Why is Jace, the Mind Sculptor Banned in Modern?

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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?

14 thoughts on “Why is Jace, the Mind Sculptor Banned in Modern?

  1. He wasn’t dominating in the community cup. There are a multitude of ways to deal with him in modern.
    We had Gaven on our podcast shortly after he joined R&D and he shared with us that they have tested with him in the format and he is fine.
    I do agree that supply would be the issue. What a way to sell a bunch of MM2 by an cash grab reprint. I still predict a 5 year gap between MM sets.

  2. I agree with Brotha on this one…I don’t think JTMS would be that big of a problem in modern. We already have combo decks that can win on turn 4, so if you’re playing blue jamming JTMS on your turn 4 is a recipe for losing, especially since he doesn’t just win you the game upon resolution. The biggest problem with him in standard was the lack of good flash creatures (outside Deciever Exarch, which even then is terrible without splinter twin to combo with him). The fact that modern has no really good “free countermagic” (and disrupting shoal isn’t good enough) means that you can’t jam him early and still counter your opponents spells. Having him in modern would open up the possibility of playing some of the Miracle cards from AVR, as their biggest problem is that we have almost NO good deck manipulation and we currently have no good way to return cards from your hand back on top. I do think he’d jump in price a lot, but he doesn’t just go into every modern deck, there are plenty that he wouldn’t go into (now granted he would likely find a home in every blue based one, but it’s unlikely you’d see a lot of existing archetypes splashing blue just to add him)

  3. I’m in the camp that Jace 2.0 would completely warp Modern. There are Legacy and Vintage decks that combo well before turn 4 and yet Jace is still widespread in those formats. To appear in Modern would cause a major metagame shift. On the one hand, it may be nice to see Blue strengthen in the format. But I would never push Blue by unbanning Jace. He’s just too good.

    1. But both those formats have FREE counterspells…This is the critical part everyone is missing…When I can jam a JTMS quickly and have permission backup for whatever shenanigans my opponent plays on his turn…ya he’s ridiculously powerful or when there aren’t many decks that can provide strong/cheap/efficient threats early enough that prevent you from jamming him onto an empty board and just controlling everything that lands aftewarwards.

  4. Jace and BBE should be unbanned simultaneously. I don’t think Jace is broken in Modern as is. He is really powerful but not great against the current metagame. And BBE would make sure he was kept in check. Now that jund lost Deathrite I think a simultaneous unbanning of Jace and BBE is safe.

  5. Reprint coming in Legacy Masters – after the success of Modern Masters and online Vintage Masters I think this will happen eventually – probably MM2 first but you never know. They are realizing how much money they could print and are getting more aggressive with their reprints -seems like a no brainer. Even with the reserve list there are plenty of Legacy cards that they could put in.

  6. I always had the impression that they wanted Modern to start as a totally new format.

    Not a copy of the legacy meta, and not a collection of the best standard decks from the last years (= extended).

    And they succeeded in that somehow. I think this explanation can be used for most of the cards on the banlist.

    I know they missed a few things, like BBE which made JUND the same as the standard deck.

    Now JUND and affinity were standard decks, but the only thing they share with the standard list is the name.

    Now to stay on topic, people make big mistakes if the assume that Jace 2.0 is only good if you drop in T4 and leave no mana open.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not how it will be played if it was allowed in Modern.

    You take control of the early game with disruption and counters. Jace makes sure you can’t come back. It will be a very strong addition to the control decks now.

    And looking at the logisitics of a tournament, allowing Jace 2.0 will make all modern events last longer. They banned Top and Shahrazad for that reason.

      1. Some folks really slow down once they get Jace online. Thinking about whether to Bounce/Brainstorm/Fateseal… then deciding whether to top or bottom, or deciding what to put back with Brainstorm.

        Like Sensei’s Top, proficient players are quick about it, but many players take forever with it. It sure would be interesting if you could get a “WotC competitive certified Top/Jace user.” Of course that would never happen, but it would be cool.

  7. First of all, I agree with both aruments
    I think JTMS should and should not be
    banned. JTMS is one heck of a card and
    would be amazing and super fun to play
    with but on the other hand Jace would
    most likely end the game so quickly that
    it would even be fun. I okay magic a lot
    and usually my dad will end the game right

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