Never have I ever seen people get so excited about a ban list update. Before this past Monday, WotC had express interest in unbanning cards in Modern, and of course, people started to speculate what they were going to take out of the ban list.
Most people definitely suspected that Bloodbraid Elf was going to get another chance at Modern. By itself, Bloodbraid Elf isn’t all overpowering. After the cascade triggers resolve, it’s just a 3/2 with haste that costs four mana. You never really concern yourself with BBE, but rather what she cascades into. The only reason she got banned was that of what I like to call “Friendly Fire.” She got banned around a time that Deathrite Shaman should’ve gotten banned. They eventually DID ban the one-mana-does-too-much, but for the longest time, Bloodbraid Elf would never see the light of day in Modern. Until now.
However, I’m not here to talk about Bloodbraid Elf. I’m here to talk about the other card that saw an unbanning. A card that everyone didn’t expect because the universal consensus was that Wizards of the Coast saw it as too powerful for anywhere other than Legacy and Vintage.
That card, is “Jace, the Mind Sculptor.”
This card is everything a blue control deck wants to be doing in a game of Magic. It wants to stop the opponent from what they’re doing, draw you cards, and outright win in one fell swoop.
Why Ban Him in the First Place?
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, was the face of Standard for a long time since it was released way back in 2010. WotC wanted to create a four ability version of the most popular Planeswalker back then, Jace Beleran.
Planeswalkers were a new card type in Magic, the Gathering, so there weren’t a whole lot of cards that could quickly remove it. The only ways to get rid of one were permanent removal spells and direct damage. Thankfully now, we have a lot more options when it comes to Planeswalker removal, but it wasn’t the same story back then.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, was a card that could to be put in any deck that ran blue, and it was for a long time in Standard. However, it’s pure dominance in the Standard meta showed when six out of the eight decklists in the finals ran a full playset of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. These decks all ran blue just to play the god-like Planeswalker. Brian Kibler played the Jace shell that would later dominate Standard like a mighty king: “Caw-Go”.
This deck was a pure control deck that used Jace, the Mind Sculptor as a win-con and ran a full playset of Squadron Hawks. Later down the line when the Scars of Mirrodin sets were released, it evolved into what is known today as “Caw-Blade” where it tutored up swords with Stoneforge Mystic to equip to Squadron Hawk.
This deck would populate most of Standard’s meta to the point where that is all you ever saw on Grand Prix coverage. It was because of this deck that attendance rate was plummeting for the Standard events. It wasn’t until June 2011 where WotC finally made the decision to ban Jace from the Standard meta. Unfortunately, this didn’t help a whole lot because Caw-Blade was still a dominant deck that just ran more swords to make up for the lack of Stoneforge Mystic, the other card that got banned with Jace.
Where Did Jace Go From There?
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, is a powerful all-around card, regardless of where you put him. Legacy players saw this and fit him into their decks, most notably Stoneblade. It wasn’t until the Miracles mechanic’s introduction in Avacyn Restored that Jace found a new home in “Miracles.” Ever since, it has seen a home in a variety of decks such as Czech Pile,
Even in Legacy, Jace has proven to be a very powerful win-condition that buries your opponent in card advantage and then controls what they draw. Any control deck that runs blue in Legacy WILL run Jace.
While still powerful, it is nowhere near as game warping in Legacy as it was in Standard. In that format, you have many things like Force of Will, Pyroblast, Daze, Vindicate, pretty much a plethora of quick and free answers that can keep Jace in check.
A Modern Reaction
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, is a card that never got a chance to show it’s power in the Modern format. As of the time of this writing, it’s way too early to know if Jace is too powerful for Modern or just not quick enough for a format that wants you to win on turn three.
Of course, that didn’t stop players from freaking out about Jace’s unbanning. People were/are QUICK to dismiss the card’s ability to stay in the format without it being banned again in April (the next ban list update). People are still probably writing, tweeting, and posting about why it was a massive mistake for WotC to put Jace into this format and all it is is a cash grab.
Now, I do agree when people point out the money payout to Wizards with this unbanning. It is pretty convenient that Jace is about to see another reprint and NOW is the time they unban him. I don’t fault them for this, however. If I were in charge of the business and I wanted to pick a time to unban Mind Sculptor, now would be a perfect time.
Here’s what I am hoping DOESN’T happen: they end up banning him again in April because of any reason other than its game warping. If there’s any other reason I am going to be very suspicious about Wizards and their business practices.
What Will Jace Do to the Format?
Nooooooooooo clue. Again, it is way too early to know if Jace will have an impact on the format. As of now, a lot of people are playing him to death on Magic Online, but that is just the excitement of a new card in Modern. There’s a chance that this card will either be too powerful in Modern, or the format is going to do just fine.
Now, if you want to play with Jace, you will have to put him in control shells. This is a card that is meant to be played in those kinds of decks. So far I have seen a few people try to put him in midrange decks, but I haven’t seen one that isn’t so clunky with him in it.
So far, my favorite deck with him in it is Miracles. Yup, you read that right, Jace has the chance of making Miracles a viable deck in Modern. What makes Miracles so great is Brainstorm, which Jace has on him. Having Jace on the battlefield with no creatures on it feels absolutely dirty.
- When Jace, the Mind Sculptor is on your opponent’s side and they start using his +2 ability while you have nothing on your field, it is a safe assumption that you lost the game there. Be a friendly Magic player and just scoop so you can save everyone’s time.
I am so excited to see what comes out of removing Jace, the Mind Sculptor from the ban list. I feel like this will finally give control decks a fighting chance, but we will have to see.
That will do it for now. As always, thank you for reading! If you want to keep up with my content, follow me here or like my page on Facebook where I post all of my new material.
Once the dust settles in Modern, I will be doing a deck tech on a Jace deck if one does well in a paper event with the updated ban list.
I will catch you all next time!