After testing this Jeskai Powerstone Shell for about a week in the play queue I can say that it is overall pretty powerful already. The maybeboard contains more inspiration for people who want to try the deck out while swaping and going as they like. Feedback on card choices woud help me improve the deck obviously as i think this is actually a potential player.
The Basic Idea:
We control the early game all the while ramping thanks to powerstone producing removal that we can play in these color combinations (i. e. excavation explosion, static net and the might-weakstone). The deck uses this situational mana to ramp out powerful artifacts (cityscape leveler and portal to phyrexia) or activated abilities (reckoner bankbuster, surge engine and urza, lord protector)
Excavation explosion. Deals 3 damage to any target and produces a powerstone. As long as the opponent provides us with a target this card is no joke. And if they don't we board in wedding announcements or else and play a little more proactive instead (those opponents tend to go big).
Static net. Is an universal exile removal that also gains 2 life and produces a powerstone. You cannot go wrong with this one too much. The biggest downside is that the opponent can remove this card to unleash what has been contained. In my experience this does not tend to be that big of a deal though (just be aware of invoke despair, farewell and be careful when you pack away planeswalker or any card with a powerful ETB). Overall this card reminds me of Binding the old gods, whose playability in standard depended on the availability of ramp payoffs.
Mightstone and Weakstone is an incredibly powerful ramp card. It gives 2 Power instantly (to use with surge engine or bankbuster for example), it draws 2 cards or it kills sth. big. Occasionally it enables the deck to meld Urza into the best Planeswalker ever printed. I am contemplating playing the full 4 of this legendary card. Playing the second copy only costs 3 mana anyways. Accordingly it acts as a 3 mana draw 2 (divination) or a kill spell (kind of like murder) in the late game. Having multiple copies in the starting hand can be harsh though, so i hold back on the decision. Yet.
A shared commodity I like about all of the payoff cards is, that each of them is able to remove a threat when coming down. Thanks to this little trick the deck packs a great amount of tempo even when deploying expensive threats.
Cityscape Leveler. This card is pretty straightforward. A big beater that needs to be answered fast. The real punch though comes from the cast trigger and its unearth ability which makes handling this card with counterspells and most removal unadvantageous for our opponent. The cast trigger also offsets the highly mana intensive inital cost by providing immediate value and tempo. Furthermore if the card remains unanswered the continous attack triggers obviously are going to win the game sooner not later.
Portal to Phrexia. This card is a mini boardwipe that pulls creatures back from any graveyard. It is a self contained wincon and a resurrection fever dream. Unlike the Leveler this card is vulnerable to Duress, which everybody seems to run. Most targeted removal to deal with this card is just able to prevent instantly losing the game though, since the sacrifice already proved backbreaking by itself a lot of the time. Be aware of the high mana cost and some particularly bad matchups for the card (opponents without creatures or with an excessive amount of graveyard hate. Especially farewell)
Urza. The biggest upside of Urza is, that he can be deployed early to help ramp out our other cards or shield us from fable tokens or bloodtithe harvester. The cheap casting cost also helps playing around Make disappear, although in return Urza might just be killed with the meld trigger on the stack if the opponent has open mana. As with the previous payoff cards the melded planeswalker can instantly kill up to 2 permanents and win the game quickly if he remains unanswered.
Reckoner Bankbuster. The current iteration of this deck is not able to crew the Bankbuster all that often. Luckily it is exceptionally easy to activate him - even in multiples! - to gain a much needed card advantage instead thanks to all those powerstones. The difference between the games you get to play with the bankbuster and the games you do not is huge.
Surge Engine. It feels like you cannot have to many Bankbusters in this deck. Surge Engine fills a similar spot in the deck all the while synergizing well with the Bankbuster. While the card is not impressive on curve (if killed before you get to draw cards you are losing a lot of tempo usually), I do like to play this with 6 or more mana available or directly after playing the might- and weakstone. Overall a nice powerstone mana sink.
The mana is not great since Jeskai lacks any on color triomes. This also means that we cannot play cards like roadside reliquary or other lands that might make use of powerstone mana. To compensate I play a couple of 2 color matched triomes instead. I also opted for 26 lands, because we are a ramp deck first and for color considerations second.
Fable of the Mirror Breaker. We mostly use Fable because it can occasionally ramp us and loot bad draws away. While lacking many copy targets the Cityscape Leveler is obviously an insane nightmare copy (but no need to be greedy. It is better to threaten going to your attack step if your opponent might have removal to force him either into the attack or the copy trigger). Copying the bankbuster can also draw us more cards (best during the opponent's end step to get 2 draws out of your copy). Sadly i do not know how the interaction with surge engine works to be honest. Probably not well
Voltage Surge. Most decks are interested in a 1 mana kill spell to provide some tempo. Unlike cut down in black this one is not able to kill most creatures the Esper decks play though, unless you sacrifice an artifact (valuable powerstones for the most part, which we also only unlock later in the game). Against Grixis it is also slightly worse than having flame-blessed bolt for the benefit of exiling. However it is still the obvious main-deck choice, if we consider our obliviousness of what the opponent is going to play. Voltage surge is always good against aggro, still pretty good against grixis and in the worst case it eventually can find a target if 'kicked' in a prelonged game.
Destroy Evil. This card complements our excavation explosion quite well, since it hits all creatures that explosion cannot kill. It also hits enchantments like wedding announcement at instant speed. Overall the combo of 4+ thoughness killer and 3 damage burn spell is not ideal but it is something we can work with.
Make Disappear and Negate. Those are our counterspells of choice. We need to hit cards like Farewell and we also like to hit cards like fable on curve. We cannot sacrifice many creatures to casualty our make disappear so the card becomes worse in slower matchups. On the other side our ramp strategy forces opponents to play into our counterspells quite frequently. As a fair bit of warning I should mention that all of our ramp-removal cards are sorcery speed. This makes playing the deck well quite skill intensive.
The sideboard contains some cards I have already mentioned in the mainboard and some spicy new ones in addition to that.
Brotherhood's End / Burn Down the House. Those are my boardwipes of choice, in part because planeswalkers are the biggest pain in the a.. for a deck that does not pack a lot of creatures and cannot crew the bankbuster well either. Maybe some more copies of Burn down the house or even temporal firestorm could be reasonable, since 5 damage hits more cards than 3 and the deck already has a lot of small sized burn spells. I really want at least 2 brotherhood's end against aggro though. It is also a backbreaking effect for the Anvil players alas somewhat symmetrical then.
Flame-blessed bolt. Some more 2 mana burn against all types of aggro and also against Tenacious underdog and Grixis in general (Corpse Appraiser). I do not think playing more copies of Voltage Surge is reasonable, since it's additional value quickly falls of if drawn in multiples.
Loran. Currently my first card choice against pesky artifacts and enchantments. It seems good against Grixis (kill fable, block goblin, sacrifice to invoke despair later on). Obviously Cathar commando and abrade are instant speed alternatives that i might come back to (Cathar commando can crew the bankbuster and therefore ambush a lot of creatures and abrade complements destroy evil well. And even though we already play a lot of 3 damage burn abrade is a good card to have around against aggro decks, too).
Wedding Announcement. A bit of transformational game plan. If i have to board out excavation explosion or maybe even some of the big artifacts I usually want to bring in some cheap value card. It has no real synergy, but it produces a lot of value on its own. I could see an argument being made for playing wandering emperor or some other planeswalker like tezzeret instead, since those diversify our value threats a lot better.
Hearse. Good against haughty djinn and other graveyard synergistic decks. Might run a second copy if that comes up more often in the future again.
Disdainful stroke. Mostly against creature based big stuff decks that I cannot cover with negate already. Stroke is generally worse than make disappear though unless the matchup is super slow.
Notable omissions (other strong cards/ Maybeboard):
Lets talk about the cards in the Maybeboard that I haven't already mentioned (or are not just additional copies of decked cards).
Tezzeret. Plays well with bankbuster and surge engine, but does not ramp us into our payoffs like the current main deck cards do. I saw a dimir decklist with 4 copies of Tezz and tried that one and an azorius version I build off the idea. The problem with Tezz is, that the activated abilities are mediocre at best, while the static ability needs the mentioned artifacts to be around. Animating some powerstones is nice but generally I want to use them for mana already. The plus 1 doesnt produce card advantage. The ultimate is pretty game ending though. Overall i think bankbuster and surge engine are already good thanks to powerstones and playing Tezz only makes the deck fold against removal for those artifacts even harder.
Steel Seraph. This is a prototype Artifact that is pretty nice on curve. It might crew the bankbuster turn 3 for 4 lifelink damage for example. Sadly the 6 Mana upgrade is not worth it (and therefore does not qualify as a ramp payoff) and the overall impact is limited in a lot of situations. The card is also harder to play on turn 3 than other cards due to WW1.
Phrexian Fleshgorger. I would love to play this card as a ramp payoff since the 7 Mana version is incredible. But sadly the black prototype cost is unplayable in this deck.
Stern Lesson. Doesn't affect the board but might be a reasonable sustitute if one boards out excavation explosion. Or maybe if one just wants to play more instants. Overall i actually think this card is quite decent, its just that fable is obviously better and wedding announcement an individual player. Not sure.
Soul Partition. I like the card. Flexible EXILE removal for 2 Mana. And it can even safe our permanents. I can see the appeal but if we draw decently the other removal can cover all the cases. Unlike Azorius the Jeskai do not need it I think.
Temporal Firestorm, Depopulate, Farewell. More board wipes that cover different aspects. Farewell is the most versatile of the bunch including hitting the graveyard, while depopulate is the cheapest. It might be reasonable to play some amount of boardwipes in the main deck too.
Visions of Phyrexia. I think this is a slower might- and weakstone that also cannot meld with Urza. Sure it can be deployed a turn earlier and a mana cheaper but it needs a lot of upkeeps to produce the same impact as the Stones. The Stones might well be the strongest card in our deck, so any similar card is still interesting (well, after adding the 4. copy of the Stones I suggest). Visions being an enchantment could make it a bullet card against grixis though, since they cannot deal well with those and also do not punish durdling around as much.
Edit. Currently I play a slightly different version. I removed a surge engine for the 4th might stone in the main. In the sideboard I added 2 more wedding announcement for a full transformational option. I removed the lorans for that. Also I added an abrade and a dopopulate for burn down the house and unlicensed hearse.
Fixed a slight mistake in the mana base too. 1 more pain land total and a shuffle that distributes more untapped sources for blue on turn 2. (this distribution should mathematically result in a slightly more reliable counterspell option on turn 2 and slightly less self ping over the course of the game. Both hasn't been a problem previously though anyways)
Have fun playing everyone!
|Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (29)
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