After a recent Standard Grand Prix in Dallas featured the full 32 Jace, The Mind Sculptor in its top eight, discussion around the internet has tended towards whether or not the card deserves a banning in standard, so much so, that even Mark Rosewater has begun to consider it according to his Twitter account. As you can guess, this is a pretty big point of contention.
Obviously, it’s only one event, but it does reflect a trend from the past year or so, where Jace, The Mind Sculptor is the dominant card in the format with decks either running their own copies, or desperately trying to play around them with things like Vampire Hexmage. As you can imagine, this is generating a lot of concern, since the last time a single card was considered this dominant was Skullclamp, one of the famously broken creations of Wizards. After about a month of every top eight deck needing to run four Skullclamp, the card was struck from the format, deemed too powerful and format warping. A lot of people are likening the situation with Jace, to Skullclamp, each defined the format they were in, and each one swamped the top tables in numbers. However there are people on both sides of the ban-hammer with a strong case.
Financially, Jace has crippled standard, a £75 card being the most important and most run card in the format is clearly cause for concern. People who do not own or cannot afford them are unable to compete fully, and would happily see it removed from the format. However those who have spent their £300 on a playset would feel somewhat cheated to waste their investment, not to mention the Traders losing out on potentially thousands of pounds; not good for business at all. Whereas Skullclamp was a relatively cheap card, Jace is a different animal and has different economic factors; essentially able to destroy the value of a player’s collection with a simple banning.
In terms of what would happen, a lot of people would argue that without Jace, decks can run free and there would be a wealth of new decks and variety, however the issue here, is something we saw earlier in the format, Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle. This deck using it’s Primeval Titans was able to effectively banish a lot of decks from existing, a lot of players were pleased when the Jace based decks managed to supress Valakut, with the banning of Jace, it might go back to that previous form of stifled metagame, replacing one problem with another.
So what can we do in the mean time? Valakut is still a fine deck, however with RUG control and Caw-Blade being the decks to beat, its match ups over a tournament are falling in success. Sure, there are decks without Jace: Boros, Naya, Vampires, etc. But as unfortunate as it is, by playing one of these you are limiting your ability to compete, since the unpleasant truth is that Jace, The Mind Sculptor really is that good, and for those without them, crossing your fingers till New Phyrexia arrives is one of the best options you have.
As we all know, New Phyrexia is coming out very shortly, and with this new influx of cards, there will be new decks, and new ways of fighting Jace. So with this in mind, is it really worth banning Jace, when he might be less dominating in a mere matter of weeks? This is an important point that Wizards must take on-board, and which leads me to believe the banning won’t happen.
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