Today I'm going to talk about inflation in Magic; the move to playing eighty cards. Yorion, Sky Nomad continues to be my favorite card from Ikoria. It's in the best deck in Standard and dominates Eternal formats, too. Hopefully WOTC doesn't troll us next set with a companion that requires 86 cards so we have to buy two packs of sleeves for a full deck.
I bought a Japanese booster box of Ikoria in hopes of getting a cool version to be my companion. Since I didn't open one I'm going to get another. The upside of getting the second box is I'll have nearly the entire Boros Cycling deck in Japanese.
The Arena Standard Best of Three ladder continues to be flooded with Yorion. As of writing this I'm 19-4 in mirror matches. It's safe to say that I'm having fun in Standard. I will share my updated list and sideboard guide.
Let's get to it!
Jeskai Lukka | IKO Standard | Kyle Boggemes
- Companion (1)
- 1 Yorion, Sky Nomad
- Creatures (3)
- 3 Agent of Treachery
- Instants (2)
- 2 Scorching Dragonfire
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Shatter the Sky
- Enchantments (24)
- 4 Elspeth Conquers Death
- 4 Fires of Invention
- 4 Omen of the Sea
- 4 Omen of the Sun
- 4 Shark Typhoon
- 4 The Birth of Meletis
- Lands (35)
- 2 Island
- 2 Mountain
- 4 Plains
- 2 Castle Ardenvale
- 2 Castle Vantress
- 3 Fabled Passage
- 4 Hallowed Fountain
- 4 Raugrin Triome
- 4 Sacred Foundry
- 4 Steam Vents
- 4 Temple of Epiphany
The maindeck is largely the same as last week because it has been serving me very well. Since my mirror match percentage remains to be high I don't want to skew my deck.
I gave the hot new tech, Archon of Sun's Grace, a try in the sideboard and was very happy with the results. Glass Casket gets cut in favor of Omen of the Forge to beef up the enchantment count. The Archon looks medium, but you get Pegasus tokens when enchantments enter the battlefield rather than when they are cast. This means your companion, Yorion, creates a massive amount of tokens in the mid game. A single Archon doesn't need much help to stabilize against aggro.
Dream Trawler gained life, but was expensive enough to only be relevant when Lukka was on the battlefield. Archon comes down a turn ahead of Yorion. The new plan is to spam enchantments, cast Archon, and then cast Yorion to win.
The downside of playing Archon and enchantment-based removal in the sideboard is it takes up six slots. This means I need to dedicate the rest of my sideboard to fight the mirror, Jeskai Fires, and Temur Reclamation. If I play any counters in the sideboard I want to cut all of the Fires of Invention and hopefully a good amount of Shatter the Sky or Scorching Dragonfire.
Since I only have eight slots remaining they need to be valid in all three matchups. This means I no longer have room for Mythos of Illuna despite my love for it in the mirror. It falls short against Temur Reclamation - the matchup that needs the most attention. I want all eight counters in the board, four Mystical Dispute and four Dovin's Veto, because I need to play a flash game post board against Blue.
I cut the third Scorching Dragonfire for a fourth maindeck Elspeth Conquers Death. It's not the ideal maindeck, but it jives with my new sideboard plan. Scorching Dragonfire was a removal spell that wasn't embarrassing in the mirror, but I don't want too many. With just eight cards to bring in, the counterspells, I don't have room in the main for three Dragonfires anymore.
Let's get to sideboarding and matchups.
Game 1 features an opposing Yorion revealed when deciding to keep my opening hand. This has dramatically increased my Game 1 win percentage. I don't run the risk of keeping an anti-aggro hand.
What I look for in an opening hand is simply curving out into Lukka. Since both players have four Fires of Invention and four Teferi it discourages interaction. Think of it as a combo mirror that has the ability to turn into a grind fest if both players don't fully go off.
The Birth of Meletis is the ideal 2-drop because it helps enable curving out more effectively than Omen of the Sea. It allows for more land drops while also making sure you don't need to waste a turn putting a creature on the battlefield.
Teferi is best served as a bounce spell for opposing 0/4 walls from The Birth of Meletis. The static effect doesn't come up often pre board. Narset is the superior planeswalker Game 1 to turn off opposing Teferi card draw and helps enact your combo game plan. Make sure to set up your early land drops to have double Blue for Narset.
Game 1 typically ends faster than after sideboarding because you don't have to worry about jockeying for position with counterspells. This lack of song and dance makes Shark Typhoon's main function pressuring Narset and providing a creature to feed Lukka.
Once someone puts a midgame Agent of Treachery on the battlefield all hope is not lost. There are still four Shatter the Sky to clean up a messy board. For this reason stealing lands is valuable as the damage cannot be undone with a sweeper. The game truly ends when one player gets multiple Agents on the battlefield; the name of the game is turn off opposing Lukkas. Keep them off five lands.
Sometimes Agent of Treachery's second ability comes into play. You draw three cards at the beginning of the end step if you control three or more permanents you don't own. It's rarely important because the big Yorion turn doesn't draw cards because the Agents come back too late in the end step. After that the opponent will typically concede. Narset's static also prevents the opponent from drawing cards so the innocuous 1 loyalty planeswalker could have a real effect.
With eight counters after board drawing Fires of Invention is actively bad. The odds of drawing a counter after Fires resolves is too high to warrant the inclusion. It's also a liability as it gives the opponent a Green light to resolve Lukka as you cannot fire back with a counter. Since both players will cut their Fires, the Mystical Disputes will be more effective in the late game.
Since both players are bringing in six to eight counters there's less risk of one person going off. What I look for in an opening hand is to have enough land to cast a spell and not be exposed to a resolved opposing Lukka the following turn. You might lose the game trying to force through a spell. Teferi and Narset are typically test spells.
Since Lukka doesn't resolve until later in the game Omen of the Sun acts as a flash threat that pressures Narset and Teferi. It might be tempting to make a 2/2 shark token block a 1/1, but that exposes you to a second main phase Lukka. Resist the temptation.
Omen of the Sea becomes a better early play because casting The Birth of Meletis on the draw exposes you to a resolved Teferi. If this happens you will likely lose the game as Lukka will resolve soon after. I scry Lukka to the bottom post board more often since I will eventually draw a copy when the time is right. Shark Typhoon is the best mid game threat as it helps you win without casting a spell and also draws additional lands.
Elspeth Conquers Death's third act can trigger activity. The early Teferi bait can return and give you free reign to resolve a Lukka. Make sure you answer opposing ECDs.
Temur Reclamation is the most challenging matchup. I can't keep a Game 1 hand knowing I'm up against Temur Reclamation either. They either play Keruga or no companion at all. I can't know for sure if I'm up against Temur Rec since Keruga is in all Jeskai Fires lists, too.
Expansion // Explosion can be cast for a large amount before Agent of Treachery can steal a meaningful amount of lands. I go for their Wilderness Reclamation as the untap can give me extra castle activations and cut their mana by a significant amount. The key to winning Game 1 is having a big turn with Yorion blinking out multiple Agents.
Temur Rec plays many maindeck counters. I try and stick an early Teferi because Jeskai Lukka needs to be the aggressor in the matchup. Mystical Dispute will typically counter the Teferi in Game 1 and they have many Negates after board.
- +3 Omen of the Forge
- +3 Archon of Sun's Grace
- +4 Dovin's Veto
- +1 Mystical Dispute
- -4 Elspeth Conquers Death
- -4 Fires of Invention
- -3 Agent of Treachery
Lurrus decks are either Boros Cycling or Rakdos Cat Oven. I've also seen Bogles-style White aggro decks, but those are more rare. The good news is you mulligan slower hands against all three decks. Elspeth Conquers Death and Agent of Treachery are bad to have in the opener. It's important to have Shatter the Sky, Birth of Meletis, Scorching Dragonfire, and Omen of the Sun.
Game 1 is difficult if they have a fast start on the play. The most important objective is stopping the early rush of creatures. The only target for Elspeth Conquers Death is Lurrus so don't worry about hoarding early interaction for their companion.
The Game 1s you lose to Cycling are when the opponent stops playing creatures and goes into hyper-cycling mode for large Zenith Flares. Narset prevents the opponent from drawing cards from cycling on their turn and a single card on your turn. It's a tell they already have the flare if they begin cycling just to discard.
The way to win the Zenith Flare games are similar to Temur Reclamation in Game 1. Since you cannot close early resource denial is the path to victory. The difference is you can stall a big fox with blockers then steal it with Agent.
Zenith Flare can also be used to destroy a 0/4 wall of 1/1 soldier in response to Lukka's ability. It doesn't happen often, but I would expect it when you have a fast draw in Game 1 on the play.
Post board games play out differently. Game 1 you're on a clock against Zenith Flare, but Dovin's Veto now lets you act as a control deck. Since almost every late game involves Vetoing a Zenith Flare, Fires of Invention is once again a liability.
The post board matchup is about resolving an early Archon of Sun's Grace. Since I want to guarantee Lukka putting Archon on the battlefield it needs to be a clean swap with Agent of Treachery. I'm not against keeping Agents in against aggressive decks, but stealing a land isn't relevant if you have Zeniths covered by Dovin's Veto.
- +3 Omen of the Forge
- +3 Archon of Sun's Grace
- -1 Elspeth Conquers Death
- -3 Agent of Treachery
- -2 Narset, Parter of Veils
Most Mono Red decks play Obosh, but the old version with Embercleave still exists without a companion. It's risky to keep polarized hands against decks without a companion because Temur Fires demands the exact opposite cards.
The name of the game is survival. The burn route to victory isn't appealing for Red since there isn't a Zenith Flare effect. This means you are in a much better position when the initial creature onslaught is stopped.
Rakdos Cat Oven
Cat Oven decks can play Lurrus, Obosh, Jegantha, or no companion.
Game 1 is favorable for Jeskai Lukka. The way Rakdos wins is by successfully being the aggressor. Since Rakdos is primarily designed to control other aggressive decks they apply less pressure than Boros Cycling and Mono-Red. This means Omen of the Sun and The Birth of Meletis are more effective at stopping the initial rush.
Agent of Treachery can provide a mid game combo with Yorion that will close out the game. When there's a Witch's Oven on the battlefield it should likely be the target with Agent; it interacts with the cat and you can sacrifice tokens for life. This is especially good with Fires of Invention since you have extra mana each turn.
I only cut three ECDs because leaving a single Agent of Treachery is worse. Since Fires of Invention is good post board I don't want a random counter instead. There are only six cards I actively want in Omen of the Forge and Archon of Sun's Grace. I could change the deck to have one less bad maindeck card or another to bring in from the board, but Rakdos is a good matchup. I prefer to have the board to matchup neatly against Temur Reclamation.
That's all I have today. Give Jeskai Lukka a try or use this information to attack it.
Thanks for reading!