Hello, I am Renato Spinelli (aka Loxodont), and I am here to talk about my favourite Standard deck: Temur Clover. This deck has brought me abundant joy, starting from a top 8 to a local small tournament, and then all the way up to qualifying for the Mythic Invitational with a 10-1 record, with other nice results in between, such as a top 32 at the first MagicFest Online Weekly Championship.
Introduction to Temur Adventures
This deck has always been considered a tier 2 deck, even if it has had great stories of unexpected success, from Aaron Gertler aka littlebeep winning the DreamHack Open to the MagicFest Online Finals victory by Jason Fleurant. So why would a deck capable of winning major tournaments be only tier 2? Well, one of the main reasons is that the deck needs a lot of practice, as it is probably the most versatile deck in term of choices. Basically every card in the deck involves a crucial choice: You can either cast it as an Adventure, as a creature, or both, then it has Fae of Wishes which involves many more possible choices, and, last but not least, it looks like an aggressive midrange deck, but most of the times it wins with a control strategy. It’s not a deck that you can just copy paste and start having success with, so with this guide I would like to give a little help to anyone who is willing to play a fun, interactive, and competitive deck that is not losing anything with the new changes.
Starting with the basics, the deck abuses the Adventure mechanic, with both Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper as card advantage engine. Lucky Clover can lead to some insanely good starts when paired with Fertile Footsteps, giving you access to insane amounts of mana in the mid game and letting you cast Escape to the Wilds or Granted to convert your tempo advantage in card advantage, or just for an unexpected win with a Fling from the sideboard + the Beanstalk Giant half.
The first challenge of the deck comes with the initial hand. Edgewall Innkeeper and Lucky Clover are for sure the most important cards in the deck, but this does not mean that we should treat this as a combo deck and are forced to mulligan into them. On the contrary, any hand with a good curve and all colors of mana is a keep, with a few exceptions in specific matchups. If your hand is very slow and does not have Innkeeper nor Clover, you should probably mulligan. Another crucial part is understanding your role in the game, as the deck plays out very differently based on the matchup, so let’s dive into it, but first let’s have a look at the list.
This is what I would play if I had a tournament tomorrow, but it might change based on the actual metagame:
The list I suggested is to be as open as possible, expecting Nissa decks to be dominant again. If Cycling happens to stay alive, we will need again the Soul-Guide Lantern in the sideboard, and, if Lurrus is still a thing, we can’t get rid of Flame Sweep as I’ve done. With Fires of Invention gone, I feel comfortable in cutting Expansion//Explosion, as the chance of the opponent using Dovin’s Veto on Fling when we try to copy it are higher, and probably it’s not worth the slot. If Rakdos Sacrifice will be the tier 1 deck, I may see playing Scorching Dragonfire maindeck instead of Adventurous Impulse. Unsummon, Mythos of Illuna, Blazing Volley, Aether Gust are all very viable options depending on the metagame. Even Shark Typhoon as an answer to Dream Trawler could be an idea if that card starts to become popular in Azorius Control again. I have also seen Pulse of Murasa and Planewide Celebration played, though I’ve never personally liked these cards as I think they are too slow.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
Mono Red, Gruul and other Non-Sacrifice Aggro Decks
Against an aggressive deck, like Mono Red, you want to stall the game with premium blockers like Fae of Wishes and Lovestruck Beast, and try to sneak some attacks in when you can so you can eventually close out the game. I am expecting Embercleave to be a big player again, so it is very important to play well around that. Trading an early Innkeeper with Scorch Spitter is, most of the times, the correct play as you can delay their Embercleave, and you will eventually have good card advantage even without its help. Another key spot is when they can actually play the cleave: you need to set up for that turn, keeping 2 mana up for Stomp/Petty Theft, and blocking in a way that will leave them with only one creature on which Embercleave will be good, so that you can bounce/kill the creature in response, or sometimes bounce the cleave and kill as many creatures as you can in the process. When they don’t draw the cleave, the matchup is really good, so setting a good trap for the games in which they do is the key to having a good winrate.
Since Fae, in the matchup, is mostly a 2 mana 4 toughness blocker, we will board in every good interactive card that we have in the sideboard and cut some slower stuff. With this list it would be:
|+1 Scorching Dragonfire|
+1 Storm’s Wrath
+1 Redcap Melee
+1 Domri’s Ambush
|-2 Escape to the Wilds|
-2 Beanstalk Giant
This matchup is one of the worst. The key is to keep mayhem devil off the table until we can grab a Grafdigger’s Cage from the sideboard. Unlike against Monored, we really need our Fae for its tutor ability as we’re leaving our most powerful cards in the sideboard.
We have a hard time attacking, as Cauldron Familiar is a great blocker with Oven, and we also need to leave multiple blockers back in case Claim the Firstborn happens. Once Cage is on the battlefield, we can either start attacking and winning a normal game, or bounce back the Fae to fetch Shadowspear and boost our life total. Other good cards to fetch for are Storm’s Wrath/Flame Sweep and Redcap Melee, depending on the board state. Since we will almost always be fetching for Grafdigger’s Cage, we like to board in a bunch of removal spells from the sideboard. With this list I would go:
|+1 Scorching Dragonfire|
+1 Domri’s Ambush
+1 Storm’s Wrath
|-2 Adventurous Impulse|
-1 Escape to the Wilds
Our main plan is to put on pressure, while disrupting them. We can put a stop on their second main phase to bounce Wilderness Rec with Petty Theft to buy an entire turn. We don’t want the match to last too long, because they will eventually find a spot to resolve a good Expansion/Explosion, so we are the aggro deck here. Since we want to counter mostly Wilderness Reclamation, grabbing counterspells from the sideboard isn’t usually very good and I’d rather draw them, and eventually just grab Mystic Repeal and/or Once and Future in games 2/3. To sum it up:
+1 Disdainful Stroke
|-2 Adventurous Impulse|
Against these decks with many counterspells, our goal is to gain advantage even when they counter. Resolving an early Lucky Clover or Edgewall Innkeeper is mostly enough to win if we play properly, and this is the one matchup in which it could be reasonable to be a little greedier with the mulligans looking for those specific cards. Playing properly means that if we have Innkeeper, we want to cast Lovestruck Beast and not Heart’s Desire, so that we still get the card even if they counter our spell and play around Negate. If we just cast creatures with Innkeeper, they will eventually run out of cards and we can then resolve some Escape to the Wilds or Granted. On the other hand, if we have a Clover but not an Innkeeper, we want to cast as many adventures as we can to gain value. Never ever attack with Innkeeper if they have mana open, as a Spectral Sailor or Nightpack Ambusher could… well, ambush you! It’s also a good habit to cast your spells pre-combat in this matchup, so that if they counter and tap out then you can sneak in a few more damage, and to attack first instead only if you want them to cast Nightpack Ambusher because you have an answer to it. Remember that Redcap Melee is not there only against red; it’s a great 1 mana answer for the big wolf, even if it will cost you a land!
+1 Disdainful Stroke
|-1 Escape to the Wilds|
-1 Adventurous Impulse
Bant Ramp and other Nissa Decks
In these matchups the most annoying things they have are planeswalkers, so we really want to keep some board presence to pressure them. Back when Bant was the most popular deck I loved to have the claim the firstborn/fling combo in the side, because it is such a great answer to Uro and Krasis, giving wins out of nowhere. Claim could also function as a 1-mana counter to Nissa, killing her the turn she came out by stealing their land, and switching completely the board to your side. With Fae of Wishes, grabbing mass manipulation is often enough to win because they start to play scared and can’t play many planeswalkers at the same time, so they lose all their tempo while you are free to gain card and tempo advantage and eventually win. Dream Trawler is very scary, so one of the 2 card combos that I like to get with a copied Fae is Disdainful Stroke + Mass Manipulation or Escape to the Wilds, so that I have a interactive card for their best threat and an expensive card to gain massive advantage.
On the draw:
|+1 Negate||-1 Adventurous Impulse|
On the play: No changes.
Surprisingly enough we are the control deck of the matchup; I learned this concept from a guide written a long ago by Littlebeep and I believe it is still true nowadays. It’s very rare to win with just attacking; we win with card advantage and by answering their important threats. Disdainful Stroke is one of the cards that we will wish for most often, and sometimes Shadowspear + Domri’s Ambush can be a way to answer their scary Dream Trawler. Besides Dream Trawler, they don’t have much going for them and need to counter far too many things; they won’t keep up with our card advantage, not even with Yorion.
Sideboard: No changes
Tips and Tricks
When you have Lucky Clover, the copies resolve before the original spell, and if the original spell fizzles (loses its target) or is countered, the creature will not go on adventure. So here is a list of best practices for targeting:
- If you can, choose as first target a permanent they cannot sacrifice or the one that you would like them to sacrifice: for example if you are casting Petty Theft, target Mayhem Devil, and not Cauldron Familiar, with the original spell.
- If your opponent is playing counterspells, choose the less relevant target for the original spell. For example, if you want to get rid of a Teferi on 2 and they have no other permanents, you should target your opponent with Stomp, and Teferi with the copy – that way they won’t both keep Teferi and remove Bonecrusher Giant as a threat for later.
- Sometimes it is more important to be sure to answer a threat than to keep your creature in adventure. For example, if you don’t care about keeping Bonecrusher Giant around but you really need to kill that Nissa on 2, you can target it with both the original spell and the copy so that, even if your opponent has a counterspell, they cannot save it. Choose your battles wisely.
- There is no way to make your Brazen Borrower go on adventure if they have only 1 permanent and you have a lucky clover on the battlefield; doesn’t matter how hard you try. It will always bounce the permanent with the copy and you will lose the target of the original spell.
Some More General Hints
- Fertile Footsteps brings untapped lands into play, so if you have a clover it will basically cost 1 (cost 3 but gives you back 2 untapped lands), and will either break even or generate extra mana with 3 or more clovers. Just keep an eye on the total number of basic lands in the deck.
- If you want to know how much mana you have, you can look at the power of Beanstalk Giant even if it’s in hand or on adventure; it saves you some crucial counting time.
- There are often many many options and it’s a very common mistake to miss lethal when you are choosing which value card to grab with Granted. Always check your opponent’s life total, as Claim the Firstborn + Fling or, if you are playing it, Fling + Expansion can do some degenerate amounts of damage.
- Mass Manipulation has a very intensive mana cost. Keep that in mind in early game when choosing which lands to grab with Fertile Footsteps.
- If they are playing artifact removal, and not counterspells, it may be the best play to not play clover on turn 2 but to keep it for a moment in which you can cast an adventure immediately after it. The same goes for Innkeeper and creature removal.
- If you are casting Granted with Lucky Clover, keep it in mind that they may counter the original spell after you’ve resolved the copy. So get the more important card first, and choose wisely.
Overall, I expect Temur Clover to be a very reasonable choice post-ban, and will definitely give it a try in the last chance qualifiers for the PT. If you want to see some gameplay, follow me on www.twitch.tv/loxodont.