In this Falcon Fly By I would like to take some time to talk about the deck that Meta Game Gurus took to the most recent modern open. Jim Davis finished 17th and Dan Jessup finished 12th and for a freshly brewed deck those are some very good finishes. It seems that Jim had some rough draws in the last few rounds. Kevin piloting his trusty Grixis Delver deck finished 4th. So congrats to those guys on the great finishes! A true showcase to teamwork really making the dream work!
The real reason I want to sit down here and talk to you today is about the new Jeskai deck that this team brewed up for this past weekend. When anyone these days mentions the word Jeskai they tend to think Nahiri or some form of Restoration Angel flash type of deck, but this archetype is totally different and I love it!
I love so many cards in this deck. Mantis Rider, Geist of Saint Traft, Snapcaster Mage, and Stormchaser Mage.
“But Josh, how can you like Snapcaster Mage?”
“Look kids, I may rebel against them but I have a lot of respect for our blue overlords.”
At first glance this deck really reminds me of a burn strategy. I see haste creatures and burn spells, but looking deeper than that I see the tempo spells in Vapor Snag, Twisted Image, and Mutagenic Growth. Mutagenic Growth doubles up as a burn spell and a tempo spell, so a deck with tempo and burn really reminds me of a Delver strategy. Cheap efficient creatures, cheap removal/burn spells, and things to “counter” other spells. Now I don’t actually mean counter magic but what I mean is you can easily counter burn spells by casting your own spells and triggering prowess or just targeting one of them with a Mutagenic Growth.
What I love most about this deck is how under powered it all looks but I know when you have two creatures and a few spells in hand that it can produce a lot of damage. I have played quite a bit of burn in my day as it was the first and currently only modern deck I have actually finished. I played and played that deck because it was mine and was also fantastic in the meta.
I love the Twisted Image in the deck as well. It is one of those cards that secretly has a million uses that no one fully understands. Normally people can list up a number of creatures that this card can remove from the Battlefield: Spellskite, Birds of Paradise, Noble Heirarch, and Wall of Omens, just to name a few, but the other side to this card that makes it great is a small tempo swing. Using it to shrink your opponents creatures by a few points, using it to help something die to a lightning bolt, and making your Stormchaser Mage suddenly becomes a 4 power attacker! This also applies to Monastery Swiftspear its only a single point of power but so is every prowess trigger and each one of those matters. In a deck like this every point truly does matter. The biggest issue I have found playing burn is that you want to hold up your Skullcrack, but you never know when your opponent will attempt to gain life. With Blessed Alliance[/card] starting to circulate more, it becomes harder to play using all of your mana. You can hold up Skullcrack and then end step Boros Charm just for your opponent to cast Blessed Alliance and basically counter your spell, but in this deck we have Gitaxian Probe! It allows us to gain knowledge of our opponents hand, trigger prowess, and draw another card. In a deck with only 19 lands it should draw us something useful every time. For example; Lands when we need them or spells of some form. Gaining the knowledge of how you should play your turns going forward is a very powerful effect especially in a deck where every point matters. You know when you play your spells and creatures with the most efficiency.
What really makes this deck tick; the part that really holds everything together; the piece to the puzzle that we were missing prior to Kaladesh, was the lands. This is a base red and blue deck with a white splash. The majority of our turn 1 spells are red and Kaladesh was nice enough to give us Spirebluff Canal and Inspiring Vantage. What makes these so great in a deck with 19 lands is you will rarely get over three lands within the first five or so turns, with two basics and six fetchlands, you have a relatively pain free first few turns. Eight completely painless and eight lands that require only a single point of life. That’s sixteen out of your nineteen lands. This configuration allows you to play fast and not have to worry about taking too much damage. This along with your burn spells doubling up as removal spells, Mantis Rider having vigilance, Lightning Helix having some life gain attached, and Snapcaster Mage being able to play all sides of the ball, you have the ability to race opponents really well.
If anyone were to ask me what the most important card type in magic is I would snap answer lands. Without them things are next to impossible. Yes there are many ways to cheat on your mana, but I am the kind of person who likes to play some fair magic and I need my lands to do so. Even most of the unfair decks need their lands to bridge the gap to the degenerate amounts of mana that they can produce. Wasteland is one of the best spells in the Legacy format because some games are lost by simply destroying one of your opponents colors or dual lands. Some of the most expensive cards are lands or ways to produce mana. Without mana we are all powerless. Every card in the deck above was available prior to the lands coming out, but with the lands the deck can thrive.
The sideboard is simply a medley of spells to help improve percentages in match-ups. In a proactive deck like this our clock is always fast, but we want to help stifle some of your modern opponents degenerate draws. For example; turn 2 Infect kills, turn 3 Tron Shenanigans, turn 3 Valakut kills, Dredge hitting very well on their dredges. If we can slow any of these things down then we can turn the game in our favor. Other cards like Path to Exile and Geist of Saint Traft are when we want to play somewhat unfairly with our fair opponents.
My biggest question that I would like to pose to Jim and all the non Kevin Jones members of Team MGG. How in the world did we not convince Kevin to play this deck? Kevin is the guy riding the mantis!!
Again I really like the way this deck looks. I totally recommend it for your next small modern event but without some serious practice I would avoid anything larger or important.
Thanks for reading everyone and as always, stay humble and stay hungry.