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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 23 2020 11:00am
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Art by Wesley Burt

 SUMMARY OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

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 Of the two main instigators in the creation of the interplanar adventurers party that is the Gatewatch, if Gideon perfectly fits the archetype of the warrior, then Jace is the paradigmatic wizard – particularly the hood-wearing, emo variety of the class, more indebted with Raistlin than with Gandalf. The telepath, who so far never deviated once from monoblue across his entire career as a Magic card, is a deeply introverted individual, constantly trapped inside his own head. An accomplished scholar and a superior intellect, able to come up with the solution to the most intricate riddles, and always planning the next countermove for himself and his allies, Jace masters all forms of mind manipulation, including memory probing and illusions. For a long time the most prominent character in modern Magic, both in the post-Mending storylines and as the principal face of the game itself, Jace started experiencing diminishing returns in popularity due to overexposition, eventually causing his role and appearances to be dialed back. After solving the Implicit Maze, he became the Living Guildpact, the incarnation of the spell that keeps the whole of Ravnica together, a development that indissolubly linked Jace to the city-plane for a few years, until a reborn Niv-Mizzet replaced him at the end of the War of the Spark. Being the Living Guildpact more mundanely translated into the day-to-day task as supreme arbitrator of the many inter-guild grievances – a thankless, bureaucratic job for the blue mage, emphasizing Jace's reactive stance and his generally fatalistic demeanor, comparable to a representation of the compromises that come with adulthood (in a brilliant video essay by the Professor of Tolarian Community College, this aspect of Jace is contrasted with the most iconic Magic character from the pre-Mending era, the very active and passionate Urza, as, ironically, the two express a viewpoint that's the opposite of their actual age).

 Jace's analytical and emotionless attitude is often received as off-putting by his companions, and at times even perceived by Jace himself as a weakness, with the mind-mage occasionally envying Gideon's more affable outlook, which made the late Therosian a better leader of people. Nevertheless, the more unpleasant elements of his personality didn't stop Jace from having a number of meaningful, if tortured, romantic relationships, most notably with Liliana in his younger years, and with Vraska during the Ixalan exile – the first of which left the two former lovers endlessly oscillating between reliance and distrust, while the pairing with the tormented gorgon opened a whole new chapter in Jace's personal growth. Also noteworthy is the arcanist's ultimately friendly rivalry with the electromancer Ral Zarek on Ravnica.

 Jace has had 11 planeswalker cards to his name in 13 years, a frequency that fully became a yearly affair after the huge success of Jace, the Mind Sculptor cemented his marketability in 2010.

 His powers, as represented on cards, include:

  • Card drawing: 6 instances (two with milling attached, one with scry)
  • Bounce: 3 instances
  • Mass milling: 3 instances
  • Creature nerf: 2 instances
  • Mass card drawing: 2 instances
  • Alternate win: 1 instance
  • Brainstorm: 1 instance
  • Curiosity: 1 instance (as looting)
  • Exile library: 1 instance
  • Fact or Fiction: 1 instance
  • Fateseal: 1 instance
  • Flashback: 1 instance
  • Looting: 1 instance
  • Mass alpha strike: 1 instance
  • Mass stealing: 1 instance
  • Mass tutoring: 1 instance
  • Mass untapping: 1 instance
  • Permanent creature boost: 1 instance
  • Self-cloning: 1 instance
  • Surveil: 1 instance
  • Timetwister: 1 instance
  • Token creation: 1 instance
  • Triggered countermagic: 1 instance
  • Universal card drawing: 1 instance

 Jace's introductory lines from MTG Arena (the last two reference his Ixalan adventures):

  • I'm always a step ahead.
  • We can figure a way out of this.
  • I'm up for a challenge!
  • I've got them all figured out.
  • Don't worry, this is all just an illusion.
  • I love a good puzzle.
  • You've already lost. You just don't know it yet.
  • A manipulation of the mind.
  • We'll make this look easy.
  • Are they your memories? Or mine?
  • Time to set sail.
  • I will find you, Vraska.

FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY

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 Jace Beleren was born on the mage-ruled plane of Vryn, and started displaying telepathic powers since childhood, which of course freaked his parents out. After he mind-controlled some bully (because obviously he was the kind of socially awkward nerd that attracts bullies) in order to save his own life from a fall, Ma and Pa Beleren decided to send him to live and study with the local sphinx mage Alhammarret.

 

 At first, this arrangement suits the young geek, since Alhammarret is an old, knowledgeable scholar who owns a huge library and teaches Jace about the secrets of the mind, how to perform illusions, and all kinds of magicky things.

 Eventually, Alhammarret started to send little Jace into "training missions". The sphinx worked as a well-compensated arbitrator between Vryn's two warring factions, the elitary Ampryn League and the rebellious Trovian Separatists. Jace would have to infiltrate their respective camps to gather information, under the cover of illusion and mind obfuscation. He was an exceptionally smart kid, though, and soon enough the whole thing started to feel fishy to him, so during one of the mission debriefings, he tried to access Alhammarret's mind, and succeeded. This triggered his spark, sending him to... nowhere, actually, as the sphinx was quick to catch him and bring him back after just a few seconds in the Blind Eternities, erasing Jace's memory of the entire incident afterwards, covering it with some excuse about an illusion exercise that backfired. It turns out Alhammarret wasn't exactly the most honest individual, nor the most selfless tutor: he was playing the two factions against each other, perpetuating a stall in the conflict to maintain his arbitrator status and privileges, and using the oblivious Jace as a source of intel. When the mentalist in training found out, he started to keep notes but erased his own knowlege of it, so the sphinx wouldn't know that he knew. This is the first instance of Jace messing with his own mind, something he would do too often for comfort in his later life.

 

 Finally, the time went for Jace to confront his corrupt master about his shady dealings. The resulting mental duel was fierce and consuming, and ended with Jace completely destroying Alhammarret's mind, which made him forget how to breathe. In the process, Jace himself forgot about his own past, including his parents and childhood, as well as the reasons of his current predicament. Finding himself with the murder of the arbitrator on his hands, Jace had to leave Vryn in a hurry, and his random planeswalk landed him on the streets of Ravnica, a place that was destined to become his new home. Strangely enough, the Gruul Clans was the first Ravnican guild to take the blue mage in, and gave him the white facial tattoos he's still sporting to this day. He didn't stay with them long, though, and soon was able to make a living for himself in the city exploiting his mental powers.

 This is the beginning of a dark, ruthless phase in Jace's life, as depicted in the novel Agents of Artifice. Left to his own devices on Ravnica, the young telepath started to use his gift to acquire people's secrets then blackmail them for money. He eventually fell in with Tezzeret's Infinite Consortium, an interplanar crime syndicate specialized in acquiring powerful artifacts from the four corners of the multiverse. In the following years, Tezzeret became a new mentor for Jace, but proved even crueler than Alhammarret, repeatingly beating the hooded mage every time a mission went awry, even for reasons unrelated to Jace's actions. During these assignments for the Consortium, Jace encountered a few planeswalkers who would later become prominent presences in his life: first Chandra, as related in The Purifying Fire, and then Nicol Bolas. The elder dragon, who was the original founder of the Consortium, met with Tezzeret on an arctic plane to resolve a dispute, and the cunning artificer took his telepathic boy with him as a shield against mind probing. Suffice to say, Jace was far from equipped to face Bolas at this time, so in the end he and Tezzeret had to flee for their lives, with Jace even losing a toe to frostbite in the course of their uneasy escape. Back on Ravnica, a furious Tezzeret punished his protege for his perceived failure with a disproportionate amount of torture, finally triggering Jace's decision to quit the Consortium and its evil ways, having also grown increasingly guilty in the meantime over both Tezzeret's methods and his own lack of empathy. After angering Tezzeret one last time by refusing a particular immoral errand, he took with him his only friend, the Consortium assassin Kallist Rhoka, and the two of them tried to have their former employer lose their tracks.

 It's at this point that Jace meets another person who would prove crucial for his future: Liliana. The beguiling necromancer helped the two fugitives, and her seductive powers proved too hard to resist even for the usually phlegmatic mentalist. While in hiding, the two started a torrid affair, and after Kallist was killed by their Consortium pursuers (there's a body-switching subplot here which is extremely irrelevant), Liliana teamed up with Jace to exact revenge on Tezzeret. The blue mage, who had even resorted to seek the assistance of Nicol Bolas to locate the secret sanctum of their common enemy, ultimately fell victim of his own rarely displayed passion, since Liliana had been double-crossing him all along, and consigned him in the hands of Tezzeret. While working on a device that could keep the captive Jace under control, the devious artificer ordered his right-hand woman, the pyromancer Baltrice, to brutally torture him. In spite her betrayal, Liliana claimed to have developed genuine affection for the telepath, and come to his rescue, aiding his escape. Ultimately, Jace managed to subdue Tezzeret (an outcome Liliana had planned from the beginning), and completely obliterate his mind. With the Consortium left without a leader, Jace stepped in and took the place of his defeated foe. At the end of his feud with Tezzeret, he's left in charge of an operation he finds despicable, and madly in love with a woman whom his rational mind knows will betray him again and again, despite her professed feelings. Jace's logical mind is exposed to chaos on all fronts.

 Three years later, Jace suddenly developed a mysterious interest for the Dragon Scroll, the artifact that he was sent to retrieve from Chandra by the Consortium. He tracked the scroll to Zendikar, and traveled to the underground cavern called the Eye of Ugin, just in time to interpose himself into the duel between Chandra and Sarkhan. When the dust and embers settled and the three planeswalkers parted ways, Jace wondered who or what could have possibly caused them to walk into that ancient chamber at the same time (the answer is Nicol Bolas, of course!), and what their presence had ignited (the awakening of the Eldrazi!). On his way back, he met one Eldrazi brood, avoided being eaten, did some research on these strange creatures from beyond time and space, then returned to Ravnica.

 In the following years, Jace decided to disentangle himself from the Infinite Consortium, which eventually collapsed once left without any guidance. He traveled around a multiverse for a while, but his chosen base of operations remained Ravnica. One day, he noticed peculiar markings and symbols all over the Tenth District (which is central Ravnica, where all the important things happen). He soon became obsessed with these patterns, and researched them feverishly, especially after discovering the Izzet League was also interested in them. The investigation into this phenomenon, which would later be revealed as the Implicit Maze, was the inception of an extremely complicated case that saw Jace team up primarily with his dear friend Emmara Tandris of the Selesnya Conclave. The odd couple had to navigate the most nebulous dealings, involving Rakdos nightclubs, Dimir psychic vampires, magical beings made of law, classic Jace-style memory erasures, the Azorius arrester Lavinia, the sphinx Isperia, the shapeshifter Lazav, the Izzet planeswalker Ral Zarek, and pretty much each one of the guilds of Ravnica, in the frantic attempt to understan what the heck all this concerted agitation was even about – at some point, Jace was forced to planeswalk to Zendikar to evade imprisonment (that's one of the perks of being a planeswalker) and came very close to give up and leave all the madness of Ravnica behind for good.

 Instead he came back, only to witness Niv-Mizzet announce the beginning of the race through the Maze, so to counter, or possibly enact, the Supreme Verdict established by the long-vanished sphinx Azor, the author of the original and now dissolved Guildpact, and the creator of the Maze itself. The Verdict was believed to have potentially devastating effects for everybody who was found "guilty". To prevent this risk, and after various twists and fights, Jace ultimately connected the minds of the ten guild champions who were running the Maze, thus making each guild understand the point of view of all the others. This caused the Bailiff, the Azor construct who was overviewing the entire process, to establish a new Guildpact embodied into Jace, who was then declared the Living Guildpact. This meant every statement or decree formulated verbally by Jace would turn into an inescapable binding force. As the Living Guildpact, Jace found himself bound to Ravnica more than ever. Every guild would not turn to him to solve their bickerings, deliberate on their complaints, solve the problems that would trouble them. Essentially, he had now acquired the role his first mentor Alhammarret had on Vryn, except this time for real, without subterfuges, and between not merely two but ten factions intricately forming a complex web made of fragile alliances and petty enmities.

 Given use of a whole building to host his office, the Chamber of the Guildpact, and with Lavinia acting as his deputy, i.e. glorified butler/personal assistant, Jace resigned himself to the joyless, tedious work of mystical mid-management, finding every excuse to embark in one extraplanar travel or the other. During his time, he has to fend the assault of the gorgon Vraska, then work with Ral to keep Niv-Mizzet from discovering they both were planeswalkers (and that other planes do in fact exist, which is something most people ignore, and powerful beings like the draconic Firemind should remain unaware of). He also briefly tried, in vain, to cure Garruk of his curse on Shandalar. Jace was settling into a sustainable routine, until someone that wasn't from Ravnica came seek the help of the Living Guildpact – and that someone was Gideon, requiring assistance in his desperate stand against the Eldrazi on Zendikar.

 The situation on that plane had indeed dramatically deteriorated since Jace's last visit, with the eldritch monstrosities consuming the very land, and one of their titanic masters, Ulamog, roaming and devouring everything on his path. As an expert on leylines, Jace was paired with the merfolk Jori En to study the hedrons, the floating monoliths scattered around Zendikar, and which held the key to the defeat of the Eldrazi. In search of more infomation about the mysterious stones, Jace went back to the Eye of Ugin, after discovering it was the meeting point of all the plane's leylines. There, he found Ugin himself (restored to life by Sarkhan's time traveling escapade). The ancient dragon, who was among those who had trapped the Eldrazi on Zendikar many centuries before, advocates for a similar solution, but Jace intuits that the hedrons are also capable of killing them for good, something Ugin warns him not to do.

 Rejoining his allies at the siege of Sea Gate, and after a detour misadventure with Ob Nixilis, which ended up restoring the demon planeswalker's spark and awakening a second titan, Kozilek, Jace and Gideon realize this kind of threat is too large for each of them to face alone, but it could be overcome if working together. They decided to take a solemn oath, alongside local planeswalker and sword Zendikar defender Nissa, and the initially reluctant Chandra, who had just shown up to rescue them all from Ob Nixilis. The Gatewatch was born, and from Jace's perspective, its existence is meant as a safeguard "for the sake of the Multiverse". Coordinating the final strike, Jace prepares to use his newfound knowledge of the hedrons against their colossal adversaries. While Gideon and the other, more mercurial Zendikari planeswalker Kiora lead their respective armies in an effort to keep the endless swarms of lesser Eldrazi at bay with the assistance of Chandra's massive firepower, Jace instructs Nissa to rerrange the hedrons using her leyline magic, positioning them in a configuration that's able to bind the two titans in place. The goal is to syphon their energy into the plane itself, so that it can disperse harmlessly, but Ulamog and Kozilek are too powerful and threaten to assimilate Zendikar in response. Proving once more the strength of team play, it's Chandra the decisive factor: the pyromancer communes with Nissa, and channel a destructive blast fueled by the entire might of Zendikar's mana that the elf is commanding – Channel plus Fireball equals two annihilators annihilated, much to Ugin's dismay.

 The spirit dragon had mentioned to Jace that they would have to respond of their actions to one of the other architects of the original Eldrazi entrapment, the vampire Sorin Markov. Eager to meet another potential ally, Jace planeswalks to Innistrad to look for Sorin. Someone else he already knows lives there: the woman who had rescued him, then betrayed him, then saved him, then abandoned him; the former lover Jace doesn't seem to be able to ever get over; Liliana. A visit to Vess Manor to ask for her help in tracking down Sorin doesn't bear any fruit, though, as Liliana is not in the mood for assistance, or for reigniting old flames. So Jace starts investigating on his own. He finds Markov Manor in ruins, but is able to retrieve a journal written by someone called Tamiyo, who studied and measured the cryptoliths, artificial stone formations that punctuate the Innistrad landscape, much in the same way as the hedrons on Zendikar. According to Tamiyo, the cryptoliths hijack the plane's leylines and connect their energy to an invisible astral body relocated in Innistrad's sky. Continuing in his search, Jace meets an apparently insane woman who rambles about the so-called Drownyard Temple. Jace himself starts to feel the maddening influence of the cryptoliths, and is driven to suspect Liliana of being responsible for what is happening on Innistrad. In Thraben, he finally meets Tamiyo herself, a fellow planeswalker who cures him of his cryptolith-induced folly. The pair ends up facing the archangel Avacyn, Innistrad's prime protector, who's gone completely mad due to the cryptoliths affecting more intensely creatures made of mana, like the angels. Avacyn's power exceed Jace and Tamiyo's, but they're saved by the appearance of Sorin, Avacyn's own creator, who is forced to destroy her "daughter", if at the price of great emotional distress.

 The loss of Innistrad's defense system is the final catalyst to the descent on the plane of the mysterious astral object, which is none other than Emrakul, the more dangerous of the three Eldrazi titans. Her presence on Innistrad was concocted by the lithomancer Nahiri, as revenge for Sorin's disregard of Zendikar's fate. Recognizing the magnitude of the threat, Jace walks back on Ravnica and assemble the Gatewatch. The group plans to use the same strategy that ensured victory over the other two titans, but Emrakul's powers cause insanity, making her much harder to face. On top of this, Nissa is unable to wrangle Innistrad's leylines the same way she did with the more familiar ones on Zendikar. Only the unexpected intervention of Liliana and her zombie army saves the Gatewatch from utter defeat. Trying to protect his allies from Emrakul's psychic assaults, Jace retreats into his own mind palace, where he meets Emrakul herself in her angelic Emeria form. The Eldrazi appears serene and almost friendly, if inscrutable. She challenges Jace to a game of chess, which Jace won (as Jace always does). Back in the real world, Jace communicates with Nissa (who had a different epiphany from her own mind encounter with Emrakul) and the two puts together a new plan to trap Emrakul inside Innistrad's moon. But it's Tamiyo's spell from one of her scrolls to seal the titan away for good – although the Soratami would later reveal the upsetting detail that she'd been possessed by Emrakul while reading the scroll, which didn't contain one of her spells to begin with, so the Eldrazi had apparently trapped herself of her own volition, for her own enigmatic goals. To make sure not to facilitate those goals, Jace canceled everyone's memory of Emrakul, including his own.

 Back on Ravnica, the Gatewatch, now with Liliana as its latest sworn member, settled into Jace's apartments. Ral informs Jace that his Project Lightning Bug, a device that tracks planeswalkers coming and going into the plane, has tracked Vraska planeswalking away, apparently into nothing. The pompous vedalken planesalker Dovin tries to hire the Gatewatch as crowd control on Kaladesh, Chandra's native plane. Jace's involvement in the ensuing adventure will be limited, but he'll eventually have a role in the showdown with his old enemy, Tezzeret, whose mind has been restored and who's apparently now working for Bolas in the pursuit of the dragon's latest scheme, which entails stealing a revolutionary Planar Bridge invention. Increasingly aware of Bolas's status as the greatest threat to the Multiverse, the group, which now added Ajani, decides to attack the dragon on his own conquered plane, Amonkhet, as indicated by Liliana.

 On the desertic plane, Jace mostly acted alongside his companions. He explored a tomb with Liliana, discovered the disturbing secret of the creation of the Anointed, then accused his one-time ex-girlfriend of self-serving motives when the presence on the plane of Razaketh, one of her demon masters, was ascertained. And in the end, he shared the common fate of being resoundingly beaten by Bolas like a little baby, barely escaping with his life via planeswalk.

 However, the telepathic battle with Bolas proved exceedingly taxing for Jace, who saw fragments of his removed memory of Emrakul resurface. The trauma damaged his mind and sent him spinning around in the Blind Eternities towards an unwanted destination: the secluded plane of Ixalan. With no recollection of who he was, and unable to leave due to the effect of The Immortal Sun, Jace managed to build a raft to leave the island he was stranded on, and was retrieved by Vraska, who was dispatched to Ixalan by Bolas to retrieve the Immortal Sun, using the Thaumatic Compass to reach the Golden City of Orazca. Now a very democratic, much admired captain of the pirate ship The Belligerent, Vraska at first spared Jace upon finding she had no memory of himself or their past encounters; but after spending some time with him, while the telepath was rediscovering his powers and adapting to the pirate life he embraced, Vraska started to develop feelings for him, increasingly reciprocated by the amnesiac mage. However, their entrance into the Golden City caused a shipwreck, and being plunged in to the waters triggered the return of the entirety of Jace's repressed memories, including his childhood on Vryn, the murder of Alhammarret, and of course his past, not exactly romantic dealings with Vraska herself. The gorgon was afraid this would cause their hostility to replace the mutual respect they were now enjoying, but Jace surprisingly forgave her, and their friendship was strenghtened in the process. Jace could now also remember that his planeswalk to Ixalan was a hidden safeguard planted by Ugin in the event of someone probing Jace's mind and stumbling upon the memory of Ugin being alive, which is what happened when Jace battled Bolas.

 Jace and Vraska advanced through Orazca and met the former planeswalker Azor, the missing founder of the Azorius Senate, who so relentlessly and patronizingly had meddled with the planes of Ravnica and Ixalan, instituting the controversial guild system in the former, and sacrificing his own spark to try and trap Nicol Bolas with the Immortal Sun in the latter, a plan that was devised in collaboration with Ugin, and utterly failed when the spirit dragon died in the original Tarkir timeline, before being able to send trick his evil brother into visiting Ixalan. Vraska is willing to kill Azor as a punishment for the suffering he caused on Ravnica, but Jace decides to uses his Living Guildpact powers to permanently exile the sphinx on the little atoll he had first landed on, nicknamed Useless Island. They also devise a plan to hide from Bolas their alliance: Jace will temporarily excise the memory of their time together, until the time comes when Vraska will be in the position to betray the elder dragon when he wouldn't expect it. This done, and after Vraska called Tezzeret to come and collect the Immortal Sun with his Planar Bridge, Jace was free to rejoin the Gatewatch on their previously agreed rendezvous plane, Dominaria. He saluted their new member Teferi, then left them to deal with Belzenlok, Liliana's last demon contractor, and went to Zendikar to try and regain the support of Nissa, who had quit the Gatewatch over a disagreement concerning Liliana's sway on the group. Since the elf was inflexible, Jace returned once again to Ravnica, and immediately realized the Immortal Sun was activated there. The final confrontation with Bolas, later known as the War of the Spark, had begun.

 During the war, Jace lost his Living Guildpact status when Tezzeret's Planar Bridge opened directly into the Chamber of the Guildpact, disrupting the leylines that fueled the spell. Later, a revived Niv-Mizzet would ascend as the new Living Guildpact, finally freeing Jace from this obligation. As the battle lines became clear, Jace organized the many planeswalkers lured in by Ral's Interplanar Beacon who were fighting against Bolas. Per his suggestion, they divided into teams with specific tasks. Jace volunteered to kill Liliana, now back on Bolas's side after her demonic contract defaulted to the cunning dragon following the death of Belzenlok. Kaya, Vivien and Teferi accompanied him. Jace was conflicted about the assignment, still hoping Liliana could be saved. The four planeswalkers almost managed to cause the necromancer's death, but Bolas himself intervened to preserve the general of his Dreadhorde, the Eternals from Amonkhet ferried through the Planar Bridge to act as unstoppable harvesters of the trappe planeswalkers' sparks, which the dragon needed to restore his godlike powers from before the Mending, and take control of the Multiverse.

 During the entire conflict, Jace's former girlfriend Liliana and his prospective new girlfriend Vraska were both constantly at the back of Jace's mind. He met Vraska and realized she already reaquired her expunged memories, but still had killed Isperia, out of rage. Jace forgave her once again, and promised to be with her if they would both survive the war. Later, when Gideon sacrificed himself to save Liliana, Jace in turn spared her the wrath of Chandra, explaining to the latter that Liliana didn't in fact kill Gideon.

 Ultimately, once Bolas had been defeated and desparked by the collective actions of Liliana, Bontu, Oketra and Niv-Mizzet (armed with Hazoret's spear), Ugin asked the telepath to create an illusion of his brother's body being disintegrated, so nobody would know he was instead imprisoned in the Meditation Realm, with no powers and no name. When Jace ordered Saheeli to disable the Immortal Sun to let Ugin takes Bolas away, Liliana managed to escape as well.

 During the Planewide Celebration, Jace and Vraska finally shared a kiss and officially became a couple.

 (Some time later, they broke up. Apparently, Vraska was sick of hearing Jace constantly talking about Liliana. Such is the power of an abusive relationship).


INCARNATIONS 

1.    

  • Name: Jace Beleren   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: October 2007
  • Versions: Lorwyn, Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra, Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra Japanese alternate art, Agents of Artifice Promo, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Signature Spellbok: Jace
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Turns to Ultimate: 5
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Mild, milling one third of the opponent's library doesn't guarantee a win, and it's only partially effective if the plan involves removing our own library
  • Self-Defense: None
  • Role: Card Factory
  • Evaluation: The first time Jace showed up in card form was almost uncannily straightforward. Besides a milling ultimate that's very slow to reach and only relevant in extremely dedicated builds, what the first Jace does is just drawing you an extra card per turn – you'll only have to decide if you're also amenable to give all the other players the same bonus every third turn (which may actually be advantageous in team formats like Two-Headed Giant, or as a political tool in Commander), or if three cards for three mana is already enough of a deal, sort of a better Divination split across three turns. Admittedly, only black is usually able to provide this kind of repeatable drawing effect so early in the game, albeit "Little Jace" is even more vulnerable than Dark Confidant, and definitely more than the equally-costed Phyrexian Arena. He's still a decent card drawing engine, but it'll take some protective effort to avoid for him to turn into a three-mana cantrip that reads, "Target creature of an opponent's choice doesn't deal damage this turn".
  • Rating: 6

2.  

  • Name: Jace, the Mind Sculptor   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: February 2010
  • Versions: Worldwake, From the Vault: Twenty, Vintage Masters, Eternal Masters, Masters 25, War of the Spark Mythic Edition
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 6
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Auto-win
  • Self-Defense: High, as Jace will bounce the scariest threat
  • Role: Strategic Superiority
  • Evaluation: Back in 2010, when the new type was still relatively unexplored, Jace, the Mind Sculptor was the first card to show how broken a planeswalker could get. "Big Jace", as he was immediately nicknamed to distinguish him from his much tamer predecessor, was the first planeswalker to earn a ban in Standard, as well as a preemptive ban in Modern, although the latter would be reversed in 2018. In occasion of that announcement, this second Jace was defined "the most iconic and powerful planeswalker card of all time", and he still is. It's a card that lets you cast a free Brainstorm every turn, and whose path towards an ultimate that's just a different way to spell "You win the game" is to try an negate the opponent any useful draw (through a mechanic that was tentatively called "fateseal" in Future Sight, but was never reprised). For the longest time, Big Jace was also the only planeswalker featuring four different abilities, with straight-up Unsummon as a cheap minus to keep the attackers at bay, or perhaps retrigger the ETB ability of one of our creatures. The tempo game of a four-mana planeswalker would eventually be put into perspective by the escalation of the two- and three-mana versions, and there are ways to deal with planeswalkers now that didn't exist ten years ago, but this remains a card with highly competitive applications across all formats, capable to single-handedly influence the course of any game in which it hits the battlefield.
  • Rating: 10

3.  

  • Name: Jace, Memory Adept   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2011
  • Versions: Magic 2012, Magic 2013, San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Promo, Magic 2014
  • Converted Mana Cost: 5
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, it could alternatively be game-winning or just awkward
  • Self-Defense: None
  • Role: Miller
  • Evaluation: After the Mind Sculptor's controversial fireworks, Jace retreated into safer territories. His Magic 2012 incarnation went back to his Little Jace roots, resulting in a quiet milling specialist, mostly used to draw one card per turn, this time without any downside except for the fact that it's a 5-CMC card, so a bit expensive for the advantage it provides – only one mana away from more versatile and resilient permanents like Staff of Nin or The Immortal Sun. Definitely not the splashiest of outings for our mentalist, but at least nobody ever hated on him or clamored for his ban with pitchforks and torches.
  • Rating: 5

4.  

  • Name: Jace, Architect of Thought   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: October 2012
  • Versions: Return to Ravnica, Duel Decks: Jace vs. Vraska, Commander 2020
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 5
  • Ultimate's Power Level: High, surgically chosen free spells, including a super-Bribery, is nothing to sneeze at, and devastating in multiplayer
  • Self-Defense: Moderate, the plus reduces the power of the attackers, although it doesn't prevent them to still damage Jace and his controller
  • Role: Strategic Assistant
  • Evaluation: Return to Ravnica featured Jace extensively in the promo material, as he was one of the main protagonists of the story, so his new card needed to deliver. And it did, if not exceedingly so. In fact, Architect of Thought may have been the most balanced Jace seen until that point – not too big, nor too little, almost feeling like a toned down Mind Sculptor. A mini-Fact or Fiction as a minus ability is not a Brainstorm for zero, but it's still valuable card selection. The protection from the plus doesn't ensure survival for Jace (or his player), but it's effective against go-wide strategies. And the ultimate is intriguing; you may well find nothing better than a burn spell to play from your opponent's deck, and you won't necessarily put some heavy hitter in your deck just in the off-chance that your Jace will ultimate, as the odds are you'll just have him repeat the Fact or Fiction mini-game every third turn or so. However, there have been combo decks using Doubling Season to insta-ultimate an Architect, fetching another copy of him that will immediately ultimate again, and so on, in a chain that eventually leads to us free-rolling four cards from the opponent's library and one from ours – a plan that's certainly more amusing than game-breaking, given the high variance of the entire endeavor – in Commander, though, it may become a battle plan in its own right, as it applies to each player at the table, greatly increasing the outcome.
  • Rating: 7

5.  

  • Name: Jace, the Living Guildpact   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2014
  • Versions: Magic 2015, San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Promo
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: High, seven cards for you and no hand at all for your opponents might not be an endgame, but it moves in that direction
  • Self-Defense: High, Mind Sculptor's bounce effect upgraded as a Boomerang
  • Role: Strategic Assistant
  • Evaluation: The version of Jace that celebrates his Ravnican ascension to the status of Living Guildpact is... possibly the least remembered of those that weren't part of a Planeswalker Deck, despite a desirable ultimate and a powerful minus that extends the purview of the similar one from Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The problem is the plus, which does very little; it's what years later would be keyworded as surveil, and it's not worth four mana, as it's just a bit of smoothing of the next draw. No component of this Jace provides proper card advantage, unless you combine the minus with a permanent that draws you cards upon entering the battlefield (and even there, it's an ability that costs three loyalty out of a starting pool of five). A Jace that doesn't improve your hand is not a Jace for the ages.
  • Rating: 5

6.    

  • Name: Jace, Telepath Unbound (transforms from Jace, Vryn's Prodigy)   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2015
  • Versions: Magic Origins, San Diego Comic-Con 2015 Promo, From the Vault: Transform
  • Converted Mana Cost: 2
  • Turns to Ultimate: 5 (starting from the turn of the transformation)
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Mild, you basically just get a milling emblem that requires additional work to seal the deal
  • Self-Defense: Moderate, one creature is nerfed
  • Role: Tactical Assistant
  • Evaluation: The Jace who revisited his origin story on Vryn was arguably the most played card in a cycle that overall didn't cause the impact it aimed for. The creature form is a classic two-mana looter, reliable if unimpressive. The transformation into planeswalker arrive quickly enough, and once sparked, the Telepath Unbound gets you recursion for an instant or sorcery (presumably, one of those you looted away), and then reduces the extent of a single threat for a turn cycle. The ultimate is kind of underwhelming, but it can be easily disregarded, leaving us with a good, not great package, worth the small investment of two mana.
  • Rating: 6

7.   

  • Name: Jace, Unraveler of Secrets   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: April 2016
  • Versions: Shadows over Innistrad, San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Promo, San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Promo
  • Converted Mana Cost: 5
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, it's powerful disruption, but doesn't change the board state nor helps us come back if we're behind
  • Self-Defense: High, the bounce costs one loyalty more than the Mind Sculptor's, but one less than the Living Guildpact's
  • Role: Card Factory
  • Evaluation: The first five-mana Jace since Memory Adept is a marked improvement over his predecessor, dropping the mill angle in favor of free scry and a welcome Unsummon ability. However, the casting cost remains one mana too expensive for what this Jace has to offer, and the overall design fails to call back to his detective role in the Shadows over Innistrad storyline – at the very least, one would expect the involvement of Clue tokens or the investigate keyword, while the second and third abilities feel completely unrelated to the theme, and even the first one is an overly generic rendition of digging for secrets. Possibly a sign of Jace still being around in the second half of the past decade, as the de facto co-leader of the Gatewatch, but not through very relevant card incarnations anymore.
  • Rating: 6

8.   

  • Name: Jace, Cunning Castaway   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: September 2017
  • Versions: Ixalan, San Diego Comic-Con 2018 Promo
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Turns to Ultimate: 3
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, it's fun but hard to put to good use
  • Self-Defense: Adequate, a blocker can be conjured, though not a very sturdy one, and its creation on the first turn puts Jace's loyalty to one
  • Role: Tactical Aggro Enhancer
  • Evaluation: The amnesiac Jace who's having his Ixalan adventure (with pirates!) appropriately marks a complete departure from his established patterns, as this is the first Jace who wants to be in a creature deck. Unfortunately, he doesn't do a very good job at that, the Curiosity ability has an abysmal payoff that caps at one single looting, and the Illusion is frail and unevasive, so it doesn't even interact properly with the plus, and Jace's starting loyalty is too low to ensure a meaningful stream of tokens. On the bright side, the ultimate comes fast and is definitely intriguing, the first time Jace's typical use of illusionary self-clones is represented in the game. This said, it's not very useful either, as putting on the battlefield more copies of the same bad planeswalker doesn't make the original any better. Granted, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God can borrow Jace's ultimate to multiply his more powerful self instead of the dweeb Castaway, but that's still just kind of a meme. All in all, not the right Jace card to use in comparison with Urza, as shown in the 2018 Terese Nielsen Comic-Con promo.
  • Rating: 4

9. 

  • Name: Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: September 2017
  • Versions: Ixalan (Planeswalker Deck only)
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 5
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Mild, it's the multiverse's slowest Mass Manipulation
  • Self-Defense: None, unless you count untapping creatures that you could have left untapped and have to exist to begin with
  • Role: Card Factory
  • Evaluation: The Jace from the Ixalan Planeswalker Deck had to put in some extra work in order to look even less appealing than Jace, Cunning Castaway, but Ingenious Mind-Mage proved to be up to the task. I mean, this is a six-mana cantrip on the first turn. It's almost impressive.
  • Rating: 2

10.   

  • Name: Jace, Wielder of Mysteries   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: April 2019
  • Versions: War of the Spark, War of the Spark Japanese alternate art, Secret Lair Drop Promo
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 5
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Mild, it's sort of unnecessary, considering the passive is already doing the same thing in the decks that are interested in running this Jace
  • Self-Defense: None
  • Role: Win Condition
  • Evaluation: The Jace that showed up as a rare in the ensemble piece that inevitably was War of the Spark took a very unique form. This is in fact a highly specialized planeswalker that's only playable in a deck that's attempting to win by self-milling the entire library. In that deck, Jace has the same wincon role of Laboratory Maniac, with the downside of costing more, but the upside of helping the plan along the way, if needed. It's a perfectly functional planeswalker, if a narrow one, and in a pinch it's even more or less strictly better than both five-mana draw-one Jaces of the past, give or take the access to a mana base deep enough to sustain triple blue on turn four.
  • Rating: 7

11. 

  • Name: Jace, Arcane Strategist   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: April 2019
  • Versions: War of the Spark (Planeswalker Deck only)
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Abysmal. You creatures can't be blocked for one turn? In blue? How is this even relevant?
  • Self-Defense: None
  • Role: Card Factory?
  • Evaluation: There's another attempt at moving Jace outside of his comfort zone by being the creature guy for a day. One could almost interpret it as a reflection of Jace's struggle to empathize with his fellow living beings. If that's the case, then he's violently failing at that effort, because the rewad for the static ability's trigger is ridiculous, the ultimate is largely inconsequential, and for the rest we're again facing a frail six-mana permanent that draws you one card. Designing Planeswalker-Deck planeswalkers must be a miserable endeavor.
  • Rating: 1

JACE'S CARDS

   

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 All the non-planeswalker cards with Jace in their name.

  • Jace's Erasure is one example of Jace's mind manipulations.
  • Jace's Ingenuity celebrates his superior intellect.
  • Jace's Archivist is some guy Jace hired to take care of his vast library; probably on Ravnica, although, at the time this card was printed, Jace hadn't become the Living Guildpact yet.
  • Jace's Phantasm and Jace's Mindseeker are two of his famous illusions. Why he decided to give the latter the shape of a fish is... a mystery.
  • Jace's Sanctum is his private study room on Ravnica. Chandra is usually not welcome here.
  • Oath of Jace is his pledge to the super-group he and Gideon orchestrated "for the sake of the Multiverse".
  • Jace's Scrutiny shows Jace abusing the minds of random people in his relentless pursuit of the truth (in this case, trying to unravel the mysteries of Innistrad by probing a woman who was driven mad by the cryptoliths).
  • Jace's Defeat is the consequence of being out-masterminded by Bolas.
  • Jace's Sentinel is one of Tishana's merfolk whose interests ultimately aligned with Jace and Vraska.
  • Jace's Projection demonstrates one of Jace's favorite tricks, illusory self-duplication.
  • Jace's Ruse is another mind trick he uses to change his appeararance.
  • Jace's Triumph is the fruit of his intellectual victory over Bolas. Even if Ugin and Niv-Mizzet did most of the work there.

 Jace has had so far six Story Spotlights focusing on him, five of which are related to his misadventures as a castaway on Ixalan.

  • Ixalan's Binding is the moment he realizes he's trapped on an unknown plane.
  • Thaumatic Compass is the device he and Vraska employ to reach Orazca.
  • Perilous Voyage is Vraska saving Jace's life.
  • Flood of Recollection are the memories of Jace's past suddenly returning to him.
  • Induced Amnesia is the moment when Jace in turn erases some of Vraska's memories temporarily, as part of their plan to defeat Bolas.
  • No Escape is the recognition Bolas's trap has been sprung on Ravnica.

   

 Other cards clearly depicting him.

    

 Planeswalker Deck exclusive cards:

 JACE'S SYMBOL

 The symbol that Jace sports on his cloak is in the same vein as the Gruul tattoo he has on his face. It represents Alhammarret's collar, the only  memory of his childhood on his home plane that Jace retained for the majority of his life.

SIGNATURE SPELLBOOK: JACE

   

   


IMAGE GALLERY

Kid Jace, trying out intimidating magician poses and capes in the mirror. The absence of acne is an illusion.

Detective Jace investigating the mysteries of Markov Manor with the help of Tamiyo's journal.

Sexy pirate Jace getting the hang of the sea life aboard of Vraska's ship on Ixalan.

 

Jace's most disquieting form, courtesy of the esteemed Rakdos Street Theater. It's political satire!


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