Earlier this week I published some thoughts on the first few batches of Dragons of Tarkir spoilers. I was always planning on writing a few more once the pool built back up a bit, but little did I know WotC was going to punk me by spoiling a huge card the very next day, Narset Transcendent. Apparently Sarkhan's fooling around with the timeline lead to a pretty big upgrade. Not only has her spark ignited as a planeswalker, but she's easily the most powerful card spoiled so far. She might even be the best blue planeswalker since Jace, Architect of Thought. She's way less fragile than Kiora, the Crashing Wave - though Narset doesn't have any way to protect herself, and she supports your own deck's plans rather than being more dependent on your opponents like Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. And what about Jace, the Living Guildpact? Yeah, let's just pretend that never got printed. Also it's worth noting this is our second UW planeswalker, rest in peace Venser, the Sojourner. We will always carry you in our hearts, well at least Karn Liberated will. Terrible lore jokes aside, I was planning on writing about the Dragons of Tarkir mechanics today, but Narset is way too great to pass up. So instead here are a few deck ideas for Jeskai's leading lady.
I'd challenge anyone to look at Narset Transcendent and not, at least initially, think control. Her +1 and -2 are right at home in a deck with lots of spells and few, if any, creatures. You want a deck shell that's going to hit at least 50% of the time on the +1, and that has plenty of spells to take advantage of her -2. Getting to double up your removal spells helps you keep you ahead and stabilize, even if the second one is a little slower. A rebounded wrath might seem a little counterproductive, but this does have a pseudo-Time Walk effect against creature decks as they can't just afford to throw more creatures to their death. Initially I was playing around with UW and Jeskai shells, but I was less pleased with the results. UW, for instance, leans on spells like Banishing Light which can't be rebound. One thing to keep in mind is that Narset Transcendent doesn't actually act as a win condition on her own. Her ultimate might effectively win the control mirror, but she doesn't actually do anything to win the game on her own. Honestly, she'd be much better in an Elixir of Immortality style control deck, but we have to work with what we've got.
Also a minor Judge Justin moment since I've seen this in a few places. While rebounding Temporal Trespass sounds like amazing value, it sadly won't work. Temporal Trespass exiles itself as part of its resolution.
This is a deck I brewed up by taking the existing Sultai Planeswalker/Delve shell and swapping out all those dirty Swamps for some pristine Plains. The big selling point for this version is that it has a lot of ways to reset the top card of the deck, so when you have a Courser of Kruphix in play your Narset Transcendent +1 has a much better chance of hitting. It also gets some other great interactions like using Ojutai's Command to cantrip back a Satyr Wayfinder to really fuel up your delve. All of which get even better if you start rebounding some of the really powerful delve spells as well. The only aspect of the list I haven't nailed down yet is that I wanted to play some [Ugin, the Spirit Dragon]s, but it doesn't play as nicely with Banishing Light which gets swept up and brings their stuff back.
4x Stoke the Flame
The Jeskai Token deck has proven to be quite the powerful shell over the last few months, once a Jeskai Ascendancy lands it almost feels like it's not playing Magic by the same rules when it's convoking Stoke the Flames and fueling up Treasure Cruises all while growing the team. It's arguable that this last deck actually see more from the reprint of Dragon Fodder than Narset Transcendent, which brings the list up to a full twelve token produces. That Dragon Fodder makes red goblins is even important for Stoke the Flames convokes and Goblin Rabblemaster. It also means that the creature count is low enough in order to support Narset Transcendent. This deck also has a fairly good chance of being able to play Narset Transcendent and use her -2 on the same turn because of convoke or the relatively cheap costs. Narset Transcendent can basically make all your token generation spells into Lingering Souls. It also helps that most of the spells have alternate modes or targets, just because you used a Jeskai Charm to Griptide a creature doesn't mean you can't just dome them for four on the rebound.