Welcome to yet another article from yours truly! This article is written in a place of limbo. On the one hand, I want to talk about all the great things that this new Standard format brings but on the other hand I have to also be somewhat secret due to our testing team for PT Atlanta. However, what I will talk about is the deck that I played at GP LilleJeskai Control – and give a guideline for sideboarding.

Jeskai Control by Michael Bonde

Creatures (3)
Crackling DrakeCrackling Drake
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun

Spells (32)
Ral, Izzet ViceroyRal, Izzet Viceroy
Teferi, Hero of DominariaTeferi, Hero of Dominaria
Chemister’s InsightChemister’s Insight
Deafening ClarionDeafening Clarion
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
NegateNegate
OptOpt
RevitalizeRevitalize
Seal AwaySeal Away
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
SyncopateSyncopate
Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken RuinSearch for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin
Lands (25)
Clifftop RetreatClifftop Retreat
Glacial FortressGlacial Fortress
IslandIsland
MountainMountain
Sacred FoundrySacred Foundry
Steam VentsSteam Vents
Sulfur FallsSulfur Falls

Sideboard: (15)
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Disdainful StrokeDisdainful Stroke
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
NegateNegate
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Seal AwaySeal Away
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Star of ExtinctionStar of Extinction

When Lille was getting closer by the day, school had me somewhat tied up, and I had only seen decklists and played a few leagues with different decks, to get a feel of the different decks. It was no secret that the Golgari decks kept on crushing the online PTQ’s and Green-Black was the deck to beat. Like any new format, a lot of hyper aggro strategies started appearing which gave control decks something to build after.

Thomas Enevoldsen and myself initially fell in love with a deck from the online User “coolfridge” that looked both fun and good, which in my opinion is a great place to start when diving into a new format. The deck had a plan as we expected and followed a strategy but I got more and more unimpressed over time regarding Crackling DrakeCrackling Drake. While Crackling Drake is a good card, I was often forced to run it into my opponent’s removal on turn 4 due to multiple copies in my hand. That either gave my opponent a turn to play around my counterspells or get to kill the Drake and maintain the status quo. While this was my main issue it also seemed like the deck was really mana hungry. We had too many powerful spells on the same turns and that the metagame was turning into cards that didn’t die to the removal suite that people had in their decks.

Adanto Vanguard
Rekindling Phoenix
Arclight Phoenix
Tocatli Honor Guard
Carnage Tyrant

Luckily Carlos Romao did well with a RevitalizeRevitalize and OptOpt version of the deck, that also didn’t play that many Crackling Drakes and had a way of dealing with the new critters on the block with cards like Seal AwaySeal Away and Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage. I fell in love with this version as it was even more fun than the prior one and had the opportunity to deal with almost all of the “known” meta. Let’s get into the sideboarding.

MonoBlue

I would say that after having played against Mono Blue with Jeskai, there are 3 different ways the games turn out.
1. A regular game, where they try to aggro us out, and have counterspells for days – this is just a regular game of Magic.
2. They stick a Tempest DjinnTempest Djinn on the board and ride towards the sunset, because it can be hard to deal with it 1 for 1.
3. They play a turn 2 Curious ObsessionCurious Obsession and start getting too far ahead on cards.

However this matchup might seem pretty bad on paper but with a little understanding of what you can afford, like spending your life total or trading for their counterspells, I actually think that we will come out on top, most of the time. They apply pressure early and will have counterspells but the pressure is more often than not 1 or 2 damage creatures and before we die, we will be able to double spell 2 turns in a row, putting pressure on their hand to have roughly 4 counterspells. In the games where they do have enough counters, they often lack the creatures to apply enough pressure, and we will be able to deploy our planeswalkers or a sandbagged mass removal.
Our sideboarding plan tried to shave cards that will strand in our hand and only play high impact cards that can win us the game. Funnily enough, when we take into account that we are playing against a tempo deck, a card like Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun is almost lights out for Mono Blue, while it also fits the role of a way to deal with both Tempest DjinnTempest Djinn and Jace, Cunning CastawayJace, Cunning Castaway. I did play against an opponent that played a Deep FreezeDeep Freeze to counter my Parun, but it just gave me a great blocker for his Merfolk TricksterMerfolk Trickster.

Sideboarding

On the draw

boarding out

(8)
SyncopateSyncopate
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta

boarding in

(8)
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Seal AwaySeal Away
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Expansion / /ExplosionExpansion / /Explosion
NegateNegate

On the play

boarding out

(8)
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta

boarding in

(8)
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Seal AwaySeal Away
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
NegateNegate

While we are talking about Mono Blue, check out fellow Team Snapcardster x MTGMintcard player Martin Müller play the deck here.

Golgari

Against Golgari, all sorts of things can happen depending on their plan. It will however most certainly revolve somewhat around planeswalkers, DuressDuress and/or Carnage TyrantCarnage Tyrant.
Game one is often a game against the clock, where a well placed mass removal with a counterspell follow-up will give enough distance for us to grind it home. Some newer Golgari lists also cut their numbers of Assassin’s TrophyAssassin’s Trophy, which makes our own planeswalkers really hard to deal with for them.
Game 2 and 3 get a bit harder because their hand will dictate if they are aggro, control or midrange in the game. If they go the aggro route, a well-placed DuressDuress can hit us hard. If they put a Carnage TyrantCarnage Tyrant into play after, that can seal the deal. However, the games often play out in our favor, since their deck does not have enough cards to board out. With main deck creature removal they will be a bit clunky and even though Duress will help them understand their role in the game, if we get to 6-8 mana, we will often be able to just grind them out with card draw, mass removal and planeswalkers.

Sideboarding

boarding out

(6)
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Seal AwaySeal Away
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
RevitalizeRevitalize

boarding in

(6)
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
NegateNegate
Disdainful StrokeDisdainful Stroke
Star of ExtinctionStar of Extinction
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova

Jeskai Control

I counted on playing some mirrors in Lille since Jeskai Control (Control in general) often is the closest to being a fan favorite in new metagames. Due to this thought/fear I really wanted to play more Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Paruns than my opponents. Most lists play 1 or 2 in their 75 but I wanted to be sure to draw it in a Best of 3 Match, so I put in a third copy, not regretting it – quite the contrary. The games are very typical “Draw, Gocontrol mirrors, where land drops are of the essence. Besides that you need to figure out your role in the game due to what kind of tools your hand gives you.
Depending on their build, we need to board differently – so I will divide it into two categories.

Sideboarding

Azors Jeskai

boarding out

(8)
Deafening ClarionDeafening Clarion
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Seal AwaySeal Away

boarding in

(8)
NegateNegate
Expansion//ExplosionExpansion//Explosion
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine

Regular Mirror

boarding out

(6)
Deafening ClarionDeafening Clarion
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Seal AwaySeal Away

boarding in

(6)
NegateNegate
Expansion//ExplosionExpansion//Explosion
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss

Izzet Drakes

This was the new kid on the block going into GP Lille, and to be honest it was quite scary. My last game of day 1 was the first time I played against this deck and when I went to the sideboard I had a clear plan about what I wanted to do. However, my opponent did his best to combat what I thought was right when he played a Firemind’s ResearchFiremind’s Research, with me having left all my copies of Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine in the sideboard. The game was intense and long, and on a very intricate board I was lucky enough for my opponent to miss lethal, which allowed me to stabilize and turn the tables.
Their game plan revolves around playing a lot of spells, and we need to really focus on what to counter and what not to counter. The games tend to be long and decking is something that should be in the back of our mind. If we use our resources correctly, we should be able to isolate the deck down to very few win conditions. This can be hard if they setup up an explosive turn, so our first few turns are us trying to build a hand, gaining some life and countering the right spells.

Sideboarding

boarding out

(10)
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Deafening ClarionDeafening Clarion
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta

boarding out

(10)
Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine
Legion WarbosLegion Warbos
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
Seal AwaySeal Away
NegateNegate
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun

I am a bit unsure about the Legion WarbossLegion Warboss here. They can be very good, but the more ShockShocks your opponent plays, the worse they get. It is a pretty nice way to close out the game but if you would like to go another route, I would keep 2 Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage at least on the draw.

Other Matchups

Since the format is still evolving day by day, we are going play against a ton of matchups. I’ve tried to write down how to board against a few additional decks to give an idea about what to do if you play against a “yet to be tier 1” deck.

Grixis

boarding out

(6)
Deafening ClarionDeafening Clarion
Crackling DrakesCrackling Drakes

boarding in

(6)
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
NegateNegate
Disdainful StrokeDisdainful Stroke

Selesnya

boarding out

(8)
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
NegateNegate
SyncopateSyncopate
Crackling DrakeCrackling Drake
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight

boarding in

(8)
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Star of ExtinctionStar of Extinction
Seal AwaySeal Away

Boros

boarding out

(10)
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
SyncopateSyncopate
NegateNegate

boarding in

(10)
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Expansion // ExplosionExpansion // Explosion
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Seal AwaySeal Away
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
Niv-Mizzet, ParunNiv-Mizzet, Parun
Invoke the DivineInvoke the Divine

Big Green

boarding out

(7)
Crackling DrakeCrackling Drake
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
SyncopateSyncopate
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
NegateNegate

boarding in

(7)
Star of ExtinctionStar of Extinction
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage
Cleansing NovaCleansing Nova
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter

The same weekend as GP Lille another Standard GP happened in New Jersey. Eli Kassis won that event with Jeskai Control. Where I had a plan for how I wanted to deal with the expected metagame, Eli had a different plan, that is truly ingenious. For that weekend, with the expected meta, I would say that this deck was the best choice, and definitely deserved to win a tournament. Going forward, I think a card like BanefireBanefire will be less of a jack in the box and rather get worse. But the cool thing about building control decks is that the tools are there to combat almost anything – the hard part is to actually do it!

With that said, I wish you all happy hunting for some sweet deck lists – this is definitely a fun and good deck that I would recommend you all to take out for a spin or two!

 

This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Michael Bonde

Author Michael Bonde

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