Grand Prix Utrecht was my next stop after Pro Tour Aether Revolt in Dublin. I was fresh off an 8-2 record in Standard at the Pro Tour and was looking for an 11-4 finish to get the two Pro Points I needed to lock Gold and not have to worry for the rest of the season. Not that I worry too much about getting these points, but the sooner the better.
Going in, the idea that Jeremy Dezani and I worked with was that we needed something that could be fine against the tier three decks of the format: Mardu Vehicles, Black-Green Constrictor and Copy Cat decks of all varieties.
Jeremy explored the Jeskai control plan. He liked to have game against the black-green decks thanks to Fumigate and he thought there could be a way to beat Mardu and have some answers to Copy Cat decks. He also liked to have Fevered Visions in the sideboard. His plan against Constrictor was to board all four Fevered Visions and have four Fumigates. That way, the black-green decks would have a very hard time killing you, and while sweeping the board you draw more control cards. I liked the plan, but didn't like the deck in the first place. You would sometimes get stuck at three lands and couldn't get to your fourth to cast your Glimmer of Genius and lose with your Fumigates in hand. You would also lose the games against Copy Cat because you wouldn't be able to put any pressure on them early in the game, giving them enough time to get a lot of card advantage from their Rogue Refiner, Oath of Nissa and Felidar Guardian. The deck's plan wasn't proactive enough and therefore I wasn't convinced.
I dug Shoota Yasooka's list from the Magic Online League results and just like most innovations, I wanted to try it. The deck was smooth, did something fairly new, but it felt like it was missing something. Games against Constrictor went long and you would lose these long games to a pair of Verdurous Gearhulks that were out of reach for your towers. It was a bit frustrating to get to that stage of the game where you felt like you had it under control, but lose anyway.
Jérémy had the idea to mix both decks, taking advantage of the Temur Energy engine while enjoying the powerful tools of Jeskai. And that's what we ended up with:
The deck is very much a Temur Energy deck relying on the power of Dynavolt Tower to get rid of any opposing threat, backed up by Torrential Gearhulk and a few energy creatures: Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso. The idea is to play a Temur Energy game while having access to possibly the best card against black-green decks: Fumigate. For that to work, we had to stretch the mana base quite a bit.
Splashing double white isn't easy but it is achievable thanks to Aether Hub, Inspiring Vantage, Attune with Aether and two Plains. It makes the mana a bit worse and keeps you from casting cards like Disallow as consistently on turn three. That's also a reason why we cut a Rogue Refiner for a Whirler Virtuoso in the main.
We didn't quite have the time to perfect the mana base and there are a few issues that we have to live with. It's missing a green source to be able to cast Attune on turn one consistently, and the Island and the two Plains don't cast Voltaic Brawler from the sideboard (more on this later), but what we have here is an "okay" compromise.
We had to cut one Disallow to make the mana work. I'm not a big fan of this card in the deck due to its casting cost, but it's necessary when it comes to the late game. You need the hard counter in the deck to prevent something bad from happening when you have the board in check. As soon as you've stabilized, that's the only card you want to see when you play an Anticipate or a Glimmer of Genius. Having one in the graveyard makes your Gearhulks that much better.
One of the other big changes is the burn suite. Yasooka plays Incendiary Flow, which is great against Scrapheap Scrounger but doesn't go very well with Torrential Gearhulk or against Copy Cat.
With Shock, the fact that you have a one-mana way to interact with your opponent makes a big difference when you play instant-speed card draw. You don't have an answer and they're comboing you off with Saheeli and Felidar Guardian? You still have an out with three mana and an Anticipate, same with five mana and Glimmer of Genius. It's on curve with three mana and Negate, or to kill a turn-two Servant of the Conduit or Grim Flayer on the draw.
Shock gives you some reach on planeswalkers as well. Double Shock kills a Gideon for two mana (one spent at the end of turn, and one on your turn or with a Gearhulk), and when you're struggling with your own mana, it's a big plus to save mana on that.
We considered Flame Lash in the deck to deal with Gideon and Heart of Kiran. In addition, it kills a Verdurous Gearhulk before it becomes too big, as well as Felidar Guardian. Unfortunately, we didn't own any, and we weren't sure we could get the card as it was unlikely dealers had them since it's from the Kaladesh Intro Pack.
Fumigate was the card people talked about when they were looking for a way to beat black-green, and it was the card Temur Energy was missing. But it's not only good against Constrictor – it allows you to sweep Mardu's creatures and surprises Copy Cat once they realize they can't beat you with the combo because you have a Dynavolt Tower out.
The big question is: is it worth the splash? When I tried the Temur Energy deck on Magic Online, the week before the GP, I really had trouble beating black-green decks. The matchup became much better with Fumigates and the other matchups didn't suffer from the switch.
At the GP, when the tech was still under the radar, I think the card won me most of my matches on Day one. No one expected it and overcommitted to the board, knowing that Temur Energy didn't have main deck sweepers. The Inspiring Vantage didn't tip them off enough. Who splashes for a double-white card anyway?
Since we have access to double white, we might as well play one of the most powerful white cards in the format: Quarantine Field. It serves as a trump card to take care of just about anything. It costs a lot, but we wanted another late game control card. Also, most black-green decks run Natural Obsolescence and not Natural State, making it hard for them to destroy the enchantment.
Since we're not running Incendiary Flow, we wanted a way to deal with Scrapheap Scrounger and the Stichies (Stitchwing Skaab and Advanced Stitchwing). When choosing an artifact removal we could have gone for Natural Obsolescence (the default choice for Temur Energy players) or Release the Gremlins. We already had enough low-impact cards (Shock) and wanted something that could be a little over the top. It doesn't play as well with Gearhulk, but plays much better in the late game when you manage to destroy two or more artifacts.
What makes the deck very different from similar decks is its sideboard plans against two of the decks of the format.
+4 Fevered Visions
-1 Glimmer of Genius
-2 Rogue Refiner
-1 Whirler Virtuoso
We talked extensively about Fumigate, but we haven't talked yet about the power of Fevered Visions. It was a reason Steve Rubin brought Blue-Red Zombie back as it was a strong weapon against black-green decks. Now try to picture what Fevered Visions does in this deck: it fuels you with spells to power up your Dynavolt Towers while damaging your opponent. To try to stay under the four-card limit, they will have to play all their creatures. All you have to do then is to Fumigate and save your other spells for later. They will eventually lose a lot of life to the Visions and you'll have energy to shoot them with your towers.
The one thing you have to keep in mind is to stay out of reach of Walking Ballista. You don't always want to pull the trigger every turn with Fumigate (sometimes you simply don't have it) and might want to take a couple of hits. Unless you have a backup plan (a Disallow), try to stay above 6 or 7 life.
+4 Voltaic Brawler
+1 Authority of the Consul
-3 Shielded Aether Thief
-1 Release the Gremlins
-1 Quarantine Field
-1 Rogue Refiner
The Temur Energy matchup against Copy Cat depends on whether or not you can have an active Dynavolt Tower in play early. If you don't, you'll give them too much time to attack from different angles (including the combo) and you won't be able to deal with everything in time.
One way to improve your strategy is to pressure them in a different way. They will usually sideboard out some of their creature removal to replace them with Negates and Natural Obsolescence (or cards to deal with Dynavolt Tower).
The problem with Temur Energy is that it doesn't have a good way to pressure the opponent in the early game. Rogue Refiner is too slow, gets blocked easily and Whirler Virtuoso requires a lot of energy to do anything, plus tapping out for a threat loses you the matchup. Three mana is a lot to invest when you want to keep a Negate, a Shock or a Harnessed Lightning up. You need to play a cheaper threat, preferably on the second turn, to attack. Having a way to attack Saheeli on turn three on the draw makes a big difference in that matchup, especially since you have ways to clear the way of blockers and that a four-power trample creatures can attack pretty much anything (including a Felidar Guardian).
Voltaic Brawler is not always easy to play on turn two, but it is a great card against Copy Cat, and other control decks that take out spot removals against you. I suggest you keep it in mind when playing other decks that include red and green mana as a sideboard option. Since you have access to white mana, you can play Authority of the Consuls; which never hurts as a one-of.
+1 Release the Gremlins
+1 Natural Obsolescence
+1 Authority of the Consuls
-1 Glimmer of Genius (or Anticipate on the play)
Mardu isn't an easy matchup because Gideon is a problem. Just like many matchups, it depends on if you manage to have a Dynavolt Tower out early enough. In this one more than in others because the game isn't going to last as long.
If the transformational sideboard that won GP Utrecht becomes the norm (sideboarding in planeswalkers), then you can go for the Fevered Visions plan. It's risky as Fevered Visions isn't a good plan against regular Mardu Vehicles, but is very effective against planeswalkers.
I finished the tournament at 10-4-1, beating most of the field but losing to Temur Energy (you're supposed to be a heavy favorite thanks to Fevered Visions), to two Constrictor decks, Sultai Delirium and drawing against White-Black Midrange. Jérémy (who played the same list), had a great showing on Day One (8-1) but exited the tournament frustrated as he 0-5 dropped on Sunday.
The deck is interesting and there's a lot of room for improvement. I don't have another list for you at the moment, but there are a few things I'd like to try. One more land, possibly another Lumbering Falls, could be good since any hand with a green source and an Attune with Aether is a keeper. It's a little frustrating to have the Attune and no green source. A fourth Anticipate helps to charge your Towers, gets you another spell and smoothens your draws. I also want to try Including a Consulate Surveillance in the 75. While it's not a sorcery nor an instant, it still provides you with energy. With black-green decks not having a way to destroy it unless they play Appetite for the Unnatural, it will give you free turns to find your Fumigate and soak chunks of eight damage from Verdurous Gearhulk.
For Four-Color Tower to become a real contender in the format, it will need some work, but there's a good chance the right combination exists. I'll be doing coverage at the next Standard GP in Barcelona, hoping someone out there will carry the torch and find the right changes!