an awkward situation where she had two giant unblockable humans.
In game 2 I played two rarely seen cards with Heir of the Wilds and Dragon Grip. Secret combo! With the +2/+0 effect the Heir is now a 4 power creature triggering his own ferocious effect and that of the enchantment.
She played a Seeker of the Way and tried to buff it with Defiant Strike. Luckily I had a Lightning Strike to answer.
After this phenomenal move she surrendered the game. And then, after a mulligan to 0,the match.
Results Match 3: 2-1 WIN
Analysis and second round of changes
Wow! From 0-3 to 3-0. Quite an improvement. It also didn’t feel like the decks we faced in the second round were much weaker than in the first round. So it’s my impression that the deck is actually stronger now, with all the ballast off board. So I think we are going in the right direction by throwing out expensive creatures and adding cheap spells. Especially with Savage Knuckleblade we have a three-drop that can close out games on his own. It’s no elephant though.
The past matches also showed that there are a lot of buffing spells and enchantments in the meta. Cards like Ajani’s Pridemate, Phalanx Leader or Satyr Hoplite can be buffed into fatties that can overrun us in a blink. Therefore I think that we need more bounce spells. I am a big fan of these, ever since I had a mono-blue ninja deck back in Kamigawa with Echoing Truth. So my first impulse was to add some copies of Force Away. But then I rethought and decided that Icefeather Aven would be a better choice in the current state of the deck.
For once we can throw out some expensive creatures when we add the birds. Secondly it is a morphed creature. So if our opponent sees us bouncing one of his beefed creatures with an Aven and we play a morphed Rattleclaw Mystic in the next game, she will probably play different, since it could be an Icefeather Aven. So adding three copies will enhance the speed of our deck but also utilizes our morph mind games.
(VII) Icefeather Aven +3
Let’s throw out some of our more useless creatures.
(VIII) Thundering Giant -1
(IX) Glacial Stalker -1
(X) Pine Walker -1
I also want to add some more Savage Knuckleblades. It is a really strong creature and we want to consistently have one in hand on turn 3 or 4. We can exchange them for the Summit Prowler. These yetis are much weaker but equally hard to cast with converted mana costs of four but two red symbols.
(XI) Summit Prowler -2
(XII) Savage Knuckleblade +2
So this is how our deck looks like now.
Temur Avalanche by Gurkengelee
This deck is definitely starting to come together. At least on the creature side. I think the next change has to be made on the spell side, since there are still cards like Temur Banner or Dragon Grip that are not the best spells in the world for us. The deck stands at around 2,5 tickets at the Academy_Sellbots so you can easily acquire it and try it out. If you come up with ideas please let me know in the comments section! Also if you think that I am going in the right or wrong direction with the deck or you want to analyze a specific change I made, please let me know below or on MTGO under the screenname Gurkengelee.
The next article in the series will probably be delayed since I am not at home for the next two weeks and Magic Online does not run on my Linux Laptop.