@topical_island said in How do I beat Jeskai:

Firstly, I've found Abrupt Decay to be very good against Xerox, assuming you run a deck that supports those colors.

Abrupt Decay does nothing important, as the cards I beat you with may be Mentor or pyromancer in theory, but the reality is I win my games on the stack.

That said, I think there ARE more than a few things to be discussed in this thread that can benefit players in games against Xerox. My current theory is that there are basically three methods that beat this deck. Or said a different way, when you beat this deck, you almost always do it by achieving one of three things: Kill them fast, Kill their tempo advantage, or Kill them with card advantage.

Kill them fast may work, but that is very difficult to do as (A) the xerox player would have to get matched up against you in Round 1 if you're on Dark Petition, as you're going to lose to almost everything else in the format, and (B) Xerox is favored against Paradox.

One of my favorite matchups to play either side of is a Control Oath build vs. Xerox.

Oath is good versus Xerox when played correctly. Thusly, I only fear a handful of people when playing Xerox vs. Oath.

Kill them fast: Dredge tends to give Xerox problems because its difficult to control and kills Xerox much faster (on average) than Xerox can kill Dredge. PO similarly can have a good matchup depending on tuning, for the same reasons. Oath might be a distant 3rd here, but this is very build dependent as both Xerox and Oath have a ton or room to tune.

Dredge is favored Game 1, but good luck game 2 and 3 as Xerox gets the best cards in the format. And PO Can beat 4 Pyroblasts effectively since when? Oath I already discussed.

Kill their tempo: This is a way for things like Shops and perhaps Standstill or Humans to fight against Xerox.

Humans is a fucking terrible, garbage deck. Get out of here with that. Standstill is also not favored against a good Xerox opponent. I Love to play against Standstill - they're slower, and generally your spells match up so much better against theirs.

Standstill, Big-Blue, Big Mana Thieves, and some Oath. One thing to recognize about Xerox is that while they have a ton of cards that have "Draw" written on them, very few of these actually net cards right away, or at all.

I agree with this, though I disagree with how easy you make it sound. Ruben Gonzales slaughtered me with Nights Whisper, because I couldn't Misstep or Pyroblast them, so he was always up on cards. PO and STandstill are a joke against Jeskai, though.

Fighting an attrition war with Xerox can be the correct line. Imagine whittling down the cards in hand for example, then resolving a simple Standstill.
Fighting an attrition war with the most stable deck in the format is almost ALWAYS a losing battle.

Recognizing that sort of thing will lead us to correct plays such as intentionally running an Oath into a FoW to gain a simple 2 for 1. Or not spending mana to attack with Mishra's Factory, where the damage/tempo is meaningless, in order to hold up mana to pay for a potential Flusterstorm.

So you're saying don't be a 5 year old when playing magic, and you can be successful with obvious lines. Gotcha.

I wouldn't normally care to tear apart a post like this, but your statements are blatantly not guiding people in the right direction, and this post could in theory be a great post for new players. I can't allow you to post in a way that SOUNDS so definitive, while spewing falsehoods.

@13nova I believe the purpose of the thread is to discuss ways to beat Jeskai/Xerox. That has to mean talking about what lines/strategy tend to cause winning. Correspondingly, I'm honestly not that interested in things like whether "PO can't beat 4 Pyroblasts"... because the answer is pretty clearly something like 40% of the time? Even though it seems like you think the answer is that it doesn't. (It's like asking a supercomputer the meaning of life... it's 42 right?) Wrong question was the problem all along. I think you've wandered into the wrong thread. You are looking for WHAT beats jeskai… a different, and really an inferior question.

Pretty sure this thread has got to be about strategies and tactics and lines that maximize winning, if the thread is to be meaningful at all. So even when perfect play only gets you to 40% because the matchup is terrible, we should be interested in how to get to that 40. Wheras, I for one am not interested in what "beats" what. Everything beats everything else, eventually... sometimes. If we are talking about how often and why, now you have my attention. Every percentage point matters. With that fresh in mind, let's end by meditating on this koan: Abrupt Decay does nothing important. (Insert Null-Rod-flavor-text joke here.)

last edited by Topical_Island

Here's some interesting math theory about Jeskai v. Dredge. While we are on the side topic:

If the Dredge matchup breaks down like this: G1 Dredge 90% to win, G2 and G3 Dredge 30% to win, then Dredge will win those matches 54.9% of the time

if Dredge is: G1 90% to win, and G2 and G3 25% to win, then Dredge wins the match 45.6% of the time.

If Dredge is: G1 90% to win, G2 and G3 20% to win, then Dredge wins the match 36.4% of the time.

(Actually, G2 and G3 will never have the same %, since different players are always on the play in those games. But rough numbers.)

So the boarding and precise play is actually critical in this matchup for the jeskai player (both players really). Even a few percentage points or the sacrificing of one or two SB cards stand a great chance to swing the difference between a good and bad match-up.

last edited by Topical_Island

I played Jeskai today at a 26 person tournament and I got owned. In fact, all of the Jeskai style decks were not doing well. I could not point to play mistakes but I just drew too many lands when I needed a card or I just did not get to my win condition fast enough.

I played the deck to prepare for SCG Con because I expect to play against it a fair amount. I am viewing this deck as very beatable if they cannot get off to the races against you.

I think attacking their mana base is a sure fire way to slow them down. The most important lessons I learned today:

Kill the Planeswalkers and keep them off of the board. Every JVP, Jace, and Dack I played were in some way nullified or I would win.

Kill the graveyard. I am more convinced now than before that playing Tormod's Crypt or any graveyard removal against this deck is critical.

Kill their card draw engines. If you can find any method to kill their draw engines then they are dead in the water.

When piloting Xerox against Dredge, I used to feel somewhat entitled to win the match up based on having a responsibly prepared sideboard (courtesy of white) and then stupid things would happen or plans would not pan out. It feels more ~50% post board, maybe 55% the game on the play and 35% (for me) on the draw. Not having some immediate hate card Turn 1 (d) or Turn 2 (p) opens the door to the ugliest mulligans or the "all in on one hate piece" strategy (which might be too slow without Mox, like RiP/Priest) or neutralizing the Dredge plan semi-quickly but then dying to the one Zombie token they managed to make or a random Bloodghast. Flooding on counterspells or Plowshares unable to address a swarm is very disempowering in this match-up.

It's certainly a winnable pairing but I have learned that I can never have confidence in it going well; it's a coin toss post-board based on circumstances over which I have little control. Now that they can just Force your first hate piece willy-nilly and go off, things are even more chaotic, and there's always the looming threat on the draw of Unmask. This makes you keep in lackluster counterspells that would be otherwise better off in the sideboard since the deck is designed to laugh them off. The Hollow One plan adds another complication that Xerox is strategically weak against if it can't somehow find removal or a token creature on top of the other tall orders the deck immediately demands. By contrast, when piloting Oath I steal a lot of game 1's and still have a primary game plan that can go head to head with theirs even absent perfect Dredge hate that provides a much greater quantity of keepable hands.

I agree with moorebrother that Xerox relies more on its graveyard in very subtle ways that are not immediately apparent. Unfortunately, most grave hate is card disadvantageous and ill-equipped to respond to their manifold other categories of threats. A singleton Rest in Peace is probably the best thing to board in. It doesn't win the game by itself but it can often be an understated strong fabric in the tapestry of keeping their nonsense under control.

Frankly, I hate this deck. Winning with it got tiresome and playing against it is annoying as hell. As soon as one thing works out to their advantage, it cascades quickly into territory from which you can't recover and the experience constantly feels unpleasant, uphill, and predetermined. Unlike most other archetypes where there exist potent silver bullets that really compromise the ability to compete, this deck can slither around anything and embarrass your answer to X with a planeswalker or your answer to Y with a humiliating Snapcaster beatdown.

I think we're all tired of this bland insipid deck and would love to see it further regulated into oblivion (cough Preordain cough).

last edited by brianpk80

Our Champs data set put Xerox vs Dredge at 47% (18-20).

Our Sept-Feb data set put Xerox vs Dredge at 45% (26-32)

At a glance, these don't appear to be statistically significant for favorable/unfavorable matchups because it's really hard to prove such a thing when the win rate approaches 50%. However, if you ignore that caveat and take the data at face value, this is closest to a 10%-70% split between game 1 and games 2/3 for Xerox from @Topical_Island's post.

I will note that some Jeskai decks and other Xerox decks have started running 2 Containment Priests or so maindeck. The odds of having 1 or more Containment Priest in an opening hand is 22%, and while this is somewhat hand-wavy (mulligans, mana to cast them on play/draw, broken Ancestral openers that find Priest/Lotus, translating drawing Priest into winning the game, etc...), if you assume that increases Xerox's win percentage to 30% in game 1 and the games 2/3 win percentage remains constant at 70%, the overall win percentage increases to 61.6% (feel free to check my math there).

This supports what I was saying that if the Xerox pilots wants to beat a deck, there are ways to get it done.

I whole heartedly agree that adding the Containment Priest helps a lot with the Dredge match up and it adds a body to a deck that is slow to get bodies on the board. It also helps against Oath but not as much as it does against Dredge. The Containment Priest hurts you in the mirror and is often an unwelcome card to see when you facing another Xerox deck since it is a creature that does not add any advantage.

All that being said, I'm with Brian that I hate this deck and wish it would just fall off of a cliff and die. The conditions to beat this deck are just too situational.

I tested against it last night with Oath and I just pushed for an early Oath each game and keep pushing. They lost to whichever creature I got off of the Oath. They really only win with a early beatdown against you if you do not resolve an Oath.

I played Paradoxical which was even more annoying, and it is a waiting game. The deck has disruptive counter magic but either Erayo or pushing hard into Vault/Key is enough to steal games. It is not an easy match up but a winnable one.

last edited by moorebrother1

This deck has gotten better in the meta-game. I cannot really pinpoint why but the pilots of the deck and the card selection for meta are very good right now. I am finding this deck harder to beat currently.

Are there any new tricks to taking on this deck? Pyroblast has become the staple of the deck and the "Ambush Viper" style is also the preferred play of the deck now.

Any advice on how to take this match up down?

I have been main decking true name nemesis to break open the mirror match, which often comes down to whos plainswalker or snapcaster survives the longest, or who gets mentor with critical mass of cards first. As a jeskai pilot, i had the hardest time against an outcome player who boarded in mana drains and an extra flusterstorm. The drains were unexpected so I played right into them.

@chubbyrain said in How do I beat Jeskai:

Based on my experience with the deck, Jeskai and other Xerox decks can be built to beat any deck in the format consistently. What they cannot be built to beat is every in the format (including the mirror).

If the goal is to beat exclusively Jeskai, your strategy should be to align your threats to match up effectively against their answers. For instance, the Jeskai variant with Lightning Bolts, Fiery Confluence, and Snapcaster Mage was built for a Combo, Oath, Control, and Shops heavy metagame. The maindeck burn is never dead as you can use it to close out games, but it matches up poorly against Dredge's SB strategy of Fish Zombies and decks that run 4 toughness, non-artifact creatures (i.e. Eldrazi) or creatures immune to removal (i.e. TNN outta Merfolk). That changes if the deck skews towards White removal and Pyromancers as those are much more effective at combating creatures, but you end up with sub-optimal cards against Oath and Combo, along with a much weaker SB plan against Shops.


Basically, Shops and Survival (to a lesser extent) are strategically favored against the Jeskai Strategy. Fast Clock+Spehre Effects+Minimal vulnerability to Mental Misstep/Pyroblast are the keys to beating Jeskai, and they make a high percentage of Jeskai cards irrelevant ("Treasure Cruise!" leads to "you're dead" fairly often in those matchups!). Everything else, it's hoping they have to cast a few cantrips to get to where they need, and that you can kill them in that window.

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