Thursday, September 25, 2014

Khans of Tarkir EDH Set Review, Part 2: The Jeskai Way

Welcome back folks. Here's part two of our EDH Set Review for the colorful and epic Khans of Tarkir.

The Jeskai Way

Today, we look at the Jeskai, the URW clan. The Jeskai clan's dragon aspect is "Cunning", and their signature mechanic is "Prowess", which gives your creatures a small size boost for each non-creature spell you play.

I'm definitely not sold on the idea of a dedicated Prowess deck working in EDH, but with the right mix of credible threats and solid support cards, anything is possible. The problem is getting the balance right. Too many creatures and not enough spells, and your guys will be outclassed and ineffective. Also, you tend to want to cast lots of spells all at once, which means you need cheap spells, many of which are likely to be similarly underwhelming in EDH.

The Jeskai strategy is aggressive, like the Mardu, but unlike the Mardu they have a good deal more finesse. Sometimes they can just set up one Prowess guy and use a steady stream of buffs and support spells to make that one guy a threat. Or they can slowly amass a number of Prowess guys and wait until the have critical mass - then unload in a flurry of spell casting and hope to overwhelm an opponent with lots of Prowess buffs.

This too has some serious weaknesses in EDH. Again, the high life totals, multiple opponents, and ubiquitous sweeprs all work heavily against the Jeskai plan. But the clan's support cards nonetheless make a compelling argument for a UWR aggro deck that is far less centered on the Prowess mechanic. There does appear to be potential for a whole new UWR paradigm than the previous Legends allowed for, which is great.

Narset, the Khan of the Jeskai, definitely packs a mean punch. Casting up to four non-creature spells for free is pretty awesome, and two relevant keywords to help her survive combat is just gravy. That said, Hexproof can be an annoyance, and victims of Uril the Miststalker will probably shudder to see Narset across the table.

But I think she enables her clan's strategy nicely, or just opens up a whole new style of deck for URW. She's definitely a long way from either Zedruu, Ruhan or Numot. I'm anxious to see what people do with her - it might be awesome, or it might be awful, but at least it'll be new.

This is one of the cards I was talking about when I said the Jeskai could probably enable a good aggro deck for these colors. It also doubles the effectiveness of Prowess, which makes that ability slightly more buyable, though I'm still not convinced that's the right way to go for EDH.

Also seems to be a good way to dig for combo pieces if that's your thing. Or whatever it is you need... just dig, dig, dig.

I'm a big fan so far.

This one feels rather weak to me, but maybe it's just the bad Lava Axe mode that really bugs me. The third mode feels awfully redundant with some of the other clan's support spells, but it does interact nicely with Prowess and the Ascendency. The not-quite-tuck mode is also nice, but not as thrilling as the some of the other charms' destroy or exile effects.

This feels like it would do way more in a Mardu deck, but I can see why the felt it might help the Jeskia. Flavor-wise it's clearly Jeskai. Overall, it's pretty underwhelming for EDH purposes, but you might see it pop up now and again.

Usually I'd avoid removal this expensive and conditional, but since Consecrated Sphinx is a thing, I imagine we'll see those two paired up once in a while.

I'm not sure if this is slightly better or slightly worse than Lightning Angel. Maybe it's neither, just slightly different. Alas, Lightning Angel was never really good enough for EDH, but maybe this guy and the Angel have a descent shot in that hypothetical URW aggro deck I'm hoping this block will enable.

I went up against this at the Prerelease, and I think it's definitely got game. I ended up beating it, but man did it make life difficult for me for a while. Anyway, I can see this popping up in all manner of Zedruu or Grand Arbiter decks. Nekusar for sure. Basically anything light on creatures and needing some defense.

Yeesh, that's pretty costly, but it probably has to be to remain an Instant. I'd like it better as a cheaper Sorcery, but I do understand that it is designed to be used both offensively and defensively. On the D, it's gonna be such a blowout, but most people will only walk into this once. After that, they're gonna see that six mana up as a big warning sign.

Anyway, my gut tells me this is bad, but it'll probably get played regardless. Probably even by me.

Well, honestly, I'm glad this ain't in the same league as Curse of the Swine, Aetherize and Cyclonic Rift. The era of blue somehow getting the best sweepers is hopefully over. Don't get me wrong I love Blue, and I love Rift in particular, but those all feel like cheating to me. This seems fair, but because those other, cheatier things already exist, this guy probably is a little too fair to get much play.

My friends and I were really pissed off and a little confused as to why this card doesn't have Prowess. Then I realized something: All of the clan keywords only appear on mono-colored cards! Prowess, for instances, only appears on mono-red, mono-blue or mono-white cards, The multicolor cards are all there to support, enable or enhance the mechanic or strategy.

That realization made this care make way more sense, but it didn't make it any less bad.

This doesn't have the Jeskai watermark, but is another one where the clan it should belong to seems clear.

Anyway, this is one hell of a Sunforger target. The only thing I don't like is that Palm does the damage, rather than the original source, so suprise General Damage wins off someone else's general won't happen.

Talk to the hand, bitch!

Man, I love me some double strike! Unlike most Prowess creatures, these twins don't need all that many spells to become legitimate threats. Throw a Madcap Skills on 'em and then just start bouncing or burning anything else that gets in their way. Definitely one of my favorite Jeskai cards, and I'm hoping they'll prove adequate as a wincon in my Melek deck.

A slightly beefier Izzet Chronarch that can also get back Planeswalkers, Enchantments and Artifacts? This will probably wind up in just about every deck that can play it. Definitely staple-worthy, though the color restrictions will keep it in limited to fewer decks.

Another one that doesn't have the Jeskai watermark, but as a mirror to the blue enchantment above, this seems like it belongs here. The goblin token does pull it slightly to Mardu though. At any rate, it seems like a good addition to spell-heavy Jeskai decks, as it can generate threats without diluting the deck with too many actual creatures.

Nothing about this creature makes any sense. Does this giant sea monster know kung fu? I don't understand. The flavor makes no sense, the abilities are just a random mess of stuff that doesn't seem to belong together. Why is is it 6/7 and not 6/6 or 7/7? So many questions... I can't even tell you if it's good or bad or what because I just can't figure out what this card does.

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