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TeamCFB Deck Guide – Standard Jeskai

Jeskai has been around for a while now, and the latest iteration of the Raka wedge has changed somewhat with the addition of Battle for Zendikar.

Ryoichi Tamada cruised his way to a Top 8 birth at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, and his build of Jeskai incorporated a few powerful cards from the set.

At its core, Jeskai is still doing what it has always done: play an aggro-control role based on whatever archetype it’s facing. The best cards in the deck are Mantis Rider and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

Mantis Rider provides a quick, cheap clock that’s hard for many decks to stop. Jeskai also has a variety of disruptive cards, many of which are instants, to help control the game. When facing such a wide range of spells to play around, it can be difficult to always make the correct decision—which is where Jeskai gets much of its edge. Jace provides additional support by flashing back the various removal spells in addition to being able to shrink opposing creatures.

Battle for Zendikar provides a few new cards for most decks—Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and the cycle of battlelands play a powerful role in the current Standard environment. A mana base of fetchlands, battlelands, and basic lands helps ensure that most lands enter the battlefield untapped, compared to tri-lands and painlands such as Mystic Monastery and Shivan Reef. The main downside to the fetch/battleland mana base is that it makes casting opposing double-color spells more difficult because more lands only produce 1 color of mana once they’re on the battlefield.

Jeskai

Sideboard Guide

Abzan

In

Out

Most Abzan decks steer away from controlling shells and opt instead for a more aggressive approach. Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino are typically what you’ll face, so focus on upgrading removal to efficiently deal with those threats. Fiery Impulse can deal with creatures like Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, and Warden of the First Tree (assuming you have spell mastery), but it’s not impressive otherwise. Most games play out as a race, and early pressure from either side will set the tone of the game since both decks have cards that aren’t great on the back foot.

Atarka Red

In

Out

Jeskai plays defense in this matchup. Cheap removal is a key to success and expensive cards get taken out for them. Not all Atarka Red lists include Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage, especially after sideboarding, which reduces the need for Valorous Stance and Dispel. The matchup is fast-paced and you won’t have the luxury of holding up mana to protect your creatures.

Some versions sideboard into a slightly bigger deck in anticipation of playing against a lot of removal—Outpost Siege and Thunderbreak Regent are common in those cases. Some versions play Exquisite Firecraft which can be fought using Jeskai Charm in combination with lots of creatures, which makes Gideon better and Valorous Stance worse. Other times, the opponent may try to go wide with cards like Hordeling Outburst and Dragon Fodder. In those cases, Treasure Cruise, Gideon, and creatures become more effective than spot removal.

Esper

In

Out

Multiple versions of Esper exist, and some cards that are good versus a specific build can be mediocre against another. Rending Volley is good against Jace and Ojutai but bad against planeswalker-heavy versions. Valorous Stance is bad against Languish, Utter End, and Complete Disregard but acceptable against Crux of Fate, Ultimate Price, and Ruinous Path. Additional cards to board out would be Jeskai Charm, if necessary. The game plan is to play a cheap creature and then disrupt them with counters.

GW Megamorph

In

Out

Early pressure from Warden of the First Tree and Hangarback Walker will set the tempo of the game while also making Dromoka’s Command threatening. Jeskai Charm is good at dealing with Gideon and Hangarback Walker, and allows you to race more effectively with a huge life gain attack. Disdainful Stroke can be good when you’re on the play and suspect that your opponent brought in expensive cards like Wingmate Roc.

Jeskai

In

Out

Jeskai has many variants, and they can play out quite differently. Every version will have Jace, but the similarities typically end there. Seeker of the Way, Hangarback Walker, Soulfire Grandmaster, Monastery Mentor, and Mantis Rider are all options, along with a variety of controlling and disruptive elements like Crackling Doom, Disdainful Stroke, Duress, and Wild Slash. It’s important to be aware that Jeskai can be transformed into a very controlling or aggressive deck depending on what role it wants to play in a specific matchup.

Jeskai has been around for a long time—endured through old sets rotating out and new ones rotating in. It’s customizable, tricky, resilient, and a blast to play. It’s not always the right choice for a specific metagame, but it is certainly a blast to play. Battle for Zendikar introduced a few new cards to tinker around with, and that’s likely to be the case again in a few months. Until then, enjoy customizing your own Jeskai build.

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