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Brewer's Minute: Beating Jace

Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute! On Monday, Wizards decided to unban the best planeswalker in the history of Magic: Jace, the Mind Sculptor. As a result, if you play Modern over the next couple of months, you should expect to run into Jace, the Mind Sculptor early and often. While only time will tell just how good Jace, the Mind Sculptor is in the format, you can bet that a lot of people will be trying it out. What does unleashing Jace, the Mind Sculptor do to Modern? What does this mean for our deck building? What are some of the best cards and strategies for beating Jace? That's our topic for today, as we'll look at eight ways of beating Jace, including five micro-level (individual card choice) ways and three macro- (deck selection) considerations!

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#1: Kill It

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One of the easiest ways to deal with Jace, the Mind Sculptor is to simply kill it, which means removal that can deal with planeswalkers suddenly becomes more important in Modern. This means if you were playing Terminate, you might want to consider dropping a couple of copies for Dreadbore, or if you were leaning on Abrupt Decay, it might be wise to substitute in another Maelstrom Pulse or two. Hero's Downfall might actually be playable in the format, and cards like Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass become even more essential in sideboards, since they offer a way to deal with every copy of Jace and come down on Turn 1 or 2 before the Jace player can leave up counter magic (just make sure you aren't playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor yourself, since Pithing Needle will shut down your copies too!)

#2: Discard It

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This one is pretty simple: the most common discard package in Modern is three Thoughtseize, three Inquisition of Kozilek, and a copy or two of Collective Brutality. Since neither Inquisition of Kozilek nor Collective Brutality can hit Jace, for the time being, it's probably better to max out with the full four copies of Thoughtseize and then fill in the discard package with the non-Jace discard spells.

#3: Counter It

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Dealing with Jace, the Mind Sculptor on the stack with counterspells is another great option, with Disdainful Stroke, Negate, Stubborn Denial, and even Jace's Defeat (along with a ton of other options) getting the job done. Here, the important thing to remember is that even if Jace, the Mind Sculptor ends up being one of the best cards in Modern, it won't be the only good card in Modern, and since 15 sideboard slots really isn't enough to deal with every deck in the format, make sure to aim wide with your countermagic. For example, Jace's Defeat is probably the single best counter if you're countering exactly Jace, but it's also the worst counterspell if your opponent is playing Past in Flames or Karn Liberated. As a result, options like Disdainful Stroke and Negate should be near the top of the Jace answer list, rather than more narrow options.

#4: Haste It

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Haste creatures are traditionally good against planeswalkers and especially good against Jace, the Mind Sculptor because if the card has a weakness, it's his relatively low starting loyalty. The newly unbanned Bloodbraid Elf was very good against Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Standard and will probably be a foil to Jace in Modern as well. Meanwhile, Thundermaw Hellkite is suddenly looking very good. Against red decks, Jace, the Mind Sculptor players will often tick up to five loyalty to avoid trading with Lightning Bolt, and Thundermaw Hellkite (as a hasty, flying 5/5) offers just enough damage to kill a Jace (through any number of flying blockers), even with Jace on five loyalty. As a result, decks like GR Ponza might be best served by going with Thundermaw Hellkite] over Stormbreath Dragon if Jace is near the top of the format.

#5: Thrun It

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One of the things that makes Jace, the Mind Sculptor so powerful is that the planeswalker is naturally good against some creatures thanks to the Unsummon 1. Take, for example, Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and even Tarmogoyf, which don't do anything when they enter the battlefield and can be hard to recast after a Jace bounce. As such, playing creatures that are good against Jace, the Mind Sculptor's 1 is key. Thrun, the Last Troll is a great example of this. Jace decks can't counter it, Jace, the Mind Sculptor himself can't bounce it, and it dodges most wraths as well. This makes the four-drop a good answer to Jace, the Mind Sculptor at least in the sideboard, and it could even be worth a one-of main-deck slot in some builds if Jace ends up being very popular in the format.


#1: Go Under It

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As far as decks and archetypes, there are three main ways of dealing with Jace. Probably the most common will be going under Jace, the Mind Sculptor. While Jace is incredibly powerful, he's also pretty slow, often not coming down until Turn 4. If your opponent is going to play a Turn 4 Jace, one of the easiest ways to minimize the impact of the planeswalker is to just kill your opponent on Turn 3 with Burn, Storm, Hollow One, or any other fast aggro or combo deck.

#2: Go Over It

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On the other end of the spectrum, we have decks that can go over the top of Jace, the Mind Sculptor like Tron and Mono-Green Devotion. While Jace, the Mind Sculptor is great for a four-drop, Jace really isn't all that exciting when compared to a 10-drop Eldrazi like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. So, if you aren't going to go under Jace, your best bet is probably to go bigger than Jace and trump your opponent's planeswalker with something even more unbeatable.

#3: Go Wide

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Finally, cards like Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancer are well suited to deal with Jace, the Mind Sculptor because while Jace is very good at protecting himself from one big non-hasty threat, he struggles against an army of small creatures. Bouncing a Lingering Souls Spirit token doesn't do much of anything, and the same is true of a Young Pyromancer Elemental token. So, rather than trying to take down Jace, the Mind Sculptor with a single big creature, think about trying to go wide to minimize the usefulness of the 1 Unsummon.


Anyway, that's all for today. What do you think? How are you planning on beating Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Modern? What other decks and cards are well suited to take down the powerful planeswalker? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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