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Thread: Jeskai Stoneblade

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    Jeskai Stoneblade

    Stoneblade variants are popping up everywhere with the B&R announcement that occurred on 8/26/19. It seems like an early front-runner is strict UW, but plenty of Jeskai lists have popped up as well. This thread is to discuss Jeskai in particular until a clear best version is established.

    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.

    Updated list 9/20:

    4x Stoneforge Mystic
    3x Snapcaster Mage
    3x Geist of Saint Traft
    2x Restoration Angel

    4x Lightning Bolt
    3x Path to Exile
    4x Lightning Helix
    4x Opt
    4x Remand
    2x Spell Snare
    1x Spell Pierce
    1x Teferi, Time Raveler
    1x Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1x Batterskull
    1x Sword of Fire and Ice

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

    Sideboard
    2x Alpine Moon
    1x Celestial Purge
    2x Spreading Seas
    2x Relic of Progenitus
    1x Rest in Peace
    2x Wear/Tear
    1x Detention Sphere
    1x Engineered Explosives
    1x Vendilion Clique
    2x Stony Silence


    Thanks for reading! Metagame is a big mess at the moment, but the cards seem good together.

    Update 8/30: the more I think about it, the better Clique/Resto get with equipment. It means I can't squeeze in Cryptic, but I think Resto and Jace will be better overall for the equipment plan. Electrolyze, the maindeck Jace, the 2nd Spell Snare are all flex spots currently.

    Update 9/3: I have a 1K coming up on 9/14, the list has been settled for now. Resto over Cryptic, Remand gives velocity, Dispel is live in over 50% of matchups, and I don't feel like I can handle maindeck Field of Ruin. I'm boarding 1 for Tron, Valakut, Amulet Titan, and Infect. I want my mana to consistently give me the colors I need, especially with the difficult casting costs.

    Update 9/20: This is a great list posted by 'xkeeperx ' that displays the Spell Queller/Teferi synergy. It's actually more prevalent than my 'niche' list above, so it's here for reference.

    1 Batterskull
    1 Sword of Feast and Famine
    4 Snapcaster Mage
    4 Spell Queller
    4 Stoneforge Mystic
    2 Vendilion Clique
    1 Abrade
    4 Lightning Bolt
    3 Lightning Helix
    2 Mana Leak
    3 Opt
    3 Path to Exile
    1 Spell Snare
    2 Spell Pierce
    2 Celestial Colonnade
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    1 Plains
    1 Sacred Foundry
    4 Scalding Tarn
    2 Spirebluff Canal
    2 Steam Vents
    1 Seachrome Coast
    3 Teferi, Time Raveler

    1 Sword of Fire and Ice
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    2 Geist of Saint Traft
    2 Alpine Moon
    1 Abrade
    1 Ceremonious Rejection
    3 Force of Negation
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Celestial Purge
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
    Last edited by Mr. Safety; 09-20-2019 at 07:25 AM.
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  2. #2
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    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.

    Reasoning:
    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.

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    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.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Called it! Stoneforge incoming!
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I think mantis rider or young pyromancer may be a better option than geist. I love geist, but i'm not sure it will be good. The format will be shaken up, big time.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    How about Monastery Mentor? Seems like it'd do well in here without even having to build around it.

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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Ignition View Post
    How about Monastery Mentor? Seems like it'd do well in here without even having to build around it.
    Another great option! My main concern is that i want good targets for equips. I want Geist to be good, but i don't know how the format will shake out. Mentor seems very good but i think geist has a small edge in speed without relying on casting a lot of spells. Its close, and the deciding factor for now is hexproof on geist.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    That's fair, although in testing last night I found that pretty much 100% of the time you want Batterskull right away from SFM trigger and don't need an equip target with it. Late game you'll likely be equipping a lot more, so Geist would be good then (and not insta dead to spot removal).

    I want to say Basilisk Collar is too cute even with Grim Lavamancer and that a 2nd Sword of X&Y would be better in that slot if you really wanted the third equip. You've got Path for big guys and burn for small guys so I just don't see that being the thing you SFM up.

    I'm going to try brewing a Jeskai Stoneblade list this week too, I've been wanting to cast Lighting Bolts for a long time.

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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Ignition View Post
    That's fair, although in testing last night I found that pretty much 100% of the time you want Batterskull right away from SFM trigger and don't need an equip target with it. Late game you'll likely be equipping a lot more, so Geist would be good then (and not insta dead to spot removal).

    I want to say Basilisk Collar is too cute even with Grim Lavamancer and that a 2nd Sword of X&Y would be better in that slot if you really wanted the third equip. You've got Path for big guys and burn for small guys so I just don't see that being the thing you SFM up.

    I'm going to try brewing a Jeskai Stoneblade list this week too, I've been wanting to cast Lighting Bolts for a long time.
    I tend to agree about Collar; noticeably absent in my list is also flyers. That's why I was thinking about Mantis Rider. I'll cut the collar and get some more gas in there, probably more Serum Visions. Collar can be a sideboard card, or it might get dropped completely. I think Sword of Feast and Famine has got to be priority #1 for my list. I don't have one, but I need it. If Collar isn't good, I'm not sure how good Grim Lavamancer is. It gives reach but doesn't equip well. Maybe just getting a couple Restoration Angels into the deck would be better.

    I am also curious how good Electrolyze will be in the upcoming format. I always loved the card advantage of it. I'm also looking at maindeck Narset and potentially Jace; a slower format rewards powerful planeswalkers.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I don't want electrolyze, but i've seen some lists using Restoration Angel. It takes the cryptic slots, but may be better. It reads: counter target removal spell, put a 3/4 flyer onto the battlefield. Jeskai is naturally more aggressive than other UWx variants so I am leaning towards angel.

    Remand has been very good in limited testing. The added velocity really helps to hit land drops and feed me burn spells.

    Spellstutter Sprite is on my list to test as well. Lavaman is going to the sideboard, along with Clique.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Any consideration to going the direction of Jeskai Saheeli? The core of the deck is very similar, but you have the "copy cat" combo to just win. Teferi, Time Raveler is a solid edition that makes executing the combo much safer.

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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainTwiddle View Post
    Any consideration to going the direction of Jeskai Saheeli? The core of the deck is very similar, but you have the "copy cat" combo to just win. Teferi, Time Raveler is a solid edition that makes executing the combo much safer.
    Just spitballing here, I don't have any experience with the Copy Cat deck.

    I think a deck like that could be very good, similar to Tarmo-Twin in the old days where you threatened a combo but could win with a fair beats/tempo plan. Another very good addition to that deck is Force of Negation, not because you can protect your sorcery speed combo with it (I know it isn't possible) but because you're not worried about the card disadvantage; you just kill them. My desired approach, for now, is to have a Stoneblade deck that is more aggressive and efficient than pure UW, focusing on velocity and tempo rather than locking games up with PW's. I don't know if that is correct or not, but it's what I'm trying to accomplish.

    I think to include Saheeli and the cat (can't remember the name) will have to take up 7-8 slots. Then you have at least 6-7 slots dedicated to a stoneforge package. You're at 15 slots to kill them, with plenty of room for other PW's disruption. I think it's doable for sure. I think cards like Snapcaster Mage and Jace have to be cut in order to make sure there are still slots dedicated to early disruption, otherwise you'll be dead before you can leverage SFM or the combo.

    Cool idea. I don't know how good it would be but it's definitely innovative.

    EDIT: just to add to the general conversation, I don't know why people are trying to cram so many 4 drops into their Stoneforge decks (at the expense of cantrips or early disruption.) I see decks with 7-8 4-drops (Jace, Cryptic, Verdict, Resto) where I think the most you want to jam in is maybe 3-4. The format didn't magically become 2 turns slower where you have time to play those cards in big numbers. Granted I'm playing cantrips and fewer lands, but I think the principal still applies to decks sporting 24 lands. I still think modern is rooted more in efficiency than power level.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I think a deck like [Jeskai Saheeli] could be very good, similar to Tarmo-Twin in the old days where you threatened a combo but could win with a fair beats/tempo plan.
    This is very much the case. After playing around with one of the 5-0 lists from a recent deck dump, I like it quite a bit. Also, not that it comes up often, but I really like that the inclusion of the Stoneforge package means that Saheeli Rai can be used to copy equipment for a powered up attack.

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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I played in a 1k this past weekend, got 9th out of 38 players. The list i played was the one in the OP. I have since made some changes, but overall it was a powerful strategy. I missed top 8 by losing to Jund in the 5th round (6 rounds total.) More detailed report to come soon.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Tournament report for September 14th, 2019, playing Jeskai Stoneblade. Total of 38 players, 6 rounds of swiss, cut to top 8. I ended up going 4-2, missing top 8 in the 5th round. My tiebreakers were good, placing me at 9th. List is in OP.

    R1 - Hardened Scales

    In both games I stabilized well on board and in life total but eventually losing to Inkmoth Nexus both games. I made a sideboarding error by not bringing in Field of Ruin and Alpine Moon. I boarded in Stony Silence, Wear/Tear, and Rest in Peace taking out Remand, Dispel, and Jace. 0-2

    Record 0-1

    R2 - Grixis Control w/Thing in the Ice

    G1 I resolve a Stoneforge, it draws out lots of effort, resolve Geist, win with burn.
    G2 goes much the same, this time a little more back & forth, eventually landing a SoFI and flashing in a Resto and finishing up. 2-0

    Record 1-1

    R3 - Burn

    G1 ends up being fairly close, but I resolve a Batterskull just in time at 2 life. He has 2 attackers but no way to deal with the Skull. I jump right back into the game and get there.
    G2 is not nearly as close and I end up stabilizing at 8 life, I draw hot as hell. 2-0

    Record 2-1

    R4 - Niv-Mizzet

    G1 Is a grinder, but I land a Jace on an empty board with my opponent at 3 life. Brainstorm twice for a couple burn spells and finish off.
    G2 is another grindy game, but I am able to play around Assassin's Trophy and Izzet Charm because Serum Visions is feeding me the perfect mix of lands and spells. I wasn't sure about how to approach the matchup, but it doesn't seem to favor Niv-Mizzet. 2-0

    Record 3-1

    R5 - Jund

    This is my win-and-in for top 8, and I'm feeling good. I've won my last 6 games, so I'm feeling like the deck is great. G1 I get there on the back of a t3 Geist of Saint Traft. I did it in the blind, hoping my opponent didn't have a follow up Liliana. He doesn't, I bolt his face to win.
    G2 I end up way overvaluing Wrenn and double bolt it to clear it off the table, likely costing me the game. I play a t2 SFM, it gets killed, I follow up with a t3 SFM but he top-decks a Bolt. The equipment makes it on board but he cascades BBE into KCommand.
    G3 goes much the same as g2 with me holding parity but getting blown out by BBE into Liliana. Follow up Scooze just pushes me over the edge.

    I boarded lightly in this matchup, only bringing in a couple Relics. Moving forward I think jund will be a fairly popular/good deck. I plan on adding in Spreading Seas x2, Celestial Purge x1 into the sideboard and cutting a maindeck card for a Search for Azcanta. I think SfA should be very good at keeping up with Jund while providing an extra land to help hard-cast Batterskull or play+equip SoFI. I definitely need the Sword of Feast and Famine for this matchup, It's priority #1.

    R6 - Dredge

    I am about 98% sure I don't have a chance for top 8, but I play hard just in case. My breakers are good. I get t2 SFM in both games, don't see a single grave hate, but outgrind Dredge the old fashioned way. The matchup felt really, really good. Dredge is just too slow now to leverage the graveyard into wins. G2 was a little closer, he has lethal (theoretically) on board with 2 Bloodghasts and a Conflagrate for 8 (I'm at 11) but I have an untapped Geist to block and Path in hand for one of the Bloodghasts. He's at 3 life, Ghasts can't block, My SFM + Snapcaster mini-beats would kill him on the crack back.

    Final Record 4-2, tie-breakers put me in 9th. Jund player was a good friend of mine, he ends up getting 3rd place.

    Pros - this deck is fundamentally sound, a more aggressive approach to Stoneblade that rewards you with Helix, Geist, and great tempo plays. Dispel was a disappointment, it should have been Spell Pierce. Mana Leak was also mediocre. Geist was amazing, all the burn/removal was very good, and I plan on tweaking to further adapt to the metagame. It's good against Dredge, Burn, and most creature-based decks (including the combos.)

    Cons - I didn't play against Tron, but I think that matchup is going to be tougher without maindeck Field of Ruin/Ghost Quarter. I also need to shore up the Jund matchup with my sideboard. Serum Visions is a more powerful card than Opt but much more awkward. I'm making the swap so I can leave up Bolt/Snare/Pierce on the draw.

    Final notes: I didn't win any die-rolls all day, so the majority of my wins were on the draw. I think that's a really good sign considering the deck gets even better on the play with Remand. I love the deck, will be playing it moving forward with some tweaks.

    -4 Serum Visons
    +4 Opt

    -2 Mana Leak
    -1 Dispel
    +1 Remand
    +1 Search For Azcanta
    +1 Spell Pierce

    Sideboard

    -2 Grim Lavamancer
    +2 Spreading Seas

    -1 Field of Ruin
    +1 Celestial Purge

    Also, once I get a Sword of Feast and Famine I will play it in my sideboard. I'm not sure what to cut, but I'll find a way. It's too important to leave out.

    EDIT: Seriously debating the 4th Geist, it was really good at applying pressure.
    Last edited by Mr. Safety; 09-16-2019 at 03:56 PM.
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I think I found the next card to get played in this deck. I am legit half-chub-excited about how good this card is for the tempo style I'm going for.

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  17. #17

    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    Long time lurker here - just got back into modern witht he unbanning of SFM. I played jeskai geist since innistrad came out, because bolt, geist, & snap are too much fun.

    I've been jamming a slightly more aggressive build (22 lands, no 4 mana walkers) to good success. I'm currently matched x-0 v affinity & infect (duh), 1-1 jund, 4-2 whirza, 2-0 humans, 1-0 goblins, 2-0 control, and 1-2 v tron.

    I played remand back in the day, and would consider it again now. I enjoy that manaleak counters, but the draw card and ability to spell quell later are pretty hot. Spell snare has been INSANE. Other notable changes - abrade in the maindeck (v 4th helix) has been silly good - it's the mirror breaker in g1 and randomly good in g1 v whirza, tron, infect, affinity, etc. See list below

    1 Batterskull
    1 Sword of Feast and Famine
    4 Snapcaster Mage
    4 Spell Queller
    4 Stoneforge Mystic
    2 Vendilion Clique
    1 Abrade
    4 Lightning Bolt
    3 Lightning Helix
    2 Mana Leak
    3 Opt
    3 Path to Exile
    1 Spell Snare
    2 Spell Pierce
    2 Celestial Colonnade
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    1 Plains
    1 Sacred Foundry
    4 Scalding Tarn
    2 Spirebluff Canal
    2 Steam Vents
    1 Seachrome Coast
    3 Teferi, Time Raveler

    1 Sword of Fire and Ice
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    2 Geist of Saint Traft
    2 Alpine Moon
    1 Abrade
    1 Ceremonious Rejection
    3 Force of Negation
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Celestial Purge
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar


    From my testing, geist comes out ~60% of the time, so I've left him in SB to start. I'm thinking of bringing it in MD for 1/1 clique/geist.

    Thoughts?

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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I've dropped Mana Leak entirely, Remand is just way better. Remand into threat is the nuts, it gets you so far ahead in tempo. The card draw makes sure your resources are staying stocked up. For soft counters I think Spell Pierce is decent, worth 1-2 slots between the main/side.

    I also never board out Geist, like literally never. In my recent tournament it was the best card in my deck, single-handedly winning me lots of games. People get so focused on dealing with SFM that it leaves them wide open to Geist. It's good against control decks, it's a fast clock against Tron, and helps you race Burn alongside Lightning Helix.

    I was actually fairly underwhelmed with Vendilion Clique in testing. It's good against most decks, but not fantastic. I don't play the Spell Quellers so I needed my threats to really stick, so I couldn't afford Clique's 1 toughness (dies to every removal in the format.)

    It looks like you are going with the Spell Queller/Teferi Version, which is totally fine. If you don't mind I'll post your list in the opening post so people can see that version.
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  19. #19

    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I'll totally test remand.

    Geist feel kinda blah against decks where we need to play control & aren't the aggressor & when they have dudes on the board. Think humans, coco, jund, shadow, etc. But great v control & combo. I'll keep playing with it to confirm for sure. Totally shines v burn tho.

    Yeah, please post. I love the queller version because it's SO distruptive. Queller (eat), next turn t3feri & beat, followed by queller bounce (-3 t3feri) = 3-1 (they don't get the card back) & you can quell another spell. INSANE

  20. #20
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    Re: Jeskai Stoneblade

    I posted your list in the OP, please feel free to continue contributing updates. I'll update the OP when I see it here. :)

    I agree with you about Geist vs. Aggro decks...I just haven't really played any agro matchups yet. Maybe they are just more scarce, but in every match so far Geist has been baller. Moving forward I want to incorporate Brazen Borrower, which gives me even more creature removal options to make sure geist gets through (while also providing an evasive threat.)

    I play very aggressively with my build; I have found just killing them is better than trying to hold a tenuous hold on controlling the board. I find my windows to attack, then burn them out. SFM provides the card advantage/lightning rods for their removal which opens them up to Geist beats.

    Love the discussion! Keep it rolling.
    I am counted amongst legions of the unrighteous
    who dread not being immersed in pits of fire

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