Blue/Red Emerge Deck Tech (Standard) and Sideboard Guide
“Then everything changed and yet everything remained the same.”
First a disclaimer: I’m not “a pro” I haven’t won anything of significance, there is no particular reason you should put my opinions ahead of anyone else. I am a strong believer that testing out and iterating decks is more important in Magic: The Gathering rather than clever ideas or received opinion. Hopefully this article will inspire you to brew, even if you build something completely different.
I put this deck together and I’m very pleased with it and I think it is worthwhile sharing it now, so I thought I would write an article about it. This is the deck I took to Game Day and won with, and I think this a great deck to try out or take to your local FNM.
Standard Blue/Red Emerge
3 Hedron Crawler
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
2 Pilgrim’s Eye
2 Eldrazi Skyspawner
4 Matter Reshaper
1 Thought-Knot Seer
3 Reality Smasher
4 Wretched Grif
4 Elder Deep-Fiend
1 Clash of Wills
3 Fiery Impulse
1 Spatial Contortion
4 Kozilek’s Return
4 Shivan Reef
4 Wandering Fumarole
3 Yavimaya Coast
2 Battlefield Forge
4 Sanctum of Ugin
2 Highland Lake
2 Clash of Wills
2 Rending Volley
2 Eldrazi Obligator
3 Radiant Flames
1 Goblin Dark Dwellers
1 Thought Knot Seer
2 Chandra, Flamecaller
The Standard metagame has shifted dramatically since Pro Tour Sydney and I don’t think many people have properly caught up with it yet. I know some players will just be blindly copying the decks that appeared in the pro tour top 8 even though they had a poor record in Standard compared to other builds whose pilots didn’t top 8 only because of their worse draft record. Those decks that are not leveraging the powerful new strategies and cards from Eldritch Moon also won’t necessarily cut it in the next few weeks.
So here goes, I will start with a bold statement: Standard is broken but it’s not Collected Company that broke it.
There are three things in the history of Magic: The Gathering that have been shown to be excessively powerful to the point of breaking the game. These are cost reduction effects, casting spells for free and tutoring.
This deck has them all.
I for one welcome our new Eldrazi overlords.
I had been working on a Green/Blue Delirium deck for a while but then Pro Tour inspired me to change direction and to build a dedicated red blue and colourless emerge deck that eschews Green completely for more Red interaction spells. Owen Turtenwald’s Blue/Red/Green Emerge list has been getting a lot of attention, but I liked the look of Immanuel Gerschenson’s list that had a great record in the Standard portion of the tournament.
Here is my reasoning for cutting Green from the deck. Removing Green improves the consistency of the mana base. The mana in the Temur (Blue/Red/Green) version is being stretched to the limit with the deck effectively being 4 colours if you include colourless requirements. The deck needs Green mana on turn one Red by turn 3 then colourless mana by turn 3 and then two blue mana by turn four to cast it’s spells on time. Cutting Green allows more Red sources to cast Fiery Impulse and Kozilek’s Return as soon as possible reliably. The green version is relying on hoping on milling Kozilek’s Return and casting it for free with an emerge creature which is possible but not always reliable if you draw the Kozilek’s Return it can be stuck in your hand unable to cast or discard it.
Cutting green allows the deck to run more colourless sources. I really wanted to run the maximum amount of Sanctum of Ugin, this is such a powerful effect and effectively doubles the number of emerge creatures in the deck by allowing them to be chained together turn after turn, this also gives much more control over when you use Kozilek’s Return from the graveyard.
Green undeniably seems like a particularly strong Delirium colour and I am sure there is a place for Green in other builds as there is a crossover between the Emerge and Delirium enablers. I found it was just too fiddly and required a lot of pieces coming together to work reliably against decks with strong disruption (like BW Control) or hyper aggressive starts (like WR Humans) where I wanted to be answering threats and interacting rather than self-milling for the first two or three turns and hoping to survive long enough to cast Ishkanah, Grafwidow and stabilize.
I didn’t find the green value creatures to enable Emerge that interesting. Garwood Dryad is great but it is only one mana and needs Delirium to shine and I found Primal Druid could be replaced by Hedron Crawler (I would love to see the Persist or Undying mechanics in this format, Kitchen Finks or even Strangleroot Geist would be great).
Here is a brief rundown of the cards in the deck…
Elder Deep-Fiend, Wretched Grif and Kozilek’s Return provide the main engine for this deck. Kozilek’s Return can be cast or dumped in graveyard with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to wipe the opponents board later when casting an emerge threat. It is worth learning about the stack and ordering these triggers in the most effective way to chose when and when not to use them – often it is right not to use the trigger for Sanctum of Ugin or Kozilek’s Return at the first available opportunity.
Hedron Crawler, Pilgrim’s Eye and Matter Reshaper are there as efficient Emerge targets and ramp for further threats. Because you are using them for Emerge they won’t be around when Kozilek’s Return wipes the board.
Once you have cast an Emerge creature Sanctum of Ugin allows you to search up another Eldrazi to and to chain Elder Deep-Fiends together turn after turn or to find a Reality Smasher to attack with the following turn.
The Thought-Knot Seers provide more Emerge fuel and some disruption coming down on turn 3 with a Hedron Crawler and allowing a turn 4 Elder Deep Fiend. I will quite often sideboard these out against aggressive decks.
Jace,Vryn’s Prodigy is another early emerge target that will eat opponents removal and will smooth out draws and allows an early Kozilek’s Return to be put into the graveyard. Later in the game it can transform to re-buy removal or -2/0 a threatening creature. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is great and I almost never side him out, but could easily be replaced by an extra Hedron Crawler and something like two Tide Drifter to make a more budget build of this deck.
Fiery Impulse is removal that fights aggro and kills some early threats that can run away with the game, like Grim Flayer, Thalia Heretic Cathar or opposing Jace, Vryn’s Prodigys. It is worth being stingy or saving them to do extra damage to large creatures with these as Kozilek’s Return will often just wipe the board of all your opponent’s creatures.
Here is a brief rundown of the decks I expect be threats and play against in the new Standard metagame.
Black/White Control with Liliana, the Last Hope and other planeswalkers strong disruption removal and efficient creatures.
Red /Green Delirium Ramp with Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Dragonlord Atarka, Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Ceasless Hunger as a finisher.
Temur Emerge/Delirium Midrange, a multi coloured midrange deck uses the graveyard to fuel Emerge and Delirium creatures building up to an Emrakul, the Promised End for the endgame.
Black/Green Delirium Midrange or Aggro using Grim Flayer and Liliana, the Last Hope to power up Delirium creatures backed up with efficient removal and disruption.
Bant Company – the good old Bant Collected Company we all know and love see the SCG tour for details.
Blue/White Spirits a tribal tempo deck with Flash creatures and counterspells with Spell Queller-Archangel Avacyn.
White/Red Human aggro very aggressive with one drops and Anthem affects.
I would expect to see some aggressive Madness Vampires and Black/Green Aristocrats style lists.
Against fast aggro decks I would remove the Though-Knot Seers and Reality Smasher. Against the Ramp and Control decks the Fiery Impulses can be replaced. I would consider boarding out the Pilgrim’s Eyes against decks with many Liliana, the Last Hope.
In the sideboard Clash of Wills and Negate come in against control decks and to fight against decks with the cards that shouldn’t ever get to resolve and must be countered at all costs.
Rending Volley comes in against Avacyn and spirit decks.
The Radiant Flames and Dark Dwellers come in against fast aggro and spirits.
Eldrazi Obligator is there for the mirror match and against decks that are using big creatures to stabilise. Stealing a creature and attacking with it then using it to Emerge one of your own threats seems like great value. After playing with this card I am seriously considering swapping it for Act of Treason because it is very mana hungry to get the full effect from it.
Chandra, Flamecaller and the extra Thought-knot Seer come in against slow matchups and control and ramp decks.
As for future changes I have been considering adding Emrakul, the Promised End to the sideboard and making the deck more delirium friendly with Evolving Wilds and some sorceries. Since I wrote this article I have seen a similar list posted that was much less tuned and used Emrakul in the sideboard.
I hope you enjoy this list, please do let me know your thoughts in the comments!