JVP (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy) the MVP (Most Valuable Planeswalker)

Nick talks about a few changes he made to his favorite deck in Modern - Esper Goryo's Vengeance - and he's still positive it's the best deck in the format.

jace vryns prodigy artwork

Jace Vryn’s Prodigy secretly rules Modern. This unassuming two-mana 0/2 Merfolk Looter is actually a much scarier threat than a one mana 12/12, at least in my experience. I wish I could be playing a Modern Grand Prix this weekend, as my record at Competitive REL events in this format is surprisingly good. With my trusty friend Jace at my side I would’ve felt quite confident this weekend – especially with a newfound tool from Hour of Devastation.

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Previously I’ve written about Esper Goryo’s Vengeance, a deck near to my heart, is still the best deck in the format for me as far as I’m concerned. It’s a tough deck to play, and in my experience it feels like it takes no less than a hundred matches to become proficient. The lines offered are many, but it offers more ways than any other deck to beat your opponent. Here’s my latest version if you’re interested in playing it this weekend.

Esper Goryo by Nick Peternell

Lands (21)
Darkslick Shores
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Marsh Flats
Plains
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Watery Grave

Sorceries (16)
Collective Brutality
Inqisition of Kozilek
Lingering Souls
Serum Visions
Strategic Planning
Thoughtseize

Instants (15)
Fatal Push
Goryo’s Vengeance
Murderous Cut
Path to Exile
Thought Scour

Creatures (8)
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Sideboard (15)
Blessed Alliance
Logic Knot
Ceremonious Rejection
Collective Brutality
Disenchant
Liliana’s Defeat
Negate
Ravenous Trap

The biggest innovation I’ve made is with Strategic Planning, which is now playable in Modern since it was reprinted in Hour of Devastation. I’ve tried both Pieces of the Puzzle and Gifts Ungiven in its spot to middling results. Pieces of the Puzzle is inherently risky, offering a fail rate that is sometimes hard to stomach for how unimpressive the average “hit” is.

gifts ungiven

Gifts Ungiven has the unfortunate trait of being a four drop that does not impact the battlefield in any meaningful way (where Pieces of the Puzzle with one mana open left you room to interact). Strategic Planning, on the other hand, has most of the benefits of Pieces at a critical two mana investment.

Importantly, it can also hit lands if the plan is to hard cast an Obzedat. Overall I think this increases the consistency of the deck while retaining most of it’s power level. I would gladly fight with this list this weekend. It seems exceptionally well positioned against a field of Death’s Shadow and Affinity, its best matchups.

I also wouldn’t mind fighting with a different kind of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy deck this weekend. I think the package of JVP, Death’s Shadow, Claim//Fame, and Snapcaster Mage is ungodly powerful.

Grixis by Nick

Lands (18)
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Mountain
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Swamp
Watery Grave

Creatures (15)
Death’s Shadow
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Snapcaster Mge
Young Pyromancer

Instants (12)
Fatal Push
Lightning Bolt
Murderous Cut
Terminate
Thought Scour

Sorceries (15)
Claim // Fame
Inquistion of Kozilek
Painful Truths
Serum Visions
Thoughtseize
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Ceremonious Rejection
Collective Brutality
Dispel
Invasive Surgery
Izzet Staticaster
Kolaghan’s Command
Liliana’s Defeat
Liliana, the Last Hope
Painful Truths
Surgical Extraction

First things first, Street Wraith is unnecessary in this build because Young Pyromancer utililizes Claim // Fame so much better. I’ve found that while the Wraith allows you to be more aggressive with Death’s Shadow, it isn’t necessary to make Deaths’s Shadow a powerful card.

 

Now onto the Claim // Fame goodness that is this list. You can Claim a JVP and then flip him with Fame similar to Goryo’s Vengeance. You can Claim a Snapcaster Mage and do any number of powerful things for a cheap investment. If you have a Young Pyromancer out Claim//Fame can create two or three tokens at a very small mana investment.

Where this deck might lack the brute strength of traditional Death’s Shadow, it makes up for it by being exceptionally resilient and a much better control deck. If you were to hybridize Grixis Control and Death’s Shadow, I think it would look very much like this list.

If you were looking for even more aftermath I think Driven // Despair might be pretty good in Dredge as a one or two-of instead of a Conflagrate. They do similar things but Driven and Dredge do go so well together.

If you’re playing Modern this weekend I’m jealous! I hope you choose wisely and include Jace in your list somehwere, he certainly deserves it. Good luck!

As always, thanks for the support and have a great weekend.

Nick has been playing Magic since the 2013 Core Set was released, and grinding since Return to Ravnica. He’s played on the Pro Tour and has multiple high finishes at both the Star City Tour and Grand Prix levels. He’s a brewer at heart and excels most in the beginning and middle stages of a format. Finding weaknesses in the metagame and exploiting underplayed cards is just another day in the office for Nick.

Image Credits: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy by Jace, Vryn's Prodigy by Jaime Jones

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