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Modern Deck Guide: Jeskai Tempo

2017/11/28 00:00 

    • Grzegorz Kowalski
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hello everyone!

Grzegorz Kowalski here, and this will be my third article for hareruya. I already wrote about Standard and Limited so today is time for Modern!

I believe this is a great time because of upcoming Modern Pro Tour and GPs! In last weeks two decks gained a lot of popularity - Jeskai Tempo and 5 color Humans. I wanted to try both decks, but I tried Jeskai first and I just fell in love and didn't even touch Humans after that. Deck is super sweet, fun to play with a lot of options. You can play as a classic tempo deck, full control deck or even burn deck if your opponent use "Fetchlands" and "Shocklands" too greedy.

Snapcaster MageCryptic CommandLightning Bolt

Today I want to share with you my thoughts after playing over 20 leagues on Magic Online and some real life testing.

Decklist

This is my current list. Modern is very wide format and it's impossible to say which list is the best or make your deck being good against everyone. Everything depends on metagame and decks you face during event.

You should set your goals first and then, with this in mind build your 75. I want my Jeskai to be good vs mirrors and controls and also gain few percentages vs Storm and Titanshift, that's why I'm playing 1 《Vendilion Clique》 and 2 《Spell Snare》 in my maindeck.

If you want to focus on beating mindrange decks like Abzan or Jund, you can play more 《Cryptic Command》 and Planeswalkers in those flexible slots.

I will write more about card choices below.

Core Of The Maindeck

Snapcaster Mage

4

Spell Queller

4

Geist of Saint Traft

2


Serum Visions

4

Lightning Bolt

4

Path to Exile

4

Lightning Helix

2

This is the core that I would never cut or go below numbers above if you want to play Jeskai Tempo. Mostly because of that core our UWR is so good versus any creature based aggro deck like Affinity or Humans (let's forget about 《Bogles》 for a moment :P). The high density of cheap point removal spells works well with 《Snapcaster Mage》 and 《Geist of Saint Traft》 as you can easily clear the path for 《him》.

Flexible Slots

2 《Cryptic Command》

Cryptic Command

2

Initially I started with 3, but versus fast decks you can't draw too many expensive spells, so I decided to cut 1 for cheaper interaction.

2 《Electrolyze》, 3rd 《Lightning Helix》

Electrolyze

2

Lightning Helix

3rd

Great versus any creature decks. Also make the burn plan a real thing, which comes surprisingly often in game one.

3 《Logic Knot》, 2 《Spell Snare》, 0 《Remand》, 0 《Mana Leak》

Logic Knot

3

Spell Snare

2

Remand

0

Mana Leak

0

Our counterspells. I like 《Logic Knot》 over 《Mana Leak》 because of 8 Fetchlands and bunch of one mana spells. It's always hard counter on turn two, exactly as 《Mana Leak》, but doesn't lose its power in the late game. As long as we're playing 《Cryptic Command》 in our deck we have to Fetch aggressively for blue mana so (U)(U) in mana cost is not a big deal.

《Spell Snare》 is just mana efficient counterspell that has relevant targets in big part of meta. Countering 《Snapcaster Mage》, 《Cranial Plating》, 《Cathartic Reunion》 or Titanshift's 《ramp》 for just one mana is a great feeling in tempo deck. It's also the best way to deal with creatures in Storm because you don't let them cast 《Rituals》 in response for 《Bolt》.

3rd 《Geist of Saint Traft》

Geist of Saint Traft

3rd

I believe 3 is a lot, but 《Geist》 is our best weapon to fight bad match ups and sometimes slam it turn 3 and slow down opponent with counterspell or removal is your only way to win. Match ups where you don't want to draw 《Geist》 are usually very good, so you don't care if you draw one bad card against Humans if you're very likely to win the match anyway.

1 《Vendilion Clique》

Vendilion Clique

1

In Jeskai Tempo you have to put some pressure on your opponent early, to make your deck works well. The best way is often to play turn 3 《Geist》, but in some match ups you just can't tapout your turn 3, and in those match ups is where 《Clique》 shines. Instant speed 3 power creature is good itself, fact that you can interact opponent's hand makes it MVP.

Sideboard

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

2

Relic of Progenitus

2

Disdainful Stroke

2

Izzet Staticaster

1


Vendilion Clique

1

Engineered Explosives

1

Surgical Extraction

1

Dispel

1


Negate

1

Celestial Purge

1

Anger of the Gods

1

Supreme Verdict

1

Modern is too wide to explain all sideboard choices one by one. Instead of that I'll try to make match up guide for most common archetypes in Modern and include my sideboard plans there.

General Gameplay and Tips & Tricks

Jeskai Tempo is a deck with various game plans and it's really important to understand when you should take a beatdown role and when play as a control. It's impossible to give you perfect solution for this question because it often changes during the game.

For example, versus 《Death's Shadow》 you are starting as a full control player, trying to counter every important spell and kill every creature he plays but at some point you have to take a beatdown role and close the game before he finds a way to protect any of his threats, because it's often enough for him to win the game, and we can't give him enough time to accomplish that.

Death's Shadow

Ability to find a proper moment to switch our gameplan is the most important skill in Jeskai and requires a lot of time to master it.

Other than that I'll try to give you few quick Tips & Tricks. Experienced players should know all of this, but it might not be obvious to someone who is starting his adventure with Jeskai or Modern.

Match Up Guide

Mirror

The best threat in the mirror is 《Geist》, but is also not that easy to resolve. You shouldn't play turn 3 《Geist》 if your opponent has 2 mana open, because he may just counter it and play his own 《Geist》. The only exception is when you have your second copy. Then in the worst case scenario you can just play it next turn and block with it. Majority of Jeskai Tempo is not playing any Planeswalkers maindeck, so they don't have a way to punish you for tapping out in your turn 4 other than casting another 《Geist》 post combat.

I like to cast 《Spell Queller》 in end of my opponent's turn 3 without value to force some action. It's very unlikely that 《Queller》 will hold any spell for a long time, because of how removal heavy our decks are, so I don't feel like I'm wasting value when I cast it just as 2/3 flash guy. Obviously 《Vendilion Clique》 is better in that role, but you have only one.

Against Mirror

Out

Path to Exile Lightning Bolt Electrolyze Electrolyze
Lightning Helix Lightning Helix Lightning Helix

In

Relic of Progenitus Relic of Progenitus Pia and Kiran Nalaar Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Negate Dispel Vendilion Clique

Removal is not great here but you need to keep some 《Path to Exile》 for 《Celestial Colonnade》 and 《Lightning Bolt》 for 《Spell Queller》.

You usually prefer to counter creatures more than killing them, so that's why I'm keeping 2 《Spell Snare》, even though it probably counters only 《Snapcaster Mage》 postboard.

UR Storm

It's slightly favorable match up but also very complex to play. We want to pressure them as fast as possible, so I'm a big fan of casting turn 2 《Snapcaster Mage》 most of the time.

It's also important to kill his 《Baral》/《Goblin》 as soon as possible. Storm is way more dangerous with those creatures in play than without them. Fortunately we have a lot of answers to deal with them.

If you have any reasonable way to put a clock on you opponent, don't play 《Geist》. Tapping out is the best gift that you can give to Storm player. On the other hand, if you don't have a great hand it's often worth to just take a risk and hope they don't have good hand.

Against UR Storm

Out

Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile
Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft Lightning Helix
Electrolyze Electrolyze

In

Vendilion Clique Izzet Staticaster Relic of Progenitus Relic of Progenitus
Negate Dispel Surgical Extraction Engineered Explosives
Anger of the Gods Celestial Purge

Post board it gets even better. We cut all of bad cards and put great hate in. With so many counterspells and 《Relic of Progenitus》 it will be very hard for our opponent to kill us with 《Grapeshot》, that's why we board so many cards against 《Empty the Warrens》. Even though cards like 《Izzet Staticaster》 or 《Anger of the Gods》 look terrible at first glance, it's necessary evil to be sure that we don't die to random 8 《Goblin Tokens》 out of nowhere.

Humans

Match up is great. I'm currently 8-0 in modo matches and I lost only 2 small games. It's also relatively easy to play. Just take a control side and try to kill everything that he's playing. Only way to lose against Humans is to draw too many counterspells, when they have 《Cavern of Souls》, or to get super mana flooded. Remember that 《Spell Queller》 works against 《Cavern》, because it exiles a spell, not counters.

Against Humans

Out

Logic Knot Logic Knot Logic Knot Spell Snare
Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft

In

Vendilion Clique Izzet Staticaster Pia and Kiran Nalaar Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Supreme Verdict Anger of the Gods Engineered Explosives

I'm leaving 1 《Spell Snare》 because I don't want to have more cards against Humans in my sideboard. It might be dead if your opponent draws 《Cavern》, but if not, it's nice catch up for 《Kitesail Freebooter》 or 《Thalia》. If you want to bring more cards, feel free to cut another 《Spell Snare》.

Eldrazi Tron

This is one of the worst match ups for Jeskai. Threats are big enough to survive 《Lightning Bolt》 or 《Lightning Helix》. Counters don't work when they draw 《Cavern》. Sometimes they even 《Chalice of the Void》 you for one.

The best way to win is turn 3 《Geist》 and few 《Path to Exile》 to clear the path for him. Try to take a beatdown role, because you can't really win lategame.

Against Eldrazi Tron

Out

Electrolyze Electrolyze Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix Lightning Helix Lightning Helix

In

Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Pia and Kiran Nalaar Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Supreme Verdict Engineered Explosives Vendilion Clique

Affinity

Another good match up. We're taking full control side and try to answer important spells. By important I mean: 《Arcbound Ravager》, 《Steel Overseer》, 《Etched Champion》, 《Master of Etherium》, 《Cranial Plating》. If you can deal with those, the rest is not dangerous.

《Electrolyze》 is perfect answer for irrelevant cards like 《Signal Pest》 or 《Memnite》, so try to don't waste your premium removal for that unless you really have to.

《Spell Snare》 is your premium answer for 《Plating》, so if you have any other reasonable way to deal with 《Ravager》 or 《Overseer》, try to save 《Spell Snare》 for later.

Against Affinity On the Play

Out

Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft
Logic Knot Lightning Helix Vendilion Clique

In

Izzet Staticaster Pia and Kiran Nalaar Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Supreme Verdict Anger of the Gods Engineered Explosives

Against Affinity On the Draw

Out

Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft Geist of Saint Traft
Logic Knot Logic Knot Vendilion Clique

In

Izzet Staticaster Pia and Kiran Nalaar Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Supreme Verdict Anger of the Gods Engineered Explosives

Conclusion

Those are the most important match ups in current Modern in my opinion. It's impossible to cover everything about Modern deck in one article, but I hope you enjoy my choice.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on twitter! I'll try to answer every single one, as soon as I come back from my Grand Prix Lyon 20172017 World Magic Cup trip.

Thanks for reading, until next time!

Grzegorz Kowalski.

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