Temur Adventures in Best-of-One (Bo1): Tilting at Windmills
The Adventure mechanic is possibly the most flavor rich mechanic that Wizards has ever come up with; personally, it always reminds me of the tale of Don Quixote, the delusional Spanish knight dreamed up by Miguel Cervantes. Don Quixote was the tale where I learned what a quest was a child, so quests always remind me of the ridiculous Man of La Mancha. Aside from being a lot of fun, the Adventure mechanic has proven immensely powerful when exploiting its obvious payoffs, Edgewall Innkeeper and Lucky Clover. Today, I’m going to take a look at optimizing Temur Adventures for use in the Arena best-of-one format.
Temur Adventures soared to prominence recently when it wrecked the competition at DreamHack Anaheim. In fact, the presence of Temur Adventures in the metagame has driven the previously powerful Azorius Control almost completely out, with the meta shifting to Bant Control. Temur Adventures can be a challenging deck to play though; there are a lot of options and the decision trees aren’t always clear. One of the resulting challenges is that roping out can be a real risk for the unfamiliar.
Most decklists found online are geared towards the traditional Best of Three format but we recognize that the hugely popular Bo1 format has some different needs and considerations. There are three key factors that I’ve identified in looking at a Bo1 deck vs a Bo3 deck, No sideboarding, Hand Smoothing, a different metagame. I went into depth a bit on those factors previously, so I won’t repeat myself, but you can read about them here.
What is Temur Adventures?
Temur Adventures is a deck that looks to abuse the Adventure mechanic in an incredibly synergistic way. One of the strengths of this deck in Bo1 is that it is also able to abuse the no sideboard aspect of the format. Temur Adventures is still able to grab cards from its sideboard, frequently multiple cards.
The Adventure mechanic is an ability exclusive to creatures from Throne of Eldraine. Instead of casting the creature straight from your hand, you have the option of casting it first as an instant or sorcery to gain a separate effect, and exiling the creature (sending it on an adventure!), then you may cast the creature spell from exile later on. This turns every creature with the Adventure ability into basically two spells, doubling your options during play.
This is not a deck that is going to surge across the battlefield and slay your opponent. If you get a T4 win, it’s probably because your opponent looked at the writing on the wall and decided to save themselves a slow painful death. It does have some combo elements to it with the synergy it builds between cards, but it isn’t going to combo off with some crazy combination. While it does also have some control flavor to it with how it manipulates the opponent’s board, it’s not a control deck. At its core, this Temur Adventures build is a midrange deck that focuses on creating more value and card advantage than your opponent can keep up with.
In some cases, the finisher may not even be in the 60 card main deck as the Granted adventure attached to Fae of Wishes allows you to retrieve a non-creature spell from your sideboard. This is how the deck abuses the no sideboard limitation of Bo1, you have a 15 card toolbox to grab creatures from to suit your particular matchup, a toolbox your opponent probably doesn’t have.
Combined with the ability to manipulate your opponent’s board with Adventures and generate a huge board of your own through the returned creatures, your opponent finds themselves overwhelmed and unable to match up to the quantity of threats you’ve brought to bear.
Let’s get to the decklist!
Decklist and Card Choices
I’ve messed with this decklist a lot, and there are a number of ways it can work well. The core of the deck is having Edgewall Innkeeper and Lucky Clover; these are the engines that make the deck work and will likely be the big targets your opponents will go after. Hopefully you can churn through the deck fast enough that you can replenish them if they get knocked off the board; there isn’t much in this build to actively protect them.
Note that if you start duplicating spells with Clover, you have to resolve the original version of the spell or it will land in your graveyard instead of going on the Adventure. If you don’t have a legal target for the spell, either because the target was removed by a copied version of the spell that resolved first. For instance if your opponent has only one non-land permanent in play and you cast Petty Theft with Lucky Clover in play, you’ll pick the target for the original spell, then Clover will trigger and create a copy. You’ll have to pick a target with that copy and the only target available is the permanent you already targeted. That copy resolves first and removes the target from play. When the original version of the spell finally resolves, the target is gone and your spell fails. Into the graveyard it goes.
The fuel that makes this deck go is the adventure creatures themselves. Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp is one of the most ubiquitous red cards in Standard; you’ll find it in pretty much any red build from RDW to Jeskai Fires. Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft is almost as potent; just don’t forget that Petty Theft can’t bounce something under your control, it has to be a nonland permanent under your opponent’s control. Lovestruck Beast // Heart’s Desire is a huge impediment to any aggro deck. Beanstalk Giant // Fertile Footsteps doubles as ramp and finisher; Fertile Footsteps on T3 following a T2 Clover will give you the sort of mana edge your opponent may never be able to catch up to. Finally, Fae of Wishes // Granted gives you access to all the silver bullets in your sideboard that you can fetch for the right occasion to accrue maximum advantage.
These 20 creatures, along with Innkeeper and Clover, represent a core of 28 cards you probably won’t want to mess with too much.
With the mana curve in this deck, the card advantage you get from the Adventure mechanic and from Edgewall Innkeeper, and the ability to double or even triple up the Fertile Footsteps adventure, this is a deck that wants a lot of land. I’ve had good results playing it with 24 or 25 lands, but I prefer it at 26. 27 is the typical count in B03; Smoothing makes it easier to shave a land or two from this build, depending on how aggressive you are at mulliganing. With Clover being so critical to the success of this deck, I prefer to sit at 26 and rarely worry about my land count.
After accounting for the 54 lands and core adventure spells, you have 6 spots to fill. I like Arboreal Grazer for additional ramp in two of those slots; it also helps to slow down the omnipresent RDW decks. Escape to the Wilds takes two more spots, making for a fantastic T4 play following T2 Clover and T3 Fertile Footsteps. Do yourself a favor and don’t play a land before casting Escape if you can avoid it; that way you can play two from those exiled.
For the last two slots, I’ve messed around with a lot of possibilities. Additional Escapes are effective and a fairly safe approach. The Great Henge plays beautifully with Lovestruck Beast, adding ramp, card draw, and lifegain. Whirlwind Denial works really well too if you want to think out of the box, as your opponent will rarely see the counter coming and there’s often a good opportunity to shoot down not just a spell but also an ability or trigger e.g. vs Hydroid Krasis, which is basically the dream, but Anax and a Steam-kin trigger is more common. With this build, I decided to steal a card from the Simic Ramp book and use Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Uro provides lifegain, mana ramp, card draw, and a big beefy body if you need it. It’s such a strong card that playing just two is hard to do. In this build you’re not going to escape Uro super early as the Adventures do slow down the graveyard building, but it brings really incredible value later in the game and can restart your value engine almost single-handedly especially if you run into a board wipe.
With a full playset of Fae of Wishes, your sideboard is going to be a valuable resource with this deck. Sometimes merely casting Granted with Clover out will get an opponent to concede. Remember, they can’t even see your sideboard, they have no idea what’s there that you might grab until you grab it. Just don’t put any creatures in this sideboard; Granted won’t let you grab them.
There are three planeswalkers in here, and I don’t think they need much explanation. Nissa Who Shakes the World is the second best planeswalker in the format after the much loved and hated Teferi, Time Raveler and has great synergy in this deck. Chandra, Awakened Inferno provides a sweeper, some direct damage, and a clock that can’t be disrupted with her +2 ability. Karn, The Great Creator gives you more sideboard access and the ability to bring back an exiled Lucky Clover or shut down troublesome opposing artifacts like Witch’s Oven or Embercleave (once removed from the creature it was put on).
Speaking of Karn, there are four artifacts in the sideboard. The Great Henge pretty much speaks for itself, as does Sorcerous Spyglass which is as useful a sideboard card as you’ll find. Spyglass brings Teferi, Nissa, or any other planeswalker right down to earth (keep in mind the passive ability still works). It also disrupts Witch’s Oven, Grafdigger’s Cage also disrupts Cauldron Familiar, but is better suited to pinning down Uro in Bant decks or Kroxa in some of the Rakdos Sacrifice builds, both of which are becoming more common. There’s also a subset of Mono-red that plays Phoenix of Ash that the cage can help against as well for pretty minimal mana investment, but there are more effective tools against mono-red if you have the mana. Shadowspear is a card I have simply loved lately and casting it has resulted in a lot of scoops by my opponent, especially in combination with Beanstalk Giant. Jeskai Fires and Bant Control are both running Dream Trawler frequently, and the Shadowspear is good enough against aggro that it might be worth just maindecking one.
Storm’s Wrath and Underworld Fires are in for aggro hate, with Underworld Fires being a great cheap answer to RDW. Expansion//Explosion makes for a solid win condition to dump all that mana into, as does Mass Manipulation. Return to Nature is as good a targeted hate card as you’ll find; Mystic Repeal is much narrower, but cheaper and just as fast. All the enchantments in Theros combined with the still strong presence of Fires of Invention make this potent. Don’t forget this can remove any gods that land on the battlefield as well (Hello Heliod… Goodbye Heliod!), something Return to Nature can’t do.
Finally, Once and Future and Planewide Celebration provide some recursion and additional utility when you need them.
With a bag of tricks this broad, I’ve never found myself without a solution to the current board state. A non-damage based sweeper would be really nice to have, but just doesn’t fit within the Temur colors unfortunately.
What I didn’t include in this sideboard is a lot of the countermagic you’ll find in the Bo3 builds, they lose a lot of potency when your opponent can see them coming. I opened my testing with them and just didn’t ever find myself grabbing them with Granted. Those spells are proven in Bo3, but in Bo1 they just don’t have as much impact. If I were to include any of the countermagic, it would be an Aether Gust in place of Planewide Celebration for use against RDW. I also didn’t include an additional copy of Escape to the Wilds in my final build because when it was in the sideboard during playtesting, I never found myself grabbing it with Granted, Granted into Escape is a lot of mana to invest without any certainty of a solution or improvement to your current board state. If you feel strongly about a particular sideboard card, I’d pull Planewide Celebration first.
Matchups: Temur Adventures versus…
This is a great matchup for this deck, assuming you get a Clover, and even if not Lovestruck Beast and Arboreal Grazer can slow aggro down in a hurry. Aggro is gonna do what Aggro is gonna do, which is drop threat after threat and finish you with an Embercleave. With RDW, they’re going to be hoping they can get to you before you drop a big enough creature that they can’t get through. Gruul will be a bit slower, but more able to power through you and Shifting Ceratops will limit your options if they’re playing it. Skipping Heart’s Desire on Lovestruck Beast is frequently going to be a necessary play against RDW, though truth be told, I’ve rarely swung for lethal with the deck against aggro; more commonly the opponent scoops facing your overwhelming board. Kill off the Steam-kin as fast as you can, or bounce them right before they get that third counter with Petty Theft. Hold onto an answer for Embercleave if you can.
Fires is basically a combo deck, so this matchup depends more on who can get their engine going better and faster. In general I think that favors Temur Adventures but in my game tracking I came in a game under .500. Fires is looking to clear early threats with Deafening Clarion, which will take out a good chunk of your creatures; it stops shy of Lovestruck Beast, but watch out for the use of Stomp to finish him off. Then it breaks out Fires of Invention and starts dropping Cavaliers on you faster than you can handle. Keep Fires of Invention off the board as best you can and don’t sit on Fae of Wishes as a locker, you’ll likely need it if they are playing Cavalier of Gales. There isn’t a good sweeper for Jeskai’s creatures; being able to bring your own big nasties is your strongest bet. Dream Trawler can be a challenge if you can’t get Shadowspear out fast enough; if Trawler starts seeing a larger share of the Bo1 metagame, Shadowspear should become a maindeck card. I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t right now anyways due to its effectiveness against aggro.
Here we have what is basically the child of Simic Ramp and Azorius Control and it’s out for blood because Temur Adventures killed its daddy. Bant ramps up fast with Uro and Growth Spiral and is basically a collection of the best cards in the format, with Niss and Teferi joining the party as well, and either animated lands, Hydroid Krasis, or Uro as a finisher. This deck can beat you to the mana punch, and do so incredibly quickly. Aside from some Aether Gust’s you’re probably not going to see any countermagic in this deck, this is not a passive deck that waits for you to try to do what you want and then says “Nope!” Considering Bant Ramp rose to prominence in part as a response to Temur Adventures, it’s not surprising that this is a tough matchup. That said, I think the ramp aspect of Uro in this deck takes it closer to an even matchup. If you can stick Innkeeper and/or Clover, you’ll be fine; but that’s generally the case with this deck and also exactly what Bant is going to try to stop you from doing. Hitting Uro with Petty Theft is a dicey gamble and one I’ve seen go both ways in a big way, so be wary of that approach.
Rakdos Sacrifice – This is a matchup I really don’t love. Rakdos Sacrifice is looking to get a nasty sacrifice engine going, ideally with Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven, then exploit it further with Mayhem Familiar. Other cards to watch out for are Woe Strider, which gives the eck a free sacrifice engine, and Nightmare Shepherd, which gives it the chance to return impact creatures for free. Different versions will include Rankle, Master of Pranks or Spawn of Mayhem as a big nasty to finish with, but Kroxa has become a choice option as well. A decent sacrifice player will know to sac whatever creature you might target with Stomp or Petty Theft first, thus landing the whole spell in the graveyard. You’ll still get the duplicates if there’s a Clover out, but lose out on the creature value. Try to turn this tactic against them by bouncing a creature with Petty Theft that you would prefer to see head to the graveyard. They’ll have the choice, let their creature just bounce but have to account for the Brazen Borrower to follow, or send both to the graveyard.
Selesnya has been a tough matchup and frankly, it’s probably a deck I need to try playing with more, as I struggle against it in general. What this deck does best is take an otherwise innocupus creature like Setessan Champion, and turn it into something beastly and huge with All that Glitters and other enchantments, using Season of Growth as a card engine. Bouncing with Petty Theft wrecks the heavily enchanted critters but if they get a big flyer going there could be trouble. Kill those fliers ASAP.
Mono White Devotion
In the span of a week I went from seeing MWD everywhere to seeing it almost never. MWD is looking to combine lifegain with triggered +1/+1 counters and some flying to crush you with creatures that started out really small, while also giving itself time to regroup with all the lifegain should their early game get interrupted. Petty Theft can really wreak havoc on this deck, but creatures need to be shot down fast before they get bigger. I said it before, but don’t forget that mystic Repeal can solve those pesky god problems. This is a tougher matchup than RDW as it has more late game; fortunately it seems to have fallen out of favor again. With this metagame just wait five minutes and it will change.
Having Innkeeper or Clover in your opening hand isn’t a must for this deck but it really is pretty close, especially the Clover. Don’t mulligan a Clover hand unless you’re really uncomfortable with it. Doubling up Stomp or Petty Theft is really critical to taking out the incredibly omnipresent aggro decks. If you open with only two lands, mulligan, unless you have something crazy like a Clover, Innkeeper, Beanstalk Giant and another adventure in your hand. Even then it’s risky as RDW is so incredibly consistent and strong in this format, you can’t really afford to miss that third land drop.
The last thing I’ll add is that this is a deck that I spent a lot more time testing in Play than I normally do. Even though I’m familiar with the Adventure mechanics, I wanted to make sure I had a really solid understanding of the deck before I took it to the Bo1 Ladder. The results from MTGArena.pro’s tracking haven’t been great, it has been right around 50% according to the Bo1 tracker the last month or so. I think a lot of this comes down to people dabbling with the deck and not being able to execute it well. My own experience with the several builds I used in Ladder was more like 55-60%, leaning towards 60% with the build listed here.