Over the last week or so, we’ve gotten our first look at a Modern format with both Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf in it. Many players have been very reactionary about both cards’ impact on the format. To boil these reactions down to an average story, it goes something like this:
“I just played a league on MtGO and played against 5 different Jace decks. Some of them were objectively bad decks but Jace made them really good.”
*1 league later*
“Ok Jace is still really good but it’s not in 100% of decks…yet.”
This was seen this weekend in the MtGO Modern Challenge, where Jace was only found in 2 of the top 8 decks, with a good mix of Jace and non-Jace decks found lower down in the final standings. One deck in the top 8 has caught many players’ attention as a previously unremarkable (yet very exciting) deck that may be made playable thanks to the 4 mana planeswalker. Let’s take a look:
Taking Turns by IWouldLikeToRespond on MtGO
3 Snapcaster Mage
Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here! Primarily, this deck is a variant on the (and I can’t believe I’m about to describe it this way) traditional Taking Turns deck that has been hanging around the fringes of the Modern format for a couple of years now. The basic idea around the deck is that chaining extra turn spells and never letting your opponent take another turn is a powerful way to win the game. In the past, this deck has relied on a couple of different win conditions, including the combination of Howling Mine and/or Kami of the Crescent Moon with Ebony Owl Netsuke and/or Runeflare Trap. Since those days, we’ve been given a lot of exciting tools that can perhaps make Taking Turns a viable combo deck option for Modern players.
Despite getting a lot of new tools recently, the core of this deck is more or less the same. Temporal Mastery and Time Warp are still the two go-to extra turn effects, with Exhaustion acting as somewhat of a similar effect, as it prevents the opponent (most of the time) from playing anything on their next turn. Serum Visions remains as a powerful draw spell that sets up future turns, and Snapcaster Mage provides extra turn effects 9-12 with a significant amount of flexibility stapled on. Day’s Undoing was a card that had a lot of hype surrounding it when it was printed, but hasn’t quite yet lived up to it. If it is going to shine, it’s certainly in this deck, where ending the turn is of little consequence when an extra turn effect has already been cast and the reshuffle effect helps to ease the tension of a deck only playing 8 true extra turn effects.
The As Foretold Package
One important piece of this deck that has improved this deck’s standing in the Modern metagame is As Foretold. The 3 mana enchantment has proven itself as an incredibly powerful, yet somewhat obscure, card advantage and mana advantage engine in the format. In this deck, there’s a suite of cards that help to support it, and the most valuable one is certainly Ancestral Vision. Being able to (for a small cost of 3 mana and a card), draw 3 cards and keep the As Foretold on the table helps this deck a remarkable amount in assembling the “combo” and hitting the critical mass of action that this deck can sometimes struggle to achieve.
The second card that was put in this deck solely with As Foretold in mind is Living End. The odd Modern combo piece has had a very competitive deck built around it put up results in the format, with As Foretold offering a blue version of the deck to players who love bringing back creatures from the graveyard. In this deck, its role is less combo-focused. While it can bring back copies of Snapcaster Mage that found their way into the graveyard, its primary use is actually just as a free board wipe when paired with As Foretold. Having this one-off effect helps the deck to remain competitive in game 1’s against the aggressive decks of the format.
Of course, where would a blue deck be in this format without Jace? The 4 mana planeswalker is a dream for this deck. The card advantage it provides helps to sculpt the perfect hand before combo-ing, and it itself is an extremely reliable win condition when given a seemingly endless number of turns, combining its +2 ability with the game-ending -12 ability. One of the main weaknesses of this deck in the past is that it was a combo deck that was notably slower than most other combo decks in the format and it had a very tough time keeping up with the faster decks in the format, which was basically a death sentence for combo decks. Jace helps in this regard as well, as it can delay the opponent’s board development for enough time that this deck can assemble critical mass.
The Sideboard Spicyness
Those of you who took a gander at the sideboard might be even more intrigued than you already were (which I can only imagine was very, as this deck is hawt). In the sideboard, this deck has a powerful white splash that enables it to hate out some of its worst matchups. Stony Silence is in the sideboard to help battle against Affinity, while Timely Reinforcements is the dream against Burn for this deck. Terminus is a little more open-ended, but it’s brought in against any creature deck that is likely to be able to kill this deck before it can kill them (which will be most). With the significant amount of card draw and filtering in this deck, Terminus can shine, turning this deck into somewhat of a U/W Control deck that has a powerful combo finish.
So, Where Does This Deck Land Going Forward?
Making Top 8 of a MtGO Modern Challenge is no laughing matter, and I think that there could possibly be room for this deck in this format. Slow combo decks are somewhat of an oddity in most formats, Modern especially, but with the powerful As Foretold package and the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, I think this deck actually now has enough gas to see it replicate this result a couple more times. Will it ever be a tier 1 deck in this format? Certainly not. But I believe it should be an odd deck that Modern players should make themselves aware of, and one that perhaps could spike a tournament and put itself on the map in the near future.
Until next time,
Interested to play with the other four drop that was unbanned last week? Check out Riccardo Monico’s article for an updated take on Spirit Jund, a spicy four color midrange list centered around Lingering Souls and Bloodbraid Elf.
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