Jeskai Taking Turns has been one of the most popular decks in Historic for a little while now and it’s the deck my team and I chose to play for the Historic portion of the Strixhaven Set Championship. Some of us played slightly different versions, with mostly just a different land or two and maybe a different sideboard card or two, but we all liked the overall strategy. Here’s the version I chose to play.
Historic Jeskai Taking Turns by Huey Jensen
This deck wins the game by casting Indomitable Creativity either on a 1/1 Dwarf from Dwarven Mine or on a Treasure token to find Velomachus Lorehold and take all the remaining turns. In order to do so, you can cast Time Warp, or if we’ve already cast Time Warp, you can use Mizzix’s Mastery to cast it again. Sometimes you’ll get unlucky and have to pass after attacking with Velomachus Lorehold, but in those cases, you’ve often been able to cast a free card draw or filtering spell or play a removal spell on a card your opponent may have had in play.
As a backup plan, you can simply try to win by discarding Magma Opus to make a Treasure token and then flash it back with Mizzix’s Mastery. You can even play a longer game after doing so and potentially overload a subsequent Mizzix’s Mastery. Sometimes, you can also win just by casting Velomachus Lorehold or by using cards like Memory Lapse, Fire Prophecy and Scorching Dragonfire to slow the opponent down until you can just begin hardcasting Magma Opus.
This is a combo deck through and through. The main combo being Indomitable Creativity in combination with a 1/1 or a Treasure. Since Velomachus is the only creature in the deck (at least in the main deck), you know for certain that’ll be what you hit. Then, you can attack and look at the top seven cards and try to cast a Time Warp. Sometimes, if you’ve made it to five mana, you’ll cast a Time Warp from hand on the turn before you search for Velomachus, as this way, when you attack with the Dragon, Time Warp or Mizzix’s Mastery will both functionally take another turn and help keep the turns rolling.
The other combo in the deck is Magma Opus plus Mizzix’s Mastery, discarding Opus on turn two and using the Treasure to cast it off Mizzix’s Mastery on turn three. This is particularly good against aggressive decks where you might be able to kill one or two creatures, even on the third turn, and the 4/4 is likely to be quite a brick wall.
Early in the game, you want to develop your mana and try to create Treasures to enable your combo. Sometimes, as mentioned, you just want to cast a quick Magma Opus off of Mizzix’s Mastery. The early game is a good time to cast your cheap interactive spells, as it will help slow the game down and bridge the gap into your combo. Make sure to try to avoid playing non-Mountain lands if possible, so that you can use Dwarven Mine to get a token to fuel the combo if need be.
Later in the game, you hope to win! In a perfect world, you’ll be taking all the turns after turn four, but oftentimes, particularly against high interaction decks, the games take longer. In the mid or late game, you’ll hopefully be able to use cards like Brainstorm, Expressive Iteration, Memory Lapse and Mizzix’s Mastery/Magma Opus to threaten an advantage to get through the opponent’s disruption, as well as actually force Velomachus into play. Then, your aim is to take all the turns.
The key cards in this deck are Indomitable Creativity, Magma Opus and Mizzix’s Mastery. These are the cards that will either find or enable your central game plan. From there, you do need to find Time Warps, but that’s not a card you’re ever really hoping to draw. In aggressive matchups, you hope to draw Fire Prophecy and Scorching Dragonfire. On the other hand, Memory Lapse works best against slower, more controlling decks or combo decks.
You’re going to mulligan hands without enough mana or that are just too clunky. Hands with multiple cards like Velomachus and Time Warp will often cause us the problem of not having enough action or combo enablers. The exception to this are hands that have Brainstorm and Fabled Passage, as this gives you the ability to smooth out your draws by putting back Velomachus or redundant cards that you hoped not to draw. Also, sometimes you can stand having a card that we don’t really want in your hand if we have three lands, Magma Opus and Mizzix’s Mastery, which you should be able to use quickly to get some more cards, a removal spell and a board presence.
The deck mulligans okay compared to many combo decks. It doesn’t need that many resources to execute its combo, at least uninterrupted anyways. You do want to make land drops against high interaction decks, as you’ll often have to get to six mana to play Indomitable Creativity plus Memory Lapse. Overall, no decks mulligan that great in Magic these days since playing on curve is so important, but comparatively, this deck isn’t too bad at mulliganing.
Phoenix can be tough, particularly when they have good hands. When the opponent is able to return a couple Phoenixes early on, especially if they also have a Memory Lapse or something to back it up, you can have trouble resolving your combo in a timely fashion.
Sprite Dragon can grow large very quickly, and in these types of games, you’ll be very happy to have Fire Prophecy or Scorching Dragonfire. Since the Phoenix deck will often board into Fry, you can change into a bit of a more controlling deck after sideboard. If you’re able to stall the early game, you may be able to Indomitable Creativity into a Nezahal, Primal Tide and if you can, that’s usually enough, as all of your opponent’s cantrips draw you a card as well.
These games often come down to a mana battle. Making Treasure is very useful, as both players will be incentivized to not tap out. Usually, whoever gets Velomachus into play first will win, so having the mana advantage will make it easier to do so.
After sideboard, you can morph into a more controlling deck, similar to the way you do against Phoenix, and simply try to stop your opponent’s Velomachus.
Jund doesn’t have a ton of interaction and most of it isn’t instant speed. They might have some discard, and a Mayhem Devil can threaten to stop you from using Indomitable Creativity on a token by pinging it.
However, if you’re able to cast it on a Treasure, particularly early on, there’s often very little they can do to stop you. If your opponent gets a quick Korvold, it can make things harder, as you’ll need to be able to get Velomachus into play and then plan to find a way to cast Magma Opus to tap it so that you can keep attacking without losing Velomachus.
The Game 1 plan is good enough here that you don’t really have to change too much. You might want to add a card or two to be sure you don’t get run over.
+2 Aether Gust
The coin flip/die roll is important here. I find the toughest games are the ones where the Gruul deck is able to play Burning-Tree Emissary into a creature on turn two. The good thing here is, other than removal for your tokens, the Gruul deck also doesn’t typically interact very well, so with a good hand, you’re usually fast enough.
These games are a bit long and grindy since both players have counters. If you build your mana up into the late game, you can often try to stack threats, starting with Magma Opus at the end of the opponent’s turn and then untap and try to play Mizzix’s Mastery as bait, then hopefully resolve an Indomitable Creativity.
This is another matchup where you can rely on Sharks, Commence the Endgame and Nezahal in the post-board games. It’s particularly effective because counterspells just don’t do much against your cards in this configuration.
This deck is overall very fun and the transformative sideboard is strong, as well very much my style. There’s a reasonable plan for every matchup, and I’d definitely recommend the deck for anyone looking for something fun and competitive in Historic.