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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Sean's Jester Investor
January 22, 2013

I know, I know, it's been a long time since you guys have heard anything from me, and I apologize. It's been even longer, though, since we've heard from Sean, who used to be a Deck Mechanic as well. Today he's asking me for suggestions.. and offering me one as well.
Hello Bmoor, my name is Sean, and once upon a time I was a deck mechanic at pojo too.  I used to bounce deck ideas off you from time to time and even though I haven't sent an email to you in several years I have kept up on deck fixes and card reviews that you do.  I'm actually surprised you don't do small articles on cycles of cards and various archetypes with your sharp analytical skills.  Now I'm writing this message to you, hoping you get it, because I wanted your thoughts on a tweak I just made to my old favorite deck.  I've recently had the opportunity to play again with some friends in a very casual setting and I've dusted off my old Jester's Scepter deck, but after a little research I've made a few adjustments to it.  I just wanted to get your opinion on how it looks now and any thoughts you might have about improvements.  The deck list is as follows:

Drift of Phansms x4
Vedalken Mastermind x4

Paradox Haze x4
Boomerang x4
Mana Leak x4
Rune Snag x4

Jester's Scepter x4
Blood Clock x4
Sculpting Steel x4
Mishra's Bauble x4

Island x19
Academy Ruins x1

Any advice would be appreciated, and thanks for your time!  - Sean
Jester's Scepter certainly seems like a fun card, in the same way that Counterbalance is "fun". Every time your opponent plays a spell, there's that moment of "can he counter it?" With Counterbalance, it's the gamble of what CMC the blue mage can lock out this turn, and with the Scepter, it's "is this spell one of the five? what about this one?". Your opponent doesn't know whether you hit five lands with the Scepter or every piece of his combo, and just because you Sceptered a Cruel Ultimatum once (ouch!) doesn't mean that you don't have a second copy of Ultimatum still underneath the Scepter. But Counterbalance and the Scepter both imply a "window of safety". Once a Counterbalance player has shown you his top card, you know what CMC to avoid trying to cast that turn. With the Scepter, the coast is clear once you tap it.
In practice, however, these cards seem much less fun for the guy on the other side of the table because the people who play them work far too hard to exploit them. With Counterbalance, it's because the combo with Sensei's Divining Top eliminates the feeling of randomness, and of hope. The blue mage IS countering your every spell, and he's going to make you wait an extra 20 seconds while he rearranges his library every time you cast one.
But here, with your Jester's Scepter deck, the problem is that you've built the whole deck around bouncing and re-playing Scepters. When you bounce a Scepter, whatever was left underneath it stays exiled (face down) for good. Replay it, and you exile five more cards. But when I see Vedalken Mastermind and Blood Clock in your deck where a win condition should be, that tells me that you're building to win games by the Scepter alone. There's two big problems with that.
1. Your opponent has to sit there and wait for you to chew through his deck (assuming he's not just swinging at you with creatures you can't stop) and that could take a while.
2. Your two-card combo is just letting you pay 3U to mill five cards per turn. At that point you'd be better off just playing Keening Stone-- at least that speeds up as the game goes on and your opponent has fewer turns to find an answer.
As it stands, your only means of winning is to mill or with Blood Clock. And guess what? A player who has less than 2 life can't pay 2 life... and a player with no permanents on the board doesn't have to do either. Besides that, it will eventually get to the point that your opponent can just bounce something small and replay it each turn because he has the mana for it.
So what do you do? How can you make this deck strong enough to win without taking an hour and a half to do it, and without giving up on Jester's Scepter? Here's my suggestion.
OUT: 4 Vedalken Mastermind, 2 Paradox Haze, 4 Blood Clock
IN: 4 Prototype Portal, 2 Eternal Dominion, 4 Dream Stalker
Prototype Portal fits in well with Sculpting Steel to further your plan of a battlefield full of Scepters. Bouncing a Scepter leaves whatever was underneath it in Limbo for good, but putting a copy of the Scepter onto the field is less mana-intensive and leaves the original Scepter out, where it can continue to threaten a counterspell of whatever may or may not be underneath it. With enough Scepter tokens in play, you could conceivably have a counter for every spell left in the other guy's deck... or at least sit there and grin and pretend you do.
I didn't remove all four Paradox Hazes despite having removed the card they were originally there to combo with because they also combo very well with your new win condition-- Eternal Dominion. The Dominion fits in quite well with the Scepter's theme of tearing apart the opponent's library-- the Scepter does it five off the top at a time, while Dominion lets you pick what you take away. Better yet, it gives you whatever you extract, allowing you to win with your opponent's permanents. It does mean that you can't cast spells anymore, but Prototype Portal and the Scepters will ensure that you find uses for your mana. All the more reason Blood Clock needs to come out-- it doesn't work well with the Dominion.
Dream Stalker is basically just another 5-toughness dude to help you survive long enough to make this happen. Yes, it bounces your permanents and I said that you wanted to knock that off, but you need something to hold off creatures. Your need of blockers is the only reason I went with this instead of more Islands to accommodate Dominion's high cost. Maybe I should have said Silver or Palladium Myr instead?
That's pretty much everything I can think of regarding Jester's Scepter and this deck. I'm glad that even after my long absence, someone is still interested in my articles. Interested enough, even, to ask that I write more of them, about "cycles of cards and various archetypes..."



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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes