Jeskai Transmogrify Kaldheim Standard Deck Guide: Turn 4 Dream Trawlers Are Very OP

The-Ravens-Warning-Kaldheim-MtG-Art

Hello everyone! Today I’m excited to talk about a deck I’ve been trying to make work for awhile, but finally have the right metagame to do so. I’m talking about everyone’s favorite pseudo-control deck, Jeskai Transmogrify.

Jeskai Transmogrify plays similarly to your classic Yorion control, but does a few things differently compared to something like Dimir Yorion. One, the deck is a lot less about being a pure control deck and leans more into being good against creature decks. The primary game plan is to stall the game a bit, produce a token using one of your many enablers, then Transmogrify or Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast it into a Dream Trawler. The game plan is straight-forward, fairly resilient, and quite powerful.

I tried this concept to middling success back in Zendikar Rising Standard, but I was inspired to try it again after seeing great streamer and player DanytLaw do well with his iteration of the list on stream. Let’s take a look at his list that I started off on.

Jeska Lukka Kaldheim

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Companion
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Planeswalker (5)
2
Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis
3
Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
Creature (3)
3
Dream Trawler
Sorcery (13)
1
Dance of the Manse
4
Doomskar
2
Emeria's Call/Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
4
Transmogrify
Instant (3)
2
Fire Prophecy
1
Valakut Awakening/Valakut Stoneforge
Artifact (4)
2
Glass Casket
2
Mazemind Tome
Enchantment (22)
2
Elspeth Conquers Death
4
Omen of the Sea
4
Omen of the Sun
4
Shark Typhoon
4
The Birth of Meletis
4
The Raven's Warning
Land (30)
1
Castle Ardenvale
4
Fabled Passage
4
Hengegate Pathway/Mistgate Pathway
3
Island
1
Mountain
7
Plains
4
Raugrin Triome
4
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
2
Temple of Enlightenment
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Fire Prophecy
2
Glass Casket
1
Heliod's Intervention
1
Kogla, the Titan Ape
1
Koma, Cosmos Serpent
1
Massacre Wurm
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate
1
Soul-Guide Lantern
1
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

A lot of what Dany was building towards was expected, however a really cool interaction that he dedicated slots for was The Raven’s Warning and impactful creatures in the sideboard in Koma, Cosmos Serpent, Massacre Wurm, Kogla, the Titan Ape, and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. When I saw this innovation, I knew I had to give the deck a go and tune it to my liking. The most pressing questions I had about the list were: Are the sideboard creatures good and is this good enough against aggro? Let’s take a look at my version of this list to answer both of those.

Jeskai Lukka v2

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Companion
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Planeswalker (3)
3
Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
Creature (3)
3
Dream Trawler
Sorcery (12)
4
Doomskar
2
Emeria's Call/Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
4
Transmogrify
Instant (6)
4
Fire Prophecy
1
Scorching Dragonfire
1
Valakut Awakening/Valakut Stoneforge
Artifact (4)
4
Glass Casket
Enchantment (22)
2
Elspeth Conquers Death
4
Omen of the Sea
4
Omen of the Sun
4
Shark Typhoon
4
The Birth of Meletis
4
The Raven's Warning
Land (30)
1
Castle Ardenvale
4
Fabled Passage
4
Hengegate Pathway/Mistgate Pathway
3
Island
1
Mountain
7
Plains
4
Raugrin Triome
4
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
2
Temple of Enlightenment
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Mazemind Tome
4
Mystical Dispute
4
Negate
2
Scorching Dragonfire
2
Shatter the Sky
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Unfortunately the sideboard creatures were not good enough in my experience. Losing valuable slots for niche scenarios where you can get a good creature off ofThe Raven's Warning to Transmogrify or Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast into didn’t seem worth it. The only creature that felt potentially worth it was Koma, Cosmos Serpent since the power level on the card was so high, but again, way too niche in my opinion to include. Secondly, this list was already pretty well geared towards aggressive decks, but I wanted to lean harder into the anti-aggro elements anyway. Personally, I’d rather have a really good game 1 against aggressive decks which have seemed to take over the ladder and have less game against something like Sultai Ultimatum pre board. In fairness, even without gearing towards aggro for game 1, the matchup against Sultai Ultimatum already seemed poor game 1 as your plan to win with Dream Trawler doesn’t work well with their main board Extinction Events. With that, it made more sense to me to functionally be preboarded against aggressive decks then to throw the sideboard at slow decks in the board games, a combination which has been working well for me so far.

As expected, a lot of the elements from the initial list have been playing well. My old version of this deck only played Lukka instead of both Lukka and Transmogrify which made the consistency of the combo go way down. Secondly, being able to get a Dream Trawler on turn 4, like the title says, is pretty OP. 

Since we’re leaning harder into being good against aggressive decks game 1, I jacked up the amount of cheap removal in the main deck. I replaced 5 of the slowest cards in Dany’s version (Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis, Mazemind Tome, and Dance of the Manse) for all removal spells in Fire Prophecy, Glass Casket, and one Scorching Dragonfire. Personally, I feel like Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis is just a bad card and wanted to cut her immediately anyway. She does too little for the mana cost compared to other 4 drop threats in Standard. I’m a big Mazemind Tome fan, but it proved too slow against decks like Monored and Monowhite. Dance of the Manse was a really cool idea, but realistically, the only slow deck I’ve actually been seeing is Sultai Ultimatum and their Emergent Ultimatum is just too much better than a Dance of the Manse most of the time.

The card I’m still the most speculative of is The Raven's Warning. It was initially used in conjunction with the sideboard creatures, but without them, it’s hard to tell if it’s worth it. At its absolute worse, it’s a slightly worse Omen of the Sun that has a shorter window to be flickered. That is not a card I’m necessarily looking to play, however, it’s the average scenarios I try to keep in account. You could look at the best possible scenario, but that involved getting a sideboard creature and as I already said, that didn’t seem worth it. On average though, this is a slightly better Tome Raider that can get a card from your sideboard and put it on top of your library. This can be nice against a whole slew of decks as you can find small removal in Scorching Dragonfire, a Wrath with Shatter the Sky, counterspells with Negate or Mystical Dispute, card draw with Mazemind Tome, or even Yorion itself! I don’t mean to be redundant with listing off what each card does, but I’m more illustrating the versatility The Raven’s Warning still offers, even without the creature package. With this versatility, I think it’s still correct to keep The Raven’s Warning in, at least for now.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Mazemind-Tome-Core-Set-2021-MtG-Art

MONORED AGGRO (Favored)

INOUT
+2 Scorching Dragonfire-2 Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
+2 Shatter the Sky-2 Elspeth Conquers Death

The plan against Monored is relatively simple, keep clearing away their threats and eventually kill them with a Dream Trawler, large Shark Typhoon token, or a Yorion. We have a lot of ways to make their lives difficult including 9 2 mana removal spells, wraths, roadblocks in The Birth of Meletis, Omen of the Sun, and The Raven’s Warning. Although you definitely can lose this matchup to their best draws, they’re extremely reliant on having a timely Embercleave to realistically kill you through all of your defenses. With that in mind, prioritize controlling the board over everything else. Dream Trawler is obviously great against them, but an Anax or Torbran with an Embercleave can make Dream Trawler not good enough, thus the need to control the board.

MONOWHITE AGGRO (Heavily Favored)

INOUT
+2 Scorching Dragonfire-2 Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
+2 Shatter the Sky-2 Elspeth Conquers Death

Most of what I said about Monored applies here as well, but with a key exception. Monowhite is also very fast, but they are less resilient to interaction for the most part as they don’t have a card like Embercleave to easily get them back into the game when they’re behind. With that, you still want to prioritize keeping the board clear, but going for Dream Trawler is generally way safer against Monowhite than it is against Monored. I wouldn’t go too low in life total just to get a Dream Trawler out early instead of interacting with the board, but if you’re above 10 life and get a Dream Trawler, Monowhite most likely can’t beat that as only Giant Killer can stop it, and not even stop it permanetely.

GRUUL ADVENTURES (Even to Slightly Favored)

INOUT
+2 Negate-4 The Raven’s Warning
+2 Shatter the Sky

This matchup is similar to Monored in that they can have fast starts with great catchup cards, but depending on their hand, this could be easier or harder. If they have a fast start that’s backed into an Embercleave or a Planeswalker, this can be very difficult. However, if they have a somewhat awkward start that’s more about building a board presence, you can pretty easily pick them apart and then land a Dream Trawler. If they don’t seem to be playing many non-creature spells, you can easily sub out the Negates for more removal in Scorching Dragonfire.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM (Unfavored)

INOUT
+2 Mazemind Tome-2 Doomskar
+4 Negate-3 Fire Prophecy
+4 Mystical Dispute-1 Scorching Dragonfire
-4 Glass Casket 

This is one of those scenarios in where you don’t have enough cards to board out, so you have to keep some of your removal in. The game 1 matchup against Sultai Ultimatum is really rough since your game plan is just overall terrible against theirs. Furthermore, even if you manage to land a Dream Trawler, there’s a good chance they can just Extinction Event it away. Even so, your best way to win is to get an early Dream Trawler down and hope their hand is too slow to beat it, which it certainly can be. The post board games play out roughly the same, except they have significantly less removal to mess with your Dream Trawler. Once again, try to stick an early Dream Trawler and just counter any Ultimatum they may have.

ROGUES (Unfavored to Even)

INOUT
+2 Mazemind Tome-2 Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
+4 Negate-4 Transmogrify
+2 Scorching Dragonfire-2 Omen of the Sun
+4 Mystical Dispute-4 The Raven’s Warning
+2 Shatter the Sky-2 Elspeth Conquers Death

This is likely the only matchup I would board out most of the Transmogrify package. It’s really hard to make Rogues tap out and if you get your Transmogrify countered by a removal spell it just feels so bad. This matchup is going to go very late so going up on interaction is an absolute must. You want to stymie their early aggression with your suite of removal then counter the Into the Story as often as possible. Skyclave Shade is a very annoying card to deal with so try and save Scorching Dragonfire and Glass Casket for those when possible. Ideally, you can force through a Dream Trawler and from there, Rogues can’t really win.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • I would avoid ticking up on Lukka as hitting a Dream Trawler could be devastating if you lose it. However, if you already somehow got 2 Dream Trawlers out, it’s probably fine to do so. With that, realistically you’re never looking to plus into the ultimate.
  • With Dream Trawler;s discard ability you can pitch another Dream Trawler, Lukka, or Yorion before the third chapter of Elspeth Conquers Death goes off.
  • Hypothetically, you can Transmogrify an opponent’s creature if you can’t beat the threat they have. Something like Koma, Cosmos Serpent can be turned into a much less threatening Valki against Sultai Ultimatum if you have no other way to live.
  • Try to save Valakut Awakening for turns you’re attacking with Dream Trawler for a huge damage boost.
  • The Raven’s Warning puts any sideboard card on top of your library including Yorion, Sky Nomad if you still haven’t gotten it back. This can be important if you want to Transmogrify or Lukka into it. With that, I tend to put cheaper spells on top of the library if I have a way to draw the same turn and more expensive or choose not to do the ability at all if I don’t have a way to draw.
  • It’s niche, but if your opponent has a Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, just like your Sagas, your Mazemind Tome also won’t accumulate any counters.
  • Generally controlling the board is better than going for a fast Transmogrify unless the opponent’s board is really bad. Furthermore if it’s likely the opponent has removal, I would be patient with Transmogrify.

That’s everything I have for today! Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8, has 3-0d 3 professional draft pods, and loves writing and teaching!