Jace, the Mind Sculptor hasn’t made a solid impact in Modern yet. There are some decks with it poppin up, but it’s safe to say Bloodbraid Elf is making more of a statement. I think, in general, it’s quite difficult to build a deck in Modern that can take full advantage of the Planeswalker. I’ve played quite a few decks, and while most of the Jace decks have fallen flat, I’ve had one that has looked good above all others.
On and off Blue Moon decks have struggled to keep up in the format. Trying to piece together enough card advantage and right answers to be a better control deck than the rest of the format is a rough place to be in. Ancestral Vision gave hope for control mages, but wasn’t really the kind of card control was hoping for. While great, Ancestral Vision is incredibly slow and clunky and didn’t really fit in. Jace, the Mind Sculptor could be the card advantage engine the deck has been craving.
On first glance, there’s a lot of tension playing Blood Moon and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. At its best, Jace pairs well with Fetchlands when you’re able to remove some of your worse cards. However, when playing a pure control deck, I think it’s reasonable to be able to just bury your opponent with Jace advantage. When a lot of your cards are redundant it’s easy to draw into a massive amount of answers. Generally, we want to play Jace when the game is locked up we will be looking to close it out utilizing Jace’s plus two as a way to put the game far out of reach.
Blood Moon is a card that moves in and out of favor, but right now, with Eldrazi decks on the rise and three color mana bases, I believe Blood Moon to be in a good spot. While Blood Moon is going to be decidedly average against most Jund variants, a timely Spreading Seas may be all you need to close the door. While there will be some Blood Moon into Jace games, I’d take it most games will take some maneuvering.
Let’s take a look at the build and then get into choices.
Blue Moon ? Modern | Rudy Briksza
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Instants (15)
- 1 Mana Leak
- 1 Repeal
- 2 Electrolyze
- 2 Logic Knot
- 2 Spell Snare
- 3 Cryptic Command
- 4 Lightning Bolt
- Artifacts (1)
- 1 Engineered Explosives
- Lands (24)
- 1 Mountain
- 6 Island
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Desolate Lighthouse
- 1 Sulfur Falls
- 3 Flooded Strand
- 3 Steam Vents
- 4 Misty Rainforest
- 4 Scalding Tarn
I’ve seen a lot of builds of control decks with very few Jace and a lot of Cryptic Commands. Personally, since we’re leaning so much on very few win conditions, I’m going to sit on having more Jaces here. Cryptic is still a fantastic card, in a deck without “hard” removal Cryptic can end up working overtime, so, in this case, I’m going to split them both.
Playing only three Blood Moon may seem a little odd. While the card is extremely powerful and useful, it gets clunky in multiples; and, in its good matchups, you’ll also have four Spreading Seas. The biggest issue with Blood Moon is the time needed to set up your mana or protect yourself. This isn’t a deck where jamming Blood Moon is always correct and I wanted to not have them clogging up my hand when I need to make sure I’m controlling the board. While there are some games Blood Moon is the best thing to be doing, it won't be difficult to discover when this is the case. In general, I think it’s safer to lock up the game instead of keeping yourself in a worse position because it’s easy to jam Blood Moon. Instead, it will be beneficial to jam when better.
Since Lightning Bolt is better now than it has ever been, this leads to cards like Tarmogoyf and Thought-Knot Seer pick up in value. Creatures with value attached start to get better, and while trying to beat Thought-Knot Seer isn’t always going to be easy to kill, something like Tarmogoyf should be easy to manage. Engineered Explosives gives us a nice easy way out to some troublesome cheap permanents. We can’t afford to play multiple copies of a card to deal with Tarmogoyf, but having an out is going to be fairly relevant as long as Jund is going to be popular. In games without Blood Moon, there’s also always an out to three mana permanents, like Liliana planeswalkers, as well. This is a deck where Spell Snare is going to be working overtime. Some of the two mana creatures are tough to deal with, and not being forced to find an Engineered Explosives is going to help keep us in the game longer.
How does this deck stack up against Jund?
Surprisingly well. In testing, the hardest cards to beat are Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil. Post board, if a Jund player has access to Thrun, the Last Troll, this can also be tough. While Bloodbraid Elf is, of course, going to be a great draw against control decks as a two for one, the Elf itself is easy to manage. With plenty of targeted removal that efficiently deals with Bloodbraid Elf, the free card is what you really need to worry about. Trying to leverage a lot of burn to remove Liliana can leave you weak to creatures just attacking. The downside to playing this variation, versus Jeskai, is without Lightning Helix there isn’t a Healing Salve located in your deck to drag you out of tough spots. Your life total is truly a resource here, and it’s in limited commodities. Keeping the board clear against Jund will make Blood Moon have a higher impact on the game.
Post board, we get to add creatures such as Thing in the Ice and Torrential Gearhulk as a way to circumvent some of the board cards our opponent might be bringing in. While I am a little worried about Chokes in the future, a flipped Thing in the Ice will do wonders to close a game out. Torrential Gearhulk is just a huge beating, but the main reason for its inclusion is to have something that stops Thrun from attacking or can clean up Planeswalkers in a quick shot. While the creature plan isn’t new, it is still likely good enough post board here as well.
How does this deck stack up to other Jace decks?
This is a place where I think Blue Moon is going to shine. While it seems awkward, Blood Moon and Spreading Seas are going to be fantastic against Jeskai; and, with on the rise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blood Moon also make an impact. Shutting down Celestial Colonnade is big game, and since their planeswalkers are mostly double White, it is reasonable to close them off from being able to cast them with Spreading Seas as well. While there are some dead cards Game 1, you won’t have anything as truly dead as Path to Exile is, and that gives a slight edge. If the opponent sees you casting Serum Visions early on, there’s some free edges to be gained with Blood Moon that can win Game 1s on their own. Post board we get access to hard to deal with creatures that leave our opponent with worse sideboard configurations in order to manage what we are throwing at them.
I’m excited to get into Modern and hope that Blue Moon is something I’m able to play while keeping up with everything that’s going on in the format!