Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy EDH Primer
Of course Jace is one of the best mono-blue commanders. He’s Jace.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy has been underestimated in every format. He was called the worst of the flip-planeswalker cycle. He was called a bad merfolk looter that flipped and did nothing. Any one who has played him can say he certainly is much better than that. He has since seen play in standard, modern, legacy and vintage. Now, I’m proposing he is vastly underrated in EDH too, where he shines as a great commander.
This Jace deck goes off on turns 3-4 fairly consistently, which is on par with the other storm decks. This deck is the real deal.
How the Deck Works
This is a High Tide deck. It abuses the mana made by High Tide with cards like Frantic Search in order to win with the storm mechanic. The deck primarily consists of mana, card draw, a few counters, and a few win cards.
But why Jace?
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy isn’t typically what a great commander looks like, especially in mono-color decks where commanders are expected to double as the win condition. Compared to other commanders, Jace doesn’t really have a definite role. He’s just a really powerful card that the deck wants to be casting. But don’t make the mistake of comparing him to the more expensive commanders. Jace is a one-of-a-kind legend. The value of always having an early play is huge. The value of that early play improving your hand is huge in a format where variance is the boogeyman. On top of all that, by the time you go off, he lets you cast your best spell a second time. In a format with vintage-level spells, casting your best one again is huge. For most storm decks in EDH, their commander plays a sideline role, only cast when they have nothing better to do in the mid-game. Jace is not that commander. He comes into play on turn one or two, he makes fizzling much harder, and all your best spells get even better.
Jace makes Intuition nearly a win by itself. Feel free to grab any spells you need, you can expect to cast two of them when you untap next turn. Even top-of-deck tutors become a lot better with Jace: not only is he an on-board way to draw whatever you tutor immediately, but he let’s you cast it again later, making the assembly of great combos like High Tide and Time Spiral into something more trivial than otherwise. High Tide decks rely on these synergies, and Jace decks get to enjoy them more often than other High Tide decks get to.
Not only does Jace make your best draws faster, he makes your draws more resilient too. Your opponents will even be wary to counter your spells when you can flash them back immediately after.
The other mono-blue commanders are worse high tide decks, but that’s probably a given, considering no one tries to play mono-blue high tide. And Jace is obviously very good in his deck, but is he better than Jeleva Storm or Zur Doomsday? Well, Jeleva and Zur both have access to more powerful spells in more colors, but this deck is as fast as those decks, and less of a glass cannon too. They have more consistently powerful draws than Jace does, but Jace’s looting makes him very good at drawing out of bad draws. All in all, I’m convinced this deck is a top-tier deck.
Will you explain how storm works in EDH?
If you aren’t familiar with how storm works in Legacy, let’s start there. The deck casts cards like Ponder to sculpt their hand until they’re ready to try winning. When they’re ready, they cast cards like Dark Ritual to generate mana, followed by card draw, such as Ad Nauseam or tutors, such as Dark Petition to whatever they need until they are ready to cast Tendrils of Agony. The entire deck functions on casting nine spells in a turn, followed by a Tendrils of Agony. That deals exactly 20 damage, and can happen as early as turn 1. Not only is it quick, it’s hard to interact with too.
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
1 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
Instants and Sorceries (37)
1 Ad Nauseam
4 Cabal Ritual
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Dark Petition
4 Dark Ritual
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Infernal Tutor
1 Past in Flames
1 Rain of Filth
1 Tendrils of Agony
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
4 Lotus Petal
In EDH, it works a little differently. In the Legacy deck, about half their spells make mana. That’s not the case in EDH: the card pool simply isn’t there to find enough rituals (spells that result in a net gain of mana for that turn only, like Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal or High Tide), and the variance is high enough that we probably wouldn’t want to play that many even if we could.
If all you need to win with storm in EDH is lots of card draw, and lots of mana, the obvious bottle-neck in EDH is making lots of mana. The vintage-quality artifact mana definitely helps, but it won’t produce enough storm to Brain Freeze your opponents out of the game.
So instead, EDH storm decks are typically built around High Tide (cards like Extraplanar Lens do a pretty good High Tide impression, but it’s unfortunately symmetric, making all islands tap for double). High Tide has a number of great spells that net mana by untapping lands.
In addition to the High Tide synergies, the deck plays a number of mana positive rocks.
After you produce enough mana, you need to find a payoff card. Most lists simply play Ad Nauseam because it is the most busted card in the format, but we’re in mono-blue and must be more creative. This deck doesn’t struggle to make 12 mana fairly early in the game. The question often comes down to where to spent it. These cards are the ones your looking for.
I’ve spoken of this card already. It’s game-over with a High Tide, and very solid otherwise. It is one of the best things to be doing in this deck, and one of the most frequent tutor targets.
Another draw 7. It’s great on your combo turn to get a few more cards.
This is typically a draw 7 if you cast it early enough in the game. That you get to use it twice makes it worth the high cost.
This card not only draws cards, it casts them too! Don’t be afraid to fire this off with about eight storm, this deck has plenty of card draw in it so it’s rare that you’ll brick. Much like Time Spiral, this is one of the best things to do once your deck makes plenty of mana.
This may look like one of the strangest includes in the list. While it’s not a super popular card, it’s in the list for a reason. It turns your artifact tutors into action. Unlike some other lists, this deck draws a limited number of cards, and being stuck with a card like Tezzeret, the Seeker, without one of these payoff cards is occasionally a problem. This card is nearly as powerful as Past in Flames, but you can use every turn. Keep this card in mind while you play, since you have to play to make it good for it to be good. Fetch early, loot early in the turn if you’ll be discarding a non-instant or sorcery, delve away lands and artifacts when you can, and most importantly, choose the order you discard your cards in very carefully.
The deck plays a few combos, but don’t feel like these are the only two ways to win the game.
- Helm of Awakening + Future Sight + Sensei’s Divining Top = infinite card draw, infinite storm
- Palinchron + High Tide = infinite mana, infinite storm
- infinite mana + Blue Sun’s Zenith = game
This card just wins on the spot. It’s the easiest tutor target to win if mana isn’t an issue. After casting this, play out all your artifact mana (being careful not to use [m]u[/m] mana where colorless will do) and cast High Tide and Palincrhon for infinite storm to Brain Freeze your opponents out of the game.
Once the storm count is high enough, you can use this card to mill your opponents out. It’s hard to win with this card with anything less than infinite storm. It takes a storm count of 30 to knock out a single player, and 90 to beat an average table. But with a card like Remand, you can half those numbers by targeting your own spell. A Jace -3 is also a pretty good way to do that too. Mind’s Desire does cast your spells, so it’s not too farfetched that you get high enough storm counts.
Something people forget is that this card is an instant, and against other decks, you can mill them out on their turns if they try to do any combos. This is great against other storm decks in particular.
In decks like these, one of the hardest things to learn is which tutor targets to find. Below, I share some of the typical high priority targets to grab from each tutor. Remember, each of these can find a lot of the cards in the deck: these are just the common grabs.
Unfortunately, blue doesn’t have very many tutors so this section is short.
This card was included in the list as ramp, with the main targets being [c]Mana Crypt or Candelabra of Tawnos. It turns out that paying [m]2[/m][m]u[/m] for a Mana Crypt is still a pretty good rate, all things considered. Sensei’s Divining Top is another consideration, especially if you have Future Sight or Helm of Awakening out.
If you are mid-combo and you need more cards, Bossium Strip is the grab. If you haven’t found High Tide yet, then consider Extraplanar Lens. Helm of Awakening, Mana Cypt and Candelabra of Tawnos are the other easy grabs.
This can grab a lot of cards, but generally, look to grab High Tide if you haven’t found it yet and you have a good hand. If you don’t have a good hand, Intuition is the grab, since this card will let you stock up on action quick. If you are mid-combo, getting Time Spiral or Enter the Infinite are good too. Take note: it is not ridiculous to Personal Tutor for a Merchant Scroll to find High Tide. In EDH, we do what we gotta do.
Jace EDH is a fast and remarkably resilient deck. Jace is the king of all formats, what else did you expect? I think we’re all surprised that it took us this long to figure this out.
Thanks for reading.