Posted in GRAND PRIX LOS ANGELES 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 19, 2014

By Frank Karsten

Pro Tour Hall of Famer Brian Kibler finished Day 1 on top of the standings with his take on Temur Aggro. "It's been a while! Now that there are no more Lifebane Zombies, I can actually win!" he exclaimed after his final attack with Savage Knuckleblade put him at a pristine 9-0 record.

Brian Kibler with some of his favorite cards.

He unfortunately lost the first two rounds of Day 2, but I still looked to find out a little more, sitting down with Kibler to get the lowdown on the latest tweaks and card choices. For reference, here's his list.

Brian Kibler – Temur Aggro, Grand Prix Los Angeles 2014

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Could you tell me how you arrived at this deck?

"So I actually went through a number of iterations of all the green clans," Kibler said. "My original Temur decks were all more ramp into monsters, and they weren't good. Stormbreath Dragon in particular seemed pretty bad because it's so weak versus Jeskai, and spending all these slots in your deck to ramp into a flyer when your opponent can just Stoke the Flames it is not worth it."

"So after having my mana creatures and dragons killed and not winning, I made the deck more aggressive. I still kept the mana creatures that can actually attack and that can be turned into threats with Boon Satyr, but I scrapped Sylvan Caryatid and some copies of Stormbreath Dragon to add Heir of the Wilds. This is where my deck started turning good, and it also made Temur Charm better, because that's a card that's only good when you're ahead."

How important is it to have mana-efficient plays in a deck like this?

"A lot of the format comes down to exchanging mana and having good ways to spend your mana on early on," Kibler explained. "Tempo is so important in many matches. Heir of the Wilds, for example, is great because it's good on turn two and never outclassed in the late game."

What is the role of Crater's Claws in the deck?

"Crater's Claws is one of the super-powerful cards in the deck. It can be either Shock or better than Fireball. Crater's Claws for 0 is actually the way I've cast it the most---being able to play Savage Knuckleblade and kill their guy on turn three is a great way to get back tempo."

Did you change any cards from your Pro Tour decklist?

"I took out Stormbreath Dragon from the maindeck altogether because a five-cost spell that can easily die to Stoke the Flames is too bad. I replaced them by Ashcloud Phoenix and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. Also, at the Pro Tour I was too afraid of Jeskai Ascendancy combo so I had a fourth Stubborn Denial and a Destructive Revelry that I don't have now—I'm playing Disdainful Stroke instead."

How does an ideal draw for the deck look like?

"Yavimaya Coast, Mountain, Elvish Mystic, and 4 Savage Knuckleblade is the best hand you can get, although you need to draw a third land so you can give it haste. Knuckleballer is the best card in the deck; it's so powerful, it trades up favorably, and it makes Hunt the Hunter in the sideboard much better."

What are some interesting plays that we might not see right away picking up this deck?

"If you don't have a turn-three play, then just morph Ashcloud Phoenix or cast Boon Satyr without bestow. You'd rather play them on turn four or five, but it's important to make uses for your mana. You don't have a great long game, so you want to get ahead and get damage in early, so you can eventually kill people with Crater's Claws."

If you've been working on a Temur deck yourself, then be sure to give this deck a spin!