magma728's picture
By: magma728, Jake Beardsley
Feb 12 2020 1:00pm

Theros Beyond Death has shaken up almost every major format in Magic, ranging from Standard all the way back to Legacy. This has led to the adoption of totally new archetypes, but has also led to the revamping of decks both current as of Throne of Eldraine as well as decks that we had seen fade from popularity, only to escape death, if you will. One of the major decks that falls into this second category is Standard Temur Reclamation. The combo-control deck built around the extremely powerful Wilderness Reclamation has ebbed and flowed with the metagame since its debut in Ravnica Allegiance Standard, but had mostly fallen off the map as of Throne, as opposing strategies had the option to either go over it and do even more powerful things than just cast a massive Expansion//Explosion or to go under it with decks like Mono Red Aggro. With Theros Beyond Death came Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, and thus we have seen a massive resurgence for Temur Reclamation.
That is not the main thing I’m here to talk about. Instead I’m here to take a look at what we can learn from the Standard build and apply to a format that Wilderness Reclamation has not seen tons of success in: Pioneer. When Nexus of Fate was legal Bant versions were somewhat popular, and after the banning of Nexus others adopted a Sultai build that utilized Reclamation’s massive mana boost to fuel cards like Frilled Mystic and The Scarab God along with loads of interaction. While this build has shown some promise, it felt a little too fair to me, so I ultimately decided Temur was the right approach thanks to the aforementioned Expansion // Explosion along with some of red’s more robust sweepers. Let’s take a look at what the Standard deck does well and see how we can translate that into a successful pioneer deck. Here’s Will Pulliam’s 2nd place list from the SCG Team Open in Richmond:

The three cards that have been largely responsible for Temur Reclamation’s resurgence are Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Thassa's Intervention, and Storm's Wrath. Uro’s unique ability to fill the roles of acceleration, threat, velocity, and life gain all at once makes it extremely valuable, as it buys you time against aggressive decks while also working towards your much bigger endgame, and is its own endgame to boot thanks to the escape mechanic. Intervention serves as another dual purpose card here, functioning as a relatively efficient counterspell when an answer is needed while also doing an exceptional Dig Through Time impression. Now this does beg the question of the value of Intervention in Pioneer on the grounds that we already have Dig itself, but the versatility of Intervention means it at least warrants some consideration. Finally, Storm's Wrath gives red access to a sweeper that can kill larger creatures as well as sweep up pesky planeswalkers. While it has been vital for the standard build of Temur Rec, Pioneer gets an even bigger upgrade in terms of a sweeper thanks to Hour of Devastation. Without further ado, let’s get into what the Pioneer build of Temur Reclamation looks like:

The Pioneer build of Temur Rec is very reminiscent of the Standard build, which is primarily due to the sheer power that we saw in cards printed in 2019. We see upgrades in Hour of Devastation as discussed above in addition to Dig Through Time, but we also see a slight change in overall approach given the change in the context of the format. This is specifically seen with the approach to sideboard games, as Nightpack Ambusher gives the option of sideboarding into a flash-style deck in conjunction with Brazen Borrowers 2-4 and Frilled Mystics. This build allows you to focus less on going over the top of opponents the way you do preboard, which is particularly relevant against decks like the Simic Ramp strategies we have seen that are able to go even bigger than you can. Another major improvement over the standard version is the inclusion of a single Cyclonic Rift, which gives you another way to reset the board, that in this case also lets you deal with the variety of noncreature permanents that exist on the fringes of Pioneer, like Doom Foretold and Fires of Invention. Censor rounds out the most relevant new inclusions, and while not revolutionary in terms of the approach the deck takes to most matchups, it is a massive boon against powerful proactive decks. It also allows you to cleanly deal with a Teferi, Time Raveler even if you’re on the draw, which is important due to how much of a problem the powerful three-drop planeswalker can cause for your deck that operates mostly at instant speed. 

In the admittedly small amount of testing I have done with the deck, I’ve found that it is definitely a reasonable choice in a field that the Dimir Inverter given how effective counterspells are against most builds of the deck, as well as the postboard plan of disruptive aggression. The Inverter of Truth deck, while packing some amount of discard spells that can throw a wrench in Reclamation’s plan, is relatively light on strong interaction for the matchup, which leaves the deck vulnerable to the bevy of countermagic Rec has access to. As long as you can keep Inverter off the combo, you should be set to go over the top of the opposing Dig Through Times and Thoughtseizes with your own massive sources of card advantage. In addition, there are 17 pieces of countermagic in the 75, which means it will be very difficult for the Inverter deck to actually resolve relevant spells, especially in games 2 and 3.

Rarely does a powerful deck in an Eternal format like Pioneer come from a deck that has had success in Standard, but here we are. Temur Reclamation feels like it is doing something overtly powerful as well as interacting with your opponent in favorable ways, which is the hallmark of a good deck in Pioneer. While I’m not guaranteeing that Temur Reclamation is going to be the best deck going forward, I’m sure that there is something meaningful to be gained from working on the deck. As always, thanks for reading.