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Budget Magic: 14 Rare Temur Energy (Historic)


Përshëndetje, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Back before Adventures, companions, Oko, Omnath, and Golos, Energy was the original broken Standard deck. In fact, it was a lot like Adventures from Throne of Eldraine—dominating Standard from start to finish despite being targeted by multiple bannings. Despite this Standard power, the archetype hasn't really taken off in older formats. But it might be time for that to change in Historic thanks to the printing of Longtusk Stalker in Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, which solves one of the deck's biggest issues: the lack of a playable one-drop creature. Can the parasitic monster from Standards past compete in Historic on a 14-rare budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Temur Energy

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The Deck

Temur Energy is an aggressive midrange deck that looks awfully similar to the Standard version from a few years ago. The power of the energy mechanic is that every nonland card in our main deck produces energy, and almost every single one also allows us to spend energy in some beneficial way, so all of our cards support each other, with the random one-drop we play early powering up our finishers later. 

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So, why are we playing Temur Energy now? The answer is Longtusk Stalker. The biggest problem with energy in Historic is that the deck lacks a playable one-drop. While Attune with Aether is a solid synergistic card that gives us energy and allows us to trim a couple of lands, it's not a threat that allows us to get on the battlefield quickly and start pressuring our opponent. Well now, thanks to Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, we have not only an energy one-drop but a good energy one-drop in Longtusk Stalker. The Cat can turn into a Savannah Lions on Turn 2 with the energy it produces, while also pumping a creature in our hand as a bonus.

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We have three options in the two-drop slot. Voltaic Brawler is the most consistent, making two energy when it comes into play and becoming a 4/3 trample when it attacks for just one energy, a rate that is strong enough that it has seen some play in nonenergy decks like Gruul Aggro. It's even better in our deck since we can make energy with other cards to make sure we can pump it each turn, or we can use the energy from Voltaic Brawler to support our other cards. Longtusk Cub—the two-drop version of Longtusk Stalker—has the highest variance of our two-drops. It can snowball out of control and take over a game if we can play it on Turn 2 and start getting in attacks with it to make energy. But our opponent can play a blocker to keep us from attacking with Longtusk Cub, it's just a Grizzly Bears until we make energy with something else to pump it. It's much better on the play (since, if we're playing first, it's more likely that we'll get in that all-important first attack) to the point where it can be correct to sideboard it out in some matchups on the draw. Finally, we have Servant of the Conduit, which gives us an energy mana dork. This isn't super exciting since we don't have many expensive things to ramp into, but it still makes two energy when it enters the battlefield, so even if we don't ever use it to make mana, it's still supporting our deck's theme and powering up our other cards.

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Rogue Refiner is the one creature in our deck that doesn't give us a way to spend energy, although it makes up for this with its enters-the-battlefield trigger, which not only makes two energy but also draws us a card. Combine that with being a 3/2—reasonable, if unexciting, stats—and Rogue Refiner is a solid support piece in the three-drop slot.

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Finally, we have our two finishers: Bristling Hydra and Whirler Virtuoso. While both are good at closing out games, they work in very different ways. Bristling Hydra wins games by going tall with +1/+1 counters and protecting itself from removal with its energy pump ability, which makes it really difficult to kill with targeted removal and one of our best threats against removal-heavy midrange and control decks. Meanwhile, Whirler Virtuoso allows us to go wide with 1/1 flying Thopter tokens. In the late game, we potentially can store up enough energy to make three, four, or more on the turn that Whirler Virtuoso comes into play, which is a ton of bodies for just three mana. The Thopters, in turn, give us a steady supply of chump blockers for big flying threats or an evasive way to close out the game in just a couple of attacks.

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As for removal, we have a couple more energy cards. Harnessed Lightning is actually pretty insane in an energy deck. By itself, it offers three damage to a creature for two mana, which is a solid baseline. But when we combine it with our other energy producers, it can quickly turn into a Terminate, killing basically anything for just two mana! Meanwhile, Confiscation Coup lets us steal an artifact or creature for five mana. My thinking was that it would be pretty hilarious to steal Serra's Emissary against the Indomitable Creativity decks, although in practice, Confiscation Coup felt a bit too inconsistent for the main deck. Next time I play the deck, I plan on replacing it with Decisive Denial as more flexible interaction.

Playing the Deck

The biggest challenge of playing Temur Energy is managing the energy itself. As Magic players, we're used to managing resources like our life total and mana. Energy adds a whole new layer of resource management. Should we spend energy to pump Longtusk Cub early? Will it leave us short on energy for Bristling Hydra later? What if it dies? These questions (and many others like it) come up every turn of every game. There isn't really a right or wrong answer; instead, it varies based on the matchup and situation. 

Bristling Hydra is pretty insane, and it's important to value protecting it. Some decks (especially control and midrange) really struggle to beat a Bristling Hydra if we can leave up enough energy to activate it two or three times to give it hexproof and fizzle removal. Be careful not to waste a Bristling Hydra by running out of energy and the ability to protect it—it's one of our best threats.

Harnessed Lightning and Confiscation Coup can be used as energy rituals. Spending energy on them is a "may" ability, and while it doesn't come up super often, we'll sometimes cast a Harnessed Lightning and choose to have it deal zero damage, just to gain three energy to spend protecting Bristling Hydra or making Thopters with Whirler Virtuoso. While we are using both spells as removal most of the time, it is important to keep the sneaky energy ritual line in mind because it sometimes can swing a game in our favor.

Wrap Up

All in all, we finished 3-3 with Temur Energy at high Diamond on Arena—a solid record for a budget deck. We played against control three times, going 1-2, although the matchup didn't feel that bad (it really depends on how many sideboard counterspells we can draw). With the popularity of control in Historic at the moment, it might be worth adding some counters to the main deck...

Speaking of which, what changes would I make to the budget build of the deck now that we've played some games? The big one is dropping Confiscation Coup, which was just too cute and inconsistent for its own good. Decisive Denial seems like the perfect replacement, giving us a counterspell for sweepers and planeswalkers against control as well as, in conjunction with our big energy threats, removal against aggro.

So, should you play Temur Energy in Historic? I think the deck is a pretty solid budget option. Many of the best energy cards are commons and uncommons, making it a perfect budget archetype. It's also a really interesting deck to play. While we can pick up some fast wins by curving out, Temur Energy is far from a "brainless" aggro deck. Thanks to the energy mechanic, the deck has a ton of play, and each game (or even each turn) has a bunch of small choices about when and how to spend our energy, which is a fun challenge. If you liked the deck in Standard or just like the mechanic, it's certainly good enough to win a reasonable amount of games at high-ish ranks on Arena, although I don't think it's quite a top-tier archetype.

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Technically, we can make Temur Energy for just four rares on Magic Arena (we can't cut Bristling Hydra—it's too good and important to the theme). This requires cutting back even further on our mana base by replacing Ketria Triome with more basic lands, and based on the games we played with the deck, the inconsistency of the mana base was already the deck's biggest weakness. Thanks to cards like Attune with Aether and Servant of the Conduit, we might be able to get away with playing very few dual lands and a bunch of basics. Just be warned that with the ultra-budget build, we basically will lose to ourselves in some games by not finding the right colors of mana.

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One of the nice things about Temur Energy is that most of the best energy cards are commons and uncommons, which means our budget build already had all of the best energy cards in our colors. As such, upgrading to non-budget form mostly means improving the mana base (with shock lands) and some new sideboard additions. Even in optimal form, the deck has just 24 rares and mythics, which is still pretty cheap for a Historic deck.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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