Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. Khans of Tarkir is finally here and we have the opportunity to brew new and exciting strategies. One of the first things we want to do when a new set comes out is test the limits of combo strategies with the new cards in major formats.
Today, I’d like to talk about an interesting way to abuse Jeskai Ascendancy. Jeskai Ascendancy has a ton of potential and it could very easily become a big card in formats like Modern. Standard hasn’t seen a real combo deck in years, and I feel like this may be the combo strategy we’ve been looking for.
Let’s start by discussing how we’re planning to combo with Jeskai Ascendancy. We can play a bunch of mana creatures, card draw, and library manipulation. Usually, on turn five we’ll be able to chain through enough draw spells that all of our mana creatures will be big enough to attack for lethal damage. Let’s break down the cards necessary to the combo and discuss how they’ll contribute to us comboing off:
Jeskai Ascendancy does a lot of different things. First, it gives our entire team +1/+1 every time we cast a non-creature, this is important because it means that Jeskai Ascendancy can be our win condition. Every card in our deck can be part of the combo.
href=”http://store.channelfireball.com/catalog/lookup?catalog_id=3320223″ target=”_blank” data-catalog-id=”3320223″ data-image=”//crystalcommerce-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/3320223/medium/jeskai.jpg?1410791795″ data-category=”Khans of Tarkir” data-name=”Jeskai Ascendancy” data-price=”false” data-buy=”true” data-version=”1.0.1″>Jeskai Ascendancy untaps all of our creatures. This is tremendously important to our combo plan. By playing a deck where all of our creatures tap for mana, every non-creature spell we play will end up creating mana equal to the number of creatures we have in play. Each Divination or Font of Fortunes we cast will end up being a ritual.
Finally, Jeskai Ascendancy loots. This further ensures that we won’t fizzle when we’re going through our deck with card draw spells. The combo is very real.
We need a lot of mana creatures. Mana creatures let us play out our entire hand as fast as possible. When we get Jeskai Ascendancy onto the battlefield, we can untap all of our mana creatures with every spell we cast. This means we should be tapping our creatures aggressively when we’re playing or have already played Jeskai Ascendancy. Against white decks that may have access to Banishing Light, we should play out enough creatures to combo off and then cast Jeskai Ascendancy and combo out the same turn. Four mana creatures is plenty, but it’s possible to go off with three, and we’ll be ritualing out huge amounts of mana if we get five mana creatures in play. I’d go for four creatures in most spots, try to go off with three when we’re against a lot of pressure, and try to go for five if I’m planning on using the super combo with Plea for Guidance.
The best mana creatures for the deck are Elvish Mystic, Kiora’s Follower, Sylvan Caryatid, Rattleclaw Mystic, and Voyaging Satyr. Twenty creatures seems like it’s enough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up playing a few extra by adding a few copies of Golden Hind.
We can’t play all mana creatures, though, we need some spells to combo with them and the Jeskai Ascendancy. Ideally, we want all of our to at least replace themselves so that we can combo through our deck.
Divination is the perfect card for achieving this. The nice part about playing card draw as part of a combo is that it helps us put the combo together even when we’re not going off. With three mana creatures and Jeskai Ascendancy in play, Divination represents 3 points of power and three cards drawn (one discarded) all for zero mana investment. If we have two copies of Jeskai Ascendancy in play we’ll be getting 6 points of power, four cards drawn, (two discarded), and a nice bonus three mana that we can use to unload other cards.
Commune with the Gods helps us find Jeskai Ascendancy and can be used to grab another mana creature if we don’t have enough to go off on the following turn. This seems like a great inclusion here. It’s also nice to have two-mana non-creature cards to combo with our Jeskai Ascendancy.
Font of Fortunes is like extra copies of Divination, but it’s also very nice that we can find this card with Commune with the Gods to keep the combo going when we’re drawing through our deck with an active Jeskai Ascendancy.
Nylea’s Presence helps fix the very bad mana problems of the four-color green deck, can be found by Commune with the Gods, and is generally a decent spell for what we’re trying to achieve by virtue of cantripping.
Plea for Guidance is a very nice way to absolutely ensure that we’ll be able to go off on the following turn. We can either find a pair of Jeskai Ascendancy or a Jeskai Ascendancy and Font of Fortunes depending on the situation. If we have fewer than four mana guys to work with on the following turn, then we likely want to find Jeskai Ascendancy and Nylea’s Presence so that we can attempt to go off with three creatures. I’m starting with one, but I imagine it’s possible that we may want to be playing a few copies here.
I ran some games with this at the prerelease against some people that had decks they wanted to try for the new Standard. I found that I really needed at least some way in the deck to remove a permanent that’s causing me problems. I decided that I wanted a copy or two of Banishing Light for myself.
Here’s the list when we put it all together.
Captain Crunch (Jeskai Ascendancy Combo)
by Jacob Van Lunen
The deck has tremendously high raw power. The deck was very strong against devotion strategies and decks that didn’t have many ways to interact with what I wanted to do. Decks with more removal could potentially pose some problems, and Anger of the Gods is obviously a nightmare, but this is one of the most exciting pure combo decks we’ve had Standard over the last three years. There’s definitely room for improvement here and the deck seems to be reasonably well-poised to at least have a petdeck following in the coming months.