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Ever since starting 0-5 with Jund at the World Championship in Rome in 2009, I've tried to avoid playing midrange decks whenever possible. Every now and then, it's felt like the only choice for a Grand Prix or something, and it's never gone well. I was really hoping to find anything other than Attune with Aether to play in Albuquerque, since all of those decks are absolutely midrange, but when I failed to put up good results with anything else, I knew I had to just accept my fate and focus on playing as well as I could.
My success at the last Pro Tour with "Fail State Mono-Red," another deck I absolutely didn't want to have to played but managed to navigate decently when push came to shove, bolstered my confidence a little. More importantly, I had a fantastic team to help me out.
Thursday morning, when asked what I was going to play, I stepped over to a table where my teammates had a Temur deck laid out and were going over possible sideboard cards, and said, "Teach me how to Temur." After a couple of Leagues on Magic Online with rotating spotters to help me with sideboarding, mulligans, close plays, and just double-checking my intuitions, I felt prepared to try to do my best. Most importantly, we talked through the reasoning behind various expensive cards and our sideboard plans against other energy decks.
Everyone has the basic energy core: Attune with Aether, Harnessed Lightning, Servant of the Conduit, Longtusk Cub, Rogue Refiner, and Whirler Virtuoso. Those cards build the infrastructure of the game and set the course early, but often, they ultimately lead to some kind of battlefield stall, maybe where someone's getting through for a bit of damage because of Thopter advantage.
Longtusk Cub can theoretically run away with a game, but it almost never happens that way. Rogue Refiners can eventually double block it, and investing too much energy in it is a big risk because Harnessed Lightning profitably exchanges energy against pumps and getting a large Cub Confiscation Couped is an easy way to lose a game. Instead, early Longtusk Cubs mostly just try to make more energy that eventually converts into Thopters.
The net impact of all of this is that the game generally progresses smoothly to the mid-game, where bigger threats take over, and this is where the choices about which four-, five-, and six-mana spells you play makes the difference.
This had been the staple. It's the best thing you can resolve against U/B Control, and it's great (and very important) against aggro decks, especially Ramunap Red. The problem is that most of the time it doesn't do much in the mirror, especially in Game 1, though it can occasionally run away with games when the other player has a removal-heavy draw. Mostly, I think this just serves to hide how weak the card really is in the mirror most of the time.
Chandra's a fairly weak removal spell when under pressure, but fantastic on a battlefield stall or when not under pressure. It's great to be able to play on Turn 4 off Servant of the Conduit, great with Harnessed Lightning and other red removal spells, and a good way to get ahead while answering Glorybringer or an opposing Chandra the has already used its -3 ability. While it can be pressured by Thopters and doesn't match up well against an unchecked Bristling Hydra, most battlefields will lead to a stall where Chandra will be far better than Bristling Hydra.
This card is fantastic in the Energy mirror, where it has a wide array of great options when copying something and can easily trade off to generate an extra card's worth of value. The problem is that it doesn't work properly if you're losing to planeswalkers, and it's very weak against control decks, which will stop you from keeping a creature on the battlefield to copy and won't play their own, and it's bad against aggressive decks, where you want your four-mana play to be the best thing on the battlefield, not to trying to trade with their two-drop.
This is a reliable threat that's never bad, a powerful evasive creature that attacks planeswalkers well, creates a fast clock, and answers creatures. The floor on this card's power level is extremely high. The liability of this card is that it's expensive and can be cleanly answered with a single cheap removal spell, like Harnessed Lightning or, after sideboarding, Chandra's Defeat.