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Standard is a format defined by change — every set release is a new format, and every week a new metagame to explore. Still, the pillars of Standard are often showcased by powerful midrange strategies, and in this regard Core 2020 did not disappoint. With even more threats that offer game breaking curve out potential and utility both early and late, Elementals is poised for dominant tournament performances in the Core 2020 format.

In this article, I’ll be evaluating the card choices for Elementals, and briefly going over the sideboard options, as well as other cards to look out for in the coming weeks.

The Elemental Package

Risen Reef | Quickly earning its place as the most talked about card in Standard, Risen Reef is living up to the hype. While a reasonable card without any Elementals, Risen Reef quickly snowballs out of control when paired with any other playable Elementals. Stacking with other Risen Reefs lets you churn through your deck at a remarkable rate. As much as I loathe to make bold claims, I honestly feel that Risen Reef is the best card in Standard.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil | Another Elemental payoff printed in C20, Omnath is a reasonably costed threat that snowballs in longer games. With the explore package and Risen Reef to consistently hit land drops, Omnath can quickly overpower any threat on the battlefield. Four copies is the singular reason to play Red, and is well worth stretching the mana. With a four drop this powerful, it should come as no surprise that most other midrange shells are quickly being invalidated.

Cavalier of Thorns | While not explicitly an Elemental payoff, Cavalier of Thorns nonetheless synergizes with what the rest of the package is trying to do. It smooths out your land drops, while accelerating into larger Hydroid Krasis or Risen Reef chains. It blocks otherwise problematic threats like Lyra or Skymarcher Aspirant, and the 5/6 body means it pressure most planeswalkers. While fueling the graveyard is not an explicit benefit, this does set up Cavalier’s death trigger, which can ordinarily be used to recur any spent resources. Four copies is highly recommended.

The Explore Package

Wildgrowth Walker | We’ve talked about the explore package numerous times (here and here, for example), so I’ll be exceptionally brief. Wildgrowth Walker is both an elemental and a payoff for what is considered the best midrange curve in the format.

Merfolk Branchwalker | While not a mana accelerant, Merfolk Branchwalker works well with Wildgrowth Walker and smooths out draws.

Jadelight Ranger | Long a Standard staple, Jadelight Ranger offers a benefit nearly rivaling that of Risen Reef, but can end games significantly quicker due to the high power and toughness ceiling.

Supporting Cast

Leafkin Druid | Many lists choose to play Paradise Druid, but I prefer the synergies with both Omnath and Risen Reef. In this way, my late game mana dork is seldom dead, trading consistent mana generation for late game fuel. Tapping for two mana is significant, as the explore package and a multitude of ways to hit land drops ensures a constant stream of cards. Temur Elementals never runs out of steam, and can use as much mana as possible every turn.

Hydroid Krasis | With War of the Spark, Hydroid Krasis fell from the superior Midrange top end into merely a powerful engine. The perfect use for the abundance of Elemental fueled mana, Hydroid Krasis gives the deck access to a game ending flyer. Two or three copies is sufficient, as it is not a true mirror breaker.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World | A powerful planeswalker rising to prominence due to the powerful X spells in Standard, Nissa gives Elementals a grindy planeswalker that can create six or more mana in a single turn. Nissa also gives threats that survive through River’s Rebuke or Planar Cleansing. A few copies is sufficient, though three or four are recommended.

Spark Double | A spicy addition to the list, Spark Double lets you double up on Omnath triggers, while adding additional copies of Risen Reef into the deck. Copying Nissa is a reasonable option as well, though less significant.

The Sideboard

Veil of Summer | A crucial sideboard card against Esper, as it shuts off both Thought Erasure and Noxious Grasp. In versions with more noncreatures Veil acts similarly to Dispel, as it can prevent Negate or Dovin’s Veto from countering a threat.

Aether Gust | Color hosers are often powerful, and with the power of Green decks in the metagame Aether Gust is an excellent choice. It delays both Nissa and Wilderness Reclamation, while tempoing huge blockers like Omnath or Cavalier of Thorns, while doubling as a way to slow down aggressive Red decks.

Fry | While less important than it would have been in War of the Spark Standard, Fry nonetheless answers Lyra and nearly any threat out of Esper. The primary reason to play Fry is as an extra removal spell against Vampires and fringe aggressive decks.

Flame Sweep | Fiery Cannonade has made many lists in Standard, but an unconditional version is bound to put pressure on Aggro decks. With Vampires a force in the metagame, Flame Sweep is an appealing choice — it even avoids hitting your own Hydroid Krasis.

Negate | Preserving board presence against board wipes is one of the best ways for Elementals to fight through the Kaya’s Wrath decks, and Negate also serves to supplement poor interactions against Scapeshift.

Thrashing Brontodon | While Wilderness Reclamation is on the decline, Thrashing Brontodon serves a role against both Ixalan’s Binding and aggressive decks. A 3/4 body can’t be killed by Sorin, and can remove Icon of Ancestry and Legion’s Landing before they snowball out of control.

Shifting Ceratops | A haymaker sideboard threat against both Esper and Mono Blue, Shifting Ceratops gives Elementals an additional proactive threat to pressure planeswalkers with. Two copies is sufficient, though it is worth nothing the lack of good mirror breakers in the sideboard as is. If the Mirror becomes the deck to beat, considering playing more impactful threats.

Other Considerations

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar | A mirror breaker in grindy Elemental matchups, Multani can come down as a 6/6 and grow quickly into a 10/10 or larger. Few cards can provide dominant board presence in the way Multani can.

Flood of Tears | Often paired alongside the fourth copy of Nissa, Flood of Tears is close to a one sided sweeper as Elementals will get. It is trivial to satisfy the return condition, and lands animated by Nissa will not be bounced — giving the deck a combo kill.

Paradise Druid | A shoe-in over Merfolk Branchwalker in versions without the explore package, Paradise Druid lets elementals go bigger earlier in the game. It also mana fixes for Red and Blue cards in the sideboard.

Chandra, Awakened Inferno | An early addition to Elemental lists, the only reason to exclude her from the list is due to a high amount of Mirrors. As she does little to affect the board against Elementals, she may be a worthwhile consideration in the sideboard.


Thanks for checking out our Temur Explorementals Deck Tech, and as always, let us know what decks you want to see in the comments section below. You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/PariahPopular for more competitive Standard content.