Valuable Lessons – Jeskai Tempo

Welcome to the new Standard! We’re finally starting to see the exciting new deck concepts that are winning after the rotation. There’s one deck in particular that seems to be topping everyone’s list of tier one archetypes. Jeskai Burn has proven its power. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the format defining deck coming into the Pro Tour. Jeskai Tempo plays a beautiful control game, but it has the ability to turn the tides of battle and consume the opponent at any given moment.

Coming into the new Standard format, there seem to be four 3-mana cards that define the pace of play. Courser of Kruphix, Goblin Rabblemaster, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, and Mantis Rider

Courser of Kruphix generates card advantage and provides life total padding while also defending against a lot of the format’s best early threats. The format has developed as a reaction to Courser of Kruphix. Cards like Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Mantis Rider do a good job of standing toe-to-toe with Courser of Kruphix, while Goblin Rabblemaster punishes players for playing the large tap-out-for-fatties style of play that usually goes along with playing Courser of Kruphix. I still feel like Courser of Kruphix is probably one of the best cards (assuming it isn’t just flat-out the best) in Standard, but it looks like the format is well-adjusted to battle with it right now.

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is very good against midrange green decks, and it happens to be well-positioned against most decks at this point. It’s hard to find the right home for Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, but the card is definitely format warping and should be a major player at the upcoming Pro Tour.

Goblin Rabblemaster has proven itself to be more than just the top end to an aggressive creature strategy. People have finally realized that the card is capable of winning the game on its own if left in play unmolested for a few turns. The must-kill nature of Goblin Rabblemaster and the fact that it’s hard to not pick up at least a little bit of value with a Goblin token make it one of the most important cards in Standard.

Mantis Rider is the odd inclusion here. The card is tremendously powerful, but most important is that the card matches up nicely against planeswalkers, and it bashes the green decks’ faces in while they’re trying to stabilize.

Stoke the Flames is one of the very best cards in Standard on its own, and the fact that two of the best three-mana cards, Goblin Rabblemaster and Mantis Rider, combo nicely with it is an extra bonus.

Seeker of the Way is a two-drop that brings the A-game on offense and defense. The card’s power and toughness get pretty reasonable very fast, and the lifelinkyness is especially swingy against decks that might be able to race with us. There are a lot of lists that play less than four of this going around, but I think it’s too strong of a turn two play to have less than four copies.

Banishing Light is a nice catch-all answer to whatever might be happening on the other side of the table. It’s never bad to have a versatile answer and Banishing Light is always a treat.

We need some inexpensive removal spells to hold down the fort while we try to establish some dominance. Magma Jet and Lightning Strike are the best options. Both of them can reliably deal with most one- and two-mana creatures that people play and once we get to turn three our turn should matter a lot more than the opponent’s.

The top end removal here is also just very high quality. Jeskai Charm in particular seems to read “kill a creature, kill a planeswalker, or sometimes kill a player.”

The nice thing about the deck’s removal is that a huge portion of it can be aimed at the opponent’s face, so there are a lot of games where opponents might just tap out and be dead before they even know what hit them.

Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is the perfect finisher and it’s especially nice that he matches up so well against Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Nissa, Worldwaker.

Let’s take a look at how I would play the deck if I were battling in a Standard event this upcoming week:

Jeskai Tempo
by Jacob Van Lunen

Sideboarding and Strategy

Against Green Devotion:

We can get in the air and it doesn’t take long before we can race them down with burn spells. We should try to rid them of their mana creatures early and use removal offensively to clear the way for attackers in hopes of snowballing the game out of range for the opponent. Not much sideboarding necessary here, going to the air tends to be very strong against Green Devotion.



Against Black Aggro:

The aggressive black decks bring something very scary to the table, and, while game one can be rough, the post-board plan of Magma Spray and Anger of the Gods should be enough to keep this deck well contained. Our cards get a lot better once we get to the third turn, we just need to make it out alive.



Against Esper Control:

We never need to overcommit with this deck. Each threat represents something that the opponent absolutely must deal with if they don’t want to lose the game in just a few attacks. The control decks don’t have Sphinx’s Revelation to just jump back into the game out of nowhere like before, and, as a result, the decks with chunky burn spells are very well-positioned here.



Against Thoughtseize decks:

Hopefully, they’re taking a lot of damage from their lands and we can kill them with burn spells over the course of a few endsteps. This tends to be the way this matchup goes and it seems to heavily favor the burn player, especially now that he or she doesn’t have access to big Gray Merchants. Some versions of this deck play cards like Siege Rhino and Nyx-Fleece Ram, it’s best to lean on Mantis Rider against those, but they’re definitely very good against the Jeskai deck.



(Magma Jet if they have 3-toughness cards like Herald of Torment or Sidisi, Brood Tyrant)

Jeskai Tempo is one of the best decks in the format. The deck had the most success of all the archetypes in the first weekend of new Standard competition. Will Jeskai Tempo continue dominating the new Standard environment at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir? Or will another deck rise to prominence in the coming weeks? Stay tuned to Valuable Lessons to find out!


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