Most players are aware of the existence of Jeskai Control in Modern. Many don't like the deck simply because it is a control deck and it can be tricky to play. Personally I enjoy it a lot, and it has the ability to interact with every single deck in the format. Each matchup is a bit different though, which is why I want to provide a comprehensive guide.

Right now, I like Jeskai Control more than straight white-blue. The red burn spells give you much better matchups against the small creature decks, and it doesn't hurt the mana base as much as many have been led to believe. Last weekend I was able to put up a Top 8 with a list I like a lot, so that is what I will be using today.

Each Jeskai list tend to vary a little bit, and I will get into why I chose this one, and the specific card choices. Let's get into the matchups.

Bant Spirits

IN: 1 Abrade 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Baneslayer Anger

OUT: 1 Negate 1 Logic Knot 1 Search for Azcanta

This is a matchup I am happy to be paired against with Jeskai Control. You are playing a deck that has such a high density of removal spells that it is very hard for the Spirits deck to actually get a critical mass of Spirits into play. If they try to it can open the door for a timely mass removal spell. With all that said the creatures the Spirits deck plays are tricky to deal with, so you do need to be careful.

The on-board effects like Selfless Spirit or Mausoleum Wanderer are easier to prepare for, but it always is important to also think about what threats the opponent can potentially flash onto the battlefield. Rattlechains and in particular Spell Queller are the creatures that are likely to get flashed into play. Also, this deck has access to Collected Company, so that can be a bit of a wild card. Generally speaking, I still try to cast spells on my opponent's turn. The best spells to tap out for are the five-mana ones like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria that are not in danger of being Spell Queller'ed. Geist of Saint Traft is another very annoying threat that I like to try and save a sweeper for if possible.


IN 1 Abrade 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Baneslayer Angel 1 Celestial Purge

OUT 2 Logic Knot 1 Mana Leak 1 Negate

Versus decks with four Cavern of Souls you really can't afford to be relying on counterpells too much. I feel a bit more comfortable playing versus Humans compared to Spirits, because there is less they can do at instant speed, other than activating Aether Vial. Your plan is fairly straightforward, keep the creatures from snowballing, and if that happens the card advantage in the Jeskai deck will win you the game. Electrolyze is particularly strong against Phantasmal Image decks as often times it ends up being a three for one.


IN 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Baneslayer Angel 1 Celestial Purge 3 Rest in Peace 1 Negate 2 Dispel

OUT 1 Electrolyze 3 Lightning Bolt 1 Cryptic Command 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Search for Azcanta 1 Logic Knot 1 Supreme Verdict

Dredge is the matchup that is generally the scariest for Jeskai, but with this particular list I believe you have a fighting chance. I actually played against Dredge at the Open and managed to deck my opponent in two straight games. Settle the Wreckage is the card you most want to draw in game one, as without it dealing with all the creatures the Dredge deck gets into play is extremely hard.

After sideboard, you get access to a lot of powerful cards including a true haymaker in Rest in Peace. The reason I also board in Dispel is in case you are able to find a way to play Rest in Peace and have Dispel backup to stop a Nature's Claim or Assassin's Trophy. Anger of the Gods is also really good at cleaning up their creatures, so with this build the matchup is closer than you might think.


IN 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Disdainful Stroke 1 Geist of Saint Traft 1 Negate 2 Stony Silence 1 Abrade

OUT 3 Lightning Helix 1 Supreme Verdict 1 Settle the Wreckage 1Path to Exile 1 Electrolyze

This is a matchup where using Counterspells as aggressively as possible is correct. Countering a Sylvan Scrying or Ancient Stirrings early on can prevent the Tron player from getting Tron. Your counters can also be leveraged against most of the big threats other than the Eldrazi which are the most problematic threats in the lategame. This is another matchup that is actually closer than players are led to believe.

Golgari Midrange

IN 1 Celestial Purge

OUT 1 Negate

This matchup is in Jeskai's favor because of all the card advantage you have access to. It isn't necessary to sideboard very much, as all your game one cards are strong. It is possible for the Golgari deck to play a discard spell and stick an annoying threat early, which is really your main worry here. Keep in mind that they will generally have multiple ways to get Teferi, Hero of Dominaria off the board, so games can go quite long.

White-Blue Control

IN 1 Disdainful Stroke 1 Negate 2 Dispel 1 Geist of Saint Traft

OUT 1 Supreme Verdict 1 Settle the Wreckage 1 Lightning Helix 2 Path to Exile

The fact that you have burn spells in your deck is the advantage the Jeskai deck can leverage. There are only so many threats each deck have that matter, and they can all be countered. This means that if you can find a way to lower the opponent's life total a bit by attacking with a Snapcaster Mage, burn spells can then close out the game. If one player gets Search for Azcanta or a planeswalker going that is also a way to gain a huge advantage.

Jeskai Control

1 Disdainful Stroke 1 Negate 2 Dispel 1 Geist of Saint Traft

OUT 1 Supreme Verdict 1 Settle the Wreckage 1 Lightning Bolt 2 Path to Exile

This matchup plays out very similarly to the matchup against White-Blue Control. Games tend to go quite long. The reason for keeping in a couple Path to Exile is that sometimes you need a good way to deal with Celestial Colonnade.

Hardened Scales

IN 1 Abrade 1 Anger of the Gods 2 Stony Silence 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Baneslayer Angel

OUT 1 Negate 1 Logic Knot 2 Search for Azcanta 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Hieroglyphic illumination

This is a fun matchup from the Jeskai side, as once again you have to fight off a bunch of small creatures. Path to Exile is by far the best removal spell you have access to because it deals with Hangarback Walker. Rest in Peace is a card I don't bring in here because I haven't found that it is needed. The opponent may try to bring in enchantment removal for Stony Silence which is part of why you want to take out Search for Azcanta. If a Stony Silence gets into play and they don't have the answer that should be game over.

Grixis Death's Shadow

IN 1 Baneslayer Angel 1 Celestial Purge 1 Geist of Saint Traft

OUT 1 Cryptic Command 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Negate

I like keeping in the burn spells, because they are a way you can just kill the opponent if they try to make their Death's Shadow too big. This is another matchup where even though Rest in Peace is good vs them it also hurts you, so I'm not bringing it in. The creatures like Baneslayer Angel and Geist of Saint Traft are nice because they can't get hit by Stubborn Denial. You really want to avoid being forced to tap out for a card like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, because there is a good chance it gets countered.

Blue-Red Arclight Phoenix

IN 1 Celestial Purge 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Baneslayer Angel

OUT 1 Negate 1 Hieroglyphic Illumination 1 Supreme Verdict

This is a matchup I still don't have a ton of experience with yet. If you are not playing against a deck with Bedlam Reveler I don't like bringing in Rest in Peace, and just relying on exile spot removal for the Arclight Phoenixes.

Runaway Red

IN 1 Celestial Purge 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Baneslayer Angel 3 Rest in Peace 1 Geist of Saint Traft 1 Negate 2 Dispel

Out 1 Supreme Verdict 1 Search for Azcanta 2 Logic Knot 4 Snapcaster Mage 2 Lightning Bolt

The plan is to make your deck as strong as it can be with a Rest in Peace in play. This means forgetting about Snapcaster Mage synergy. Your card advantage cards are great here, and it is tough for the opponent to deal enough damage exclusively with Burn spells, though it is possible.


IN 1 Abrade 1 Anger of the Gods 2 Dispel 1 Negate

OUT 4 Path to Exile 1 Settle the Wreckage

This is a matchup where the Storm player often is going to try to attack you from many angles after sideboarding. Usually you have enough way to disrupt the Past in Flames plan with Counterspells. The three-damage burn spells are where you want to be to get their mana creatures off the battlefield. Without a card like Baral, Chief of Compliance in play, the Storm deck can't really produce a quick Storm turn and is forced to wait until much later in the game to try and go off, which works in favor of the Jeskai deck.


IN 1 Abrade 2 Dispel

OUT 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Cryptic Command 1 Search for Azcanta

The key to playing against Infect is not trying to kill an infect creature that is attacking, unless it is actually lethal. By forcing the opponent to use cards like Blossoming Defense at their end step, you can prevent some damage. Always start pointing removal spells at the opponent's creatures whenever you can, and it tends to run them out of ways to save their creature.

Wrapping Up

Okay, is this every deck in Modern that I have a sideboard plan for? Of course not, but it is many of the top strategies, and based on these notes it can be easy to make assumptions about other matchups as well. There are a few flex slots in the list that I think you can play around with. Rest in Peace is one of the weirdest sideboard cards, and I have it due to wanting an okay Dredge matchup, but if that isn't a priority in your metagame I would cut it, as it does take up three sideboard slots.

The reason why I don't have Lyra Dawnbringer in the list is not because I don't think the card is good. The reason is that I don't want too many five-mana cards in my deck after sideboard. In matchups where you want to bring in an Angel you also are generally not taking out Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. That being said, it is definitely worthy of consideration. With the Phoenix deck becoming more popular I'm looking into ways to improve the matchup as it isn't great for Jeskai.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield