So this week I thought about writing more about Burn in Modern, but I couldn't wait another week to talk about Temur Battle Rage. This card initially stood out to me as an underrated combat trick for limited play. Whenever casting it on even a simple Alpine Grizzly it meant that I would save the Alpine Grizzly and deal, like, an extra six damage...not to mention how much damage your opponent takes if you combine Temur Battle Rage with additional pump effects, or play it targeting a larger creature than Alpine Grizzly. For those with lots of experience with Fate Reforged Limited there is what is considered "the combo," which is Temur Battle Rage plus Become Immense.
Become Immense is a card that has seen a good amount of play in Modern and some play in Legacy, but has yet to really make an impact in Standard. This delve spell can be game breaking and when casting Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage in the same turn it provides a game-winning effect. Let's compare Become Immense plus Temur Battle Rage to say Ghor-Clan Rampager and Boros Charm. This is a similar combo though many times it only costs you three mana and essentially deals four additional damage because of the two extra points of power and double strike from Become Immense plus Temur Battle Rage.
There are so many high toughness green creatures in Standard right now that it can be difficult for the aggressive decks playing smaller creatures without evasion to get through in the later stages of the game. Oftentimes the green decks can sit back tapping out every turn without putting on too much pressure, perhaps gaining life with Courser of Kruphix, and the game is effectively over. However against a deck with "the combo" (Temur Battle Rage plus Become Immense) there is really no life total the opposing player is safe at.
In a recent game my opponent was at 38 and blocked my Satyr Hoplite with Satyr Wayfinder. So what did I do? Cast Titan's Strength targeting Satyr Hoplite (now five power), cast Temur Battle Rage targeting Satyr Hoplite (six power and double strike), cast two copies of Become Immense targeting Satyr Hoplite (20 power and double strike for five mana total). Yes the opponent took 39 damage and saved a damage by blocking with the Satyr Wayfinder. Admittedly these types of plays don't happen all the time, but do occur more than you would think. Here is my current list for monored splashing green for Temur Battle Rage:
So there are only 19 creatures but one of them can make additional creatures ( Akroan Crusader) and another can return from the graveyard ( Flamewake Phoenix). The three one-drops this deck wants are Akroan Crusader, Satyr Hoplite, and Monastery Swiftspear. Heroic guys are exactly what you want to be targeted with the pump effects, and Monastery Swiftspear gets larger in a similar way to the heroic creatures when casting pump spells. Even when you don't have a Become Immense, Temur Battle Rage plus Titan's Strength can deal a good bit of damage.
Hammerhand is of course another way of targeting heroic creatures, but there is only one copy in the deck. The reason there is only one is that with access to Temur Battle Rage you don't care as much about blockers as your large creature will still trample over for a good amount. Another reason Hammerhand isn't as good as say Titan's Strength is that it doesn't immediately go to the graveyard. The more cards that go into graveyard the cheaper Become Immense is. That is a large part of the reason why there are two copies of Tormenting Voice here. The card automatically exchanges two cards for two new ones, which can dig towards putting "the combo" together.
Being able to Sift through your deck in the later stages of the game is very important as it makes it more likely you can find "the combo." This is why there four copies of Magma Jet instead of, say, more Stoke the Flames or Lightning Strikes. Magma Jet has been falling a little out of favor lately but here it is exactly what you want to be doing. Scrying is critical for this deck as it isn't just a straight-up aggressive deck there are also combo elements. Temple of Abandon, Magma Jet, and Titan's Strength having scry is a big deal.
Perhaps the most important creature in the deck is Prophetic Flamespeaker. This card still has yet to find a home as a mainstay in Standard, despite how incredibly powerful it is. While some decks generally have removal for it, making it difficult to get online, there are other decks in the format like Blue/White Heroic and Monogreen Devotion that don't have many ways of answering a Prophetic Flamespeaker. When having a Prophetic Flamespeaker in play it is like you already have a built in Temur Battle Rage so all you need is a Titan's Strength or Become Immense to target the Prophetic Flamespeaker. There will be spots where the opponent takes the first hit, and then you exile a pump spell hit off Prophetic Flamespeaker, which can then be cast before regular damage.
Flamewake Phoenix is the last creature and it is important against decks with lots of removal. With both Titan's Strength and Become Immense there are multiple ways of creating a four power creature and bringing back the Flamewake Phoenix. Sometimes it is correct to discard the Flamewake Phoenix to Tormenting Voice and then bring it back from the graveyard on the following turn. Rounding out the deck there are a bunch of fetchlands to help enable delve and besides that there are lots of Mountains because there is only one green spell in the maindeck. The sideboard has some cards for other aggressive decks (Forge Devil and Searing Blood), Reclamation Sage is for the decks like Constellation, and can be used to destroy Chained to the Rocks. Another way of dealing with opposing Chained to the Rocks is Peak Eruption, which can be a complete blowout. The Mogis's Warhound and the Outpost Siege are for the slower more grindy matchups.
There is another archetype in Standard that can make use of Temur Battle Rage, and it is one that is already established, and it is Blue/White Heroic, which can turn into Jeskai Heroic. This is a concept which I have been thinking of but never really tested until I saw Joe Lossett doing work with the deck this past weekend at the SCG Open in Houston. Here is his list:
The Heroic deck already wants to be making huge creatures with greater than four power, so Temur Battle Rage naturally makes a lot of sense. It is a way of targeting your heroic creature, and for those players who have experience playing straight Blue/White heroic, wouldn't you play a two mana spell that could give your heroic guy double strike and trample? It is true that it does mean adding an additional color, which makes the mana a bit worse, but it seems worth it.
With access to Temur Battle Rage this deck no longer cares about giving its creatures evasion with Stratus Walk or Aqueous Form. The idea is to make the largest creature possible and the blockers won't matter much after casting Temur Battle Rage on your guy. The extra copies of Ordeal of Heliod help off- set the lifeloss from the mana base, and there are less Seeker of the Ways in this build. Joe wanted to make room for a couple of Monastery Mentors which is one of the more controversial creatures in Heroic decks. It does have the potential to be extremely powerful and just win the game on its own, in combination with the various cantrips.
Will more Heroic decks start to play Temur Battle Rage moving forward? In my opinion the deck has felt a little under powered since Fate Reforged, until trying out the Temur Battle Rages. This list is well tuned with not only two copies of Valorous Stance but also a maindeck Treasure Cruise, in order to have some extra card draw, and make room for a bunch of Counterspells in the sideboard. Valorous Stance is another protection spell for this deck which makes Feat of Resistance a little less important. It is obvious that Joe put a lot of work into tuning this deck, and I would advise Blue/White Heroic players to go ahead and try out Jeskai Heroic with Temur Battle Rage.
Temur Battle Rage is one of those explosive cards that is hard to anticipate, and has some applications outside of Standard. In fact, fellow Team TCGplayer teammate and Affinity expert Alex Majlaton has adopted Temur Battle Rage in Affinity. Who would have thought it? Just think about this card alongside a Cranial Plating...
Here is a list:
Alex wasn't sure about how good Temur Battle Rage would be so he only ran one copy but now, after hearing about how strong it was, there is a second copy. A lot of times the midrange green decks with Lingering Souls will crowd the board with creatures, many of which have flying. Previously the only real way for Affinity to win these game was with Etched Champion but now there is another way. Simply equip a Cranial Playing to a large creature or sacrifice an Arcbound Ravager to put a bunch of counters on a guy, and go for Temur Battle Rage. Say a Lingering Souls token is blocking your Inkmoth Nexus equipped with a Cranial Plating, you can just cast Temur Battle Rage on the Inkmoth Nexus and win, assuming your opponent doesn't have a removal spell.
Affinity has been looking for ways to beat Lingering Souls, and Temur Battle Rage is a maindeckable way of doing that, and can just win the game out of nowhere. It is true that you don't want to draw multiples so two is likely the right number. Affinity is a deck that has been a mainstay in Modern and is quite powerful, but the addition of one or two cards has the ability to significantly improve certain matchups. Temur Battle Rage may just seem like a cute combat trick but it is certainly much more than that.
For anyone that has yet to play with Temur Battle Rage I recommend trying it in one of these decks, or something completely different. The effect is uniquely powerful, almost like Ghor-Clan Rampager plus Boros Charm in one card. Look out for Temur Battle Rage in the weeks to come!
Thanks for reading,