This deck is built around what I call "The Jeskai Way".

The Jeskai Way is about attacking your opponents with stealth, cunning, and precision so that each attack is a devastating one; while playing defense only when the opponents threat matters.

The deck is really a pure form of "Tempo". I have played Tempo for some time now; and my goal was to find a way to get the early game power of a Delver-type tempo deck while still being able to win within the first few turns the opponent "turns the corner" (usually where Tempo decks lose'). The way to do this...reach....the best form of reach for a tempo deck...making your creatures unblockable. Even a board of 10 creatures can't block an unblockable creature!

In order for this to work, though. You need efficient and powerful creatures (i.e. you need to get the most "bang for your mana". Fortunately, WOTC gave us a mechanic that does just that....Prowess!! It turns 2/1's into 5/4's after a few spells (that you are going to play anyways in a tempo deck!). So let's start with the creatures...

The Creatures

Every creature in the deck is built to have synergy with the other cards in the deck. With extra benefits from each spell (through the obvious Prowess; but also in other forms) and extra reach; these creatures are meant to deal large chunks of damage when they hit while also adding extra "resource advantage":

  1. Monastery Swiftspear - The best Prowess creature out there. We've all seen how powerful this card can be with enough spells.

  2. Delver of Secrets  Flip - The single best Tempo creature there is. With enough spells and cards like Serum Visions and Telling Time; most games you are going to get a 3/2 flyer for a single blue mana.

  3. Geist of Saint Traft - 6 damage for 3-mana is amazing efficiency; and hexproof to keep him alive...the only downside is that he can be blocked and killed by a 2/2 or why not take that away and make him unblockable!

  4. Abbot of Keral Keep - This new Origins addition is super efficient. In 90% of games he is a 2/1 prowess creature that says "draw a card". With cards like Gitaxian Probe, Serum Visions, and Telling Time a huge portion of the "variance" of his draw ability is mitigated. He also helps you from getting land screwed.

  5. Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest - One of our finishers in the right meta's. I have had more games won by dealing 10 - 16 damage with Shu Yun...he can give anyone double strike; and ensures that in late game situations you have places to utilize your mana.

  6. Restoration Angel - I discuss this a little later in this "write up"; but a lot of the cards in the deck have multiple uses. Resto Angel is a great example of this in a card. She can be used to protect a creature (via flash and bouncing a creature being targeted with removal), can be used to re-trigger an ETB effect (for Snapcaster Mage, Abbott of Keral Keep mainly), and is a 3/4 Flying body for 4 (when pumped with Slayer's Stronhold it's a pretty quick clock)...Simply put, she's amazing in a tempo deck.

All of the creatures (a) work better with a deck full of spells and (b) deal huge chunks of damage when they get through, and/or (c) offer multiple uses in a single body (protection of others, recursion of another spell, drawing cards, digging for lands, etc.). Together they become better than the sum of their parts with the correct set of spells.

Which leads us to which spells work best with them.

The Spells

The spells are basically broken down into a few categories...Evasion package, counter package, burn package, and filtering package.

Evasion Package

These are the most important spells. They are the spells that allow our creatures to get through a wall of creatures and deal their damage. They also serve as a means to protect our creatures defensively and of course trigger Prowess. They are.

Another important aspect about these spells is that they are REBOUND.

This means they will trigger prowess twice and work on two different turns. This is a TON of value for the mana.

Counter Package

While are not a control deck, we do want to counter anything that is either vitally important to our opponent or will devastate our opponent. When we cast a counterspell, it really hurts :) We really only need to buy a turn our two defensively; which lends itself to these efficient counters:

A lot of our counters effectively work as Time Walks. A Remand on turn two, Spell Pierce on wrath, etc. We often put our opponents in a position where they HAVE to play removal, a board wipe, a counter, etc. just to survive; and when we can turn around and negate that for or (in the case of Emerge Unscathed it can be extremely hard for the opponent to bounce back.

Burn Package

In many games, all we will need to do to finish the opponent off is that last few points of damage. This one is pretty simple; as we basically use the most efficient spells of all time (in terms of life point swing per mana):

I can't count the games that were won going "Bolt, Bolt" or "Bolt, Helix", or simply "Boros for 4..." The added level of reach can't be replicated any more efficiently. Also, these spells also follow the "multiple uses" synergy discussed below (as they can be used for removal

Filtering Package

And finally, the card filtering. Any good Tempo deck is going to play filtering spells; but this deck gets an even bigger bump because of both Prowess triggering on each spell; but also due to the card advantage that can be generated by Abbot of Keral Keep and Snapcaster Mage. The filtering spells we use are:

Synergy - Lessening Downsides & Multiple Uses

One of the most important aspects of this deck is that the combination of the cards makes each card more powerful. The sum is truly greater than the parts. It is not just a 'good stuff" deck. The cards actually work together to (a) reduce any "downsides" any of the cards may have and/or (b) to better take advantage of abilities (like prowess, etc.).

Here are just a few examples:

  • Geist of Saint Traft's biggest weakness is that it has to attack to get the 4/4; but it it easy to chump block at only 2/2. Making it unblockable (or pro-whatever color you need for your opponent's creatures) means it essentially becomes a 3-drop hexproof, unblockable, 6/6 FOR TWO STRAIGHT TURNS. That is a huge clock that is extremely difficult to remove (thanks to hexproof). This is a perfect deck for Geist of Saint Traft.

  • Abbot of Keral Keep 's ability is amazing; but the downside is that in most Jeskai or Izzet decks you don't want to hit counters or spells of 3-CMC or greater (i.e. non-pro-active spells.). This deck only runs a few, very efficient counters (remember, you have until the end of the turn to play them); and the curve is very low. This again, is the perfect environment for such a card.

  • Kiln Fiend's biggest downsides are that he can be killed easily and that he can be chump blocked. With protection like Emerge Unscathed and Boros Charm (as well as simply Spell Pierce-ing or Remand-ing removal) along with Distortion Strike ...this is one of the few decks where Kiln Fiend can both live multiple turns and guarantee his often 9+ power gets through.

A further synergy in the deck is that many of the cards can be used in multiple different situations for different reasons. The classic example of this is Lightning Bolt (can go to the face or be used as removal); however in this deck there are many more, including:

  • Emerge Unscathed can be used to protect a creature from removal or to make a creature unblockable.

  • Boros Charm can be used to deal 4-damange, protect one or more of our creatures, OR to buff a creature while giving it double strike.

  • Remand can be used to counter an opponent's spell or two recur one to our hand if being countered.

  • Abbot of Keral Keep can be used simply as a 2/1 prowess body, to dig for lands, or to hit a spell set up with one of our "filter" spells.

  • Restoration Angel can be used to protect another creature form removal by bouncing them, can re-trigger Abbott or Snapcaster's ETB abilities, and/or to create a 3/4 flying body!

  • Chandra, Pyromaster (who comes in in a majority of games 2 and 3) can be used to make your creature unblockable or can be used to "draw a card". She can also be used simply to ping the opponent for the last few poitns of damage you need.

There are many such interactions in the deck that in sum give us the ability to play proactively while also playing our deck based on the opponent's actions.

Land Base & Incremental Advantage

The land base is a relatively simple Jeskai base; however I can't say enough about the utility lands. In this case we use Slayers' Stronghold and Faerie Conclave. These give us that little bit of reach we may not have each game and just give us that much more "resource advantage" (can never have enough).

These lands, however, are great representations of another aspect of this deck that is not easy to see; but one that certainly adds up....Incremental Card Advantage.

This deck (and a vast majority of our decks) are built on the idea that if you play more "actions" or "spells" than your opponent, you most likely will win the match. This deck does this through Incremental Advantage.

Many of the cards in this deck are more than a single spell. They may not be a full card of advantage...some may only be 1/2 a card; but when added up the sum can be overwhelming. Here are a few examples:

  • Slayers Stronhold and Faerie Conclave can simply be used as mana most turns; however IF you have the extra mana and/or want the reach, buff, or haste; you have that "Spell" or "action" at the ready any time you need it. In Stronghold's case, It's as if you have a spell in your hand at all times that reads, "target creature is +2/0 and has haste and vigilance until end of turn...." This is amazingly helpful when you are top-decking in longer games.

  • The "Rebound" nature of Emerge Unscathed and Distortion Strike make it so that each card really represents approximately 1.75 cards (as some games you will win before the second copy triggers and/or the opponent may remove your creatures before the next upkeep).

  • Obviously both Snapcaster Mage and Abbot of Keral Keep represent "card advantage" in their own right simple due to recurring cards/exiling them off the top for use)

  • Prowess in and of itself is card advantage. It's as if each spell started with "creatures you control are +1/+1 until end of turn..." and it's even more with Kiln Fiend. This is not a small advantage; and only gets larger and larger with each creature on the board and/or each spell played (i.e. it "snowballs".)

  • Planeswalkers like Chandra, Pyromaster are built-in card advantage on every turn you get to trigger them! She especially is strong in this deck (although normally in games 2 and 3) because her "0" ability nearly always just acts like "Draw a Card" and the deck already takes advantage of making things unblockable (which she further aids in).

The sum of all of the cards and interactions leads to so much marginal or incremental advantage that we end up "playing" an average of two "actions" to every one our opponent makes. When this is combined with the evasion we have; the deck has the ability to win games both early and late.


This deck makes the most of my favorite cards in Modern. It uses synergy and incremental advantage to make a Tempo deck that can hit much harder than the cards would seem like they could on their own.

As always, let us know what you think! +1's are always greatly appreciated; as is constructive feedback and ideas. Thanks guys/gals!

For an even more in-depth analysis of the deck and archetype, go to:


Updates Add

For an even more in-depth analysis of the deck and archetype, go to:

Here is a link to the primer of the deck which shows the creation of the deck from the onset. I still miss my Kiln Fiend s so they may have to come back :)

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Revision 11 See all

3 years ago)

-1 Boros Charm side
+1 Mirran Crusader side