Trevor Holmes Plays MTGO: Temur Prowess

Hey guys! Welcome to Episode 3 of our Modern Nexus Video Series, where we pick a sweet list and run it through some matches on Magic Online. This week we have Patrick Chapin’s 64th place Temur Prowess deck from Grand Prix Oklahoma City in mid-September. With Battle for Zendikar coming to Magic Online next week, I figured now would be a great time to explore a relatively under-the-radar archetype for a bit before we get into some new brews.

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Expect either B/W Tokens or Retreat to Coralhelm Combo next week (MTGO release bugs willing). If you have any suggestions for future videos or would like to vote for one of those two options, let me know in the comments! With that, let’s get to the games.

Temur Prowess, Patrick Chapin (64th, GP Oklahoma City 2015)

Creatures (17)
Abbot of Keral Keep
Monastery Swiftspear
Snapcaster Mage
Tarmogoyf
Grim Lavamancer

Sorceries (8)
Gitaxian Probe
Serum Visions

Instants (11)
Vapor Snag
Lightning Bolt
Izzet Charm
Remand

Artifacts (4)
Mishra’s Bauble

Enchantments (2)
Seal of Fire
Rancor

Lands (18)
Copperline Gorge
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Breeding Pool
Stomping Ground
Steam Vents
Wooded Foothills
Polluted Delta
Mountain
Island
Sideboard (15)
Roast
Feed the Clan
Izzet Staticaster
Spellskite
Deprive
Dispel
Volcanic Fallout
Negate
Ancient Grudge
Seal of Fire
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

Deck Tech

One thing I forgot to mention is a little bit more discussion about our identity as an “Abbot deck” rather than a “Delver deck”. Playing Mishra’s Bauble gives us eight free spells to hit off our Abbot of Keral Keep, and helps us with chaining prowess activations together. Its classification as an artifact pushes us towards looking to maximize our Tarmogoyf‘s size, which in turn leads us to look for enchantments to grow our Tarmogoyf even larger. This means that we’re playing a relatively low 19 instants and sorceries, where we would really be looking to play 22 or more were we playing Delver of Secrets. Think about this before trying to slot Delver into this deck!

Round 1
Result

Game 1 illustrated how these tempo-oriented strategies can struggle when they draw hands with elements that help us push our advantage (Vapor Snag/Remand) without threats to apply pressure with (Tarmogoyf/Monastery Swiftspear). Our opponent helped us out by casting Bitterblossom, which is a big liability for him in the matchup and translated directly into us winning Game 1. Game 2 showed us that Kitchen Finks is a gigantic beating for a tempo strategy looking to accrue incremental damage. The ETB trigger makes casting Vapor Snag a losing proposition, and the persist trigger is great against our lack of Pillar of Flame. If Kitchen Finks becomes more popular, moving away from Seal of Fire will probably be our response.

Round 2 
Result

Jund is a difficult matchup. As we talked about in the video, their combination of cheap hand disruption, plentiful removal, and hard-hitting threats line up well against our synergistic spells that only work well in multiples. Their unique ability to grind us out and strip our hand of unique elements can make finding an avenue to win extremely difficult (read: leaving us with Vapor Snag after they Thoughtseize our Tarmogoyf). Speaking of Tarmogoyf, he is our best individual card against them and equally powerful against us from their side as well. A hard-hitting threat that wins almost all fights and demands a quick answer; casting and protecting Tarmogoyf should be our primary gameplan both pre- and post-board.

Round 3 
Result

Our Twin matchup, on the other hand, seems excellent. They are restricted to pretty much just Lightning Bolt as far as removal goes, relying on counterspells to “control” the game and keep creatures off the board. This lines up very poorly against our flash threats, Tarmogoyf and Monastery Swiftspear, which lets us play to the board first and then push our advantage with tempo-generating spells like Vapor Snag and Remand. After board, we get to take full advantage of the power of Dispel, and counterspells of our own alongside Vapor Snag and Spellskite make it very difficult for Twin to combo out.

Quick Hits

Rather than go in-depth on matchups/sideboarding, I had the idea that a short, bullet-point style section to communicate quick thoughts/tips would work with the “notes” feel of the text portion of this series. As always, expect a lot of the main discussion to occur verbally in-game, but it seemed a good idea to me to provide a short section in each article where readers that might not have time to watch all the videos/want some quick tips can get some information from the article. Let me know what you guys think, for now, let’s call this our test run.

  • Vapor Snag has a lot of utility.Vapor Snag Don’t be afraid to Vapor Snag a Monastery Swiftspear to save it from removal! We don’t play many creatures, and often need to be racking up damage each turn. Swiftspear’s haste ability means that Vapor Snag isn’t even that much of a drawback, as we can just replay him next turn and get right back to swinging.
  • Vapor Snag draws us cards! When used on Abbot of Keral Keep or Snapcaster Mage, we can turn Vapor Snag into a cantrip. This is great against control decks and combo decks that might not have a bunch of creature targets, and can be life-saving if we need to dig for a certain spell or re-gain access to something in our graveyard.
  • Don’t be lazy with Mishra’s Bauble! It doesn’t always need to be cast turn one. If we don’t have a Monastery Swiftspear to take advantage of the prowess, and we already have a plan for our turn two (say, play Tarmogoyf), it might be better to sit on the Bauble and see if we can get a prowess trigger off it a little down the line.Mishras Bauble Holding it instead of casting on turn one means we have at least two more draws (our turn two draw and turn three draw) to hit a Monastery Swiftspear, and while the one damage seems minor it can really matter over the course of a game. Prowess triggers and Vapor Snag life adds up, so take things slow and think through everything!
  • On the other hand, if we don’t have much going on (say our hand is poor, or our best turn two play is Gitaxian Probe/Snapcaster flashing back Probe), cycling the Bauble to dig for Tarmogoyf/Serum Visions might also be right. It’s a delicate balance and a squeeze that’s not immediately easy to solve, but that’s what makes this puzzle so fun!
  • Decks looking to interact with us in combat or attempt to race all seem to be great matchups. Archetypes like Burn, Grixis Control, Twin, and other creature decks seem to be what we are built to prey on. Slow combo like Scapeshift, or creature based combo like Elves also seem to be great matchups. Jund is poor, and Tron might be diffcult as well. I haven’t played against Living End but we might not be fast enough/have enough interaction to push them out of their lane. Keep this in mind when tuning the sideboard!

Conclusion

Thanks for watching! Temur Prowess is a fast, synergistic aggro deck that can take advantage of Abbot of Keral Keep more than any other strategy in the format, and gets to play cool under-the-radar spells like Mishra’s Bauble, Rancor, Seal of Fire, and Vapor Snag. The deck has a lot of play to it and can play aggressive or controlling depending on multiple factors, and the decision trees involved are both long and complex. I’ve had a lot of fun playing this deck, as we really can “play it how we want to”, and the sideboard allows for even more customization to really make it our own. If you’d like to see more of this deck in action feel free to stop by my Twitch stream at twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming, where we will definitely be evolving and updating this strategy for weeks to come. If you have any comments/suggestions/questions, let me know in the comments! Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

Trevor Holmes
The_Architect on MTGO
Twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming
Twitter.com/7he4rchitect

Trevor started playing Magic in 2011. He plays primarily online and studies Architecture at UNCC. Recent paper Magic accomplishments include a 2015 Regional PTQ win qualifying for Pro Tour: Magic Origins and a Day Two performance at GP Charlotte. He also streams weekdays at twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming! Follow him at twitter.com/7he4rchitect and architectgaming.wordpress.com!

14 thoughts on “Trevor Holmes Plays MTGO: Temur Prowess

    1. Weird. It works for me in all three of my browsers, and it’s a fairly common code. Sometimes these things don’t work because it’s an outdated script, but this one is pretty up-to-date. Anyone else having issues with the spoiler tags?

  1. I find myself greatly enjoying this series of articles, Trevor. Keep up the good work!

    On the subject of the deck, I found myself rather unimpressed with Rancor here. I think I’d probably opt for another Seal of Fire to feed the Goyfs, as well as have a bit more reach/removal. Speaking of removal, I noticed that the deck is probably in the market for a sweeper that can take out the likes of Goyf and other Bolt-proof blockers when you’re pressing in for the kill – maybe Engineered Explosives?

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