Choosing the Standard Energy Deck For You

Feature Article from Seth Manfield
Seth Manfield
10/4/2017 11:01:00 AM
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At the moment, we are in a spot where Energy decks encompass a large portion of the Standard format. In fact, if you call Energy decks one single strategy, clearly it is the most heavily played strategy in Standard at the moment. However, there are many decks that can take advantage of Attune with Aether and Aether Hub. There are both familiar energy based decks, and some that are brand new.

Temur Energy

I'm going to start with the basic Temur Energy deck. This deck has been around for a while now.

This deck is able to make use of most of the best energy cards, while still having a solid mana base. Servant of the Conduit really helps smooth out your draws, while Bristling Hydra remains an annoying threat for both control decks and Ramunap Red. Whirler Virtuoso is one of the big payoff cards in this deck because of how much energy you can produce. This is a card that other energy builds don't have access to, and is a great way to make use of excess energy. With Whirler Virtuoso in play you don't run the risk of being “energy flooded.”

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We have seen Chandra, Torch of Defiance in and out of the main deck here, and Jaberwocki seems to be a fan of the card. We are talking about the most powerful planeswalker in Standard, and the mana base can support casting it as early as turn three alongside a Servant of the Conduit. Counting Chandra, this deck has a lot of ways to kill creatures. If your opponent plays a card like Hostage Taker, there is a very good chance you can get it off the board immediately.

Alongside a playset of Harnessed Lightning, there are some Abrades and a single Magma Spray. These are burn spells that we have seen in this deck before. It is hard to say how good Abrade is right now as Mardu Vehicles has declined in popularity, but there are other troublesome artifacts around, like God-Pharoah's Gift.

At five mana you are able to cast a big payoff card, and there are a lot of them to choose from. In this case we see more removal in Glorybringer, and a big beater in Verdurous Gearhulk. Glorybringer is still very good against any creature strategy, despite players starting to move away from the card. Verdurous Gearhulk provides some more beef, but isn't at battle tested as Glorybringer in this version of Temur Energy.

The Fourth Color

There are plenty of players who believe that the five-drops in Temur Energy aren't sufficient, and turn to black as a potential mirror breaker.

The Four-Color Energy deck looks very similar to regular Temur Energy, but it has added The Scarab God, a card that can simply take over the game when left unchecked. Temur Energy doesn't typically play removal that can exile The Scarab God, though here there is one copy of Hour of Glory in the sideboard. Without a way to exile a creature, there is no way to permanently get The Scarab God off the board, so it will be able to win the long game. The downside to adding the black is the sacrifice to the mana base.

Aether Hub and Servant of the Conduit have the ability to produce black, but you also want to be able to search for a black source with Attune with Aether, and that means playing a basic Swamp. There will be times when that basic Swamp creates some real problems. Even though we see Chandra, Torch of Defiance as a one-of here, it isn't going to come down as reliably due to the changes to the mana base. However, by playing a single Swamp, you also get access to sideboard cards that wouldn't be available otherwise.

I already mentioned Hour of Glory as an answer to opposing copies of The Scarab God, but there is also Cartouche of Ambition as a way to create problems for Ramunap Red. Putting Cartouche of Ambition on a Bristling Hydra is very difficult to beat. You are able to immediately kill a creature most of the time with the counter, and then the life gain allows you to win almost any race. We see this list is trying to go a bit bigger compared to the Temur Energy deck, with not just The Scarab God but other five-mana spells as well.

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Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is a card that has been in and out of these energy decks, and typically you want access to one or two copies. There are a lot of creatures in the deck capable of crewing Skysovereign, and it is able to tear down opposing Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso as will. Confiscation Coup is another card that has started to move out of sideboards and into the main deck. While this is a card that is practically worthless against control, Confiscation Coup being able to steal the opponent's best threat in a mirror is a big deal.

Sultai Energy

There are certainly plenty of card choices to make with your Temur Energy deck, but there are also other base colors worth taking a look at. In fact, perhaps the hottest Energy deck right now is completely new to the format, and is Sultai-flavored. This is what Andrew Jessup took down the latest Open with.

While this is also an Energy deck, it looks dramatically different from the Four-Color Energy deck, even though it includes the same colors. By having black as one of the base colors you can take advantage of two-drops like Winding Constrictor and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Winding Constrictor works very well alongside energy as it means that any card that produces energy now produces an extra energy, and that has a way of adding up.

A lot of the strength of this deck comes from the power of its two-mana plays. Once Glint-Sleeve Siphoner starts drawing cards it becomes pretty difficult to beat this deck, especially in a creature-on-creature fight. Since this deck plays Winding Constrictor, it is split in two different directions, one being the energy theme and the other being counters. Walking Ballista fits here because of Winding Constrictor, and there is also Rishkar, Peema Renegade. These cards are classics in any deck trying to abuse Winding Constrictor, and make large creatures very early in the game.

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Longtusk Cub also benefits from Winding Constrictor, since its counters get doubled every time you activate its ability by spending two energy. Longtusk Cub works well with both themes of the deck, and that means it is almost always going to be one of your best cards regardless of the matchup. Blossoming Defense means that you have ways to save your early threats, and get them through opposing defenses in combat.

Blossoming Defense also saves one of the most important late-game plays in the deck: Hostage Taker. If you are able to protect Hostage Taker with Blossoming Defense, it ensures you will be able to cast whatever card you have taken from the opponent on the following turn. Hostage Taker is quickly proving itself to be one of those format-defining cards. There will be plenty of times when you draw Hostage Taker later in the game, and have enough mana to take an opposing creature or artifact and cast it immediately. Hostage Taker is perfect here as a curve-topper, which means that this deck will have plenty of plays it can make before it comes time for Hostage Taker to come online.

The only card that costs more than Hostage Taker is The Scarab God, and there is only a single copy. That makes this deck much less reliant on five-drops compared to some of the other Energy decks, and there is no need to play Servant of the Conduit as a mana accelerator. Rogue Refiner is always going to be great in any Energy deck that can cast it, and this one is no exception. Rogue Refiner is one of the best ways of creating card advantage in these decks.

The sideboard also looks very different than the Temur Energy deck, as we see more black cards. Having access to both Duress and Negate for the control matchups is a pretty big game-changer. There is even a single Spell Pierce as an additional counter. There are also some other Ixalan hits in the sideboard as well. Deathgorge Scavenger comes in against Ramunap Red as a source of life gain, but also is going to be impressive against God-Pharoah's Gift as a way to take creatures out of the opponent's graveyard.

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The sideboard of the Sultai deck is one of the main incentives to play it, as it is going to be ready for many of the best decks in the format. Vraska, Relic Seeker is a nightmare for control decks as being able to destroy enchantments and artifacts adds some additional versatility, to a threat that is already very powerful. Vraska's Contempt gives you a clean answer to planeswalkers and Hazoret the Fervent, when that becomes important.

This Sultai Energy deck is likely the hottest deck in Standard at the moment, so watch out for it! The matchup against both control and Ramunap Red seems to be good, and simply a very well-rounded deck, with lots of answers to the best cards in other decks.

Experimenting with Energy

I do have one more energy deck to talk about, and this is one that isn't seeing that much play right now.

This energy deck is Jund colors, and has powerful Gods like Rhonas the Indomitable and Hazoret the Fervent to finish off the opponent. This also happens to be a home for Heart of Kiran, a card that has been seeing less play recently. Greenbelt Rampager provides an easy way to crew Heart of Kiran, even if you don't have the energy to keep it in play. In fact, every single creature in the deck can crew Heart of Kiran, including Gods that aren't able to attack.

By playing Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger, you open up the door to also have Unlicensed Disintegration, which is still a great removal spell in a deck with artifacts. Just like other black decks, you want to play four copies of Fatal Push, with all the troublesome cheap creatures running around. Of the decks I have talked about, this is the most aggressive, in order to turn on Hazoret the Fervent as soon as possible. Gods are very difficult to answer right now, and this deck has them in spades.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield
@SethManfield




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