We're one week into the Jacepocalypse.
I've been testing all sorts of different decks featuring Jace, the Mind Sculptor since it was unbanned on Magic Online, and today I'll share what I've learned.
What has Jace's immediate impact on Modern been? Is Jace broken? Does Jace suck? Somewhere in the middle?
Here are my initial opinions featuring the decks I built and tested, along with my thoughts on how to best beat Jace decks.
Jeskai Control and U/W Control was the obvious first place to look, and they didn't disappoint.
Finding 1: Jace, the Mind Sculptor is good, but I wouldn't call it broken in Modern. I've encountered plenty of resistance from the rest of the format and you're rarely just casting Jace and winning the game.
This may be subject to change, but right now I'd rate Jace, the Mind Sculptor as great but not breaking the format.
More than likely you're casting Jace, the Mind Sculptor and it's getting attacked, countered, Lighting Bolted, or destroyed in some way, or your opponent is comboing off and killing you the turn after you cast him. That's all if you're even lucky enough to make it to Turn 4.
The online metagame is completely revolving around Jace. It's all decks trying to either beat Jace or break Jace. It feels like Jace is beatable if you're specifically trying to, though. If the format continues to revolve around Jace, that won't be healthy in the long term.
Finding 2: Vendilion Clique has overperformed.
There are a lot of situations I find myself in where I'm not sure whether I want to cast Jace on Turn 4 or wait and do something else. Vendilion Clique is perfect for answering this question. Not only do you get to see your opponent's hand on Turn 3, you can also clear the way for a Turn 4 Jace and increase the likelihood Jace sticks around another turn. It also pressures opposing Jaces.
Finding 3: Search for Azcanta is still a good card.
Jace didn't make Search for Azcanta obsolete. It's still an excellent Turn 2 play and harder to remove. It's also nice to transform and be able to protect a Jace later in the game.
Jeskai Control Deck Grade: A- . There are a lot of matchups you're happy facing and a handful you really don't want to see.
Finding 4: Terminus has underperformed.
That said, some amount of Terminus might still be correct, perhaps one or two copies as a whammy card. It's a unique effect since it puts creatures on the bottom of their owner's library; it's good with Jace, the Mind Sculptor; and casting it for six isn't terrible, especially when you can't have multiples clogging up your hand.
Finding 5: Entreat the Angels has overperformed.
I thought Jace, the Mind Sculptor would be ultimating every other game, but that isn't the case. In my experience it's been a rare occurrence. That means a powerful finisher like Entreat the Angels is very welcome.
Whereas Terminus often must be cast early or you'll die, Entreat the Angels is your win condition and you're happy setting it up with Jace in the mid- to late-game or whenever you happen to draw it off the top of your deck.
Hardcasting it has been good as well. Often a couple of Angel tokens are enough to get the job done.
Finding 6: Your four-drop slot is clogged with good cards in control.
Cryptic Command, Supreme Verdict, and now Jace, the Mind Sculptor: all of them incredibly powerful cards, and all of them four-drops. Finding the right balance is going to be tricky. That means three-drops, Electrolyze, Detention Sphere, Lingering Souls, and Vendilion Clique are all great for smoothing out your curve.
Finding 7: Snapcaster Mage got a little less appealing but is still great.
Snapcaster Mage is still great, but a little bit less necessary and not an automatic four-of in every control deck. Snapcaster Mage doesn't give Jace flashback, your instant and sorcery count is usually lower, and an unchecked Jace will run away with a game anyway.
Finding 8: Wall of Omens is back?
Wall of Omens is appealing for smoothing your early draws to make sure you get to your fourth land drop.
It also helps protect Jace by blocking its natural predator, Bloodbraid Elf, and whatever other creatures they want to toss at you.
U/W Control Deck Grade: B+. Solid deck as it stands, though the right combination of blue and white control cards could end up being absolutely killer. Esper may be the way to go for Lingering Souls.
Finding 9: Taking a bunch of turns while Brainstorming with Jace, the Mind Sculptor is fun.
This is one of the fringe decks I've worked on in the past that enjoys playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace is great when you're taking an extra turn, it sets up Temporal Mastery nicely, and it even provides the deck an extra win condition.
Foretold Turns Deck Grade: C. Sweet deck, but too many bad matchups lurking around (Burn, Tron, and Humans).
Finding 10: U/B Control is sweet, but falls prey to a lot of the decks trying to punish Jace control.
Bloodbraid Elf, Lingering Souls, and decks with Bloodghast in particular are difficult for U/B Control to deal with. Otherwise, it's a simple and effective deck that pretty much has answers to everything the format can throw at it thanks to Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek.
U/B Control Deck Grade: B. Solid deck that might be better-positioned when Jace decks are being targeted less.
Finding 11: Lingering Souls is great in Jace decks and against Jace decks.
Lingering Souls does it all. It blocks Bloodbraid Elf, buys you time by chump blocking to find Damnation, pressures opposing Jaces and protects your own, and even provides a clock so you don't time out.
Finding 12: Sorin, Grim Nemesis isn't half bad.
I wanted a nice fat finisher to top my curve and Sorin, Grim Nemesis actually performed pretty well.
The minus ability can shoot down opposing planeswalkers and gain you some much-needed life. The plus ability is solid card draw that you can set up with Jace, the Mind Sculptor's Brainstorm.
Finding 13: Esper Control is the Jace deck that appears to be tunable to answer what you want.
Instead of worrying about countermagic, Esper looks to have a solid creature matchup and worry about the rest later.
The nice thing is the Esper colors cover pretty much all the cards you want to have access to. For example, I was having trouble with B/R Hollow One, so I just added more copies of Rest in Peace to my sideboard.
Esper Control Deck Grade: A-. With access to Lingering Souls and plenty of room for tuning, Esper could be poised to be a major contender.
How To Beat Jace Control Decks
So now that we've seen some of what Jace, the Mind Sculptor can do, how do we take him down?
It boils down to having a solid, focused strategy while updating your list of choice with Jace, the Mind Sculptor in mind. There are plenty of good strategies and cards that work against Jace decks. Here's a list of decks that I feel can be advantaged against Jace Control decks.
B/R Hollow One: This is one of the scariest decks for Jace Control decks. Hollow One and Gurmang Angler are too big to Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push, and Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix are recurring threats difficult to deal with as well. You'll often be dead before you can cast Supreme Verdict or Damnation, let alone Jace, the Mind Sculptor. G/R versions with Vengevine or just straight Dredge work as well.
U/R Storm: Tap out for Jace and they might combo off. Not a great proposition. This goes for most combo decks in general.
Burn: Maybe not great against Jeskai and Lightning Helix, but still has legs and doesn't mind blue control adding a four-drop like Jace to their decks.
There you have it: my initial findings of the new Modern format. What has your experience with the new Modern format been? Have you been able to find a deck that crushes Jace decks? Have you been crushing with Jace?