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Archive for the ‘FNM’ Category

FNM & New Jace

First off a big thankyou to everyone who has been retweeting my posts this week, especially Trick from Mananation who named “The Price of Extended” his Excellent Series of the Week. I’ll be continuing the series from Monday, hopefully winding up Christmas Eve so I can take a bit of a break!

Before I get down to discussing the new Jace, a bit of self-aggrandizement. I played the last FNM of the year this Friday, standard constructed. I was playing Boros Bushwhacker with nothing too spicy maindeck, but 3 Manabarbs out of the side were my best card by far, and I brought them in every match as I didn’t face the mirror or monored. Just quickly, the matches:

Aaron, WR Valakut, 2-0: First game was a blowout as Aaron had borrowed the deck, kept a bad hand, and misplayed by Earthquaking for 2 when I had a fetch on the board to save my guys. Second game was closer as he kept something like 3 lands and 4 board sweepers, but my Manabarbs meant he had to take damage removing my guys and my burn finished him off. He never got Valakut online.

Simon, Eldrazi Green, 2-0: Simon seemed pretty new to his deck as well, as I don’t think he was correctly using his Nissa. I mulliganed to 5 and kept a one lander in the first game, but topdecked fetchlands like a hero to put him on 2. He should have gained life here but made a guy instead, and I drew a Lightning Bolt to kill him. Second game Ajani V came in and kept Nissa’s Chosen off the table long enough for me to win.

Anthony, Jacerator, 2-0: Anthony kept a slow hand in the first game and Steppe Lynxes took him down in short order. He Jedi-ed me good this game, on 2 life he asked matter-of-factly “Burst Lightning for the win?” and I showed him the one in my hand. He quickly Negated it, maybe planning to untap and Wrath, but I showed him the Lightning Bolt also in my hand to finish it. Game 2 he tapped out for something, Manabarbs came down next to my creatures, and the game state became impossible for him.

Michael, Big Naya, 2-1: Michael was paired up against me, having drawn his first round against a lifegain deck featuring Celestial Mantle. He was playing Behemoth Sledge and Baneslayer Angels, and I thought this would be a terrible matchup. Fortunately the first game I got the god-draw and it was over on turn 4. Second game I think he brought in Naya Charms, and I brought in something – not Manabarbs, as I thought his lifegain would negate their effect.

Big mistake! I couldn’t draw removal for his t-2 Woolly Thoctar, and it picked up a Behemoth Sledge. My Goblin Guides drew him about 50 lands this game and it was messy for me, I should have taken them out. Game 3 I was on the play, and I sided in my Manabarbs. I kept a hand of 3 removal spells, Steppe Lynx and lands, and drew into a Ranger of Eos. I had removed his Thoctar with a Journey to Nowhere, and landed Ranger followed by Manabarbs – I held the alpha strike in hand and attacked my 3/2 into his empty board, and eventually he realised death was inevitable. He severely misplayed on the first turn I attacked with Ranger – he tapped it with his Naya Charm, forgetting its 3 damage mode, which would have made things closer.

So I had some luck through opponent misplays, but I think my play was fairly tight, my deck was good and I earned first place at 4-0! Aaron – a good friend of mine who I played in round 1 – and I pack wars-ed the packs straight after, and I ripped a Marsh Flats amongst other things. Enough bragging, on to the latest  spoiler and what cards you should be looking to pick up in light of…

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace is the first planeswalker to have four abilites! They are pretty wordy as well, as far as planeswalker abilities go. When it comes to evaluating complicated cards like this I like to find analogous spells or abilities on older cards, that I already know how to evaluate. So, looking at Jace through that lens, he becomes:

Jace, the Mindscupltor 2UU (3 loyalty)

+2 Fateseal 1

+0 Brainstorm, sorcery speed

-1 Unsummon

-12 Practically win the game

The fateseal ability seems marginal at first glance, though Patrick Chapin wrote a very compelling case for control needing card selection since its answers were so limited these days. This is the ability I will most need to play with to determine its worth.

Brainstorm is one of the more powerful things you can do with U, especially with fetchlands in the format to shuffle away bad cards. This is a free brainstorm every turn, it doesn’t even cost you a card! Taking a cue from Alex over at Channel Fireball, my initial Planeswalker Algorithm for new Jace is “do I need to unsummon something? If not, brainstorm.” That might just turn into “Brainstorm” after playtesting, this ability is pretty incredible.

Unsummon is always handy, but it gains a tempo advantage by giving the opponent card advantage. Jace’s ability doesn’t give card disadvantage, its just pure tempo. This ability makes fatties worse as Unsummon is practically Time Walk the turn after your opponent plays, say, Baneslayer Angel.

The last ability is very scary for your opponent, but it takes 5 turns to charge it up using the mediocre Fateseal ability. It does mean that if you’re charging Jace up, the opponent has to spend resources to destroy him.

What does that all mean?

First thing’s first, Jace will definitely be played, and he will definitely be expensive at release unless he is a promo. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the prerelease or release promo, as they often spoil those cards earlier than others. Hype is particularly important with planeswalker prices, as you can see by Sarkhan Vol’s initial valuation, and the early buzz on Jace is that he is great.

With all this top of the deck manipulation, many evaluations of other cards have to shift. Fetchlands become even more amazing, as if you don’t like the cards at the top of your deck you can shuffle them away. Some folks – eg. Joey from Affinity for Islands – have suggested Lorescale Coatl should pair up with the brainstorm ability, which is pretty tasty – becoming a 5/5 on turn 4, or turn 3 if you’ve accelerated it out. 6/6 with Noble Hierarch! I think blue/green Lorescale is worth exploring, probably with white as well.

Archmage Ascension is also pointed out by Joey, but I really don’t think this will be worthwhile. It’s still 6 turns of work to get the Ascension online, assuming your opponent doesn’t Pulse it, or Esper Charm it, or Oblivion Ring it, or Vampire Hexmage it. Sure once you complete the quest you are looking good, but by then you have drawn a third of your deck! I just don’t see it happening. With card selection and shuffle effects from other cards you should be able to find what you need.

This post is already long enough, so for homework I want you to go to gatherer or magiccards.info and track down every card that benefits from being able to manipulate the top of your library, or unsummoning every turn, or just from blue becoming good – which is not assured just from Jace, of course, but he is a step in the right direction. If there were a mono-blue control deck, or blue white or blue black, what would it use as its finisher? If you are playing a blue deck at the moment, how would new Jace fit in? Please discuss in the comments, and we’ll be back into the Price of Extended on Monday.

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