I love a good combo deck. If a combo deck is a competitive option, I’ll always gravitate toward it. Finding the line to put the pieces of the puzzle together stimulates a part of my brain in a way that attacking with and removing creatures never could.
While the intention may have been to give turbo-prowess triggers to your creatures and maybe help push a token deck, Jeskai Ascendancy has been a combo card since the beginning, even in a format like Standard. In Modern, the deck proved to be busted as a way to quickly fuel your graveyard to turn Treasure Cruise into Ancestral Recall with a consistency no other deck could. Since the banning of the delve spells in Modern, Ascendancy hasn’t seen much success, but it is absolutely still powerful. Ascendancy pushes you toward playing few creatures and lots of spells, but that’s not too much to ask in a format like Modern. Being able to churn through your deck with the cantrips that help fuel Ascendancy means you’re more likely to find your namesake card. Once the enchantment is online, every spell you cast will let you see an additional card, allowing the engine to keep running.
This also means Ascendancy is weak to decks that can stop it. This is a real problem, as you can only play 4 copies and many versions can’t realistically win without having one stick in play. With decks packing lots of Thoughtseizes, Inquisition of Kozileks, or cards like Abrupt Decay that can remove your win condition, that can be a big problem. Discard can be mitigated by finding more copies, but you’re going to be under some pressure and that’s not always easy to do.
The nice part about Ascendancy Combo is that the Jeskai colors offer some excellent interaction in the form of cheap spells that you’re happy to play in your combo deck. Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile are ways to make sure your life total isn’t under too much pressure in the early stages of the game. They can also both be fired off under most circumstances if you just need to dig deeper while going off with Ascendancy. Remand doubles as a tempo play and as a card drawer that can help you find important pieces. This deck will Remand its own spells more than any other deck, as you will get the “loot” trigger from your Ascendancy for both the spell and Remand itself, allowing you to see many cards when mana isn’t an issue.
With Treasure Cruise banned, you need more ways to get ahead on cards. Ascendancy will allow you to churn through your deck, but you’re going to also have to get ahead. Visions of Beyond turns on incredibly quickly in this deck, as you’re casting spells and looting cards into your graveyard. Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand will help set you up, Gitaxian Probe lets you get ahead on mana while staying even on cards, and Thought Scour can get you the critical mass you need in the graveyard. Faithless Looting does a little of both in providing stock for your ‘yard and helping to find the needed tools.
Fatestitcher is how the deck achieves its mana advantage. Every spell cast allows you to untap all of your creatures with Ascendancy, meaning that Fatestitcher can untap an additional land. Being able to discard any Fatestitchers to the Ascendancy, not to mention those milled off Thought Scour, means that having them in the graveyard to unearth is exactly where you want them. They’ll have haste, multiples can produce tons of mana, and they’ll grow to epic sizes. With enough untap triggers from Ascendancy, you can start using Fatestitchers to tap down as many blockers as an opponent may have before they come across themselves for massive damage.
This same trick for creating mana works if you activate a Faerie Conclave. It will only be able to tap for blue, but it will provide a “free” mana when casting Serum Visions, Sleights, Scours, and Visions while you dig for action.
As a backup to Ascendancy, you have Pyromancer’s Ascension. With ways to loot and mill, you’ll load up your graveyard quickly. Ascension will give you extra ways to draw cards, allowing you to get further ahead. Each active Ascension will produce additional copies of something like Lightning Bolt, so you even have a way to win the game if your Ascendancies all get exiled—albeit not an easy one.
Ascendancy is one of the coolest cards and most entertaining decks for players like me to try to win with. There’s even a “transformational” sideboard to bring in Young Pyromancers and punish people for taking out their creature removal for enchantment hate. Ascendancy is a viable deck, and one you should keep in mind every time a new set comes out that might provide additional spell fuel!