The Ultimate Guide To Saheeli Rai In Modern!

Pro Tour Champion Shaun McLaren knows a Splinter Twin-style combo when he sees one! So forget about her Standard stuff for now, because we’re talking about making this combo a Modern force to be reckoned with! Sideboard guide included!

The quest for a Tier 1 Jeskai deck in Modern continues!

I had always thought the Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian was something that would be better than Splinter Twin was in Standard and worse than Splinter Twin in Modern.

That still might be the case when compared side by side to Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin, although it’s difficult to say for sure, but I certainly underestimated the Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian combo in Modern.

Behold the newest face of Jeskai!

Is this better than Nahiri, the Harbinger with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? Well, it’s newer, and new things are always better, so yes!

Seriously, though, it does feel a good deal more like Splinter Twin than Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker did in Kiki Control. Keeping your curve low is important in Modern, and Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian have proven themselves to be useful outside of their combo.

The deck is still a mixture of combo and control, and it actually has plenty of cards and play patterns that just plain old U/R Splinter Twin used to have.

It’s fun porting over cards to Modern. What is old in Standard can be exciting and fresh in Modern.

My above list feels like a fairly clean starting point without too many fancy-pants tech cards.

Similar to what I did with Eldrazi Tron, I’m going to break down Jeskai Saheeli in the context of discussing the common matchups it will face in Modern. I’ll talk about my card choices, how to play the deck, sideboarding, and more.

Also, this is your regular disclaimer to think for yourself when sideboarding. These sideboarding suggestions assume you’re on the play. Cards like Spreading Seas and Remand are better on the play, Lightning Bolt is more important on the draw, etc. Use your discretion.

Let’s get to it!





As a general litmus test, your matchup against Burn usually varies on a scale of poor, medium, pretty good, great, or excellent, depending on how many copies of Lightning Helix you’re running from zero to four.

Jeskai Saheeli doesn’t really have much in the way of improving the Burn matchup, since the combo is a bit slow and vulnerable and the Spreading Seas plan to turn off their ability to cast spells usually won’t work, especially on the draw.

It would be nice to have something like Kitchen Finks to copy and/or blink.

Don’t play too passively. You can’t sit back on a hand of Remands or Negates forever. Sometimes it’s better to take a risk of dying earlier on to put yourself in a better position for the rest of the game. Also keep in mind that if they’re killing Saheeli Rai to prevent you from comboing off, that’s burn that isn’t being pointed at your face.




The theme of Saheeli Rai being more vulnerable than a Deceiver Exarch against aggro decks continues. This is not only the case against Lightning Bolt, but also the case in combat. To be fair, though, Galvanic Blast is actually more devastating on a Deceiver Exarch when you’re trying to combo off, since you’ll lose the Splinter Twin as well.

Saheeli Rai on turn 3 absorbing four damage isn’t even that terrible, though, and can actually be quite good if it just sticks around for a couple of turns and copies a Snapcaster Mage and nets you another Lightning Bolt.

Spreading Seas is surprisingly good against Affinity, since their creature-lands are otherwise a drain on your precious resources in the late-game, especially with Cranial Plating involved.

Cranial Plating is the key card in the matchup, without which it’s very hard for them to win, since you have such plentiful removal.

Death’s Shadow Aggro



Lightning Bolt doesn’t match up well at killing their creatures, but it does match up well at burning them out.

This is likely your best way to squeak out a victory, since they have plenty of ways to disrupt you from comboing.

Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!

That’s how it’s done.

Saheeli Rai copying a Snapcaster Mage has never looked better. It’s not quite as devastating as it is when you do so with Torrential Gearhulk and rumble into combat with a squad of 5/6 beatsticks in Standard, but it’s very powerful nonetheless. Even Saheeli Rai’s ping might be the difference when life total margins are razor-thin.

Spreading Seas also seems like a very viable road to winning, since they have very greedy mana requirements and not a lot of lands.

It’s probably correct to try to stick to a strategy of just trying to burn Death’s Shadow Aggro out post-sideboard, but it can be tricky if they’re extra-safe with their life total. You also get access to good removal and graveyard interaction with Relic of Progenitus, so an even more controlling plan could work as well.

Eldrazi Tron



Another newer deck where Lightning Bolt doesn’t do a great job at killing their creatures.

It is said that all truly powerful card matchups that come to clash in Standard will one day face off in Modern as well.

Once again Walking Ballista matches up well against Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian and prevents you from comboing. The eternal struggle continues.

Spreading Seas is going to be one of your best cards here, and Remand will also work wonders if they don’t have Cavern of Souls. You have plenty of ways to buy time and draw cards and either set up to combo or just get far enough ahead that you win.

Supreme Verdict is worth its weight in gold in this matchup, and you’d really want to access to another one, but Gideon Jura seems like it’s almost as good. Just watch out for Endbringer, since Nahiri, the Harbinger and Gideon Jura don’t like Eldrazi that stay untapped.

G/X Tron



Here is where you really get to flex your Splinter Twin muscles and do your best impersonation of the deck as it was pre-ban.

Having access to an actual factual combo is going to help a lot. Add that onto having Spreading Seas and you’re looking at a good matchup, which is something Jeskai can rarely boast about when up against Tron.

Oblivion Stone is a bit of an issue, and you can’t tap it down like you could with Deceiver Exarch. Ideally it never gets to the point where they have it active, let alone have it active while being able to deploy other threats.

Dispel is not exactly an all-star against Tron decks, but in this case I think it might be a reasonable option to protect you while you combo off, especially since you’re likely up against Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt, or Path to Exile.




Gideon Jura seems like an excellent upgrade for this sort of matchup compared to Supreme Verdict. I’ve never really been a huge fan of Gideon Jura in my Modern Jeskai decks, but keep in mind planeswalkers go up in value when you have access to Felidar Guardian to blink them.

Sun Titan would be a nice big threat in this matchup, as a way to just gain value, or to combo off with Saheeli Rai, but I feel Sun Titan just doesn’t quite have enough good things to return that aren’t Saheeli Rai in my current list.

Jund or Abzan versus Jeskai is all about the grind. Spreading Seas will do wonders at keeping their creature-lands in check, disrupting their mana, and allowing your Felidar Guardians to draw cards. Right now the deck doesn’t have many haymakers like Sphinx’s Revelation to outright win the late-game.

Lantern Control



Engineered Explosives and Stony Silence are your swing cards that matter in this matchup…but let’s face it, you’ll probably never draw or cast them.

I don’t think Lantern Control is ever going to be a good matchup for Jeskai, since so many of your cards do barely anything, and Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian don’t seem like they’ll help that much, if at all.

Through the Breach



Spreading Seas and a combo kill condition? Sign me up!

Once again we see improvement in the non-interactive lands-matter matchup. They can disrupt your combo with Lightning Bolt, so don’t be too confident in comboing off. Post-sideboard, things should get very nice once Dispel is added to the mix.




Jeskai has often struggled to cook the Fishy menace, but the combo should help here, since they have a hard time disrupting it and it even seems somewhat realistic that you’ll be able to protect a Saheeli Rai in the early-game.

Engineered Explosives is excellent, and can clean up schools of lords; Aether Vials; Kira, Great Glass-Spinner; or even Master of Waves tokens. Spreading Seas is decent against Mutavault, and it’s only fair that you should be Seasing them right back to assert Islandominance.

U/R Gifts Storm



You have plenty of disruption for Baral, Chief of Compliance and Goblin Electromancer, which is one of the most important factors.

Jace, Architect of Thought and Engineered Explosives can stop endless hordes of Goblin tokens.

You get a whole heap of cards to bring in post-sideboard, and most of your maindeck cards seem fine anyway.

Felidar Guardian doesn’t have that much to blink for value, and you don’t want to be tapping out willy-nilly, so it seems like a good idea to just grind them into submission. Just watch out for Blood Moon.

Saheeling the Deal

Is Jeskai Saheeli Tier 1 in Modern?

It’s certainly a fun deck and exciting for die-hard Splinter Twin enthusiasts and fans of Jeskai Control. It might not quite have the results or raw power to be Tier 1 right now, but it might be closer than you think, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

I’m certainly going to be tinkering with it in the future and keeping my eye out for ways to make Jeskai the way to go again!