Friday, December 18, 2009

Jace Gets Evaluated and We look to the future of Draft

Christmas Season + Spoiler Season = x_X

Evan Erwin is sick (thus no Magic Show this week). Trick Jarrett is hanging on by a thread but still managing to read a bunch of Magic blogs, including mine, which he noted in this article. Thanks, ManaNation!

And basically, everyone is getting all kinds of stressed out from the holiday season. On top of that, following Jace puzzle pieces across the world means that there are blogs to update, pictures to upload, and forums to follow -- for people who do that sort of thing. (I didn't bother, for good reason. Well, I guess I did partially. But I waited until Jace was almost done first.)

But I have a feeling it isn't over yet. Not by a long shot...

Let's look at Jace. And then look to the future of Zendikar block drafts.

Everyone is speculating how good Jace'll be in the upcoming Standard environment. In my mind, there is no doubt he will be played. There is no doubt he will be a chase rare when the set is first released ($15 or more). There is no doubt his price will drop steadily until someone finds a decent use for him in a deck. At which point the price will jump again.

However there is no saying what deck he will go in, or whether there will be a good deck for him to fit into. Some people are making some ridiculous statements, as people on the internet are wont to do. Some people are saying he's completely useless. But I wouldn't listen to those people. I think it was Patrick Chapin that predicted he would be one of the top ten T2 cards post Worldwake. I kind of doubt that, too.

He's just middle-of-the-road decent. He's not Ajani Vengeant. But I would say he's better than any of the Zendikar planeswalkers. (I-is that saying a lot?)

I have good reasons for believing this -- the Jund Menace is one of the big ones. Even Garruk fails to shine against Jund, and that's why I leave Garruks out in my Jund matchups. A 3/3 token. Who cares? With Jace, there's even less going on in the one turn you get to use him. Are you going to +2 in order to get him out of Blightning/Bolt/Elf range? If he survives after that, I would still be impressed. Are you going to Brainstorm to get out some Card Advantage? The responsive Blightning will negate that and more. Unsummoning a Thrinax or something to that effect might slow down their tempo a little, but you're opening yourself up even more to Blightning.

"Play him with counter mana open," you say. Well, if Jace is reduced to a six-drop, then I have basically finished the argument. Because he's not SO great that you're willing to run 4 of him in a deck. You only want him in the late game. Or when you've basically gotten the Jund player under control and just need to find the last pieces for the final KO.

Here are some scenarios, though. If you can lock the Jund player out of red mana early, with Spreading Seas, and then prevent a surprise creature attack with Wall of Denial, MAYBE you can play out the Mind Sculptor on turn four with some feeling of safety. ??? (Not 100% though.) There are other things a control player can do, no doubt. (Draw more cards = generally a good answer to Blightning.) But Jace 2.0 by himself is not the answer to the Jund Menace. This guy just wants to tag along for the ride and help in any way he can. He stands next to Ajani Vengeant as Robin stands next to Batman.

And Blightning is the Joker grinning behind the curtains, just waiting to fuck up both of them.

(The RWU vs Jund matchup isn't nearly as bad as I'm making it sound, by the way. I'm being overly theatrical. I actually recommend playing RWU Control. Whether Jace will go into a RWU shell, I'm not to say without looking at the rest of the set.)

Jace 2.0 may be a tad more expensive, however, because Worldwake will not see as much Draft Play as the other two sets in the block. If you haven't heard, the official Draft Formats will be the following after ROE comes out:


Zendikar and Rise of Eldrazi are the two big sets in the block. Worldwake is the small set. Will Worldwake be the "Conflux" of Zendikar block?

Of course, no doubt people will still draft WWW to see what it's like... but if it's anything like Conflux triple drafts, COUNT ME OUT. Please.

Although Conflux was a bit worse because of the whole multicolor/domain thing. WWW probably wouldn't be too bad. Still, I did Eventide triple drafts in the past, and those weren't any fun either. Just seeing the same cards over and over again makes for a dull and repetitive draft format.

Whether prices will actually be strongly affected by the draft formats, well I'm not an expert. I can't say for sure. But if you have a hard time finding Jace 2.0, blame that. And blame Mythic Rarity.