[EDH First Pass] – Surrak Tarkir Block Constructed – Temur and Atarka

My very first block playing Magic seriously was Fate Reforged. I remember reading the Planeswalker Guides to Tarkir articles and trying to decide what clan to pick for my PreRelease kit. Ultimately I went with Temur/Atarka largely due to my affinity for Green and Red at the time, putting up with Blue. And while Blue isn’t my favorite color in Magic, it has grown on me when paired with its Temur counterparts (Izzet, and Simic, in addition to Gruul). When Dragons of Tarkir season was over, I had drafted quite a bit of DTK and FRF (sadly missing triple KTK) and felt the urge and call to create an EDH deck around my favorite clan, as a means by which to capture the moment in time of why I loved the clan so much. A snapshot of Temur across the block. With the exception of one card from M19 that is too perfect to pass up, this deck has largely remained unchanged and barring a Return to Tarkir in the future or other supplemental sets that have Temur / Atarka cards, will keep with that building restriction.

Note: The decklist linked below may not reflect the contents of this article depending on when you are reading it… though for this deck that is much less likely. 

While this deck is first and foremost an exercise in creative deck building given a limitation (ie block constructed (sans one card that was too good not to include) around a theme), I still wanted it to be a cohesive deck with a gameplan. In EDH the Commander gives some credence toward that, and Surrak Dragonclaw was the commander of choice given his color identity.

Surrak primarily cares about us getting creatures out and beating down. It’s not as fast as a typical aggro deck so we can’t play that route. Similarly, the limited pool of our creatures doesn’t allow us to play the ramp game. So we’ll have to do a hodgepodge of things here

  • Get out our big creatures (specifically 4 power or greater) out ASAP. There are some cards that ramp us, some that cheat big things into play, and some that makes smaller creatures bigger. Surrak helps in this regard by making them uncounterable, so that cards that care about having these
  • Control Combat. Surrak already grants Trample making blocking not possible for smaller creature decks. Some cards eliminate blockers further by tapping or setting up blocking restrictions or adding keywords. There are a handful of counterspells included as well to remove problematic tricks.
  • Keep on the pressure. A number of our cards help us continue to draw through the deck (usually if we get the larger creatures out).

Most cards in a block are geared toward limited and wouldn’t strictly make the cut for an EDH deck, so I tried to focus on creatures with effects that go beyond themselves but help others as well. As an additional restriction, I tried to include as many cards with Temur or Atarka watermarks as possible, though I also allowed myself some cards that clearly were flavored (by art, name or primarily flavor text) toward Temur and Atarka s a clan.

Surrak Dragonclaw

Temur’s keyword for KTK (and FRF) was Ferocious – basically cards would care about whether or not there was a creature with power 4 on your side of the battlefield. There are 23 cards in the deck that either produce or are 4 power creatures, as opposed to 14 creatures with power less than 4 (ignoring any potential boosts).

Of the 31 cards in this set with the Temur watermark, I included 21 (including Surrak), the rest being largely vanilla or french vanilla creatures or limited-only cards. The 4 non-watermarked cards are clearly Temur focused, either by virtue of mechanic or flavor text.

I actually had this deck built out long ago and was not expecting to ever upgrade it to preserver its block-constructed nature. However, with the release of Goreclaw in M19 with his pseudo Ferocious mechanic and his integral relationship with Surrak, I had to make space for him.

KTK (24)
Ashcloud Phoenix
Avalanche Tusker – WM
Barrage of Boulders – WM
Bear’s Companion – WM
Crater’s Claws – WM
Embodiment of Spring – WM
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
Heir of the Wilds – WM
Icefeather Aven – WM
Icy Blast – WM
Rattleclaw Mystic – WM
Roar of Challenge – WM
Savage Knuckleblade – WM
Savage Punch – WM
See the Unwritten – WM
Seek the Horizon
Snowhorn Rider – WM
Stubborn Denial – WM
Temur Ascendancy – WM
Temur Banner – WM
Temur Charger – WM
Temur Charm – WM
Trap Essence – WM

As the small set in the block, it makes sense that FRF has the smallest representation. Here you also see the shift toward the RG focus this deck has, splashing for blue as Atarka has a larger influence. Of the 18 cards with watermarks (either Temur or Atarka), 13 are represented, again leaving out relatively bad (for EDH) vanilla / downside creatures or spells. Supplant Form again gets by with its flavor text

FRF (15)
Atarka, World Render – WM
Destructor Dragon – WM
Flamewake Phoenix – WM
Frontier Siege – WM
Shaman of the Great Hunt – WM
Shamanic Revelation – WM
Supplant Form
Temur Battle Rage – WM
Temur Runemark – WM
Temur Sabertooth – WM
Temur War Shaman – WM
Whisperer of the Wilds – WM
Whisperwood Elemental – WM
Winds of Qal Sisma – WM
Yasova Dragonclaw

DTK has equal representation (barring Surrak) as KTK – as all things should be. Here the blue influence is almost totally gone as Atarka takes over, bringing a minor dragon subtheme with all Atarka dragons (aside from Herdchaser Dragon) represented. Of the 26 Temur cards, only 16 were represented. Some of the others got in on Flavor text, Sarkhan got in on color identity, and some got in with Atarka’s de facto rule over all volcano / magma related cards after Jeskai eschewed that color. Explosive Vegetation technically doesn’t seem to be affiliated with a specific wedge, but the art looked mountainous enough, and having some ramp/fixing is always helpful.

DTK (24)
Ainok Survivalist – WM
Atarka Monument – WM
Atarka Pummeler – WM
Atarka’s Command – WM
Berserkers’ Onslaught
Circle of Elders – WM
Commune with Lava
Den Protector – WM
Dragon Whisperer – WM
Dragonlord Atarka – WM
Dragonlord’s Servant – WM
Epic Confrontation
Explosive Vegetation
Foe-Razer Regent – WM
Harbinger of the Hunt – WM
Hardened Berserker – WM
Magmatic Chasm
Sarkhan Unbroken
Savage Ventmaw – WM
Shaman of Forgotten Ways – WM
Stampeding Elk Herd – WM
Surrak, the Hunt Caller – WM
Volcanic Rush
Volcanic Vision

Obviously Normally we don’t talk about sideboards for EDH, but I came across this package of cards that I unfortunately was unable to find slots for in the deck. These are cross-block cards that care about and enable the face-down matters synergies between Morph, Manifest and Megamorph. Above I only included those cards I thought could stand alone in the deck that happened to synergize with these (8 total), and honestly the 2 power / toughness that a Facedown creature has has anti-synergy with what the rest of the deck wants to do around 4 power matters. Having a decent percentage of non-creature spells in the deck would make these manifesters a bit tricky to play. Were I to keep the block-tribal nature of the deck but focus on the RUG Morph archetype, I would have had to include some relatively bad creatures (ie vanilla) which Surrak doesn’t truly synergize with.

Notably I did not include Formless Nurturing in the below list, largely due to its art being that of Abzan. I wasn’t sure if Cloudform or Rageform counted either as they could potentially be Jeskai but there were not any clear indicators that I could discern.

I also considered sneaking in Silver bordered “Really Epic Punch” as it would complete the trifecta with Savage Punch and Epic Confrontation. That said it just doesn’t do enough in the deck to justify it, plus the watermark is all wrong

Bonus Package: Facedown Matters
Ethereal Ambush
Fierce Invocation
Obscuring Aether
Trail of Mystery
Land wise I’m using basic lands Island 179 from FRF, Mountain 261 DTK and Forest 264 DTK, in addition to the 3 relevant gainlands and a Frontier Bivouac. Nothing too crazy. Overall cost of this deck is just under $50, with the priciest cards being Surrak ($9), Dragonlord Atarka ($7), Shaman of the Forgotten Ways ($5) and Atarka’s Command ($4) making up half the cost of the deck.
Overall, I’d call this Surrak deck the most “fair” of EDH decks I own as it doesn’t try to do any crazy degenerate combos, but rather through mostly creature combat, a bit of distruption and a smidge of combat manipulation. Does this have a place in EDH? Maybe, maybe not depending on the meta strength. However as an exercise in creative deckbuilding and devotion to my chosen Color Identity, I’d like to think I made Surrak proud with my resourcefulness. I don’t anticipate a rebuild of this deck (unless there is a Return to Tarkik block coming up) but who knows?
Keep It Funky,