Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Now some people like cats and some people like dogs.  I personally like cats since I’m allergic to dogs, but I digress.

Currently one of the most dominant decks in standard is 4c Saheeli, as it took down both Grand Prix events this previous weekend:


Creatures (17)

4 Felidar Guardian
4 Rogue Refiner
4 Servant of The Conduit
3 Whirler Virtuoso
2 Tireless Tracker

Spells (22)

4 Attune with Aether
4 Harnessed Lightning
3 Oath of Chandra
4 Oath of Nissa
3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Saheeli Rai

Lands (21)

4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
5 Forest
2 Game Trail
1 Inspiring Vantage
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
2 Spirebluff Canal


1 Tireless Tracker
2 Dispel
2 Negate
2 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
1 Authority of The Consul
2 Natural State
3 Release the Gremlins
2 Walking Ballista

Now this is the winning list from Grand Prix New Jersey.  If I was going to play in a PPTQ or GP this weekend, I would personally play this version of the combo deck.  It has a game plan of using the Saheeli combo to win the game, but it can also grind out wins easily with virtuoso, tracker and the whopping three copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the main.

Out of the board there is Authority of The Consul and Walking Ballista to deal with the mirror.  With the inclusion of the third tracker, the deck lets you easily grind out mirror matches and can even steal games by resolving Authority of The Consul, a Walking Ballista or holding back with Whirler Virtuoso‘s tokens.

I feel this version of 4c Saheeli makes playing G/b a harder deck choice for big events.  It has an incredible planeswalker powerhouse Chandra, Torch of Defiance and then the two copies of Skysovereign, Consul Flagship out of the board, making many matchups about a 70% in 4c Saheeli favor.

Now there is also another deck that has risen to the same level as the 4c saheeli deck, that deck is Mardu Ballista.  This would be my personal choice as it has a great aggressive plan with the best removal spell Unlicensed Disintegration.  This can deal with both half’s of the saheeli combo, killing the Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai. The version of this deck that I would pick up for this weekend would be.

Mardu Ballista by Owen Turtenwald

Creatures (20)

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
3 Walking Ballista
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Archangel Avacyn


3 Fatal Push
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
4 Heart of Kiran
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar


3 Aether Hub
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Spire of Industry
2 Smoldering Marsh
2 Shambling Vent
4 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Mountain


1 Fatal Push
1 Linvala, The Preserver
1 Oath of Liliana
2 Painful Truths
2 Shock
1 Anguish Unmaking
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Ob Nixilis, Reignited
2 Release the Gremlins
2 Stasis Snare

Now as I mentioned before, I would pick up this version of the mardu deck.  I believe it is the best deck in the format by no real competition.  Now I know that both GP’s were won by 4c Saheeli but I don’t believe that deck is the best.  For example, people will not tap out when you have either piece of the combo and will save that all important piece of interaction to stop you going off.  Now, don’t be disheartened, I still believe that the deck is step above basically everything else.  You can easily grind people out, but I still think the best plan for grinding out people right now is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Now I know that everyone is most likely bored of this standard format as its really just rock, paper, scissors in what you’re gonna do so let’s brighten up your day and show you a very interesting deck from modern.

Now before it was banned, my favorite deck was Splinter Twin.  It had a great tempo game plan because of PestermiteRemand and Snapcaster Mage.  This meant you didn’t really need to combo people like the Saheeli deck in standard.  They would just be worried about tapping out, but then my friend was taken away taken from me by the big R&D committee to play upstate on a nice farm.  I was sad struggling from event to event, playing different things.  I had a brief new friend in Abzan Flayer, but then it happened.  We got a new friend.  A more feline version than Faerie or Weird Cleric Beast in Deceiver Exarch.

The deck I’m talking about is Jeskai Saheeli Control in Modern.  This deck came 28th at Grand Prix Brisbane and has been getting played online a little bit since. I picked it up to play at a local event last weekend and changed some cards from it.  I cut the four copies of Spreading Seas and the one copy of Sun Titan from the main to add a 24th land, one Sphinx’s Revelation, one Spell Snare, one Lightning Helix, and one Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. The list I played at this event was:

Jeskai Saheeli by Brandon Balfour


4 Felidar Guardian
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Pia and Karin Naalar


4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Lightning Helix
4 Remand
1 Cryptic Command
1 Spell Snare
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Serum Vision
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Saheeli Rai


4 Scalding Tarn
4 Flooded Strand
1 Arid Mesa
2 Hollowed Fountain
2 Steam Vents
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Glacial Fortress
3 Island
1 Mountain
2 Plains
1 Desolate Lighthouse


1 Celestial Purge
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Negate
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Wear // Tear
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Stony Silence
1 Timely Reinforcements
2 Rest in Peace
1 Dispel
2 Crumble to Dust

Now this deck is a whole lot of fun and has a lot of legs to stand on.  I feel it can become a big contender in the modern format.   It is something I personally will be working on and posting about throughout the year, but let me quickly tell you about this deck’s game plan.

The plan of curving removal spell into Remand into combo but it also has a very good time at just sitting back drawing cards sculpting its hand to become perfect and then either kill them with Snapcaster Mage or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.  I actually can’t say how well Elspeth performed for me.  So far, whenever it resolved, the game would be over.  Some recommendations I would make would be adding two Mana Leak over two of the Remands in the main.  You do need a little bit of cheap soft counter magic.  Remand is a very strong card but sometimes was not fantastic when you were just having to cycle it.  Mana Leak could be better in some situations.

Now I hope you all enjoyed this.

Like always, I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions on decks and card choices.


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