Deck Tech: Ojutai Jeskai With Patrick Dickmann

Posted in Event Coverage on June 21, 2015

By Peter Rawlings

Ojutai's Command may have finally found a home. When the card was first revealed, players were excited at the prospect of the 4-mana instant, hearing echoes of Cryptic Command in its ability to counter a spell and draw a card for a nice, clean two-for-one. However, the card has seen little play since the release of Dragons of Tarkir with players opting to leave the card at home at Grand Prix after Grand Prix.

That changed today in Providence, with a group including Ari Lax (6), Brad Nelson (10), Valentin Mackl, Wenzel Krautmann and Todd Anderson bringing an innovative Jeskai deck centered around Ojutai's Command and Dragonlord Ojutai here to Rhode Island. But the player leading the charge, and the deck's designer, is Modern master Patrick Dickmann, who was undefeated through the first eight rounds.

“I've played Jeskai for a long time in Standard, and had a similar build, but when I saw a list with Dragonlord Ojutai in the main deck and noticed its interaction with Stratus Dancer—that's what led me in this direction,” he said. Casting the 5-mana Dragon on turn five and following it up with a morphed Stratus Dancer—which can then be turned face-up at instant speed to protect an attacking Ojutai—is one of the most powerful plays available to the deck, he said.

Dickmann was first drawn to the deck after noticing how well Stratus Dancer could protect an attacking Dragonlord Ojutai.

But that interaction alone wasn't enough. The Pro Tour Born of the Gods Semifinalist had long wanted a more powerful late game for Jeskai, which can often mount a strong early aggression with Goblin Rabblemaster and Mantis Rider, but is prone to petering out. The addition of Ojutai's Command shored up that problem, as the instant's ability to return copies of Soulfire Grand Master to the battlefield gave him access to both a flexible spell and a powerful late-game engine.

“Now you can still have aggressive draws with Rabblemaster backed up by removal spells,” he said. “But you also have a really powerful plan for the end of the game.”

Also key to Dickmann's construction of the deck was the number and mix of comes-into-play tapped lands he chose to run. “I discovered that in this format, the perfect opening is turn-one come-into-play-tap land, turn-two 2-drop, and then another tapped land and 2-drop on turn three,” he said. “You just really need to sequence your lands well and really think about how that sequence will play out when building a deck in this format,” he said.

Stratus Dancer is central to that sequencing as the Djinn Monk's ability to be cast for either 2 or 3 mana allows Dickmann to adapt his draw to his available mana. “Stratus Dancer is still just a fine creature on turn two,” he explained. “Against Abzan Megamorph, I played it on turn-two, and followed it up with a turn-three Mantis Rider and immediately attacked for 5 damage in the air. That Stratus Dancer did 8 damage over the course of the game because they never had time to kill it.”

One of the most appealing aspects of the deck for Dickmann is that it doesn't have any other decks it crumbles too, with most match-ups about even, with midrange and green-based creature strategies edging toward favorable. Against decks like Red-Green Devotion—of which he expected to see a lot this weekend--Mantis Rider shines like it always has, while the new addition of Ojutai's Command provides a value-filled answer to their expensive creatures, he said.

“Control is probably not a good match-up Game 1, but with three copies of Mastery of the Unseen in the sideboard and good countermagic it becomes much better. Mastery is a broken card all by itself—you can play it on turn two and pretty much never need to cast another spell.”

Dickmann tuned his sideboard with cards like Mastery of the Unseen and Anger of the Gods to help against problematic Game 1 match-ups like Blue-Black Control and Atarka Red.

The deck can also struggle in Game 1 against Atarka Red decks, he said, because even if you gain a healthy amount of life Atarka's Comand is still capable of dealing so much damage. But that, too, is a match-up that greatly improves after sideboarding, he said. Anger of the Gods comes in to burn away all the deck's small creatures, while the sequence of Soulfire Grand Master into Roast can, all by itself, be too much for a red deck to handle, he said.

One of the reasons Dickmann has stuck by Jeskai through thick and thin, even before concocting this newest list, is that it has the best sideboard cards in the format, he said. “Anger of the Gods, Mastery of the Unseen, Disdainful Stroke—these are three iconic cards in three different colors,” each of which he determined he needed to be playing.

For Dickmann, it's a relief to be succeeding with a deck of his own creation in a format where he has not always felt comfortable. Known for his innovations with Modern Splinter Twin archetype, “I've felt in the past that I was not that strong at Standard,” he said. But that self-doubt is starting to change. “I'm now finding I'm able to take the brewing that I love to do in Modern, and use that in Standard.”

Patrick Dickmann – Ojutai Jeskai

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