So there I was, hiking through an amazing landscape of cliff and sea on the island of Santorini when the bomb was dropped. Much to the dismay of my loving and supportive wife, I stopped dead in my tracks, in the middle of our hike, to check the latest Banned and Restricted announcement.
Eye of Ugin Banned
Ancestral Visions Unbanned
Sword of the Meek Unbanned
"Well that escalated quickly"
I didn't have much time to Ponder this, as my duties lied in being an engaged and loving husband. But in the depths, the gears began turning.
While staring out at the Aegean sea on my way back to Athens, it struck me. Now would be a good time to write an article about what those gears have been doing. Clearly, I am still on vacation, but I had a chance to play a few test games with a friend and I have a few preliminary observations to share.
My fear was that we, the Geist deck, do not apply enough early pressure to invalidate the power of turn one suspended Ancestral Visions (referred to from here as AV). In short, we don't kill them fast enough, AV resolves and we lose.
Since Geist is so good against control, you'd often do something at the end of their turn to try and prompt a reaction so you could safely resolve Geist. If that happened the odds of you winning rise dramatically.
The problem against the new control decks is that all of that setup time means you give their turn one suspend AV time to resolve. Which is obviously bad. Once they resolve even one, they are so far ahead on cards it's going to be difficult to win.
You can try and fight over the AV, but if they win the counter war, the results are catastrophic. You expend your resources, they refill their hand. You will likely lose the game.
If you were both hellbent (empty handed) Geist was always an amazing top deck. Now that control decks have the Thopter combo, this isn't always the case. Geist is a do nothing against the combo.
In the past you could generally slam Geist on three, and if they countered it, while not desired, it wasn't the end of the world. You essentially had all the time in the world to try again. Now if the control opponent has suspended a turn one AV, and counters your Geist, they have an inevitability they didn't have before as they are really close to drawing three cards.
If the control player is on the play, and you slam Geist on your turn thee, they can counter, and on their turn 4 put the combo into play.
The games in which my opponent went turn one visions all went poorly for me.
Can the Jeskai Geist Deck beat Ancestral Visions/Thopter Combo powered control decks? Yes, of course it can, but I am not yet ready to call the matchup good or bad. I simply wanted to post some observations. T1 Ancestral Visions is very powerful. It may be that we need to either join them or look for some ways to fight it with cards like Ricochet Trap.