Deck Highlight: Modern Jeskai Saheeli

Did you miss out on destroying your opponents with an arbitrarily large amount of cats in Standard? Well what if I told you it’s just as fun to do in Modern? Still not sold? Well don’t take my word for it, Mathias Eskildsen piloted it to a 25th place finish at GP Copenhagen.

Let’s check out his list, card considerations, and some possible tweaks to it.

Jeskai Saheeli by Mathias Eskildsen, 25th GP Copenhagen 2017

Creatures (10)
Felidar Guardian
Snapcaster Mage
Wall of Omens
Vendillion Clique
Enchantments (4)
Spreading Seas

Sorceries (6)
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict

Planeswalkers (6)
Saheeli Rai
Jace, Architect of Thought
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Instants (12)
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile
Remand

Lands (22)
Island
Mountain
Plains
Steam Vents
Hallowed Fountain
Sacred Foundry
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Celestial Colonnade
Desolate Lighthouse
Sulfur Falls

Sideboard (15)
Supreme Verdict
Dispel
Engineered Explosives
Leyline of Sanctity
Stony Silence
Wear // Tear
Blessed Alliance
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Gideon Jura
Negate
Timely Reinforcements
At it’s heart it’s a Jeskai Control deck with the Saheeli-Guardian combo built in. At first glance, the cards that stuck out the most to me were the 4 copies of Spreading Seas, but after a few rounds it was pretty clear that it’s the real deal in this deck. It’s disruptive enough against enough decks, cantrips, and synergizes with the cat very nicely.

Here’s our creature package – nothing too exciting, but all of them generate value on their own except for Felidar Guardian which only asks that we have something worth blinking when we cast it. We are also maximizing the effectiveness of Saheeli Rai – sometimes we’ll just copy Wall of Omens and draw extra cards, or make a hasty Snapcaster and flash something back. Something something all of the value.

Making copies of Vendilion Clique is also one of the cooler things I’ve done in Modern. You can really put your opponents in a bind with this card. I mean, if you want to feel gross, end-step Clique your opponent and get rid of a piece of removal, untap, make a copy of Clique with Saheeli Rai, and then take the other piece of removal before playing Felidar Guardian.

The rest of the deck is about what you’d expect from a Jeskai deck. Lightning Bolt probably isn’t as good as it usually is in the current Modern metagame but Bolt-Snap-Bolt will still close games out. Path to Exile and Serum Visions don’t require any explanation. Perhaps a different cantrip like Sleight of Hand could be more effective over Serum Visions since we’re combo-centric but I have not tried it.

After going 4-1 with it at Friday Night Magic, I deemed myself an expert and decided to make a few changes. The easy cuts for me were both the Jace, Architect of Thought and our Standard all-star Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I just didn’t ever feel like I wanted to tap out and play them, or that they were necessary.

I’m sure there’s a reason that they were included, but it was slightly beyond me.

With those two slots free, completing the playset of Snapcaster Mage and slotting in a Restoration Angel seemed like the way to go.

Restoration Angel has been a great addition so far, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite cards to play with. Unlike the rest of our creatures, it represents a very reasonable clock – after durdling a few turns with a Saheeli you can throw down an angel and then start making copies of it. Games tend to end quickly after that.

Another small change I made was dropping from 3 copies of Celestial Colonnade down to 2, and putting in a single copy of Temple of Enlightenment. I had multiple occasions where I ended up with more than one Colonnade in hand so I exchanged the creature land for a scryland and called it a day. The Lighthouse was a fine utility land as well.

For those who are on a budget and/or just don’t have access to Colonnade, you could try running Wandering Fumarole in it’s place. I’m not here trying to argue that Fumarole is on par with Colonnade, but they both die to the same removal spells, and if you were planning to hold up something like a Dispel it takes the same amount of mana as a Colonnade anyway. No flying on the Fumarole is a huge, huge loss though. I wouldn’t recommend it, but this would be my logical choice if budget or availability is an issue.

As I mentioned earlier, the Spreading Seas made me raise my eyebrows a little bit when I first looked at the decklist. But, after getting some games in , it’s easy to see why it’s in there. Because while it’s certainly not good in every matchup, very rarely would I ever say that it’s bad.

Randomly being able to take your opponents off of specific colors, or disrupt things like Tron or an Inkmoth Nexus is great. It’s also an easy card to cut when it comes to sideboarding which is a plus. Let’s also not forget we can blink it with Felidar Guardian and draw more cards while also reattaching it to a more appropriate target later on in the game.

Other Considerations

There’s a few other cards that we could potentially slot into this deck – again, I want to preface this by saying that I haven’t done any substantial testing with these cards but they all seem like reasonable choices.

I think both of these cards could be played and this deck wouldn’t miss a beat. Mana Leak is a card that I really, really wanted on multiple occasions when playing with the deck, but that may be personal bias of mine. That being said, this deck really wants a hard counterspell sometimes and Mana Leak is more than good enough to get the job done.

Spell Queller falls into that same sort of category, but it’s quite a bit more fragile and isn’t ever really a hard counter (technically it’s possible but that seems shady if we are Path/Bolting our own team, usually). At one point I had a few in the sideboard, but I didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to bring in more creatures to battle on the stack more effectively, especially when our opponents should be bringing in ways to interact with the threat of being combo’d out. If Quellers were to make it to the maindeck, I would suspect it would be as a 1 or 2-of.

Lightning Helix, along with Electrolyze in particular has seen an uptick in play with the straight Jeskai Control lists, with the thought process being it needs a little more card draw because they often need to use a Lightning Bolt in conjunction to trade with larger threats. I can’t imagine a world where any Jeskai list would be unhappy with a little more burn and a little more card draw. Helix is probably best relegated to the sideboard, but again I don’t think it would be too big of a reach to run it main.

The issue with adding any of these cards though, is making room for them. What do we cut? The safest cut is probably something like Spreading Seas and replacing it with Mana Leak as they’re both the same CMC and serve to disrupt our opponents, albeit in completely different ways, but then we lose out on synergy with Felidar Guardian. Maybe we can drop some of the synergies of the deck and be a little less greedy.

Here’s what I’ve settled on for my personal list.

Jeskai Saheeli v2

Lands (22)
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Steam Vents
Hallowed Fountain
Sacred Foundry
Island
Mountain
Plains
Celestial Colonnade
Temple of Enlightenment
Sulfur Falls
Desolate Lighthouse

Creatures (12)
Felidar Guardian
Snapcaster Mage
Wall of Omens
Restoration Angel
Vendilion Clique

Instants & Sorceries (18)
Path to Exile
Lightning Bolt
Remand
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict
Enchantments (4)
Spreading Seas

Planeswalkers (4)
Saheeli Rai

Sideboard (12)
Lightning Helix
Blessed Alliance
Izzet Staticaster
Negate
Surgical Extraction
Engineered Explosives
Wear // Tear
Ceremonious Rejection
You’ll notice I only have 12 cards listed for the sideboard, that’s because I think Modern is really wide open as to how people can handle sideboards, so use those flex slots for whatever you feel and tailor it to your local meta. These are just the dozen or so cards that I’ve found really useful.

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for today. This is probably my new pet deck for the time being and I just wanted to talk a little bit about it is all. If anyone has any suggestions or maybe something I’ve overlooked, we love hearing feedback.

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Dennis Klicker

Dennis Klicker played his first sanctioned game of Magic: the Gathering when Fate Reforged had just entered Standard and he never looked back. He’s also a sad Minnesota sports fan and avid supporter of KFAN sports radio.

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