February 25, 2016

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Going Rogue: Temur Ascendancy Combosmash

Hello and welcome back to Going Rogue, where winning isn’t the goal but it often happens anyway!

This week’s rogue feature isn’t a creation of mine, and in fact… I hate everything about it. It’s incredibly linear, mindless, and revolves around a single card to be any good at all. It folds like a cheap suit to Abrupt Decay or Thoughtseize.

But sometimes – just sometimes – it smashes faster and harder than just about any Modern deck I’ve ever seen. While I don’t have a Timmy bone in my body to appreciate this facet as others might, it also benefits from some interesting card choices, and creativity scores big points in my books.

Enough preamble though – what on earth am I talking about?

I understand completely if you stopped reading already. But if this is the sort of card that makes you go Hmmm?, there might be something here for you.

Sure, outside a combo that saw moderate tournament success once (Temur Sabertooth + Karametra’s Acolyte for infinite mana), this neither is, nor ever was, even a passable card in Standard – pushing it up to Modern just seems silly, right?

Well, yes, but also no. Yes, because a three-mana do-nothing-yet enchantment in Modern is often just putting your neck on the block and inviting the axe. No, because Modern’s pool of well-suited 4+ power creatures is far, far deeper.

Although each of these creatures is a bit of a laugh on its own, when you add Haste and a cantrip effect to them, things get pretty serious, pretty quickly.

The strategy of this deck is very straight-forward. Stick an early Temur Ascendancy, then dump as many Ferocious creatures as possible the turn after, and swing for the fences until your opponent is mashed into a pulp.

If all goes according to plan, Turn 4 is a very realistic kill scenario. And the thing I do like about this deck more than other fast decks like Burn and Zoo is that the damage just continues to pile on, smashing through puny little Lightning Helix attempts at stablizing, and also translating reasonably well into the later game with bodies that are just a lot bigger than the average.

Plus, it’s not every day that you can smash and get card advantage at the same time, and cards like Imaginary Pet present really clever ways of continuing to refill your hand.

On the other hand, it is absolutely true that the deck accomplishes very little without resolving its namesake card. Fortunately, that’s easier than you might think.

         

Seven-Ascendancy isn’t just a Jeskai trick anymore. This deck also sports the clever tactic of running only three copies of Temur Ascendancy in the maindeck, with the fourth in the side to be retrieved by any of its four Glittering Wishes. (Sidenote: I love that this dodges Slaughter Games.) Add a couple Commune with the Gods to the mix and your odds of having a Temur Ascendancy by turn three are actually fairly good (in the 70% range).

Meanwhile, these cards easily translate into creatures if the Ascendancy is already online, thanks to a heavy creature count in the main and copies of Savage Knuckleblade in the side.

Intrigued? So was I when I first encountered the idea. So without further ado, here’s my take on Temur Ascendancy Combosmash:

Temur Ascendancy Combosmash

Creatures: (29)
Birds of Paradise
Burning-Tree Emissary
Frost Walker
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Imaginary Pet
Myr Superion
Noble Hierarch
Talara’s Battalion
Vexing Devil

Plan “Get Combo Online”: (9)
Commune with the Gods
Glittering Wish
Temur Ascendancy

Lands: (18)
Breeding Pool
Halimar Depths
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Wooded Foothills

Sideboard: (14)
Beck // Call
Burning-Tree Emissary
Gaddock Teeg
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Loxodon Smiter
Naya Charm
Savage Knuckleblade
Simic Charm
Skyrider Elf
Temur Ascendancy
Vexing Shusher
Wargate
Wheel of Sun and Moon

After building it and playing with it a bit, I’ve come around a little bit on this deck. It’s silly, and has its weaknesses, but when it works it really works.

It will definitely benefit from tweaking over time, though, with two main areas for improvement. The first is its creature selections. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t that many (reliable) two-drops in Modern with four or more power – yet. Each new set has the potential to offer us a new option here, so keep your eyes peeled for potential. The second is its sideboard. Four Glittering Wishes in the main lets us employ a Demonic Tutor strategy in a deck that definitely needs corner case answers in its arsenal. There are a lot of multicoloured cards out there, and with some greater attention to toolboxing, this sideboard could offer a ton of flexibility in addition to supporting the deck’s main strategy.

With some maturation and work, who knows what this deck could evolve into over time. True tournament status seems pretty unlikely, but given my experience so far against iterations of this concept, it’s a real option if you want to tear down an FNM with an out-of-left-field surprise. (So long as you don’t mind being at the mercy of your draws too much, that is.)

Well, that’s all we’ve got today. Tune in next week for our March edition of <i>Rogue Tech Report</i>, and until then, have fun, and may the 4-power force be with you.