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$100 Standard Deck: Jeskai with Cunning Substitutions

Isolated throughout Tarkir, the Jeskai have such a stronghold of powerful cards that building a Jeskai deck runs a minimum of $400, if not higher.

But I think even Khan Narset, Enlightened Master would admire the purchasing prowess I am about to reveal as I cut 75% off the cost while still keeping 75% of the cards.

That's right, it's the Jeskai Way to a $100 Deck with Cunning Substitutions!

Before we begin a few words about this particular style of budget deck. What I have done is basically work backwards, settling on a template Jeskai build and then identifying the cards with the highest costs. Here's the stock list:

Let's start with Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, as he's in just about every build and head and shoulders above all other cards when it comes to cost. Whether you like a build that runs a playset of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker or only a 2-of, he's one of the highest prices around.

So what we want to do is ask ourselves whether or not there's a card which is significantly cheaper but that offers most of what Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker offers.  This style of substitution budget looks to trade a little function for a lot of savings.

Stormbreath Dragon is our best bet for a budget replacement. Yes I realize it may seem absurd to suggest a $15 mythic as the budget alternative, but this is Standard we're talking about.  Long term it is one of the most expensive formats, especially when a new set has been released.

But $15 is much better than $40, and Stormbreath Dragon as the same cost and is almost identical to Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker’s first ability, the one he will most often be using.  In fact, it is fair to say that Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker’s first ability essentially turns him into an indestructible Stormbreath Dragon.

Now here's another area where we may be sacrificing more performance, the indestructibity. Or are we?  Stormbreath Dragon may not be indestructible, but its protection from white is pretty handy in a  removal light environment where half of the decks you go up against are probably counting on Banishing Light, something that would remove Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, but not Stormbreath Dragon.

Either way, swapping out our Sarkhan, the Dragonspeakers for Stormbreath Dragon is our first, and possibly easiest budget substitution.  Let's see what else is costly on our list.

Chandra, Pyromaster is a lot more tricky.  While not ridiculously overpriced at about $7.00 each, most Jeskai builds run at least 1 if not 2 of her.  We can try and replicate her first ability by swapping in a few Barrage of Boulders.  While it's not an ability we can use every turn, with a little luck we might get the Ferocious bonus.  Again, we're saving $14.00 dollars here by using two commons instead.

Goblin Rabblemaster is our biggest problem, and he will continue to be our biggest problem in just about every deck that uses red mana.  He's so powerful that he's more or less a must have, he's ridiculously expensive at $19.00, and there's simply nothing out there that can replace him.  He's one of a kind, nothing comes close.

So, in the case of Goblin Rabblemaster, our substitution should be something that works effectively with our deck, applies pressure to our opponent, but doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  My choice for this spot is a Monastery Swiftspear.  We're likely going to have prowess go off frequently enough, and she adds much needed pressure.  Obviously she's nowhere near rabblemaster, but nothing is.

Mindswipe [KTK] Deflecting Palm [KTK]

An uncommon that's $4.50 each?  Stoke the Flames must go, but what to replace it with?  As with Goblin Rabblemaster, we're going to have to make a judgment call on something that works well for the deck, and I'm going to wet my toes in the waters of Jeskai counter burn just a  bit.  Mindswipe is nice and cheap at only $1.50, but instead of a full playset I'll just swap in two.

I'll also add two more Deflecting Palms to try and protect ourselves and hurt our opponents.  Most builds already run at least 1 copy, usually holding 2-3 in the sideboard, so I'm just going to main board 3 of these instead.

Mantis Rider is something I'm going to say is worth the money.  While it is almost offensive that this card went from $1.50 to $6.50 literally in the span of a few hours, it is part of the foundation of this deck.  A particularly cash strapped player might play around with a playset of Highspire Mantis instead, but I'm going to say that this is our one justified splurge.

And those are the extent of our budget cuts, aside from the sideboard and mana base which I'll get to in a moment.  But first, let's see what the rest of the deck looks like.

Mystic Monastery [KTK] Swiftwater Cliffs [KTK] Wind-Scarred Crag [KTK]

As far as the mana base in concerned, we're going to run a little wild here.  Instead of 8 scry lands, we'll run a playset of Mystic Monastery, and just a single of both Swiftwater Cliffs and Wind-Scarred Crag.  Beyond that, it's just 6 Mountains, 6 Islands, and 6 Plainss.

It's risky and far from ideal, but sometimes that's what budget brewing is.  If you already have scry lands or painlands in our colors, even if you don't already have a playset, start swapping out our budget substitutions for them.

The sideboards for Jeskai is highly dependent on meta and highly in flux. Still, most tend to run a Keranos, God of Storms and Narset, Enlightened Master, Anger of the Gods, and usually an additional Dig Through Time.  This is a sack of gold in and of itself.

Magma Spray [JOU] Erase [KTK] Disdainful Stroke [KTK]

We can keep the Magma Sprays and Erases, and swap in instead Negates, which some lists run anyway, a few extra Disdainful Strokes and some added Mindswipes for extra control.  Finally, a couple Nyx-Fleece Rams for luck.

And that's the way you can make a $400 deck into a much more affordable $100 budget build.  Play with the deck and see how much you like it, see how well it works for you.  If you feel committed to playing in this standard season, then you can decide where and how you want to upgrade.

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