Say Yes to Jeskai

Pro Tour 25th Anniversary has really stirred up Modern. The format wasn’t necessarily turned on its head, but I do believe that it has been redefined to some extent.

The good decks are still good, yet it seems the hierarchy of established best decks has shifted and solidified. Various flavors of U/W and Jeskai Control have managed to rise to the top of the heap and are proving difficult to dethrone.

It’s surprising, but also not surprising. Six months ago the narrative was “Blue Control is unplayable” and now it’s shifted to “Blue Control is unbeatable!” Such a tremendous shift is surprising, but when you look at all busted new tools it has gained, less so:

With U/W Control continuing to pick up steam and expand its share of the winner’s metagame beyond 12% (which is a lot for a Modern deck!), I always want to be conscious of how whatever deck I choose to play will stack up.

I’m also excited to test for the upcoming CFB Modern Unified Grand Prix in Detroit. With such an exciting event on the horizon, I’ve really had the itch to hone my Modern skills.

My teammates and I have been working on our decks together and have our configuration set in stone. Humans, KCI, and U/W. I’ll be piloting the control deck (how lucky!), and so I’ve been trying out various things.

One area of Magic I’ve decided to focus on is being more creative when it comes to building and tuning decks. Over the past year, I’ve moved away from trusting my instincts in favor of a more number-crunching approach.

But tuning and designing decks are my biggest strengths, not to mention one of my favorite parts of the game, and so I’ve made a concerted effort to reconnect with those deck builder roots and trust my own ideas and observations.

With that being said, I’ve been trying out some different variations of U/W-based control. A lot of them haven’t worked out. It’s obviously a tall order to build a better version of the best deck in the format, but I have had a few ideas that I think have real “dark horse” potential.

Jeskai Boomerang

Brian DeMars

The deck is primarily Izzet, but splashes white for a few key cards. In the main deck, Celestial Colonnade and Lightning Helix, but out of the sideboard I gain access to serious hate cards:

One of the biggest strengths of the traditional U/W Control deck is access and immunity to the most devastating hate cards in the format.

The deck itself is focused on being controlling, but tiptoes the line between also having a higher threat density. It is also important that the types of threats are diversified, but also inherently synergistic.

The sideboard ups the ante and provides me even more threats that can be specifically tuned to the matchup.

I’ve really been enjoying the pair of Boomerang in the main deck.

It doesn’t get value, but there are so many other value cards in the deck that the flexibility it provides is straight-up sweet. On the play, bouncing a land in the control mirror is obviously crazy good, but it fills a nice role across multiple matchups.

It is also worth mentioning that Boomerang a land and then snapping it back is a very effective way of ensuring that your opponent cannot keep up. And, all at instant speed!

Scepter Chant was one of my favorite decks of all time and so the card is always in the back of my mind as an option. I’m reminded of Shahar jamming exactly one copy in his Steppe Lynx beatdown deck.

It’s a great value card and not easy to answer. It gets even better in a deck packed with cheap instants like Remand, Boomerang, and Lightning Helix. Now we just need Fire // Ice to see a Modern legal printing!

I also like the way that the Boomerang package always gets me to neatly transition to a better mana denial deck post sideboard:

I have different angles of attack for various matchups. Detritivore is extremely nasty in slow, grindy matchups. It gets value, attacks mana, and then comes down as a formidable hasty threat. It’s slow, sure, but my build is good at extending the game and I’m primarily bringing it in against other decks that are going to try and do the same against me.

I’m not Pathing, not yet anyway, because I do push the mana denial angle pretty hard. 100% agree the card is amazing, but the cost is high when mana denial is part of the overall strategy. It’s also bad against U/W, which doesn’t exactly make me ecstatic to sleeve it up!

With regard to matchups, I’d say this deck falls somewhere in between U/W Miracles and a typically Jeskai deck. It’s not as controlling as Miracles, and not as straightforward as Jeskai. A deck like this would be worse against Humans than Miracles, but advantaged against Miracles (which is an important matchup right now).

Another upside of a list like this is that it will be difficult for the opponent to see some of these threats coming. Who plays Detritivore? I do. And it’s a card that is basically impossible to deal with, or realistically plan for, in a slow matchup.

There’s always a big advantage to be gained from finding new cards to bridge niches in the metagame, which is the basic idea behind this aggressive, powerful, and diverse approach to Jeskai Control/Midrange.

I’ve been pleased with the results thus far, but I know that they could be improved with more fine tuning. As is the case with all decks, the deeper you go the better the results!

With U/W being such a force in Modern, finding new ways to gain an edge has a ton of upside. It’s possible that the deck has too much going on, but that is a good problem to have. As my portfolio of matches with the deck increases, so will my insight into which pieces are giving me a high return on my investment and which ones are not pulling enough weight to earn their keep.

If anything, I think this list demonstrates many, many potential options and angles that can be pushed in various directions when it comes to a blue-based Modern control deck. Most importantly, the deck is solid and is enjoyable to play.


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