I’m never sure whether or not I should write about my prerelease experiences. On the one hand, being able to actually play with the new cards helps to contextualize them within the limited format. I think it’s worthwhile to write about the new interactions I found, the cards that exceeded my expectations and the ones that fell short. On the other hand, I know I’m not playing a real format, but a seeded-pack rendition of one. Furthermore, since most people are unfamiliar with the cards in general, the games often don’t play out the way they should. I was able to win a game on the back of my opponent not realizing that outlast had to be activated at sorcery speed. I have to assume this isn’t likely to happen once people become more accustomed to playing with the set.

Anyway, I decided to write about the prerelease because I wanted to share my deck, discuss prowess as a limited mechanic, and talk about a strange scenario involving Deflecting Palm. Despite the countless play errors and the fact that prerelease sealed is not a real format, I had enough fun to warrant an article anyway. For me, fun is enough.

On Saturday morning, after a night of drinking and karaoke, I woke up way too early to cart my brother and his roommates over to UMass Boston for the 10AM prerelease. There were five of us in the car which meant that one person had to sit in the trunk and that we could each pick a different clan to play with. I chose Jeskai. While I worried a bit about how prowess would play out in limited, given the fact that there isn’t usually a lot of room for non-creatures and non-lands, I couldn’t help myself. I am a blue mage through and through and had to pick the cunning clan.


Here is what I built:



Jeskai Tempo Prerelease

Creatures (12)
Jeskai Student
Ainok Bond-Kin
Jeskai Elder
Abzan Falconer
Mardu Hordechief
Jeskai Windscout
Highspire Mantis
Alabaster Kirin
Mystic of the Hidden Way
Efreet Weaponmaster

Spells (11)
Defiant Strike
Suspension Field
Force Away
Feat of Resistance
Deflecting Palm
Singing Bell Strike
Crippling Chill
Bring Low
Master the Way
Lands (17)
Mystic Monastery
Wind-scarred Scrag

Sideboard (5)
Deflecting Palm
Defiant Strike
Disdainful Stroke
Swift Kick

I went 3-1 with this deck losing to a bomby Abzan deck and winning against Mardu and the Jeskai mirror twice. This list is definitely very spell heavy with me opting to only play 12 creatures. I had a few other on color morphs I could play to up my creature count, but I wanted to build a tempo deck that really exploited the prowess ability. Though I only had four prowess creatures, I found them to be really impressive, especially in conjunction with the solid removal in the deck and the can-tripping tempo cards. Curving Jeskai Student into Jeskai Windscout and then attacking with all my mana up felt incredible. The thing about prowess is that while you most likely won’t trigger it often, the threat of it triggering is enough to keep opponents on their toes. While I initially felt that prowess was a vanilla ability, after playing with the cards I’ve found it to be elegant and cerebral. Do you block Jeskai Elder with a morph creature? If you don’t, you take damage and your opponent improves their card quality and if you do perhaps you lose your creature. I really enjoy the are-they-bluffing-it subgame the prowess cards create. Furthermore, there are a pretty reasonable amount of spells that replace themselves and work to trigger prowess. Crippling Chill felt insane in this deck as it often tapped down a problematic blocker, triggered prowess, and then allowed me to draw another spell.

While I really liked the way my deck came together, I have to say that I am not a fan of Deflecting Palm. When I saw the card at the top of my seeded pack, I groaned a little but mostly because it was not Flying Crane Technique with some goofy monks staring back at me. When I opened another one in a pack I groaned a lot, since there was no way I was going to play more than one. The dream with this Kor Chant wannabe is that you’ll be able to fog a lethal attacker and send the damage back to Lightning Axe your opponents face. The idea of a two mana Searing Flesh is bonkers, and that’s what I wanted this card to be. The reality of the situation was that it sat in my hand when I was trying to get in damage with my attackers. It doesn’t work well with prowess and most of the time it just doesn’t work. I did have one cool interaction over the weekend with Deflecting Palm but it was my opponent who was casting it.

I had more than lethal damage on the board, my opponents sole creature was tapped down with Crippling Chill. His seven life was no match for my eleven power in attackers. I sensed something was up though, since he had sent an Arrow Storm at my head instead of Highspire Mantis or Jeskai Windscout the turn prior. I swung for the fences and then he Deflecting Palmed my Highspire Mantis. I was at three and he was at seven. I stared at the Feat of Resistance in my hand and reread Deflecting Palm. Since it didn’t target, I couldn’t protect my creature from it. So I looked back at my opponent and said, “Damage?” We called the judge over and confirmed that we had just drawn the game. We would continue playing until one player won two games and my opponent would get to choose whether to be on the play or draw since it is decided by the person who picked last. This is the only time I’ve drawn a game in limited with the exception of the one cube draft where I Rolling Earthquaked my opponent and to the draw bracket together.

Regardless, I still hate Deflecting Palm and I don’t think you should pick it highly in your future drafts.

Next week I’ll be back with a Standard brew or two in hopes that I can get myself back in the groove of playing a different deck every couple of weeks again.

PS. I do have to say that I really appreciated all the positive feedback I got last week about my article, “Magic & The Mighty Ducks”. It is an amazing honor to have inspired all of the original D2 cast members to reunite and take a picture in the shape of a flying V.



At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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