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Playing Pauper: Kuldotha Jeskai

Another week, another league, another stop on our journey through the great Pauper format!

This week's deck is Kuldotha Jeskai, a control deck that specializes in drawing cards, removing threats, and deploying two-power flyers. The best Turn 2 play of the deck involves Ichor Wellspring so you know it has to be at least interesting.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Kuldotha Jeskai Intro

Kuldotha Jeskai vs Mono Black Control

Kuldotha Jeskai vs Acid Trip

Kuldotha Jeskai vs Mono Blue Delver

Kuldotha Jeskai vs Mono Blue Delver

Kuldotha Jeskai vs Mono Blue Delver

The Deck

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The flyers in this deck are there mostly to attack, while the non-flyers in the deck are on blocking duty. Our creatures all have good enter-the-battlefield effects to complement Kor Skyfisher, though an artifact is often the best thing to return to hand.

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Our removal is varied and plentiful, and the burn spells double as a way to close out the game if all our creatures get removed. Galvanic Blast is one of the better cards in the deck even though it's sometimes a chore to enable Metalcraft.

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Our artifacts are there to be picked up by Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher so we keep drawing cards and churning through our deck. Kuldotha Rebirth is the weirdest "creature" in the deck. The tokens can chump block a Gurmag Angler three times or team up to trade off with small creatures, but their inclusion is mostly the result of the synergy with Ichor Wellspring. As a bonus, they also provide protection from sacrifice effects such as Chainer's Edict.

The Sideboard

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Electrickery is a sideboard staple in red decks that has utility against Tokens, Elves, and Mono Blue Delver.

Celestial Flare is a good edict against Izzet Blitz, while also being one of the few things that can take out a Slippery Bogle.

The fourth Journey to Nowhere is good against big creatures that you can't take out with burn.

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Bojuka Bog is an uncounterable way to empty graveyards, and it combos with Kor Skyfisher.

Pyroblast is quite important with how popular Blue is in Pauper.

Negate takes care of cards we can't otherwise interact with such as Fling and Corrupt.

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Circle of Protection: Red is a life saver versus Izzet Blitz and Burn, while Lone Missionary is a life saver versus aggressive decks in general.

Another two Kor Sanctifiers in the board are good in the mirror and against Affinity. Gorilla Shaman would generally be better here, but I wanted to keep the deck's budget accessible to all.

The Matchups

Between Lone Missionary, loads of cheap removal, and a fair number of blockers, Kuldotha Jeskai can absolutely shut down an aggressive deck's offense. If you draw no Lone Missionary and too many artifacts, you can get overwhelmed. Overall, the deck feels slightly advantaged against the majority of aggressive opponents.

The control matchups are a little more difficult. If we try to assume the aggressive role, it's hard to draw enough creatures to outpace all the removal the control deck is packing. If we try to slow down and play the long game, our opponent can assemble a hand full of countermagic, while we have no counterspells of our own to fight back. Against Blue-Black Control our deck feels a little slow, and Tron decks are also quite difficult to beat. The exception is against Mono Black Control, a creature based control deck, against which we have a even matchup.

Mono Blue Delver doesn't fit cleanly into the aggressive or controlling category, but we're favored against them due to our abundance of 2/2 and 2/3 flyers. I suppose we should count it as a good thing that we faced them three times in this league.

Beating Kuldotha Jeskai

If you'd rather play against Kuldotha Jeskai than with it, here's some tips on beating the deck:

  • If you're a control deck, make sure you can beat a Turn 1 Kuldotha Rebirth. It's an interesting play the deck can make when they're trying to overwhelm a control deck.
  • Whether attacking our lands or our Prophetic Prisms, artifact removal is generally good. It's occasionally even correct to crack your opponent's Ichor Wellspring for them if it prevents them from returning it to their hand and replaying it.
  • The deck only has three easy outs to 5+ toughness creatures (or 4+ toughness when Metalcraft isn't enabled for Galvanic Blast). Protect your big creatures accordingly and try to use them to win.
  • If you gain 6-10 life and can remove most of the flyers quickly, Kuldotha Jeskai can take forever to win, and you may even be able to make them deck themselves. It shouldn't be your primary game plan, but pay attention to games where you might be able to make that happen.


That wraps it up for this week and our experience with Kuldotha Jeskai. The deck plays most like Mono Black Control in that they're each control decks with efficient creatures and lots of removal. Mono Black Control's main deck feels more powerful due to the strength of Gray Merchant of Asphodel and the consistency of being mono-colored, but Kuldotha Jeskai's sideboard is stronger due to having access to three different colors of sideboard options.

As I mentioned in the videos, we have a few more weeks of "normal" decks, and then will start using viewer submissions and challenges. So start tuning your rogue builds and searching for zany Commons for me to try out. In two weeks I'll begin accepting submissions.

A special thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with positive feedback and constructive criticism. If you want to join the ranks of these esteemed viewers, you can leave me a comment below, on the YouTube channel, or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG.

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