Jace, the Perfected Mind Is Way Better Than I Thought - Modern MillDiscussion Modern
Genoslugcs · February 28, 2023 · 5 min
Jace, the Perfected Mind was not a card I was fond of when I first saw it. Well, I wanted to like it, I just didn't think it was very good. After playing with it, I'm happy to inform you that I was wrong. And I'm not the only one - I saw others call this "The worse Jace to be printed to date" and then also come to realize it was actually quite powerful in Modern Mill.
Looking back on it now, it's hard to say why I thought it was so bad. Hine-sight is always 20/20 though and I've been having success with the card. So, I would like to go over my experiences with it and discuss what makes it so good.
Making Room For Jace
First things first, you've gotta make some room for Jace in your build. Some of this will come down to your preferences, what your current list looks like, and your meta. Personally, I took out all three of my mainboard Surgical Extraction and my singleton Spell Pierce and added a full playset of Jace.
Usually, I would probably run three copies of a support planeswalker (legend rule and all) but I had no problem with the full set here. When I cast Jace for three mana, and -2 him it wasn't uncommon for him to die. On the other hand, if I cast him for four mana, I was usually removing all the counters for maximum mill. In other words, I didn't mind having excess copies.
There aren't many instances when I am disappointed to draw Jace. Overall, it's pretty versatile and good in most situations. If you're ahead, it'll probably widen the gap. If you're behind, it can draw you some cards and I really liked that it mills some number of cards with both of the minus abilities.
It helps to really keep your foot on the gas and always be moving toward victory, no matter which ability you use. Next, the fact that the -2 mills three cards before checking the number of cards in the graveyard is awesome. It fuels itself. Staying on the -2 for a moment - Having essentially eight copies of "draw three cards" in the deck felt great and my hand was often full.
There were several times when I would use the "Visions of Beyond" mode on Jace (using the three cards he milled to reach the requisite 20), draw three, and then follow up it up with an actual Visions of Beyond. I have to say, drawing six cards in a turn is pretty nice. Especially when you also milled three cards and still have your planeswalker on board.
Now, let's talk about the -x. I think this is the ability I didn't think would be good. But it is. Casting Jace for three mana means you can mill an opponent for nine cards. This doesn't sound amazing when you compare it to Tasha's Hideous Laughter or Fractured Sanity. However, a comparison like this doesn't account for the overall versatility of the card.
Sometimes it's three mana, mill nine. But it's also sometimes a "mill three and draw three" and other times it's a five mana mill 15. Maybe each ability wouldn't make the cut alone but you get all three. And I think that is where I undervalued the card. In reality, four mana mill 15 is solid and I used it quite a bit. While I didn't actually mill anyone to zero with it, it certainly contributed. I meant it pretty literally when I said I was always happy to see the card. More on this later.
Before moving on to the "bad" there are a few more good things I noticed and wanted to mention. Jace soaks up damage and him being new through opponents off some. Most experienced players know the generally correct way to play things against an established archetype but Jace through them off.
Even if they ended up making the correct decision, I could many opponents stopping to weigh their options when going to combat. They weren't sure how much respect to give him. How good is he? Is he worth sending an attacker at if he's already been used to draw three cards? Do you leave him on board at one loyalty? All these are things my opponents aren't usually having to figure out.
This segues back into where I mentioned him soaking up damage above. I never cast Jace and left him on board hoping he wasn't attacked. He generates some nice value the turn he comes down almost no matter what. So, by all means, send your damage at him instead of me after I milled for nine or draw three cards. Any time he was attacked and killed, I didn't mind a bit.
Were there things that I didn't like about the card? Not really. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised. However, if I had to nitpick, here's what would say. First, the +1 was underwhelming. I thought about using it a couple of times and thought better of it. In my experience, I found it more useful to -2 and draw cards than to use the plus. After all, it's not actually affecting the board. You'll have to find a way to deal with that creature again next turn. Why not mill three and draw a card? Maybe you get a Fatal Push or Drown in the Loch.
Next, is that you don't really care if Jace lives a long life. It may seem like you'd want the extra loyalty to mill more cards with his -x but I don't think you do in most cases. Play Jace, get your value and if he dies, he dies. That was my experience. However, it never hurts to have options and I'm sure there are corner cases where it could be useful.
The only other downside I can think of is that both minus abilities target your opponent. The downside of having our spells target is something we've had the luxury of avoiding with our newer cards. Fractured Sanity, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, and Ruin Crab all dodge things like Leyline of Sanctity. The new Jace does not. Both of the relevant abilities target and he's pretty useless if Leyline is on board.
With that said, Leyline isn't as good of a card against Mill as it used to be. So, while it does shutdown Jace (and Archive Trap and Hedron Crab, it's a somewhat lousy sideboard card overall. Not the end of the world but I did think it was worth mentioning.
Do I Think Jace, The Sculpted Mind Is Here To Stay In Modern Mill?
To my surprise (given my initial thoughts on the card), I do. I think it has a solid long-term home in Modern Mill. As a matter of fact, I see most current lists online now including three to four copies. Maybe as time goes on, the meta will shift. Maybe another deck/card will come along with a problematic planeswalker and make people hate him out or something. But as of now, yeah. I think Jace not only has a home in the deck but makes the deck better.
I can admit when I am wrong and I was 100% wrong about Jace, the Sculpted Mind. Not only is he not the worse Jace but he's actually good and he's very fun to play with. I enjoyed having it in my deck, I was happy when I drew it, and it's a good card. That's one of the things I love about Magic: The Gathering - Even after nearly a decade of constant play and just as long playing Modern Mill, I can still look at a new card and evaluate it completely incorrectly.
If you play Modern Mill, and you haven't played with Jace for whatever reason, I urge you to give him a try. If you have played with him, what did you think? Were your experiences similar to mine? Comment down below and let me know. Until next time, happy milling.