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By: Bertro, Robert Reed
Sep 24 2014 12:00pm
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Jeskai Ascendancy Storm!

This card right here is bringing combo back to standard:

The below build uses Jeskai Ascendancy to typically combo somewhere between turns 4-6 for the win. Occasionally the decks will fizzle, but that’s always a risk for combo decks that need a specific number of things to happen to win.

Jeskai Storm
 
Creatures
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Kiora's Follower
8 cards

Other Spells
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
2 Astral Cornucopia
3 Retraction Helix
4 Dragon Mantle
1 Nylea's Presence
4 Commune with the Gods
2 Taigam's Scheming
2 Twinflame
4 Jeskai Ascendancy
3 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise
16 cards
Lands
4 Mana Confluence
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Flooded Strand
1 Mountain
1 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island
22 cards
 
Twinflame

 

Playing the Deck

 

Here’s the basic concept: Play mana dorks, play Jeskai Ascendancy, tap mana dorks to play non-creature spells, untap said mana dorks, rinse and repeat until you have obscenely large mana dorks, and then kill the opponent either by attacking or using Burning Anger (which is not in the above build, but is included in many builds as an alternate win condition and if nothing else probably merits a space in the sideboard).

 

I don’t think this is a Tier 1 deck, but it’s probably a Tier 1.5. If it becomes dominant then it can easily be hated out, but when opponents aren’t expecting the deck then it will shine particularly in Game 1. This deck is a challenge to play. There are a lot of play choices and if you play spells in a poor sequence then the combo can fizzle.

 

The additional challenge with MTGO is that this deck will create a lot of triggers so as the pilot you really need to practice to make sure that you not just have auto-yields set, but you are ready for all of the draw and discard and “may” triggers.

 

This deck in any form will live and die by Jeskai Ascendancy. The hope is to cast Ascendancy on turn 4 or 5 and go off with the combo no later than the following turn. It is also possible (and desirable!) to go off on the same turn that Ascendancy comes into play.

 

Retraction Helix

 

The other big spell in this deck is Retraction Helix. It’s not required for the combo to go off or to win, but it will make life a lot easier once you have it and a few mana dorks. Helix will let you bounce Astral Cornucopia to go infinite (by recasting the Cornucopia for “0”) or with a few creatures bouncing and recasting Dragon’s Mantle or another one of the card draw enchantments. Or you can bounce your Ascendancy or a dork to save them from whatever your opponent is trying to throw at them. Or it can be used to clear the path for your attackers or to clear your opponent’s board.

 

Sylvan Caryatid

 

The deck runs 12+ creatures. And you might think I’m bad at math because if you look at the above list there are only 12 creatures in it, but that’s where Twinflame. I can’t take credit for the Twinflame tech (or really the deck even, I came across it and I’ve been goldfishing with it to see how effective it could be in the new Standard), but it’s a noncreature (thus triggering Ascendancy) spell that creates copies of our hasty(!) copies of our dorks! In testing I would say the correct number to run is somewhere from 2-3, but that will vary by build and preference.

 

If you're wondering why Kiora's Follower instead of Voyaging Satyr (which would be easier to cast) is because the Follower will also allow us to untap our other mana dorks. This can be important because our land base is one that really goes out of its way to ping us for damage!

 

Beyond Ascendancy and the mana dorks the rest of the deck (for the most part depending on if a build includes Retraction Helix or not) is for card draw and filtering.

 

 

Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise are probably at their upper limit of four total between the two because of Delve. Delve makes these cards very reasonable early as we get the combo going and then once we’re set if we need to cast one of the cards we can probably pay the full CMC. (Commune with Gods) is also a great card to pair with Delve as it can help us find the critical pieces of the combo and puts cards into the graveyard.

 

Mana ConfluenceYavimaya CoastBattlefield ForgeWooded FoothillsFlooded Strand

 

Probably the toughest part of this deck is the manabase. We are pretty greedy with all of the multicolor permanents we play so the mana can be a bit rough and is one that can beat us up as well with Mana Confluence, Yavimaya Coast, Battlefield Forge, and the Fetchlands (which add cards to Delve). The important thing to remember that this is a combo deck so we only care about what our opponent is doing to the extent that our life is above “0” and the disruption that our opponent is playing against our combo pieces.

 

Sideboard

 

One thing I didn’t include in the above builds is a sideboard. This is largely because I think it’s important to see how Standard starts to bear out. One thing to keep in mind with a sideboard is that we aren’t necessarily looking to interact with our opponents board, but instead preventing our opponent from interacting with our board.

 

A card like Swan Song is a strong option because it’s low cost and it stops a lot of the hate that might be directed our way and we’re not concerned by giving the opponent one creature. The downside is that it doesn’t draw a card or filter so if we are still looking for combo pieces then Swan Song won’t help.

 

Another option is to use a card that will give our creatures trample such as Messenger's Speed, Rouse the Mob, or Nylea, God of the Hunt. In this case we no longer need to worry about being chumped block when we come in with our X/X creature. The advantage of the first two options is that they are noncreature spells and will trigger Ascendancy. The advantage of Nylea is that she is a mana dump once go infinite and can be found with Commune with the Gods.

 

Restock can be an option to battle Thoughtseize or if pieces are countered and we need to get them back from the yard.

 

Eidolon of Blossoms can be a great card in an enchantment heavy build to keep the card draw coming and help protect against times that Shuffler might hate us with hitting 10 lands in a row (I feel this is only a slight exaggeration).

 

Delve Primer

 

Delve is similar to Convoke with one of the biggest differences being that unlike Convoke Delve can only be used to pay for colorless mana. Another difference is that Delve is a cannibalistic mechanic, each card exiled represents a loss of future resources either to pay Delve costs or to use graveyard abilities on cards like Flashback (not a problem in Standard).

 

Also if you were familiar with the way Delve worked when introduced in Future Sight, the ability (once again like Convoke) has changed. Delve use to be a cost reduction ability so you would exile cards before paying for the spell. This would allow a player to potentially exile their entire graveyard which could be a benefit in formats with creatures like Tarmogoyf. Now Delve is paid at the same time the spell is cost and is an alternate cost. The difference here is that a player cannot exile more cards than are allowed by the colorless mana in a spell.

 

Here's further information on Delve.

 

And just in case you really wanted it, Delve in the Comprehensive Rules!

 

702.65. Delve

702.65a Delve is a static ability that functions while the spell with delve is on the stack. “Delve” means “For each generic mana in this spell’s total cost, you may exile a card from your graveyard rather than pay that mana.” The delve ability isn’t an additional or alternative cost and applies only after the total cost of the spell with delve is determined.

702.65b Multiple instances of delve on the same spell are redundant.

Conclusion

 

Khans still has a couple of weeks before it's released online, but hopefully this article helps get you excited about the forecast for the new Standard!

 

The build I showed in this article is just one of the options for Jeskai Ascendancy Storm and there are many variations out there so find the one that best fits you.

 

If this is a deck that interests you then I highly recommend proxy-ing up the deck to start running through it and the expansive decision tree the deck offers. It's a complex deck, but one that I think can be set-up to take opponents by surprise. Just watch out for (Eidolon of Rhetoric) and Eidolon of the Great Revel!

 

Happy building!

 

-Bertro

2 Comments

Briber's Purse by Bertro at Thu, 09/25/2014 - 18:13
Bertro's picture

Just as a note, a number of players have had success with Briber's Purse over Cornucopia. It can be cast for 0 for the infinite loop and it has a relevant ability to get attackers through. I plan on making the switch as well.

Decklist from SCG Open that took 11th by Bertro at Sun, 09/28/2014 - 23:54
Bertro's picture

Ascendancy Combo
A Standard Magic deck, by Andrew Baeckstrom
11th place at a tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States on 2014-09-27

Maindeck:

Artifacts
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Briber's Purse

Creatures
4 Kiora's Follower
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid

Enchantments
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Jeskai Ascendancy
1 Nylea's Presence

Instants
3 Dig Through Time
4 Retraction Helix

Sorceries
4 Commune with the Gods
2 Taigam's Scheming
3 Twinflame

Lands
3 Battlefield Forge
4 Mana Confluence
2 Shivan Reef
2 Temple of Abandon
1 Temple of Epiphany
3 Temple of Mystery
2 Temple of Plenty
4 Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard:
4 Circle of Flame
3 Aetherspouts
3 Magma Spray
4 Swan Song
1 Restock