Daily Digest: Back In The Day

Ross Merriam reminds you that a format’s future is often found in that same format’s past. Want to get ahead of #SCGPHILLY’s Standard Classic? Try getting behind it first!

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<p>At Pro Tour <i>Battle for Zendikar</i>, Ryoichi Tamada took second with an aggressively slanted Jeskai list that took advantage of then-emerging all-star <a href=Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Since then, we have seen most Jeskai lists in Standard become more and more controlling, to the point where the once-ubiquitous Mantis Rider was cut for more card draw and removal spells.

This list is a harkening back to a simpler time, when we started attacking our opponent on turn 3 as opposed to turn 30. But a shift backwards in time does not mean backwards in effectiveness, as the Standard metagame has largely reacted to the rise in attrition-based control decks, led by the always-resilient current bogeyman, Four-Color Rally.

Trying to kill all their threats and answer their late-game trumps has become harder and harder in recent months. Four-Color Rally and Bant Company are fairly weak to flying pressure, provided you can avoid being blown out by Reflector Mage. Supplementing its threats with Dragonlord Ojutai only cements the Jeskai Dragons deck as midrange-aggressive.

Most of the spell suite is centered around giving you the flexibility play reactively and deal with your opponent’s threats when behind while being able to pressure your opponent when ahead. Jeskai Charm, Draconic Roar, and Wild Slash all function as burn spells in addition to typical removal, with the lifelink mode on Charm ensuring that your fliers will win any race. Having this amount of reach helps insulate your Thunderbreak Regents from Reflector Mage, since there are only so many Lightning Bolts your opponent can accept to their own face.

The density of burn spells is also the reason to favor Dig Through Time over Treasure Cruise, since you will often be looking to find the finishing blow rather than bury your opponent in total resources.

Silumgar’s Scorn is most often associated with Esper Dragons but perhaps is even better here. It may seem greedy to play eight “Dragons matter” cards with only six Dragons, but both are effective spells without the bonus, especially in the case of Silumgar’s Scorn, when you will often be ahead and forcing your opponent to tap out in order to catch up. There really is not another good two-drop to cast after Jace, so simply being able to trade for whatever card your opponent casts so you can start landing your fliers on an empty board is very valuable.

The sideboard has a very typical mix of counterspells, cheap removal, and big threats that we see in midrange decks, allowing you to shift your deck bigger or smaller depending on the matchup. The one change I would like to see is to play a Fiery Impulse over the single Wild Slash, since you are almost never bringing that card in as an additional burn spell.

Standard has an uncanny ability to cycle back to what was en vogue months ago, and being able to find smart updates to forgotten archetypes will often result in good things. The time to let your giant insects out of the stable again is here.

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