Deep Diving on BBE & JTMS

by Eduardo Sajgalik on 06 April 2018, Friday

Eduardo Sajgalik

Deep Diving on BBE & JTMS

Back when the unbans were announced, I wrote in detail about my thoughts pre and post ban. This week, I wanted to explore in further detail the decks that came out and additional thoughts.

The Queen and Her Royal Decree


Bloodbraid Elf Kolaghan's Command

Jund is a natural shell for this pair, but most players have decided to relegate the card to the sideboard, as this amount of value is usually not something a player would be interested in for game 1 when the plan focuses more on speed. 

Post-board, this combo becomes a lot more potent – the capacity of midrange decks to alter themselves in this fashion is one of the reasons they are a powerful choice for a tournament.

Samuel Pardee ran this 75 at the MTGO Championships:


Lightning Bolt Scavenging Ooze Liliana of the Veil


Here's an example that's light on Bloodbraid Elf and Kolaghan's Command but high on sweetness, transforming from the Mardu Pyromancer. The list was played by El_Magia_Tomate to a 5-0 finish in an MTGO Competitive League.

Steve Mann went 5-0 in an MTGO Competitive League early after the unbans – an untuned version of Traverse Shadow including the max number of copies of each card.

Traverse the Ulvenwalkd


Bloodbraids Everywhere

Vincent Lemoine and Immanuel Gerschenson did not do so well with this number – the deck is maybe not quite there (which makes sense with a multicolored low curve deck like this one). Perhaps not the best direction to take Bloodbraid Elf, but worth keeping on the radar.



Wild Nacatl Tribal Flames


The following build uses Bloodbraid as a redundancy piece for a pretty redundant deck. Stone Rain is a powerful effect to get off the cascade and this deck runs a full seven copies of the effect. PingoDoce85 played this Red-Green Ponza list to a 5-0 finish in an MTGO Competitive League.


Molten Rain Stone Rain

For this final list, I thought this was a brilliant take on a classic Titan Shift archetype. 

In a team tournament, there is a higher chance of the middle seat from a top tier team running Jund (a favorable match-up) and Bloodbraid Elf gives you alternative plans, redundancy, and much better post-sideboard games. 
Andrea Petersen, together with Bone and Enevoldsen, came in second place at Grand Prix Madrid, which was a Team Trios Constructed tournament.

Turbo Jace

People remember Jace TMS because he was a fantastic control stabilizer, card advantage engine, and finisher. 

The truth is that the decks that genuinely abused Jace were creature-combo decks that abused the extensive card selection, had mana acceleration to help get it out on turn 3 and attack on a separate angle to the rest of the deck. 
A good example here – Anger of the Gods is usually one of the best cards versus these green creature decks. What do you do if they have a resolved Jace TMS in play? You still need to play Anger of the Gods, but stay quite far behind. That's a core reason why he is so good in these strategies.

Vikram Kudva took this sweet little number to the top 4 of Grand Prix Phoenix, featuring two combos on top of Jace, the Mind Sculptor as a value engine.



Knight of the Reliquary Retreat to Coralhelm

Funny enough, that isn't the craziest combo deck from that tournament! 

We saw on camera a deck that was quite similar to the one run by gordy12791 to a 5-0 MTGO Competitive league finish (although the sideboard has too many 4-ofs for my taste). It runs Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian, as well as the combo of 12 accelerator creatures (Coiling Oracle's mileage does vary) into Jace, the Mind Sculptor AND/OR Bloodbraid Elf:

Also, which Modern mana accelerant comes to mind for being unfair or possibly broken?


Mox Opal


Mox Opal. The deck below is definitely not refined enough at this point but speaks volumes as to the potential of a Jace, the Mind Sculptor deck powered by Mox Opal.

Event Decks | Magic the Gathering

Grand Prix Phoenix 2018

Mar 17, 2018


Rank Format Deck Name Color Player
1st Modern Human
Steve Locke
2nd Modern Jund
Pierson Laughlin
Top 4 Modern KCI
Matt Nass
Top 4 Modern Knightfall
Vikram Kudva
Top 8 Modern Bring to Light Scapeshift
Sung-jin Ahn
Top 8 Modern Green and Taxes
Tate Donovan
Top 8 Modern Mono Green Tron
Alexander Corwith
Top 8 Modern RG Eldrazi
Michael Hughes

Copyright © 2002 - 2018

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas Whir of Invention

Control – Miracles and Moon

We have not had a proper Brainstorm effect in Modern before. Jace TMS allows Terminus to have a presence in the format – it is not efficient as Legacy's Brainstorm or now defunct Sensei's Divining Top but the potential remains high. This build by Ivc (5-0 Modern competitive league) showcases a potential direction:

Celestial Colonnade Terminus

Interesting additions to the deck would be Mishra's Bauble (for a cheaper Terminus activating effect) and Vendilion Clique (as a hybrid disruption / attacker / blocker / Miracle trigger).

However, the most powerful control build revolves around Blood Moon – Jace becomes great when your opponent's ability to cast spells is severely limited. I like Robert Pisano's 21st place take from GP Phoenix (although this list would seriously benefit from an extra land or two):



Cryptic Command Blood Moon

What's Missing?

The unbans on top-end value cards tend to be more open-ended, because these cards lend themselves to this phenomenon (rather than say cards that require specific builds like Splinter Twin or Treasure Cruise). 

The closest cards we have in nature to them remaining on the Modern ban list are Deathrite Shaman, Stoneforge Mystic and Punishing Fire (the latter being the most similar since it drives towards more extended games).

This means it will take longer to reach the full potential of these cards. However, I'd easily argue the community is closer with Bloodbraid Elf than with Jace, the Mind Sculptor – it impacts the board immediately, helps redundant decks with additional board presence and has higher power in slower post-sideboard games. It goes into a lot of homes and has had an immediate impact on Modern.

As For Jace, the Mind Sculptor...

It feels like people are trying to make it work and I have seen a ton of variations in the homes that people put the card in, with varying degrees of success. 


Overall though, it is not working so well for the Jace pilots. 

The few exceptions revolve around the decks that use Jace with mana acceleration but even more so with Blood Moon – the 1-2-3-4 punch of Bolt-Remand-Moon-Jace is very proactive against many archetypes, maintains board presence and easily takes over the game. This is where I see Jace having the most success for now, although "Taking Turns" has had a significant uptick in play as a one-sided Mine with far more versatility is precisely what the dec wants.

One of the key reasons I believe Jace, the Mind Sculptor is not doing well only came after watching Modern for the past month – overall, people are not playing correctly with the card. 

A lot of it is using the wrong ability. Some of it is strategic misplacement (not running him out at the best or only possible points), and of course we are not using its full potential (Unsummon an ETB creature should be happening far more often than I have currently witnessed). 


There are other reasons – among these; it remains a four mana spell and Bloodbraid Elf proactively counters it. 

I think it will still be many months before Jace, the Mind Sculptor becomes great in Modern, as people still need to tweak their decks and learn to perfect the card towards its full potential, critical when it has so much versatility.

In the meantime, enjoy the process of discovery!

I'm hoping to play something sweet at Grand Prix Hartford – hopefully, I can do the right research in time.

Thank you for reading,

Cards in the Articles

Articles you might be also interested

Andreas Petersen finishes his series stirring up the Unified Modern metagame!
Simon Nielsen helps you scale the mountain that's the Modern format!
Andreas Petersen continues his series exploring Unified Modern possibilities!

Copyright © 2002 - 2018