Jeskai Ascendancy Tokens has been one of the most popular and one of the most fun decks since Yuuya Watanabe unveiled it on the scene at the World Championships in Nice. The deck uses token-generating cards like Raise the Alarm, Hordeling Outburst, and Goblin Rabblemaster in combination with Jeskai Ascendancy and burn spells to quickly attack the opponent’s life total.
Fate Reforged provides us with some interesting new options for the Ascendancy Tokens deck, and one in particular that really stands out to me:
The instant I saw this card I knew that I wanted to play it with Stoke the Flames. A 2-mana 2/2 lifelink is already a reasonable rate, but both of the abilities on the Grand Master are terrific. For the first time in Magic, he has the ability to give our spells lifelink, and for 4 mana, two of which are blue/red hybrid, he effectively gives our next instant or sorcery spell buyback.
Even without Jeskai Ascendancy in play, I envision games where we are able to get a Soulfire Grand Master into play, activate his ability, and cast Stoke the Flames by tapping our creatures every turn. Losing from this position would be almost impossible.
With Jeskai Ascendancy, it’s even more devastating, as the creature we’ve used to cast the Stoke can either cast the Stoke again, or simply attack with the power and toughness bonus from Jeskai Ascendancy. I have to admit that I’m also quite looking forward to casting multiple copies of Treasure Cruise in the same turn for six mana, although, our graveyard has to be pretty well stocked by that point.
In this deck, we are effectively playing Wild Slash as four copies of Shock. The ferocious ability figures to come into play very rarely, although it will happen in corner cases with Jeskai Ascendancy or Goblin Rabblemaster. Having cheap spells is very useful with Ascendancy, Treasure Cruise, and also Soulfire Grand Master.
The deck is not incredibly different than the versions people have been playing recently, but does have some advantages. The Wild Slashes are extremely efficient against U/W Heroic, which has become one of the most popular decks. The tempo it provides even against a deck like Abzan Aggro and Heir of the Wilds, or sometimes Rakshasa Deathdealer, allowing us to follow up with a Raise the Alarm or Soulfire Grand Master on the second turn will prove to be extremely important.
In most matchups, Soulfire Grand Master is going to have a big target on his head, but Seeker of the Way did as well. When our 2-drop creature lives, Soulfire Grand Master will have a much bigger impact than Seeker of the Way had.
One of the biggest problems for Jeskai Ascendancy Tokens in game one was that if its draw wasn’t incredibly explosive, it could have trouble dealing with a resolved Hornet Queen. To be fair, everybody has trouble dealing with a resolved Hornet Queen. I think that Soulfire Grand Master will really make the deck much more resilient in those situations.
Against a Whip, it might be difficult to grind away the entire Hornet Queen and all her tokens with Lightning Strikes or Wild Slash, but it’s certainly doable. Against a Hornet Queen without a Whip, though, I don’t think it will be that hard to simply race her by buying back Stoke the Flames with lifelink every turn.
So far, no card from Fate Reforged has jumped out at me as a card that would be a format-defining bomb like Siege Rhino did in Khans of Tarkir. So, if the metagame tends to shift towards updated versions of already popular decks, I think that Jeskai Tokens will continue to be well situated.
I think there is likely a version of Jeskai Tokens that includes Monastery Mentor as well. I opted not to include him in my first build, because I thought it was very important to have all the Hordeling Outbursts and Goblin Rabblemasters since when we’re paying four mana to buyback our instants and sorceries, so we need at least two of our creatures to be red in order to cast Stoke the Flames. If it turns out that in practice recurring Stoke the Flames isn’t as common as I think it could be, Monastery Mentor could be another way to go.