Five of the Dumbest Things Jace Has Done

Ciel Collins • January 26, 2024

Five of the Dumbest Things Jace Has Done

Blue is the color of cerebral plays and analysis, and Jace embodies that... most of the time. The blue blunder started his journey before he finished puberty, but one has to wonder if all the mind-wiping kept resetting his brain to those hormone-fueled days. 

Here's a quick journey through Jace's history, charted around not his worst mistakes, just the ones that make you shout "WHY" the most! 

Trying to Fight Nicol Bolas, Lost a Toe

Published in 2009, Ari Marmell's Agents of Artifice: A Planeswalker Novel remains the premiere Jace text. It's a great piece of fantasy fiction in its own right, but on top of that, it sets up basically every major arc for Jace Beleren. Some of these would be more thoroughly established (or at least reiterated) in Magic Origins, but it all started here.

In the novel, a young Jace ends up working for Tezzeret as the bitter, abusive artificer seeks to maintain control of the Infinite Consortium, an interplanar organization originally created by Nicol Bolas. Tezzeret brings Jace along to a bargaining attempt with the Elder Dragon. This isn't Jace's mistake; if anything, it counts as one of the dumbest things Tezzeret has done. He thought a teenager could hold off the psychic abilities of a dragon as old as Bolas?

I don't blame Jace Beleren for going along with this at first. He genuinely had no reason to know better, having never met Nicol Bolas prior to this meeting. Not planeswalking away as soon as he saw Nicol Bolas, however? Anyone of reasonable intelligence would have bailed. If he had, Tezzeret might have died and the multiverse would have been spared from a great evil: Test of Metal.

Nicol Bolas ended up trying to have Tezzeret and Jace chased down through the arctic plane they met on. The pair of blue planeswalkers only escaped by ducking into a cold ravine and making it colder to avoid heat detection. And that's why Jace only has nine toes!

Mind-Wiping Himself to Dodge Trouble

Our nine-toed wizard managed to escape the Consortium but he stuck to Ravnica. Time went on, and he found out about some mysterious runes in Doug Beyer's The Secretist. Eventually, he and an as-of-yet uncarded Vedalken worked out that it had something to do with The Implicit Maze. This maze was sought out by Niv-Mizzet's Izzet guild, among others. When Jace realizes that knowing what he does is dangerous enough that other guilds will hunt him down for it, what does the person who can teleport off-world do?


He then spends the rest of the trilogy trying to puzzle out what he figured out halfway through book one. Oh, and the mindwipe still puts his poor friend, Emmara Tandris, in danger. 


Arguing with a Second Elder Dragon

Ah, the glorious advent of Web Fiction! The Magic Story article series started with Tarkir and really revved into gear with Battle for Zendikar. Our glorious heroes' backstories are elaborated on or repackaged as needed before they come to work together against the Eldrazi menace.

Fun fact: Jace almost died to an Eldrazi drone along the way, as seen here.

An excerpt from an early Magic Story, BFZ, in which Jace Beleren almost dies to an Eldrazi Drone.
I can't stress enough: this was one of the 1/1 Eldrazi that you sacrificed for mana.

Jace had success with his illusions earlier in the story: he convinced some Ulamog cultists that they were on fire, so I'd like to give him a pass. This passage here is really great. The previous Jace-focused chapter focuses on his mental magic as a great and terrible thing which makes it hard for him to be around people at all, but this one reaffirms that the multiverse is a big place and Jace's powers aren't everything.

However, he doesn't get Stupid Points for the Eldrazi Drone fumble but stumbling upon Ugin, the Spirit Dragon twenty minutes later and, with the distinct memory of his mortality at the forefront of his mind, argues with him.

Not just argues with Ugin. Jace rolls off some sarcasm. 

At this point, Magic had only had 12 Elder Dragon characters, including Ugin and the un-carded Piru, the Volatile. Jace happened to find the one of them willing to ignore his snark.

Still not the brightest moment!

Dating Liliana... the Second Time

As part of that whole disaster with Nicol Bolas's Tezzeret's Infinite Consortium, Jace met not only "dear friend" Khallist Rhoka (criminally un-carded as of January 2024) but Liliana Vess. Liliana dated Jace as part of her machinations to manipulate him on behalf of her true benefactor, Bolas. 

Jace broke the Consortium apart on his way out and didn't expect to see Liliana ever again, but lo and behold, life The Creative Team finds a way...

The Gatewatch happened, and after they wrapped up the Eldrazi on Innistrad, they gathered on Ravnica to regroup and figure out what to do next. Somewhere in that time, as revealed in Servants, by Kelly Digges, Jace and Liliana shared some wine bottles "a time or three" at Liliana's Ravnican residence. 

Liliana may have been instrumental in driving off Emrakul, Jace, but that did not mean she hadn't served you up on a platter to Nicol Bolas. 

Funniest part of that reveal: Jace stopped after Gideon "remarked acidly" about not finding Jace at the base during one of the presumed morning-afters. Thanks, Beefslab, for pulling him out of that potential spiral.

Fight Nicol Bolas... Without a Plan!

A lot of these have to do with Elder Dragons, and some part of me wonders if seeing a dragon makes Jace unable to think properly. We'll have to see what happens during the Dragonstorm Arc. 

Look, when a great villain rises, the heroes know they have to go up against them. That doesn't mean they shouldn't plan for it! At the end of the Kaladesh storyline, Ajani joins the Gatewatch and advises them on how best to deal with Nicol Bolas: don't. (Or rather, gather an army first. Ajani planeswalked to Dominaria to go try and do precisely that.)

There was no sense of urgency with Amonkhet, no warning from a planeswalker like there was with Kaladesh. Just the sense that no one knew what Nicol Bolas was up to. 

In Impact, by Michael Yichao, Chandra describes their plan as run into Amonkhet and roast Nicol Bolas. Gideon agrees. Jace calls for caution, but doesn't actually draw up any sort of plan! Nissa also suggests they wait to plan, but none of them do. Instead, they planeswalk over to Amonkhet and Liliana almost immediately gets eaten by a sandwurm. 

Not sure how "approach carefully" involves running face first into a sandwurm and then an Elder Dragon without any idea of what you're actually supposed to be doing first, but that's why Jace's Defeat happened.

You can certainly argue that the Gatewatch as a whole did that, and I'll allow it, but Jace going along with them without a plan still earns him his solo point.

Didn't Realize His Guide was a Werewolf?

I wanted to end the article on a single, isolated low point that had nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with Jace's awkward temperament and social anxiety. In Unwelcome, by Kelly Digges, the nine-toed telepath dons a gothic cloak to blend in on Innistrad and asks for a guide to Liliana's castle.

His guide is quiet, and Jace starts talking. The guide only ever responds in grunts, until we get to this absolutely delightful bit:

Magic Story excerpt, in which Jace tries to talk to a guide who is about to reveal himself as a werewolf.

Assuming that a random guy groaning irritably on Innistrad is boredom is so Jace. Those aren't the first two grunts either! Click the link! It's five, weird gruff noises before Jace finally realizes that something's up!

Also, love that Jace's solution to the awkward conversation was a mindwipe. What a doofus.

So Much for the Smart Guy...

I may not be Jace's #1 fan, but I definitely adore the character as a whole. Just... maybe don't leave him alone in a house that hasn't been baby-proofed. 

And keep him away from any and all Elder Dragons.

Oh right, he's the only who knows about Nicol Bolas being alive. And he's been missing ever since he was Phyrexianized.

I'm sure it's fine.

If you have any favorite "Jace is an idiot" moments, comment below! 

Ciel got into Magic as a way to flirt with a girl in college and into Commander at their bachelor party. They’re a Vorthos and Timmy who is still waiting for an official Theros Beyond Death story release. In the meantime, Ciel obsesses over Commander precons, deck biomes, and deckbuilding practices. Naya forever.