Why I Switched From Jeskai to Mardu Doom?

Raphael Levy

Raphael Levy

Introduction

Omnath, Locus of CreationWilderness ReclamationFires of Invention

Standard is in a refreshing state right now. It isn’t dominated by one-card strategies like it’s been for a while with cards like 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, 《Wilderness Reclamation》 or 《Fires of Invention》. That left the doors open for the Metagame to evolve at a “natural” pace.

Two weeks ago, I decided to play my own version of Jeskai Yorion at the first MTG Weekend League that counts towards the MPL standings this season. You can read all about it on this very site.

Vivien, Monsters' AdvocateThe Great Henge

While I did relatively well (7-5) and thought the deck was good, it felt like it was losing momentum and wasn’t good enough for the newly shaped Metagame. It wasn’t bad against the new apex predator, Gruul, but these aggro decks tended to pack more and more cards in their main deck to beat you, like 《Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate》 or 《The Great Henge》 for example.

It became obvious early in the testings that Jeskai was not the way to go for the next MTGWeekendLeague. Krowz helped me explore new possibilities.

Seeking a New Yorion

I took a look at the Jeskai list again to see what could be done differently. I realized that we only had blue for 《Omen of the Sea》. I was never a big fan of counterspells to begin with and 《Shark Typhoon》s aren’t super exciting in a world of Gruul.

Extinction Event

It became obvious that black had just a lot more to offer than blue. While I talked about how much I dislike 《Shatter the Sky》, the same isn’t true for 《Extinction Event》. One-sided Wrath effects that don’t make your opponent draw cards and exiles 《Wicked Wolf》, 《Ox of Agonas》 and 《Feasting Troll King》 are a lot more exciting.

Doom ForetoldTreacherous Blessing

Black gives you 《Doom Foretold》 and 《Treacherous Blessing》, two cards that have proven very powerful in Esper Doom and other lists of Mardu Doom.

While counterspells could easily be replaced by removal spells (《Extinction Event》 and 《Duress》 in the Sideboard), Mardu needed a way to fill the slot for the loss of 《Omen of the Sea》. Nothing is as good as the Blue Omen, but there are other two drops that cantrip: 《Golden Egg》 and 《Spare Supplies》 are fine substitutes.

Our early version didn’t have a lot of win cons. 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 and Angels from 《Emeria’s Call》 were the only threats. It turned out, you would sometimes lose what seemed to be unloseable games because it took you too long to set up a win con or they were killed repeatedly.

Archon of Sun's Grace

With Gruul starting to target each other, there was a void to exploit. 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》 was the perfect threat to win quickly and give the deck a chance to Race aggro decks without having to set up for a super long game.

Lithoform Blight

Now that we were settled on 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》, we looked into another option for the 2-drop cantrip: 《Lithoform Blight》. It was the perfect solution: it drew cards (what you want for 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》), it was an enchantment (relevant for 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》), a permanent (《Doom Foretold》) that would occasionally fix your mana or damage your opponent. Furthermore, it neutralizes your opponent’s Castles and 《Crawling Barrens》, which is far from irrelevant.

Note that it’s always a great time when your opponents don’t know the cards you’re playing!

The Birth of MeletisElspeth's Nightmare

At first, we had a few 《The Birth of Meletis》 and more 《Elspeth’s Nightmare》. I thought the 《The Birth of Meletis》 were necessary but as usual, the card just disappointed me. It’s also hard to make it work with 《Doom Foretold》.

《Elspeth’s Nightmare》 was either a hit or a miss, but mostly a miss when I played it. A delayed 《Duress》 is alright, but 3 mana is quite the price. While I don’t dislike the card, I don’t think it deserves too many slots in this deck.

Omen of the Sun

A card I really wanted to have was 《Omen of the Sun》. The deck needed ways to gain life and add pressure on the board against a slow opponent. Being able to flash more enchantments during your upkeep to sacrifice to 《Doom Foretold》 was also necessary. It makes it much harder to plan around your 《Doom Foretold》 since they don’t know if you’re to be able to sustain it or not, resulting in them either committing more to the board (and losing more permanents) or skipping their turn. I wish I played the full set though.

Mazemind Tome

《Mazemind Tome》 was a card I disliked in Azorius or Jeskai, because you had too few ways to deal with the board. With 《Extinction Event》 and 《Doom Foretold》, that’s another story. When I claim that a card “isn’t good”, put that into the right context. I heard a lot of people remind me that I claimed that card was bad. I still believe it’s not good in Azorius decks (a deck that’s extinct right now).

Emeria's Call

The same went for 《Emeria’s Call》. I hated it in Azorius, but it’s amazing in Mardu. The life loss isn’t as important here as it is in Azorius / Jeskai (since you can deal with creatures more easily), and you get to 7 mana more reliably thanks to 《Treacherous Blessing》.

Decklist: Mardu Doom

Here’s the list I ended up playing:

Sideboard Guide

Here is the sideboard guide for you:

Gruul

vs. Gruul (On the Play)

Out

Treacherous Blessing Treacherous Blessing
Omen of the Sun
Elspeth's Nightmare

In

Heartless Act Heartless Act Heartless Act
Soul Shatter

vs. Gruul (On the Draw)

Out

Treacherous Blessing Treacherous Blessing
Elspeth's Nightmare
Mazemind Tome

In

Heartless Act Heartless Act Heartless Act
Soul Shatter

This matchup should be heavily favorable. That doesn’t mean the games aren’t going to be close. You have to optimize your resources in order to not fall behind and make sure you’re not losing to their trump cards (《Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate》 and 《The Great Henge》).

Dimir Rogue

vs. Dimir Rogue

Out

Extinction Event Extinction Event Extinction Event Extinction Event
Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death
Archon of Sun's Grace

In

Duress Duress Duress Duress
Tormod's Crypt Tormod's Crypt Cling to Dust Cling to Dust
Heartless Act

This is a tough matchup. Dimir Rogues isn’t good against Gruul so you’d hope that its natural predator would keep it away.

This sideboard strategy is only against the 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 version of the deck. You’d need to add some 《Heartless Act》 to beat 《Zareth San, the Trickster》.

It’s gonna be hard for you to beat their nut draw. But they don’t always have it. The idea is to win the games where they don’t mill 15 cards on turn 3. Adding 《Heartless Act》 doesn’t really solve the late game problem of 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 and 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 since you’re not exiling the creatures when you kill them. Stick to your game plan, take care of the threats one by one in the early game, play into a big 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 turn and back it up with 《Duress》 after board.

Esper Doom

vs. Esper Doom

Out

Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace
Doom Foretold Doom Foretold Doom Foretold Doom Foretold
Extinction Event Extinction Event Extinction Event

In

Duress Duress Duress Duress
Heartless Act Heartless Act Cling to Dust Cling to Dust
Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome

+1 《Heartless Act》/+1 《Soul Shatter》 (if they play 《Dream Trawler》)

If playing against 《Dance of the Manse》:+2 《Tormod’s Crypt》/ -1 《Omen of the Forge》, -1 《Glass Casket》

Dance of the Manse

The matchup is mostly about 《Dance of the Manse》. If they’re running an Esper-like version without 《Golden Egg》s and such, you should be ahead. You don’t actually care so much about their 《Doom Foretold》, and you’re able to pressure them and answer all of their threats.

Taking out 《Doom Foretold》 might be the key to this matchup after sideboard. 《Doom Foretold》 feels horrible against 《The Birth of Meletis》 and 《Elspeth’s Nightmare》 and it frees room in the deck for more card draw and disruption.

Against the rest of the field, you should be ahead against most creature and midrange decks (Green Food, Rakdos), most control decks (like the Shota Yasooka’s Jeskai deck or Andrew Cuneo’s Izzet deck).

Genesis UltimatumUgin, the Spirit Dragon

You’re however going to be behind against Temur Ramp which is by far your worst matchup. Without 《Duress》 in the main deck, it’s going to be hard to interact with their 《Genesis Ultimatum》. You need to kill them quickly and play around 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 as well. Not an easy task.

Sideboarding in general with this deck against the rest of the field will depend on how many answers they have to 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》 and how much removal you need. They will usually have a lot of answers after board to the flyer, so it’s usually right to take it out.

Zendikar Rising League Weekend

I went 6-5 in the second part of the league (I punted one game really badly as well), and while it could be better, it’s still an accomplishment in such a field.

Day 1

Round Player Result
Round 1 Chris Kvartek
(Mono-Green Food)
1-2 (0-1)
Round 2 Andrew Cuneo
(Izzet Control)
2-0 (1-1)
Round 3 Andrea Mengucci
(Esper Doom)
1-2 (1-2)
Round 4 Seth Manfield
(Gruul)
0-2 (1-3)
Round 5 Ken Yukuhiro
(Mono-Green Food)
2-0 (2-3)

Day 2

Round Player Result
Round 6 Autumn Burchett
(Esper Doom)
2-0 (3-3)
Round 7 Shota Yasooka
(Jeskai Control)
2-0 (4-3)
Round 8 Reid Duke
(Gruul)
2-1 (5-3)
Round 9 Shahar Shenhar
(Gruul)
2-0 (6-3)
Round 10 Carlos Romao
(Rogues)
0-2 (6-4)
Round 10 Brian Braun-Duin
(Rogues)
0-2 (6-5)

You’ll find the gameplay of the whole tournament on my Youtube channel (Don’t forget to subscribe!)

In the meantime, Jan Moritz Merkel went 8-0 in the CFB Pro event running……my exact 95.

Ending the two League Weekends on a positive record, 13-10 overall, put me tied for 5th place, only 2 points away from the leader. Being able to do that with two of my own decks, without having to rely on a team gives me a certain confidence boost that I needed to continue doing well in the rest of the season.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for you support and see you on December 4th for the Zendikar Rising Championship.

Raph (Twitter / Twitch / Youtube)

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Raphael Levy

Raphael Levy Raphael Levy is a veteran player from France. His Pro Tour debut was 1997 and he is unstoppable since then. He played 91 Pro Tours continuously and became the very first player who reaches plying 100 Pro Tours at 2019 Mythic Championship I. During the long career he also achieved so many great results like 3 PT Top 8, 23 GP Top 8 with 6 wins, and won World Magic Cup 2013 as a French captain. He was elected Pro Tour Hall of Fame at 2006 and earned over 750 Pro Points. Read more articles by Raphael Levy

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