This past weekend, Team MGG’s Dan Jessup finished in the top 16 with an innovative take on Jeskai Aggro. In this article, I’ll be discussing his choices, where the deck stands, and the changes I would recommend making if you plan on taking this deck for a whirl in an even this weekend. First, let’s start with Dan’s list.

Dan Jessup – 12th Place – Columbus Modern Open

Creatures (20)
4 Goblin Guide
4 Stormchaser Mage
4 Mantis Rider
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Snapcaster Mage

Instants and Sorceries (21)
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Vapor Snag
1 Twisted Image

Lands (19)
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Arid Mesa
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Steam Vents
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Mountain
1 Island

Sideboard (15)
2 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Surgical Extraction
4 Spell Pierce
2 Path to Exile
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Gut Shot

This deck has been floating around for a while now and it’s very interesting to me because none of the non-land cards in the deck got recently printed or unbanned, which tells us that the deck is now much better positioned than it was before. However, when we look closely, we see that this deck is a product of those eight fastlands printed in Kaladesh that let it operate through the early turns without taking damage off of its lands. This deck operates by using efficient haste creatures and cheap spells to create a significant amount of tempo that allows them to get ahead and stay ahead until the game is decided. The deck is obviously very powerful when it gets to execute its game plan, but you may be wondering what happens when it faces any of the explosive, linear decks that are considered to be dominant in Modern?

The deck fly over Dredge fairly easily and use burn to close the game out, and so while an explosive draw from Dredge might get there (as it does in every matchup), the overall matchup is certainly no disaster for the Jeskai Aggro deck. Additionally, the inclusion of Vapor Snag certainly doesn’t hurt.


This deck has 4 Lightning Bolt, 4 Lightning Helix, 4 Vapor Snag, 4 Snapcaster Mage and some interesting cards in its sideboard to deal with Infect, so Jeskai Aggro definitely has a lot of play in that matchup, and I consider it to be fairly favored.

This deck also has a fairly good Tron matchup, as Tron’s important cards don’t have enough time to land and regain control in the game. Vapor Snag on Wurmcoil Engine sounds pretty good.

However, this deck is fairly poor against Burn as Eidolon of the Great Revel is very powerful and Burn is packing Lightning Bolt that kills your three-mana threats that you have been investing time and mana into. I don’t think Jeskai is a huge underdog in the matchup, but I also can’t imagine that I would want to sit down across from it round after round.

Affinity seems like potentially another hard matchup, as cards like Cranial Plating and Master of Etherium can massively swing games, and Jeskai Aggro doesn’t thrive when its removal spells are being stretched. The Jeskai deck, however, if it can be on the front foot from the early turns and make sure Jeskai remains the beatdown, its odds in this matchup improve greatly.

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Jeskai seems to also have an excellent matchup against Bant Eldrazi, as it is able to capitalize on the slow nature of Bant and as long as Jeskai doesn’t keep hands that are very weak to Thought-Knot Seer, Jeskai should be able to win a lot of the time even in the face of these big Eldrazi.

Jund seems like a close fair matchup, and I feel like I would have to give it more playtesting than I currently have done to give a concrete opinion on the nature of the matchup. However, one thing I will say is that Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is an extremely relevant card in most games, and it demands an answer whenever it is played.

Overall, Jeskai Aggro has some good matchup and some bad matchups, but the results certainly show that this deck can hang, and I believe it’s very well-positioned in this wide open Modern format. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to play a deck that has game against everything when the format has 10 or 15 viable archetypes.

The Sideboard 

I actually think that this sideboard is very close to ideal. Everything in it has a really clear purpose and I think that all of these cards are necessary. However, I would consider cutting a Path to Exile for the third copy of Gut Shot, which seems not only very strong in this deck, but is well-positioned in the format. It can be really harmful for a deck like this to be coerced by a good opponent into holding up their Path all game, because if this deck doesn’t get out in front of it’s opponent, it’s not going to be able to win the game that often. I also want to note the genius of Surgical Extraction here also being a phyrexian mana spell to contribute to “combo”-ing with the powerful prowess creatures.

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Overall, this deck could start to see more play, perhaps in the World Magic Cup this weekend. I would highly recommend you give it a try yourself, as I think it may be the answer we’ve been looking for for all of the greedy, linear decks in Modern. Try it out at your next Modern event!

Are you a Standard player looking for advice on how to build one of the best decks in the format? Read this article from Jonah Gaynor to find out his thoughts.

– Charlie Rinehart-Jones

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