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Silvestri Says – Bannings and You

This week I was considering doing a Standard article, and then I saw a top eight of the following at SCG Boston.

7 CawBlade
1 UG Aggro

Then I looked at culminated Regionals results and saw CawBlade had everything non-RUG beat by a laughably huge margin. It only tripled the qualifications of RUG. Nice joke. I’ll leave it to people enthusiastic about this to write about any pre-New Phyrexia Standard.

Instead today I’m going to talk about the history of bans in Standard and Extended starting with Combo Winter and working forward. Why start there? Those bans are among the most well-known, but the numbers of people who were playing back then or who have dredged through history finding information about them have gotten smaller and smaller over the years. I want a bit of a one-stop shop for the B/R announcements and why such cards were banned to give people a bit of perspective. Once the discussion of a Jace ban came up, I found that many people had absolutely no idea why older cards were banned or what context they were banned in. Once I had to explain to someone why Necropotence was banned in Extended, I felt the need to write this.

Combo Winter Bannings

Announcement Date: December 1st, 1998
Effective Date: January 1st, 1999
Standard (Type 2) Constructed
Windfall is banned.
Tolarian Academy is banned.

Extended Constructed
• Windfall is banned.
• Tolarian Academy is banned.
Braingeyser is UNBANNED.
March 1st, 1999
Standard Constructed:

Dream Halls is banned
Earthcraft is banned
Fluctuator is banned
Lotus Petal is banned
Recurring Nightmare is banned
Time Spiral is banned

Announcement Date: June 1, 1999
Effective Date: July 1, 1999
Standard Constructed

Mind Over Matter is banned

Extended Constructed
-Time Spiral is banned

Announcement –
July 16, 1999

Effective Date: August 1, 1999

Extended Constructed
-Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned

Errata:
Effective March 1, 1999, the following errata have been issued for the “free” creatures (Cloud of Faeries, Great Whale, Palinchron, and Peregrine Drake): “When [this creature] comes into play, if you played it from your hand, untap up to [the appropriate number] lands.” Also, Priest of Gix has the following errata: “When Priest of Gix comes into play, if you played it from your hand, add [three black mana] to your mana pool.” (This should be treated as if there were actual mana symbols in the text box.)

In explaining the implications of the errata, Bill Rose (Magic lead designer) had this to say: “With this template it’s obvious you don’t get to untap lands (or in the case of Priest of Gix, add mana to your mana pool) when you put the creature directly into play with an ability such as Recurring Nightmare’s or Sneak Attack’s. Remember that ‘played’ is not the same as ‘put into play.'”

http://classicdojo.org/news/news.981201.html

For those who don’t know about the errata part of the banned list, WOTC would occasionally level Power Level Errata on cards. What does this mean? The simplest explanation is that the rules templates on the cards as printed allowed for loopholes to be exploited which made them better than they were originally intended to be. As a result the Oracle text was modified down the line and the cards functioned differently as printed. In the case of Combo Winter this was significant for the untap creatures (specifically Great Whale and Palinchron) interaction with Recurring Nightmare.

As for the bulk of the bans, many of them were obvious in retrospect to anyone who has played or seen these cards before. Tolarian Academy and Windfall were the first to fall, but shortly after that the DCI just about every single relevant combo deck in Standard and many of them in Extended. For those who aren’t familiar with these combo decks, nearly all of them were capable of turn three and four kills on a consistent basis with turn two not being out of the realm of possibility. Extended was actually the most prominent example of Academy decks as many of the people who know about Academy remember it from Pro Tour Rome.

If you want to read the winner’s report, that’s actually still available at classicdojo.org along with many of the top eight reports. http://classicdojo.org/t984/ptro.981208tho.txt

Tommi Hovi – Academy 1st PT Rome

 

Federico Dato –High Tide, 4th PT Rome

 

A summary of that tournament (Extended) and the ensuing Standard season can be summed up as turn four combo decks going off against each other every other round. Also a contingent of people continuing to try and play Sligh in every format regardless of their opposition, some things never change. Even at the Pro Tour where Academy and High Tide were top choices coming in, people were still bringing the little red men to the table. On the upside you had a sweet Necropotence match, too bad about the rest of the metagame though. The funny thing is that eventually control decks had caught up just enough to not be overpowered by the combo decks and actually had taken a fair amount of metagame space back from these monsters. Having a larger card pool does in fact help counter design mistakes to some degree. The lack of free flowing information also meant that people couldn’t instantly netdeck a ridiculous deck at the touch of a mouse.

If you want to take a look at the various flavors of Standard decks at the time that weren’t Academy, I’ll direct you over here: http://classicdojo.org/feature/nov98deck.html

The First and Only Emergency Ban
Announcement Date: March 11, 1999
Effective Date: April 1, 1999

Standard Constructed:
Memory Jar is banned.

Extended Constructed:
Memory Jar is banned.

Urza Block Constructed:
Memory Jar is banned.

Classic-Restricted (Type 1.5) Constructed:
Memory Jar is banned.
Zuran Orb is UNBANNED.

Classic (Type 1) Constructed:
Memory Jar is restricted.

* Please consider this an addition to the March 1st announcement.
Memory Jar: As was mentioned in the March 1 announcement, several cards were banned in order remove fast “Combination Decks” from dominating the Standard environment. However, Urza’s Legacy has introduced another card, Memory Jar, that lends itself towards that same deck archetype. Many players have brought to our attention that this card, while perhaps not as strong as some of the other cards that were banned, is nonetheless strong enough that its presence diminishes the tournament environment.

Note that Combo Winter happened before R&D was heavily playtesting sets before release. What may have been obvious in hindsight wouldn’t be readily apparent if you merely looked at all the cards in a vacuum, although arguably some of them should have been.

As for Memory Jar being deserving of a ban, feast your eyes on a first generation Jar deck.

Randy Buehler and Erik Lauer’s Memory Jar

A piece from Randy Buehler on why Memory Jar was emergency banned.

“The one card that was ever subject to an emergency ban was Memory Jar, which has the unfortunate text “draw seven cards” on it. However, the power of Memory Jar itself isn’t why the DCI broke with its normal policy of quarterly changes. The only reason the DCI chose not to wait until the next regularly scheduled dates was because the very health of the Magic game was being threatened by “Combo Winter.” Urza’s Saga was four months old when Memory Jar came out in Urza’s Legacy. During those four months, there was a large and loud public outcry about the way the game was being ruined by all the “broken” cards in Saga. Since Saga was affecting all Constructed formats, not just Extended, there wasn’t anywhere for Magic players who didn’t like combos to go. They either played against a steady stream of combo decks, or they didn’t play at all. The DCI’s first round of bannings in December 1998 didn’t fix things and players began leaving the game in droves. It was vitally important to the health of the game to clean things up before too many more players walked away, so quite a large number of cards were included in the DCI’s March 1, 1999 announcement, which would become effective April 1 of that year. Players were optimistic that Combo Winter was finally going to end.

That’s when Urza’s Legacy came out and introduced yet another broken combo card to the environment. The stakes were high and the DCI did not want to see Memory Jar undo all the work they were trying to do that March, so they issued an emergency ban. (Specifically, the Jar deck was discovered mere days after Legacy rotated into Standard on March 1 and about a week later it was retroactively added to the March 1 list.)”

Memory Jar as a card was a mistake and ultimately a terrible card from a design perspective, a pure gimmick card with no fair uses. Introduced in the most comboriffic time in Magic’s history WOTC was effectively splashing napalm on top of the burning remains of the format. It wasn’t just that Jar was a powerful card; it was a number of other factors that contributed to the only emergency ban in DCI history. In fact it could be argued that Jar decks weren’t even as powerful as High Tide or even necessarily any more unstoppable than other fast combination decks. GP Kansas City, the last Grand Prix Jar was legal for, was won by a red deck packing 8 Red Blasts (Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast) along with the usual set of Wasteland… Oh and Raging Goblin.

http://www.wizards.com/sideboard/article.asp?x=results/GPKC99

A side note, recently a number of comparisons have been drawn between Jace, the Mind Sculptor and other previously banned cards pointing out that Jace is not as powerful, nor enables turn three or four kills in Standard. While true in the literal sense, Jace doesn’t exactly end a match when he comes into play; I feel that some people are missing some of the details here. Many of these banned cards wouldn’t necessarily be banned in today’s Standard. In fact some of them may not even be playable!

You’ll notice a theme throughout the article, starting with Combo Winter that many of the combo mistakes existed with one another and that typically widespread bannings cleaned them up. Often it wasn’t just a single mistake that made the best deck into the stuff of legends; it was a multitude of borderline cards and bannable ones that created these distorted formats. Not only did Combo Winter feature more potentially busted card drawing engines than any other format, it also had the largest number of efficient fast mana cards available outside of Vintage.

Take a card like Memory Jar, Windfall, or Dark Ritual, and insert in into modern Standard and it might not have a real impact. How much can you really do with a draw-seven when you’re paying full price for it? Does Dark Ritual spawn a new deck or merely gives Vampires a boost in speed? Cards like Skullclamp will potentially be broken in every single format since there’s no end to X/1 dorks and what you can do with an endless stream of cards. Survival of the Fittest was a borderline card that was eventually banned in Extended and lived a happy live in Legacy until Vengevine came along and pushed it to a bannable power level.

Now take Jace. He may not have the incredible upside of some of the banned cards, but he has a much better baseline for potential use in other formats. Take Jace and insert him into other formats. If they aren’t incredibly high powered ala Necro Summer or Combo Winter, I fully believe he’d be one of the best cards in a fair number of past formats. Would he necessarily be in the best strategy? No. But the power level of Jace as a card on his own is very high where as a fair number of banned cards simply wouldn’t have any support to get them off the ground.

If you talked to someone who was playing back in the day, you could likely get them to attest to how much power a card like Jace would have considering the average quality of card people were playing in many formats. Patrick Chapin may exaggerate at times, but there’s a reason he really sold the power level of Jace in comparison to other banned cards. Jace may promote some level of interaction with the opponent, but he can put some major constraints on what actually works on the board-level. I just wanted to get that out there for some balance to the thought that all these old broken combo cards were complete monsters by themselves.

Announced: March 1, 2000
Effective: April 1, 2000
Extended

Mana Vault (Fifth Edition) and Dark Ritual (Mercadian Masques) are banned.

From the B/R Announcement:
“In considering the Extended format, we took into account the proliferation of certain combo decks, such as the increasingly popular Necro-Donate deck. Data was analyzed from Pro Tour™ – Chicago, recent Qualifier tournaments and Grand Prix events. Although many cards were considered (including Necropotence, Donate, and Demonic Consultation), it was decided that it was more important to deal with the core of the problem: fast mana. Dark Ritual and Mana Vault both provide mana too easily, allowing certain combo decks to win much too quickly. Removing these two cards from the environment allows combo decks to exist, but decreases the speed at which they can win, balancing the decks in relation to the rest of the field. This decision also allows other interesting, balanced deck types to exist within the format.”

Nowadays you would guffaw at the sheer absurdity of anyone defending Necropotence as a fair card or useful pillar of the metagame. Back in the day however there were serious inquiries into how powerful the card actually was and if it would be correct to leave it around. I point this out because it’s important to give context to the Mana Vault and Dark Ritual banning. In essence they boiled down part of the problem that plagued the Extended season (and many more to come), but stopped at that point and took a wait-and-see approach with the rest of the issues surrounding it. Necropotence was a vastly popular card and strategy and they wanted to leave the decks viable for the future, just weakened enough as to not dominate the format.

By banning some of the fast mana and leaving all the egregious engines, card selection tools and combo pieces around they ensured the Trix (AKA: Necro Donate) would continue to be the best deck and that nearly every successful deck in the format would be based around a combo engine or built specifically to fight combo decks. Looking back on this we can see the takeaway that would later reinforce the Affinity bannings. By only eliminating part of the problem they left the most powerful deck still viable and merely shifted the format slightly instead of a major change. Ironically, later that year Demonic Consultation and Necropotence were restricted in Vintage.

For those who don’t know, the best decks in the format by a fair margin were Necropotence and Oath decks. Necro Trix was the best of all the decks, but was underdeveloped at the time and not fully embraced by the community. Once we got further into the season it was clear the NecroTrix was the best deck in the format and promptly warped the metagame around it.

Free Spell Necro – Brian Davis, 2nd PT Chicago

Announced: March 1, 2001
Effective: April 1, 2001
Extended

Demonic Consultation (Ice Age), Necropotence (Fifth Edition), Survival of the Fittest (Exodus), and Replenish (Urza’s Destiny) are banned.

A year after the Mana Vault and Dark Ritual ban, a variety of engine bans finally took place taking out Necro, Survival and Replenish combo decks all out of the picture. Additionally arguably the best tutor ever printed was also banned, taking away a key piece in any black combo deck and even hurting certain tempo fish-esque decks which used to cheaply find answers to problems. As for reasoning behind the bans the list is a who’s who of absurd card advantage mechanisms and tutors. All three engines have been the cores of very successful combo decks and even when applied ‘fairly’ were top tier decks in Standard, Extended, Vintage and Survival even transitioned to modern day Legacy.

Trix had continued to dominate in a weakened form and the rest of the format was either insane hybrid decks or more combo. As a result the DCI took it a step further banning-wise then last time, taking care of two other potential metagame breaking engines before they could fill the vacuum left by Necro Trix’s supposed absence.

For those who aren’t familiar with these types of decks here are some sample lists.

PandeBurst – Gordon Lin, 1st at GP Sydney

 

Tradewind Survival

 

While the bans were effective, in the end Trix continued to prevail in a new form and Kai Budde would show the world that Trix was still the best deck with his win at Pro Tour: New Orleans.

Trix: Kai Budde

As for the end of Old Extended, while not technically a ban, it could be said its rotation (cutting out nearly every top deck in the old format) was accelerated in the face of every deck winning by turn three or playing Force of Will / Winter Orb in an attempt to combat that. Think of the end of Old Extended as a narrower more broken version of Legacy today. There were still a variety of decks, but those decks had to fit within very specific criteria to remain viable.

Extended gets a major facelift
Announcement Date: December 1, 2003
Effective Date: January 1, 2004

Extended
* Ancient Tomb is banned
* Goblin Recruiter is banned
* Grim Monolith is banned
* Hermit Druid is banned
* Oath of Druids is banned
* Tinker is banned

Taking into account what the DCI learned from Combo Winter and previously ineffectual Extended bans, this time they cleaned house in the aftermath of a broken Pro Tour. What flavor of broken deck did you enjoy here? If you wanted to kill off fast mana, artifacts and storm then you had a deck, killing on turn two with a creature? You have a deck. Killing on turn three with Goblin Charbelcher? Again, you have deck. In fact my favorite deck of all-time was located in this time frame, Food Chain Goblins. You had the traditional resiliency and aggro factors of a Goblin deck mixed in with a combo kill and the equivalent of Red Necropotence in Goblin Recruiter.

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=sideboard/events/ptno03
http://www.wizards.com/magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/rb100

If you ever want to point to how drastically card values can change with the addition of new sets point to this set of bannings. All of these cards were fair or at least not unfair to the point of banning in the past, and then with a few sweet additions (mostly from Mirrodin block) they went over the top and broke the world. Oh hey another subtle hint toward Jace, Stoneforge Mystic, and Valakut, and how they slowly kept rising in power until they became absolute pillars.

This was supposed to mark the end of combo dominated Extended formats.

Skullclamp and Affinity Bannings
Announcement Date: June 1, 2004
Effective Date: June 20, 2004
Standard

Skullclamp is banned

Announcement Date: March 1, 2005
Effective Date: March 20, 2005
Standard

Arcbound Ravager is banned
Disciple of the Vault is banned
Artifact lands are banned (Ancient Den, Great Furnace, Seat of the Synod, Tree of Tales, Vault of Whispers, Darksteel Citadel)

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/af56

In case anyone missed how broken Clamp Affinity was or how prevalent it was.
http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=7231

I could go into a long spiel here about why these cards were banned and how they ruined Magic for about a year. Instead let me check off all the criteria previously used to ban cards in the various formats to this point.

Unfun to play against? Check. Not only were Clamp decks and Affinity difficult to interact with without completely warping your deck, you weren’t necessarily going to beat them even with these major concessions. They killed very quickly and Ravager Affinity could take the concept of luck to extremes which painted MTG as a coin-flipping contest. There’s a reason Pierre Canali was taken to task by Osyp when he was on his Pro Tour-winning run with Affinity. One of the few broken decks in history you could play like a complete buffoon and still have a reasonable chance of dominating your opponent.

It was everywhere / Dominance: Check. Look at the above link and feel free to poke away tournament results during the Clamp and Affinity era of the game. Affinity is one of the few decks in history where you could claim the field was 40%+ of Affinity and actually be correct. All too often nowadays people claim the best decks are “everywhere” and they mainly win due to a large portion of the population filling out slots deserved by other strategies. This is almost universally untrue and only Affinity and certain Jund tournaments could make a case for a ban-worthy strategy being everywhere.

Sheer Power: Check. Notice how many cards on this list are either insane or in the context of the format where they were banned, well, ban-worthy. Skullclamp is one of the most unfair cards ever printed and could virtually be ported to every format where you had enough time to play creatures and haumph them with Clamp. So while it may not be good enough for Vintage or the absolute fastest formats in Magic’s history, it’ll be good enough for the rest. Ravager Affinity was no slouch either with a huge number of hands that could win on turn four through disruption and a large amount of resilience built in to surviving counter-strategies.

Nearly impossible to counter: Check. Even in a completely warped metagame setting if there’s a best deck and a counter to it, a format can still exist and even be fun to some degree. In the case of Clamp any counter-Clamp strategy you came up with would almost inevitably be made better by… Wait for it… Little more…. PLAYING SKULLCLAMP. The deck trying to cast nine mana sorceries still wanted to play Skullclamp – there wasn’t exactly a direct counter to this outside of having the Oxidize in response every time.

Once again I have a simple way of explaining how resilient Ravager Affinity was. You could play a deck with maindeck Oxidize, Wing Shards, Wrath of God, Pulse of the Fields, and Akroma’s Vengeance, and still lose a fair game to Affinity. I’m not sure what more I need to say about that. If turn three combo decks were legal, then Affinity wouldn’t have been that much of a problem; otherwise run away.

It drove people away from the game: The massive Affinity ban was done in an attempt to salvage an already terrible year of Magic attendance. People were actively leaving the game in numbers big enough that WOTC sat up and took notice and even admitted as much when the DCI made the decision to ban all the cards. They did it so the deck was completely unplayable and nobody would have to worry about it again.

Now that I could continue down the banning timeline and touch on Flash and Survival of the Fittest over in Legacy, but those were recent and had quite a bit written about them. What I wanted to do with this piece was show what cards were banned, the criteria given (and implied) by banning them and how this has shaped up during a 6 year period where bannings every year were a given. You can apply many of these to Jace, the Mind Sculptor and even some to Stoneforge Mystic and Valakut.

I already gave my opinion on Jace; I believe it meets the criteria for banning in dominance and power and the format would’ve encouraged more variety if it gets banned. That said I’m of the same hope that New Phyrexia (which looks very strong) pushed some decks far enough to disown the CawBlades of the world from their seat at the front of the bus. This may or may not happen though, considering that Batterskull (at a glance) looks frigging amazing and CawBlade is best situated to take advantage of it.

Hopefully you’ve learned something about the DCI and the history of bans in pro level constructed formats.

Josh Silvestri

Other References:
http://www.crystalkeep.com/magic/rules/tournament.php
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/rb97
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr59
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr46

105 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – Bannings and You”

  1. Excellent article. Brings back some memories. Oh how I loved playing trix. So broken. So very very broken.

  2. @[email protected]

    Most people can’t actually play the mirror online, so unless I’m up against someone really good, I’m not too worried about it. I’m pretty dedicated to playing CawBlade until NPH is legal and even then it might still be the best deck.

    @DP
    That’s the other reason I wanted to write it. Finding information about these events and cards is getting harder and harder, I figure this will at least float around on google searches for some actual context to those who weren’t playing back then. Some of those broken formats were sweeeeeeet..

  3. Wow, that was nice. I thought massive bannings ala Affinity were exceptions but it seems they are the rule. Now banning a single card looks even less of a problem. Of course, if it has to happen in three months, I will be playing other formats in the meantime. One can only bear crap metagames for so long.

  4. This article seems poorly proofread. You have commas that should be anything but, you used “live” for “life”, there’s a question mark after Kai’s win that surely doesn’t deserve to exist, and at least two unfinished sentences that I spotted on a cursory read. I especially like how you talk about Oath, then have, as the entire end of that paragraph, “So while”.

    Normally, I try not to be this guy, but it’s egregious.

  5. *Not Oath, Necro Trix. That’s what I get for not proofreading a comment about an article not being proofread. Ironic, but in that way where you actually just expect it to happen 100% of the time.

  6. stoneforge mystic makes batterskull broken IMO. think they should ban stoneforges alongside jace– in standard but not extended.

  7. I liked the article. It was a nice history lesson for the times I wasn’t around and a nice trip down memory lane for the times I was.

    I notice you didn’t mention Lin Sivvi (and Port) being banned in Block, though. Even though the legend rule no longer works the same way, I think there are a lot of similarities between Lin Sivvi and Jace. They both generate card advantage up the wazoo and they both seriously punish the player who gets one onto the table second. Plus, they both don’t win the game instantly (unlike, say, Jar). Nevertheless, Lin Sivvi was good enough to be banned and I think Jace is too.

  8. Jace doesn’t really meet all of this criteria nor does valakuut or stoneforge. They are all good in a vacuum but with cards to hate them, they become much less of a problem.

    Bannings are much more subtle now. Jace is closest to survival of the fittest in that Jace decks are dominating the format, even though the individual card is not really that broken.

    The biggest problem with standard is the rock-paper-scissors of it right now. Blade beats Valakuut, Valakuut beats aggro, aggro beats blade. Jace simply smooths out draws and generates enough card advantage that it is stronger against valakuut than aggro is against a Jace deck.

    *******************************

    The biggest problem with standard is that they probably did not think stoneforge would become the next bitterblossom and fit into a control shell (which it obviously does). As such we are facing a meta dominated by caw blade the same way faeries dominated standard at a point. Jace is not even the best card in RUG or Blade or even the engine that makes these decks powerful (cobra and stoneforge respectively are why). He just smooths out their draws and makes them way more consistent (while of course generating card advantage).

    If Wizard bans him they will be jumping the gun as the new set will change things a lot and likely upend the format. The power level of NPH cards is way beyond those of SOM and MBS. The format is about to get upended so people need to relax and enjoy the ride.

  9. jace is broken. u can tell because if ur not aggro or valakut, ur playing jace. in the mirror the plan is always just to see who can drop their jace unhindered first, and the second guy will be in a world of trouble if he doesn’t stop it. ppl hate playing against it, and like skull clamp ppl are running lil jace in the side JUST to deal with big jace.

  10. Nice article, but one thing, You gave reasons why other cards were banned, but not why Jace shouldn’t be banned, or Stoneforge for that matter. Sure Jace doesn’t win games on turn 4, but he is winning them in a top deck war, or if you get him on turn 3 with cobra and your opponent doesn’t have an answer to him. Skullclamp is one of the cards that can be most related to jace. Everyone played 4 and it needed to be answered asap or else you lose. Stoneforge mystic is the worst card to see your opponent play on turn 2, especially if they’re going first. It doesn’t win you the game right there, but it affects the way you have to play afterwards. All these things you now have to worry about. Go play against cawblade and see how different you play when they do and don’t have stoneforge t2 and tell me the card isn’t just the stone cold nuts.

    Just for everyone wandering, I’ve been playing cawblade since PT Paris.

  11. @RavensAvenger: You may have misread the article — he says that Jace SHOULD be banned.

  12. you didn’t really go into the price factor at all, and in my opinion that’s clearly the most important part. Having a card that is worth double the next most expensive card is atrocious for a standard environment. I basically am quitting magic until I have 4 jaces or can find a way to beat them and still not scoop to the other poor people who aren’t smart enough to quit until they also have 4 jaces… Instead of paper-scissor-rock, its paper-bad player-poor player. Anyone not playing jace at this very moment is either directly against the card and stubborn, or doesn’t own them. It’s really as simple as that. The fact that RUG and Cawblade are the two best jace decks is also irrelevant since the cards around them are borderline broken as well (cobra/mystic). If jace was less expensive you could expect more jace, and therefore prepare for basically only jace. Affinity was actually pretty easy to beat if you wanted to beat it… But like you said you had to warp your deck into unplayability if say you took that 75 and played it against a different 75 from a previous standard environment. I don’t think that to be the case if jace was, say, 35 dollars. The best way people claim to hose it is another expensive mythic plus rare combo in vengevine/shaman. That’s a competitive deck if taken back a couple seasons. You’re not warping your deck. I also believe that valakut isn’t the menace people believe it to be either if jace was banned. The deck beats itself on a regular basis and can easily be answered by cards as simple as spreading seas plus a discard spell.

    I think the best way to handle this would to print jace as an FNM card or something goofy like that. Let everyone have them and see what happens. (im jking… but not really)

  13. @Seeker:
    Most of that should be fixed. Not sure why the fragments were still there, my guess is the edit didn’t save when Z did the piece.

    @Raven
    I already wrote my piece on why Jace is unhealthy for the format. I really didn’t feel the need to write it again. This is more of a reference piece then anything else. I did tie some of it to Jace, but honestly I’m not interested in getting into the argument again. Merely pointing out what was banned in the olden days and why is good enough for me. If people can’t follow along… Oh well!

  14. Alright everyone. We just got a history lesson from Josh.

    and apparently we’re getting a future lesson from BJ.

    There’s one difference though. Josh is accurate in everything that he wrote.

    BJ will be sorely mistaken.

  15. “jace is broken. u can tell because if ur not aggro or valakut, ur playing jace. i”

    So if you’re not playing combo or agro, you’re playing control, and therefore the best control card?

    That’s possibly the worst case for banning Jace.

    I could see banning Jace, but you’d have to ban Valakut and Stoneforge at the same time or the meta would be even more terrible. Just banning Valakut would do a lot to bring Jace under control though (because it would open up room for midrange decks using Vengevine, which counter Jace well).

  16. @BJ – Yeah, Having a baneslayer that recurses itself after removal is *awful*.

    @Diogenes – You’re right, Jace is very much like Survival. Did they ban Vengevine in Legacy? Or Survival?

  17. If they didn’t ban Bitterblosom or Bloodbraid they are not going to ban Jace, stop this stupid argument! He wasn’t even considered a problem until recently. Wotc finally undid the “No naming Planeswalkers on cards” clause and I can bet we are gona see lots more ways to interact with them. No one even mentions how its actually Gideon who is powning agro! The fact that you side Jace out in those MUs is proof right there that he is not ban worthy. Cawblade and RUG get easily beaten by Vamps and Boros, but they are less consistent. Its the critical mass of Preordain and Stoneforge that make the blue decks so good in long tourneys. The Titans are another huge factor, as now you have creatures that put you SOOO far ahead when you cast them they can single-handedly set back entire strategies. This is just standard there is a best card as usual, its nothing new.

  18. I’ll say this, I think Jace is insanely powerful, but I don’t think that he should be banned until after NPH is released, although I think they should have given him a temporary ban a while back (ban him till NPH, then unban and see what happens). That being said, if they do ban him, they should also ban Stoneforge and will probably have to ban either Primeval Titan or Valatuk.

    As a side note, I think that even with all the hate being added in NPH, Caw Blade will still be the best deck by far without any bannings.

  19. I also enjoyed the article and the history lesson (for some reason I had remembered Black Summer as being *before* Combo Winter. Admittedly I wasn’t playing much at the time, but it’s still strange that I misremembered).

    As far as Jace goes, I don’t see him getting banned, unless they did something stupid like put him in M12, in which case he’ll get the hammer. Stoneforge I think is in the same boat. The next banning occurs too soon before rotation to make a huge difference. Should one or both of these cards have been banned last B&R announcement? Probably. Will they be next time? I doubt it.

  20. Another thing is they ONLY banned a card if it was a COMBO piece that led to un-interactive fast wins that caused the player base to drop. MTG is played on such a scale now that this isn’t any where close to happening and Jace is not a fast combo piece. Hes mostly a draw engine like FoF.

  21. @Chromatone: What are you talking about? Cawblade is actually FAVORED against both Boros and Vampires (Mortarpod makes a big difference). They certainly do not beat it easily, as you claim. Take a look at Spaniel’s metagame reports if you don’t believe me (he gives the win percentages), and keep in mind that Caw is the harder deck to play, so if the MTGO playerbase isn’t up to your standards, the matchups between good players should be even better for Caw.

  22. GRF: You are actually correct. The true Black Summer was pre-combo winter. Necro was so damn good though, there was essentially a 2nd Black Summer where Free Spell Necro and NecroTrix ruled the roost.

  23. It’s not about how good a card is, it’s about how the format is warped around said card. Standard is completely warped around Jace, TMS. Even in the heyday of Jund, 5cc and Fae, there was never 32 of a card in the top 8 at a GP or PT. The saturation level of Jace is stifling creativity pretty hard, and competitiveness is dipping.

  24. nice article josh. i remember when i was playing much more casually, playing against the two guys who actually had ravager-affinity at every fnm, and they won every fnm. this is why i don’t play standard currently – i’m not willing to shell out the money to play cawblade, so what’s the point?

  25. Black Summer was before Combo Winter by a few years. It was in the summer of ’96, and everyone was playing Necropotence.

    I do not believe that Jace should be banned. As Chromatone said, Caw Blade sides out Jaces in aggro matchups because he is not sufficiently reliable against those decks, usually only being a partial fog. In a control mirror it should not be surprising that it dominates the field once resolved, just like any card advantage engine would.

  26. If there are Standard bannings they should ban both Primeval Titan, Jace and Stoneforge at the same time.

    Only then the meta will change.

  27. @count

    I wouldn’t mind seeing that to be honest, but I really just don’t think there are going to be bans on anything this close to the rotation.

  28. @Koen: I believe Oath was sided out against creatureless decks (which were a significant part of the meta). That doesn’t mean it wasn’t rigged.

  29. If they ban Jace, Valakut or Stoneforge will just take over. Innistrad comes out on September 30 so the format will fix itself in 5 months anyway.

  30. Yes, while Jace is insanely good the biggest problem here is that wizards left us without any good planeswalker removal cards in the current standard environment.

  31. Problem with jace is the marketing strategy that wizards have taken, planeswalker is their money-baby. They have tons and tons of merchandise, games and what not based on planeswalker, and mostly Jace. Jace is clearly ment to be the baddest mofo out there, as he stands for everything powerfull in magic (blue), and “brainstorm”, “fateseal” and “unsommen” are some of the most known magic effects.
    Planeswalkers have become the new hype, everytime a new set comes out, its the planeswalkers that are hyped. I simply dont think they will ban any or restrict any planeswalkers, since they have been such a risk for wizards, implementing a new card type etc.

    That said, i hope they learned from their mistake and never makes 100 dollar cards again.

  32. By the way, I left this out of the article, but there used to be a redemption policy for banned cards. Send one back, get a pack from that set. =)

  33. Why are people wondering ‘if’ Wizards is going to ban Jace? It’s quite obvious from their articles and, well, the stark realities that they’re not.

    In the GPs everyone’s so hurt about UW/UB/RUG had what, 30-40% of the metagame? You know why? Because Jace is so frickin expensive. Jace would be in 80% of the decks if people could get them at $20. So in a way the cost of Jace is actually counting against a ban. Wizards can also just point at the records and say Boros/Vamps/valakut has X% of the metagame so it’s obviously heatlhy.

    True, Jace is hard to play optimally but his power level is so absurd compared to pretty much everything else you’re far ahead just by playing him. Also, in this format we have no maelstrom pulse, blightning, bloodbraid elf or oblivion ring — all cards that were played heavily and easily 1-for-1 (or better) Jace. Hex Parasite, Surgical Extraction and Despise are just not going to cut it, I’m sorry to say.

    Of course we can always get to the meat of the matter – mythics. There is just no way Wizards are going to ban a Mythic, especially from Standard. The past few years Wizards has been pushing Mythics hard, and they’re not going to stab a cash cow. They slaughtered Extended and now anyone who wants to play competitively practically has to play Legacy or Standard. Attendance records are also soaring they can again go “hey, people like it, what can we do?”

    Last but definitely not least is the schedule. If Wizards wanted to ban Jace they’d have to do it as an emergency ban RIGHT NOW, which would amount to them admitting they made a huge mistake and no one’d still be happy. The bansayers would whine about why this wasn’t done before and everyone with Jaces would be furious. And guess what, the people who have Jaces are playing in tournaments, so the haves have it. Even if Jace gets banned on June/July, that’s what three months tops? No way they’ll just break everything for a few months’ value to appease some naysayers. At that point the metagame will be open anyway with NPH and M12 in the fray.

    Besides, Wizards already acknowledged they left Jace a bit too strong. You can also tell this by Surgical Extraction — a card that’s basically designed to castrate Vengevine/Fauna Shaman decks and hint at things to come in Innistrad. That’s all she wrote, boys ‘n’ …other boys. Jace is here to stay until September.

  34. I also apologize for going off on a tangent there. The article was great and shed a lot of light on the history of bannings. Maybe do a follow-up piece about cards that should’ve been banned but weren’t?

  35. This is stupid. Jace already existed last year and it wasn’t as dominant as it is this year. Open your eyes ppl. The problem is not Jace. The problem is Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk. Ban both.

  36. Josh, indeed you wrote a good article about the history of banned cards.

    Still at the end of the day, who really loses to Jace every match? The real issue now is Cawblade is a massive card advantage and tempo generator in Standard, which it does exceptionally well consistently. It’s probably rare that such a deck is not of any linear strategy decks like Faeries or Jund during their standard era. And RUG decks, being another Jace deck, is only seeing success due to it having the best chances against cawblade among other decks in the format, not because it just has Jace.

    Jace is merely a scapegoat for people to vent their frustrations, really. There are matches where you can play cawblade without landing a Jace all game and still win straight from there, which you probably should know better than anyone else. Cawblade is THE DECK, just accept it and stop pushing blame to Jace.

  37. I strongly agree with Count, I thought of the same bannings, plus maybe Vengevine, avoiding Fauna-decks popping everywhere. Valakut is not the problem, Primeval is the problem, because Valakut decks existed before the Titan but they were “normal” decks. Jace *is* a problem, before Caw-blade, decks dominating PTs and Worlds were already Jace-decks (UB, UW, RUG) but no news here, the amount of card advantage Jace creates is unfair: it’s true that he doesn’t provide a turn 3-4-5 win, but when he comes into play, if you have not a prompt way to remove him, then you can clearly feel the sensation of inevitability.

  38. @ Grimtotem. You are right, its Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk’s fault! that is why Boros decks are T8 all over the globe!..oh, wait.. it is not…. /Sarcasm.

    Please think before you post. jace2 is the enabler, whatever means are irrelevant. be it Hawks with swords or titans that swing. Jace enables them.

  39. Sure Jace is the best card in standard, but I don’t think he’s really the problem. Without Jace I’m not even sure control could compete, and far too many people love playing control. With that said, Stoneforge + Swords + Squadron Hawks + (and Gideon even) is far too powerful, and that is what Jace allows you to draw into consistently nearly every game in Caw-Blade. Banning Hawks and Stoneforge is necessary to take out what has become the dominant deck in standard though…at least if nothing in NPH completely changes the very boring meta.

    Another thing Wizards could do, although I don’t think they ever would, is to simply ban Jace’s
    Brainstorming ability, as it is the only thing that really makes Jace broken in Caw-Go decks.

  40. First, I hope they reprint Jace, so people can finally have him at a discount and play with him and realize they were losing for other reasons, not because someone else had an expensive card. It will be just like when they reprinted Baneslayer, all of the sudden people play strategies that beat baneslayers and the card is mediocre.

    Jace isn’t degenerate, he doesn’t get cheated into play on turn 1 or 2, and he doesn’t just win you the game. When you are behind, sometimes he’s just a 4 mana brainstorm or unsummon that gains you a few life. UB and UW control didn’t dominate with him last season, Valakut did. Jace is just the best control strategy, and control is currently the best strategy, much like ramp was the best previous strategy when Primeval Titan and Valakut were king. Banning these cards makes the format less interesting, if you want to play with fewer cards and lower power levels, play block constructed.

    Also Dark Ritual is still as broken as it every was, and even without turn 1 hypnotic specters, he would absolutely break standard. If you can’t figure out how broken that card is, give up writing or playing magic. Here are just a few cards that come out too quickly with just one ritual.

    Grave Titan (also every Titan)
    Liliana Vess
    Bloodhusk Ritualist
    Dark Tutelage (would be the most played card in standard after dark ritual)
    Phyrexian Crusader

    No thanks, I’d rather not lose to a turn 1 tutelage/crusader or turn 2 grave titan. How about t1 Birds into T2 Cobra, fetch, Dark Ritual – Jace, Brainstorm with 1 black mana on the stack.

  41. Nice article as always Josh. I`d like to stress out what another friend said that unlike past times when people were leaving magic cause of the speed of combo decks, nowadays people are coming into the game so Wizards don`t have to ban anything right now and they won`t.
    From their point of view as long as you pay to play, complain and whine as much as you want.

  42. Yeah turn 4 Titan off a Ritual is a scary prospect, it isn’t like we have those already or anything. Or real discard on turn 4. Oh boy, trading 2 cards for 3, that’s just brutal. A turn one Phyrexian Crusader, how would I ever cope with a turn one creature that doesn’t actually do anything to my resources. OH NO.

    Dark Tutelage would certainly be the best of your examples, but even that puts notable restraints on what your deck can do due to the lifeloss. If anything that would be kind of nice to break up the monotony of control ruling. Then aggro decks could come back.

    If you think any of those plays are really broken, you’re the one who needs give up magic bro. :/ Turn one Ritual powering out Hymn’s or Necro was brutal. Dark Ritual powering out five-drops isn’t exactly a big deal. Lotus Cobra already does that and doesn’t cost you a card or lock you into heavy black. The best example you had was a sweet magical pony land scenario involving three colors and presumably a horrible deck.

  43. lol, Moo, you are clueless, you don’t power out Hymn to Tourach, that’s not why that card was broken. You also don’t need to power out Necro, another card that is broken even when it comes out turn 5. Ritual most certainly was not the card that broke the necro deck.

    Also, yeah, who would run Jace in a 3 color deck, that would be terrible . . .oh wait, that already happens, it’s one of the best decks in standard. It turns out trading a card for basically 2 mana is broken, it’s why lotus petal was broken and banned (1 mana), and why mox are almost always broken. Fast mana is broken, sorry you haven’t figured that out yet, have fun with surgical extraction, I’m sure it will be awesome in your new deck.

  44. I think that the real issue is stoneforge mystic. Jace is broadly (and arguably) the most powerful card in standard, and can win games in its own right, but I’d argue that it’s not as format warping as the mystic. Jace wins games, smooths draws in the mid-game, and can allow you to take over a game. But, truly, check out recent tournament reports and tell me the win percentage of people who successfully play a turn 2 stoneforge mystic and the opponent does not (or, even if he does — he’s 1/2 a turn late, in effect).

    It’s a tutor and cheat into play card. It’s not just amazing in Standard, it allows beats-type decks in Legacy to do some amazing things (Bant, mono-white, WB, etc).

    Without stoneforge, would people play 1 or maybe even just 2 Sword of Feast of Famine, or would they have to devote more spaces to the equipment in the hope of drawing it? The new mythic equipment makes stoneforge completely bonkers — flashing into play a 4/4 with lifelink on turn 3 that cannot be countered. That’s completely fair. As a result, cawblade is control/aggro/mid-game because it can do everything.

    When the best play that anybody with B can make against stoneforge is to use Duress/Inquisition of Kozilek after they use the tutor ability, that sums it up. Except, now, with batterskull, only Duress hits the mark because it’s 5cmc.

    Running Torpor Orb is a joke, for now at least. Maybe it’ll be better when Innistrad is released, but it’s a crapshoot. On the draw, it’s worthless. On the play, it’s worthless unless you can ram it onto the table — without it being spell-pierced — on turn 2. And that’s supposed to be the answer to squadron hawks and stoneforge mystic?

  45. I can’t believe they didn’t print a strong answer to Jace (and all plainswalkers) when Oblivion ring, Pulse, Bloodbraid and Blighning rotated out. Just Reprinting O-ring or faiths fetters would have made the format so much more interesting.

  46. Re David88

    I agree, they should have reprinted Oblivion Ring and kept Pithing Needle in M11. The options for dealing with Planewalkers at present are pretty weak. That said the latest set looks to help though.

    That said, I think WOTC should look at printing bigger sets again so people have more options in terms of deck building and cutting back on Mythics that are tournament staples or get rid of the rarity althogether, it’s driving too much of a wedge in the community for my liking.

  47. Excellent, clear-headed article. Good to see an honest analysis of the situations and how people reacted to them in a way they might disown several years down the line (ala Necropotence having apologists at the time, etc).

  48. BA N M A G I C, AND ALL THE FAGGOTS THAT PLAY IT,
    AND BAN FAT PEOPLE , THEY ARE PIGS.

  49. After this article was print Jace fell 10 tix out of his price…
    I cant tell the reason why, but that really sucked…for people owning jaces (such as myself) it would mean I got ripped off 400$ I hope not only for Jace to NOT get banned but for better interactions so it gets even more expensive xD
    I disagree that Jace should be banned, yes its everywhere, but is Jace to blame? try to build better decks people!

  50. I think Sword of War and Peace is genuinely an anwer to Jace (admittedly it’ll be awesome in the CawBlade deck too) being able to walk past all their guys as soon as you manage to stick a creature for a turn. Kills Jace without even needing to attack it directly. For my money there are a lot of things in this set that go into a variety of decks that kill Jace.

    And also, I entirely agree with whoever it was who said it is the context of the cards available in standard that have broken Jace, not the card itself. When Jace came out heaps of pros were unable to make it good enough to beat Jund!

  51. Josh, nice articlr. But do you really think these banned cards wouldn’t be bannable in standard today? Lotus Cobra + Memory Jar / Windfall seems good, Windfall plus Pyro Ascension seems really strong, and Dark Ritual + Phyrexian Crusader, Nantuko Shade, Phyrexian Canceller etc. seems strong.

  52. I still believe that Jace is not the issue. Yes, it is the best card. Yes, it probably should not have been printed. However, it was held in check by Valakut and other strategies such as Vampires and Vengevines. The problem right now is that most of the decks that checked Jace-control cannot beat both that and a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic. The Mystic makes the deck insanely consistent. It demands a very limited range of very specific answers early on, which give you negative card advantage (or in the best case, even card advantage) and require you to expend the tools you would use to fight Jace.

    I’m opposed to all bannings, so don’t get me wrong about Mystic or Jace. The combination of the two is the insane part right now. Two-drop tutors are almost always over-powered in Standard and Mystic is a two-drop tutor that gives you +1 card as well. It’s easily splash-able and the tutor targets are very hard for current strategies to deal with. Tutors are pretty much unsafe. Especially ones that can’t be stopped when the wielder is on the play.

    Mentally remove Stoneforge Mystic from the equation: the equipment is still playable, but less busted. Caw-Go is still a deck, but is beatable–it was good, but not dominant. Valakut is a contender again. Yada yada. The format is back to normal. As it is, it’s very likely (although not guaranteed) that we’ll have a very, very static format all the way to rotation. Ban Jace? I bet you that Mystic decks still run the show. UW can play Beleren, Mirran Crusader, more answers/trumps, extra permission, blah blah blah.

  53. it wont be jace that gets the ban hammer. be prepared for your stoneforges to get it after the mythic turn 3 baneslayer equp comes out

  54. The problem isn’t Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Here we have a completely fair, even fragile card, that one almost literally has no choice but to play with if they choose to play blue. The lack of good card drawing dictates this. Yes, with Oblivion Ring gone, Planeswalkers are inherently harder to remove from play. However, if you really want to, you can kill a Planeswalker easily enough. In fact, I would argue it is easier in constructed to kill a Planeswalker than it is in limited.

    That said, ask yourself “what changed?” before Caw-Blade’s dominance? The printing of Sword of Feast & Famine. And what is the root cause of that? Stoneforge Mystic.

    Stoneforge Mystic is the problem. If this card didn’t exist, how consistent would getting hit with a Sword be? These decks – Boros included – would lose consistent access to the powerful equipment and suddenly be forced to play fair. Moreover, the release of even more powerful equipment (i.e. Batterskull & Sword of War and Peace) makes Stoneforge even MORE insane; one should not be able to “vial” in what is literally a Baneslayer Angel for only two mana. Now we’re actually able to cheat on mana on an unfair level (Stoneforge saves you three mana if you “vial” in Batterskull). It is the interactions with Stoneforge and equipment that push U/W over the top, not Jace.

  55. “Jace would be in 80% of the decks if people could get them at $20. So in a way the cost of Jace is actually counting against a ban.”

    I see that and think the exact opposite. If a card is causing standard to be uncompetitive and uninteresting, then it only turns players away from the game. I’m not going to drop $400 on a playset of ONE card ever. I currently own two, but because of Jace TMS I simply have no interest in standard. I’m a fairly casual MTG player – basically I draft on Fridays and play EDH maybe twice a month. I haven’t picked up a constructed deck in years because standard has not been a financially viable entertainment solution. Even though I could afford it, I’d rather just buy another game. Which is going to bring more fun? $100 for a Jace, or $100 for a copy of Dominion + 1 expansion + sleeves?

    Would banning Jace help? Beats me. Couldn’t hurt! However, I’m sure standard will just turn around and embrace some other $50 mythics (as has been the current MTG trend) that I just won’t buy – and would rather sell if I draft them.

  56. “be prepared for your stoneforges to get it after the mythic turn 3 baneslayer equp comes out”

    A 4/4 vigilance lifelink ground pounder is not a baneslayer.

  57. @Larraque: You’re correct; it’s not a baneslayer. And, if it comes in on turn 3, it would still take at least 2 more turns to be able to re-attach (to something like a Squadron Hawk) — and, the germ cannot block a creature with SOFAF equipped.

    Yet, even if you’re stuck on 3 mana — just send it back to your hand and flash back in with the Mystic. Most people who play Baneslayer play just one, so getting rid of it gets rid of the problem. With Batterskull, the threat remains that it can be re-flashed into play (after putting it in the hand for 3cmc), or just attached to another creature. In many match-ups in which one would want to side-in Baneslayer, Batterskull with just the germ does the trick — either in slowing down the opponent’s attack, or gaining back some life.

  58. Mirari’s Wake wasn’t banned when it dominated standard. Psychatog nor Upheaval weren’t banned after Wake rotated out and it became the standard deck everywhere. Bitterblossom wasn’t banned in standard when Fae ruled all. BBE wasn’t banned in standard when it was being shoehorned into everything it possibly could be, making the format one huge coin flip game after game. And in every one of those seasons people decried those cards just *had* to be banned.
    There is no reason Jace would get banned. Price has *never* been a factor for WotC in bannings. Attendance for current standard has only increased steadily for events, not decreased, negating the notion it’s an “unfun format that is driving players away”. Last standard season with Jund and BBE was “unfun”. This standard season is infinitely more skill intensive, albeit boring, with too many control vs. control matchups, than the cascade lottery that was not too long ago.

  59. Plain and simple its not jace. It’s not even squad hawk. It’s simply Stoneforge. The fact that you can play silver bullets of the caliber of swords and the up coming batterskull and cheat them into play is just nuts. Jace is by no means not an overly powerful card, but it’s not broken. The simple fact that it took until SoFF and the caw blade shell to “break” the card is a testament to how truly unbroken the card really is. Honestly take stoneforge out of cawblade abd replace with more equipment, then go ahead and tell me how broken jace is then. Or will he be just as annoying as last season? It’s sad that a player of your caliber (Josh S.) can’t actually see that? And as for some of the previous posts about stineforge not breaking other decks like Boros; um idk about your interactions with them, but they are pretty effin broken!! They just aren’t as resilient by nature because they eschew resilience for sheer power by limiting the amount of interactive cards for the power level of proactive cards; so in essence they win big and lose big, whereas cawblade levies it’s power for consistency and it’s ability to eek out alot if games in the back of solid play and out of the box thinking. Also Boros and the other non blue based stoneforge decks are just outnumbered and because of the sheer fact that they don’t run counterspells (not jace) don’t beat some of the busted decks like valukut and quest as often.
    I don’t know, IMHO it’s not got a thing to do with jace. I challange anyone (especially the pros on this site wink wink) to do a simple test: take out jace from cawblade and throw it against a gauntlet, then do the same but with stoneforge. Cone back with the results and then we can start taking necessary bannings. But who the Eff am I in the end.

  60. I also wonder whether Karn Unleashed should be pre-emptively banned. Not for the usual power/format warping sense, but for the same reason that Shaharazhad was banned: time. The Arabian Night sorcery caused players to start a sub-game, the results of which help to determine the other game.

    Consider, Karn costs 7 to play. The earliest most decks could play him is something like turn 4 or 5 (with Lotus Cobra). Two turns to +4, and then to go ultimate. Then it starts over. Effectively, it’s a way to waste/set-back, at minimum, 7 turns of play for something that will almost certainly require a few more turns to get going (shuffling, mulligans, etc). Realistically, it will set back more than those 7 turns. Ideally, a deck that is playing him is trying to take advantage of the ultimate ability (exiling large creatures from player’s hand) so that the new game is very short, but it still seems as though it would add considerable amount of time to a particular game.

    In most matches, when there’s something official that delays a match by even 3 minutes, judges take note. And, especially with the prevalence of Cawblade, there are a lot of matches that go to time already. I can’t see this doing anything other than exacerbating the current time issues in the Standard format.

  61. That sure was a trip down memory lane – recsur, padneburst, trix, counter sliver, oath,fun times!

  62. Regardless of one’s feelings about Jace being banned, some of the arguments posed in the public discussion invite closer examination. I have consistently read arguments that go something like “Jace has been around a while, but it wasn’t dominant until caw blade, so Mystics and Hawks and Swords/whatever are really the problem, and Jace isn’t really the best card in the deck, etc.” This may be true, but without Jace, caw blade moves in the direction of a white-weenie equipment deck with a few control elements.

    Imagine the following scenario: a deck with Mystic/equipment/hawks, Gideons/DOJ, and Preordains existed last year, and while good wasn’t totally dominant. Then Jace got released, and the deck started crushing. By the previous logic, it must be that Mystic isn’t great, and Jace is the real reason the deck is awesome. So which is it? Well, perhaps neither. To assess the importance of Jace in the deck, one could just play Jace-less caw blade a bunch and observe the impact on winning percentage. And so on. But it’s tricky. You could play the same game with Preordain. Or even land. What if Preordain was more important to winning % in the deck than Jace, according to this exercise? Well, nobody would care because Preordain isn’t super expensive. It also clearly depends on what you play in place of Jace or Preordain. Still, one could in principle start investigating all this.

    Anyways, looking at cards out of context (especially the context of other cards in the deck) is always tricky. The evaluation of card power level is clearly very contextual and fluid. I think Josh S. was trying to emphasize this point in the article. As such, pointing to a specific card in caw blade as “THE problem” is perhaps too simplistic. WOTC can’t, however, ban card combinations or whole decks for obvious reasons, so the only scalpel they’re left with is banning single cards. Still, the narrowness/crudeness of their available tools seems to consistently belie the complexity of the underlying issues. I appreciate articles such as this, which contribute to an awareness of the subtleties.

  63. Hey, Josh. You forgot Yawg Bargain in the list of WTF broken that got itself banned at least in extended.

    Urza’s Destiny release date.

    June 23rd 1999.

    Yawgmoth’s Bargain banned in extended announcement.

    July 16th 1999.

    “Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned in Extended because it creates too many first-turn wins.” from Crystal Keep. http://crystalkeep.com/magic/rules/dci/update-990716.txt

    Back then where was still a 1 month interval between when the set was released and when it was legal. I’d say getting yourself kicked out before you’re even show up for the party is worthy of note and that quote for their reasoning is classic (and true).

  64. Grand Inquisitor

    First of all, Josh, I sincerely appreciate articles like this. Just about anyone who is reasonably good at the game can write an article flaunting a new build or giving reasons for why deck A beats deck B, but articles by knowledgeable, talented players such as yourself regarding the history of the game is fantastic and gives remarkable insight into the “why” of the discussion, rather than the simple “because”.

    Despite being a reasonably serious player, I’ve only been involved in the game for a bit under two years, so articles such as this give me a great insight into the history of the game, which is something I’m always looking for.

    Also, for whatever my opinion is worth, as much as I don’t like Jace, I really don’t want to see him get banned for the simple fact that I think banning any cards is bad for the game and should only be used to correct truly degenerate situations that cause negative play experiences.

    While Jace is absolutely the most powerful thing you can do in either Standard or Extended, (and an amazingly powerful tool in Legacy and even Vintage) I think a great deal of the animosity generated towards Jace has to to with the exorbitant price tag attached to a playset of Jace the Mind Sculptor. How many people wanted to build UW, Mythic, RUG, or other decks had to stop themselves when they realized there was a $350-$400 hurdle to get over for a playset of 1 card.

    Wizards, of course, cannot get involved and say the secondary market is charging to much for a card and ban for that reason, but I think they need to address the cost of the game, because if every moderately competitive deck is going to cost nearly $1000, the number of players buying packs, boxes and singles is going to go down, which will lead to less players at tournaments, which hurts not just Wizards, but everyone from hobby store owners, to the people running websites (such as the amazing Channel Fireball) and everyone in between.

  65. Also, not that anyone actually reads commentary from these posts but the main problem I see with Caw-Blade at the moment is that if you can beat the dorks with swords strategy, they can just fall back on the Jace+Gideon or against some decks Jace looking in a mirror and saying, “Sorry, I can’t hear your whining over the sound of how awesome I am.” It wasn’t that long ago that UW Control was based entirely on that strat with the occasional win coming via Celestial Colonnade and maybe a random Frost Titan. The issue I have with Caw-Blade is that it has two dominant and wildly different win conditions that there are issues with trying to find answers to deal with both of them without stretching yourself so thin that your own strategy implodes. The result being that people try to go over the top (Eldrazi Green) or under the curve (Goblins) to beat them. Which really doesn’t work at large scale events where you will play against 6 Caw-Blade players, 3-4 of which are probably great players and the others at least really good. Much different from a small scale metagame where you might have to beat 3 Caw-Blade players and 1-2 of them might just outright suck. It’s not that Stoneforge and Squadron Hawk are broken. It’s that they are extremely powerful in context with the new equipment that has been coming out and that you can add the best card in the format without stretching yourself at all. Change the colors on a few cards and don’t let them all play on the same team and we’d have a much different format.

  66. Really enjoyable read Josh.

    I would be interested on your view of the extended banning of Disciple and Vial which if i remember right came in about a year after affinity was banned out of standard? I thought these where somewhat unnecessary at the time at totally unneeded by the time extended had decks like elfball and thopter depths.

    Personally I wish they would ban Jace in standard (although I think its very unlikely they will) as the price is high enough to prevent me from playing paper constructed formats at the moment. In the past I have been a fairly serious player who puts allot of time and money into the hobby but can not justify $400 just for one play set of a card.

  67. @Grand Inquisitor I think you’re off about how high priced mythics affect sales. People want to get in on ground level with the next Jace during preorders, but usually they end up getting in on the ground level with the next Koth. Golden tickets don’t discourage pack crackers, either. I’d hazard a guess that presales of other cards (and, consequently, sealed product opened) thanks to the ripples Jace has set off.

    To top it off, Jace is basically the ceiling on what a card in the standard rotation can reach for price. Only opened for 3 months in draft in 1/3 of the packs. Sees play in all formats, including 4-of play in standard in multiple decks. Casual appeal. Blue. With the exception of Jace, decks aren’t even that expensive.

  68. @Jon:

    Thanks for catching that. I actually had completely forgotten that was a thing after all these years. All I remembered was Bargain in Standard, now I know why! aha.

    @others
    As for old broken cards being good again, sure, some of them would be, but I’m also fairly sure some of them wouldn’t be or would only make a viable combo deck. Getting value out of Windfall with an active Lotus Cobra or using them in Pyro Ascension + cheap spells isn’t exactly the most absurd thing in the world. Same with Dark Ritual powering out cards. That was legal the whole way through Urza’s and in Masques and the only time it felt really OP was in Sabre Bargain. Losing a card to accelerate things that aren’t draw-7’s doesn’t scare me that much anymore, but then again I’ve played in a lot of formats where broken everything was the norm.

    Could be wrong, but that’s why it’s a neat little theoretical there. If you really want a banned card that wouldn’t be broken here, try Fluctuator or LED.

  69. Someone mentioned hoping that Wizards doesn’t make the mistake of making another $100 card. I think there is a risk of that.

    Jace happened in part because he was printed in a set with few other reasons to crack packs. There were a few other good mythics and some sweet rares, but nothing else on the “buy Worldwake because you might open this” level. Compare that to say M11 with the Titans or MBS with Tezz and Sword of F&F and several solid potential gainers like Thrun and the Heroes- and even these sets lean towards a single $50 superstar trailed by several $15-30 runner-ups. Even Stoneforge could hit $30 in this set, because it was sold out from people opening it to horde Jaces and the Stoneforges held by people who knew it would eventually go up at least a bit in value.

    Worldwake’s design team was lead by Ken Nagle. I think he’s a good designer overall, but his new set as lead designer, New Phyrexia, shows a similar oversight. All but 2-3 of the mythics are limited/EDH jank that you never would want to open from a Constructed perspective. This means that the good mythics, Batterskull and Sword of War and Peace, are going to be disproportionately valuable, since almost no one will buy boxes for potential crack value and none of the other mythics will balance out the return on investment for doing so.

    So there will be low supply on the secondary market for those two mythics, and they will make up most of the demand generated by the set. The saving grace of this is actually Stoneforge Mystic, since she means that those same cards will usually be 1-ofs, tapering down the demand significantly.

    Nevertheless, Nagle having made the same design mistake twice when it comes to distributing the constructed power level of mythics in his set means that he may well make the same mistake again before he learns, especially given his obvious love of including sweet EDH mythics in his sets.

    tl;dr: the design of WWK and NPH by a particular designer shows that disproportionately powerful mythic may once again emerge in a set saturated with constructed-unplayable mythics and be inflated in price due to a lack of other reasons to purchase packs of that set from a financial perspective.

  70. (as a post-script, I should clarify that if anything, Worldwake was a strong set overall for constructed and New Phyrexia has high potential as well. However, the effect of mythics on the financial value of cards in a set means that the power-distribution among mythics is far more important than the overall constructed playability of the set as a whole when it comes to motivating people to crack open packs).

  71. I’d like to remind everyone that the reason the metagame looks the way it does is Sword of Feast and Famine.

    If Caw-Blade could “only” fetch SoBaM, it would be good but it wouldn’t be completely insane. The ability for the control deck to untap its mana and play proactive/defensive simultaneously is what’s breaking the format.

    Jace is getting looked at because it’s a $100 card therefore it must be the broken one, right, RIGHT? (Answer: no it’s 100 because it was in Worldwake a short print run set that was not heavily drafted and sees play in multiple formats as well as being beloved by casual players as a symbol of the game in general… as well as being very strong in a vaccum)

    None of the cards in the meta are broken, but by being together at once Jace, Stoneforge, Squadron Hawk and SoFaF have made a semi-broken deck.

  72. Jace certainly isn’t problematic in the way Bargain was, or Tinker was; he isn’t a combo piece which enables instant wins. However, he’s certainly problematic in the way Necropotence was – a card advantage engine which is simply far too powerful. Necropotence has sometimes been considered too good, sometimes just fine (it was, after all, reprinted in a core set!), and I think the reason that Necropotence was generally tolerated was because it never had a secondary market value of $80+.

    If Necropotence deserved a ban at times, I can certainly see Jace deserving a ban in certain contexts. The present meta, where Valakut obliterates any deck that might give Jace trouble, is a context in which banning Jace is arguable. So there’s that. There’s also the problem of having to shell out $320 to buy 1/15th of any deck that runs Islands, but there isn’t an analogous precedent for that: Wizards hasn’t banned any cards for simply being too expensive (although the Vintage/Legacy distinction speaks somewhat to that purpose). Moreover, for every handful of players who’re irritated by Jace’s warping of the metagame, there’s a guy who already has his four Jaces, doesn’t want to lose the value they’ve accrued, probably thinks he knows better because he wins all of his local FNMs (because he’s one of the few guys with Jaces, no doubt), and argues to Wizards that we’re just a bunch of haters and pussies who should pick up playsets on ebay and quit whining.

    I think the most instructive example is the previous season of Extended, where Jace’d-up Faeries decks were in the lead – but not indomitably so. In Extended there were a number of effective ways to blast away Jace; Bloodbraid into Oblivion Ring or Blightning or Pulse certainly did the trick. Bitterblossom Faeries themselves could often keep the board state too hostile for a Jace to take hold.

    Cawblade is presently a lot like earlier iterations of Extended Faeries, with a bit of swingy end-game (Gideon subbing in for Cryptic, basically), a hell of a mid-game engine (JTMS), and a consistent early attack plan (Stoneforge is Bitterblossom; Hawks are Lower-Powered-Bitterblossoms That You Run Anyway Because Now You Have Eight Bitterblossoms Except You’ll Never Topdeck A Hawk After The First One). Valakut is quite similar to Extended Valakut, as at the time people hadn’t quite made the jump to the Prismatic Omen variant. Boros and Vamps are effectively the analogues to Extended Boros and Extended RDW. So what’s missing? Why is Standard so broken, while that season of Extended was fairly well tolerated?

    Unpleasantly, I think the answer is Bloodbraid Elf: BBE decks (Jund, Naya) in that format happily preyed upon Jaces, to the extent that JTMS would often get boarded out. Standard presently has no other card in the 3-5 range which reasonably answers Jace, aside from maybe Tezzeret – but I don’t think anyone wants the answer to the $80 Jace problem to be $80 Tezzerets. Moreover, it’s not hard to construct a Tezzeret deck which wants Jaces too; the thing about BBE is that he doesn’t offer a lot of synergy with the Mindsculptor, since you rarely want to cascade into your counterspells. I’ve combed through the NPH leaks and don’t see anything Bloodbraid-like in there. Accordingly, unless there’s a Bloodbraid-analogue in M12 (and let’s hope there’s not!) Jace will continue to be the uncontested champion of Standard until Innistrad. Wizards, summon your banhammer.

  73. The problem with comparing Necro to Jace is that Necro as a draw engine was broken (like most draw engines,other than Skullclamp) because it drew your combo so you could win the game. A draw engine helping power a control deck isn’t quite as threatening. If there is a case for banning Jace, it’s that he’s more than a draw engine.

    Even though Silvestri is up for a Jace ban, it’s kind of sad that his well-thought-out article leads to so much reflexive attention to the $100 card.

    Oddly enough, Caw-Blade isn’t even necessarily the most played deck at the tournaments it clogs the top-8 of. That’s still Valakut. Which Caw-Blade dominates, but only with the addition of Sword of Feast and Famine. So you can’t run a deck that beats Caw because the Valakut masses will devour you, but they are eaten alive by Caw-Blade.

    It’s impossible, in my opinion, to make a sound case that Caw-Blade is broken when it gets it’s top 8 slots by beating a deck that dominates more of the format numerically. And banning a card that is not even the key to it’s significance because of it’s price tag is just irrational.

    Although the 4 Jace crowd should be dumping Jace soon if money is the factor,since he has peaked. And a ban would drop his value, but not so much that they’d lose their whole investment. Even taken out of standard, he’s easily a $50-70 card.

  74. As an addendum, if Jace’s price were the real problem, the solution would be a rushed printing of Duel Decks: JTMS vs Gideon.

  75. I keep reading posts saying that stoneforge should be banned and not jace. But a set of stoneforges are NOT in every top 8 deck in major tournaments. Mtg should be about options. Being forced to play blue to be competitive negates that. People keep going on about how skill-intensive it is to play jace. Skill is an important in a jace war, but sorry, its not that important when your opponent isnt playing jace. Digging for the day of judgment or gideon using jace when u r facing boros or vamps isnt all that skill intensive. BAN JACE THE MINDSCULPTOR!

  76. There’s no wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy they’re banning Jace. It’s silly to even debate it, because it just won’t happen. He is M:TG’s poster child. He is the FACE of magic. Of course they made him insanely good. It’s called marketing. Banning Jace right now would be like banning the queen in chess. He is iconic, and there to sell cards. He’s been in standard for over a year, and we’re just now talking about possibly banning him? Is this really an issue? Please.

  77. @hodge: Necropotence was degenerate before people figured out how synergistic it is with Trix. Before it was digging for Donates, it was still digging for Drain Life and Disk, and was still über-broken when deployed in such a manner.

  78. Melbourne_junkie

    Why is the conversation centering around Jace, and almost never around Stoneforge Mystic.

    More science involved ppl, look to the results.

  79. Just finished a DE and I lost to Jace again. Stoneforge was never the problem. Once Jace was on the table and it didnt die in 1 turn the game was over. Fatesealing Valakut is basically GG.

  80. @Josh S.:
    Thanks for pointing out that my memory wasn’t failing me after all.

    Also, regarding the “banned cards for packs” deal; I remember that being applicable for Memory Jar (and maybe the other cards banned around that time), but when did that policy originate and how long did it last?

  81. All of this debate is irelevant. WotC does not care what its players say enough to ban what actually needs banning aslong as they are not loseing money. So nothing but half assed attempts will come of this because cards like jace tms are to much of a cash cow for them. Give it up people.

  82. @Tinker

    Jace TMS is costing WotC money. It’s warping the format and dominating tournaments. And, they’re no longer printing Worldwake. No new Worldwake packs means that WotC is no longer profiting from Jace, TMS. They’re not part of the secondary market.

  83. My personal dislike for Jace TMS has more to do with how BORING he makes the game. Jace + current board control = 6 or 7 turns where you “might” draw an out that doesn’t exist in the format and will likely just get countered anyways is far less desirable to me than Jar three times and cast Megrim. At least the pain is over quicker. “Jace mirrors are like skill intensive man.” Sure they are bro. So is Curling. Or at least that’s what the people that call that a sport say. Doesn’t mean I believe them.

  84. Here’s the thing, for everyone attesting to Jace 2.0 not being broken, I hate to say it, but they’re Jace fanboys, and here’s why:

    4 ability PW that costs just 4 mana, and is potentially outside of bolt and even a metalcrafted galvanic blast right off the bat.

    his versatility is what makes him overpowered. consistent means of bouncing creatures that are a major threat to his life for a minimal cost, FREE brainstorms, screwing over your opponent’s draws, and a “I outright win the game” button with his ultimate.

    if you’re running blue in standard and you’re not running Jace 2.0, your deck is terrible. RUG came about because it was comprised of some of the most powerful cards in the format. Even then it only splashed blue for Jace 2.0 and mana leak.

    6 out of the top 8 in one of the recent events was U/B control, all with Jace. now 7 out of 8 were U/W cawblade… all of which are using Jace.

    the fact of the matter is that without jace, those decks wouldn’t have anywhere near the prevalence they have now. Jace is simply that powerful. He comes out, if you can’t kill him within 2 turns, odds are you’re losing, he’s having that much of an impact on the format. Simply by having decks like RUG throw him in because of power level and every deck running blue that’s worth a damn having him in it shows how broken he is. He is warping the format.

    consider this, faeries in extended are running him despite slowing their own decks down, just to be able to play Jace 2.0 on turn 4… because they can… when that’s usually the turn you lock down your opponent for the rest of the game…

    just want to note that it’s kind of ironic that for the longest time, blue had a 3 and a 4 drop PW while red had a 5 and a 6 drop before koth…

  85. @crimsonwings – none of jace’s abilities are “free.” They involve the initial cost of Jace which is 2UU. If Jace dies right away, his brainstorm cost 4 mana or his unsummon costs 4 mana or his fateseal cost 4 mana.

    Jace dies against many things and he is always sided out against aggro. Yes, he does one too many things but that doesn’t make him broken, just ridiculously good, probably the best blue card ever to not be banned.

    As for warping the format, the best card ALWAYS warps the format. Out of all the format-warping cards in recent memory such as Umezawa’s Jitte, Bitterblossom, and Bloodbraid elf; I prefer the format that has Jace. You can put Jace in a ton of different shells and Jace is at heart a support player (the best support player ever mind you).

    ***********************************

    As for Jace costing wizards money, attendance at recent events have been stellar and the new sets have been selling well. They’ll just make more money by printing more mythics/rares that deal with Jace (have you read the spoiler for NPH).

    There is no monetary incentive to ban Jace. Just play kuldotha red if you don’t want to spend money. You won’t win consistently but you’ll win an FNM once a month against mediocre competition, all for pennies really.

    I happen to agree with you that Jace does one too many things. I’m just not sure that’s ban-worthy.

    Yes, if you don’t deal with him you are likely going to lose. However, you have quite a few turns to deal with Jace before he “kills you.” If Primeval Titan resolves in Valakuut Ramp or an Avenger of Zendikar resolves, you have to deal with it right away or you are basically dead.

    Jace is not getting banned. You don’t win because of Jace in any of the decks that play him (in this format, a Jace ultimate never goes off unless you are playing against valakuut)

  86. @Diogenes – I’m well aware that his abilities aren’t “free” per-say, but it’s a 4 mana brainstorm/unsummon/fateseal initially, and then the free brainstorm comes from his 0 cost ability (honestly retarded)

    against aggro, sure, but something as simple as a pyroclasm kills aggro, or even DoJ or black sun’s. (yes I have a copy of the godbook, and theres even that new white card that gives -1/-1 to attacking creatures for the turn) point being that there’s always an answer for aggro.

    pending the new black discard PW card from NPH, there’s not a whole lot of things that’ll kill jace. it’s either play one of your own, hit it with something that the player didn’t counter, or burn it for huge that also isn’t countered.

    for his mana cost he is ridiculous, that’s why he’s about $100. he’s broken, plain and simple. if he costed 5 or even 6 like he should have (4 abilities, variety, versatility, etc.) then he wouldn’t be nearly as used. my problem with his, aside from the severe undercosting of the card and versatility, is that he’s an auto include in anything running blue.

    take Nissa for example. same cmc of 4. only 3 abilities. dies to a lightning bolt even with a + out the gate. can only be used in elf decks. one ability requires you to run at least 1 of a specific common, and the ultimate takes 5 turns after she comes out, without being hit to pop. thus extremely limited in her application. Jace has none of these limits, and is in every way a better PW.

    you know the card is busted when it’s $100, is an auto include in its color, is crammed into decks because of how good it is (see RUG), is in all the decks that are dominating the format, and even makes it’s way into decks that don’t need it (faeries), but put in 4 of them “because they can.” nevermind the fact that he’s being considered for banning… I don’t know about you or the others on this topic, but meeting all of those requirements makes the card broken.

  87. He was nearly $100 when Oblivion Ring and Maelstrom Pulse + Bloodbraid were around and he wasn’t nearly as dominant. Because part of his value is that he’s usable in multiple formats.

    Most of your reasons have very little to do with the actual meta or his history across several metas. It’s just a list of strengths (and in your case, a comparison to a card which is considered a joke anyhow). Caw-Blade isn’t any better against agro than any other control deck, and if it were Caw vs Agro, the meta would be a lot healthier. For about the millionth time, Valakut weeds out the agro and is far more popular than Jace decks, then the Jace decks clean up Valakut and take the top spots.

  88. His cost is not an strictly an indication of brokeness. It is also an indication of supply and demand and jace has very low supply because of the small wwk print run and high demand because of his usage in several formats.

    Jace is used in a lot of different decks because he is the best card advantage engine ever generating a brainstorm per turn if you don’t deal with him. However, jace only technically nets you a card if you brainstorm twice (i know digging and putting back your worse cards is also virtual card advantage). If he does that then he is extremely vulnerable. If he fateseals he generates no cards and dies anyways and you tempoed yourself. If he unsummons then generally he is going to die and is just buying you time.

    I’ve played the format a lot and jace does not feel like the most broken card to me. I win against resolved jaces all the time. He certainly is powerful but if they didn’t ban umezawa’s jitte, bitterblossom, or bloodbraid elf; then they certainly aren’t going to ban jace.

    Most of this talk seems to really stem from his prohibitive cost. Blame wizards for putting the best card in standard in a set that was barely drafted and opened. If he were in zendikar he’d likely be 60 bucks. He’s also an asset so its not like you burn the money. You can recoup part ofthe value of the card even when he rotates and goes down to 50. Peoole are going to histrionics over jace when the most warping cards in the format right now are really valakuut and stoneforge.

  89. @crimson 1)he,s an autoinclude in anything running blue the same way compulsive research was. That is to say he’s mainly included in most Blue decks because he’s the best card draw in the format and his other ablities are generally not as relevant for most decks.

    2). Tons of things deal with jace too … Bolt, creaturew, baby jace. Your argument about things dealing with aggro applies to jace as well.

    3) comparing one of the worse planeswalkers to the best one is a little silly. Jace is indeed way better than most cards and most mythics. Koth is way better than nissa too in all the same ways jace is in your comparison, can’t be bolted and really fits almost every red deck. Jace also takes 5 turns to ultimate by the way

  90. 3) … Sorry 6 turns to ultimate and his +2 is his worst ability.

    Also he’s not crammed into rug. Rug has powerful interactions that involve jace. Faeries play him because he’s the best card draw in the game and everyone loves card advantage.

  91. Re-reading this, after seeing the comment about Skullclamp (something along the lines of every deck that decided to hate out Skullclamp noticed that it was better if it had Skullclamp in it), I think that the first warning signs should have been when some Jund and Naya lists started splashing Jace near the end of Alara Standard. The card was good enough to justify going 4 colours to splash a double colour card. The only reason that he wasn’t as played then as he is now is because people did not fully realize how completely awesome he was (remember when people were saying that having 3 in your deck was too many?)

  92. I should probably add that it doesn’t matter how well Jund with Jace performed, the fact that people were willing to warp and already fragile manabase for 1 card is telling enough

  93. Of course, in a vaccum, Jace isn’t as bad. just like how bitterblossom isn’t that bad when just looking at it. When you apply everything available that can help these cards is when they become broken.

    Jace is never alone, he always has the back up of counters, and more often than not some kind of spot or mass removal. so sure, bouncing a creature isn’t that powerful, but when you can just counter the creature or stall till you get a kill spell, it’s relevant.

    when you can immensely increase your odds of royally screwing someone over with a fateseal to prevent them from going over a low land count or insure that they only get land flooded, it matters.

    controlling your card advantage with a restricted spell on a stick for as long as you can keep Jace alive, it matters.

    and if he ever pops, you are guaranteed the win (just by virtue of getting his loyalty that high means their board presence is next to nothing or not a problem at all)

    I’m convinced that Jace 2.0 is was a massive oversight on Wizards part. sure they want to sell their product, and busted, broken cards like this one help achieve that goal. but when you consider that they are reluctant to ban cards in lieu of pushing others to the foreground, they must not have considered that it would warp the format enough to be in 6 of the top 8 at PT paris and 7 of the top 8 in the most recent event. He was an experiment gone wrong and they justified it by making jace the posterboy of magic.

    you can say that everyone is always sick of the hottest deck in a format (such as everyone being happy that jund was no longer an issue) but do people REALLY want jace 2.0 to be reprinted and have to go another year with blue being the go to for an easy, albeit expensive, way into the format? I certainly think not. Creativity and innovation only goes so far when there’s a huge gap in the cost of cards to play competitive magic; I know some that don’t even want to play against well built decks because it means that they’re at a significant disadvantage off the bat.

    Everyone I know is sick of him and how often he shows up, and I play on a college campus with a large play group. when he leaves, the power of blue lessens considerably to put it within range with the other colors… though black is looking to be pretty ridiculous with NPH

  94. I don’t think anyone actually wants Jace 2.0 reprinted. Plenty of people think the problems in standard aren’t best addressed by a ban, but I think most people are happy with him rotating out in October. Jace 1.0 is actually a pretty good card and fills the blue coreset Planeswalker role well enough for now.

    Skullclamp is probably the most apt parallel in a case for a ban. It filled a similar role, though it was easier to splash in.

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