Izzet Jaya’s time to shine?

When we found out that we were going back to Dominaria, everyone was keen to find out what had happened to Magic’s original plane, even more importantly, what had become of some of our favourite characters? While we got some great stories and some fantastic legendary creatures (and Planeswalkers, like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Karn, Scion of Urza) , one character representation in cardboard was left wanting. This was a real shame too as the mage in question is arguaby one of the best characters ever conceived by Wizards of the Coast. I am of course talking about Jaya Ballard.

After the rip-roaring success of Wizards’ last mono-red planeswalker (Chandra, Torch of Defiance) everyone was very excited to see what they would do for the character that many would argue was ‘the original bad ass, rebel red mage’. Sadly, Jaya didn’t live up to the hype. Coming in at a hefty five mana and five starting loyalty, you would hope that see would have an immediate impact on the Battlefield. Unfortunately, she was the definition of a ‘do nothing’ Planeswalker.

With two plus one effects that either add to your mana pool (but only want to cast Instants or Sorceries) or discard and redraw your hand, she doesn’t really help you win the game. Sure, her minus eight is basically Past in Flames forever, but that requires you waiting for four turns without her been targeted. So yeah, she is bad. But does that mean there is no hope for Jaya in Standard? Certainly not. There are plenty of cards that are ‘bad’ on their own but become brilliant when they are put in the right deck. All we have to do is find that deck. And I believe I my have done just that.

First off, any deck that includes Jaya has got to be Instant or Sorcery heavy. Secondly, its got to be able to battle against the super-fast aggro deck of this current Standard meta. My original plan was to go with a Green/Red ramp deck and use a kicked Fight with Fire or a large Jaya’s Immolating Inferno to win the game. Sadly, the current Standard meta is not too kind to ramp strategies. But I believed I was on the right track with my win conditions, so I went back to the drawing board. The I then decided to go with a classic Counter/Burn brew and to my surprise, the deck performed quite well.

Having counter spells like Disallow, Essence Scatter and Supreme Will allowed the deck to battle against control brews like U/W Teferi. It also is able to incinerate anything that made it onto the battlefield with targeted removal in the form of Abrade, Magma Spray, Shock, Lightning Strike and Fight with Fire. We are also able to run early and late game sweepers with Sweltering Suns and Hour of Devastation to handle any go wide strategies.

As mentioned above the deck also runs a pair of Jaya’s Immolating Inferno to work as one of the win conditions. But in order to use this legendary spell, we need some legends. Two Jaya Ballard are of course a must, but we will also run a few copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. With both of these fine fire-starters on the Battlefield we can easily kick a Fight with Fire or pump an additional five mana into one of our Infernos, which should end the game in sort order. Chandra also works as a great secondary win con, as with her ultimate we basically get to strap on a Lava Axe onto all of our spells.

Speaking of secondary win con, the deck also runs three copies of Torrential Gearhulk for more flashback goodness. And finally, since we are clearly a control deck it would be rude not to include at least two copies of Search for Azcanta. The mana base is fairly straight forward running a health number of basic lands, with Sulfur Falls and Spirebluff Canal acting as our duals.

For the sideboard we include some extra copies of Abrade for dealing with vehicles, as well as another Torrential Gearhulk should we require more beat sticks. We also include a wealth of unsummon effects with two Blink of an Eye, River’s Rebuke and the O.G. Unsummon to out tempo problem permanents. Syncopate and Negate give us more game against control, while two copies of Fiery Cannonade help handle those pesky go wide strategies.

Planeswalkers (5)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Jaya Ballard

Creatures (3)
Torrential Gearhulk

Sorceries (10)
Fight with Fire
Sweltering Suns
Hour of Devastation
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno

Enchantments (2)
Search for Azcanta

Instants (16)
Abrade
Magma Spray
Shock
Lightning Strike
Disallow
Essence Scatter
Supreme Will
Lands (24)
Mountain
Island
Sulfur Falls
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Torrential Gearhulk
Fiery Cannonade
Unsummon
Blink of an Eye
Abrade
River's Rebuke
Syncopate
Negate

And there you have it, U/R Jaya for Standard. The deck still needs some tweaking, but the testing I have done with it so far has been promising. I am hoping to get the final few pieces together for Magic Arena the next time I get to crack the vault, so maybe I’ll have to do some virtual testing and video content to see how best I can maximise the deck effectiveness.

But what do you think? Is this the right shell for Jaya in Standard? Have you already been having success with her yourself? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. If you have enjoyed todays article why not like and share, it is a great way for you to help support and growth the site. But until next time remember Good Luck and Have Fun.

In response...