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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jace, the Persuasion Master

Normally, I hate spending more than $10-$20 on a single card, let alone $40-$50.

But after seeing the results of this weekend's Pro Tour Qualifiers (PTQs), I couldn't help myself.

I broke down and bought 2.

For those who are still unfamiliar with our lovely new blue Planeswalker:

This is our new blue friend. 4 abilities, a +/-0 repeatable ability, and he only costs 1 more mana than his predecessor.

So why does neo-Jace deserve $40+ per copy?

1: He doesn't die to burn...at least, not easily. After you cast him and he resolves, you just activate his +2 ability to up him to 5 loyalty counters. The only way for burn to deal with this is use up two cards (most casual burn goes for quick and powerful, and most of those only deal 3-4 damage at a time).

2: His +2 ability doesn't have to fix your deck ("...top card of target player's library..."). You can look at the top of your opponent's deck and send a threat away if it's a spell or let them keep a land if they're topdecking (Landfall notwithstanding, anyway)...the potential is high for an abuseable ability.

3: His +0 is a Brainstorm. And we all know how powerful Brainstorm can be by itself. Imagine getting it every turn! I guess this could effectively be the new Sensei's Divining Top of Standard.

4: Two cards make his Brainstorm ability that much more useful:

Halimar Depths lets you get a Sensei's Divining Top on Turn 1 in Standard and makes up for not being able to play one Turn 1 in Extended because of the Enters the Battlefield Tapped (EBT) clause. Use Halimar Depths to set up Treasure Hunt, or if you're late in the game use Jace's Brainstorm ability to try and get 2-3 lands on top of your deck so you can draw past all those lands and get to a spell that'll help you win the game.
This ability is not to be underestimated. When faced with a land clump, Jace ensures you're able to draw into a spell you can use.

4: An Unsummon ability. Most Planeswalkers can "protect themselves" through various abilities (Garruk makes a 3/3 Beats token, Chandra Nalaar can take out a creature with her -X ability,
Nicol Bolas can take control of an opponent's strongest creature, etc.). Jace is no different...if you're willing to go down some loyalty.

5: Jace's "Ultimate" (the last ability of a Planeswalker). You exile an opponent's library and put their shuffled hand in its place. So late game...what, maybe 1-2 turns? And if you can get the ability sooner than you should (*cough*Doubling Season*cough**cough*Gilder Bairn*cough*), maybe 4-6 turns at most? Oh yeah! :) I've read some playtesters saying they can not only get Jace up to 12 to get his ultimate off but also when they do activate it, it's pretty well game over. That's what you get for putting a strong Mill effect on a highly useful Planeswalker...

So I broke down and ordered 2 at $40 or so each, but I probably won't get a third through online sellers unless the price is around $35.

Am I wrong for not wanting to pay $40 for this guy? I mean, he's good, but is he that good? PTQ reports had 3 copies of Jace total in two decks in the Top 8. Jace also appeared 3 times at Grand Prix - Oakland, all in the hands of Conley Woods, who I understand is the developer of the "Magical Christmasland" Standard deck.

Keep in mind, the set had only been officially released for one week when the PTQ and Grand Prix happened. To have this kind of success only a week out from a set's release is mindblowing to me. (But then again, I'm just a casual joe typing random thoughts out to nobody. :p )

With Pro Tour - San Diego coming up this weekend, we'll see just how prolific New Level Blue can be with Jace and the possible combination of him, Halimar Depths, and Treasure Hunt. Or will Jace win it all by himself without such strong deck manipulation/card draw? Will black decks start featuring Vampire Hexmage just to deal with neo-Jace?

I guess we'll all find out at Pro Tour - San Diego. If Jace performs well, I'd expect to see $60+ on eBay before the end of the weekend (possibly $70+ from card stores and online stores). If he does poorly, I think the potential to break him will keep him at $40, with the Extended PTQ and Extended Grand Prix from this weekend keeping him propped up.

I should get a chance to playtest him myself next week. I'll be sure to give you my impressions of him after that!

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