By Zane Rowland
On Tuesday this week after a long hiatus, I was finally able to make it back over to my LGS in the heart of Washington DC, Labyrinth Games & Puzzles. Labyrinth is a great family friendly store that caters to the MTG community several nights a week, including alternating tournaments for Modern and Legacy players every Tuesday night!
This Tuesday was Modern, and I took my Jeskai Prowess deck to test it out for the first time on paper. Jeskai Prowess decks were gaining in popularity at the end of 2016, but had fallen out of favor with the banning of Gitaxian Probe in January 2017. I have been running it off and on MTGO for a while now, but I am running one of my favorite cards (Manamorphose) in the spot
most people would be running Gitaxian Probe.
Here’s my list from Tuesday night:
Round 1: Boros Burn
One of the things I like about this deck is it can give people a false sense of security about what they’re up against. That’s because this deck plays a lot of the same cards as Burn, so for the first 1-2 turns oftentimes I’ll be dropping r/w lands with Goblin Guides and Swiftspears. This can work in your favor if your opponent uses their removal on early threats and then on turn 3 you’re searching up a blue source and throwing down a Mantis Rider. Who doesn’t want to play a creature with 3 keyword abilities, flying, haste and vigilance? Mantis Rider’s weakness is it’s toughness, and unfortunately it doesn’t pass the bolt test; fortunately Lightning Bolt isn’t as common in the format as it once was.
Game one was an extremely grindy game, and went on far too long for two aggro/burn decks that are trying to kill each other in the first 5 turns. We were neck and neck but eventually my opponent was able to draw into several Lightning Helix’s to burn some of my creatures off and gain 6 life, the disparity was too much and he took game one.
Game two I came out swinging with Goblin Guides and Swiftspears and my opponent missed two early land drops giving me a huge advantage. I was set to win when he started stabilizing with Searing Blaze’s and creatures of his own, but I swung in for 6 and gained 6 life off Jeskai Charm and went on to take game two.
Game three my opponent was able to stick a Kor Firewalker fairly early and I couldn’t find any of my Path to Exiles to remove it for good. I was able to get him to less than five with my superior creatures and vapor snags, but eventually I just couldn’t deal with this one card and I lost the match.
Result: Loss 1-2
Round 2: Ad Nauseam
If any of you have been lucky enough to sling some cards with Patrick Cossel; the man himself behind The Forge Herald, you know that for him, Modern decks will come and go, but Ad Nauseam is forever. Luckily for me, Patrick is a personal friend ofmine and therefore I have a lot of experience against this particular breed of combo deck.
Game one I had a great opener with Swiftspears and Stormchasers and was able to end it within a few turns before my opponent could hope to find all his combo pieces. He was scrying and digging deep but eventually had to play an Angel’s Grace on my turn just to stay alive and conceded game one to me.
Game two I didn’t have a lot in the SB outside of enchantment and artifact destruction so I was hoping for a quick finish. I boarded in all five of these cards and had a Wear/Tear in my opening hand. My opponent revealed Leyline of Sanctity and I proceeded to churn out creatures every turn. Within a few turns I had a small army in front of me and oddly enough hadn’t drawn into a single of my burn cards. My opponent dropped Phyrexian Unlife to buy himself two more turns and I dropped another Stormchaser on my turn, Manamorphose, and used my Tear on the Unlife to obliterate him for the win.
Round 3: Monored Goblins
My opponent’s deck looked a lot like 8 Whack except he only ran 4 Bushwhackers and seemed to be running Grim Lavamancers and a few other things.
Game one he dropped Legion Loyalist and I had a turn one Goblin Guide followed up with Swiftspear and a Stormchaser. He continued with Lavamancer, Warren Instigator and Goblin Chieftain, and I was using my removal to get rid of the Goblin Chieftain and Warren Instigator. Unfortunately, this was only feeding his Grim Lavamancer which proceeded to start burning out my creatures. When he dropped Goblin Piledriver all of a sudden the Vapor Snag in my hand and the blue creatures on my side were looking powerless to stop it. I Vapor Snagged the Legion Loyalist the beginning of combat to prevent the trample and my opponent passed the turn. I chumped the Piledriver next turn and eventually drew Path to get rid of the Lavamancer and was able to take game one.
Game two my opponent dropped Legion Loyalist again and I had a great hand but a slow start with no one drops. I passed turn one and he proceeded to exile Simian Spirit Guide and drop a turn two Blood Moon. I was finished. I couldn’t find any basics, and every card in my hand was multicolored or not red. My opponent took game two without me so much as casting a spell. With 12 monored cards, 3 basics, 6 fetches and 4 Manamorphose it’s odd that I didn’t draw any of the above cards that game but that’s the way the cards fall sometimes.
Game 3 three I got two Goblin Guides out early and kept his creatures down while coming in for 4 every turn, eventually he was at 10 and I knew if he didn’t block I would have it as I had a Helix and bolt in my hand. He chose not to block and I revealed my hand with a grin followed up with a handshake and a congratulations on a good match.
Round 4: Merfolk
So, I hate playing against Merfolk/Fish because I think we can all agree, the deck is very good, and for me there’s really not a lot of hate you can put in your sideboard to combat it. I have played against it a few times online and never seemed to be able to quite come out on top. Both my opponent and I were 2-1 and hoping for a 3-1 finish to contend for prizes, so this match was all or nothing. I was worried but tried not to show it.
Luckily for me, the Jeskai Gods were in my favor and I once again started off with double Goblin Guides. My opponent was able to pick up an island off my first attack, and then oddly enough had to discard on their turn with no turn one play. I figured this was a good sign. Turns out I was right, and had grinded him down to 10, attacked for 4 with the Guides and double Lightning Bolt for the win.
Play of the Day: Game two was not looking good for me, I had a great hand with a nice curve and went Guide, Stormchaser, Mantis Rider turns 1,2 and 3 respectively, but my opponent had played Silvergill Adept, Master of the Pearl Trident and Aether Vial, and a Master of Waves with four Elemental tokens. My opponent was at 17 on my turn four and things were not looking good for me. I drew Monastery Swiftspear and knew I actually might have a chance with a Manamorphose, Vapor Snag, Path toExile and Mutagenic Growth in my hand. I played the Swiftspear and eyed my opponent’s Aether Vial that was sitting with one counter. If my opponent had Cursecatcher I was drowned for sure, but I figured I had no other choice but to go for it, so I played the Manamorphose for a blue and white. There was no response so I was sure I was in the clear. I drew into a land I didn’t need then exiled his untapped lord with Path and Vapor Snagged Master of Waves to clear his board of all the elemental tokens and put him to 16. He was now tapped out with no blockers. I had Guide, Swiftspear, Mantis Rider and Stormchaser. I played Sacred Foundry untapped, then paid the additional two life for Mutagenic Growth, bringing my team’s power up to 17. I swung in. My opponent was in disbelief, he went from having a great board state and high life total to dead.
“Is that enough?” We counted it up again. “Really?!” My opponent packed up his cards, told me “good game,” and stormed out without even signing the match slip. I could taste his salt, but I was proud of my Jeskai Prowess deck and my 2-0 against Merfolk.
Final Results: 3rd Place
We had 25-26 people, but we only played four rounds instead of five because of time restraints. There were 7 3-1 Finishers, but because the Boros burn opponent I had lost to round one ended up winning the tournament, I had great tie breakers and it landed me in third place and in the prize money as well!
Overall I love the deck, it’s tons of fun to play and not too complicated to pilot, not one game did I have mana problems so that’s always a good thing. I also never saw any Fatal Push from my opponent so I imagine I got lucky in that regard.
I would tweak the sideboard to include at least one more Path to Exile, and possibly even the Full playset, because sometimes you just need to exile something. I would not, however replace the Vapor Snags in the main as sometimes that 1 damage is exactly what you need to grind your way to victory. If you’re playing against a lot of creatures with ETB effects however, this is when you want to make the swap, but that will probably depend on your meta.
I’m Zane, bringing you deck brews tier two through twenty-two since 2011. I won’t bore you with all that tier one nonsense! Thanks for stopping guys, post questions or comments below!
© 2017, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.