Friday night, I went to the magictcg subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/magictcg) to see what people really thought about our newest blue planeswalker, Jace, the Living Guildpact. As there was decent success with the Nissa, Worldwaker Reddit’s Opinion article, I felt that I had a duty to talk about the most hated planeswalkers since Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded.
When I talked about him before (here) I tried to be as fair to the card as possible, but admitted that he is completely outclassed by Jace, Architect of Thought in Standard, and likely won’t see play in any formats aside from Commander. That’s what I’ll stand by personally.
Before we begin, I want to thank everyone for commenting on the thread (which you can check here) and contributing to the site! I’ll definitely do these more often now that we’ve started something.
Now, what did Reddit think?
The general consensus was that he just isn’t good in Standard at this very moment.
Jace, Architect of Thought is his immediate competition for Standard, and the Living Guildpact loses quickly to him. The +1 protects him, albeit only against smaller creatures. His -2 gives card advantage. The only difference is that his -8 is less impactful, but is still a solid play of stealing any card out of an opponent’s deck.
UWx decks don’t play a whole ton of creatures (most UW decks play between 0 and 1 creatures) making him a bad match up for the those decks, and useless in the decks due to having no real protection for itself. Jace, Architect of Thought, who can see up to 4 copies in some of those decks, is a much stronger play. Even a 3/1 split between the two planeswalkers doesn’t make much sense in those cases due to the lack of impact at 2UU.
To repeat a fellow redditor, /u/memorylapseguy:
I would not be surprised is Jace is the best card in standard in 6 months. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees literally 0 play in 6 months. If putting a card in the graveyard is almost worth a card he becomes insane, but at the moment he is unexciting.
He essentially sees him being played a lot or he’ll be completely ignored due to being outclassed.
It is generally accepted that his +1 is fairly bad. To recap:
+1: Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your graveyard.
As an agreement with LSV, pretty much everyone agrees this is basically Scry 1.5. If this was just a Sleight of Hand or Preordain, people would be much more forgiving of this Jace.
The assumption with no Scry 2 is the fact that they try to keep non-evergreen keywords off of planeswalkers – it limits their printability without the reprinting of mechanics. Similar to how it’s very unlikely we’ll see a reprint of Noble Hierarch without Exalted coming back (which it already had in the 2013 core set) or how Chord of Calling was reprinted in M15 because they brought back Convoke. Sleight of Hand, however, doesn’t have the same excuse. It’s clear that they just did not want to give immediate card advantage on the +1 of this Jace. One redditor, /u/FarazR2, makes a decent point here, though:
Something I think is that this Jace is meant to save your cards from hand hate. Probably it started out like his plus was “Draw 2, put 2 back on top of your library in any order” but that was too strong. What this hints at for me at least is that Wizards anticipates raw card advantage being weaker than card selection in the future. We won’t be able to bet Thoughtseize + Thoughtseize + Waste Not very easily, and our best cards won’t just win us the game like Sphinx’s Revelation, so you have to be careful to keep them around.
He makes an interesting point here. Having Waste Not in Standard along with Thoughtseize is very powerful – you can use Thoughtseize to either drop the best card or whatever you need how an effect out of Waste Not.
But an opponent can’t make you discard a card they can’t see. Unless they play Ashiok.
Yet another redditor, /u/stravant mentions that it he could easily becoming obsolete with Khans of Tarkir’s release, or it may just be better to splash black or green to play one of these two. While Ashiok doesn’t create card advantage immediately, it’s playable a turn earlier than Jace, the Living Guildpact or Kiora, the Crashing Wave, and exiling 3 cards can be very relevant, especially if players are setting their libraries up with Scry lands. The downside to Ashiok is a lack of protection similar to Jace, making itself vulnerable to a hit as it can’t immediately -X to put a creature into play.
That being said, we all agree that the +1 isn’t fantastic, but we’ll have to live with it if we want to play with him, and it could still be better than we think.
How about the -3?
-3: Return another nonland permanent to its owner’s hand.
Not a bad effect, but at -3? I’m not a fan personally. Not being able to use his protection more than once before dying is mediocre.
Another Redditor, /u/sunturion tells us about his use of the newest Jace at FNM:
Played him tonight at FNM as a one-of in mono-blue, and whenever I played him, I won. He is incredibly powerful at maintaining tempo advantage.
I was on the draw, opponent played Desecration Demon on turn 4. I played Jace -3 to timewalk. 😛 And that’s pretty much it.
But his +1 seems very powerful too in mono blue. You don’t really want another land once you hit 4, and being able to look at not 1, but 2, is pretty powerful, and can be very key in how you sculpt your turn.
The only problem with this particular mention is that this is essentially playing him as a 2UU Unsummon – but as a repeatable effect, even if he has to +1 again beforehand. This is where another problem I have with Jace: being able to do a minor effect at -3 is rough on him as he can only do it once before dying. Again, I’d be a fan of this at -2, but -3 is just too much for something seen at UU or 1U on Boomerang or Disperse.
The ability isn’t terrible, but it’s just inefficient.
How about his ultimate?
-8: Each player shuffles his or her hand and graveyard into his or her library. You draw 7 cards.
Yes, it’s a one-sided Timetwister.
And what is its effect on Standard…? Well, not very many people really talked about that. You basically just win if you manage to use it, but not much more than that.
So what is the consensus of this card?
Underwhelming, all in all, but not horrendous. He definitely has his fans, like /u/Jaximus, who gave us this lengthy post, which is long enough to be a review on its own:
I personally believe that this Jace has been the best one since Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This Jace has several virtues that run parallel to the terror that was the Mind Sculptor.
First off, he starts at a higher loyalty than the Mind Sculptor does. This gives him a better chance of surviving turn one and two after being played. Which gives the planeswalker a much heightened board state value.
Second, his +1 is ridiculously powerful. By now, everyone has been able to see the effects of Scrying and just how much of an advantage being able to choose your next card is. Even thought this isn’t technically Scrying, it performs the similar function of being able to dig for answers or pieces for your next strategy. On top of performing the digging action, it also filters cards from your library to your graveyard, which we all know is what any reanimate deck is going to love.
Third, his -3 gives him relative protection against all nonland board based threats. It means that at the very least, your opponent has to recast it. If not used offensively, then it can be usesd as a combo enabler or even in an offensive situation. As long as it is a nonland permanent, he can take care of it for a measly -3.
I have seen several arguments about him being a more expensive bounce spell, but if that is the case, you’re playing planeswalkers wrong. See them as a ticking time bomb. If your opponent doesn’t take care of it, it will explode and by then the game is most assuredly lost (for them).
His ult, the -8, is probably the most oppressive of any planewalker in standard right now. Similarly oppressive ults would be Karn’s restarting the game, Liliana of the Veil’s sacrificing half their permanents, of Venser the Sojourner’s emblem of exiling when you cast a spell. It starts a slow grind that both demoralizes and crushes your opponent. Similar to laying a second turn Jin Gitaxias with no answers in Commander.
While this Jace currently does not have a shell to protect him, I daresay that he shall rival The Mind Sculptor in utility and oppressiveness. And for all you naysayers, what is it that made Jace the Mind Sculptor as broken as he was? It was the cawblade shell. Jace was a huge part of that deck, the fact that you could Brainstorm every turn, or Fateseal your opponent to oblivion. His tempo based control (even thought it wasn’t used much) and his ultimate something you just didn’t come back from.
This Jace has the right utility, all the right tempo, and is almost as oppressive as the Mind Sculptor. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, goblins and faeries, I’d suggest putting you money down quick on picking up your playset of Jace, the Living Guildpact. He’s damned good and even if he doesn’t see play in standard, I’m sure he will see play in the eternal formats.
Whew. Mouthful. He makes a few good points, but I’ve addressed the main problems with his points already.
The only thing that wasn’t really mentioned was how good he is with Doubling Season.
Entering at 10 loyalty is ridiculous – shuffling away the hands and graveyards and drawing you 7 cards is ridiculous. With Doubling Season, you just get to ignore the other two abilities and simultaneously shuffle away hands and draw 7 cards for 4 mana.
Even without Doubling Season, though, his ultimate is a huge threat. Part of his tempo advantage in my opinion isn’t that he slows your opponent down as much as he makes your opponent divert their attention from you to him, giving you the chance to wear your opponent out, and starting at 5 loyalty is part of that gambit.
If you think I missed anything important, or just want to give me more suggestions on what to talk about, you can tell me here in the comments below or on the reddit post I’m posting this on.
Until next time.