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Ban Jace, the Mind Sculptor?

April 19, 2011

As a response to the extraordinary showing off of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the GP Dallas/Forth Worth Top16, there has been a hefty debate about the card and if it should in fact be banned. For the community as whole the opinion on the subject is very varied but among the pros the consensus seems to be a no. Today I thought I will give my two cents about the current Jace situation.

The short version

Do I think Jace, the Mind Sculptor will be banned in Standard? No.

Do I think Jace, the Mind Sculptor should be banned in Standard? No.

The long version

Starting with addressing the first question, the situation we are witnessing isn’t exactly all new. Standard has for the last couple of years been defined by a single or a few couple of cards. Bitterblossom was the big bogeyman while Lorwyn was legal in Standard and Bloodbraid Elf before Shards of Alara rotated out of Standard. None of the mentioned cards was deemed “too good”, “too format defining” or “too unfun” to be banned.

On a side note, I don’t think Wizards will ever ban a card simply because it’s too good. A good example of that is Brainstorm in Legacy. I know that Patrick Chapin has talked about this before (can’t remember when though, it might been on a episode of the Magic Show) and I agree with his thought process. Compared to everything else thats going on in Legacy, Brainstorm is for it’s cost extraordinary powerful. I know of several players who plays Legacy regularly thinks that Brainstorm is more important to the format than Force of Will. Whatever I agree with that statement or not, it speeches about how good Brainstorm is. Yet this is a card no one really considers for banning, because no one feels about playing against Brainstorm. It’s just this cute little card draw spell in most peoples minds.

No, the most important reason why cards gets banned is if they actively makes people stop playing a format or, god forbid, the game entirely. Affinity comes to mind. Sensei’s Divining Top is another card that no one thought was too good really, it was just so obnoxious to play with or against it.

The striking difference between JtMS and it’s predecessor is that JtMS is on the surface the most expensive card that has been in this place in the metagame. Being a Mythic Rare Planeswalker does that to a card. This stings a lot of people in the eye that a card that is already expensive has to be pushed up in price by demand as well. And sure, I agree it kind sucks. But I don’t think that is warrant enough to get it banned.

There is also the other side of the coin there to have in mind. What about those people who already possess a playset of JtMS? How glad would they be if the card got emergency banned and suddenly dropped 50+% in price? It would be a kick in the balls to those people and despite what some people may think of Wizards, it not something they want to do unless they think it’s absolutely necessary.

The Planeswalkers and Jace, the Mind Sculptor in particular has been sort of Wizards posterboys for Magic during the last few years, and I don’t see them admitting failure and taking away one of those posterboys if they don’t reeeally have to. And besides, I quite sure New Phyrexia will have at least a couple of cards with the intention of stirring up the meta game. I highly doubt Wizards will pull the trigger before we can witness the effects that New Phyrexia will have on the format.

If we were to exclude whatever Wizards will likely do and picture us a situation where I had the final decision on the matter. What would I decide?

I have already told you that I wouldn’t myself ban the card and here is why. Partly because of some of the reason I mentioned in the previous paragraph but mostly because I think it’s naive to think that banning is some sort of guarantor for making the format healthier. I have earlier told you about my beliefs that something will always be the best in the format. One can only strive after that “the best” doesn’t completely shutout any other kinds of strategy (which I don’t think is the case with Standard…at least at this point).

Ponder that JtMS would in fact be banned. What would then happen? People seems to forget that there is still a deck called Valakut, that just until recently was this unstoppable force that killed hopes and dreams in Standard. And if we would then ban, say Primeval Titan, there is still this Fauna Shaman+Vengevine combo in Standard and so on. It’s a downward spiral and if you do go on with banning JtMS, where would you stop with the bannings? One could make the argument that if JtMS has to go, Primeval Titan has to go and if Primeval Titan goes then X as to go and so on.

When you put the situation in that perspective, banning JtMS might as well cause more problems than it actually solves. And then you have to ask yourself, is JtMS that oppressive in Standard right now to be worth the eventual huzzle caused by the banning? I don’t think so.

If New Phyrexia turns out to be a complete dud in “fixing” the format, I might reconsider my stand on the subject but I doubt it. I’d say enjoy fatesealing, brainstorming, unsummoning and occasionally go ultimate with Jace, the Mind Sculptor during the last 6 months that remains of his time in Standard.

That’s a part of the beauty with Standard in my mind. Time will always “heal” the format eventually and keeping it fresh and new.

Until next time…

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