Standard is soon to rotate and Modern soon to receive a couple of bans, so I had to dig deep to find a cool deck to talk about. I've looked all over the internet, but there was nothing I was satisfied with. I asked on twitter for some submissions. I received a few cool decks, but in the meantime, I tried to figure out something fun to play for a video, so I started brewing and came up with this monstrosity. I have no idea if it's good or not. Something tells me it's good but it still requires a lot of work. Before I started recording the videos, I posted a 4-1 record in the Modern Leagues on Magic Online, so I decided to run it for this week's article. Worst case scenario, it's crap and we move on along with the release of Shadows over Innistrad. Best case, it's something that deserves some testing and that could be good.
I've been trying to build a zero-casting cost deck for a while but without any success. With Chalice of the Void being so popular at the last PT, I even totally forgot about my idea. I also always wanted to build a Jeskai Ascendancy deck that was different.
The deck is a four-card combo: Jeskai Ascendancy + Retraction Helix + any creature + any zero-casting cost noncreature artifact (Mox Opal, Paradise Mantle). Since you have a lot of creatures and a lot of cheap noncreature artifacts, it's more like a two-card combo.
You can assemble it extremely fast thanks to the artifact mana and Simian Spirit Guide. Paradise Mantle helps you with the colors to cast Jeskai Ascendancy.
You go off by having Jeskai Ascendancy in play, playing Retraction Helix on one of your creatures, then bouncing a Mox Opal, for example. You play Mox Opal again, triggering Jeskai Ascendancy, untapping the creature targeted by Retraction Helix, bouncing the Mox Opal again, sifting through your deck, generating infinite mana, making an infinitely powerful monster…
In version 1.0, Erayo, Soratami Acendant is a maindeck way to interact with your opponent, as it's very easy to trigger it in the first or second turn and it will give you some extra time to assemble your pieces.
Thoughtcast is the card drawer of choice to dig through your deck as it's castable early and later in the game. It's also more efficient than a Serum Vision or a Sleight of Hand as you sometimes need the extra card in hand when you start looking for Retraction Helix and have Jeskai Ascendancy on the board.
The other draw spell of the deck is… *drum rolls*
With this deck, you're going to empty your hand quickly, sometimes as early as turn one or two. Most of the time, you'll have a creature and a mana artifact in play and you'll need the other two parts of the combo (or just Jeskai Ascendancy to find the other one). Your opponent is unlikely to take advantage of Day's Undoing as much as you do. You'll usually win on the turn after and making your opponent draw seven is usually irrelevant.
I entered a league and played all five rounds with it. I recorded a few of the matches for your viewing pleasure. I'll spare you the first one that was against a non-competitive deck and the fourth one against Lantern Control that took over 45 minutes.
The deck has a lot of potential. It can have crazy draws where you win on turn three or draws without action that make it feel like you didn't put in enough playables in your deck.
It's very vulnerable to a couple of cards such as Stony Silence, Ratchet Bomb or Chalice of the Void, but I'm sure we can work around them (maybe not around Chalice of the Void). I did win a round against W/U control with Stony Silence in play thanks to Ghirapur Aether Grid.
Anyway, here's version 1.1 of the deck, that I would start working on from now on:
I took out Simian Spirit Guide and the maindeck Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and added the fourth Thoughtcast, the fourth Day's Undoing, and the fourth Retraction Helix, therefore focusing more on the combo.
I maindecked Ghirapur Aether Grids as an alternate win condition. You sometimes don't need Retraction Helix to win as you can ping your opponent to death or even attack for 10 poison only with the spells you play off your hand. Also Jeskai Ascendancy and Ghirapur Aether Grid work great together.
There's a chance the deck needs more active spells or a way to sink your mana into. I haven't worked on it enough yet to determine which cards would fit there. The sideboard is also a work in progress.
I'm throwing the deck at you, faithful readers — help me make it a modern staple!