From Outside the Game #3-Behind the Magic: Jace The MindSculptor

He was a small town boy with big dreams who would become one of the biggest names in the game.”

Black Lotus, the Moxes and me baby.”

At what should have been the pinnacle of his popularity, he became public enemy number 1.”

Hex Parasite? Oh you mean FYJ. His name is really BLEEP You Jace. Pure and simple.”

But a sudden run in with the law almost cost him everything.”

I woke one morning and suddenly there were cries of ‘Ban Jace!’ everywhere.”

But he was able to use this adversity to move on to greater things. Join us as we go Behind the Magic with Jace, The Mindsculptor.”

Jace was born as Jason Bellernoli in a small town outside of Seattle, Washington.”

Yo dawg, this is where it all began, the start of The Mindsculptor. I grew up on these streets. People are always surprised to hear me talk, they think I am all ’emo’. I am like yo playa, that is just me frontin’, you know what I mean? That is my character, this is the real me.”

Not everyone believes in the real Jace however. Fellow planeswalker Koth for one.”

Oh he is a bad ass from the streets now? Please. His parents were super wealthy he never had to work for anything. A long line at Starbucks was the hardest thing he ran into on the streets of his town. The only reason he got to be what he is is that Mother and Father paid all the bills so little Jason could be happy. He is only pretending to be so tough because he thinks it will get him more attention. If My Little Pony suddenly became the biggest thing out there Jace would dress in pastels and get a picture of a cupcake tattooed on his… you know, now that I think about it…”

For as long as anyone could remember Jace dreamed big. His childhood friend Sam recalls:”

Jace was always talking about making it big as a Magic card. One day our second grade teacher gave us an assignment to write what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most kids wanted to be firemen, astronauts, pro wrestlers, regular things like that. Jace wrote: I want to be bigger than Black Lotus.”

Jason worked tirelessly towards his goal, even going as far as skipping school to attend auditions at Wizards of the Coast.”

Yeah, I skipped some classes. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, dog. Gym class and Biology were not going to help me get there, you know what I am saying? Yo, I knew what was important.”

The audition process was grueling. Thousands of hopefuls showed up to every open audition. From those a few hundred moved onto being play tested A select few from that group would be selected for inclusion in the next set. The cuts were ruthless.”

One flaw was all it took, dog. One little flaw. Yo, if they saw the slightest thing you were gone. No second chances, no do overs. Get your Bleep and get out. Guys would spend years praying just to get their foot in the door, let alone actually make a set. Most of them were posers just frontin’. People would sell their souls just to become a 15th pick common, let alone a chase rare.”

Sam remembers the trials of the process.”

Our first audition was for Planeshift. We got there what we thought was as early as possible and there was a huge line. We never even get to audition, once they hit their quota they sent everyone else home. There were people there who had been trying for years. ‘I have never missed an audition since Mirage man.’ One guy missed his kid being born to try to audition. We kept coming back every time. Finally we actually got to audition for Judgment. For about 5 seconds. That was all it took for them to send us away. I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave up and a friend got me a job as a Pokemon card. Jason never gave up though. Each time he was sent away he just became more determined than before.”

Finally one day the impenetrable barrier cracked and Jason got in.”

Dawg it was incredible walking through those doors the first time, I knew then that I was going to make it. Once that step was done, anything was possible. My only regret was that Sam was not with me. That would have been perfect walking the door with my best homie. But I had made into a play test. The Ravnica play test was difficult though, they had no clue what to do with me. I bounced around from type to type at first, like a four year old freebasing pixie stix. Finally they decided to try me out as an enchantment. It was not perfect, but I could make do. I made it to the design hand off fine, a few tweaks here or there but nothing major. I thought it would be smooth sailing to print.”

But Jason’s pleasure cruise soon turned into a tsunami of disappointment.”

Just before the print deadline I was cut. No tweaks, no second chances. Just tossed aside like an empty clip from your glock. Some designer had a pet enchantment he thought would be perfect and he nagged the devolopers until I was dropped. I was in shock. I was depressed. I felt it the hardest when the next open audition came up and I could not go.”

Once you made it to play test you were banned from future auditions. Your only hope to make it was to be called back by Wizards, a call that very few ever received.”

Jason was in a bad state. I offered to try to get him some work in other games. I was working as an Unown in Pokemon and had some friends working in Yu-Gi-Oh, but he refused. If he could not earn it on his own, he did not want it. You have to admire that.”

But suddenly the dark storm clouds over his life lifted and the silver lining of a second chance showed through.”

One day I am chillin’ in my pad and I get a call, but I do not recognize the digits. It was someone from Wizards. All they said is we may have use for you, be ready in the morning. I was stoked man. Bright and early a car picked me up, but I noticed we were heading in the wrong direction. I was like ‘yo fool, this ain’t the way to HQ.’ He was like ‘I know, we are not going there.’ I thought the dude was trippin’”

Jason was being recruited for something special. For the first time ever Wizards had decided to add a brand new card type to the game, planeswalkers. Previously believed to be impossible to add to the game due to complexities, a storyline change in the power of planeswalkers made the impossible possible. Thought to be far too important to work on in Wizard’s headquarters a secret location off site had been selected. Kiora, who attended the meeting but never made a set had this to say.”

Wizard’s had decided to make this big change to the game and were ready to do it right. They were afraid of the news leaking out so we were sequestered like a jury or something. We had no internet, we could not contact the outside world. We got one email home a week and that was read and scrutinized before it was sent. They took no chances. Only those people at Wizards who absolutely had to be there were there. Even Hasbro was not told what was going on. The were not really sure how to implement us into the game, so they tried everything. Usually there is a time crunch with this sort of thing, they only have so much time to get us ready for a set. Not this time, they were told when we were ready, they would make room for us in a set. That was big.”

Adam “Ajani” Geptti recalls the trials.”

It was pretty intense. They would get an idea in the middle of the night and drag you out of bed. Sometimes we set around for days with nothing to do, then we were up for 48 hours straight testing different things. I can not go much into details, everything is still secret. Eventually they seemed to be settling on a form and started working on different abilities. I noticed the same few people seemed to be getting called every time and that number was slowly whittled down. Finally they announced we were ready and going into the next set. The Lorwyn Five had been chosen.”

Yo dawg I had made it. Along with Ajani, Liliana, Chandra and Garruck. I was psyched up. Once they finally settled on our abilities creative got a hold of us and began creating our images. It was like, we want you to be a leonin, can you be a little emo, you need some sex appeal. Will you do this, will you do that. I was all like whatever, I knew how important this was, I was like I will even cut my hair and change my name, just let me in. Others took the changes harder. Liliana hated giving up her Jewish heritage, she took that hard. She was so shy she had difficulties with the ‘sexy witch’ thing they wanted for her. I think that is why she never really connected with the players. I know Ajani had some doubts about getting surgery to become a lenonin, but he was cool with it after. Garruck hated having to hide his intelligence all the time for the barbarian thing he had going on. Dude practically got a perfect score on his SAT s and now he has to be a brute. Chandra did not change much, she is what she is. Wild. Unpredictable. Fun.”

After surviving the trials and creative the hardest challenge was still to come. The public. This was the first time a brand new card type was added to the game, would players love it? Hate it? Threaten to quit the game? Chandra recalls the reaction.”

Word had slowly began leaking out and people were taking notice. Once we were officially announced we were all anyone was talking about. Some thought we were a joke, some thought we were overpowered, some thought we were the end of Magic. We ended up being very popular. We became the faces of the game. Suddenly we were the center of attention anywhere we went. We had to be in character constantly. Some of us had trouble with it, but Jace and I took right to it. I was pretty much just being me, and Jace loved the attention. For a while there we were the only ones willing to go out in public.”

Yeah Chandra and I were pretty tight. Lots of rumors flying around, you know what I mean? I think Wizard’s was hoping we would hook up, free publicity you know? But there was nothing there. She was like my little sister man, I loved to torment her. And I have the scars to prove it.”

The group was rocketing to the top, a detour through reality was just over the horizon.”

We were hitting it big yo, doing everything Wizard’s wanted but the public wanted more than we could handle. Suddenly Wizard’s was bringing in all these new guys as Planeswalkers to keep the players happy. We had been barely been out a year and these suckers were looking to replace us already, dawg. Ajani, Chandra and I were talking about it constantly, we were not ready to go. Finally Ajani announced he was going out on his own, reinventing himself. He became all hardcore and angry and started talking about vengeance all the time. Apparently Wizard’s like it because the slotted him in the next set big time. The pushed him huge yo, and Chandra and I quickly realized we would have to evolve or become a footnote. But it had to be done carefully, I knew if this new version failed I was done.”

Jace knew he needed to evolve, but was unsure what direction to take. Inspiration came from a very unexpected and controversial source.”

I had quickly became the most popular of The Lorwyn Five and marketing opportunities came my way. A lot of playas thought I was sell out man, take advantage of all these. Like I was trying to be a balla or something? They didn’t see how it was, I did not have time to think about any of it, they just shoved a piece of paper in front of my face and said ‘Hey do you want to be on binders?’ and I was like sure, why not? I figured if people wanted to by stuff with my mug on it why not let them? Who would it hurt? Turns out, it was me.”

One item in particular would turn out to drastically alter Jace’s life. Jace had agreed to have a book written about him, a book which angered a lot of people. One ‘person’ in particular took great offense at his characterization in the book…”

Agents of Artifice came out, but I knew little about it. They did not ask me anything about my life, they just threw it together. I did not even know what was in it until people started questioning me about it. Many days I wish that had not come out yo.”

Koth believes differently…”

Yeah Jace did not know what was in that book? Bull. He knew every single word of it. He claims to have been swept up by the mania? No clue what he was agreeing to? Then why does he have a trophy room full of every bloody thing they put his picture on? He wanted to seem like he was a God or something so he blew a bunch of smoke at them. He wanted people to notice.”

That book has caused me nothing but trouble. Especially with the Dragon.”

The Dragon is Nicol Bolas, AKA Suge Dragon. A planeswalker nearly as old as Magic itself. Although seeming to be little more than a favorite amongst casual players, Suge Dragon was rumored to control almost everything that went on in the game.”

I was chillin’ with a 40 one day, minding my own business when some thugs came up to me and told me to come with them. I knew I would not get out of there alive if I didn’t, so I went. I was taken up to this penthouse and there was Suge Dragon. I will admit I was scared, and with good reason. Suge told me he was unhappy with the portrayal in the book and wanted compensation, in the form of complete control over me. I asked what would happen if I refused, two of his guys opened the doors on the balcony and the Dragon hit me with some kind of levitation spell and dangled me upside down over the edge of it. I signed the deal. He looked at me and said ‘you are no longer to be known as Jace Beleren. From now on you will be The Mindsculptor.”

Yeah, I am sure that is how it happened. Bolas has Magic? Please. If you believe that load then my hammer was a gift from Urza. Just Jace trying to sound tougher than he is. His story rings a bell though…”

Jace debuted as The Mindsculptor in Worldwake. Jace was the main selling point of the set and quickly set records for his preorder price. Many people thought his price could not hold. Many people were dead wrong.”

I have never really paid attention to what price I was at, but I knew it was high. How could I not? Everywhere I went someone ‘original’ person had to make a joke about it. Even other Magic cards were getting upset at me. The only one who understood what I was going through was Tarmogoyf. On the plus side I was finally getting closer to my dream. All I needed was a great deck. I bounced around in various blue control decks, but none of them hit the level I wanted.”

Jace’s dream was nearly in his grasp, but one crucial element was missing. That element came from a chance encounter with an old friend.”

I was hanging out at this club one day and who should walk in but Chandra, who I had not seen in like a year. I slipped behind her and spooked her. All of a sudden I was on the floor with this guy on top of me, ready to beat the tar out of me. Luckily Chandra pulled him off before it was too late. It turns out her new boyfriend was with her and he did not realize we were tight. After everything cooled down she introduced me to him. That was the first time I ever saw Gideon Jura, but it certainly was not the last.”

Jace and Gideon hit it off. They teamed up for a blue and white control deck and it did well. Jace was solidifying himself as one of the best in the game.”

The deck was good, but I wanted it to be great. I was constantly tweaking with the thing. In order to get my mind off of it Gideon and Chandra talked me into going on a blind date with this shawty they knew, Stoneforge Mystic. She was wild and crazy and we hit off. I know you have heard the stories about us and I want to set the record straight. The stuff you have heard about is nothing compared to the things no one knows about. That girl had access to the craziest toys imaginable, I swear she just pulled them out of thin air. I brought her and her pet hawks into the deck and suddenly it took off. We were winning tournaments left and right. We were unstoppable.”

The deck, Caw-go eventually morphed into the version called Caw-blade. Jace was standing atop a skyscraper of fame, without realizing the foundation was crumbling under him.”

I always liked to keep my options open, you know dabble in whatever was available. I tried a black splash in Caw-blade, but Darkwing Duck never really took off. One day I received an offer from this guy who is part of a Canadian podcast. Dude was always trying to put together these crazy decks with these unloved cards he loved. Finally he had the idea to take some of the biggest planeswalkers in the game and put them in one deck together. He obviously needed me. I jumped at the chance, seemed like a fun all-stars kind of thing. I assumed he was inviting everyone, but he wasn’t. It was me, one of Suge Dragon’s goons Tezzeret and this new hot head Koth. No Giddeon. I wish I realized ahead of time so I could have told him personally, but he found out online. That hurt him, bad. At the same time there was a lot of talk that Giddeon was no longer needed in Caw-blade. Some players began cutting him. I was so busy with other things I did not even notice.”

Caw-blade was lighting up the charts, seemingly winning tournaments every week. This new all-stars deck, eventually named Tezzeret The Mind Hammer seemed poised to dethrone Caw-blade. However things are not always as they seem.”

That deck had everything yo, everything. It should have been a major player, but something always seemed to go wrong. We would be one round away from top 8ing, get paired down and lose. We just could not seem to gel. It was frustrating. People blamed our losses on my lack of focus and Tezz’s growing etherium and sangrite addictions, but that was not the real cause. What really happened was that Suge Dragon did not want the deck to win, plain and simple.”

He is not seriously trying to blame the freaking Dragon for that deck falling apart is he? Bull! The only thing that killed that deck was Jace himself. People had gotten into their heads that Jace was the greatest card ever, that the game was entirely based around who got stick their Jace. I can clearly remember at least one tournament we would have won if I had been cast, but no, they had to go for the hero. Guess what? We lost. I can move freaking mountains and they would rather brainstorm all blooming day then win. Then guess what happened? In order to prepare for the new metagame the word came out that one of us would be cut from the deck. Guess who it was? Me! I was cut to make room for a knight and same darn sick dragon. I should have been the star and instead I was cut. There is not enough room in a deck when Jace and his ego require 8 slots.”

While the Mind Hammer was falling apart Caw-blade was doing as well as ever, but trouble was brewing behind the scenes.”

Gideon was getting more and more upset with the way things were going and I did not notice. He had become my best friend and I was blind to him. Finally he blew up at me and we had it out and it was ugly. Chandra was dragged into the middle of it and she sided with Gideon. They ended up walking away and we have not spoken since. I was seriously thinking about walking away from everything, but Suge would not allow it. When Gideon was needed he still showed up, but it was strained. I thought it could not get worse. I was wrong.”

Jace was everywhere including appearing in 15 of the top 16 decks at Grand Prix Dallas.”

I thought I was doing what everyone wanted, I was the poster boy of Magic, I was winning tournaments, yet I was dead inside. I woke up the afternoon after the Grand Prix, expecting praise and instead found out that there was a push to have me banned. I was shocked. People who had made tons of money selling my cards and products now wanted me gone. You know how people are, they love you when no one else has heard of you, then as soon as you get known you have ‘sold out’ and aren’t worth squat. I thought I was a powerful card, now people were saying I was killing the game and driving others away. There had always been a small amount of noise just due to my price, but this was serious. Wizard’s even released a cryptic statement on their website about ‘watching me’. Another group sprung up blaming Stoneforge for what was going on, saying she should be banned instead of me. I guess if I threw her under the bus I could save my own career, but I could not do that. Everyone else hated me, she did not have too as well. I made my case and I await my justice. It angers me though. There have always been top decks, always. Suddenly whenever a deck becomes too popular something needs to be banned? First it was Bitterblosom, then Bloodbraid Elf, now me. The fun thing is if the haters had gotten what they wanted and Bloodbraid Elf was banned, I would have risen to the top sooner. She was the one thing keeping even me in check. Watch what you wish for, you know what I mean?”

Jace had lived his dream, becoming one the strongest and most well known cards in the game. He saw play in every format there was and was at the top of all them, but he lost everything in the process. What was left for the Mindsculptor? A glorious return to standard? Disappearing into retirement in Extended and Legacy? Or something else?”

For everything that was happened, I have grown stronger. I have survived and no matter what happens with this banning I will continue to survive. I only regret one thing and that is losing Chandra and Gideon. They were my best friends and I was stupid. I wish I could tell them, but I do not know where they are.”

Turn around.”

Gideon? What are you doing here? Where’s Chandra?”

She thought we should settle this between us. You were an idiot, but I realize I helped make you that idiot. I used you as much as you used me. You had a name and I did not and I used your fame to catapult myself. I knew you had other projects and I should not have let that come between us. I am sorry.”

I am sorry too man, I did sell out. I sold out my best friend for a gamble for slightly more fame. I should have fought to keep you in those decks instead of throwing you away. What are you up to now man? Raising kids? Small business?”

I am following the lead of your friend. I am putting together a new version of the Lorwyn Five to take care of a problem.”

Sounds cool, who do you have lined up for that?”

Myself, Chandra, this dude Sorin who came from Zendikar, Garruck and I am hoping you.”

I would love to but you know Suge would not like it. He would come after us with everything he has.”

What problem do you think we are trying to solve?

You know, I am not sure I can legally be the Mindsculptor much longer.”

I do not care if you are Jace Beleren, Jace the Mindsculptor or Sprinkles the Clown. I want you not your image.”

I’m in, brother.”

Jace spent his life chasing down his dream, only to catch it and realize it was not what his true dream had been with him all along. The future may not be what he planned, but the future is bright for this young man. Join us next time when we see what goes on Behind the Magic.”

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Posted on June 2, 2011, in Articles, From Outside the Game. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This was a great read, just as your look at Legacy. Hope you’ll churn out another one like this soon!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. I am working on something slightly different right now, should be done later this week.

  3. Looking forward to it. Keep up the good work!

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