Jace Beleren, and the Top 9 Cards in Standard

One thing that I am always highly concerned with is what the best card in Standard is.

I love talking about this!

I know! I know! ... Arc-Slogger! Why? Because if you untap with it in play, you almost always win.

Wildfire!

Bloodbraid Elf! (or Spreading Seas)

See how that goes?

So anyway, over Twitter, I proposed a potential Top 10 list for the current Standard (in no particular order):

  1. Joraga Treespeaker
  2. Lightning Bolt
  3. Preordain
  4. Lotus Cobra
  5. Mana Leak
  6. Trinket Mage
  7. Jace Beleren
  8. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  9. Frost Titan
  10. Primeval Titan

Input from ye olde invincible Twitter army raised some points…

Isn’t Into the Roil better than Trinket Mage?

What about Pyromancer Ascension? When is that going to start making these lists?

I was a bit skeptical about Into the Roil (after all, Trinket Mage is a multi-format All-Star), but Pyromancer Ascension was a good point. Thanks @leprekhan!

I enlisted the help of Patrick Chapin and Zvi Mowshowitz to revise my list (Zvi hasn’t responded yet).

It took some haggling, but Patrick and I got to 8, and then 9 cards the same.

Patrick’s Top 9:

  1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  2. Primeval Titan
  3. Mana Leak
  4. Preordain
  5. Lightning Bolt
  6. Jace Beleren
  7. Lotus Cobra
  8. Joraga Treespeaker
  9. Pyromancer Ascension

Patrick originally had Mimic Vat and Doom Blade as the last two in the Top 10. I objected on the grounds that as good as Mimic Vat might someday prove itself to be, as a deck defining card, it ain’t Pyromancer Acension… At least not yet. When are we going to start giving Pyromancer Ascension the credit it deserves? The damn thing is more-or-less the best threat in the format!

I had the nine in a slightly different order:

  1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  2. Jace Beleren
  3. Primeval Titan
  4. Preordain
  5. Mana Leak
  6. Joraga Treespeaker
  7. Lotus Cobra
  8. Lightning Bolt
  9. Pyromancer Ascension

While I agree Jace, the Mind Sculptor probably gets the nod over Jace Beleren because it is generally speaking the more ubiquitous main deck Jace, I don’t think it is a runaway win; so if you put Jace, the Mind Sculptor as #1 (predictable for Patrick), I think you have to put Jace Beleren right behind. Jace Beleren is the more appropriate card a fair amount of the time (Pyromancer Ascension deck, Sun Titan compliment), and it is like the Manu Ginobli of awesome Planeswalkers. It comes off the bench, but wins a lot of games.

As such my Primeval Titan position is in essentially the same spot… “Just after Jace”; I just respected the second Jace more 🙂

Hands down Primeval Titan is the most important creature in the format.

Next up are Mana Leak and Preordain (or as I have them, Preordain and Mana Leak). These two are very close in power. I can see rating Mana Leak higher (as Patrick did), but I have played a lot of long game Magic lately, and Mana Leak loses a lot of value as the game progresses; whereas in a long game situation, Preordain gains a lot of value. You can basically cast Preordain and win in a late game topdeck scenario. Both cards are just under “ubiquitous” for Blue in Standard. Both are super good… Just a question of how and when you want to rate them. Preordain is still super good on turn one in a deck like Pyromancer Ascension, and it holds its value better than Mana Leak, which is why I gave it the — very slight — nod.

Patrick had Lightning Bolt way higher than I did. I will admit Lightning Bolt is one of the most tedious cards to see the opponent draw three of. Don’t get me wrong it is an awesome card, but I didn’t want to put it higher than the Green mana bombs as it is rarely a decider on its own. Top 10 worthy, sure… Honestly I could be persuaded.

The question, then, is Lotus Cobra > Joraga Treespeaker or Joraga Treespeaker > Lotus Cobra.

Both of them are explosive.

Both of them are hella powerful.

I gave Joraga Treespeaker the nod because in recent play (i.e. the TurboLand deck), if I stuck a turn one Treespeaker and got it online, I would almost always win. Lotus Cobra — awesome as it is — sometimes gets stranded with no Misty Rainforest backup… Just less consistently awesome. Patrick agreed the two are very close; this is not at all clear, and my opinion of Treespeaker is likely colored by my recent deck choices.

We both had Pyromancer Ascension at #9, which has been discussed.

So what is the last card?

Patrick has Explore as a prime candidate.

I am pretty unwavering on Frost Titan here. This is my reasoning: It is the big finisher hero in all the most powerful decks right now. Certainly we have to give it the nod, right? I don’t know how many games I have played recently that have come down to either 1) first Frost Titan wins or 2) Frost Titan locking down Frost Titan shenanigans.

Every time I am worried about a Mimic Vat… Who comes to my aid but Frost Titan?

My opponent just hard cast Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; what am I supposed to do? Unsummon it with the Jace I don’t have any more? A cool and collected Frost Titan [from the grip] is the perfect solution.

Other candidates:

I had Trinket Mage in my original Top 10, but I’ll concede the cross-format All-Star isn’t exactly flush with Sensei’s Divining Top and Engineered Explosives right now.

Into the Roil is awesome… Just not better than any of those nine. Same is true for most of the rest.

Funny thing about Duress and Doom Blade… There are no cards outside of U/G/R in the Top 10! No White cards were even mentioned by the Twitter army.

You guys know my deck design philosophies… Is there any surprise I am gravitating towards mono-Primeval Titan + Jace, the Mind Sculptor lists?

Just something to think about, and to help you frame your own deck selection decisions… Play the best spells!

LOVE
MIKE

P.S. Any candidates for #10?

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11 comments ↓

#1 trikkur on 11.10.10 at 1:55 am

Fauna Shaman > Pyromancer Ascension at #9 or #10 slot. Also, while I think Joraga Treespeaker is probably the better accelerant, Explore is seeing play in Eldrazi, Valakut, and RUG Control. That says a lot about the flexibility of the card and its interactions with he other top cards on your list.

#2 rockbard on 11.10.10 at 9:25 am

I’d like to name Sword of Body and Mind. It’s the most important card for Quest decks against blue-based decks, and it usually wins those games. Fauna Shaman is pretty awesome too.

#3 Soren on 11.10.10 at 10:58 am

Probably the nod to the Titan, seeing its hero status indeed.

Pertaining the Shaman, I think that as a threat, its easier to deal with it compared to the Ascension and its losing force in the current standard meta, though I hope that changes soon 😛 I feel Pyromancer puts more pressure than the Shaman overall.

#4 ProdigalT on 11.10.10 at 3:15 pm

Are we allowed to name lands? Can I just bundle the 5 fetch lands at #10 (or even higher)? They are essential to making several of the other cards on the list as good as they are. If we’re limiting it to spells, I give the nod to Doom Blade, though I do love me some Trinket Mage. Doom Blade keeps creatures in line now that there’s no Jund with its plethora of un-Doom Bladeable monsters. U/B would not be a deck without Doom Blade – Jace would always die, and Primeval Titan would run roughshod all over it.

#5 Propagandist on 11.10.10 at 3:16 pm

Joraga Treespeaker wasn’t in Mythic and isn’t in RUG now because it provides no color fixing. It is only good in Green (and sometimes + Splash) decks.

Lotus Cobra allows you to play a 1-drop.
Lotus Cobra is better to top-deck late game.
Lotus Cobra beats for 2, even after adding mana to your pool.
Drawing 2 Lotus Cobras is much better than drawing 2 Treespeakers.

Why is this even a discussion?

#6 MTGBattlefield on 11.10.10 at 4:07 pm

Jace Beleren, and the Top 9 Cards in Standard…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#7 weirdone on 11.14.10 at 2:34 pm

I think that goblin guide is a candidate for the top ten. He is one of the best aggressive creatures of all time. He is good enough that he sees play in legacy burn decks. He is in all of the aggressive red decks, and he is usually included in the occasional boros decks.

#8 firstjib on 11.15.10 at 2:58 am

I think Goblin Guide should be on this list, as well as fauna shaman.

What about the best underplayed cards in standard? Banslayer Angel, inquisition of kozilek, and grave titan perhaps?

#9 TrevorC on 11.17.10 at 3:17 am

I really like the idea of the top ten cards in standard. I propose a neat idea though, for the reason of putting space in the top 10 for a variety of new format defining cards like Explore/Frost Titan/Trinket Mage/Mimic Vat/ etc… I think Lightning Bolt, Mana Leak & Jace Beleren should be excluded out of the top ten for reasons of being staple reprints lol. Not really a good reason… I guess… Maybe seeing some original flavor up there pushing the envelope of current standard is more compelling in my mind.

#10 Five With Flores » Week-style TeeVee Update on 01.23.11 at 6:22 am

[…] Boshoff from ye olde Unstoppable Twitter Army threw me a great idea combining the [+2} ability on Jace Beleren with the mise-tacular misings of Consecrated Sphinx, which I think upgrades the 4/6 quite a […]

#11 Underwhelmed by Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded — Five With Flores on 04.13.12 at 5:15 am

[…] to Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, the cheapest Planeswalker was Jace Beleren [<– CLICK ME, ooh, CLICK […]

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