In this extensive and updated Commander primer Leonard unlocks his Pandora’s box of Jhoira secrets and insights — including a lengthy Deck Talk video and Return to Ravnica card suggestions.
Leonard takes his time (be forewarned) and explains every inch of his deck in this extensive Deck Talk special. Don’t forget to scour through the article below for the condensed version or if you are seeking yet additional hints and tips.
In a format such as Commander where players seemingly love to hug with relish the 30-turn mark, the general Jhoira of the Ghitu stands out from the rest of the cast, shattering that kind of slow-play ethos with her powerful suspend ability.
How does casting the most outrageous spells ever printed in Magic history sound for you? Powerful? What about casting those on a clean, previously wiped board state? Powerful enough?
Jhoira Rules the World
Jhoira’s game plan is a real sight to behold. Two uncolored mana are enough to suspend, with 4 time counters, cards like Worldfire, which annihilate any opposition. Following that up with a nicely suspended fattie (of which there are many in the deck) or, say, Omniscience will understandably meet little approval by your opponent or opponents.
As such, Jhoira’s true strength surely lies more in the 1-on-1 department than in multiplayer, for once your row of opponents takes sight of Jhoira and your suspending the most outrageous Magic cards, you might as well start playing multiplayer Commander with a Deathmark on your brow.
That is not to say that Jhoira isn’t perfectly capable of powering through such a wall of opposition. In fact, if you want to put your Jhoira EDH brew to the ultimate test, you should play more multiplayer games with her, where you are effectively up against a team of potent Vintage Singleton decks, all 3-on-1 against you.
Jhoira Loves You Back
A combo-control deck at heart, Jhoira might not the deck of choice for everyone. Let me correct myself: it certainly isn’t a deck for everyone. In order to help you determine whether it’s the right deck for you, go through our small checklist below.
Jhoira is the deck for you…
- if you’re looking for a rather affordable and competitive deck.
- if you like to cast the biggest creatures and most broken cards in Jhoira’s color identity (blue, red or colorless) that have seen print and are still legal in the format.
- if you like to play the short, quick game. By turn 3-5, which really means turn 7-9 in Jhoira’s future-sightish time meter (due to her suspend-4 ability), you generally have a pretty good idea of the outcome of the game.
- if you don’t mind being loathed by your opponents and targeted constantly in multiplayer games.
- if you’re a masochist.
If you can confidently agree on most of these points, Jhoira is your deck.
Jhoira Wants You to Care
Commanders who are the quintessential nucleus to their decks, such as the generals Zur the Enchanter or our very Jhoira of the Ghitu, require a highly streamlined list of those 99 cards. As a result, you’ll find that most of the card packages listed below fit a very specific role and can’t be messed with too much.
I will now go over each card worth commenting on in each of the dedicated role packages and propose runner-up cards that didn’t make the cut or are worth thinking about including into future revisions of this deck. I included a few suggestions in the mix from the upcoming Return to Ravnica as well.
Use the snapshot of my Jhoira list below as a reference point and in order to better keep track of these rather complicated Commander decks.
The main goal was to have the proper mana fixing to support the heavy-colored cards we’re running in this deck, while keeping the costs for such a mana base at a reasonable level. As such, there are lands included here (like the basic fetchers, etc.) that could easily be upgraded with more expensive fixing — it’s not ultimately necessary though. I paid special attention to include as few tapped lands and colorless lands as possible. Cavern of Souls should probably be included in here as well; it’s just awesome to go to battle with it against countermagic (Talrand & Co).
- Homeward Path: In any case, you should run this land even though it’s a little on the expensive side. It replaces Brand, thus effectively saving you a whole card slot.
- Tolaria West: Not only does this find you any value land (like Homeward Path), but it can also fetch Pact of Negation or ramp in Mana Crypt. Well worth playing in any blue-based deck!
- Ancient Tomb: I can’t urge you enough to play this. It ramps and works nicely with Jhoira’s ability.
Ramp & Fixing
Jhoira doesn’t need much in terms of fixing or ramp simply because you rather suspend stuff than hard-cast it. However, you’d still want to ramp to at least five mana as soon as you can (for casting Jhoira plus one suspend activation), and this package will help you get there assisting you in staying alive in the game if the Jhoira plan fails.
- Trinket Mage: He can fetch you ramp or Sensei’s Divining Top. Every blue-based deck should run it (so do we here).
- Darksteel Ingot: This is probably the loosest slot in the entire package. However, it has some synergy with a large portion of the board sweepers that don’t exile permanents, so it will mostly stick post-wipe. Once Return to Ravnica gets released, we can easily swap it out for Izzet Keyrune, which has a heavy upside (man-artifact & draw). Chromatic Lantern would be the other option.
The draw package helps your early game get going, especially if you’re in need for digging for a certain type of threat (usually a fattie or sweeper). It’s important to understand here that Jhoira’s late game, in other words Eldrazi & Co, really is her early game. Getting the card draw right is essential to any Jhoira deck.
- Mystic Remora: This is the real star of the draw package. There’s no way any opponent’s going to pay four colorless mana so that you draw no card. Remora thus rightfully gets the nod over outdated cards like Rhystic Study.
- Sensei’s Divining Top: This is a staple and you should run it despite not having many shuffle effects in the deck. As a recurrent effect it does it’s job, though, of setting up your turns.
- Impulse: I chose this over Preordain simply because, at instant speed, it finds you the very specific card you’ll need to close the game. Same goes for Fact or Fiction over Deep Analysis (see below).
- Jace Beleren: That little Jace comes sooner into play than his big brother could have a significant impact in blitz-type games. However, in terms of sheer power level it’s probably better just to include Jace 2.0 — if you can afford him. It’s important to note that, while planeswalkers are underrepresented in Commander, they are the type of card that’ll stick the most likely after a board-wipe.
- Memory Jar: I’m not a fan of this card largely because it’s expensive and requires you to have Jhoira going already, or some form of board action.
- Deep Analysis: It’s very solid if you don’t have to keep mana open for countermagic or removal, or if you can discard it, and then recast it for its flashback cost. However, I’d always cut it for Fact or Fiction because you don’t want to tap out on your turn all that often, especially not for a full four mana, and FoF finds you whatever you’re looking for and more.
The Utility package really is a potpourri of the all the support cards that fit into neither of the other categories. That being said, a lot of the card slots are exchangeable according to your local meta or personal taste.
- Fury Charm: This card has a much higher versatility than Clockspinning. It’s ability to destroy artifacts is especially useful in Commander where players rely on their cheap artifact ramp.
- Phyrexian Metamorph: This clone beats most other cards in terms of versatility. Kill an opposing general? Check. Copy an artifact mana source? Check. This is part of the clone package together with the wonderful morphling Vesuvan Shapeshifter.
- Capsize: Spells with a recurrent effect deserve our every attention. This is one of the best for a blue-based deck. It’s red brother is Reiterate.
- Chaos Warp: This is your premiere removal spell if you’re in a pinch. It helps burying those pesky generals that you failed to counter and can be tutored up easily (Mystical Tutor). In rare instance you can use it on your own creatures since your chances of drawing into a bomb are not that unlikely.
- Quicksilver Amulet: Your alternative Jhoira if you will. I can’t state enough how powerful this card is in a Jhoira deck especially with early accelerants.
- Spin into Myth: Effective removal in Commander is harder to come by than you might think. This may be a bit on the expensive side, but it can bury an opposing general for the rest of the game.
- Blatant Thievery: If you’re into Jhoira, you’re most likely not playing multiplayer much. As such, if you’re only snatching one permanent off your enemy, this is useless and too overcosted.
Jhoira’s game plan is to shell out (read: suspend) a board-wipe followed by a fattie. At times you can also hard-cast some of the lower-costed sweepers. Counters are there to make sure that your suspended permanents come into play and to protect Jhoira or to interfere with your opponent’s game plan.
- Pact of Negation: This is basically the affordable substitute to Force of Will.
- Mana Drain: Though costly, it’s definitely worth buying Mana Drain. This counterspell is a win condition on its own and can accelerate you into heaven very early on or if your opponent has pulled ahead through ramping.
- Memory Lapse: A great counterspell that time-walks your opponent. Gets the clear nod over cards like Remand.
- Exclude: This spell looks way worse than it actually is. Commander is still a creature-based format, and this will come in handy against opposing generals — at single-blue even.
- Hinder: Probably the best counterspell in Commander, since it can defeat decks that rely heavily on their general (like Jhoira or Zur, for instance). A must-include if you ask me; Spell Crumple hits in the same vein and could be a potential addition.
- Venser, Shaper Savant: This is a very recent addition of mine. A signature blue card, Venser pretty much functions as a counterspell here but can fill other purposes as well in conjunction with the rest of the deck or just as a blocker. Occasionally, he comes in handy to attack planeswalkers back as any flash creatures does.
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: “The Tef” mostly disables opposing countermagic and spot removal. A Jhoira staple.
- Rewind: I’m not a big fan at all of this since there’s so much better stuff out there to replace it with (cf. Spell Crumple or Memory Lapse).
This category reads more like stalling your opponent. We have actual Time Walks in here, land denial, and Paradox Haze to speed up your suspended stuff. Since we’re not going to combo for infinite turns (takes too long), I shrank down this section to run more sweepers and creatures. A must-play as is.
- Apocalypse: For just five mana you’re in the exiling-everything business.
- Sunder: Look at it, a land-defying blue card at instant speed!
- Worldfire: I’ve had players fume over this card. While it’s counterable, and therefore not as good as Obliterate perhaps, it’s just scary for everyone if it resolves, even for the caster. If your opponent has a very low-costed general, you could be in a world of pain should you have no creature follow-up in the pipeline or in case you’re playing against a larger number of enemies, especially against guys with burn spells.
Runners-up: Blasphemous Act
And finally, the fatties. Here’s the real meat, and there are all kinds of configurations out there depending on one’s personal taste. I deem the Eldrazi 4-beast squad an auto-include though. Annihilator does make a hell of a difference on keeping a wiped board clean and empty as it should be or to make pretty sure your attacking has an impact.
- Omniscience: While not a creature, it’s a game-ender nonetheless. This also demonstrates that every new set, whether core set or not, requires close deckbuilder attention.
- Arcanis the Omnipotent: Together with Sphinx of Uthuun, Consecrated Sphinx and Niv-Mizzet, this belongs to the draw-card fatties subpackage. While they are not Eldrazi, these card-draw creatures are important to keep you in the game. After a complete board-wipe it matters not so much what creature is the last beast standing, and it’s good to have some lower-costed creatures as well that can be hardcast if needed.
- Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: Don’t let his low power and toughness fool you. This guy ends games, at least for one opponent at the table and thus is more geared towards 1-on-1.
- Akroma, Angel of Fury: I wanted at least one creature that is uncounterable. He can also be morphed into (cast as a three-drop), though opponents overly familiar with the Jhoira archetype won’t be surprised very much. I can see this getting the axe over Bogardan Hellkite who works better in conjunction with Worldfire for instance. But I love my creatures to have some form of protection, still.
- Inkwell Leviathan: Untouchable trampler who connects. Does the job for me.
- Greater Gargadon: While underwhelming as a fattie, it’s pretty good still because you don’t have to rely on Jhoira for the suspend part.
Many Jhoira lists run the Twin/Kiki combo consisting of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Splinter Twin, Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch just to have another win condition in the deck that doesn’t rely on Jhoira at all. That kind of combo is hard to counter in Commander and yet efficient (if not cheesy). However, Jhoira decks generally lack any way of tutoring up those combo pieces which tends to make this whole combo idea look rather absurd in a 99-card deck. Same goes for the Niv-Mizzet combo package which we do not run. Rather, I decided to use these free slots to further consolidate the main game plan.
How does your Jhoira brew look like? Have you got some insane card suggestions? Leave your feedback in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!