Love it or hate it, Jace, the Mind Sculptor will soon be Modern legal. While I could spend today debating the merits of whether or not this was a good change for the format, that seems far less productive than simply preparing ourselves for what we already know is happening. Today, my goal is to take a bunch of Jace shaped noodles and throw them at the wall. Hopefully a few of them stick and we find something worth tuning a bit more.
While there are a lot of different possible shells Jace could shine in, I think the ones I am most interested in trying / tuning are the Black based shells. Unlike Legacy, where we have Force of Will to protect our powerful threats, the countermagic in Modern is somewhat lacking. This means our best chance to stick game ending Jaces will often come when we have preceded our threat with some proactive disruption such as Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek.
There are a lot of different possible based control shells to explore, so let's take a look at a few of them first:
U/B Control -- Modern | Jeff Hoogland
The core of this deck is pretty much all reasonable Modern cards. We have eight pieces of discard to proactively strip our opponent's answers to our planeswalkers away. We have Fatal Push and Snapcaster Mage to help keep more aggressive decks in check. We have eight one-mana cantrips to help tie it all together so we can consistently execute our game plan every single match. Thing in the Ice might look a little odd on the surface, but it blocks early, can reset a messy board to keep our planeswalkers alive, and can pressure combo decks.
The biggest draw to a straight shell over splashing a third color is a consistent and mostly pain free mana base. It also gives us room to play copies of Field of Ruin as main deck interaction and disruption. The downside to not playing a third color is that it leaves us a bit cold to many resolved permanents.
One of the larger downsides to straight Control previous was a lack of clean answers to threats that were too large to Fatal Push. While Jace, the Mind Sculptor does not answer these threats fully, it does create a lot of tempo by Unsummoning them. Especially against threats being played for cheap via the delve mechanic.
If we wanted to explore third colors, though, splashing is generally pretty easy in Modern:
Sultai Control -- Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Sorceries (15)
- 2 Collective Brutality
- 2 Maelstrom Pulse
- 3 Inquisition of Kozilek
- 4 Serum Visions
- 4 Thoughtseize
This gives us access to Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse for answering whatever trouble might appear on the other side of the board through our hand disruption. It also gives us access to Tarmogoyf as an efficient beater / defensive creature for protecting our planeswalkers.
Thinking of beaters -- pairing Jace with something slightly more aggressive might also be an OK direction to take:
Grixis Control -- Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Planeswalkers (2)
- 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Snapcaster Mage paired with Lightning Bolt is one of the best of control plays that also allows us to be aggressive in Modern. Then we pair these with the pressure, and card advantage, that Young Pyromancer and Bedlam Reveler can generate and we might really have something. Jace paired with Bedlam is a combo of sorts even because it lets us Brainstorm the cards we want to keep in our hand when play Bedlam to the top of our deck to redraw them with the Bedlam's trigger.
All of these things being said -- Jace, the Mind Sculptor is most certainly not a one trick pony! I think there are going to be many different shells out there that could potentially leverage Jace, so I wanted to close out today with two other options we could slot the planeswalker into:
BLT Jaceshift -- Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Planeswalkers (2)
- 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Sorceries (16)
- 1 Anger of the Gods
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Hunting Wilds
- 1 Supreme Verdict
- 2 Farseek
- 2 Scapeshift
- 4 Bring to Light
- 4 Search for Tomorrow
This is a fairly "traditional" Bring to Light Scapeshift shell (as far as traditional can get for a tier 3~ deck), with a pair of the powerful planeswalker slotted right on in. Jace can help us find our namesake cards in the late game, while also just coming down to impact the board quickly as early as turn three. Jace also gives us the ability to put extra mountains we might have drawn back into our deck to combo with later.
The last Jace deck on the docket is a two for one in terms of once banned cards. Addition to freeing Jace into Modern, as of Monday Bloodbraid Elf will also be legal:
Temur Evolution -- Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Creatures (23)
- 1 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 1 Pestermite
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Bounding Krasis
- 2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 4 Deceiver Exarch
- 4 Tarmogoyf
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Instants (4)
- 4 Lightning Bolt
Reminiscent of "Tarmo-Twin" from Modern formats of seasons past, this is an aggressively slanted combo deck that should utilize all the parts of the Jace buffalo nicely -- especially his -1 ability to clear blockers off of the board. It is important to remember that whatever spell we cascade into with Bloodbraid Elf will resolve before the Elf herself does. This means that you will not be able to sacrifice the Elf to an Eldritch Evolution she cascades into. While this is a bit less than ideal, I think both of these cards are powerful enough to warrant playing.
Only time will tell if freeing the Mind Sculptor from his prison will bring good or bad things to Modern as a format. Personally, I am optimistic that it will give some of the Blue based fair decks in the format some real staying power as the best decks in the format. If you are interested in seeing some of the above Jace decks in action, as well as others, be sure to drop by my YouTube Channel for some stream archives where I plan to be playing Jace a ton in Modern in the coming weeks!
What Jace deck do you like best starting off? What shells are you interested in testing him out in, but are not quite sure where to start? Let me know in a comment below!