If you paid attention to the past Strixhaven Championship, you can name Historic’s best deck. If you weren’t paying attention, here it is: Jeskai Turns.
This is the list my team and I registered for the Strixhaven Championship and what Sam Pardee, long-time player and battle brother of mine, used to win the entire tournament.
WHAT MAKES THIS DECK SO GOOD?
This deck looks like a meme. I chuckled when I first saw it, then I watched one or two games and thought, “Hmm, it’s certainly better than it looks.” I was hooked after a few more games and match-ups.
By turn four this deck has the ability to either win or achieve a winnable position. If you play at sorcery speed against this deck, you often can’t untap and then lose to a one-card combo in Indomitable Creativity.
What if your opponent has a removal spell? If the opponent is stranding mana every turn, and you’re able to hit your land drops while making small value plays like Prismari Command, cycling Shark Typhoon, and casting Expressive Iteration, then eventually they will succumb to an overloaded Mizzix’s Mastery. This deck is so good because it can win instantly when the opponent is tapped out and go over the top by using Mizzix’s Mastery by collecting turns, elementals, and value.
WHICH VERSION IS BEST?
This one. There was a lot of talk about Nezahal, Primal Tide being the best plan in the mirror and against Phoenix, but it doesn’t act defensively or produce on-board advantage. While Phoenix can simply hold up Fry forever, you will eventually exhaust their win conditions slowly if you play carefully. Hard casting Nezzy and winning will usually be true for most cards at seven mana. Cards like Commence the Endgame may not close out as well but would better contribute to this plan, and Mastery is already effective. I answered no to a question asking if I would register Nezahal if I could go back. I wouldn’t at the cost of Commence the Endgame, the legitimate best card in the mirror.
Of note is that we were playing at least one more land than most players playing the archetype. We recognized that the deck wasn’t just a Creativity combo deck and that it played long control games post-board and needed to make land drops.
This list was tuned for an expected metagame of Mirrors, Jeskai Control, and top-deck Izzet Phoenix. Our list could have adapted better to Phoenix with one additional removal post-board in the form of Aether Gust, but other than that, I love how this deck was built. Another small tweak is a Ketria Triome over a Sulfur Falls for the Mountains count for Dwarven Mine. However, I’d have to play hundreds of matches before knowing for sure. The same is true for Perilous Voyage and Into the Roil, which have upsides that are hard to judge in a small sample. I almost played one of each.
JESKAI TURNS – SIDEBOARDING
The deck is tricky to sideboard against specific set-ups, so we had to adapt our sideboarding drastically during the event. Sideboarding in the mirror is an endeavor dependent on the list and player.
Here are general guidelines for each match-up:
This match-up usually turns into draw-go, and the winner draws the most Typhoons and Commences and answers to those cards with Perilous Voyages or Into the Roils. Game one is a test of seizing the right opportunity without hesitation, which was a huge reason we played main-deck Shark Typhoons.
If they have Nezzy, I might consider cutting the Masterys and Opuses and leaving in the Creativity package. If they decide to tap out for Nezzy, then you’re free to combo off. In the mirror you’re susceptible to others’ Creativities with no creatures in your deck post-board. For this reason, I wanted Sam to keep his combo in the finals so he could use Indomitable Creativity reactively and proactively.
This sideboard plan is dependent on the opponent’s card choices. The more they use Fry to disrupt your combo, the more you should move away from comboing and try to control the game with Typhoons and Commences. It would be nice to have more reliable removal.
Leaving in Lapse, especially on the play, isn’t a disaster. Primal Command is good on the play and weak on the draw, so you can go down to zero post-board on the draw if you adjust the sideboard with cheap interaction for creatures. The most often way you lose is an unanswered early Sprite Dragon.
This is dependent on the decklist. If your opponent doesn’t have any creatures, then four Creativity is proactive and can sweep up tokens. A Nezahal could be played for this match-up. This match-up plays out like the mirror except there is never a threat of being comboed on. The worst that can happen is Teferi, so you can tap out with a Fry in hand. Castle Ardenvale is their best card as it forces you to act first. Your job is to squeeze in Commences and Shark Typhoons. Jeskai Control popping up often is when I would recommend adding Nezahal to your sideboard, but it’s not necessary to win.
This match-up is incredibly easy. Your opponent tries to win a long game, and you can go over the top of them. You have Prismari Commands to break up Ovens, and they have way too many expensive sorcery speed cards. Any non-blue deck is going to struggle against Jeskai, and this is a slow non-blue deck to boot.
This isn’t a deck to expect much out of, but they can lock you out with a larger flier, so it’s important to interact with cards like Perilous Voyage.
I went 8-7 in the event, which was good for 75th place and a small pay jump. The team did well overall, and we even brought home the trophy. Sam played the exact same 150 cards as me, so it’s a good feeling to know you gave yourself the best chance to win the tournament.
If you’re interested in playing Historic, this deck is a ton of fun and the deck to beat right now. I suspect there will be some ban talk, but I hope not much changes because I’ve been having fun casting Brainstorm. Until next time!