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Stranger Things have Happened: UR Emerge in Standard

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Going into SCG Columbus my team, Team LegitMTG, built and tested a few decks based on cards we thought would be good as well as existing archetypes that would get improvements. It was clear immediately that Bant Company had gained the most with Spell Queller, Thalia, and Tamiyo. The other deck that we spent a lot of time on was Emerge. There were two cards that we were focused on and a third was a good card, but nothing to go crazy for.

Those cards were Elder Deep-Fiend, Distended Mindbender, and Wretched Gryff. The first powerful interaction we wanted to test would be Kozilek’s Return which pushes you towards Ur, or Grixis if you’re really trying to jam them all into a deck. UR is what I got started on. My first draft had a lot of Thought-Knot Seers and Hedron Crawlers while lacking the discard outlets in Tormenting Voice and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. We noticed immediately with our testing that we almost never wanted to nor had the time to actually cast Kozilek’s Return, simply because of the amount x/3’s in Bant Company. We also noticed that Hedron Crawler was not very good in the early game and a terrible top deck in the late game. Thought-Knot Seer had become much worse as well because Bant Company usually had the Spell Queller for it or they used Reflector Mage to bounce it. The other decks would usually just beat through it or kill it. Reality Smasher was an MVP the whole time because you could threaten to deal your opponent 10 damage on turn 5 with a turn 4 Deep-Fiend into turn 5 Smasher if they didn’t play around it. You could just play into a tapped out board and kill the planeswalker of your choice.

After some initial testing we found the deck to be making some extremely powerful plays as well as being a very good contender against Bant Company simply because a flashbacked Kozilek’s Return kills everything in their deck. Despite its power it was fairly inconsistent executing it’s game plan. It was two days later that Chris Stine, a teammate from Bowling Green, and I were driving to LegitMTG’s storefront in Owensboro, KY, and listening to Gerry Thompson’s GAM podcast in which he started to talk about what he expected for Eldritch Moon Standard and the power level of the emerge cards that we knew we were on the right track with our testing and our ideas for the format. Gerry T and Michael Majors also discussed the emerge decks and they had been working on a Ur emerge list along the same line as our list, but their more tuned list had some sweet discard outlets in Tormenting Voice and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. We immediately threw them in the deck because it fixed the exact problems we had found with the deck by giving us 7 ways to put Kozilek’s Return in the graveyard without having to cast it. The deck started to perform more consistently and really highlighted the power the deck had. We started beating Bant Company rather consistently even though there were games where you were just going to be too slow or you would get tempo’d out of the game by Spell Queller and Reflector Mage.

Then I ran directly into a wall, Ur Eldrazi control. We found that Ur emerge just couldn’t beat counter spells and Kozilek’s Return killed all the three drops we were trying to use for emerge. The Ur Eldrazi control list also had a decent Bant Company matchup and won a good number of games just countering some spells and casting Ulamog. The most terrifying thing playing the control list was that it couldn’t beat a turn 2 Lambholdt Pacifist 75% of the time. If it transformed, then you died. Your only answer is to either counter it on the play or have Spatial Contortion the turn they play it. After getting beaten by Pacifist 6 games in a row I decided to abandon the deck.

At this time Columbus was 4 days away and I was afloat in an ocean of deck ideas trying to come up with something that was better than Bant Company or more powerful and consistent than Ur emerge. I tested BG delirium decks, Ug emerge (had very little removal besides Spatial Contortion and had to rely on its own creatures way too much) Wr humans decks, Bant Company variants (I decided real quick I didn’t want to play the mirror a bunch as it was extremely grindy and convoluted), Uw spirits, Uw flash, Gr goggles, and yet nothing proved itself worthy of playing at the open. I was close to bailing on the trip entirely when I just decided to trust in the initial testing of Ur emerge and jam big creatures until they die. The list I registered was:

Overall, I was happy with the deck and went 9-6 in the tournament, the deck went 10-5 (7-4 against Bant CoCo variants), but I conceded the last round to a buddy so that he would be qualified for the invitational in New Jersey. This record was good enough for 64th place. My pairings were a little unlucky and I ended up playing against Bant Company variants 11 of the 15 rounds.

Rd1 W 2-0 vs Bant Humans
Rd2 W 2-1 vs RUG Stuff
Rd3 W 2-1 vs Bant (w/ displacer)
Rd4 W 2-1 vs Bant
Rd5 W 2-0 vs Bant
Rd6 W 2-0 vs Bant (Dan jessup)
Rd7 L 0-2 vs Bant (w/ tamiyo)
Rd8 L 1-2 vs Bant (w/o tracker md)
Rd9 W 2-1 vs Ur Dragons
Rd10 L 0-2 vs Bant
Rd11 W 2-1 vs Uw Angels
Rd12 W 2-1 vs Bant Humans
Rd13 L 1-2 vs Rg Goggles(top 8 player)
Rd14 L 1-2 vs Bant (Kevin jones)
Rd15 W 2-0 vs Bant (2 fiends main)

A quick breakdown shows that I started off 6-0 and finished day one at 7-2. Day two was a little rough for me as I was playing terribly and missing key plays in critical situations where I needed to play tight in order to win. The last round I was paired against Bobby Graves out of Louisville and he needed at least a top 64 here in order to be qualified for the invitational so after I won the match 2-0 he asked me if I would concede and since I don’t plan to attend any more opens for a bit I conceded the match. Luckily I squeaked in at 64th place and made $100 so I was pretty happy with the outcome and the good karma coming my way. All four of us on Team LegitMTG made day 2, two of us at 7-2 and two at 6-3, and three of the four top 64’d and cashed which made us all extremely happy that no one was left sitting on the sidelines for day 2.

A few key things I noticed playing the deck:

Selfless Spirit is a tough card to beat, but it isn’t impossible if you can kill off the first one and flashback a return before they hit a second one.
• Spell Queller can be a very good card against you so you need to choose when to cast your three drops and which ones to lead off with in case they get Queller’d.
• Without sufficient pressure already on the board it is extremely difficult to beat Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Kevin Jones drew 7-10 cards off of Tamiyo in our third game.
• The versions of Bant Company that cut Tireless Tracker from the main are much easier to beat simply because it was the one creature that could both provide card advantage and get big enough in the late game to avoid both sides of Kozilek’s Return.
• Stacking your triggers correctly for each situation is extremely important. For example with Wretched Gryff and Sanctum I normally stack the triggers so that I draw first and then search for Sanctum so that if you draw what you were going to getting you can either not sacrifice the sanctum or get something different.
• Choosing when to flashback your Kozilek’s Return. It’s not always correct to flashback a return to wipe up 2-3 creatures. If you have another way to trigger in the next couple turns, then you can let them commit more to the board and try to get as much value as possible. Deep-Fiend is such a big threat alongside your small grindy guys that you can afford to be patient with your returns. Other times you are gonna have to sweep a couple creatures off the board say if there is a Thalia or Tireless Tracker on board that you can’t answer otherwise.
• Sanctum of Ugin offers a lot of versatility since it can search for any Eldrazi and which one you need depends on the situation you’re in. For example, you normally get another Elder Deep-Fiend or Reality Smasher, but there are gonna be situations that you want to grab an Eldrazi Skyspawner if you already have a Deep-Fiend in your hand and want to play it alongside the first.

Some changes that I’ve considered for the deck is removing the Titan’s Presence from the maindeck and replacing that with a Lightning Axe as it deals with just about everything, it’s also more mana efficient, and can be used as a discard outlet for Kozilek’s Return. Titan’s Presence was primarily for the mirror and Worldbreaker, but I didn’t see any other Ur emerge decks and I only saw a couple Worldbreakers all weekend.

For the sideboard I would take out the Clash of Wills as it is really only good on the play and you can never really afford to leave up enough mana for it to be good. I would like another Dispel and Summary Dismissal in those slots. Dispel is more cost efficient and helps with the problem cards of Collected Company and Dromoka’s Command. Summary Dismissal is for the Eldrazi control, Goggles, and Emerge matchups. I also changed the Roast to Incendiary Flow so that I can hit Spell Queller more reliably. Just as a side note, I normally only boarded in all 3 Radiant Flames on the draw against Bant and I only boarded in one on the play as you get on the board first and they have to deal with your creatures in order to keep you from emerging on turn 4/5. On the play I boarded in Clash of Wills and Dispel so that you can play your spells and leave up cheap counter magic for their Collected Company.

It would look like this a lot of times

Take out on the play:
2 Pilgrims Eye, 1 Titan’s Presence, 3 Tormenting Voice
Put in on the play:
1 Radiant Flames, 2 Roast, 1 Dispel, 2 Clash of Wills

Take out on the draw:
2 Pilgrims Eye, 1 Titan’s Presence, 3 Tormenting Voice, 1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Put in on the draw:
3 Radiant Flames, 2 Roast, 1 Dispel, 1 Negate

With the changes I discussed the updated list I will be playing looks like this:

Overall, the deck is extremely powerful and has a favorable Bant matchup, but it can be a very skill intensive and grindy deck to play as well as requiring you to stay focused and alert. It is a powerhouse that has yet to be recognized by the majority of people and while I failed to put it in the top 8 I hope that top 64 will get it a little more recognition and will become a powerhouse in this standard dominated by Bant CoCo. Stranger Things have happened.

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