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Thread: Jeskai Stoneblade

  1. #1
    Mr. Safety's Avatar
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    Nov 2010

    New Gloucester, Maine, USA


    Jeskai Stoneblade

    I have put together a theoretical list for Jesakai Stoneblade, should Stoneforge Mystic be unbanned at the next announcement (8/26/19.) I think the odds are decent given the feel-bad of having to ban Hogaak so soon, a card that was obviously a mistake. I think a consolation prize of getting SFM is possible, my gut saying greater than 50% chance it enters the format (especially considering the new Swords printed like Truth and Justice/Sinew and Steel.)

    For how I like to play magic, I want to maximize the powerful synergy of SFM into inevitability. I think the 2 equipments that will be auto-include are Batterskull and Sword of Fire and Ice. Sword of Feast and Famine is likely the next best sword, especially considering the recent uptick in Jund. The 3rd equipment I think will be very good is Basilisk Collar. It gives a mid-range deck an efficient way to grind out games and make combat miserable. Grim Lavamancer is a pretty cool combo with Collar, and I think some number of sideboarded Izzet Staticaster would be ok.

    Using legacy Stoneblade as a template is a good start, but not strictly transferrable. We don't have Force of Will or Brainstorm so we will have to make do with other options. Serum Visions and Opt are the best cantrips, but I'm not sure which one to favor. I think at least 6 is warrented. I'm starting with a 4/2 split of Opt/Visions, just so I can keep up Bolt/Spell Snare/Opt in the early turns because t1 threats aren't a focus. Countermagic will likely be a mix of Spell Snare, Mana Leak, Spell Pierce, Remand, Logic Knot, and Cryptic Command. Cryptic on the upper end will be a little hard to support given the nature of wanting more gas instead of too much at the top end. I am thinking 20-22 lands, not the 24+ usually needed to support a full set of Cryptics.

    Creatures are pretty easy to narrow down: Batterskull and Snapcaster Mage are auto include. From there I want a couple Grim Lavamancers and at least 1 Vendilion Clique. The closest True Name Nemesis variant I can think of is Geist of Saint Traft, which I think could be very good given the amount of cheap removal the deck can play. Restoration Angel could make it's way into the deck, but I'm not sure just yet.

    Other cardsto consider: Lightning Helix, Electrolyze, Blessed Alliance, Fact or Fiction, Field of Ruin, Narset, Parter of Veils, Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods, Sunbaked Canyon. I will add to the list as other suggestions get mentioned.

    To summarize: why play Jeskai Stoneblade? Stoneforge Mystic is a powerful threat with inherent card advantage, something that gives inevitability to a UWx mid-range strategy. It has the best unconditional one mana removal (Path to Exile), lets you play Lightning Bolt for reach, and lets you play Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi, Time Raveler. If SFM is unbanned it will bring back Jeskai Mid-Range in a big way, and in my opinion it will supplant some amount of UW Control as a different option for playing 'good stuff' blue strategies in Modern.

    Starting list:

    4x Stoneforge Mystic
    2x Grim Lavamancer
    3x Snapcaster Mage
    3x Geist of Saint Traft

    4x Lightning Bolt
    3x Path to Exile
    3x Lightning Helix
    4x Opt
    2x Serum Visions
    4x Mana Leak
    2x Spell Snare
    1x Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1x Teferi, Time Raveler
    1x Batterskull
    1x Sword of Fire and Ice
    1x Basilisk Collar

    4x Flooded Strand
    3x Scalding Tarn
    1x Arid Mesa
    2x Hallowed Fountain
    2x Steam Vents
    1x Sacred Foundry
    2x Spirebluff Canal
    1x Seachrome Coast
    2x Island
    1x Plains
    1x Mountain
    1x Field of Ruin

    1x Vendilion Clique
    2x Alpine Moon
    2x Surgical Extraction
    2x Rest in Peace
    2x Wear/Tear
    1x Path to Exile
    2x Anger of the Gods
    1x Engineered Explosives
    2x Force of Negation

    Thanks for reading, I hope this happens! I don't have blue duals for Legacy but I am all tooled-up for modern. This would let me play that kind of strategy in Modern.
    I am counted amongst legions of the unrighteous
    who dread not being immersed in pits of fire

  2. #2
    Here I Rule!!!!!!!!!!
    Phoenix Ignition's Avatar
    Join Date

    Oct 2008

    North Central CA


    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I just don't see SFM getting unbanned, despite my love for the card in older formats I think it'd be bad for Modern. Kind of like Deathrite Shaman.

    1. It warps the format around it. Why play any 2-drop creature other than SFM when it can hunt for either a giant uncounterable beater or the exact Sword of X and Y that crushes your current matchup? Literally every midrange deck will *need* to play this because there just isn't another 2-drop that is more threatening. Grabbing up uncounterable equipment is going to outclass normal creatures by a wide margin.

    2. It guarantees a 4/4 lifelinker by turn 3 for every midrange/control deck. If you're on the play, that means you can block any 2-drop your opponent plays with a 4/4 lifelinker that can be recast if needed. sligh/burn decks would have to adopt maindeck artifact hate for this card, but the decks playing it won't even be playing other artifacts so it isn't something that helps their gameplan against the midrange or control deck they're playing against. Also, perhaps even more importantly, it pretty much negates the drawbacks of shocklands in Modern, something that keeps 4-color good stuff decks being the best (homogenizing the format due to their lack of drawbacks). Against any non-burn deck you can just crack yourself with a fetch for 3 life each turn and still pull out ahead.

    3. There really isn't an effective way to stop the Stoneforge strategy. Killing it still nets them +1 toolbox card. Karn, the Great Creator doesn't shut it off from being a 4/4 immediately. Artifact hate will put you behind by at least a 1/2 creature if not completely blanked by them just bouncing Batterskull. Playing even more niche answers like new Ashiok to stop them from grabbing an artifact still puts you behind because you're playing bad cards to stop 3-4 cards in their deck. It does the best thing a 2-drop can do and it doesn't have an effective answer.

    Sure, it doesn't seem stronger than stuff like Hogaak or Arclight Phoenix, but people paint a false picture when they try to compare utility cards to payoff cards. Deathrite Shaman isn't as good as Hogaak either, but I don't think many people argue that DRS needs to stay banned because everyone knows it goes straight into any B or G deck that already exists.

  3. #3
    Mr. Safety's Avatar
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    Nov 2010

    New Gloucester, Maine, USA


    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I can see your points, but I've seen some (limited) testing done on SCG live coverage where they test it out. Spoiler: SFM is way too slow to keep up with the current top decks. That isn't a data point, just an anecdote really, but I honestly don't think SFM would warp the format. I think some of the cards in Modern Horizons/War of the Spark are way more powerful, not even including Hogaak. The power level of Modern has been boosted to a level it hasn't seen in a long time. I look at Karn, the Great Creator and that card is way more powerful than Stoneforge Mystic, same with Urza and Wrenn and Six. I see SFM on that same level, not better or worse.

    I know this isn't a great argument, but the answers to SFM have gotten a lot better since the beginning of modern. Kolaghan's Command, Assassin's Trophy, Fatal Push, and Collector Ouphe all come to mind quickly.

    I'm not sure if SFM will get unbanned, but I think this is about as close as we'll ever get to seeing it unabanned. We've also seen a trend of unbannings over the past couple years that have really shaken up the format but not broken it: Bitterblossom, Bloodbraid Elf, and Jace the Mind Sculptor.

    I also see the opportunity to test it like they did with Golgari Grave Troll: unban it, see what happens, ban it again if it becomes too oppressive.

    If nothing else, it was a fun exercise in theoretical deckbuilding. SFM singlehandedly establishes viable white-splashed mid-range variants. I think the more viable mid-range decks get in modern, the better.
    I am counted amongst legions of the unrighteous
    who dread not being immersed in pits of fire

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