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Jeskai MonkeyBlade Sideboard Guide


Hey everyone!

The last few weeks I have talked about my favorite take on Stoneforge Mystic - Jeskai MonkeyBlade. I have deliberately held off on writing a sideboard guide because the metagame has been moving quickly. Now that I have more games under my belt and the cream has risen to the top, today is the day we go through how to sideboard in a semi-established metagame.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's talk about the metagame as it currently stands. Last week I broke the format into a dichotomy of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer versus Urza's Saga. Both halves have been evolving quickly.

The two most popular Ragavan decks happen to be favorites of mine - Rakdos Lurrus and Izzet Regent. These two decks currently do the best job of pushing Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Murktide Regent alongside Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler.

Urza's Saga is still winning, but the Ragavan decks have the upper hand when they are packing artifact destruction in the sideboard. Hammertime has been putting up results, but Amulet Titan has been pushed down by Izzet Murktide.

Cascade decks are still hanging on and operate on a unique angle so they should be respected in the sideboard. Ragavan decks have been playing Chalice of the Void and Void Mirror to specifically interact with Cascade decks.

The top tiers of the deck are more heavily represented on Magic Online. I have now played four paper Modern events and you can face anything due to card availability. Being prepared for the decks above will help immensely at the top tables, but the journey is filled with twists and turns along the way.

Establishing the metagame beforehand is important because the spells in Jeskai MonkeyBlade are very generic. There are plenty of matchups where there aren't many cards to cut so I can play narrow effects for popular decks in the sideboard.

Here's my current list:

I wrote about the maindeck in my last article so I won't break down the card choices. I'm happy to report that I played two local events last weekend and won every match. The deck felt great!

Updates to the Sideboard

As the metagame has shifted I have made some adjustments to the sideboard. As Food decks become displaced by other Urza's Saga decks that rely less on a critical mass of artifacts, I swapped Kataki, War's Wage with a third Wear // Tear. As the game goes later and you have dealt with the threatening artifacts it's okay to sandbag Wear // Tear until you can destroy an Urza's Saga as that's what helps them claw back into the game.

Supreme Verdict takes the place of Path to Exile because I need more sideboard cards against Cascade decks and the Izzet Regent matchup is attrition-based; giving them a land is a serious drawback.

Flusterstorm takes the place of Mystical Dispute because I need more cards against Cascade. The Cascade opponent will play Violent Outburst at the end of your turn which enables their Force of Negation. The storm mechanic plays around a single counter which lines up very well in the matchup.

The most important card to Mystical Dispute is Murktide Regent. Once the early threats are dealt with against Izzet Murktide it becomes a resource battle. As long as you hold up Counterspell for Murktide Regent they have to wait until they can fight a counterwar making a Flusterstorm equally relevant.

A third Sanctifier en-Vec is for Black Lurrus decks such as Rakdos and Death's Shadow. Preventing Kroxa from escaping is the most important function. The only silver bullet for Jeskai MonkeyBlade is Kolaghan's Command so I want to play a card that shuts the door in this problematic matchup.

A big finding this week is that Aether Gust is not well positioned. A two-mana interaction spell is not good against Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler because there are so many ways to interact for a single mana.

The most important reason to play Aether Gust is to interact with an uncounterable Primeval Titan. Titan's share of the metagame is currently low thanks to Hammertime being the preferred way to use Urza's Saga. Titan also has a tough time against Izzet Murktide.


Before we get to the matchups I want to share my thought process behind how I view the maindeck cards with respect to sideboarding.

Batterskull lines up poorly against Kolaghan's Command out of Rakdos Lurrus because you are most likely tapping out to cast it once Stoneforge Mystic dies. Kaldra Compleat is indestructible making it realistically as expensive as casting Batterskull with Counterspell backup. For this reason, I board out Batterskull.

Izzet Murktide's Archmage's Charms threaten to steal Germ tokens. If this happens with Batterskull you can pay three to return it to your hand which kills the stolen Germ. Kaldra Compleat requires you to use a Prismatic Ending or planeswalker to bounce. Not every Izzet Murktide deck plays Charm, but I still prefer Batterskull for the life gain and it's also easier to hard cast. I stop playing around Archmage's Charm once I see Serum Visions, Sleight of Hand, or Dreadhorde Arcanist.

Ragavan typically becomes stronger in post board games as the opponent is forced to take out some of their removal for spells that are good against Blue decks. Baneslayer Angel shares the same quality as Ragavan where it will easily win the game if left unchecked except it costs four less mana.

Against fair decks and combo decks I don't board out Ragavan. Specific spells that would make me consider cutting 1-2 copies are Lava Dart and Wrenn and Six. I'll cut two Ragavan against creature decks that flood the board because there will eventually be a stalemate thanks to a Germ equipment. I don't want to feel like I have to kill every creature just to get a Ragavan trigger and I don't want to draw multiple copies.

Counterspell is a strong card, but I'll cut 1-2 copies against Urza's Saga decks that are low to the ground because they can go the entire mid game without casting a spell. Counterspell enables you to play draw-go against other Ragavan decks once the early threats have been neutralized so I like them in those matchups.

Snapcaster Mage becomes stronger after sideboard because you take out your weak spells in a given matchup for more targeted interaction. A good example of these upgrades are Wear // Tear against Urza's Saga and Flusterstorm for Cascade. I'm also likely to board in a Sword which makes Snapcaster a great threat.

Prismatic Ending is likely the best removal spell in Modern, but I do not like them against Cascade decks and pure control. Since Path to Exile is often bad in the same matchup there are plenty of cards to cut when Prismatic Ending is bad. Lightning Bolt is often left in for these matchups because there might not be enough cards to board in.

Against Control decks I value connecting with Ragavan once to generate a treasure that is a fourth color to Prismatic Ending a Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the first game. Celestial Colonnade is surprisingly hard to deal with as it evades Lightning Bolt and Prismatic Ending. It can be bounced with Teferi and Jace if you bait them into blocking a Ragavan.

Lightning Bolt isn't usually boarded out, but it lines up poorly against Amulet Titan because it only kills Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Arboreal Grazer. Snap Bolt is relevant against an uncounterable Primeval Titan, but it's too narrow to leave in as Prismatic Ending deals with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Amulet of Vigor.

Path to Exile is the least efficient removal spell in the maindeck, but is important against Murktide Regent, Stormwing Entity, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, and Primeval Titan. I end up leaving in the Path more often than I initially suspected, but I don't want more than one copy.

Force of Negation comes out against creature decks and Ragavan strategies. The former because of a lack of targets and the latter is due to the matchup being attrition-based.

I don't think I've ever boarded out a Stoneforge Mystic or Archmage's Charm. Stoneforge becomes more customizable after sideboard and the opponent will typically have less removal. Watch out for Abrade on your equipment, Dismember on a Germ, or Pithing Needle on the Mystic.

Archmage's Charm is one of the strongest instants in Modern because it steals low to the ground threats or counters big spells. Most post board games become more attrition-based as both players have access to more targeted interaction making the card advantage from Charm more relevant.

Teferi, Time Raveler shines against Cascade decks, but falls short against swarm decks. It's a card that looks bad on paper and has overperformed. A key change to Teferi is it will often die the next turn to Prismatic Ending or Unholy Heat so I would like it to bounce a threat or my own Snapcaster immediately.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor gets better after board with additional interaction. I rarely cut Jace. It's weaker against decks that can win with a single spell making tapping out less appealing.

The Sideboard

Sword of Fire and Ice is surprisingly good against Ragavan decks. I've won a good amount of games dashing Ragavan and equipping Fire and Ice despite the potential for them to get hit by a Bolt or Unholy Heat.

Sword of Feast and Famine comes in against Control, Cascade, and Amulet Titan. I don't want to play two Germ equipment and a Sword at the same time, but if I need another card to board I'll play both Swords and one Germ equipment.

Engineered Explosives can kill two Rhinos or two Karnstructs. It may be tempting to board in Engineered Explosives against Ragavan decks, but it's too expensive. There are already enough removal spells that efficiently kill Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler. Izzet Prowess plays twelve 1-drops so I like EE in that matchup.

The Matchups

Rakdos Lurrus

Izzet Murktide

I board up to 61 cards because I don't want to tap out early for Stoneforge Mystic. This is because it paves the way for an early Murktide Regent. The odds of me drawing equipment is slightly lower. I'm also less likely to draw land as the game goes long. I want to out-mana them, but already play five extra lands; there's a fine line between enough mana and flooding. Also, watch out for a potential Blood Moon.

There are now five planeswalkers to slam after the fight over Murktide Regent to bounce the dragon. These types of interactions are important as both decks are filled with 2-for-1s.

Temur Rhinos

Lightning Bolt is bad against the Rhinos, but plays well against Brazen Borrower, Bonecrusher Giant, and Jace.

Living End

Sanctifier en-Vec is fine against Living End as it exiles half of their cycling creatures. It's not a slam dunk sideboard card, but is better than Lightning Bolt.


Amulet Titan

This list is tuned to fight the top table metagame, but falls short against Tron. If Tron is played in your local metagame feel free to cut a Wear // Tear and Sanctifier en-Vec for two Alpine Moon as it can be a tough matchup.

That's all I have for today. MonkeyBlade continues to perform well for me and I would recommend playing it as the metagame adapts to Rakdos Lurrus and Izzet Murktide.

Thanks for reading!


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