Bloodbraid, Jace, and Tron

Hey everyone!

It’s March 8, 2018 and Jace is still great in Modern.

Today I want to talk about all of the decks I’ve been thinking about since Jace and Bloodbraid Elf were released into Modern.

I’ve been reading articles about how Jace is not as busted as initially expected. I’m not sure any single card in Modern could live up to the level of hype Jace received, but he is still strong. The normal rules of Modern still apply. Your Jace decks will still have good and bad matchups and it will cost you for being too reactive. With that being said Jace is still the single most powerful spell to cast in the format.

Let’s start with a neat deck that has both Jace and Bloodbraid Elf.


Do you have a Costanza Wallet? I may have a solution for you . . . 

Slim your wallet down with this beauty: 4 Noble Hierarch, 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, 4 Ancestral Vision, 8 Zendikar fetches, and 4 Tarmogoyfs. I would have added Snapcaster Mage, but it’s not amazing with Bloodbraid Elf.

This deck looks hokey at first, but it’s actually pretty smooth. I like that Jace is the top end, but sticky threats are cast up the curve. Kitchen Finks, Courser of Kruphix, and Tarmogoyf block while you deploy Jace. Bloodbraid Elf will likely cascade into a versatile removal spell or another creature to get in the way, too.

Ancestral Vision is of course a combo with Jace’s Brainstorm ability and Bloodbraid Elf, but it’s also just a great turn one play in fair matchups. Since Modern will be packed with removal it’s good to have as much card advantage as possible.

I’ve seen plenty of {R}{U}{G} Cascade lists on the internet with a slew of Tireless Tracker in the 3-drop slot, but Kitchen Finks is better. The stock lists can never beat an aggressive deck because they are playing too many flimsy card advantage creatures. Tracker is bad at blocking; I want to trade off resources to protect Jace.

Vendilion Clique and Izzet Charm are flimsy, but I do need a little bit of interaction for non-creature decks. Bloodbraid Elf’s cascade deck-building restriction makes me want to play counters that have a proactive ability attached. Supreme Will is another option, but a 3-mana Mana Leak is so mediocre in Modern, Izzet Charm is only 2 mana and counters opposing Jaces.

Threads of Disloyalty in the sideboard is a swingy cascade card for mid-range mirrors. If you get Threads off Bloodbraid against an opposing creature it’s likely game over.

Bloodbraid Elf causes {R}{U}{G} Cascade to play out like a tempo deck which makes Jace’s -1 Unsummon ability stronger. Don’t be afraid to get some beefy Green creatures on the battlefield and bounce some blockers.

This deck is pretty fun as has every Jace deck I’ve tried so far.

I may be all about that Jace, but Tron can still spell treble for control strategies.


Spatial Contortion
I played two events recently with Tron and I was a fan of the way Mono-Green played compared to {B}{G}. Since the number of Green cards remains the same, the Black cards put additional pressure on my spheres and stars. I’m not convinced Burn is a passable matchup even with four Collective Brutalities either. Tron is poised for a comeback as it will beat the slow Jace decks and Bogles.

Rather than playing Black cards, I have colorless interaction such as Pithing Needle, Warping Wail, and Spatial Contortion. Beast Within is for the mirror as well as Eldrazi Tron to blow up Chalice of the Void for one.

Emrakul provides an angle of attack against decks that don’t win with permanents. I would not register Tron without the single Emrakul to find with Sanctum of Ugin. Storm, Scapeshift, and Ad Nauseam care less about what’s in play and can kill you from nowhere. Emrakul is the perfect spell to ramp into as you may be able to win on the Mindslaver turn or at least waste their resources.

Emrakul is still good against permanents as you can fail to find with fetch lands and Ghost Quarter. If you untap with an Arcbound Ravager in play you can sacrifice all of their artifacts and modular onto the sacrificed ravager because it’s a legal target before it is sacrificed. You can also send burn at your opponent’s face only to attack them with a 13/13 flyer on your next turn. It typically costs nine or 10 mana because you most frequently have a sorcery, an artifact, and Sanctum of Ugin in the graveyard. Walking Ballista can be cast for a smaller amount to add creature, too.

Walking Ballista has been great as Affinity is a challenging matchup. If you make x=4 it acts as a removal spell that triggers Sanctum of Ugin. Jeskai Geist is a good matchup, but they have the ability to race you so it can act as an early speed bump. It’s also a threat that lines up well against Jace. It’s embarrassing to cast Wurmcoil Engine only to have it bounced with a -1 planeswalker ability.

Leyline of Sanctity was Peach Garden Oath tech from PT: Rivals of Ixalan and I am a fan. I think this is a better way of fighting Burn than Collective Brutality because it’s also good against Storm; they can’t Grapeshot you or cast Gifts Ungiven. It’s also good against Valakut which can be a troublesome matchup. These are your three worst matchups so this slot will pull its weight. Remember this can be hardcast with Horizon Canopy and eight chromatic artifacts.

Thought-Knot Seer is a sideboard staple that has played out terribly. You basically need Tron to cast it in the first place so you are overpaying. Now that it gets bounced by Jace I only want Thragtusk as my midrange threat.

Warping Wail is going to be more powerful because Jace makes Lightning Bolt more powerful. Red control decks means more Crumble to Dust in sideboards. I can also exile Thing in the Ice and Snapcaster Mage. Interacting with Burn and Affinity is also made easy with Warping Wail. Inkmoth Nexus is a thorn in my side versus Affinity as it dodges Oblivion Stone.


Bloodbraid Elf
Grzegorz Kowalski won Grand Prix Lyon with {R}{G} Eldrazi a few weeks ago. Bloodbraid Elf was not legal for this event, but I think it will provide a boost to the deck.

I cut the fifth mana dork, Birds of Paradise, to improve the cascades for Bloodbraid Elf. I like keeping Dismember as it’s a powerful cascade hit, but slimmed down to one because I hate drawing two copies. Flame Slash kills most creatures in Modern; the 5 toughness creatures are excellent targets to be stolen by Eldrazi Obligator anyway.

The sideboard is different than traditional {R}{G} Eldrazi decks because of Bloodbraid Elf. Engineered Explosives and Chalice of the Void are not where I want to be. I made room for Forked Bolt for mana dorks and Infect, and Roast for midrange.

Since I have so many haste creatures Jace is never safe. Reality Smasher, Bloodbraid Elf, and Eldrazi Obligator hit like Brannigan’s law: hard and fast. Even if I cascade into Eldrazi Obligator with four mana I’m ok with dealing six damage haste split across two creatures. Remember that Eldrazi Obligator’s ability is a cast trigger so it will happen even if the creature is countered. Paying the extra 2 mana happens on the resolution of the ability. This means if the opponent removes their creature in response you aren’t committed to spending that mana. You can also target your own creature to untap it after combat or give it haste. This could be relevant for Thought-Knot Seer.

Cavern of Souls and cascade make this deck naturally strong against Blue decks. {R}{G} Eldrazi is a well-rounded deck because it also has game against small creatures due to all of the bolt effects. Eldrazi Obligator, Crumble to Dust, and quick clocks give you plenty of game against Tron.

Grove of the Burnwillows gains your opponent life which can be key to managing large Death’s Shadow. You will often be faced with taking damage with Karplusan Forest or giving your opponent life with Grove. It’s key to be familiar with matchups as knowing your role as the aggressor or defender is key. I’m more likely to take damage on the play and give my opponent life on the draw.

I see this deck increasing in popularity in the short run as it is proactive and well-rounded. You can take people by surprise with Eldrazi Obligator. It’s difficult to play around it because you need to play creatures to block all of your hasty threats.

Bant Company and Charity Challenge: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

I wasn’t going to make an update for Bant Company so soon, but I took down the charity event I helped organize to win a foil Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

A big thanks to the 32 players in Attendance. We paid out to the Top 16 so half of the players won something and raised $840 in the process.

Another big thanks to all that donated prizes to the Top 16:

Bryan Carey — Force of Will (Alliances)
Get Your Game On — Foil Leovold
Kyle Boggemes — Foil Emrakul (RPTQ promo) and Foil Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Topque Lee — Foil Korean Terminus
Raja Sulaiman — Expedition Graven Cairns
Lee Copley — Foil Galvanic Blast
Alan Eichenberg — Sword of Light and Shadow
Mike Burgoin — Foil Wurmcoil Engine
Greysen Bauserman — Foil Grove of the Burnwillows
Nick Clayton — Masterpiece Forbid
Luke Bishop — Foil Angrath
Imperium Games — $150 store credit

I finished 5-0 to win the foil Leovold.

The following week I split the top 8 of a $3K BC Comix Modern IQ for $337. There were 117 players and I finished 5-0-2 in the swiss. Teammate, Stu Parnes, played the same 75 as me and got 9th with a 5-2 record.

There were a couple changes I have made since then. Here’s my current list:


Breeding Pool
Jace, the Mind Sculptor plays out like Birthing Pod in the old Abzan Chord of Calling decks. Your opponent becomes fixated on stopping your creatures which creates an empty battlefield. Your opponent is playing defensively to not die on turn three, too. This is the perfect situation for Jace.

I don’t like playing doubles of shock lands as fast lands are very powerful, but I added a second Breeding Pool. This is because three Jaces puts me up to a whopping seven 4-drops. I only need a single White mana, but I need double Blue, and triple Green.

The second Path to Exile was moved to the sideboard because Jace can also interact with creatures. My original plan was to use Path as a way to keep the board clear, but I just added the sticky Voice of Resurgence to protect his loyalty instead. Bant Charm was in my sideboard of the BC Comix $3K and I boarded it in every round. I’m trying it in the main now. It can trade with large creatures, Ad Nauseum, Cranial Plating, and Cryptic Command. The card is incredibly versatile.

Two Vizier and three Chords have been working well for me. I have less turn three wins, but untapping with Devoted Druid to cast Jace on three is very powerful. The two Viziers are drawn less frequently and they combo with Kitchen Finks so I wasn’t always unhappy to draw them.

The Kor Firewalker in the board is a way to actually win two games in a row against Burn. I can Chord for Firewalker and then use the remaining copies to get Burrenton Forge-Tender. It’s unlikely I combo off so it’s better to board out Viziers altogether against Burn since I would rather search for the Kor Firewalker.

I actually feel pretty good about the Affinity matchup with the two Fracturing Gust in the sideboard. Game 1 is hard unless you combo off quickly so your back may be against the wall. I can feel confident in winning two games in a row when I have two copies of a card as hateful as the gust. Creeping Corrosion isn’t good enough as Ghirapur Aether-Grid plus creature lands can keep me in check. It also makes Bogles and Lantern very good matchups. Lantern is likely your best matchup already because Noble Hierarch, Duskwatch Recruiter, Walking Ballista, and Jace needs to be dealt with in a long game.

Conclusion

Jace has been playing out better for me in proactive decks as I expected. I don’t like interacting as a game plan in a format as diverse as Modern. I’ve played a good amount of Modern events since Jace and Bloodbraid returned and the format is more fun than before.

My next big event is Team Constructed at SCG Cincinnati. Hopefully Team R.I.W. can take home the trophy. I’ll have some Standard and Legacy next time in preparation.

Thanks for reading!

—Kyle


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