Jace in Modern

I honestly thought this day would never come. Jace is arguably the strongest card printed in the Modern era of Magic and I get to play it alongside my favorite Blue cards once again. It has been many years since Jace was legal in Standard and it was an absolute house. Jace guided me to my first ever Grand Prix top 8.

I guess you could say I’m happy to be brewing with my old pal.

Where to begin?

There are a few approaches you can take to add Jace into your deck:

  • Use early resources to grind the game to a topdeck war and win with fateseal.
  • Ramp into Jace using mana dorks like Noble Hierarch.
  • Just throw him into a deck because he’s great.

Today I’m going to talk about a list that fits each of these three categories.

Let’s get to it!

Grixis Value

I had an article ready to go about Corey Burkhart’s control deck from PT: Rivals of Ixalan, but thanks to Jace I have a different approach for Grixis. Four Cryptic Commands aren’t appealing when I have to make room for the powerful planeswalker.


Search for Azcanta
This deck draws a lot of cards and has plenty of ways to put Jace into play. The main point of this deck is to disrupt your opponent’s early threats and attack their hand. There aren’t any counters in the main deck because they don’t play well with tapping out for Jace. If my plan is to resolve Jace the opponent can hold their spells until I tap out. In decks like Jeskai I don’t have a good idea of what’s in my opponent’s hand which reduces the value of fateseal.

Search for Azcanta and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy are other Blue card advantage engines that naturally sculpt draws. Since there are so many of these effects I don’t need to play more copies of Jaces and Searches than I want as they have diminishing returns.

At what point can I cut win conditions and bury my opponent in card advantage? I think Jace, the Mind Sculptor pushes you over that edge. I’ve already seen a threat consolidation for finishers in control decks and that trend will continue. Torrential Gearhulk, Kalitas, and other haymakers are at an all-time low.

Brainstorming with Jace is a combo with Search for Azcanta because I can put a bad card on top and then mill it next turn. I can also brainstorm with Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin to activate and put the two cards on the bottom of my library. I foresee winning with fateseal more often against uninteractive decks. Brainstorming is very strong against generic Modern threats when I can answer them for a single mana.

Vendilion Clique is stronger with Jace in the format because I can flash it in at the end of turn to make sure the coast is clear. It’s another way to see the opponent’s hand to get information for fatesealing. I can also flash in Clique to attack opposing Jaces for three damage. The value of three damage goes through the roof as it forces the opponent to fateseal when they would otherwise want to brainstorm. Clique is also a way for me to cycle a bad Game 1 card such as Fatal Push versus a combo deck.

Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage is still great, but he got better with Jace. I can attack an opposing Jaces for two damage which means he can be finished off with Lightning Bolt after a fateseal. It will also change the dynamic of Bloodbraid Elf versus Jace because a 2/1 can trade off with a 3/2 haste.

Discard spells went from good to great thanks to Jace. As the game goes long players cast spells from the top of their deck and this is a problem for Inquisition and Thoughtseize. If I end up with discard spells in my hand in the late game I can brainstorm them away with Jace. This deck is unique because I actually love having discard spells in the late game because bouncing creatures is easy thanks to Jace’s -1 Unsummon ability as well as Rise // Fall.

Thought Scour engines also got a boost with Jace. Brainstorming combos with fetchlands, but it’s even more powerful to put two useless cards on top and then mill them. I can flip Search for Azcanta quickly which can help me cast Jace earlier, too.

Serum Visions allows me to cheat on lands while helping me get to 4 mana for Jace. The scry 2 enables me to put one card I don’t want from my hand second from the top after brainstorming to get it to the bottom of the deck. I flash it back often with Snapcaster Mage and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is still very strong with the Thought Scour engine, but got slightly weaker because he can be bounced by Jace. The card advantage ability on Tasigur does combo nicely with Jace since I can mill the two cards I don’t want. It might be good that Tasigur gets bounced because I can delve an additional time to get stronger cards with his ability. A ⅘ is pretty beefy and protecting Jace when he enters the battlefield is important. If Tasigur dies it might even be preferable because of Kolaghan’s Command and Rise // Fall. Remember to keep your creatures in the graveyard when delving as well as your most powerful spells to flash back.

Creeping Tar Pit
Creeping Tar Pit got a boost because it’s an innocuous land that can deal three damage to opposing Jaces. The opponent needs to respect it and fateseal. If this Grixis deck ends up playing the 21st land I will add one. Since I only have twenty lands I want them all into play untapped.

The discard suite should draw some attention. Inquisition of Kozilek is great because it doesn’t lose me life and I can bounce cheap creatures in the late game and discard them. It misses Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf so the power level is slightly lower than before.

Thoughtseize is great, but I plan on casting many discard spells each game so the two life adds up quickly. It can discard Jace and Bloodbraid Elf.

Blackmail is the best to topdeck late as the opponent rarely has more than three cards in hand. Discarding a land can be strong to enable Rise // Fall to act as a Hymn to Tourach. Since I need to interact with every threat in my opponent’s hand I don’t care if they can protect their best card or whatever will follow in their curve. The more discard you play the fewer cards will be in hand which makes Blackmail stronger.

Rise // Fall is great because it bounces Snapcaster Mage to my hand in the late game or can grind a combo deck to topdecking. I like to know most of their hand before going for the Hymn to Tourach because the Fall half is strong, too. A savvy opponent will sandbag lands which can be hit by Blackmail.

Dreadbore
Dreadbore now gets the nod over Terminate. The maindeck doesn’t have any countermagic so the main sacrifice is against Affinity’s creature lands. If I flash back Dreadbore with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy it will be sorcery-speed anyway. I need ways to kill Liliana of the Veil with four loyalty and Jace with five loyalty using a single card. Dreadbore is the most efficient way to destroy Jace, the Mind Sculptor because the Red mana signals the opponent needs to play around Lightning Bolt. Next turn, for 2 mana, I can destroy the Jace that only fatesealed making it an even 1-for-1 trade.

The Liliana of the Veil in the main and sideboard is to answer hexproof creatures. Bogles won a Grand Prix recently in the hands of Dan Ward and I expect it to be played more than before. Geist of Saint Traft is also great against Jace and I don’t want to be dead in the water. It’s yet another way to trade fatal push with a card from my opponent in Game 1.

Crumble to Dust is necessary to fight big mana decks like Tron and Valakut. I get to see a lot of cards thanks to Thought Scour and Serum Visions so I’ll be able to find one in a reasonable time. I can stall for time with counters such as Spell Pierce, Countersquall, and Ceremonious Rejection. Spell Pierce gets stronger as it can counter Jace. It’s also good against combo decks because I can counter the early spells cast and flash back with Snapcaster Mage easily. The difference between 1-drop and 2-drop counters is huge with just twenty lands.

My sweepers in the sideboard, Kozilek’s Return and Damnation, are both able to answer Etched Champion. I foresee more Etched Champions out of Affinity to combat the surge in Kolaghan’s Command. Another option is Engineered Explosives over Kozilek’s Return as it comes in against Abzan, Lantern, and Bogles. I think Abzan will be the midrange deck of choice over Jund after Bloodbraid Elf hype dies down as Lingering Souls and Stony Silence are incredibly strong.

Grixis Value is so much fun to play. I highly recommend giving it a spin. A word of advice is to give Blackmail an honest try as it is criminally underrated.

Bant Company


Chord of Calling
Bant Company got a boost from Jace being in the format. Not only can Noble Hierarch and Devoted Druid ramp into it on turn three, but the metagame may be more favorable for Collected Company. I would be happy getting paired against Hallowed Fountain decks in the past, but would fall short against good Death’s Shadow pilots. Temur Battle Rage may be on the decline as Jace becomes more popular. Jace is great against big delve creatures and I get to play three.

It seems that Jace in Modern has more inherently powerful synergies than Legacy. I can stack two 3-drops on top of my deck from Jace’s brainstorm ability to get maximum value for Collected Company. I only had to have this interaction come up once to be sold on Jace in this deck. I can play one less CoCo hit if I get access to the brainstorm combo. Shuffling your deck after brainstorming is also made easy thanks to Chord of Calling and eight fetchlands.

Brainstorm works favorably with my combo creatures. If I’m playing a value game I don’t want to cast Vizier because a White 2/1 is pretty useless so I can shuffle it back. Duskwatch Recruiter also gets a boost with a recurring brainstorm. It’s scary to spend 3 mana for the turn to find a creature only to miss. The overall consistency of this deck increases with Jace. Most of my losses stemmed from missing on random effects. Jace stacks the deck in your favor.

I cut many of the value 3-drops such as Courser of Kruphix and Vendilion Clique to make room for Kitchen Finks. It makes my Vizier of Remedies slightly scarier as I can block repeatedly with Kitchen Finks thanks to the persist counter not being added. My opponent also won’t know I don’t have the infinite combo with Viscera Seer so they will respect the Vizier more; I’m happy if she trades with a removal spell. Finks is very strong against Liliana of the Veil and I expect more Jund in the near future. It can also improve my Burn matchup which is otherwise quite challenging. A 3/2 with persist is also good at gumming up the ground to protect Jace.

Meddling Mage gets stronger because Jace’s -1 Unsummon ability can provide inspiration on what to name against decks without an obvious card to stop. Spell Queller becomes slightly more powerful as other decks begin to adopt Jace. It’s great countering a certain sorcery-speed 4-drop.

I cut down to three Chord of Calling to make room for Jace. As the metagame becomes more grindy I see my early creatures dying more often. This means it will be harder to convoke Game 1. It’s also a miss on Collected Company and I can only play so many non-creature spells.

Bant Company can grind hard, but can combo kill as the amount of big mana decks increase in the short run to fight Jace. When you think of Jace decks hexproof decks are how you fight them, but Bant Company fights on an unexpected axis. The element of surprise is very important in Modern as we already know any deck can be beaten by many strategies.

Jeskai Control


Geist of Saint Traft
I’ve seen plenty of decks full of Jaces and Cryptic Commands. Once the initial hype dies down mana curves will return to sanity. I would typically win games where I curved out effectively with Jeskai Geist so I don’t want my spells to be too expensive.

Burn spells are great with Jace because drawing extra cards can translate into additional damage. There will be more Lingering Souls in the short run which also don’t want to face a ⅔ flier so I’m going with Spell Queller tempo over a more controlling deck.

Geist of Saint Traft’s hexproof is also great against Jace, but falls short against Liliana of the Veil. Between Geist and Jace I have a good amount of bombs that threaten to close the game in short order.

Spell Snare gets a boost in the early weeks of new Modern and Jace can bounce Tarmogoyf and counter it on the way back down. I see Bloodbraid Elf making Jund play more 2-drops and less hand disruption as it’s a weak cascade. This is a good trend for Spell Snare.

Jeskai Geist has the ability to close quickly which is important against these fringe decks coming out to fight Jace. You need to have the pulse of the metagame to play a slow game with a target on your back.

Conclusion

This is just the beginning. Make no mistake that Jace is a format-warping card. If you play Islands there needs a good reason to not play Jace. Even if you have a reason to not play Jace in the deck there are probably a thousand reasons to include him. So just play Jace.

Remember that slower Jace decks are easier to fight because simply doing something unexpected can throw a wrench in a plan that involves dragging out the game. Control needs to have answers to everything so expect a big shakeup to Modern.

I’ve been brewing Jace decks since I first learned he would be coming to Modern. There are so many things to consider that we won’t scratch the surface in the first few months. What a time to be alive.

Jace is great.
Modern is great.
Max is great.
RIW Hobbies is great.

Thanks for reading,
Kyle


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