Jeskai Ascendancy
10, Dec, 23

Ixalan Legend Helps Revive Dead Archetype in Modern!

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Up to this point, it’s incredible just how impactful Wilds of Eldraine has been within a multitude of Constructed formats. Even uncommons like Picklock Prankster and Imodane’s Recruiter helped shape the Pioneer metagame as it stands today. In Modern, we saw just how dominant Up the Beanstalk was before it would inevitably get banned on December 4. Beyond Up the Beanstalk, cards like Agatha’s Soul Cauldron continue to have a massive role in the format.

With the recent release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the question was, how would the power level of these new cards compare? Would The Lost Caverns of Ixalan live up to the hype and introduce multiple Constructed all-stars into Pioneer and Modern? Obviously, with the addition of the Discover combo variants in Pioneer that resulted in the quick banning of Geological Appraiser, it’s clear that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan sparked immense change in Pioneer.

In Modern, we’ve seen some cards like Spelunking and Tishana’s Tidebinder help add some power to well-established archetypes. Both of these cards received some hype during spoiler season, so this isn’t too surprising. However, one card that largely went under the radar for Modern was Inti, Seneschal of the Sun. Inti’s abilities are quite powerful in the right shell.

Perhaps no shell makes better use of Inti’s abilities than Jeskai Ascendancy combo. Jeskai Ascendancy combo had largely fallen out of favor in Modern but appears to be making a bit of a comeback, in part, thanks to the addition of Inti. Today, we are going to take a deeper look at this cool Jeskai Ascendancy build and what it has to offer. Let’s start by focusing on exactly how the combo works.

How the Combo Works

Jeskai Ascendancy

The Jeskai Ascendancy combo revolves around a few key cards. The first of these is Jeskai Ascendancy itself. With Jeskai Ascendancy in play, every non-Creature spell you play grows and untaps your Creatures and allows you to loot. The next piece of the puzzle is Emry, Lurker of the Loch. Emry naturally provides a lot of value in a deck with lots of Artifacts, but thanks to Jeskai Ascendancy’s ability to untap Emry over and over, things can get out of hand quickly.

That’s where Mox Amber comes into play. In order to execute the combo completely, you need access to two copies of Mox Amber. Notably, they can start in your graveyard, so you don’t actually have to draw two copies. Now, with Emry and Ascendancy in play, you can execute the following steps to generate infinite mana, infinitely large Creatures, and loot through your whole deck!

  • Tap Emry, targeting Mox Amber in your graveyard
  • Cast Mox Amber, triggering Ascendancy. This will untap Emry and grow your Creatures
  • Float a mana with the Mox Amber in play, then use Emry to target and cast the other copy of Mox Amber in your graveyard, triggering Ascendancy once again
  • Sacrifice the tapped Mox Amber via “legend rule”
  • Repeat this process, casting Mox Amber over and over

Eventually, you will end up with an enormous copy of Emry to attack with. This combo can also be achieved with Mishra’s Bauble in place of Mox Amber, as you can sacrifice it and bring it back repeatedly. Obviously, you won’t net infinite mana this way, but if all you are looking for is a big attacker, this works all the same.

Agatha’s Soul Cauldron Combos

Agatha's Soul Cauldron

Importantly, this combo is also possible to execute with Agatha’s Soul Cauldron. If you remove Emry from your graveyard with Cauldron, putting a +1/+1 counter on a Creature you control, that Creature will gain Emry’s activated abilities. Plus, it is possible to generate infinite mana even if you don’t have Ascendancy in play using Cauldron. You need access to two copies of Mox Amber, as well as Rona, Herald of Invasion and Cauldron.

If you exile Emry from your graveyard with Cauldron and put a +1/+1 counter on Rona, Rona now has Emry’s abilities. You can now cast Mox Amber from your graveyard with Rona. This will untap Rona since Mox Amber is legendary, allowing you to float mana, cast the other copy of Mox Amber, and repeat. It may be difficult to actually kill the opponent even with infinite mana if you don’t have Ascendancy, but it’s a nice option to have.

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Generating Tons of Value

Inti, Seneschal of the Sun

What’s nice about the Jeskai Ascendancy shell is that it is capable of generating lots of value. This provides you with a good backup plan and allows you to win grindy games.

Beyond Mox Amber, Emry can bring back Mishra’s Bauble to help churn through your library. This is a great source of value even without Ascendancy in play and helps dig towards Ascendancy.

Similarly, The One Ring is an amazing source of card advantage that can help you find Ascendancy, too. Rona, Herald of Invasion is excellent in a deck with so many legends and Ascendancy in it. So much of the deck is built around abusing Ascendancy, so having all of these ways to dig for it is essential.

As strong as the value synergies have been in this shell, Inti helped take things to a whole new level. This is because Inti’s second ability is completely abusable in this deck. Every time you loot from either Rona or Ascendancy, Inti’s second ability triggers, letting you exile the top card of your library and play it until the end of the turn. Given how efficient most cards are in this deck, there’s a good chance you will get to play that card immediately.

One issue this deck has faced in the past is that, as good as Ascendancy and Rona can be, neither individually pull you ahead on cards. With Inti in the mix, though, it’s easy to play extra cards, all while churning through your library for combo pieces. Inti even helps you cross the finish line when you have the combo assembled, as it can give your enormous Emry Trample when it attacks to get through a stream of chump blockers.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the strengths of this Jeskai Ascendancy deck is that you can win both via the combo or with traditional combat damage. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is an aggressive Creature that can pull you far ahead if unchecked. In a deck full of cheap Artifacts, it’s probably not shocking to see a playset of Urza’s Saga in the mix. Urza’s Saga can make a bunch of Constructs that are fully capable of winning the game on their own. Inti is an aggressive Creature in its own right that can give Trample to your large Construct tokens.

Against aggressive Creature decks, cards such as Unholy Heat and Prismatic Ending can help keep you alive while you set up your combo. In attrition-based matchups where sticking Emry can be tough, the combination of Inti and Ascendancy allows you to gain a large resource advantage. Inti also helps you play through graveyard hate which messes up your ability to combo with Emry. The addition of Inti really does help shore up some of the deck’s weaknesses.

Even still, this deck does have some notable weaknesses. Given how many slots are dedicated to the combo and card advantage, the deck’s interaction is a bit limited. Without access to counter magic in the main deck, you risk losing to faster combo decks like Amulet Titan or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo. Even with access to Unholy Heat, quick starts from Hammer Time can be hard to beat, especially if backed up by Surge of Salvation.

What’s nice is that this deck can have a fast clock of its own. Playing Emry turn one alongside Mox Amber and Mishra’s Bauble does happen some games, putting a ton of pressure on the opponent to remove it right away. Even if you can’t fully combo, Ascendancy’s ability to grow your Creatures in conjunction with cheap non-Creature spells can increase your clock. The fact that Inti helps both add to your early pressure as well as accrue card advantage over time is a huge boon for the deck. Could this archetype be ready for a breakout? Only time will tell.

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