About a week and a half back, another interesting take on Jeskai Ascendancy emerged. This would be the third deck of its kind to perform well in Standard.
The first version was a combo deck featuring Sylvan Caryatid (and other mana creatures) that ended up bouncing a card like Briber's Purse with a cost of zero mana with Retraction Helix and replaying it to buff their creatures to an obscenely large size. They would then win with something like Burning Anger, or by attacking with creatures created with Twinflame, or by having milled their opponent with Altar of the Brood in play.
The next list won an SCG Open and included things like Akroan Crusader. It used the same engine to Retraction Helix a permanent, but this time they used Springleaf Drum to tap a creature and make a mana, bounce the Drum, replay the Drum, then Untap the creature. This would end up making their Akroan Crusader tokens (and the rest of their creatures for that matter) huge before they swung in for the win.
This most recent version is a little bit different from those two...
Just like the previous iteration, this one has also won an Open (a trait Jeskai Ascendancy seems to excel at). This time in the hands of Harlan Firer less than two weeks ago. The premise of this deck is simply to play token creature, then play more token creatures to buff the previous token creatures, then convoke spells like Stoke the Flames to pump all your creatures, then untap those creatures you use to cast the Stoke itself with thanks to Jeskai Ascendancy, then...you get the idea.
While this version is the least "combo-y" of the bunch, it's still capable of basically Overrunning your team each turn, often allowing you to untap and play defense as well. Every Jeskai Charm basically acts like a pseudo Flying Crane Technique with Jeskai Ascendancy in play, only with lifelink. But don't take my word for it! See for yourself.
Jeskai Prowess Combo vs. Mardu Midrange
Jeskai Prowess Combo vs. RW Heroic
Jeskai Prowess Combo vs. Jeskai Control
Jeskai Prowess Combo vs. Mardu Midrange, Match 2
Well, if it wasn't abundantly clear, red and white are perhaps the most popular colors in Magic. Not only is this quite unusual, but it also makes me a little sad as the World's Biggest Sultai Player. Either way, despite them all containing red and white, we did get to play against three different archetypes, and only one of them contained blue, which should make some people happy.
There are numerous combo options with Jeskai Ascendancy. Heck, Vintage specialist Rick Shay just 4-0'd a Daily Event with a Jeskai Ascendancy Combo deck...in Legacy! The card has found a home in nearly every format that it's been legal in, and I'm pretty sure this is the strongest version in Standard. It's not as likely to whiff as the "true" combo version and it can apply more pressure without comboing than the heroic version.
21 lands is pretty low, but we're also supplementing them with three Springleaf Drums which basically act as lands with our token produces and Monastery Swiftspears. There were definitely times where I could have a used an extra land, but there were also times I could have used less lands as well, so things will shake out pretty evenly, as they always do.
While I initially felt like four Retraction Helix would be too many, since we're not comboing off, the one thing you want to realize with this deck is that the cards themselves don't actually matter as much as their costs. The more cards we're able to cast, cycle through, and pump our guys with from Jeskai Ascendancy, the better. Especially if those untaps actually prove useful at bouncing our opponent's entire team (which Retraction Helix does). It's also awesome on tokens like an opposing Hordeling Outburst or a Wingmate Roc.
Unlike the last deck we played with Ensoul Artifact, this time Crackling Doom has very little effect on us. Seeing as we played against two decks that could have contained Crackling Doom, this is pretty beneficial. Most of our creatures have one power and get buffed equally, so we're typically sacrificing a token, or a Seeker of the Way if we have one, which is a much more fair exchange of mana than if we were, say, sacrificing a Butcher of the Horde.
As far as the sideboard was concerned, I wasn't sure what the Oppressive Rays were for, but everything else did manage to get some use. I would wager that they're great against things like Siege Rhino and Butcher of the Horde, but using them against any large threat in decks that take a while to amass six mana seems fine. I didn't bring them in because I basically didn't see any creatures like that, even from the Mardu deck if I remember correctly. I kept waiting for a Butcher of the Horde, but he never showed up.
Either way, I'm tempted to go out on a limb and say this might be one of the most powerful decks in Standard. It was also a blast to play, and Jeskai Charm has to be one of, if not the best charms. Every mode was relevant during my games, which isn't always the case. The deck also has an amazing way of winning out of nowhere when you can kill their blocker or bounce it with a Retraction Helix, only to untap your creatures which are now larger. If you're looking to play some super sweet Magic with one of the most competitive decks out there, I would definitely pick this one up.
That's about it. Thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys on Monday!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV