It’s easy to find the DCI Banned & Restricted List online, but the list itself doesn’t explain the reasoning behind each banning. We all know there’s great stories that made these cards taboo (or, lacking that, a lot of angst over why something underpowered would be excluded from a particular format), so here at QS, we’ll do the hard part for you and give you the key points.
Today’s card: Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is a broken card. During his reign of terror in Standard, Jace was a centerpiece of Caw-Blade decks. By the time New Phyrexia was released, the metagame was so dominated by this archetype that Jace, a mythic from the small winter set Worldwake, broke $100—which, to my knowledge, is the first time a card in Standard broke that barrier.
Tournament attendance was dropping fast, so the DCI pulled the trigger and banned Jace in Standard. When Modern was created shortly thereafter, Jace wasn’t included on the original banned list. The June 2011 Community Cup featured Unified Modern, and you can see that Jace was doing his thing among the decklists. Between then and Pro Tour Philadelphia that September, Jace was banned from Modern, seemingly for good.
If you want to play with Jace TMS these days, you’ll need to do it in Legacy, Vintage, or a casual format like Cube or Commander. Jace 2.0 is an extremely fun card to play with, but is also brokenly powerful. As the hands-down best planeswalker ever printed, Jace provides draw manipulation, board disruption, card advantage, and a built-in win condition. It’s just too good for Modern, plain and simple.
If Jace were legal in the format, the metagame would shift completely around him. I won’t speculate on what decks would dominate, but you can rest assured that many a decklist would read “4x Jace, the Mind Sculptor.” And if you think people are upset by the price of fetch lands and Tarmogoyf now, just wait until Jace jumped from his current price of around $80 to over $200 minimum—and was absolutely required for many of the competitive blue decks in the format.
Wizards of the Coast knows unbanning Jace would be playing with fire, as half the complaints surrounding him while in Standard were regarding his price tag. If, and it’s a big if, Jace were to be unbanned, such action would have to be accompanied with a reprint, and not a limited one like in From the Vault or the first wave of Modern Masters.
There’s not currently a great way of getting a significant number of copies out there besides a printing in Standard, and that’s something you can be sure won’t happen. Be it in another Conspiracy release or a much larger print run of Modern Masters 2, the first hurdle to unbanning Jace is getting an appropriate supply out there. And even if WOTC tackles that barrier, it’s unlikely the company wants to mess around with unbanning a card that once broke the cash-cow format that is Standard.
But hey, a blue mage can dream, right?