Jace Jam: Slam Dunk Deck Lists for Jace the Mind Sculptor
- Hans Davidson
Well, it happened: Jace, the Mind Sculptor got unbanned and the world lost its collective cool. Now that we have a solid grouping of 5-0 MTGO decklists behind us, let's look at where the now-legal planeswalker shows promise. See for yourself what Jace has brought to the Modern metagame!
This week I want to touch up on how Modern has looked so far with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and then spend the rest of the article going over the six most exciting and promising deck lists that play Jace!
Before I go any further, however, I want to give a shout-out to the MTGO players and streamers from whom I got these deck lists and who spent the time, money, and energy playing these decks for us to watch. They’re the real MVPs, and I wouldn’t have been able to write this article without their contribution.
On Jace, the Mind Sculptor
I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong about Jace – both the unbanning and my criticism that Modern was going to take a turn for the worse with him in the format. I would have never expected that Wizards would unban one of the most iconic and broken cards in the modern era of Magic, and I assumed that midrange would up and disappear because of Jace. That sentiment was overblown, and other factors in the format arguably have a much more menacing influence on the viability of midrange. After all, this is the Modern format that put four copies of Mono-Green Tron in the top eight of GP Lyon.
While I don’t enjoy the decks that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is played in, they’re not, at least thus far, unhealthy or unbalanced decks that break fundamental guidelines of the Modern format. Jace’s unbanning has given players an incentive to play blue to accommodate the powerful planeswalker, but the same could have been said, albeit with different colors, about Thoughtseize, Lightning Bolt, Tarmogoyf, and Eldrazi Temple. Certain cards push decks towards certain colors and strategies, but in a card pool as big as the one Modern has, this waxing and waning of powerful archetypes is something Modern players should be used to and aware of.
The card that reminds me the most of Jace’s power level and impact is Dig Through Time, although that’s not an indictment that the former should be or will be re-banned. Regarding power level, both cards have shown a penchant of heavily swinging the game while at parity or when ahead, whereas their impact is diminished (though not small) when playing from behind. Jace and Dig have similar impacts on formats where both are legal in that they promote similar archetypes and inhibit others. In a format where Jace or Dig is legal, trading one-for-one and building incremental advantage becomes worse, as a single Jace or Dig resolving undoes most of that by rewarding the player who resolves the blue card. Thus, hand disruption such as Inquisition of Kozilek is not as good in that environment. The two blue haymakers also strengthen combo-control decks that are looking for specific cards, as both the 0 ability of Jace and Dig digging seven cards deep allow their respective decks to find key cards. Admittedly, the cards are fundamentally different because Jace is a card advantage engine whereas Dig Through Time is a souped-up draw spell, but I’ll be interested in following where the metagame will end up with Jace, the Mind Sculptor (and Bloodbraid Elf) being legal in Modern.
Finally, the most exciting aspect of the Jace unban has been the wealth of decks, new and old, that have incorporated the planeswalker into their arsenal. Without further ado, I want to dive into some of the best and most interesting lists that the Internet has provided me which utilize Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Blue Moon by raylottery, MTGO Modern League 5-0
|1Desolate Lighthouse||4Snapcaster Mage||3Cryptic Command|
|7Island||4Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror||4Disrupting Shoal|
|3Polluted Delta||4Lightning Bolt|
|1Sulfur Falls||4Serum Visions|
|4Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|2Abrade||3Anger of the Gods||3Dispel|
|3Logic Knot||2Pia and Kiran Nalaar||2Young Pyromancer|
There’s a lot to like about this list, and what immediately pops out are the four copies of Disrupting Shoal in the mainboard. Disrupting Shoals functions as both a way for the deck to fight opposing Jaces and to protect its own, and while it looks like a gimmicky Force of Will, the card has shown surprising strength in the streams I’ve watched. While Shoal is card disadvantage, the cheap, repetitive card engine that is Jace incentivizes and rewards the deck for being down on cards as long as Jace can stick around because those cards will be recouped.
Grixis Control by ar_ , MTGO Modern League 5-0
|2Anger of the Gods||1Ceremonious Rejection||2Collective Brutality|
|2Dispel||1Izzet Staticaster||1Pia and Kiran Nalaar|
This Grixis list is interaction.dec – the deck has taken out the usual win-con of Tasigur, the Golden Fang and replaced it with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy acts as a Snapcaster Mage imitator in a deck chock full of removal and counterspells to grind out the opponent. Of note, the four copies of Field of Ruin should do work against Tron opponents that control decks historically struggle against.
Temur Midrange by J.A.Eliso, MTGO Modern League 5-0
|2Breeding Pool||4Bloodbraid Elf||3Izzet Charm|
|1Forest||4Noble Hierarch||4Lightning Bolt|
|1Hinterland Harbor||1Snapcaster Mage||4Ancestral Vision|
|4Misty Rainforest||1Tireless Tracker||3Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|1Mountain||1Vendilion Clique||2As Foretold|
|3Scalding Tarn||3Blood Moon|
|2Ancient Grudge||2Cryptic Command||3Dragon's Claw|
|1Electrolyze||2Grafdigger's Cage||2Relic of Progenitus|
This Temur Midrange list has a lot of things going on, from the two copies of As Foretold to the Cryptic Commands and Spreading Seas hanging out in the sideboard. The one-of Snapcaster, Tireless Tracker, and Vendilion Clique strike me as if this deck was built helter-skelter, but the deck’s power-level is there in the form of both Bloodbraid Elf and Jace and Ancestral Vision, all of which provide the deck with copious amounts of card advantage. The Blood Moon in the mainboard gives the deck the ability to cheese out wins against other fair decks and punish big mana decks.
RUG Scapeshift by Rodrigo Togores, MTGO Modern League 5-0
|2Breeding Pool||4Sakura-Tribe Elder||3Cryptic Command|
|1Cinder Glade||2Snapcaster Mage||1Electrolyze|
|2Flooded Grove||2Izzet Charm|
|4Misty Rainforest||1Anger of the Gods|
|4Stomping Ground||4Search for Tomorrow|
|2Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle||1Sweltering Suns|
|3Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|1Ancient Grudge||2Anger of the Gods||2Crumble to Dust|
|2Seal of Primordium|
Here’s the first of the combo-control list that benefited greatly from Jace’s unbanning, and Rodrigo Togores’ Scapeshift list now has legitimate reasons to be playing blue instead of going with the Red-Green Titanshift variant. One of the key synergies we see in this list is the number of shuffle effects combined with Jace’s Brainstorm ability – Farseek, Search for Tomorrow, and Sakura-Tribe Elder allow the deck to consistently shuffle away cards, which ensures that the player won’t be Brainstorm-locked.
UW Taking Turns by Iwouldliketorespond, MTGO Modern Challenge Top 8
|22Lands||3Creatures||35Instants and Sorcery|
|2Field of Ruin||3Snapcaster Mage||2Cryptic Command|
|1Gemstone Caverns||4Ancestral Vision|
|2Glacial Fortress||1Day's Undoing|
|1Mikokoro, Center of the Sea||4Serum Visions|
|1Polluted Delta||4Time Warp|
|1Scalding Tarn||3Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|3Tolaria West||4As Foretold|
|1Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin|
|2Ceremonious Rejection||2Disrupting Shoal||2Spell Pierce|
|2Stony Silence||4Terminus||3Timely Reinforcements|
This list is tied for my favorite Jace list, and other than the gimmicky Living End in the mainboard, there’s not much to dislike about the list. As Foretold serves an important role in allowing the deck to cast Ancestral Vision and other spells once the turns start adding up, and the inclusion of Gemstone Caverns to increase the odds that the deck is on the play is another piece of tech that streamlines its game plan. This is a Jace deck that has an extremely strong matchup against Tron, which is another reason why I like this deck so much, as I expect Tron to be even more popular while people durdle around with their midrange decks.
UR Aggro by Daniela Diaz
|4Flooded Strand||3Enigma Drake||3Disrupting Shoal|
|3Island||4Kiln Fiend||2Dive Down|
|1Mountain||4Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror||4Lightning Bolt|
|4Spirebluff Canal||4Mutagenic Growth|
|2Steam Vents||4Temur Battle Rage|
|4Sleight of Hand|
|1Abrade||2Blood Moon||2Ceremonious Rejection|
|3Jace, the Mind Sculptor||1Negate||1Shattering Spree|
|1Snapcaster Mage||1Vapor Snag|
My other favorite Jace list is this UR Aggro deck that doesn’t even play Jace in the main deck. Daniela, also known as Twitch streamer H0lydiva, has recently been sharing the online success of this aggressive list on Twitter, and there are a few things going for it that I like much more than the other Jace decks. First of all, it plays a proactive strategy, which is the best place to be in Modern – the deck’s game plan doesn’t hinge on drawing the right answer against specific cards and then dying because a turn 4 Jace doesn’t answer the opponent’s turn 3 Karn Liberated. It’s also well-positioned against the spot-removal of the format, as players are packing extra Lightning Bolts for Jace, and the four points of toughness of Enigma Drake and Thing in the Ice get around that. On top of that, the Disrupting Shoals and triple Ixalan limited all-star Dive Down round out a protection suite that allows the deck to blow out unsuspecting opponents.
Most importantly, the three copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the sideboard give the deck an alternate angle of attack and grindiness that these kinds of aggro-combo decks typical don’t have access to. While Daniela stated that the deck is still a work in progress, it is “much better suited for long games than people might think at first,” and I’m looking forward to the possible innovations and future iterations of the deck.
That’s it for today, and I hope you enjoy this mini-compendium of decks playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Which lists interest you the most, and in which decks have you tried out with the formerly banned planeswalker? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next time!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.