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Standard Jeskai Combo Deck Guide: Storming in Standard

Standard Jeskai Combo Deck Guide: Storming in Standard

Hello everyone! Today I’ll be going over Jeskai Storm, a control-combo deck built around Goldspan Dragon and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. This deck made its debut in the hands of cftsoc, who took down a thousand-person tournament and won an invite to the Mythic Championship with the deck.

cftsoc’s winning list:

Jeskai Combo by cftsoc
by Omrithopter
Buy on TCGplayer $229.47
Standard
Combo
best of 3
8 mythic
23 rare
22 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
4
Goldspan Dragon
$79.96
Sorceries (6)
Lands (17)
1
Island
$0.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
60 Cards
$310.04
Sideboard
3
Smoldering Egg
$2.97
1
Fading Hope
$2.49
1
Valorous Stance
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.70
1
Test of Talents
$0.35
15 Cards
$8.91

In terms of modifications to the deck, I didn’t make many. I added the fourth Prismari Command over the second Alchemist’s Gambit because Gambit didn’t impress me. I rarely ever copied it with Galvanic Iteration, and having the fourth Prismari Command helps in the aggro matchup.

As for the manabase, I added a couple of slowlands at the expense of pathways, because having to play a pathway on white is often awkward for this deck because it needs both double red and double blue. I also replaced Hall of the Storm Giants with Otawara, Soaring City, because having another way to save a Goldspan Dragon from removal or bounce your opponent’s Goldspan without giving them treasure felt better than the marginal utility of Hall of the Storm Giants, which also enters the battlefield tapped too often.

In the sideboard, I cut a Disdainful Stroke for a Burn Down the House to give this deck a little more game against aggro.

Depending on what you expect the metagame to be you can change the list yourself to be better or worse against aggro and control. This deck struggles against aggro in general, which is a pretty significant downside if you’re going to be playing it on the ladder, but you can always play more wraths in the sideboard and even bring in a couple of Burn Down the House into the main deck. However, if you’re playing in a tournament and expect lots of midrange and control, you can shift more towards having extra counterspells in the main deck and sideboard.

Jeskai Combo
by Omrithopter
Buy on TCGplayer $247.49
Standard
Combo
best of 3
8 mythic
23 rare
22 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
4
Goldspan Dragon
$79.96
Sorceries (5)
Lands (17)
1
Island
$0.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
1
Deserted Beach
$8.99
2
Sundown Pass
$15.98
60 Cards
$338.68
Sideboard
3
Smoldering Egg
$2.97
1
Fading Hope
$2.49
1
Valorous Stance
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.70
1
Test of Talents
$0.35
15 Cards
$9.95

THE DECK:

Show of Confidence Art by Paul Scott Canavan
Show of Confidence Art by Paul Scott Canavan

This deck walks the line between combo and control. With a full suite of removal and a couple of counterspells, as well as the combo of Galvanic Iteration plus Alchemist's Gambit, this deck resembles Izzet Turns decks from before the Alrund's Epiphany ban. However, this deck also contains a storm-style combo that it utilizes as its main finisher, and even gives the deck the potential to kill as early as turn four.

THE COMBO:

To go off, you need a Goldspan Dragon and a Show of Confidence. Each copy of Show of Confidence gives you two mana off of Goldspan Dragon. This means that if you can cycle a couple of mana-neutral or positive spells like Prismari Command (targeting Goldspan with 2 damage and making a Treasure), Unexpected Windfall, or Valorous Stance, so your Show of Confidence will net you a ton of mana. Having a Lier, Disciple of the Drowned makes comboing much easier, as you can simply flashback all your spells and draw through your whole deck before smashing your opponent with a huge Dragon.

If you’ve already attacked you can use Alchemist's Gambit to deal the finishing blow, or throw the huge Goldspan Dragon at your opponent’s face with Kazuul’s Fury. You can even copy a bunch of Prismari Command, or just blow up your opponent’s whole board and wait till next turn to kill your opponent.

SPELLS:

This deck has an extensive lineup of removal spells. Fading Hope is a great tempo play and works well with Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. Valorous Stance both kills big creatures and protects Goldspan Dragon and Lier which is obviously important on both counts. Prismari Command hits small creatures and artifacts, and doubles as a budget Unexpected Windfall to help accelerate.

Finally, Spikefield Hazard can snipe small creatures, doubles as land, acts as a pseudo ritual with Goldspan Dragon, and overall helps this deck keep its land and spell count high. Crucially, all of these removal spells can be used to make Treasures with Goldspan, and because of all the double-sided lands and flexible removal spells, going off once a Goldspan Dragon hits the board isn’t too hard to set up, as long as you have a Show of Confidence.

This deck also has a pair of Jwari Disruptions and a Disdainful Stroke for some counter magic alongside Valorous Stance, Fading Hope, and Sejiri Shelter to offer protection for this deck’s important creatures. 

Along with disruption, this deck also has a suite of treasure-based ramp that helps accelerate the combo and synergizes with Goldspan Dragon. Prismari Command and Unexpected Windfall create Treasure, and Unexpected Windfall is great in combination with this deck’s three Galvanic Iteration, as a copied Unexpected Windfall draws four cards and makes four treasures.

Rounding out the spells is a play set of Expressive Iteration for some excellent card draw and selection, and an Alchemist’s Gambit to copy with Galvanic Iteration.

CREATURES:

The only two creatures in this deck are Goldspan Dragon and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, and these two pack a punch.

Goldspan, past being the most important combo piece for this deck, is also a really good creature on its own, and can out-tempo opponents or ramp out crazy Galvanic Iteration turns even without Show of Confidence. One of Goldspan Dragon’s biggest strengths in this deck is that it protects itself by creating a treasure token when it’s targeted, even by the opponent’s spells. With so many protection spells in this deck, it’s more than likely that when you cast Goldspan Dragon you’ll have some way to protect it from removal.

Additionally, if you cast Sejiri Shelter or Valorous Stance to protect Goldspan you’ll end up getting another treasure as well, meaning you profit on mana.

There are a couple of notable cards to which Goldspan Dragon is vulnerable however. Ottawa, Soaring City, Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire, and The Wandering Emperor are all cards that can remove a Goldspan Dragon without making a Treasure, so if you don’t already have mana held up you won’t be able to protect Goldspan from them. While Eiganjo and The Wandering Emperor only target attacking creatures, they can be cast before Goldspan’s attack trigger resolves, so that won’t help you either. This means that in rare cases it’s correct to play Goldspan Dragon and not attack with it to dodge The Wandering Emperor and Eiganjo. There are also other cards like Soul Shatter that are great at killing Goldspan Dragon, but aren’t as heavily played. 

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is another card that can win the game all on its own. This deck is built around Lier by having a bunch of cheap removal and tempo plays like Fading Hope or Valorous Stance, and has lots of ways to protect Lier as well. Sometimes you can curve two removal spells into Lier and your aggro opponent simply won’t be able to beat it, no combo required. One thing to watch out for is that Lier shuts off all counter spells, including your own, which comes up most often post-board if you’ve brought in Disdainful Stroke or Test of Talents.

SIDEBOARD:

4 Behold the Multiverse: Behold’s main use is to replace Unexpected Windfall in the control matchup. Casting Unexpected Windfall into a counter spell is a great way to 2-for-1 yourself. Behold also has foretell, letting you use your mana more efficiently in the early game, and making it easier to sneak past counter spells in the late game.

3 Smoldering Egg: A great blocker to stall aggressive decks that can act as a backup threat against control decks as well. A lot of the time post-board games are slower and it’s harder to combo, so having a backup plan is good. 

2 Cinderclasm: Cinderclasm gives this deck some game post-board against aggressive decks, which tend to be the worst matchups. 

2 Disdainful Stroke: For the control matchup, Disdainful Stroke hits all the most threatening cards like Goldspan Dragon, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned, Behold the Multiverse, Unexpected Windfall, and more. 

1 Valorous Stance: The third copy of Stance is mostly for decks with damage-based or “destroy” removal, and can act as another removal spell against decks with beefy creatures. 

1 Fading Hope: The fourth copy of Fading Hope comes in against aggressive creature-based decks because of how well it works with Lier, and it’s a great way to buy time.

1 Test of Talents: Another counter spell against control. 

1 Burn Down the House: For creature decks, Cinderclasm is better against Mono-White but Burn Down the House is better against Mono-Green, because green plays bigger creatures. 


PLAY STYLE:

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Art by Ekaterina Burmak

This deck has a unique play style when compared to all the other decks in the current Standard format. This deck can play like a control deck in many scenarios but is also able to pivot and win in a single turn. This is a big strength, as often the opponent is stuck wondering if they should be holding up removal to try and stop your combo or advancing the board state. If they let their shields down even for a turn you can win out of nowhere.

But, if they don’t do anything and wait all game to try and kill your Goldspans, you’ll beat them by just playing like a control deck, sculpting your hand, and developing your mana while they’re stuck holding up removal and doing nothing. 

Being able to switch between play styles makes this deck quite tricky to pilot as well as play against. One good example of this is in situations where you need to decide between interacting with the opponent or digging for combo pieces and making treasures. 

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for when you should be trying to combo, and when you should be playing a controlling game plan, removing creatures, or countering spells. However, there are some things to watch out for when making that decision. One thing to think about is how likely it is that you’ll be able to combo before dying. More specifically, think about exactly what you’re missing to combo, and what your opponent could have to stop you.

Another thing to consider is when to interact with your opponent, and when to progress your own game plan. For example, this can mean deciding whether to cast a removal spell or cast Unexpected Windfall, and a big part of that decision is how much time the removal spell buys you. If taking a turn off to kill a creature doesn’t change the clock, it might be best to start drawing cards and hoping, but if Prismari Command on the opponent’s Esika’s Chariot and their 2/2 means they’ll need multiple turns more to kill you, then it’s probably a better move since you get to spend more mana and look at more cards before you die. 

Another scenario that comes up often is whether you should just run out a creature before you’re able to combo, in the hopes that it’ll win the game by itself. There are times when it’s best to run out Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, and spend all the treasures you were saving for the combo turn bouncing and killing creatures, hoping your opponent can’t come back from that. Sometimes you run Lier out, bounce one creature, your opponent removes Lier, and now you’re down a Lier and your treasures and you end up getting run over.

One thing that can help your decision-making in scenarios like these is not thinking about the best or worst-case scenario, but rather what the average scenario is. For example, think ahead and figure out if you can beat your opponent casting a random creature, or having just one removal spell. You’ll end up playing around the most common occurrence, rather than trying to play around everything.

You shouldn’t be defaulting to trying to set yourself up to combo even if it’s unlikely to work just because you could get punished by trying to play a control game.

You also shouldn’t automatically be playing a control game if there’s any chance your opponent can stop your combo either. It’s a fine balance to strike and is one of the reasons why this deck is so hard to play, often the decision of when to go for the combo is the hardest and most important decision of the game. 

An important thing to understand when playing this deck is just because you get blown out or went for the combo and didn’t get there doesn’t mean you made a mistake, sometimes you made the best play and got punished, and that’s just a part of magic. 


MATCHUPS:

Ashmouth Dragon Art by Simon Dominic
Ashmouth Dragon Art by Simon Dominic

Izzet/Jeskai Control:

InOut
+4 Behold the Multiverse-4 Prismari Command
+2 Smoldering Egg-2 Unexpected Windfall
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Fading Hope
+1 Test of Talents-1 Galvanic Iteration
+1 Valorous Stance-1 Alchemist's Gambit

A pretty even matchup; many of the games won in this matchup won’t come from comboing, but simply by getting ahead on tempo and/or card advantage. Try to not get your Unexpected Windfall countered as that’s a great way to lose out on card advantage and tempo. If possible try to set up Galvanic Iteration plus Unexpected Windfall instead of just casting Unexpected Windfall on its own. Even if you don’t have a counter spell to hold up, especially in game one, you can always bluff that you have one. Until you reveal something that Jeskai Combo runs, but Jeskai Control doesn’t like Sejiri Shelter, your opponent may assume you’re simply a control deck and will respect your open mana. 

The exact sideboarding in this matchup depends on your opponent’s list, for example, if they’re running Hinata, Dawn-Crowned then you probably want to keep more Fading Hope

Naya Runes:

InOut
+3 Smoldering Egg-1 Valorous Stance
+1 Burn Down the House-1 Galvanic Iteration
+1 Fading Hope-1 Expressive Iteration
-1 Alchemist's Gambit
-1 Disdainful Stroke

This matchup tends to be pretty swingy. The most important thing in this matchup is not to let your opponent stick a creature. If your opponent does manage to stick a creature or two they will snowball very quickly, and at that point, it’s just a race to see if you can combo before you die. If you have damage-based removal like Prismari Command, be careful not to tap out if you don’t have another answer, because your opponent could play a creature and grow it out of range before you have your removal back up.

Orzhov/Esper Midrange:

InOut
+3 Smoldering Egg-2 Fading Hope
+2 Cinderclasm-2 Valorous Stance
+2 Behold the Multiverse-1 Disdainful Stroke
-1 Alchemist's Gambit
-1 Galvanic Iteration

This matchup is one of the biggest reasons to play this deck because it’s so good. Orzhov doesn’t have very much instant-speed interaction and focuses more on grinding than having a fast clock, which is great for this deck because it doesn’t matter how many cards you have in hand if you’re getting clocked for 40 damage by a Goldspan Dragon. Watch out for The Wandering Emperor and Vanishing Verse at instant speed, and if you pass the turn, The Meathook Massacre, Rite of Oblivion, and Necrotic Fumes are all threats to creatures as well.

Fading Hope and Valorous Stance aren’t great in this matchup because they don’t have many targets, and specifically, in Valorous Stance’s case, it doesn’t protect creatures in this matchup very well. Smoldering Egg comes in as a backup plan against disruption, Cinderclasm is great against all of Orzhov’s cheap creatures, and a pair of Behold the Multiverse come in as additional ways to recoup lost card advantage from discard spells. 

Mono-White Aggro:

InOut
+3 Smoldering Egg-2 Valorous Stance
+2 Cinderclasm-2 Galvanic Iteration
+1 Fading Hope-1 Alchemist's Gambit
+1 Burn Down the House-1 Expressive Iteration
-1 Disdainful Stroke

This matchup is quite bad because of the fast pressure, backed up by disruption in the form of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Elite Spellbinder. The only saving grace is that most Mono White decks don’t have a ton of instant speed removal. 

Mono-Green Aggro:

InOut
+2 Smoldering Egg-2 Galvanic Iteration
+1 Cinderclasm-2 Expressive Iteration
+1 Fading Hope-1 Alchemist's Gambit
+1 Burn Down the House-1 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Valorous Stance

Similar to the Mono White matchup, this matchup also is pretty bad, Mono-Green’s only instant speed removal spell is Inscription of Abundance which some decks don’t even play, but green’s beat down is simply too fast for this matchup to be good. 


TIPS AND TRICKS:

Prismari Command Art by Johannes Voss
Prismari Command Art by Johannes Voss
  • Fading Hope can bounce creatures you control to save them from removal, or make a treasure off of Goldspan Dragon. You can even use Fading Hope to make mana while comboing off by targeting Goldspan Dragon with Fading Hope while holding full control, letting Goldspan’s triggered ability resolve and getting the treasure, and then continuing to combo without letting Fading Hope resolve. Later, you can even cast Sejiri Shelter on blue on Goldspan to prevent the bounce, or just float mana with treasures and recast Goldspan.
  • Speaking of comboing at instant speed, this deck can do just that with ease, which is most often useful when your Goldspan Dragon is being targeted with removal and you don’t have a way of protecting it. This also comes up if your opponent casts a white removal spell on Goldspan, and you need to cast Sejiri Shelter on white.

    Sejiri Shelter on white will not only prevent Goldspan Dragon from dying, but also prevent Goldspan from being targeted by your own white spells, meaning you won’t be able to target it with Show of Confidence. In these situations, you often won’t be able to use Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, unless there’s already one on the battlefield.

    That said, this deck can combo even without a Lier, it just takes a little more setup and maybe some luck chaining Prismari Command and Unexpected Windfall together.
  • Pay lots of attention to land sequencing, don’t be afraid to play out your Sejiri Shelters or Silundi Visions as lands, and make sure to plan out your future turns, as you don’t want to be stuck playing a tapped land on turn four and missing out on Unexpected Windfall. Additionally, prioritize having double red and double blue over having white mana, as most often when you need white mana you’ll have a treasure off Goldspan Dragon or elsewhere to cast your white spells.
  • Don’t forget that you can cast Alchemist’s Gambit for three mana if you’re desperate, or know you’ll win next turn, just don’t try to copy a three mana Gambit because you’ll lose the game before the second extra turn.
  • If your Goldspan Dragon is about to leave the battlefield, you can float mana with treasure tokens before Goldspan Dragon leaves to get two mana from each, and then use that mana later in the same phase. However, when doing this make sure you aren’t trying to cast sorceries or creatures if you’re already in combat, as you’ll need to move to your second main phase to be able to cast those, and mana leaves your mana pool whenever you move through a step in your turn.
  • You can get around Lier, Disciple of the Drowned making all spells uncounterable if you need to by bouncing or destroying your Lier. You can even do this in response to your counter spell resolving if you need to cast the counter from your graveyard before getting rid of Lier, just remember to hold full control.  

CONCLUSION:

Jeskai Combo is an excellent metagame call if you expect to face lots of midrange decks, and while it’s not positioned too well for ladder play because of the multitude of aggressive decks, Jeskai Combo is a great choice for tournaments. Just make sure you get enough reps in with the deck, as it is tricky to pilot. 

You can find me on Twitter and the MTG Arena ladder. Thank you so much for reading, good luck in your games, and may your turn-four kills be plentiful. 

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Omrithopter
Omrithopter

Omri Khaykovich is a 17-year-old MTGA grinder whose competitive interest in Magic sparked in 2019. He's played every format on Arena competitively, and is getting into Pioneer and Modern so he can play in RCQs. Omri is one of the youngest players ever to hit #1 Mythic, and loves to share his knowledge about his favorite decks with others.

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