5 Modern Decks And More With Jace And Bloodbraid

How good are Jace and Bloodbraid Elf? Well, good enough to come off the ban plan and immediately define the format! Our own Modern Master, Todd Stevens, explains the meta you can expect at the SCG Worcester Modern Classic!

It’s been a little over two weeks since the

announcement that shocked Modern,
with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf being set free to almost
everyone’s surprise. Since the announcement, Modern on Magic Online has
been the Wild West with everyone scrambling to try to find the best homes
for these two powerful cards, which has almost eliminated all traces of the
existence of the old metagame. In its place we have a chaotic format where
all sorts of different archetypes are competing for spots among the top
tiers of the metagame as players start to determine which ones are more
successful than others. Determining what decks to play in this kind of
format is incredibly challenging; therefore, today I wanted to write about
my findings on the state of Modern heading into the Modern Classic this
weekend at #SCGWOR and the
Modern Open next weekend at #SCGDFW.

Both Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf are
Format-Defining Cards

Let’s start with a good baseline. Talk about Jace, the Mind Sculptor
dominated the Magic airwaves post unbanning announcement, including from
myself who
wrote an entire article about the blue planeswalker,
but the impact that Bloodbraid Elf would have on the format was
originally undersold. I’ll get to more about Jace later, but so far
Bloodbraid Elf has singlehandedly revitalized almost every deck that has
green and red in it, something that I did not see coming right away. It’s
seeing success in aggro and midrange decks, which isn’t much of a surprise,
but it’s been so good that even the ramp decks are utilizing it!

Both Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf will be played in a wide
variety of strategies moving forward, a fact that only a handful of
four-mana spells can claim in Modern. Keep both cards in mind when
designing or refining decks.

The Format is Faster and More Proactive Than Before

Both of the new cards promote having a faster format in their own way. The
presence of Jace, the Mind Sculptor gives people less incentives to try to
play other decks that will try to grind their opponent out of resources, as
that is the exact axis Jace wants to compete in. Instead, decks are trying
to go under the Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks, with both direct damage
spells and haste creatures being preferred as ways to attack a resolved

Similarly, Bloodbraid Elf also promotes having proactive spells in your
deck instead of reactive, as you don’t want the card that is cascaded into
to be a dead card. For example: cascading into a Path to Exile when your
opponent doesn’t have any creatures on the battlefield won’t have any
impact, but hitting a Lightning Helix instead will at least cause a six
point life swing even when there isn’t a creature to point it at. Add this
change in deckbuilding to the fact that Bloodbraid Elf has haste, and the
decks from before that are able to add Bloodbraid Elf, such as Jund, have
increased in speed and can finish games quicker.

These factors have produced a wide variety of fast, proactive decks, such
as Domain Zoo, with all fourteen maindeck non-creature spells being able to
deal direct damage to the opponent.

Control is in a Rough Spot

The biggest nightmare when trying to design a control deck is having a
chaotic format filled with a wide variety of fast, proactive decks, and
that’s exactly what we have right now. It’s hard to have the right answers
in your deck when you don’t know the questions you’ll have to answer. Many
proactive decks are fighting on a different axis as well, and until the
metagame starts to form it’s incredibly difficult to build a successful
control deck, even with access to Jace, the Mind Sculptor. To make matters
worse, almost everyone has control decks in their sight when building
sideboards, as they are in everyone’s crosshairs right now due to the hype
around Jace the Mind Sculptor. Cards like Choke, Boil, and Thrun, the Last
Troll hardly saw the light of day before, and they are now almost
commonplace. These factors have led the control decks to struggle so far,
but I expect them to be successful when there is a defined metagame and
decks for them to target.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is Dominating

I’ve been hearing from many people that they believe the hype around Jace,
the Mind Sculptor was overblown and that it won’t have much of an impact on
the format, but I still don’t believe that to be the case, and the numbers
are showing Jace to be dominant. Even with control decks struggling out of
the gates, Jace, the Mind Sculptor is everywhere. In the most recent Magic
Online 5-0 decklist article, which had a whopping 73 unique archetypes,
this is the comprehensive list of non-land spells that were in more decks
than Jace, the Mind Sculptor:

That’s it. Not only did 25% of the decks have Jace, the Mind Sculptor in
them, every single one of them used at least two copies. It’s such a
powerful card that it can fit in to an insane amount of different decks and
make them instantly better. This is especially true for the proactive decks
that can use the card advantage Jace, the Mind Sculptor provides as a
backup plan when needed, such as with Restore Balance.

I only expect this trend to continue as people experiment with more and
more ways to abuse the power of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Moving into the
first couple weekends of Modern events on the SCG Tour, I would recommend
having a proactive strategy that also has Jace in it rather than a reactive
one that relies on it to win the game, at least until the metagame is more

Tron has Taken a Hit

Before the unbannings, G/x Tron was arguably the best deck in Modern after
completely dominating GP Lyon. Even though Jace, the Mind Sculptor and
Bloodbraid Elf as individual cards don’t seem to hurt the archetype, what
they have done to the format has. With fast and proactive decks everywhere,
G/x Tron isn’t able to stumble as much and get away with it. On top of
this, both Bloodbraid Elf and Jace, the Mind Sculptor pair well with Blood
Moon, which is now seeing much more play than before. Even Eldrazi Tron has
started to take a back seat to G/R Eldrazi, which is much faster with
access to twelve creatures with haste. I’ve thought of G/x Tron was one of
the best choices for Modern tournaments for months now, but as of now I
wouldn’t recommend sleeving it up at#SCGWOR or #SCGDFW with the
new speed of the format.

U/R Gifts Storm is Ready to Make a Comeback

There isn’t a more consistently fast deck in the format than U/R Gifts
Storm, and it’s still as good as ever. With the control decks struggling
and format being more proactive, U/R Gifts Storm is poised to prey on the
other linear decks, especially now with the target off its back. Many early
versions of decks that people are trying out are rough around the edges,
and U/R Gifts Storm is exactly the type of deck that can punish untuned
decklists. The window is small, as the interactive decks will catch up and
people will react with more hate in their decks if the deck starts doing
well, but the window is now for U/R Gifts Storm.

My Top Five New Decks

Finally, I’d like to take the observations from earlier and apply them by
talking about five intriguing new decks moving forward into #SCGDFW. These
are the decks that I think are positioned well right now in the wide-open
metagame and will be the first place I start when looking for a deck to

I’m starting off with the deck I’m the least confident in, but it’s still
very exciting. We’ve seen how powerful both the Eldrazi Aggro shell and the
Hollow One shell are on their own, and combining them makes a ton of sense.
Although it doesn’t dig as much as Ancient Stirrings, Faithless Looting
still does a good job at helping you find more copies of Eldrazi Temple and
can also fix your hand when you’re flooding out, which is one of the
biggest problems these Eldrazi decks have struggled with. I also really
like the use of Ramunap Ruins to help when you’re flooding out, giving the
deck just a little bit more reach when needed. This deck will have
consistency issues over a long tournament, with the draws that involve
early Hollow Ones or Eldrazi Temple being much stronger than others, and it
has an incredibly poor sideboard for a Modern deck, but there is a ton of
raw power in the deck that makes me want to try it out.

As far as the blue control decks are concerned, I’ve had the most success
with Esper due to the power of Lingering Souls, which does a fantastic job
at protecting Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I’m skeptical about having four
Field of Ruin in a three color deck, but there’s no denying how good the Ixalan land is, especially when the shuffle effect is paired with
Jace, the Mind Sculptor. At least we are just barely splashing black and
don’t have to rely on casting Thoughtseizes early. I really like the full
playset of a hard removal spell (Path to Exile) over the conditional Fatal
Push, as well as the playset of Snapcaster Mage. Many control decks shave
numbers here and there and end up playing two or three of most spells, but
each card that is a four-of in this deck deserves it, and I like the
consistency having so many four-ofs provides. I don’t really care for the
Sphinx’s Revelation in the sideboard, but this is still one of the best
control decks I’ve seen so far.

This is the frontrunner for the kind of deck I’ll be playing in the #SCGWOR Modern
Classic if I don’t make day two, but it will probably be a little more on
the midrange side where I’m much more comfortable. Strangleroot Geist is an
incredibly underrated two-drop for the archetype and is an awesome hit off
of Bloodbraid Elf. I also really like Goblin Rabblemaster in the three-drop
slot as another threat that, if left unanswered, will take over the game
immediately. This deck should absolutely have four Tarmogoyf and four Noble
Hierarch, but with the price of those two cards, it could have been a
budget consideration. I’m not sold on the non-Bloodbraid Elf four-drops or
four copies of Tireless Tracker in a twenty-land deck, but overall
Bloodbraid Elf is putting G/R decks back on the map.

Popular streamer Daniela Diaz
has been having the most success she’s ever had with her pet deck, U/R Kiln
Fiend. This deck plays a similar game as Infect in that it has a consistent
turn 3 to turn 4 clock when left untouched, but it also plays a solid late
game due to the cantrips and Jace, the Mind Sculptor from the sideboard.
Plus you’re also able to have free wins with the help of Blood Moon. Put it
all together and you have one of the scariest decks to face right now. Just
like I mentioned with U/R Gifts Storm earlier, this is the window to play
U/R Kiln Fiend while it’s under the radar and the metagame is all over the

Ever since Vizier of Remedies was printed, the Counters Company decks have
been seemingly ready to breakout. They win some games in spectacular
fashion, but against enough disruption, the core of the deck starts to get
exposed as it’s filled with cards that are individually weak on their own.
However, if you add Jace, the Mind Sculptor to a must-answer combo that
threatens to win the game with some regularity on turn 3, then I’m
instantly intrigued. Jace forces your opponent to first stop your combo
pieces and then also have an answer to Jace or else you’ll gain enough
resources to be able to combo again. I could even see a more tuned version
of this deck adding in the Knight of the Reliquary and Retreat to Coralhelm
combo as well, completely overwhelming opponents. This is definitely a deck
to watch out for moving forward.


So there you have it, my observations on what’s happening in the current
Modern format after the unbannings of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and
Bloodbraid Elf. We’re in a wild period where everyone is trying to decide
what decks will define the metagame, which has led to a rise in fast,
proactive strategies. Even though this won’t always be the case and the
reactive decks will gain traction when they are fine-tuned, in the meantime
it looks like the best thing to be doing is to jam your favorite linear
deck and hope it gets past your opponent. There’s nothing wrong with this
as it’s the natural beginning of a new metagame. And even though Jace, the
Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf look to be format staples in many
archetypes moving forward, Modern still looks like it will be incredibly
healthy and diverse for the foreseeable future.