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By: BlippyTheSlug, Volker Kirstein
Oct 16 2014 12:00pm
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Je Skai Is Falling! Je Skai Is Falling!

I really don't understand what the hoopla around Jeskai Ascendancy Combo, which I fondly refer to as "Jeskai Asininity", is all about. People are screaming about the Turn Two kill. Infect is capable of a Turn Two kill, as well. As is Glass Cannon/Tin Fins. Remember #Griselbanned? Sure, Jeskai Asininity is a little (a lot?) more consistent, but it is very much a one trick pony. Yank the Ascendancy and it's pretty much a pile of junk. Dealing with the post-sideboard Leyline of Sanctity for 1 is easy enough. No huhu.

Maybe it's because I enjoy playing discard-oriented strategies, and have been doing so for all of my Magic years. I see no problem at all with a "2 card" combo in Modern that's so easy to disrupt. If you're any other color mage than Black, I can see your concerns. To me, they still seem exaggerated. Since we all know what Black's multitudes of answers are, let's look at some possibilities against Jeskai Asininity in colors other than Black.

: Rule of Law, Ethersworn Canonist to limit number of spells cast, Path to Exile on the attacker.
: Sudden Shock on the mana dork. Split Second is still a thing, and the mana dork will be able to untap as a 2/2, but no further spells can be cast. This only works on the little dorks. Red is hosed if there's a Caryatid, or whatever the heck that thing's called. If Red makes it to turn three, there's Anger of the Gods, Slagstorm, etc.
: Krosan Grip on the Ascendancy. See above on the Split Second.
: Boomerang effects on the attacker.

There are probably more answers; these are just ones that fall off the top of my pointy little head. I do see that Red has the worst of it, but still I don't believe the sky is falling. 

Anyway, with all the brouhaha, I expected at least 3 or 4 people to be trying out Jeskai Asininity. With that thought in mind, I pre-tuned Soul Kisses specifically to deal with that deck. I wanted to show any Jeskai Asininity across from me: "I'm ready for you, take your beating." This consisted of swapping Surgical Extraction and Path to Exile, and replacing Sundering Growth with Erase.

I didn't run into a single one.

Lily's Lingering Soul Kisses (tuned for Jeskai Asininity) by Yours Truly
FNM Oct 3, 2014 @ Tramps
4 Pack Rat   
4 Ravenous Rats 
8 Creatures

4 Liliana of the Veil 
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant 
6 Planeswalkers

Other Spells
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lingering Souls
2 Phyrexian Arena
3 Surgical Extraction
4 Thoughtseize
4 Zealous Persecution
24 Other Spells

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Godless Shrine 
4 Isolated Chapel
2 Mutavault 
2 Plains
2 Swamp
2 Swarmyard
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 
22 Lands

Elspeth, Knight-Errant

The basic game plan is disrupt and clog/ping until I can get a  rat pack going. 

Elspeth makes for flying rats.  I don't have to tell you how powerful Lily is.

Sideboard for Oct 10, 2014
2 Black Sun's Zenith Sometimes, a board wipe is indicated.
3 Path to Exile  Spot creature removal.
2 Relic of Progenitus Generic graveyard hate.
3 Erase Enchantment hate. 
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor Pump the pack + lifelink.
1 Slaughter Pact  Narrow "free" creature removal.
3 Torpor Orb  Snappy, Twin, and other ETB hate.
15 cards

Ravenous Rats is an excellent clay pigeon/chump; disrupting their hand, and drawing early removal. If it sticks, it also pumps the pack. 

Zealous Persecution often acts as a board wipe in the early game, clearing out swarms of pesky x/1s at instant speed while often times doubling what I'm throwing. Four 1/1 Spirit Tokens that are suddenly 2/2s can be deadly.

Most decks with disruption use Tidehollow Sculler as a form of disruption. I used Castigate over Tidehollow Sculler because I don't want whatever I pluck out to come back to his hand. Ever. On the other hand, this is four less bodies to clog the ground. On the other other hand,  Castigate is a dead draw late game when their hand is already empty. On the other other other hand, late game "dead" draws are easy toss-aways to make more .

To help mitigate this, I'm using Lingering Souls, which gives me a total of sixteen (16!) 1/1 fliers, which I'll take over four 2/2 walkers any day.


Modern FNM, Oct 10 @ Tramps 

Round 1 vs Mitch / UR Delverstorm?

Mitch had the play, and laid out a Delver of Secrets. I did my IoK, and saw a hand full of cantrips and Manamorphose. Huh? I tossed the Manamorphose, and we played on. I got him into topdeck mode, was able to triple block with tokens and clear his board, build a pack, and bonk! bonk! on the head!

I didn't see Young Pyromancer at any time when I looked at his hand, but I can't see a Delver list not running it. So I swapped the Extractions and Paths around, and on to Game Two

-3 Surgical Extraction, + 3 Path to Exile

It was pretty much a repeat of Game One. I tore his hand apart from the gate, and he managed a pair of Delvers at one point. They disappeared and I gave him land. I never did see a Young Pyromancer, nor did I see Grapeshot. I did see a Pyretic Ritual...

W 2-0 / 1-0 Overall


Mitch has already confirmed his plans, and purchased tickets, for GP Vancouver. He mentioned that he this was the deck he was thinking about playing. While we were getting set up, I asked at the neighboring tables who was going. Reok, whom I would face later that night, said he was. Sean, at the other table, said he was thinking about it. 

I want to go. I think Soul Kisses can be fine-tuned enough to not place at the bottom of the lists; I can even not unreasonably expect a Top 512!

I also have to visit the German Consulate, which is in Vancouver. The Consul in Saskatoon closed in August. A day late and a dollar short. The story of my life. It'd be great to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

So far, it ain't happenin'. My IRL contracting is not doing all that great at the moment, and new clients are hard to come by. The paper Magic world already has well entrenched players and layers and paths that I'm not familiar with. I'm starting from an obscure corner of the (defunct / dissipated / assimilated) MTGO community. In the paper world, my name means doodly squat. Not that it means all that much in the online world. 

Time to start looking into alternate patronage.



Round 2 vs Mark / RDW

Mark's RDW seemed to be burn oriented, with a very light creature base. I was able to run him out of gas and fend his few creatures off well enough with Tokens and Rats. I was in the low single digits when I sealed the deal.

-1 Thoughtseize +1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor

I needed to mitigate the burn damage. So I pulled a Thoughtseize and slipped in Sorin. This time 'round, he must have sided in some creatures. (or never drew them last game) We bashed and burned back and forth, and were both in topdeck mode. I had him low, and had lethal on the board next turn, but I was in Shock range when I passed the turn. He topdecked the burn needed. Poopysocks.

-1 (more) Thoughtseize, -3 Surgical Extraction, +3 Path to Exile, +1 Slaughter Pact

Another close one, but this time I had answers for his creatures, and I prevailed!

W 2-1 / 2-0 Overall


Round 3 vs Viviana / TempoTwin

You know by now that I'm a supporter of Girl Power in general, and always like to mention and support Lady Planeswalkers. D (not Dee) and Viviana are two semi-regulars at the Tramps FNM. Anyway, during Game One, I kept her hand reasonably empty, and she wasn't able to assemble her combo. It felt like an easy win.

-1 Surgical Extraction, -2 Castigate,  +3 Torpor Orb

Game Two was also relatively easy. I never drew into a Torpor Orb, but I didn't need to. I again kept her hand empty and was bashing away w/Rats and Tokens. At one point she made a grimace and started deriding herself for a misplay. I had no idea what the card in her hand was at that point, but apparently it was something that may have helped her.

W 2-0 / 3-0 Overall


Round 4 vs Reok / Robots

Reok Turner, FNM Oct 10, 2014
4 Arcbound Ravager
3 Master of Etherium
3 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
3 Signal Pest
4 Vault Skirge
21 Robots

Other Spells
4 Cranial Plating
3 Dispatch
3 Ensoul Artifact
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
3 Springleaf Drum
2 Thoughtcast
23 Other Spells

3 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Island
16 Lands

3 Spell Pierce
3 Stubborn Denial
3 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Tormod's Crypt
3 Mindbreak Trap
15 Cards

I won the roll, took the play, shocked myself to bring in a Godless Shrine untapped, IoK'd, and saw a fistfulla steel. Rut roh! I tossed one of the threats, a Ravager, I believe. When Reoks turn comes, out comes his hand, my discard is useless, and by Turn Two he was waffle stomping me.

-3 Surgical Extraction, -3 Thoughtseize
+3 Path to Exile, +2 Black Sun's Zenith, +1 Slaughter Pact

I had taken out Sundering Growth and replaced in with Erase, because I had perceived a nonexistent threat, and wanted quicker enchantment specific removal. The last time I ran into Robots, Sundering Growth didn't do anything for me, anyway. If I could get my hands on Damnation or Wrath of God, that'd be great, if I could last to Turn Four, and have appropriate mana. Anyway, Game Two was a quick recap of Game One: Reok quickly stomped me again.

L 0-2 / 3-1 Overall


Round 5 vs Keegan / GRuul Zoo

Zoo decks come out a little bit slower than Robots, so I had a few turns in the beginning where I was trying to build somewhat of a presence, but to no avail. He killed my blockers faster than I could throw them up and soon enough stomped me dead. 

-3 Surgical Extraction, -3 Thoughtseize
+3 Path to Exile, +2 Black Sun's Zenith, +1 Slaughter Pact

Thoughtseize only helps Zoo along. 98% of their spells are CMC or less, and they empty their hand quickly. I needed removal and wipe. In Game Two I was able to keep his damage mitigated, and Liliana shone.

In Game Three, I was at the point of turning around, and had it pretty much locked up, when time was called. We now had 5 turns, during which I was making progress, but wasn't able to seal the deal. We were declared a draw. 

T 1-1-1 / 3-1-1 Overall, 4th Place


If we would have had five more minutes, I'm reasonably certain I would have had a 4-1 finish. This pleases me to no end; that a deck I built, and tuned to fight against a deck that didn't show, made a decent showing.



Well! We had a 30% increase in player participation for Bad Moon Rising #4! Perhaps there are some people out there willing to play Vintage, after all! I was worried that we'd get a dozen players (total) again. Had that happened, my fingers were on the cable to pull the plug.



My own contribution to the lore of Magic:
Between Young Pyromancer and Chandra Nalaar, there was that awkward teen rebellious phase.


With the increase in players, and the modifications to the prize pool, this event is still palatable to our sponsors, and is currently scheduled to continue; with our next event being Bad Moon Rising #5, on Nov 6. This is a weekday, so it will once more be at 830PM EDT, not EST.

Please note that time. Our clocks don't change here in Saskatchewan, but most of yours will on Nov 2. It is up to you to keep track of your time zone math! My trains leave on time.

Anyway, back to BMR #4. We had 16 players, and went seven rounds. This seems to be the "norm" for number of rounds: every event to date has gone seven rounds except BMR #3, which went six.




The Twitterverse 

Magic Online

Other MTG/Wotc



Random Gibberish

On Travelling With A Nobel Prize
Brian Schmidt, recipient of 2011 Nobel Physics Prize

“One of the things you get when you win a Nobel Prize is, well, a Nobel Prize. It’s about that big, that thick [he mimes a disk roughly the width of a Magic card], weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold. When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”



Overdrive!, which started on July 4th, 2011, is the original Modern format Player-Run Event! In fact, Overdrive! is even older than Modern, having started out as an event in the Overextended format. Overdrive! is a single elimination event: two men enter, one man leaves. Registration is done via Gatherling. You can find more information at the main event thread here.



Overdrive! #153
Players: 17
Champion: pyro420deadman / Goblins
Runner up: stevenxanthony / Merfolk
Decklists and results from all Overdrive! events can be found here.  

pyro420deadman, Overdrive! #153 champion
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Wardriver
3 Hellrider
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
4 Mogg War Marshal
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Krenko's Command
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Shared Animosity
19 cards
19 Mountain
2 Mutavault
21 cards

People sometimes ask "Why are there so many byes in the first round?" In a single elimination event, even pairings are dependent on powers of two: 2, 4, 8, 16, and so forth. In order to avoid byes in the later rounds, we first have to take it down to one these "magic numbers". It wouldn't do to have a bye in the semifinals, for example. So if 17 people show up, that means the first round will have 1 match, and 15 BYEs, to take us to 16 players.

I call this first round the "anti-byes". 

pyro420deadman decided to have himself a bonfire, and after a first round BYE, roasted some Jeskai Asininity, followed that up with Gargageddon, a RDW Burn, and finally put the boil to Merfolk to emerge from the ashes as Overdrive! #151 champion.

First-timer stevenxanthony made it a pool party, and after a first round BYE, drowned out Aggro Elves,  UR Delver, and TarmoTwin before getting boiled by Goblins.

stevenxanthony, Overdrive! #153 runner-up
4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Master of Waves
4 Merrow Reejerey
3 Phantasmal Image
4 Silvergill Adept
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Æther Vial
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Spreading Seas
4 Vapor Snag
15 cards
13 Island
4 Mutavault
17 cards



BlippyTheSlug on MTGO
Blog: Read At Your Peril (NSFW!)



Blippy's GP Vancouver Fund
All proceeds used for MTG travel/accommodations/reportage




I dunno, Ascendancy seems by ricklongo at Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:04
ricklongo's picture

I dunno, Ascendancy seems pretty damn busted to me. The resilience on that thing is astounding.

The same arguments for "the by KaraZorEl at Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:05
KaraZorEl's picture

The same arguments for "the deck loses to this" also works for 12-post (Blood Moon), Second Sunrise (Leyline of the Void), and Blazing Shoal (Path to Exile). In magic, something else will always beat the best strategy. But will forcing decks to have lots of answers to stuff make those decks unable to beat anything else, or will you get a format where blue is the most played color because you more or less have to play control to stand a chance?

I think Jeskai Ascendancy and Treasure Cruise are headed for the ban bin. They might do it to Monastery Swiftspear too, if they use the same logic they did when they banned Wild Nacatl.