One two three four, I declare a Brothers’ War. The long awaited part two to the Dominarian Saga is upon us, bringing with it a strange mix of raw and obvious power with a lot of cards that teeter the edge of playability. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be experimenting with some of these new additions to our favorite formats to see what’s real and which were just a spoiler season scam.
First on the docket is one of the most hyped cards from the set in most non-rotating spheres, Third Path Iconoclast. This powerful uncommon offers many new things to many different people, but today we’re going to be utilizing several of the words in its text box with a new brew reminiscent of an old classic from standards past. Let’s dive into Jeskai Third Path Ascendancy on a budget.
Budget Pioneer Third Path Ascendancy by Darren Magnotti
Third Path Ascendancy is a Jeskai combo/tempo deck that looks to combine a grindy, token-based interactive plan with an explosive spellslinging chain to attack from multiple difficult-to-answer angles. It also leans on a small Soldier subtheme, taking advantage of some of the new support that we’ve picked up from BRO.
The primary game plan is to cast multiple spells per turn in order to net advantage from the few permanents in the deck, attacking in and burning the opponent’s face to close the game. If that isn’t immediately successful, the deck can also “go off” to some degree, chaining several spells together to either buff the token army over the opposing forces or close the game out via Sorcerer Class’s third ability. The deck presents several threats that many opponents won’t be prepared to answer cleanly while also packing its own interaction to keep them on their toes throughout the whole game.
Ascending to New Heights
Jeskai Ascendancy is likely the strongest among its cycle of three-mana enchantments, frequently being broken left and right across multiple formats. Between having two extremely relevant abilities and the two strongest words in the game written on it – being untap and draw – the card is primed to be broken and abused wherever it finds itself legal. This deck takes specific advantage of each individual effect in some capacity, from the pseudo-prowess given to the entire team to the draw and discard effect sifting through the deck and fueling midgame Treasure Cruises to help restock, all the way to the untap ability synergizing with multiple cards in the list.
The thesis behind the deck is to compound the advantage gained via each of these abilities multiple times per turn. Aiding in this fight to cast as many cheapened/free spells as possible is the unfair win condition in the deck, Sorcerer Class, whose level two ability turns each token in play into a mana dork which can be untapped on repeat to store up huge reserves of mana. The Third ability also staples a Grapeshot onto each spell cast from then on, which will swiftly finish off anyone who’s failed to gain arbitrarily large amounts of life.
Good Soldiers March On
As mentioned above, this list runs with a small Soldier subtheme. The tokens created by TPI are coincidentally Soldier tokens, as are the ones from Raise the Alarm. This may not seem relevant on its face, but in combination with Skystrike Officer, becomes extremely relevant and potent as a card draw engine. By tapping three Soldiers, you can draw a card. If that card is a spell, you might be able to cast it, triggering Jeskai Ascendancy to untap those Soldiers, allowing for another card to be drawn.
While not an infinite combo, this tight synergy alleviates one of the Jeskai Ascendancy deck’s biggest weaknesses, which is running out of fuel too early. The Officer is rather innocuous when cast early on, which is generally enough to protect it until it can fire off its ability at least once. It also provides a solid body to beatdown with when push comes to shove, making additional tokens and flying over for a good chunk of damage.
How Does It Play?
I’ve done some very light testing of the deck so far, since the set has only just been released, but I can say that the deck has far exceeded my expectations. The multifaceted synergies between many of the cards in the deck create this formidable force that a lot of decks just aren’t prepared for right now. The random value generation and token assault plan completely thwart the likes of Rakdos and any deck looking to create a low-resource game, and Jeskai Ascendancy acting as an enchantment-hate check is a test that almost every deck in the format fails right now.
We’re still yet to see the results of The Brothers’ War and the impact that it will have on the format at large (at time of writing, the US Regional Championship hasn’t even happened yet), but this deck has shown extremely promising results thus far. Many a successful deck start off as a durdly midrange/interactive shell that just happens to have access to a game-ending combo, and this deck proves that this plan is just as viable in Pioneer as it is in other formats.
Unfortunately I don’t have a thorough upgrade section at the moment, aside from the typical “buy better lands” advice. I’ve been playing this deck with the suite of Spirebluff Canals, Inspiring Vantages, shocklands, and Zendikar Rising flippy lands without any changes to the nonland slots, and everything seems quite tight so far. I’m still experimenting and iterating of course, but moving forward into the BRO season of play, I’m sure that some new tech will open itself up.
That’s all for this one! I always love the smell of a new format in the morning, and this one is shaping out to be a hit. There are so many possibilities floating around right now, it just takes a keen and patient eye to snatch them up out of the aether. I hope that you all are enjoying this fresh new time as much as I am. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading!