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Just Play Jeskai Ascendancy


If there's one thing we learned from the release of Modern Horizons, it's that the set added some fundamentally broken cards. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis completely dominated Modern and the only thing that really stood a chance was Urza, High Lord Artificer decks. Now that the Gaak can't come back, Urza has been making a strong case for being the best thing to do in Modern.

At first, Whirza was the best way to play the deck. Harlan Firer's success on the SCG Tour is a testament to that fact.

Recently, we've seen an explosion of different flavors of the same variant in Paradoxical Outcome Urza (or just PO Urza). No matter what variant you play, you have a resilient midrange deck that has some absurd turns and can end the game on the spot. Playing a bunch of cheap artifacts is exactly what Outcome decks want you to do, which happens to line up perfectly with Sai, Urza, and Emry. This doesn't even begin to scratch what you can do with some of the War of the Spark planeswalkers. Despite seeming obvious, it certainly took a bit for the deck to really come together and still looks like it has room to grow and change.

Even after all this, one of the scariest aspects of these Urza decks is how resilient they are to both graveyard hate and artifact hate. Being able to move through a Rest in Peace and Stony Silence/Collector Ouphe is problematic and is going to force the format to shift to being faster to go under or way over the top to compensate.

Being a colorless deck with only Blue mana requirements means light splashes are not only simplistic it also offers a wide variety of answers. Typically these artifact decks have had to go deeper on mana bases or play some wild cards in order to beat hate, but turning to Mono-Blue has left them free to splash in some of the best Planeswalkers known to us in Oko and Teferi.

Teferi has the upside of being able to bounce problematic permanents but also lets you re-buy Astrolabe to recover from expending resources and get closer to a haymaker. Against a deck like Sam Black's pure control deck, this can halt progress and force your opponent to make moves on their turn, giving you windows of opportunity to close the game or make progress.

For Oko it's a bit harder to tell how much is hype and how much is truth. Being able to remove every problematic creature or artifact and gain you life is likely enough to justify the card on its own merits, in addition to costing three mana. However, Oko provides a deeper angle, being at an incredibly high loyalty and a threat on its own. Opposing planeswalkers or a clock can be tough for a combo deck that is looking to stabilize (especially with disruption) and Oko gives the flexibility post-board to protect yourself or change gears which helps make your combo that much better.

These three mana headaches have already made a wild impact in Standard and will continue to make their presence known in Modern. They are only just being explored but I'm interested to see how they develop outside of this deck.

The list I'm choosing to highlight here is Autumn Burchett's from the most recent Open.

Their list is genius for a number of reasons.

The first big brain play here is Mirrodin Besieged. Part of the issue I have with Paradoxical Outcome is its inability to win the turn you start churning through your deck. This is part of the reason we saw so much Nexus of Fate, so you could take the turn you needed to win instead of giving your opponent a chance to get back in or win the game on their turn. Mirrodin Besieged gives us a way to circumvent that nonsense and win the game on the spot.

Secondly, there is a massive benefit to playing an all Island deck and that's getting Mystic Sanctuary and re-buying a PO while you're "comboing" off. Fizzling leaves you in an awkward position and having access to multiple PO turns makes it even more likely you're going to win or find a key piece.

Post-board Monastery Mentor is yet another way that a player can dodge graveyard hate and keep pressure on an opponent. Attacking with Servos or Thopters gives your opponent a ton of time, but Prowess is another ball game altogether. Another interesting piece of tech is Rest in Peace. With graveyard decks on the rise last weekend and no graveyard hate being played, this allowed Autumn to probably dominate some matchups that might otherwise be tough. Plus; since they are even more resilient to graveyard hate with their deck construction this helps you flex to crush graveyard reliant decks cold.

Even as good as this list looks I still think it's correct to play the Ascendancy version. One of the downsides in playing the pure PO decks is that you get to do a lot of stuff but you don't always win. Autumn chose to play Mirrodin Besieged as a way to win the game on the spot, and while I certainly think that's a step in the right direction, I'd like to go even farther. Ascendancy offers a way for you to win the game as early as turn two. With Emry you're able to cast a Mishra's Bauble over and over again to create an infinitely large Emry to attack with. If you have two Mox Opal or two Mox Amber you also have infinite mana while you're at it. If the opponent has a blocker you can chain through your deck making infinite mana then play an Engineered Explosives to clear up the way. For how to build the deck there are plenty of ways but I'm going to stick to mostly what Oliver Top 8ed with. The only real change I'm making is cutting the second Mirrodin Besieged for another Witching Well. I wanted more artifacts to consistently trigger and help filter through the deck to ensure I was comboing off.

Be sure to let me know in the comments where you're at with Urza and if you think the deck is heading toward a ban!

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