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**Its over 9000!** – A Temur Tower Primer

I like that Tezzeret. He has vision the other judges don’t. He sees the potential in what we’re making here.

Since Grand Prix Brisbane  I have returned to PPTQ grind and while it is probably the most unsatisfying and soul-crushing way to spend precious Saturdays, the joy of playing a Shota Yasooka designed deck makes it bearable.

Yasooka’s original list was:

Land: (21)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Lumbering Falls
Spirebluff Canal
Forest
Island
Mountain

Creatures: (10)
Shielded Aether Thief
Rogue Refiner
Torrential Gearhulk

Artifacts: (4)
Dynavolt Tower

Spells: (25)
Anticipate
Attune with the Aether
Brutal Expulsion
Glimmer of Genius
Harnessed Lightning
Incendiary Flow
Natural Obsolescence
Negate
Shock
Void Shatter
Sideboard: (15)
Ceremonious Rejection
Confiscation Coup
Kozilek's Return
Natural Obsolescence
Negate
Summary Dismissal
Whirler Virtuoso
Dispel

I first played the deck at the PPTQ in Moonee Ponds, where I started 2-0 before falling back to 2-2-1; there was too much going on in the deck, highlighted my unfamiliarity with the format.

Yasooka’s list was very, very good against Green-Black which was popular at the time. The large number of exile effects helped combat Scrapyard Scounger, a particularly problematic card for a deck which otherwise excels against creatures. 4c Saheeli and Mardu were not as popular as they are now (prior to Grand Prix Utrecht basically).

I worked on the deck  assisted by Marcus Abbot and Michael Billinghurst amongst others. Marcus and I both have two PPTQ Top 8s each with the deck now.

Overall, the deck sits fairly well positioned in the metagame, with slightly favourable matchups versus Green-Black and 4c Saheeli (probably each about 60-40) and a fairly close Mardu matchup (45-55 their way). Temur Tower can be quite inconsistent and suffers greatly for losing the die roll when your opponent can have a quick start.

Here’s the most up to date list, which we ran last weekend (Fazz to 3-3 and Marcus to 6-1-2):

Land: (22)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Cinder Glade
Lumbering Falls
Spirebluff Canal
Forest
Island
Mountain

Creatures: (6)
Whirler Virtuoso
Torrential Gearhulk
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

Artifacts: (4)
Dynavolt Tower

Spells: (28)
Attune the Aether
Shock
Anticipate
Harnessed Lightning
Horribly Awry
Incendiary Flow
Natural Obsolescence
Negate
Void Shatter
Glimmer of Genius
Sideboard: (15)
Dispel
Release the Gremlins
Natural State
Negate
Kozilek's Return
Tireless Tracker
Whirler Virtuoso
Confiscation Coup

The mana base is complicated and if you plan on playing the deck, before attending an event I encourage you to familiarise yourself with the sequencing puzzle it presents; ordering the comes-into-play taplands such that you have enough mana on key turns is not easy and requires a great deal of format familiarity.

There are obviously a many differences between Yasooka’s list and our current one, which itself is in about its fourth iteration. Rather than trying to convince you of each individual selection I will simply sound off our reasoning so that you can make your own assessment and then vary the core as needed to target your own local meta:

<Maindeck

  • 5 Forests was too many, since after the first green source they are essentially colourless mana and the deck is extremely blue mana hungry (especially after sideboard), hence the additional Island. We went up to 22 land following cutting Rogue Refiner (more on this later) and adding a Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. This ended up being a Cinder Glade for me (credit: Trent Clarke) but Michael suggested Game Trail which could be good too.
  • No Shielded Aether Thieves or Rogue Refiners. These cards tests very poorly for us though I acknowledge others have reported exactly the opposite results; so it might be a difference of local metagame or playstyles (I do not discount the possibility I am just bad either). Shielded Aether Thief kept running into Fatal Push pre-board, which otherwise have no targets, and Rogue Refiner was too tempo-negate versus Green-Black and Mardu. We found a pair of Whirler Virtuoso performed much better, especially for pressuring opposing Planeswalkers. Cutting these draw elements necessitated a fourth Anticipate.
  • Horribly Awry versus Negate: Both cards are very strong and you really want to guess the meta correctly and play multiples of the right one. We have been playing three Negate main because they are so good versus Mardu and 4c Saheeli. With the increasing local presence of 4c Saheeli I would likely explore 2 Horribly Awry and 2 Negate (with additional copies of each in the sideboard); not letting enemy Rogue Refiners or Whirler Virtuosos resolve is very powerful.
  • I would re-evaluate the maindeck Natural Obsolescence too – it’s a completely dead card versus 4c Saheeli which appears to now be the most represented deck.
  • The singleton Jace, Unraveler of Secrets is probably our biggest breakthrough and the card Marcus and I are mot hyped for; we greatly prefer it to a fourth Torrential Gearhulk for many reasons. It strands removal in hand; routinely resolving on an empty board and quickly securing victory. Given the awkwardness of the mana base, being a whole mana cheaper is frequently relevant.
  • Four Void Shatter. While this does contribute to our vulnerability to losing the draw, hard counters are so strong presently; there are just so many value creatures and Planeswalkers seeing play. It would *probably* be incorrect to run fewer – games you are doing well in always reach a point where you would elect for each draw step to be a Void Shatter if you could.
  • Sideboard

    Overall I found this combination of sideboard cards has given enough options such that most matchups improve post-board.

    Sideboard Guide

    I would not normally provide a sideboard guide, mostly because I think it is important to be flexible and open minded during the process and it’s impossible for me to articulate all of the little factors I would consider; play-vs-draw, unusual cards played by the opponent; their play style and play skill etc – sideboarding is a complex process and I won’t usually sideboard the same way twice because there just is not enough sample size obtained to be certain any one exact approach is correct.

    Still, the deck is so complicated when you are new to it that I would love to provide some assistance.

    Mardu
    OUT: 1 Island, 1 Torrential Gearhulk, 1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, 1 Glimmer of Genius, 2 Void Shatter, 2 Anticipate

    IN: 1 Natural State, 1 Release the Gremlins, 1 Negate, 3 Kozilek’s Return, 2 Whirler Virtuoso

    I like this configuration whether or not they are on the heavy Planeswalker sideboard plan; you become much more efficient this way, which lines up well against their early minion-pressure draws while also giving you some board to fight against Planeswalkers.

    The matchup versus the Ballista version is a little easier than the traditional version.

    Green Black Midrange

    OUT: 3 Negate, 1 Natural Obsolescence

    IN: 2 Tireless Tracker, 2 Confiscation Coup

    You do need to be flexible here and adapt to the cards you see – against some versions Natural Obsolescence and Release the Gremlins are very powerful for example (Lifecrafter’s Bestiary and Scrapyard Scrounger give enough targets in additional to Ballistas and Gearhulks). Shock is really good versus the energy version but otherwise terrible; just be sure to take some time and really evaluate all of your cards.

    4c Saheeli

    OUT: 1 Natural Obsolescence, 1 Incendiary Flow, 2 Whirler Virtuoso

    IN: 1 Dispel, 1 Negate, 2 Tireless Tracker

    There is absolutely a case for cutting some or all the Shocks for Kozilek’s Return; Shock is great against Servant of the Conduit and for pressuring Planesalkers with Tower, while Kozilek’s Return helps clear up a board of tokens. I’d evaluate by considering play-vs-draw and how they are likely to play the matchup. If you opt for Radiant Flames bring them in too. Tireless Tacker gets bigger than their board and attacks Planeswalkers nicely.

    The matchup is very good if you can resolve an early Tower, but problematic if they can maintain a stream of value minions. Post-board they will come ready to fight you with Dispels and artifact removal; be mindful and select lines which minimise the potential tempo hits; they can typically snowball from there. This can mean waiting until you can play Tower and remove a creature immediately, or protect it with a Negate.

    Jace is very strong here, it seems to ultimate most games I draw it.

    The Mirror

    OUT: 2 Whirler Virtuoso, 2 Shock, 2 Harnessed Lightning, 1 Horribly Awry, 1 Incendiary Flow

    IN: 3 Dispel, 1 Release the Gremlins, 1 Natural State, 1 Negate, 2 Tireless Tracker

    Funnily enough there have been quite a few local players asking for our list and then playing it on the weekend, which is very flattering.

    Dispel is the best card in the mirror, which is mostly decided by sequencing decisions around when to tap out and how to tap them out; the player which makes more of these decisions quickly will be significantly advantaged. Jace is particularly strong as once resolved it is virtually impossible to remove and you can set him up with spells on their end-step such as Glimmer of Genius or Torrential Gearhulk.

    Well, that’s it from me in this installment. Hope to see some of you at PPTQs over the following weeks, before well roll into Amonkhet and I become a limited player again. Expect future content to be in that vein.

    Feedback and questions welcome as always – in particular, I would like to know whether you found the sideboarding section useful and whether or not you did, any suggested changes would be particularly helpful.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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