Ivan Floch’s Temur Reclamation Deck Guide: Navigating Around Ikoria Standard
Originally, I wanted to write about Temur Reclamation more than a month ago, after we played it at the Mythic Qualifier. However, in these unusual times, priorities shift really quickly and Reclamation was pushed out of the metagame soon afterwards. Now with Ikoria, it is safe to say it’s back and here to stay, so now feels like a good time to write my thoughts on this more than a month long evolution. I am a little bit surprised to realize that I might not remember all the details I wanted to share originally, and that is probably because this past month feels more like a year. Do not despair though, the updated Temur Reclamation list with a sideboard guide is all good and complete, at the end of this short read.
The Evolution of Temur Reclamation
So, in March, we had two weeks to prepare for the Mythic Qualifier. Stan Cifka and I both decided to put some testing time into it, and even though Ondrej Strasky was not going to play the tournament (true MPL elitist), we knew he was planning to play plenty of Arena anyway, as he always does. In the end, it was he who was first on Temur Reclamation, and he wears the fact that we played his 60 card maindeck like a badge of honor. But, first things first.
So, we were at the point where Azorius Control was getting pushed out of the metagame, Temur Adventures was the new hot thing, and we were looking for what to do next. First week, Stan built a new adaptation of Adventures which cut Red from the deck entirely, and felt very strongly that we should play it in the Mythic Qualifier. And yes, for the first seven days, the deck worked very well. It didn’t feel better than other tier 1 decks but it had the extra bonus of being unusual and unknown, which always counts for something, so we thought we had a deck. However, two weeks is too long on MTG Arena nowadays.
In the second week, right before Mythic Qualifier, everything had changed. The main reason for it was the emergence of Rakdos Sacrifice as an answer to Temur Adventures; our matchup versus against it was even worse. And since Rakdos Sacrifice quickly became the most played deck, our deck went from very good to very bad rather quickly, and we went back to the drawing board. Luckily, Temur Reclamation, which was pushed out of the metagame before, had been on our radar at this point and we rightfully suspected it benefited from Adventures bullying Azorius Control, at least for the time being. Ondrej was already on it, running very hot on the Arena ladder, giving us proud updates after every won match; sometimes in between games as well. Indeed, the deck felt very well positioned. Little tweak here and there, then Stan updated sideboard plans for the changed metagame and, thinking this is the best we can do for this particular tournament, we were locked in. This time we were right and I got lucky, picking up my tenth and final win against another Temur Reclamation player and thus qualifying for the Mythic Invitational that was originally scheduled for July. Now I am just hoping it will ever happen!
The list we played for reference:
Temur Reclamation by Ivan Floch – Ikoria Mythic Qualifier #2 – 10-1 Record
Soon after the Mythic Qualifier, Temur Reclamation was pushed out of the metagame, again.
There are two things to take out from our testing here. First, MTG Arena moves really quickly now and it sort of reminds me of a time when I used to play Hearthstone a little a few years back. There, the metagame was shifting so fast that it basically did a complete cycle in just a few days. The best way to figure it out was to analyze data and try to be two days ahead of everybody else. Personally, I enjoy Magic when I test and figure things myself while playing alone or in a small group with my friends; I like when people who do that well are rewarded for their efforts in tournaments. The faster things move, the more paranoid I am about installing deck-trackers and about someone having access to additional data, but that is a discussion for another day I guess.
Second thing to take from our Temur Reclamation testing is that it was a pure metagame call. It was really good for about two weeks which coincided with the Mythic Qualifier, and it was a solid deck even after that, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone trying to play the best deck possible. It just did not have tools to consistently deal with Teferi, Time Raveler and Teferi’s support cast. Wilderness Reclamation needed the rest of the metagame to take care of this problem, like Temur Adventures did at the beginning of our testing. Once Teferi decks returned, Reclamation took a step back. Until now, that is.
With Ikoria, we got Shark Typhoon and that card is the real deal. What’s the deck that can utilize X spells the best? You guessed it, Temur Reclamation. The obvious reasons are that you can cycle out bigger flying shark tokens using Reclamation mana than other decks, or you can hard cast it and create tokens on the same turn out of it with the Reclamation untap. The less obvious reason is how it softens the Teferi, Time Raveler problem for the deck. Not only do sharks allow you to use mana efficiently under Teferi, they also threaten to kill Teferi and unlock your Wilderness Reclamation and the rest of your spells. The whole Shark Typhoon-Teferi interaction is beautiful, and it goes both ways; they both can be answered by the other, depending how they are played and supported. If you play Teferi first into a lot of open mana you can be punished by a shark token at the end of turn but, if you don’t, you might fall behind from not getting advantage out of your planeswalkers or using your mana well. If you cycle your Shark-nado first, your opponent can play Teferi and bounce it, but if you don’t, you might miss your opportunity to put pressure on your opponent. I don’t know whether Shark Typhoon was designed with Teferi, Time Raveler in mind or it’s just a coincidence, but I love it and if it’s on purpose then props to anyone who designed it this way. Either way, Shark-nado is a great addition for Temur Reclamation, and whoever puts less than four copies into their list is making a mistake, in my humble opinion. If it still seems greedy to you, consider this: greedy cards are ones that give you a lot of power, usually for a lot of mana, but in general are liabilities early or against aggressive strategies in general. I don’t think Shark Typhoon is a liability; it has an inexpensive cycling mode and a lot of versatility. Creating a chump blocker or trading with X/1s and drawing a card is a justifiable use of mana; making a 2/2 or 3/3 to ambush smaller creatures is fine too. Having these options means there is no big downside to adding more power with more copies of Shark Typhoons and therefore, it’s not a greedy card.
This past weekend, I participated in MagicFest Online and managed to top 8, as did a couple of other Temur Rec players. The list I ran:
Temur Reclamation by Ivan Floch – MagicFest Online Season 2 Week 1 Weekly Championship (5th)
I could talk about reasoning behind my card choices and numbers for hours, but since this is not yet the final list and because by now, all standard players should know what this deck does, I will only touch on a few interesting, at least to me, deck building and playing concepts that will also apply in the final version and sideboard guide.
- Wilt is a sweet disenchant effect that I thought would be good enough in the mirror match and against Fires of Invention. I thought cycling makes up for this kind of effect being somewhat situational. But the truth is that, against Fires, it’s not the best trade when they get another free spell out of this exchange and in the mirror match, I would prefer having another Negate anyway.
- Most lists run either Nightpack Ambusher or Legion Warboss in their 75, possibly both. I find out that playing those early can easily win games but their effectiveness diminishes rather quickly. Played after turn 5, they become quite bad and are also dominated by flying sharks. I think I would prefer having cards that are good all the way. Namely in the mirror match, after a short window at the beginning of each game, the only cards that matter anymore are your big spells and counterspells. Drawing a creature at that point can easily result in losing the counter war through mana disadvantage, which leads to your opponent resolving a big Explosion and ending the game immediately.That being said, if you play with open decklists like I did this weekend, I might still recommend one or two Legion Warbosses in sideboard, just to keep your opponents honest.
- Absence of Ketria Triome. I had a lot of discussions and questions about my mana base, specifically as to why I did not run the Temur triland. Simple. I like to scry. I think the deck has a good enough colored mana base and scrying is better than having a few extra colored mana symbols, having a 3 mana cycling option, or having an extra Island for Castle Vantress. A scryland is usually the best land to drop out of turn two Growth Spiral or turn three Uro. However, my confidence here is very low. I think the best ideas are often the ones everybody says are wrong and people who have those ideas are visionaries. That being said, if everybody tells me I am wrong, it might be because I am. I do not know where I was going with this when I started typing it, but I realize now that probability-wise, I am more likely a fool than a visionary. Therefore, I am going to put a couple of Ketria Triome lands into my current list.
Keeping track of library size can be useful in two situations:
- Your opponent’s life total is higher than the total number of cards in your library.
- Your opponent’s life total is out of Explosion reach, but the total number of cards in their library is not.
Explosion can make your opponent draw cards instead of you, which might not be intuitive, but comes in handy in either of these situations. Deck them or make sure you don’t deck yourself while dealing lethal points of damage.
Finally, the current version that I just copied from my MTGA account:
Updated Temur Reclamation by Ivan Floch
Thassa’s Intervention and Chemister’s Insight are flex slots for the deck; feel free to switch them around however you feel like, but personally, I like to have at least one Intervention and Insight can be quite slow sometimes. The mix of burn spells can also be tweaked, but we need to have some. I still prefer to open with Storm’s Wrath as it is more flexible than Flame Sweep, and deals damage to planeswalkers as well creatures; Flame Sweep is more efficient against Lurrus decks.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
Lurrus and Obosh (Rakdos, Orzhov, Mono Black)
|3 Mystical Dispute|
1 Chemister’s Insight
1 Thassa’s Intervention
|1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath|
1 Scorching Dragonfire
3 Flame Sweep
Burn spells help us to keep a healthy life total early and Uro is the best card to follow them up with. Their deck has good reach with graveyard shenanigans, and games often do not end with us killing the first few creatures. Gaining three life over and over is a good way to deal with their reach, and a big Explosion does not care much about how resilient their deck can be. Be careful about Claim the Firstborn if they have it; maybe don’t make too big a shark if you don’t need to. Or sometimes consider playing another Uro from hand instead of one from graveyard or wait with Uro until you’re ready to chump block your own 6/6 with a flying baby shark.
Keeping Fires of Invention off the board is generally a good idea and Aether Gust helps with that. Without Fires, their expensive cards trade down on mana or card advantage; if the game comes to those trades, we should be fine. Aether Gust also helps to deal with Legion Warboss efficiently, a card they often have multiple copies of in their sideboard now, as they can’t play Robber of the Rich without giving up on Keruga, the Macrosage. Warboss is more dangerous on play; if they are on draw, Mystical Dispute is quick enough to catch it too.
Shark Typhoon really shines in this matchup as it can both ambush their creatures or deal with their Teferi.
Bant Yorion (or similar control decks)
|1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath|
2 Scorching Dragonfire
2 Storm’s Wrath
1 Wilderness Reclamation
|1 Mystical Dispute|
1 Chemister’s Insight
Before Ikoria, these used to be the worst matchups. Maybe the format can still develop in the same way, but it will hardly ever be as bad as it used to be and, for now, I am actually quite happy with how these games play out from Temur Rec’s perspective. Control decks are good at stopping Wilderness Reclamation postboard with counterspells, Teferi and Elspeth Conquers Death. However, in order for them to win, they need to push their advantage with planeswalkers or with some other way to generate more cards. If both decks just play a land go style of game, then at some point, Explosion becomes too dangerous and will threaten to end games any time it resolves, making it very hard for them to tap out into anything. Our sharks should be also more dangerous than theirs, if not for any other reason, than because statistically we should have more lands in play and draw Shark-nado more often as they play an 80-card deck.
Consider when to be proactive and play Wilderness Reclamation, and when to wait with it. Sometimes it is good to push and untap into counterspell, and then into Explosion. Sometimes throwing it in there and giving their Elspeth Conquers Death or Knight of Autumn a good target can be a losing move. Pick your battles.
|2 Scorching Dragonfire|
2 Storm’s Wrath
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
2 Wilderness Reclamation
1 Mountain (on the draw)
|2 Aether Gust (3 on the play)|
1 Mystical Dispute
1 Chemister’s Insight
In general, the plan is to make sure we resolve Explosion first and games usually snowball after that. If making an Explosion means our opponent gets an opportunity to make an Explosion of their own, that is fine as long as our Explosion was bigger.
Postboard, the value of Aether Gust really varies depending on the version. If Temur Reclamation lists and sideboard plans become more like mine, Aether Gust becomes quite weak as it is all about counterspells and sharks. If people play Ambushers, Legion Warbosses, and a full set of Wilderness Reclamation postboard then Aether Gust will be still quite good; sideboard based on what you expect.
Tapping out into anything can be quite dangerous, as they can punish you with a counterspell and then untap and resolve Wilderness Reclamation. As such, Wilderness Reclamation, a 4 mana sorcery, is both a liability and a way to punish your opponent; we don’t want all four copies but we don’t want zero either.
There is one thing that might be good to tap into and that is Shifting Ceratops out of the board. I haven’t had a chance to test it yet and I can’t with a good conscience recommend it without trying it first; however it certainly does look quite good on paper against my own sideboard plan. There is nothing outside of Aether Gust that interacts well with Ceratops, and flying sharks are also blue. If you decide to give it a try and test it after reading this, maybe let me know how it went.
The current Standard format is young and there will be more important matchups to cover later on. For now, if you face anything unexpected, the good rule of thumb is to board counters in for burn spells against slow decks and burn spells in for counterspells against fast creature decks, not the other way around.
And that’s all I know about Temur Reclamation. Magic is moving fast and by the time you read this, Temur Rec might not be the dominant deck anymore, but I am confident it will not completely disappear this time around. Go battle on the MTGA ladder and make me proud!
Thanks for reading,