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Much Abrew: Temur Evolve (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during out Instant Deck Techs, we had a pretty clear winner in the strange, aggressive Modern deck Temur Evolve. While the deck looks pretty strange on paper, overflowing with Pongify and Rapid Hybridization, the game plan is pretty simple: we're looking to play creatures with evolve and undying early in the game, use Pongify and Rapid Hybridization to upgrade our undying creatures while triggering evolve along the way, and hopefully close out the game quickly before our opponent gets a chance to recover. 

One of the reasons I'm excited to try the deck is because we played Simic Evolve on Budget Magic a long time ago, and now, more than two years later, a non-budget build (splashing red for Lightning Bolt) actually performed well enough to win a competitive league on Magic Online! Is it finally time for the evolve mechanic to shine in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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Temur Evolve (Deck Tech)

Temur Evolve vs. Infect (Match 1)

Temur Evolve vs. Dredge (Match 2)

Temur Evolve vs. Naya Burn (Match 3)

Temur Evolve vs. Death's Shadow (Match 4)

Temur Evolve vs. GW Valuetown (Match 5)

Temur Evolve (Wrap-Up)

  • As far as our record, we played a competitive league and ended up 2-3, which isn't great but also isn't the worst performance we've ever had with a Much Abrew deck. 
  • Let's start with the good news: Temur Evolve can be extremely explosive. When we can play a Cloudfin Raptor into a Young Wolf and Pongify on Turn 2, we can win a lot of games. 
  • Having Cloudfin Raptor as an evasive threat is also important, since we can struggle to close out the game once the ground gets clogged up, with only four Lightning Bolts as reach. 
  • Oddly, the deck is also surprisingly good at blocking thanks to undying. Having a Young Wolf that can chump a Death's Shadow two turns in a row is sometimes pretty helpful, although since Temur Evolve really struggles in the late game, things usually aren't going as well as we would hope if we are blocking. 
  • As for the bad news, the deck isn't very powerful outside of its nut draws. The deck looks great when we happen to have a one-drop, an undying creature, and a Pongify effect in our opening hand, but the deck simply doesn't run very well if we are missing any of those pieces (or draw too many of any one piece).
  • One of the biggest problems we ran into is Pongify flood. While the ability to use Pongify or Rapid Hybridization to add four power to the board on Turn 2 is great, topdecking a Pongify is painful when we don't have good creatures to target. While we can Pongify our opponent's creatures in a pinch (and this works well in some matchups, like Infect, where we were able to use Pongify to fizzle pump spells), turning one of our opponent's creatures into a slightly smaller creature usually isn't a good deal for us. 
  • The other big problem with Temur Evolve, at least in our matches, is that we didn't really do any one thing very well. The deck can sort of go big, but "going big" for Temur Evolve is making a couple of three-power creatures on Turn 2 or 3, which is nice but still doesn't really punch through a Turn 2 Gurmag Angler or Tarmogoyf. We can also sort of go wide, but going wide is usually three or four creatures, which isn't always enough to finish the game. In a lot of matches, this left us doing something that almost felt powerful but wasn't quite powerful enough to beat what our opponent was doing. 
  • Predictably, Temur Evolve really struggles in the late game. If things go wrong, we can't win quickly, and we are left drawing copies of Young Wolf and Pongify while our opponent deals with our board, which makes it really hard to put up a fight when our opponent is playing huge creatures and planeswalkers. 
  • It's also possible that I didn't play the deck quite right. Maybe instead of keeping medium opening hands, the idea is to aggressively mulligan for the nut draw, although this feels like a risky strategy in an aggro deck. 
  • Another issue we ran into was that our sideboard didn't really line up with the decks we played against. Not having any graveyard hate was pretty punishing against Dredge, and not having a way to deal with slightly bigger creatures was problematic against GW Valuetown and Death's Shadow. While it is really hard (and maybe impossible) to have sideboard cards for every matchup in a format like Modern, having a couple Surgical Extractions or copies of Roast in the sideboard would have been pretty helpful against the decks we played in our league. 
  • As for changes I'd make to the deck, the biggest thing I missed from the old Budget Magic build were the pump spells, which helped to solve the problem of forcing damage through bigger blockers and allowed the deck to close out the game even faster. Having Vines of Vastwood and Mutagenic Growth over defensive cards like Spell Pierce and the somewhat underwhelming Narnam Renegade might be the right way forward for the deck.
  • So, should you play Temur Evolve? Personally, I didn't feel like this build was significantly better than our budget build. While it has a better mana base and gets Lightning Bolt, the game plan is similar enough that if you want to play the deck, I think the best choice is spending $90 on the budget Simic Evolve deck rather than $325 on Temur Evolve. Basically, the deck can be really fun to play and has some really good draws, but I'm not sure it's consistent enough to be a deck that could win a Grand Prix or SCG Open. Meanwhile, the budget deck is good enough to play at an FNM and win a reasonable number of matchups, and it still gives you the fun, explosive draws, which probably means it's a better option for most players. Here's my updated budget list for Simic Evolve:

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! 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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