“There are many Jeskai styles: Riverwalk imitates flowing water, Dragonfist the ancient hellkites, and Flying Crane the wild aven of the high peaks.” – Flying Crane Technique flavor text.
The Jeskai clan from Magic the Gathering’s Khans of Tarkir set is definitely full of red, white, and blue cards that have plenty of stories to tell. Among the most memorable are Narset, Enlightened Master and Monastery Mentor. But, there is one Jeskai card who does have a bit of a story to tell who may have been long forgotten by now: a very neat Instant spell called Flying Crane Technique.
The flavor of this spell card is spot on for the Jeskai clan. It’s a powerful combat trick that can blow out an opponent on either offense or defense. Of course, six mana in three different colors is fairly hard to cast. Still, this card has great synergy with Jeskai clan leader Narset, Enlightened Master and the Prowess ability on many of the clan’s other cards.
The Prowess ability gives Jeskai’s creatures an additional +1/+1 boost until the end of the turn whenever you cast a noncreature spell. That boost already realized, having those same creatures gain flying and double strike is extremely deadly. Still, six a lot of mana to play at instant speed. However, it does untap all creatures you control and it’s a heck of a game-changer.
Did anyone actually ever play this card in Standard? As it turns out, there is one example of a Monastery Mentor Standard deck back in 2015 that DID run a copy of Flying Crane Technique! Of course, it happened to be in the deck’s sideboard. Still, the fact that this card was in the 75 of a deck that made it to the Top 4 of a Super Invitational Qualifier is definitely a cool part of this Magic the Gathering card’s story.
A common question that’s asked about Flying Crane Technique is if you can cast it even after you declare attacks. You can indeed declare attackers, then cast it, and get the full effect, including the untap. However, if blockers are declared, any creatures that are declared blocked will still be blocked even if they gain flying.
On the other hand, gaining double strike can affect the outcome against those blockers. Keep in mind, however, that creatures that come into play after you cast this will not gain flying or double strike. This card only affects those creatures that you control as you cast it.
Without a doubt this Instant spell is a finisher. If you happen to attack with Narset, Enlightened Master and exile it using her ability, you even get to cast it at Instant Speed for free. This card can easily end the game on its own, especially if cast for free.
Of course, the best use of this card was alongside Monastery Mentor, who creates a Monk token with prowess anytime you cast a noncreature spell. Those tokens become a lot mightier with flying and double strike. Of course, leaving six mana open for this card is not a likely scenario in most competitive Constructed scenarios.
One place the Technique can definitely be good is in Commander, where Narset EDH decks have run it with some success in years past. Other White/Blue/Red Commanders such as Eisha of the Infinite, Kykar, Wind’s Fury, Ruhan of the Fomori and Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest have integrated it into some of their builds, as well.
Flying Crane Technique was mostly a bulk rare Limited bomb that would occasionally make a surprise appearance in Standard. But, it’s a flavorful card that can find a home in certain Commander decks, especially those with lots of Prowess. As a crazy powerful combat trick that’s potentially game winning, this card does its job. But, at that high of a mana cost, it’s not going to be part of a consistent winning strategy.