The Return of Emerge!

by Zen Takahashi on 17 July 2017, Monday

Zen Takahashi

The Return of Emerge!

Hello everybody!

The full Hour of Devastation is out! While the set does seem less powerful compared to Amonkhet, there are still many powerful cards that I expect will make an impact on Standard.

Personally, the card I'm most excited about is….Champion of Wits!

Champion of Wits

For those who know me, it's likely due to my success with Dredge in Modern, so it would probably come as no surprise that I love graveyard decks. While they are vulnerable to hate, I like them because it allows you to utilize another resource system that other decks aren't. This offers you numerous more options, whether it be abusing mana like Dredge, or generating card advantage via flashback spells.


Prized Amalgam Elder Deep-Fiend

While testing for Pro Tour Amonkhet, I worked quite a lot on Blue-Red Emerge. It was clear from the beginning that the deck was capable of some explosive draws, as it was one of the few decks in Standard that was able to abuse mana, thanks to the combination of Prized Amalgam, Kozilek's Return and Elder Deep-Fiend.

Unfortunately, the deck had too many issues surrounding consistency, and I eventually had to shelve the deck. However, the printing of Champion of Wits looks to change this. I believe Champion of Wits is exactly what Emerge strategies needed – a card that allows you to keep setting up, but actually affects the board so you don't fall too far behind.


Tragic Lesson


In addition to Champion of Wits, I also think that Tragic Lesson and Feral Prowler are both possible key cards that we may see in these types of strategies. 

In addition to these new cards, I also believe that Kozilek's Return is very well positioned at the moment. Since the banning of Aetherworks Marvel, we've seen an uptick in midrange creature strategies such as Temur Energy, GB Constrictor and Zombies. 

These decks are aggressive, but are usually slow enough for you to set up an Elder Deep-Fiend with Kozilek's Return. If you look at these decks, you'll also see that they are vulnerable to a five-damage sweeper, as even their top end creatures end at four toughness. 

I will be going over two different types of Emerge decks that I believe are viable, and will discuss how I think these new cards from Hour of Devastation can improve them. 




Blue-Red Emerge

Emerge (HOU) (Standard - Others)

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Of the two decks, Blue-Red Emerge is the one I have had the most experience with. While working on the deck before, there were two main issues that I faced:


Stitchwing Skaab Advanced Stitchwing

1) The deck needs to have a Stitchwing Skaab or Advanced Stitchwing in the graveyard to get its engine going. 

If you had either in your opening hand, it was usually not too difficult to get one into your graveyard. However, in hands where you didn't have one, you were likely relying on a Tormenting Voice or Cathartic Reunion to find you one on turn two. 

The only problem was that this meant you also had to spend your third turn casting another one of these spells to get the flier into your graveyard, and then you would be spending your fourth turn returning the flier, and then on your fifth turn you can finally cast an Elder Deep-Fiend with Kozilek's Return. However, the creature decks in this format are far too powerful for you to catch up with a draw like that. 


2) Discarding two cards to return a flier is an expensive cost, and against a deck with a lot of removal, you will quickly find yourself running out of cards. If your draw involves multiple Prized Amalgam, this is not a big problem, but that is not always the case and you need to be prepared for that. 

I believe Champion of Wits significantly helps with the first issue, which is also the bigger problem. Now, instead of spending your third turn not interacting, you are able to contribute onto the board with a blocker, while still ensuring you have a flier in the graveyard for you fourth turn. 

If your opponent has an aggressive draw, you can even discard a Kozilek's Return and set up a turn four Elder-Deep Fiend – which may often be the difference between life and death. 


Tragic Lesson

Another card that I think has potential is Tragic Lesson. While I don't expect it to be as good as Champion of Wits, it does help solve the second issue with the deck, without having to play Fevered Visions – which I found to be hit or miss depending on the matchup. The card can act as a looting effect early in the game, but later in the game it can lead to an additional two cards. 

Since this deck only needs four lands to operate, it will often be happy to return a land to hand if it means being able to return more fliers from the graveyard. In a deck that struggles with consistency, a card that can cover multiple bases should be decent. 



Temur Emerge



Rogue Refiner Ishkanah, Grafwidow 

Unlike Blue-Red Emerge, Temurge is focused on playing an attrition game plan, with cards such as Rogue Refiner and Ishkanah, Grafwidow

The deck has less explosive draws as it can't abuse mana with Prized Amalgam, but has more inevitability in long games as it can grind opponents out with Ishkanah and World Breaker


Traverse the Ulvenwald 

Compared to Blue-Red Emerge, Temurge is also more focused around Elder Deep-Fiend and hitting Delirium. Champion of Wits is a perfect addition for this deck, as it acts as fodder to Elder Deep-Fiend, while helping you hit Delirium with its loot effect.

As this deck is planning to play a long game, it is also more concentrated on hitting its land drops so is much better at eternalizing Champion of Wits back from the graveyard. This is a very powerful effect, as it lets you see four fresh cards, which will often be enough to find what you need to close the game. 


Feral Prowler Primal Druid

Another card I want to try in this deck is Feral Prowler. While Primal Druid has been a staple in this strategy since its inception, without Emrakul, the Promised End, the deck isn't nearly as mana hungry as it used to be. Feral Prowler helps mitigate flooding and is a better topdeck in later stages of the game. 

It is also better at blocking, as it stops Dread Wanderer and if you have two of them you can do some double blocking. It is possible that if you're not playing Primal Druid, you shouldn't be playing World Breaker either, but I still like it as a Traverse target. 






Kozilek's Return

I hope you enjoyed this article as I covered some of the key cards from Hour of Devastation that I expect will see play in various Emerge strategies. With the way Standard is shaping up, Kozilek's Return looks to be very well positioned, and these new cards, especially Champion of Wits, will help provide these decks with some much-needed consistency. 

With my University exams now finished, I can properly begin my preparation for the next Pro Tour. I haven't played any standard since the previous Pro Tour, but by the sound of things, this format seems to be awesome. While it's hard to know if these decks are good until I try them, I will do my best to make them work! 

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 

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