Jace, Cunning Castaway
October 30, 2017
Commander [EDH]: 3.92
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
At this point in Magic’s existence, there are relatively few abilities that have absolutely never been done before. The thing is, though, that context is everything in a strategy game. For example, Jace’s first ability is reminiscent of Bident of Thassa or Coastal Piracy, albeit conditional – yet in this context, the fact that it also increases his loyalty keeps you ahead in another dimension of the game. His -2 is not quite as threatening as, say, Garruk Wildspeaker’s, but in the case of a creature-light or removal-light opponent, it adds up to a reasonable threat, especially over two or more turns. There are a lot of times where it’ll be beneficial to build single-mindedly to his ultimate – you can use one to draw extra cards and the other to make creatures that draw extra cards; if some decks struggle to deal with more than one planeswalker in play at once, imagine having to do so as the result of just one opposing card.
Finally, after seven iterations we have a Jace card that creates illusions. At the same mana cost as the original Jace Beleren, this guy is about as cheap to get out as Planeswalkers come. His +1 is solid. Blue has access to a bunch of cheap creatures with evasion such as Siren Stormtamer or River Sneak. The problem here is that without any creatures, the ability is dead in the water.
The second ability is simple and clean. It should be noted that unlike illusions in the past, this creature no longer has to be sacrificed if targeted by an ability. As a big fan of Lord of the Unreal, I’m happy illusions are getting some love. My only gripe is that the token doesn’t have evasion, making the synergy between Jace’s first two abilities a bit wonky.
Lastly we get to Jace’s ultimate. Although it isn’t a game winner like most other Planeswalker’s ultimates, its one of the coolest in all of Magic. Being able to make multiple Planeswalkers is just begging to be abused by a “Doubling Season” effect such as Anointed Procession. Its risky, but I usually try to get up to 6 loyalty before popping him just so you end up with three Jaces instead of two. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I hate how his first ability doesn’t stack. What’s the point of having two, three, or a hundred Jaces if they are impacting the board the same way a single Jace would. I can only assume WotC really wanted to keep Jace at 3 mana and had to keep his power in check.
I’m going to give this card a bit of a bump in Commander solely because due to the change in the rules regarding Planeswalkers, you can now have all nine Jaces on the field. And that is awesome.
The triumphant return of Jace to Standard is through his second three-mana planeswalker, and it’s certainly a unique one, to be sure. It’s the first time we’re seeing the illusionist side of Jace in card form, through his -2 (which makes an ephemeral 2/2). So he can protect himself, and it works decently with his +1 to get you to the cards you want faster.
His ultimate is where things get really freaky: you get two more copies of Jace. This means you can have those copies start making tokens or ticking up to the next ultimate, maybe doing both with different Jaces. Planeswalkers are famously hard to remove from the board at times, so once he hits play and gets his ultimate off, you’re in a very good spot.
As a three-mana planeswalker, Jace may seem weak, but he offers a lot of incremental advantage that can pay dividends when you give him space to do his thing. I’m not sure he’s better than the original Jace Beleren, but this one has more toys at his disposal and can enable a lot more insanity.
Also, he literally goes infinite with Doubling Season, but it’s harder to list planeswalkers that Doubling Season doesn’t make absurdly good at this point than the inverse.
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