Khans technology has exploded over the Eternal formats with cards like Monastery Swiftspear (better Goblin Guide), Treasure Cruise (better Ancestral Vision), Dig Through Time, and Jeskai Ascendancy (in Modern).
I underestimated Treasure Cruise. While new cards tend to be overplayed in the first few weeks, this one has overperformed, taking down multiple events across the globe.
Treasure RUG, by Alberto Quintero
Alberto used this list to take down an 82-man event in Europe. I didn’t see any other Khans cards in the Top 16.
There are some smart calls in this list. For starters, the tension between delve and threshold is too much to support both Treasure Cruise and Nimble Mongoose. It pains me to admit that cutting ‘goose is correct, as I have a long standing relationship with that card, but the combination of Cruise and Young Pyromancer lets you power through removal like never before.
The lack of Gitaxian Probe is questionable, and I’m questioning it. Young Pyromancer and Probe are best buddies, and the card knocks one off of Treasure Cruise’s casting cost for free. I’d look to cutting the Sylvan Library (Treasure Cruise does something similar), and either Spell Pierce or Stifle.
Note that, in its first week, Cruise put up results in every tempo shell, not just RUG. ChannelFireball’s own Bob Huang took down a Legacy Open with UR Treasure Cruise Delver, and I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts on the card.
The one thing about Bob’s finish that I want to emphasize is that it proves Monastery Swiftspear is a viable replacement for Goblin Guide. While that’s awesome for Delver decks that don’t want to feed their opponent extra cards, it’s also awesome for burn-type decks in Modern and Legacy that would love to run eight Goblin Guides.
In this deck, Swiftspear will almost always be a 2/3 +, and not running four might be a mistake. One problem is the lack of evasion. If I keep a one-lander and spend the first few turns cantripping, the opponent has time to gum up the board. In that same situation, Delver flies, Pyromancer Swarms, and Snapcaster continues to gain value.
One sweet thing about Swiftspear is that Mutagenic Growth makes it a 4/5 for free, which is exciting. The Growth doesn’t save any of the other creatures from Bolt (aside from a flipped Delver), but Electrolyze is popular enough that Mutagenic should still be a fine card. It might not do enough in some metagames, however.
With the addition of Thought Scour, I feel fine shaving a land down to 18, especially since that’s the number a few players were on anyway.
Treasure Cruise means we can trim down on our other grindy-type cards. They’re less necessary to the game plan, and with more draw we’ll see them more often. The value of a miser’s copy goes up.
One card I’m considering is Engineered Explosives. It’s dead a lot, but when it’s good it’s a blowout. It’s an especially terrific answer to multiple Tarmogoyfs and/or Scavenging Oozes, which can otherwise be a problem.
Remand gets cut. It’s a slower card, better suited for eventually combining with Snapcaster than for filling up the graveyard. Treasure Cruise wants you to be playing proactive spells so that it gets going faster.
The combo of Jeskai Ascendancy, a few mana dorks, and a deck full of cantrips is getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason.
Fortunately, the deck is tricky to play. While it’s consistent enough, needing a mana dork, a resolved Ascendancy, and some spells means that disruption is pretty good against it. Plus, we’ve had a week in the books, and this 11th place list is the best result I could find:
Ascendancy Combo, by Bobby Graves
I’ve seen a variety of different lists posted everywhere, and the shell is still getting tweaked by the collective mind. That said, I have a few notes.
Treasure Cruise is a great card when you’re deep in the combo or when you’re facing a lot of disruption, but it’s clunky early and having it in your hand when you’re trying to combo off, instead of a more fluid spell, can add another turn to the combo. If you’re deep in the combo, you should be fine anyway since Ascendancy loots make it difficult to fizzle. I think two is a better number, possibly sideboarding the extra copies for discard matchups.
This is the only list I’ve seen that’s dipped below four Cerulean Wisps. Wisps is one of the cantrips that generates mana, and shaving it feels wrong.
I don’t think the maindeck Grapeshot is necessary at all. If your opponent can stop the combo, they’ll do so before Grapeshot is lethal, and it should be a cinch to either swing for 20 or Glittering Wish for Flesh // Blood.
The Crimson Wisps and Zendikon make it way easier to go off when you start with only one mana dork, as they allow you to transition into two. With two mana dorks, all the cantrips generate mana, and it’s the smoothest of sailings. I like splitting them because they’re each better in slightly different situations.
If the deck gets banned, it won’t be for power concerns, but for the same reason as Eggs. Watching someone Twiddle their mana dork over and over while they figure out how to stack triggers and loot is miiiisssserable.
As far as Legacy goes, Ascendancy doesn’t cut the mustard despite being blue for Force of Will. It needs too many things to go right, and the competition for combo is too fierce. Since Standard is slower, there’s more time to get an engine online, and that’s where a variety of different homes should pop up.
This deck is wild.
The idea is to Chord for Warden of the Eye. Ascendancy untaps the team and Warden gets back Chord. The second Chord finds Clever Impersonator, copying Warden and getting back Chord again. And again. Now the team has +3+3, you’ve had three loots, and you have a Chord and a pile of untapped creatures to get whatever you want. The loots make it reasonable to hit a second Chord as well, which gives you lines like cloning a tutored up Stormbreath Dragon or Hornet Queen if that makes more sense. The end result feels a lot like Chording for Craterhoof Behemoth.
If you don’t have a Chord, the Ascendancy will help you find one via loots.
At first I had Rabblemasters instead of Coursers, but I was short on green creatures for Chord. Besides gaining life and drawing cards, Courser acts as a mini scry engine with fetchlands. Knowing what card you’re going to draw off of an Ascendancy trigger can make comboing much easier. That said, the deck has a lot of dorks devoted to mana already, and you usually end up filtering extra Coursers away. Three is the right number.
Keranos has been surprisingly lackluster. Having a draw engine is nice, but I’m always sad when I reveal a spell because nothing dies to 3 damage and doing 3 to the dome doesn’t matter much when the deck wins by either cloning Hornet Queen and locking down the board or by overrunning with Ascension.
How good is this deck? I have no clue. It does some busted things, but it’s also very hard to go through a match without making a blunder or two. It’s also weak to multiple Siege Rhinos, as the drain + trample adds up fast. Curse of the Swine is an answer out of the board, which does work, but needing to draw Curse of the Swine isn’t really where I want to be.
Testing the Chord deck gave me the idea for this list:
The numbers are rough, but the idea is neat. With inspire cards, Ascendancy, and convoke, you can tap a creature to pay a convoke cost and immediately cash in on the inspire ability thanks to the Ascendancy trigger. In the case of Daring Thief, that leads to stealing multiple creatures per turn.
And then there’s the Retraction Helix and Briber’s Purse. Aside from the combo with Ascendancy, both could be reasonable cards for punching tokens through and tapping Daring Thief. Note that Springleaf Drum works as a combo piece, assuming you have at least two tokens in play (which is likely). Just tap a token for mana, tap the Retraction Helixed token to bounce the Drum, cast Drum with floating mana, trigger Ascendancy, repeat.
If you start the combo with a couple extra cards in hand, you can use Drum to loot through the deck and find Purse and a second Helix, which allows you to bounce any random blockers.
Remember that this isn’t a dedicated Helix deck, but it’s a nice backdoor and the pieces can always be looted away or cashed in for cheap Ascendancy triggers. If I wanted to push the combo aspect, I’d look to black for Pain Seer and Disciple of Deceit.