I’ve tried a lot of Jace decks over the past week, and I’ll admit that I have had trouble finding exactly where to best use the all-time best planeswalker. My experiences were similar to Mike Sigrist’s, and while he concluded that Jace was a touch too slow for Modern, I came to a slightly different conclusion.
Turn-four Jace might be too slow for Modern, but nobody said anything about turn three…
We may not have Deathrite Shaman anymore (speaking of planeswalkers), but Noble Hierarch is an absurdly powerful card, and I’ve been a lot happier with Jace once I started casting him earlier and more often. I’ve run two different Noble Hierarch/Jace decks through their paces, and I’m going to give you the rundown today.
First, let’s take the deck I wrote about in the newsletter (which will give you a sneak peek of what I’m up to each week):
Temur Blood Moon
The game plan is simple: Use counterspells, red removal, and Blood Moon to disrupt the opponent, and use Jace and green creatures to finish them off. Tarmogoyf is one of the best ways to defend Jace, and a curve of Noble, Tarmogoyf, Jace on 3 is a hard one to beat (especially with a Bolt for good measure). This deck also plays a lot of cards I’m high on right now, such as Tireless Tracker and Vendilion Clique. I’m in love with resilient and disruptive threats, and I like how this deck plays a lot of them paired with efficient red and blue spells.
I also like that this deck gets to play Blood Moon. There’s no easier way to steal a win than to slam a Blood Moon on an unsuspecting opponent, and adding in Noble Hierarch and Tarmogoyf will surely throw them off the scent. The mana requirements in this deck may look ambitious with Moon, but Noble helps, and so do the ample fetchlands.
My main criticism of this deck was over its unfair matchups—when playing against decks that didn’t care about burn spells, the deck had some problems interacting. Blood Moon does help there, as it does count as disruption against many of the unfair decks, but there are also plenty of decks that don’t care about it. Going forward, I would look at moving the Grim Lavamancers to the sideboard, and adding another Remand and a Snapcaster. Adding the Snapcaster also makes me look at putting a Dispel in the sideboard, as I’m a fan of having extra Snap targets post-board.
Play this deck if:
- You expect fair decks (Jund, Grixis midrange)
- You expect decks soft to burn spells (Zoo, Humans, Collected Company)
- You expect decks that are weak to Blood Moon (Tron, 3+ color control, Scapeshift)
Don’t play this deck if:
- You expect unfair decks that don’t care about Moon (Bogles, Ad Nauseam, Living End)
- You expect Death’s Shadow
I battled with another Noble Jace deck as well, this time with Collected Company. I’ve been known to collect some Companies in my deck, even if my usual hits weren’t quite so powerful.
This take on Jace is much more proactive, and uses Jace more as an additional threat than as an engine card or finisher. Bant Company is disruptive and aggressive, and will often play Jace while ahead.
This deck is trying to curve out with threats like Tireless Tracker, Vendilion Clique, and Knight of the Reliquary, while disrupting the opponent with Spell Queller and getting card advantage with Collected Company and Jace. It’s a time-tested strategy, though this version is more creature-heavy than past aggro-control decks.
I like how many ways this deck has to accelerate out Jace, and I like how often this deck has 2-3 creatures in play when it does so. In decks like Grixis, casting Jace is often a sacrificial play, as you are behind on board. Here, that’s much less likely, and means that you untap with Jace a lot more than in other decks.
My main problem with this deck is the same as with Temur—it’s soft to unfair decks. It has 4 Spell Queller, 2 Vendilion Clique, and 3 Scavenging Ooze, but past that it doesn’t win quickly and can’t stop broken things from happening. That’s a real liability in a format like Modern, and this deck will lose games to brokenness. That said, 5 counterspells in the sideboard do help a lot, and this deck gets to up its game post-board significantly.
Play this deck if:
- You expect blue control decks—Voice of Resurgence and Collected Company do a number on them.
- You expect Jund-style midrange.
- You expect Death’s Shadow.
- You expect that the unfair decks you’ll face are weak to counterspells.
Don’t play this deck if:
- You expect unfair decks that don’t care about counters.
- You expect a lot of Affinity.
So, what’s the best way to Jace in Modern? Right now, I like Bant, though I’ve been meaning to try Sultai. I don’t believe there isn’t a good home for Jace, and even if he doesn’t take Modern completely by storm, Jace is too good not to play a major role.