So we’ve been able to review Lukka, Bound to Ruin, Nahiri, the Unforgiving, Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting, and Nissa, Ascended Animist as compleated walkers, and Kaya, Intangible Slayer and The Eternal Wanderer as our heroes, but we have the final phyrexian to analyze – Jace, the Perfected Mind!
So, per usual, we need to look at the base rate. We either have a three mana 3 loyalty walker or a four mana 5 loyalty walker – the three mana mode is pretty standard where the four mana mode is a little above par for loyalty, so that’s always nice!
The +1 is very similar to the flipside of Kace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Jace, Telepath Unbound, where you shrink a creature for -3/-0. This is some pretty great defense as that’ll completely mitigate most creatures, and even if it can’t will make that creature substantially less effective for the turn.
The -2 is an interesting take on drawing a card for a Blue planeswalker as it mills three cards first, checks if either graveyard has twenty or more cards, and if so, you get three cards instead of one. This is just Visions of Beyond, but stapled to a planeswalker, however, getting help with the mill three is definitely a pretty big deal. A -2 for just a draw card would definitely be a smidge weak, but only just barely, but if you get to draw three cards, that’s pretty big game.
Finally, rather than a traditional ultimate, you can -X to simply mill the opponent for a large amount. This plays reasonably well with the -2 if you can have Jace stick around long enough, but realistically, you’re probably aiming for this to be a win condition.
So with all this in mind, where does Jace fall in with the other Compleated walkers?
Out of all the Compleated walkers, Jace is definitely the one I’m the most torn with. The abilities aren’t super high impact, but the cost to loyalty ratio is good. It feels like it would have niche applications, but I can also see it in normal decks. To play towards the safe side, I’ll just take the average of how I’m feeling.
This is definitely a solid planeswalker at three mana and reasonable at four mana as well. The +1 is quite good at protecting him, especially if you cast it for four mana, as it’ll be very hard to attack down. Furthermore, the -2 can be very strong in a prolonged game, and even if you draw just a card, that’s probably fine. The -x is kind of brutal though as it just doesn’t play well with most decks in Standard (or otherwise) which is what really limits the usefulness of this. So, would I play this in a normal Blue deck? Well, it kind of depends. For more proactive Blue decks like Esper, not a chance. This is not the type of effect we’d be looking for, but for slower Blue decks, I would definitely consider it. For example, in Grixis, I could see this seeing play, but considering Kaito Shizuki hasn’t been good enough, I do have to question a bit if this would be.
Out of any strategy, I do see two strategies that could make good use of Jace – Control and Mill (surprise!) Mill isn’t a thing in Standard, but in Historic and maybe Explorer, this seems like a fine option. Three mana for a mill nine isn’t a good rate, but being able to get a Visions of Beyond and then plus up to slow the opponent down (or the reverse order) can be very threatening. Furthermore, while still not a great tradeoff, four mana for 15 cards isn’t anything to sneeze at. That’s the obvious application, but why Control? Well, this could be the advent of “no win condition” control again in Standard, back from the Elixir of Immortality days. Control has been in a weird spot recently as the threats have outpaced the interaction, but worse yet, Control doesn’t have a good finisher. While things like Hullbreaker Horror or Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim seem reasonable, but didn’t really work out as both were too easy to kill. Jace, on the other hand, can come down early, disrupt a bunch, and draw some cards. Then, once the game drags on enough, playing another Jace or two can seal games extremely quickly, especially if you used the -2 multiple times prior. Will this be fast enough? Who knows, as you being able to control the game is very important to having this be viable, but it is something to think about!
Overall, the card does seem solid and could see play, but it’s definitely no guarantee. I’m rooting for you though, Jace!
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