I had so much fun writing about my House Dimir deck for Magic the Gathering a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d do a similar thing with another deck I’ve been trying to refine for a while now, my three-colour Jeskai deck from Tarkir block! Like last time, this will no doubt be very rambling, but I find those are the best kinds of blogs!
Tarkir block was the current block when I eventually made a serious effort to get into the game, so will forever hold a special place in my heart. The theme of the set was three-coloured clans, harkening back to the three-coloured shards from Alara block. Let’s take a look at this for a minute.
In Magic, there’s the concept of the colour-pie, which I’d never really much paid attention to beyond thinking it a way to organise the colours of the game. However, the theory runs that each colour has a specific personality, and they are each arranged in the pie according to how these personalities ally with each other. For instance, my go-to colour of black is situated between red and blue, which emphasises the direct-damage abilities of black (shared with red) along with the evasion-type abilities (shared with blue). In Alara, there were five shards that focused on one colour along with its two allies – the colours to either side of it in the pie. So my black example is named Grixis, for instance (the others being Bant, Esper, Jund and Naya, focusing on white, blue, red and green, respectively). Tarkir block takes this on a bit of a twist by focusing on two allied colours along with the colour opposite them in the pie which, if you connected them with straight lines, would form a wedge. Returning to black for a moment, one of its allies is blue, and the colour opposite them in the pie is green (the Sultai brood).
Tarkir block was produced between September 2014 and March 2015, and its theme was rooted in middle and far eastern culture and mythology. Central to this is the idea of dragons, and the block focused on five clans (the colour pairings), each of which reveres a specific aspect of the dragon, which was brought out in keywords for each clan. This brings us to the subject of today’s blog, the Jeskai. Formed of the allied colours of white and blue, with their enemy red, the Jeskai are a cunning bunch, which is perhaps what you would expect out of white and blue, along with the martial prowess of red – indeed, their keyword for the block was Prowess, which allowed you to buff certain creatures with counters when you play non-creature spells. The storyline of Tarkir block was also pretty fascinating, though I want to devote a separate post to that. For now, suffice it to say that time-travel was a theme, where we got to see the clans and their leaders in different situations. To show this, the clans got new keywords with later releases, and for Jeskai (who became the Ojutai brood, named for the dragon they revered), this became Rebound, which allows you to exile a sorcery or instant card upon resolving it, then cast it for free from exile next turn. Powerful stuff, in the right situations!
Tri-coloured decks scared me. I was so nervous going into building this deck at first that I actually put it off for a long time – I basically didn’t know if I was getting the land base right. Khans of Tarkir thankfully printed taplands that made the process somewhat easier – playsets of all three types to ensure I had the colours I’d need, along with the triple tapland Mystic Monastery that was essentially the Jeskai home land.
The deck is actually super fun for a theme person such as myself, because it has a lot of emphasis on warrior-monks that I really adore. Of course, this meant that my first iteration of the deck featured a whole host of awesome creature cards that made Prowess almost impossible to benefit from, as I was casting creatures and not non-creatures (Prowess doesn’t count land unfortunately!) So that needed some alterations, right there! Another problem with the abundance of creatures was the fact I also included Narset Transcendant in the deck.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Planeswalkers. I know a lot of people like them, and I’ve heard of people hinging a collection around them, but I dislike the over-complication they bring. I’ve mentioned before that I like Magic because it’s such a clear-cut game, where you’re summoning creatures and casting spells to beat down your opponent – with Planeswalkers in the mix, it’s almost like they’re a special character in this mix, and it just feels like an interloper rather than anything else (to me, at least). However, I’m also a huge fan of theme, so I simply had to include Narset in the deck for that reason alone. Her ultimate ability is also pretty amazing when it goes off. To get it off, of course, you have to reveal the top card of your deck and, if it’s a land or creature, you discard it. Given my concern over the mana base in a three-colour deck, this is often too much hassle for me to risk!
For the longest time, I didn’t see fit to include the Jeskai dragon, Ojutai, in the deck, not really wanting to have a lot of high-cost creatures in there. This, I feel, speaks to my inexperience with playing blue, where I guess you want to delay the game until you can win, so why not put a few in, right? The dragons from the Tarkir block come in two types, so each one has two cards. The Dragonlord version of Ojutai has a much better ability than his earlier incarnation, so I’ve recently changed things up a little so that I can include him, along with a couple of the other thematic cards that go along with him. I’ve been thinking of taking Planeswalker Narset out too, but so far haven’t pulled the trigger on her yet. The problem I’m having, though, is that I like the thematic cards too much to remove them, but maybe soon I will. I’m kinda lacking the imperative to do anything with the deck right now because so much of it will rotate out next week, so it’s hardly going to be Standard-playable. But as it stands, here’s my deck!
Narset, Enlightened Master
Student of Ojutai
Jeskai Student (2)
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
Mystic of the Hidden Way
Lotus Path Djinn
Master of Pearls
Soulfire Grand Master
Dragon’s Eye Sentry