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Moving Forward with Jeskai Control

Torrential Gearhulk
So last week I had an article where I was debating what to play in Modern for the team tournament in Baltimore. The debate was between Whir of Invention Lantern Control or Jeskai Control. I ultimately ended sleeving up Jeskai Control. Steve Mann played Temur Black in Standard and Justin Parnell played Sultai Delver in Legacy. We all did well and supported each other throughout the weekend. Justin carried us day one by winning almost all his matches and I carried us day two by winning almost all of mine. Steve Mann was consistent throughout the event. At the end of the day, we all had similar win/loss records. We ultimately ended up Top 8ing the event. We won our quarterfinals quickly and then proceeded to the semifinals. Justin got dispatched by Sultai Control in Legacy then I won my matchup against Dylan Donegan piloting Death's Shadow. It came down to Steve Mann, and when I looked over, he seemed to be winning the match with The Scarab God in play. Sadly, his opponent’s next turn was a Commit // Memory on The Scarab God followed by Chandra, Torch of Defiance into Vizier of Many Faces and from there the match just spiraled out of control and we lost. So, we ended up coming in fourth place. I was a little upset in the heat of the moment but ultimately it was a solid finish and I had a wonderful time. I just really wanted to win it all. We’ve always got next time!

This article isn’t a tournament report though. It’s about the deck I played and what changes I would make to it moving forward. My take on Jeskai Control went a little larger than traditional builds. I played Torrential Gearhulks, Search for Azcanta, and Glimmer of Genius. I easily beat every bgx midrange deck and I beat every Death's Shadow deck I played against. bg decks like Jund just can’t overcome the card advantage you have in the mid-late game, even if they tear your hand apart. Same with Death's Shadow but you also have Supreme Verdicts, Path to Exile, and Celestial Purges after sideboarding. Let’s go ahead and look at the list I played.

I really enjoyed this list. It was powerful against any grindy deck with hand disruption or decks that wanted the game to go longer. Torrential Gearhulk is a great creature because it turns the corner very quickly and it’s also great at jumping in front of creatures like Reality Smasher and eating them up. People sometimes expected a Torrential Gearhulk but they never saw the second one coming. Glimmer of Genius was another card that got a few questioned looks throughout the weekend but it’s power was undeniable. If you thought Torrential Gearhulk into Glimmer of Genius was powerful in Standard, just imagine it in Modern.

Nahiri Vs Ajani Vengeant

Ajani Vengeant
Nahiri, the Harbinger

Ajani has been the go to for all the Jeskai Control decks. Most of them play a single Ajani Vengeant. I found Nahiri, the Harbinger to be the superior Planeswalker overall. She is harder to kill when she upticks while filtering your hand late game of dead cards or lands. She also exiles that tapped Tarmogoyf or Reality Smasher instead of just keeping it tapped. She’ll also sang random enchantments throughtout the day like Blood Moons, Spreading Seas, Leyline of the Void, Bitterblossom, Leyline of Sanctity, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and whatever other enchantments you might run into. Snagging something like Codex Shredder against Lantern Control works too. Nahiri also ultimates quicker than Ajani Vengeant. You won’t be able to get an Emrakul but getting a Torrential Gearhulk will end the game just fine, especially since it goes back to your hand at the end of turn, so you can just use its ETB ability again on your opponent’s turn.

The Flaws

Don’t get me wrong, I love this deck but it has some flaws. A resolved Geist of Saint Traft can be difficult to deal with. Traditional Tron is another uphill battle, even if they don’t have Eye of Ugin. The deck can have some awkward opening hand with two lands, Search for Azcanta, and some countermagic. You’re forced to play Search for Azcanta to hit land drops and even then, you aren’t guaranteed to hit them. Search for Azcanta was amazing all weekend but three is just one too many. Even though I hate Serum Visions, it does help us hit land drops early and it protects spells against Thoughtseize mid to late game. It’s a necessary evil, that or at the very least, Opt.

Let’s see if we can solve the Geist of Saint Traft problem a little bit while also adding some Serum Visions to smooth out opening hands to get us to the mid-late game where we can really shine.

Blessed Alliance
Not too much of a change but enough changes that I believe make the deck better. I’ve cut a Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Mana Leak, and a Search for Azcanta for three Serum Visions and a Blessed Alliance. Serum Visions will smooth out draws like we talked about earlier. Blessed Alliance is a card that is just solid overall. It’s great against infect since it won’t target their creature. Against Death's Shadow you can not only kill their creature but make them gain four life which might allow you to kill two creatures if they have a Death's Shadow on the battlefield. It’s solid against Burn as well. Where I really want it though is against Geist of Saint Traft. Against Geist you can make them sacrifice a creature with the angel token trigger on the stack, that gives us a way to deal with Geist of Saint Traft without changing the makeup of the main deck too much. Serum Visions inadvertently helps with Geist by digging us further into a Supreme Verdict, which is nice.

As for the Sideboard, I’ve made a split with Rule of Law and Runed Halo. Halo is still solid against Storm decks but is also good elsewhere, like Infect, Death's Shadow, Valakit, and other random decks. Spell Queller is competing with Vendillion Clique. I’m still not quite sure which one I want in my Sideboard. In theory Spell Queller is equally as good as Vendillion Clique against Geist of Saint Traft. It can be flashed to counter the Geist or flashed to jump in front of him and kill him. It’s important to note that it kills Geist and doesn’t trade like Clique would. Against Storm I think Spell Queller is just as good as Vendillion Clique if not better. Even against Collected Company decks, Spell Queller is the better answer. We are not trying to combo, so we don’t really need to know the contents of our opponent’s hand, therefore I like Spell Queller more here. The down side is that Spell Queller isn’t as aggressive as Vendillion Clique. Vendillion Clique also has the benefit of filtering out our hand since we can target ourselves with its ability. Again, in theory, I think Spell Queller is better suited here but I will only know for sure after testing it more.

Well there you have it. I’ve been talking about this deck for a while now, but I figured I’d put out an article solely on the deck and the changes I would make going forward. I’m always working on it and it’s always changing. You must for a control deck to remain relevant in Modern. If you play this deck in a tournament or if you want my most recent list hit me up on social media or here in the comments and I’ll share the deck with you. I’m always down to talk about control in Modern.

Well, that’s all for today folks. Go eat some left-over thanksgiving pie before FNM or whatever tournament you’re playing in. Until next Friday!

Thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi


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