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Titan of Industry Art by Lucas Staniec

Explorer Temur Transmogrify Deck Guide: The Black Horse of World Championships

Temur Transmogrify was the breakout Explorer deck from the World Championship and who better to cover it than Explorer expert, Skura! Find out how to navigate Explorer's new combo/midrange deck, how to board, and general best practices!

At Worlds XXVIII, we saw three formats – Standard, Explorer, and Limited. The Explorer meta was relatively diverse. We saw a large proportion of Greasefang, Sacrifice, and Spirits, which was to be expected. However, the most interesting deck to be represented in four copies was Temur Transmogrify which we hadn’t seen that much before.

It’s a mix between midrange and combo. It does want to get a quick Titan of Industry online which it can accomplish as soon as turn three, but it doesn’t need to. A fast Titan will dominate most boards as a 7/7 reach trampler and a 4/4 Rhino are to be reckoned with and there are few removal spell that can actually contain it which makes the combo powerful. Against non-interactive decks, this shell gets on the board very fast and kills in two combat steps. However, it also has a deep reactive angle with over a dozen interactive spells main deck.

Let’s see what individual cards do in the deck.

Temur Transmogrify
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $696.99
Explorer
best of 3
6 mythic
55 rare
2 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Planeswalkers (3)
Creatures (3)
Instants (12)
3
Spell Pierce
$0.75
2
Voltage Surge
$0.50
1
Abrade
$0.25
4
Fire Prophecy
$1.00
2
Make Disappear
$1.38
Sorceries (4)
4
Transmogrify
$1.96
Artifacts (5)
Enchantments (18)
4
Omen of the Sea
$1.00
2
The Akroan War
$0.70
4
Shark Typhoon
$43.96
80 Cards
$613.92
Sideboard
2
Hornet Queen
$0.98
2
Abrade
$0.50
1
Fry
$0.35
1
Lazotep Plating
$0.69
2
Aether Gust
$0.98
2
Soul Sear
$0.70
1
The Akroan War
$0.35
15 Cards
$10.77

Deck Tech

Let’s start off with the main pay-off in the deck.

It’s arguably one of the strongest threats in the entire format. Being a 7/7 makes it nigh-unkillable in the format where you mostly see damage-based spells like Stomp or Play with Fire or cards like Fatal Push. On top of that, it has two relevant keywords – Trample and Reach. They serve two roles. First, trample makes it so that the opponents cannot chump it forever and it actually pushes damage through. Second, reach allows you to stabilise in difficult games. While clearly it roadblocks the board, flying creatures could otherwise be quite annoying to deal with. However, thanks to reach, that’s not the case and you are sure nothing can push through.

In addition to all the goodness you’re getting, there is even more. It’s enter-the-battlefield trigger gives you a choice of two of the four mentioned options:

  1. Destroy target artifact or enchantment – This is particularly relevant against miscellaneous permanents like Parhellion II, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Leyline Binding, or Witch's Oven. Always try to assess whether there is something worth destroying. Still, don’t kill something because you can. Destroying Leyline Binding to free up your Omen of the Sea won’t be very effective but freeing up Esika's Chariot would be much better.
  2. Target player gains 5 life – I like this mode when you’re on the back foot and the opponent is putting pressure on you. Those will be the games when you top deck an Indomitable Creativity effect, get Titan and try to work out a strategy from there, which usually involves staying alive. Don’t underestimate gaining life; the longer the game goes, the more favoured you’re going to be thanks to Yorion, Sky Nomad and multiple endgame effects.
  3. Create a 4/4 green Rhino Warrior creature token – This is usually my default choice. Cheating 11 power combined into play is going to dominate most board states. Rhino with Titan close the game in two attacks and I like converting advantages into actual wins.
  4. Put a shield counter on a creature you control – It’s my mode of choice when I actually expect my opponent to have a removal spell from Titan or if I am expecting a strong attack from the opponent and want to make profitable blocks e.g. they’ve got a 7/7 Shark Typhoon token.

This is the namesake combo piece. In practice, it allows you to exile your own creature token to put the aforementioned Titan of Industry into play. I tend to think of such effects as one-card combos, as in most games, you’re going to just play out the game normally and cast Transmogrify if an opportunity comes up. There isn’t even much of a deck building cost to it. You need a payoff (Titan of Industry) and token makers, but there are so many powerful cards which make tokens, incidentally or otherwise, that you don’t even feel like it’s one of the prerequisites for the deck.

The other take on the same effect. Lukka, Coppercoat Outcasts minus two ability does the same thing as Transmogrify. It’s more expensive, so deckbuilding-wise, Transmogrify gets the priority of being played in higher quantity. Everything I said above applies here.

In addition, it’s a planeswalker which stays on the battlefield which works better in longer games. As it starts on five loyalty, you could have games where you use its Transmogrify effect two turns in a row and still keep it alive! Not only does it bring Titan of Industrywhich is a must-answer threat, but it itself is a must-answer threat.

It’s plus one will be largely irrelevant as there are only three creatures in the deck and you don’t want to have to cast them. I also doubt you will ever be able to or want to use the ultimate. However, in those rare games where you run out of Titans, you might want to go up to the ultimate and kill off the opp with it. After all, Shark Typhoon tokens still have power and toughness.

The most efficient on-stack answer a deck could play. I adore its inclusion and the fact that as many as three copies are in this list. It allows you to play through opposing countermagic and really mess up opponents’ multispelling. It cleanly answers Fable of the Mirror-Breaker which is hugely important and tempo-positive at that. It punishes opponents tapping out while not tying up too much mana for you.

Another piece of countermagic. Make Disappear can counter creatures which is mainly used to relieve pressure off you to have more time to set up. There might be games where you take advantage of the casualty mechanic, so always double check whether you can and want to use it. Tokens off Shark Typhoon, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Esika's Chariot, Rhino Warrior, and Careful Cultivation can all enable it. Moreover, nobody expects two-mana counterspells in Explorer, especially from a non-control deck. I can assure you that you will catch multiple people off guard with this tech.

If you can either Spell Pierce or Make Disappear a spell, make the final choice based on the curve. If the next turn you can deploy the next threat and have only one mana left, Make Disappear now. On top of that, assess which card will have more value if you hold it for later and that will depend on the types of cards they play, mana available, and if you can turn on casualty.

Early game removal. In this deck, it’s the best cheap spell as you will find yourself paying the additional cost often enough, at which point it’s an almost broken piece of removal. You can sacrifice Treasure tokens, Courier's Briefcase, and Esika's Chariot.

While you can probably think of better options for this slot, its second and third lines of text make it the best inclusion in this shell. Most often, you’ll bottom the worst card in hand to get closer to drawing Transmogrify, bottom a redundant copy of Transmo effect, or bottom Titan of Industryso that it’s in the deck to be later cascaded into. As far as I’m concerned, very infrequently will you opt against putting anything back.

Its presence in the deck justifies playing other fringe effects which you can always bottom, be it Spell Pierce against a creature deck or Voltage Surge against control.

This vehicle does a lot for the deck. It’s an artifact to turn on Voltage Surge, makes tokens to be sacrificed to Make Disappear or Transmogrify, is a mid-game threat, goes wide, copies Rhino tokens – all in one card. It truly bolsters your fair plan and punishes opponents for holding up interaction to break up the combo.

The main purpose of Omen of the Sea is card selection. Early in the game, if nothing is happening and you have nothing to interact with, it’s a perfect window to resolve Omen and dig deeper into the deck. You won’t always want to try to find Transmogrify – sometimes you’d rather find an interactive piece to impede the opponent id est against Greasefang.

Secretly one of the strongest cards in the deck. You don’t really care about its hard cast mode, but rather the channel ability. If you channel it on turn two, on turn three you can tap it for mana, tap three lands and immediately cast Transmogrify on the Monk token. It results in you putting Titan of Industry on turn three which is absolutely backbreaking, especially on the play. It gives the deck the ability to win seemingly out of nowhere from an empty board as the opponent passing the turn might face end step token, untap, Transmo.

This is probably the best card in Explorer, Pioneer, and is so strong that is seeing extensive play in Modern. It literally does everything that this deck would want.

  1. First chapter – makes a token that can be used for Transmogrify. Upon attacks makes Treasure tokens which ramp you or can be used as Transmogrify targets.
  2. Second chapter – card filtering. You can ditch dead removal spells or redundant combo pieces.
  3. Third chapter – Reflection of Kiki Jiki can copy Titan of Industry resulting in you getting multiple creatures, triggers, and overall board domination. If left unattended, you can keep copying Titan turn after turn. Reflection itself can also be used as Transmo fodder.

Generically good token maker. It cycles so you get a bit deeper into the deck, the token flies which can be relevant in killing off opposing Planeswalkers or blocking, and if hard cast it threatens a real clock. Basically, the whole deck would trigger Shark Typhoon. If you make a, say, 6/6 Shark, not only does it clock the opponent really fast, but can also be copied with Reflection of Kiki Jiki.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Hornet Queen Amokhet Remastered
Hornet Queen Art by Jonathon Kuo

Rakdos Midrange

INOUT
+2 Hornet Queen-2 The Akroan War

This is our desired match-up. Rakdos has really difficult time grinding through Titan of Industry paired with the Rhino Warrior, especially if we are able to produce multiples. Even if they are able to prolong the game, there is a looming threat of Yorion, Sky Nomad blinking our Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Omen of the Sea, and Esika's Chariot, which is not something they can really come back from.

Actually comboing off might be tough sometimes as a single Fatal Push hold us back, but the sheer potential for the combo makes them have to hold it up at all times. It further means that they might not tap out for Liliana of the Veil or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. If they do, though, we’ll cast Transmogrify and probably win.

Last but not least, if they hold up Fatal Push specifically by holding up one black mana, Spell Pierce can get them good.

Azorius Control

INOUT
+2 Mystical Dispute-1 Abrade
+1 Fry-2 Voltage Surge
+2 Hornet Queen-2 The Akroan War

In this matchup, we have to play a bit more smart as we don’t want to walk into March of Otherworldly Light targeting our tokens. Additionally, they can always cast a mass removal spell to sweep the board. We have to play a bit more of a positional game, chipping away with tokens, holding up countermagic.

The best spots are when you resolve Esika's Chariot, it itself forces a mass removal, and then we play Transmogrify, preferably Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. Once they’ve used the first mass removal, we can hold them against the ropes by demanding another Wrath of God every turn.

Humans

INOUT
+2 Abrade-3 Spell Pierce
+1 Fry-2 Make Disappear
+2 Soul Sear

Game one we don’t want to draw Spell Pierce or Make Disappear. Post-board, however, it feels like a pretty good matchup as far as I’m concerned. They can’t ever win through Hornet Queen, Titan of Industry stabilises the game very well, we have a multitude of removal spells, and tokens to chump with. On top of that, they cannot really interact with our Transmogrify.

Don’t keep too slow hands and you should be good.

Greasefang

INOUT
+2 Abrade-3 Spell Pierce
+1 Soul-Guide Lantern-2 The Akroan War
+1 Fry-1 Omen of the Sea
+2 Soul Sear

In my opinion, it’s a pretty good matchup. If both of us do our thing, our Titan of Industry blocks their Parhelion II and the tokens. Post-board, we also have access to around 15 pieces of interaction that disrupt their combo. While they can also disrupt ours with Fatal Push, a fair prolonged game favours us. Furthermore, we are not punished by holding up mana as we can play Omen of the Sea, Shark Typhoon or Careful Cultivation.

Mono Blue Spirits

INOUT
+2 Abrade-3 Spell Pierce
+1 Fry-2 Transmogrify
+2 Mystical Dispute-2 Titan of Industry
+2 Hornet Queen

This is the one tricky matchup. If we want to win, we have to draw the efficient subset of cards and not the 3+ mana spells. It’s also going to be tough to squeeze through the combo when they are holding up Spell Pierce and other pieces of countermagic. It’s a really tough one. Keep efficient, low-to-the-ground hands.

Tips and Tricks

Shark Typhoon Art by Caio Monteiro
Shark Typhoon Art by Caio Monteiro
  • If you want to dig as deep as possible with Omen of the Sea, you can play it and hold priority with its own trigger on the stack. Then, you use the sacrifice ability to Scry 2 before you resolve Scry 2 and draw. This way you can go even five cards deep.
  • There might be situations when it’s correct to hardcast Careful Cultivation – be it for the stats buff or ramp.
  • You might want to decline using the second chapter’s ability of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. It may happen if you have one card in hand and it’s Transmogrify, for example.
  • The third chapter of The Akroan War is symmetrical, but in practice, it won’t really affect you as it goes off in the main phase, after you’ve untapped. However, if you stole something with a tap ability, you can use it before the third chapter resolves to kill it.
  • If you have nothing going on, you may want to cash in your Shark Typhoon cycle for x=0 just to draw a fresh card.
  • Esika's Chariot can copy any token, not just the Cats – Treasure, Food, Rhino Warrior, etc.
  • Thanks to Treasure tokens you can actually use Courier's Briefcase last ability to draw three cards.
  • Transmogrify can be used on an opponent’s creature as a removal spell. While they will get the effect of putting a different threat into play, you might have to hope it’s going to be a worse creature than the one exiled.
  • Always be mindful of what creatures you side in as it will affect the Transmogrify hits. If you side in Hornet Queen, but don’t side out Titan of Industry, you never know which you’ll get.
  • It may be relevant to remember what you’ve bottomed with scry after a mulligan and/or Fire Prophecy . For example, if you’ve sided in Hornet Queen, but you’ve bottomed it with Fire Prophecy, you know for a fact that you’ll hit Titan of Industry on your Transmogrify.
  • Rhino token does not have trample!

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Skura
Skura

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

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