Shared Discovery – Stoneforge + Jace is banned by Rob Wagner

Shared Discovery – Downtime: The Alternative NQ Huddersfield Report by Rob Wagner


Thanks Wizards!

I don’t actually mean this though. For those who haven’t heard the news, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic are being banned in Standard from next month. Now, I enjoyed the pre-banning Standard format a lot, but I do accept that Stoneforge Mystic was overpowered, especially with the printing of Batterskull.

I really don’t like the banning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor though.

You can write me off on the grounds that I don’t like losing $$$’s at the whim of the company but I assure you that hadn’t really crossed my mind, especially since I still get to play it in Legacy and Modern. No, really it annoys me because I see Jace opening a lot of decks and making the format really tense and exciting. There are many ways to fight him since he doesn’t come down until turn 4 unless you’re playing a bunch of mana accelerants – but then you’re not being proactive before a Jace. While control decks will evolve and come back, the format just looks like a couple of random combo decks and a bunch of crappy aggro decks now and it’s simply not appealing to me as it currently stands so I’m going to be giving Standard a miss over the next couple of weeks I think.

The news has been the buzz all over the internets and I’ve discussed it with a lot of people in the mtgUK Chatroom but I thought I’d get the opinions of some people who don’t hang out in there for more input.


Introducing some of my friends from foreign countries:

Mark McGovern:

Level 2 Judge from Ireland (loves to stress its independence from the UK in conversation), we first met at Grand Prix Madrid when we played but I’d heard his name first in the UK Judge forums. Always one to watch at Irish Nats as he’ll be looking for a return to their national team and a shot at Worlds.


Ben Friedman:

18 years old from Baltimore, Maryland. I met Ben at our hotel in San Juan for the Pro Tour where Matt Light, Mark McGovern and I saved him from his mum for the week. A PTQ top 8 regular in America and 2-time PT qualifier (so far), Ben is an up-and-comer with school commitments but has been name-dropped in a few famous players’ tournament reports so must be hanging out with the good crowds.


Andy Edwards:

Better known as “Beard”, Andy now lives on the Isle of Wight where he helps make fan-favourite Duels of the Planeswalkers (get it now if you haven’t already as it’s loads of fun). Andy got his first go at the Pro Tour in San Diego ’10 after beating fellow Welshman and Worlds Top 4 Competitor Nick Lovett in the finals of a PTQ. He’s also my pun husband and every single one of my articles is written with him in mind (hi Andy!).


Q: What are your immediate opinions on today’s banning announcement?

Mark: Prior to this mornings announcement, my vote for ban target was actually Batterskull. My reasoning was that it was the card holding back aggro decks. A 4/4 Vigilant Lifelinker was just nuts. Prior to its printing, there were plenty of other decks competing with Caw-Blade. Since then, not much.

I figured Stoneforge Mystic would be ok because (1) it’s integral in many non-caw blade decks (Boros, GW dudes, Soul Sisters even), and (2) they just printed it in a product specifically designed for a person’s first FNM. A ban would be a huge marketing fail.

Similarly, Jace, the Mind Sculptor was the glue holding UW, UB, and RUG decks together. It was one of control’s primary cards. Without it the decks would be far weaker. Plus with the advent of Splinter Twin, tapping out for Jace is very dangerous.

Overall I’m ok with the bannings. Its good for the game. I’ll keep my Jaces and Stoneforges for Legacy 🙂

Ben: Immediate opinion: totally unnecessary, there were people having success with UWR TwinBlade, U/G Vengevine, UW Caw, Vampires and Mono Red. The upside is, now there is plenty of room for innovation, although Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Pyromancer Ascension/Splinter Twin give new “unfun” constraints on the format.

Andy: No Comment. (Working for an effective off-shoot of Wizards, Andy would prefer to not make public any opinions he has on the matter.)



Q: When are your nationals, and how will the banning affect your testing if your nationals is after the ban date?

Mark: With both cards gone, and Irish nationals on the 23+24 July we have plenty of time to adjust. Plus we’re lucky to have 2-3 weeks of events in July to steal decklists from. As our nats is the weekend after M12’s release I haven’t done any real testing until more of M12 is announced. Testing will be harder for me personally because I’m not a brewer. I’m more of a “take stock list, adjust slightly for local metagame, and practise” kinda guy. this will likely mean that nationals will be harder though, as my preparations will suffer.

Ben: Nationals is August 4, I’ll probably see what starts to pop up on MODO and play a version of the best UB Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas deck or UR combo deck, hopefully with a few tweaks to beat the perceived metagame.

Andy: No Comment. (I understand and still love him anyway, you all might as well assume his opinions are the same as mine – just so my votes count twice, mind you).



Some very valid points raised there I think. I also see the merit of the banning of Batterskull instead since it means Caw Blade is the best deck still but not stupidly so. This is akin to banning Vengevine instead of Survival of the Fittest with the different take that the format will solve itself in a few months.

Ultimately, though, Wizards of the Coast don’t necessarily have to do what will be best for the state of the format, but rather what the majority of players believe is best for the state of the format. Having read a number of responses on various websites I’ve realised that a lot of players even think that the Jace banning was necessary and the Stoneforge banning was unnecessary. Clearly not everyone is in agreement.

If most people believe that Stoneforge and Jace must be banned and they tell Wizards this by not going to tournaments then Wizards have a strong business incentive to ban those cards. Wizards have a business to run and this time they have chosen to listen to the mob. Congratulations people, you may or may not be right – but you have spoken and you have been heard.

Thanks for sharing,

Rob Wagner

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