Woo Brews – Is Jeskai Ascendancy Going To Get Banned?

Now, I’m not saying it will or it won’t. I’m saying I’ve been hearing that it’s going to get banned. The hype, though, is real.

Take a look at this card:

Why does it have so many words? Why does it have so many abilities? Is it misprinted?

I’m really scratching my head over this card. It seems intentionally pushed, intentionally busted, in an intentionally fast, combo-centric way that has not been in the spirit of the past couple years of printings.

It’s not some sleeper diamond in the rough. It was obvious to everyone that looked at it, judging by the number of brews that came out before the set was even officially released.

Either Wizards wants to give clock hogging, manual, untap this, tap this, untap, draw this, do this, do that, obnoxious Eggs-style combo another chance… or they done goofed.

I think Wizards done goofed.

All right so is Jeskai Ascendancy going to have to get banned then?

Well, what format?

Jeskai Ascendancy Combo

The combo is pretty simple. Basically, build a deck exclusively of mana dorks and cheap card draw. That’s it.

Once you have one or more mana dorks and a Jeskai Ascendancy out the fun begins. Every time you play a card draw spell you get to untap your mana dork, grow it, and loot.

If the deck is sufficiently full of card draw it’s natural to loot through the whole deck while growing the mana dork (s) to massive proportions. Turn sideways and that’s it.

A deck like this tends to be very fast and consistent. The deck is all fast mana and library manipulation. These cards are good on their own, and they are a recipe for absurdity with Jeskai Ascendancy.

There is a little more to it, and the nuances of that depend on whether we are talking Modern or Standard.

First let’s talk about my favorite format, Modern, before checking out Standard with an eye toward the upcoming Pro Tour.

Modern Jeskai Ascendancy

The most exciting thing that Modern gives us is Glittering Wish. Glittering Wish adds a ton of copies of Jeskai Ascendancy to the deck while offering flexibility and answers.

Burning Wish, Living Wish, and Cunning Wish were all historically important in broken combo decks, and it may finally be time for Glittering Wish.

Do you agree? It seems like you do, as Glittering Wish comically skyrocketed in price with these new printings.

In Modern we have Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, and Sylvan Caryatid. These are all fantastic on their own and now they are the core to a broken combo shell.

For cheap draw we have Gitaxian Probe, Serum Visions, Sleight of Hand, Cerulean Wisps, Noxious Revival, Crimson Wisps, Manamorphose, and Treasure Cruise.

This is a stacked lineup of card draw that allows second turn wins.

Turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Jeskai Ascendancy, and get things started with Gitaxian Probe. It takes until turn 3 with a Glittering Wish, which is still blistering fast for a “turn 4” Modern.

Here’s a list I like from Pascal Maynard who adjusted a list from Sam Black, but credit is due to another thousand people who brewed the same deck. This card has been an obvious one.

Pacal Maynard/Sam Black’s Jeskai Ascendancy Combo

The Fiery Justice could be replaced with Abrupt Decay, and Maelstrom Pulse with Detention Sphere.

This fiddly deck is an extremely fun deckbuilding problem and a fun solitaire play, but it’s probably not the best for tournament Magic.

For one, it might actually be too fast, too good, too resilient to disruption. Maybe, maybe not. But if it’s even close to that good it could be a problem.

People come to Magic tournaments to play Magic. It’s really not fun to sit there waiting for your opponent to kill you for 30 minutes. It’s also sucks to be in that tournament waiting for the next round to start.

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Welcome to the old days. Time Spiral, Mind’s Desire, and Glimpse of Nature combo decks are just a few of the fun old gems from Magic’s past.

Yeah well those cards have been heavily banned and restricted for being “problematic.”

Jeskai Ascendancy may follow this path.

Standard Jeskai Ascendancy

The Standard version of this combo is much less exciting, but Standard is also much less exciting. So while this thing seems way too good in Modern it’s a little less clear in Standard. But I expect things will become clear next week at the Pro Tour, in Hawaii.

In Standard we have Kiora’s Follower, Sylvan Caryatid, and the new Rattleclaw Mystic as our mana creature package.

Twinflame seems vital in speeding these guys up once we get Jeskai Ascendancy out. Twinflame can really super charge things as a haste mana creature that triggers Jeskai Ascendancy.

In terms of card draw we get Dragon Mantle, Commune with the Gods, Taigam’s Scheming, and Dig through Time. Not as busted and extensive a list as Modern obviously, but these cards should get the job done, and if not there are additional options in Standard waiting in the wings.

Finally we have Retraction Helix plus Astral Cornucopia or Briber’s Purse.

Retraction Helix on a guy that is untapping from Jeskai Ascendancy can clear the opponent’s board out pretty fast, and once we have a 0 mana artifact to repeatedly bounce we can infinite loot through our deck and infinite pump our guy.

Turn sideways and finish.

Andrew Baeckstrom

I’m excited to see how this deck does at the Pro Tour and personally I’d be excited for it to be way too good.

It’s been a while since a Standard banning and I don’t think this card being banned would surprise people too much. I wouldn’t expect it to ruin investors’ security in the market, so it may be no big deal if it does have to get the axe.

For everyone else, we can expect Thoughtseize to be MVP of the new format (OMG really?).

Woo Brews – Manual Draw My Deck

That’s it for Jeskai Ascendancy but it wouldn’t be Woo Brews without something totally off the wall and arguably insane that I can claim as my own.

I’m a big fan of drawing cards. Who knew? And I think it would be hilarious fun to have a Modern deck that wins with Laboratory Maniac.

I’m talking about a semi-self mill Visions of Beyond-type draw deck. And we have some new tools in Taigam’s Scheming and Treasure Cruise.

I was ready to be disappointed when I saw Treasure Cruise but this card has done nothing but impress me. I am happy to cast Ancestral Recall in any context. I’m perfectly happy to wait until turn 5 because if I cast Ancestral Recall turn 1 I would have to discard.

While Treasure Cruise is at tension with Visions of Beyond, these cards feed off the same engine. Ideally we hit 20 cards for Visions of Beyond and Treasure Cruise follows. The deck would get picked up real fast.

Well, it seems slow to get this draw engine going. So how are we going to interact with the opponent while we’re busying filling up our hand with blue cards?

How about play all the free blue pitch spells in Modern?

Now THIS sounds like a deck!

Manual Draw My Deck

Is this deck a winner or what?

The best part about it is how deceptively interactive it is. It takes more than 1 person and a goldfish bowl to figure out if this deck works because it all depends what the opponent is playing. It all depends on the opponent’s knowledge of the list. There’s a potential for blowouts. Steal a Karn perhaps?

I’m also interested in a harder self-mill version that leaves out most of free pitch spells:

The version is much less interactive but tears through its deck way faster. Tome Scour and Hedron Crab get things going fast and provide way more fuel for Visions of Beyond and Treasure Cruise.

Taigam’s Scheming is really exciting to me as a fast selection spell and graveyard enabler. It doesn’t draw a card but Vampiric Tutor doesn’t draw a card so that’s not a deal-breaker.

This is a card that seems great in a variety of kinds of decks—a Standard Reanimator deck for instance. I’m glad this card was printed.

Serum Powder is also an enticing option as a 4-of to randomly start some games with half the deck exiled. That card is an all-time favorite in my theoretical deckbuilding and I’ve never thought to use it to start with 25 cards in the deck before. In actual play it’s a bit too random for my taste, though.

Khans of Tarkir Combo

Khans of Tarkir is pretty combo-rific. More so than any recent set I can think of. These brews are just scratching the surface, and when and if Jeskai Ascendancy is banned there will be more waiting in the wings.

Personally I think this is great for the deckbuilding aspect of the game at the expense of the game play aspect of the game. I’m totally fine with this because the actual game is a little unexciting to me, whereas I have an obsessive fascination with deckbuilding.

There’s a tension in pleasing the deckbuilders and the deck players, and sometimes these things are at odds. I’m happy that Wizards threw the deckbuilders a bone here and I’m excited to see what happens.

What do you think?

<3 Travis

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