Jace T. Mind Sculptor Will You Please Go Now!

I cost four mana, double blue and there are 32 of me!” – Jace Winklevoss, The Social Network

My Saturday morning started with @Frelance asking me the following question:

What’s the line on # Stoneforge Mystic in the #gpdfw t8? 20 like @scgopen, or even higher?

I set the initial line at 20 and let people bounce it around on Twitter for a bit, giving their opinions. Looking back, the right line was probably 20.5, but that would have generated a LOT of over action from some very sharp people. The final number ended up being 16. While this was going on, I casually mentioned how expecting five out of every eight decks in a Top 8 was a pretty clear sign of a warped/broken format. Then there was this tweet (still on Saturday before the GP had even started):

Which I RT’d with the added comment, “The elephant is still in the room.”

Then I started writing.

This article has been in my head for a while, but I’ve grown cautious in my old age, and I wanted to give the clever kids more time to think up answers. Maybe a really big tournament with all the pros playing would counteract the format warp we’d been seeing in recent weeks via the SCG Open series?

Or not. 32 Jaces in the GP Dallas Top 8.

Here we go…

There are no good answers. There are only good Jace decks.

Event Jace Decks
GP Dallas 8
SCG Mem 5
GP Barce 5
% Jace 77








77%! That’s insane. In Standard, those numbers have only ever been rivalled by Skullclamp. For those of you wondering, a healthy format will usually feature no more than say 40% of the same archetype in the Top 8. Once you get past 50% on a regular basis, alarm bells start ringing.

At 75% the sound you hear is most certainly a death knell. (Current Director of Magic Aaron Forsythe talked about this type of thing extensively back when they had to ban Skullclamp.)

Here, let me make it even more obvious for you via Chapin’s stat work he did at the Grand Prix.

Jace the Mind Sculptor needs to be banned.

“But Jace isn’t the problem, it’s really…”
You’re wrong. Seriously. I don’t care what cards you are making your argument about, those cards win alongside Jace. They do it with his help. In this environment, they do not do it without Jace.

The Caw-Blade engine itself (comprised of Stoneforge Mystics, Squadron Hawks, and Swords) is not inherently broken, it is synergistic. By itself, it is merely very good. Boros has been running that package the entire time, and you don’t see it dominating Top 8s. Why? ‘Cuz it’s the wrong color.

Your border ain’t blue? Then you gotta go sit at the back at the bus sos all them Jayce folk can sit up front.

At this point, people defending Jace are either the abusers or the victims of abuse who have slowly been acquiring Stockholm Syndrome and are forced to apologize for fear of the repercussions.

“Well, Jace isn’t so bad if you stay away from him when he’s been drinking.”

“I mean, Jace is really an okay guy as long as he’s around other people.”

“Jace is actually a great guy most of the time, and if I didn’t say this I would gradually go insane because of the impact it would have on how I am forced to view the world just to prevent myself from completely cracking up!”

“But Jace only has six months left in Standard!”
Great, then we can all just stop playing Magic for six months until the rotation occurs and then come back, right? Except people don’t come back when they do that. Not for years, if ever. Obviously running an additional supported constructed format at FNMs would lessen the impact of design/development mistakes on Standard, but it doesn’t solve the issue. There’s a lot of money in entry fees for those six months that might just disappear if Jace stays around. That is certainly what happened when Wizards failed to ban Affinity.

“Card X in New Phyrexia kills Jace!”
Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. The problem here is two-fold. First of all, we have an environment where R&D failed to print Planeswalker answers in either Scars of Mirrodin or Mirrodin Beseiged, exacerbating any brokenness that might exist. Having no natural hate for the most powerful cards in the format will bring any mistakes to the fore and was probably a significant oversight in the development of this format.

Second of all, Jace is the brokenest of them all. His mere presence in the environment twists every single other deck into running hate for him – probably maindeck – just to have a chance. That is deeply unhealthy. I think the format would actually be pretty interesting without Jace looming over it. Additionally, the splash damage from making a card that answers Jace effectively is tremendous because unless it has some crazily specific tailoring, it hits all Planeswalkers, thus neutering the entirety of that cool and flashy category of card. (Which becomes more awkward if new Planeswalkers are the main emphasis of this summer’s M12 set.)

So in designing answers you either a) make ones that are not terribly effective or b) make effective ones that end up smooshing all the other planeswalkers for the next 18 months.

Choose your damnation.

A Look at Jace From A Design Perspective
When in the history of Magic has “Brainstorm-on-a-Stick” ever been a good idea? The answer is “never.” If you are feeling particularly petulant it might even be “never ever.” This is especially true if you make it have 0 activation cost and attach it to a particularly difficult to remove permanent. To give a past example, doing this with Isochron Scepter cost two cards (the Scepter and the Brainstorm), plus two mana a turn, plus it had to be attached to an easily removable artifact to make it work. Jace has all this in just one ability that costs nothing once he resolves, he replaces himself, and he’s a bitch to remove.

As you all know, Jace also has reusable Unsummon, opponent draw filtering, and is capable of actually winning the game (via his Ultimate) in addition to virtually winning the game (Brainstorm). I saw the Turian interview where he basically said, “We wanted to make JTMS really cool and powerful.”They restricted Brainstorm in Vintage! He knows this! K$*%*#&AFD! Congratulations, the card is stupidly good and versatile. You have succeeded in making Jace totally awesome AND completely breaking Standard.

Letting JTMS come out of development in its current state seems calamitous, though to be fair this is the first really egregious error since 2004. That’s a solid track record, but it does fuck all to fix the here and now.

What Happens Next?
The Magic team is in a tough spot. In fact, Director of Magic R&D Aaron Forsythe probably woke up this morning feeling like Jace was standing over him, slapping him with his great blue dong like some poor girl in a Rocco Siffredi movie. Judging by the tenor of some of his tweets from a few weeks ago, he saw the warning signs then, but obviously there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

The current Standard format is undeniably broken – 77% of the decks to make Top 8 in the last two months, spread across seven major tourneys and two continents proves this. JTMS likely outnumbering basic lands in Day 2 of Dallas proves this. Know the format is hopelessly broken, the DCI (which is just another acronym for Wizards of the Coast really, but always seems to come up when bannings are discussed) can either:

a)      Lie low until New Phyrexia rotates in, assess how well their hosers are keeping Jace in check, and if it’s not all rainbows and teddy bears, they can ban Jace.

b)      Ban Jace now, fixing current Standard, and know that new Standard will be an interesting, open environment without the spectre of Jace potentially ruining everything.

They are going to take a public relations hit either way. After the results from this weekend, I guarantee Chapin, GerryT and any number of other smart, popular writers are going to explain how stupid Jace is (again) and how he deserves to be banned. If Wizards choose to take option A, they have to weather this entire cycle and then deal with everyone looking at the new hosers and post-NPH format under a microscope. If the hosers aren’t good         enough, the furore will be very loud and quite scathing. If the hosers are good enough, the noise will eventually go away, but there will still be lingering Jace bitterness until he rotates out of the format in the fall.

If Wizards choose option B as their plan of attack, the first thing you will hear is wailing and gnashing of teeth from everyone who currently owns a playset of Jace the Mind Sculptors. According to Jon Becker’s back of the envelope scratchings, there were $30,000 worth of Jaces just in Day 2 of Dallas. That is a lot of Benjamins going up in smoke. Jace will probably halve in value overnight, and WotC will have to deal with the fallout from that first and foremost. They will also get to absorb the reputation hit and general suckitude that comes from having to ban another card in Standard.

On the other hand, history tells us that by not banning Affinity correctly the first time, they cost themselves tens of thousands of regular players who simply walked away from Magic because they hated losing to the deck. Magic is on a huge high right now – what happens next will go a long way toward determining if that incredible growth continues or if this is the start of a new downward cycle.

Me? I think either decision sucks, but I also think the correct path is clear. When you have a Standard format that is two-thirds mature and is horribly broken, action needs to be taken to cut out the cancer. This is likely true even if the hosers you are about to introduce work. I don’t think Wizards R&D can take a chance of this situation turning into Affinity 2.0 and causing a mass exodus of players from the game.

Image credit to Harry Ryttenberg. @mrfridays on Twitter

–Card Game Out
@mixedknuts on Twitter

Note : If you quote from this, please also include a link. No one makes any money from this blog, but I do appreciate extra traffic and hits. Huge thanks to Harry for the Jace image.

Post Script:
In case you are wondering, I’m not one of those chicken littles who cries for every powerful card ever to get banned. It takes a lot of data for me to make a case for banning a card, and this is doubly true for Standard. I publically nailed Skullclamp before it got the +b and I did the same thing (to a great deal of criticism) with regard to Affinity. I also made money from wagering Survival of the Fittest would get banned in Legacy before GerryT or Chapin ever said anything. I actually care about whether I am right or wrong, and wrote this piece in the face of overwhelming evidence.

51 responses to “Jace T. Mind Sculptor Will You Please Go Now!

  1. I’m confused; are you calling for a Jace ban in June, the next time the B/R list is updated on schedule, or for an emergency ban now? I don’t like the precedent set by emergency-banning “format-warping but not Memory Jar broken” cards halfway through the three-month update cycle. Or has the every-three-months B/R list update gone the way of the dodo while I wasn’t paying attention?

    • I didn’t call for an emergency ban because I also don’t like that precedent. However, there are two or maybe three decks right now, total. All have Jace in them as a four-of. His presence makes most of the cards in the format irrelevant and this includes the introduction of an entire new set coming up. That is absolutely terrible for decklists hits, for PR, and for selling cards.

      • Too little too late 😦

        Next B/R update is 6/18, to take effect on 7/1. Inistrad becomes legal around 10/1.

        (FYI, the Jar emergency ban thing was really dumb and should not be replicated. But not for the reason that most people think:

        1) December 1 1998 banned list kills the Academy cards, but not Time Spiral
        2) Extended PTQs begin in mid-February 1999 and are immediately dominated by High Tide
        3) The March 1 1999 banned list doesn’t ban anything in Extended because the DCI only had about 1 weekend worth of tournament data for the format
        4) Buehler and Lauer T8 with Jar on March 13 at GP Vienna. Everyone freaks and Jar is emergency banned. But nobody freaks that Kai won the event with High Tide.
        5) Memory Jar ban goes into effect April 1 1999
        6) A grand total of one PTQ weekend is played with Jar banned
        7) Time Spiral finally gets banned during the June 1 1999 announcement)

  2. It’s not *just* the Affinity situation again – it’s the same but with it costing $300 of a set of Ravagers, which a non-negligible number of players feel is too much.

    The situation is without question stopping some people from playing already – for example a friend on our local forum posted recently:

    ” i think type 2 is the least fun its ever been. ever. i think nationals would be a pretty good time but in order to qualify i have to play this standard format, which i have no inclination to do. even if someone gave me some super-secret list that i was guaranteed to 6-0 a qualifier with, i’d honestly rather stay home because the thought of spending an entire day watching people cast Jaces and Primeval Titans [hint: if you think that casting vengevines or goblin guides is a legitimate strategy then you are deluded] just does not sound remotely appealing.”

  3. You think this format would be more versatile without Jace? What a joke. Jace is the only thing keeping this format balanced. If you ban Jace, Valakut will run over this format like a monster truck. I’ll take the Jace format. At least “Jace decks” are a series of 3-4 decks that take immense skill to play. Do we really want another skill-less meta like Jund where the deck is basically auto-pilot to a win?

    On the other side, I fail to see how the Skullclamp analogy applies here. Skullclamp was banned because the format turned into play it or play hate for it maindeck. This is not the case with Jace as answers for planeswalkers include creatures and burn. I seriously doubt you can make the argument that creatures are only being run to deal with Jace right now.

    You also fail to consider the fact that many many very good magic players like to play with cards like Jace. His dominance in GP Dallas might simply be a function of him being a popular card with highly skilled players.

    Basically, I just don’t see him as ban-worthy. I might be wrong but I honestly think banning him would do more harm than good right now.

      • Yeah, obviously, because all I said was “LOL UR WRONG JACE IZ AWESUM KTHNXBAI” it’s not like I backed up my point with any logic or reasoning like your well-developed and productive comment. (Oh wait…)

      • He disagrees with you, so he must be a troll!

        It is a legitimate point – banning Jace just leads to a metagame equally dominated by Primeval Titan decks. Jace is overpowered but at the very least those decks are much more skill-testing than Valakut ramp decks. It is not an attractive thing, but the current metagame is the lesser of two evils.

        …unless they ban both Jace and Primeval Titan. That might be a thing.

    • I think you’re right, but this just means that they should ban Valakut too. Valakut decks are even less fun to play against than Jace decks. Playing against Valakut doesn’t even feel like playing real Magic.

    • I think perhaps you don’t know what trolling is, I wanted to check that you actually meant what you were saying and were not just trying to get a rise out of people.

      a) Jace does not take immense skill to play. Is there a creature that could attack and kill Jace? Unsummon. Are they playing burn? fateseal. Need a specific card? Brainstorm. Have 12 counters on him? Ultimate. Just because he has comparatively a lot of rules text does not mean he requires skill – see Tim’s comment below. Even if you do not play him optimally he still tilts the game in your favour.

      b) There are decks do not play Jace or cards specifically to try and deal with Jace. They do not win at tournaments.

      c) Are you trolling? The correlation between doing well in tournaments and playing Jace is because playing Jace causes doing well in tournaments, not because both are caused by players who win at tournaments are fond of Jace. Tournament players play with the cards that are most likely to win them the tournament. ~130 very good players made day two of the GP with a variety of decks, at the end of the day 15 of the top 16 were playing four Jaces.

      Valakut is also a very strong deck however it isn’t Jace holding it down, but Sword of Feast & Famine. I think this is a genuine concern when discussing banning Jace, but your other points – not so much.

  4. from Aaron’s article announcing the Skullclamp banning back in 2004 in standard (but replacing Skullclamp with Jace):

    “Jace was banned in Standard, frankly, because it was everywhere. Every competitive deck either had four in the main deck, had four in the sideboard, or was built to try and defend against it. And there were a lot more successful decks in the first two categories than in the third. Such representation is completely unhealthy for the format. Your deck has to either have Jaces, or have Jace in its crosshairs—a definitive case of a card “warping the metagame.”

    Perhaps now people ma see why I wouldn’t be surprised in the least it it gets the boot in Extended and Standard June 1st.

    • that was supposed to say:

      Perhaps now people may see why I wouldn’t be surprised in the least it it gets the boot in Extended and Standard June 18th.

    • “Every competitive deck either had four in the main deck, had four in the sideboard”

      If playing with Jace, do people actually have Jace in the sideboard instead of main deck?

      • Nope, it’s gonna be 4 Jace in the main deck, of course. But we’re going to start having a meta where people run extra Jace Beleren in the SB just to win Jace fights. It happened before, and it’s likely going to happen again.

  5. Pingback: Ban Jace Propaganda Poster Contest! | Mixed kNuts

  6. I think that the arguments of Jace being a difficult card to play correctly are kind of moot. Even if you play Jace badly, he typically ends up doing quite a bit. I played an increasingly drunk nationals qualifier on Saturday where I more or less just went for ultimate every time. In those games he pretty much gained me 10 or so life, giving me more turns, cast Siren’s call every turn to force bad trades for my opponent, landscrewed my opponents and then won me the game.

    If I hadn’t been drinking a pint per round I would probably have felt quite guilty.

  7. Just wondering, was Bloodbraid Elf degenerately broken in a 2/3rds mature standard metagame? Yes.

    What about post 3rd set? People didn’t really seem to care as much, even though it probably was. Just wait and see on NPH.

  8. okay, this is longer than a tweet so i’m posting it here.

    jace is overpowered because it doesn’t have to work synergistically with any deck. it’s not like there are decks that work well with jace and decks that don’t… if you’re playing islands, you can just put jace in your deck and all of a sudden you have another angle of attack. 56 of your cards are synergistic and strategic with each other, and if your opponent happens to beat that strategy, they still have to deal with jace. likewise, if they deal with jace specifically… they still have to face the rest of your deck.

    jace’s four modes translate as follows: +2 = gain inevitability, +0 = improve card quantity and quality, -1 = stabilize board position, ultimate = win game. that is the game plan of a dedicated control deck IN ONE CARD. seriously! look at a psychatog or dralnu deck and sort the cards in the list into those 4 categories… now you’re telling me control decks just get to add that sort of power for 4 measly slots?

  9. I have agree with the author here. Blue spells are too good. I say we ban all of them. And green ones too. Those are too good. Some white ones, but not all. Ahh, what the hell, let’s ban the black ones too. That just leaves us with the funnest spells.

    No, I don’t have an agenda, stop looking at me like that.

  10. I’m stealing your chart for my article today and I’ll even give you a link back. As an aside, I’m always amazed at how much loss it took before Affinity was ended. Decks like Jund and Faeries (and possibly now Jace decks) get passes because they came at times where MTG was growing.

    As for guy who says Primeval Titan is somehow unstoppable without Jace, nice joke. RDW and Boros can smash Valakut and while control will be weakened, decks like Pyromancer Ascension and olden time UW / UB will still demolish Valakut. Hell even decks with ‘bad’ Valakut matches like GW Quest can still smash the deck into the ground with good draws.

    It’s a very powerful deck, but it is in no way powerful enough to stop people if everyone is gunning for it instead of being spread out over 2-3 other decks.

    • “It’s a very powerful deck, but it is in no way powerful enough to stop people if everyone is gunning for it instead of being spread out over 2-3 other decks.”

      How is a format where the meta is Valakut and Valakut-hate any different from the Jace meta? At least the “Jace archetype” is comprised of three very different decks (RUG, UB/UW Control, CawBlade)

      Your analysis of Valakut without Jace is also completely off. In a format without Jace, Valakut can simply cut Summoning Trap and Tumble Magnets for anti-aggro packages and Green Sun’s Zenith. This makes it basically impossible for aggro to race and gives the deck the consistency and resilience to crush control (which becomes FAR less consistent without Jace) all the while still basically being an auto-pilot deck.

      Valakut is already basically killing an interesting archetype (Vengevine/Shaman decks) and banning Jace would make that worse.

      • If you really think Valakut (a linear strategy!) can’t be put into place when it’s the top dog of the format, I don’t know what to say. Far more powerful decks have been beaten into submissions and I see no reason why a naturally inconsistent deck should put fear into everyone.

        If you alter Valakut into heavy-duty anti aggro packages then playing a blue decks looks appealing again even if Jace doesn’t exist. Oh wait, then Fauna Shaman looks good. It’s like having a metagame! I’m not going to argue theory-land past this though.

  11. Well, can’t say I don’t have Jace-hate, but it always seemed to me that Jace proponent arguments could be condensed into “you don’t have any, you’re just jealous”, so I’ve been hesitant in supplying strong opinions.

    I don’t really play Standard, last time I did was with a Sieve combo, but even then I knew how to hate Jace. We all know the arguments for and against so I’m not going to go into them and instead discuss R&D, opinions, format health and banning.

    First off, R&D isn’t “in a pinch”. They’re not even doing Innistrad, they’re designing either the block that comes after that or the one after that. They’re thinking THREE YEARS IN THE FUTURE, so I imagine what’s happening in R&D over Jace now is pretty much the same thing that happened last year with BBE and the year before that (and that) with Bitterblossom: “meh, whatever”.

    Second, correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve not seen one anti-Jace article on the Mothership (not trying to be insulting here, link me up please). While every now and then there’s a blip on the Jace hatedar when a columnist or another speaks up, most of the comments agree (those that don’t are quickly screamed into submission) and then… nothing for two months. I believe the main reason for this is the prevailing “you don’t have ’em so you’re just jealous” attitude that is mirrored in every comment thread about Legacy staples, Dual lands or the Reserve list. Let’s face it, MtG players are elitist as hell and the fact that some people are a bit more elite with cards slightly more elite than ours is what we’ve come to expect over the years. So why is it ‘good’ when someone suggests to use cheaper lands or spells in Legacy so you can get in, but ‘pandering’ when someone suggests to use cheaper cards in Standard?

    Third, the opinions on format health here are ambiguous to say the least. When is a format healthy? When loads of people play it and there’s a bunch of viable decks? The first condition is filled to the brim right now, as today there are probably more players than ever playing Magic. The second? I have no idea, as I really don’t play or like Standard. However, looking at T2 coverage over the past few weeks I see loads of different decks — Boros, Cawblade, Darkblade, RUG, Valakut, G/GW concoctions. And yes, they all play Mythics. Lots of them also play Jace. Is that a good sign or bad? I again have actually no idea, and the fact is neither do any of you. I’d like to see two people discussing Jace who both 1) own a set or two, 2) have contrasting opinions on him. The hate doesn’t really do it for me.

    Fourth, Jace isn’t going to be banned. It would set a horrible precedent for Wizards since they’ve been pushing Mythics as they’re-not-that-bad-they’re-cool! and would probably result in the next set not selling as well. Notice the huge amount of Jaces in the tournament? Yeah, so which group is Wizards going to support? The guys who keep on playing and bringing in the dough or the guys who … well, don’t. The haves have it, and the have-nots don’t, as usual.

    • “Fourth, Jace isn’t going to be banned”

      I am going to keep this statement forever, and every time you ever say anything, I’m going to remember it. For. Ever.

  12. I didn’t play during Affinity’s reign of terror, but from everything I hear, it sounds like people really *hated* that deck. Do people actually feel the same way about Jace? Or is it just that all of a sudden, it’s highlighted that Jace is an overpowered card, and now people are talking about banning him. Because I haven’t really met many people that actually want him banned – gone from standard when he rotates, fine, not reprinted, fine, but banning seems extreme.
    Recently, it seems like every dominant deck has a card or cards that people hate, and every time, the discussion of banning comes up. I know people have been talking about how Jace is ‘unfun’, but personally, it was a lot more annoying to get hit by Bloodbraid Elf into Blightning, or Elf into ‘card that turns the game around from an unwinnable position’, or ‘I reached 6 mana on turn 4, cast Primeval Titan, I win’ than it is to get fatesealed and told I can keep my top card.

    Also, as far as Jace’s dominance, it isn’t as though this is a case of ‘play Jund/Faeries or you’re doing it wrong’ – there are plenty of different Jace decks. Some might be better than others, but it isn’t like there is only one strategy available to players, to the exclusion of every other. It isn’t even necessarily a case of ‘play blue/Jace or go home’ since Valakut and Boros are certainly still legitimate threats.

    Jace makes non-haste, non-187 creatures that cost 4+ mana bad, sure, but what about the titans? The obsolete every other 6 mana creature in the format, and we have been getting quite a few really nice giant creatures lately that are just unplayable because they’re worse than the M11 titans. No one seems upset that *they* are back for another year.
    If Jace makes expensive creatures bad, doesn’t Valakut do the same thing? What good does your 6 mana dragon (Sphinx of the Jwar Isle, say) do for you if you are just dead as soon as you tap out to it, or before you can even cast it? You can’t play a midrange game against Valakut since you die to a titan, and you can’t play a long game since they will just eventually burn you out with mountains.

    I can see Jace being a dominating force in Standard, but I also don’t see strategies or decks being completely pushed out by him, which I think is much worse for the game.

    • In a certain way, the problem isn’t Jace, the problem is actually Valakut which simply just beats a lot of the decks that could really give Jace-based decks a real run for things.

      Basically, the third leg of the big three should probably be Fauna Shaman/Vengevine based decks which do very well against CawBlade, but have a horrific matchup against Valakut. (It doesn’t really help that until recently G/W builds were pretty bad. Sperling’s build was quite good however.)

      But I’m going to give a different answer why SOMETHING (probably a few different things. If it were up to me, I’d ban Primeval, Jace 2. and Stoneforge) should be banned. Simply, the insane valuation of Standard cards. One of the reasons why this happens is that there’s no potential downside. Investments become almost entirely upside, but there’s no real risk of the floor falling out of an obviously OP card. By banning A card (doesn’t really matter which one), you create a significant potential risk for format defining cards, keeping prices a bit more stable.

  13. Pingback: Spreading Cheese – #BanJace: An In-Depth Analysis « I Want My MTG

  14. As I noted on twitter, FWIW, Bloodbraid Elf also can be found to have a 75% top 8 rate in SCG opens in a roughly similar time period last year: http://bit.ly/gMJLBa (All Lists) vs http://bit.ly/fEQAzZ (4x Bloodbraids). (Fair warning: The second list requires SCG premium.) It is a specific time period, though, so you can obviously wiggle the numbers around to go between about 50% and 75%, and there were less SCG Opens over that time period (3 vs 5) and less coverage and blah blah. But still, I think it says that ‘unprecedented’ doesn’t hold. As Knut brought up when I pointed this out to him elsewhere, this may imply that there’s a repeated problem re: format breakage that Wizards has. Or maybe we’re all too incestuous/unwilling to experiment/not having time to experiment enough/whatever. Anyway, figured it should be noted on the Thread Of Record as well.


  15. On the the Jace/Valakut thing: Valakut is still far and away the most powerful thing you can be doing in standard. The problem is that the main Jace deck right now is specifically designed to hose it. IMHO everyone who’s saying a standard format without Jace would be dominated by Primeval Titan is absolutely right. The deck has scary consistency, great sweepers, and sweet spot removal (GSZ, Slagstorm, and Bolt respectively), in addition to a stupidly good combo finish. It curb-stomps every single non-blue midrange deck in the format and, if built that way, can smash all the beatdown builds as well.

    Jund put up amazing numbers from Zendikar onwards, all the way through to RoE. Post-Worldwake, people were playing maindeck flashfreezes and celestial purges, for heaven’s sake! Even Jace himself didn’t break Jund’s stranglehold until Wall of Omens, Gideon and Eldrazi Conscription arrived to shake things up. We’ll have to see the full spoiler of the new set to see if something similar will happen this time, but Hex Parasite being trinketeable is a pretty good start. This is not legacy; we actually get meaningful format reboots that do not involve the banlist.

    Last year, from being dominated by Bloodbraid elf, standard became extremely diverse overnight, with UW, Jund, Mythic, Naya, SuperFriends, Ascension, and even weird concoctions like Runeflare trap doing well between RoE and Scars. Give New Phyrexia a chance.

  16. Jace is very good, and while I enjoy playing it (I’m a control player at heart), I also wouldn’t be super sad to see it go, either.
    That being said, I think this dominance is indicative of a bigger issue: Planeswalkers. When a card type can only be destroyed by a very limited number of effects that aren’t printed all that often (O-Ring and Pulse at the same time! Craaaazy!), and is better suited to being in either a mid-range or control deck that has lots of answers to creatures, the only consistent way to deal with PWs, there are bound to be problems. Jace just happens to be the most control oriented of an entirely control oriented card type. Almost every good PW has card advantage built in, and the ones that aren’t good are usually too narrow in design. I mean, lets think about it, which PWs haven’t seen play in some sense? Sorin and Chandra Ablaze?
    Not arguing for or against the banning of Jace, just trying to point out that in making Planeswalkers (historically the badasses of the universe, flavor wise) into a card type, WotC opened up a can of worms that they, honestly, might just not have been, and might still not be, properly prepared for.

  17. I don’t think banning Jace is a good idea.

    1. As someone above noted, short of an emergency ban, which isn’t called for, by the time the next B&R rolls around, a ban will only save 3 months of Standard. The blight of a ban isn’t worth 3 months, almost no matter what the card.

    2. The damage to confidence in card value isn’t worth the benefit to the constructed environment for this amount of time. It isn’t good for the integrity of the Magic economy for people to be afraid that if their valuable cards become to popular they could get banned and have their value destroyed overnight. Legacy with its broad field of expensive staples is one thing, Standard is another.

    Just to put it out there, a possible outside-of-the-box solution: restrict Jace. It opens up a new dimension of being screwed for people to complain about, but it reduces the dominance of Jace decks without crippling them, and doesn’t destroy the card’s market value. The novelty factor of a restricted card in Standard would actually be fun to try to exploit (how to make the most of a single Jace).

    Still, I say at this point that it’s best by far to just ride it out.

  18. I think your statistics are warped to prove your point. you keep refering to “Jace Decks” as if any deck that runs a Jace, The Mindsculptor is the same from the next one. fact is you’re seeing Jace in 3 different Archtypes over that type. you have Aggro Control (Caw-Blade variants (UW, UWb, UWr) Control (Euro UB, Sharfman UW) and you have the midrange\aggro decks (xUG). What sets jace apart from Skullclamp is that he is versitile enough that he’s NOT what your deck does, instead he’s a toolkit that helps your deck run better. Skullclamp was a overpowered degenerate Card advantage engine that was played purely in skullclamp combo decks (which had 3 flavors: affinity, goblins, elf and nail) that killed turn 4. Skullclamp was banned because these decks were so degenerate you were either playing them or you took your low percentage shot at trying to beat them.

    The Post Paris metagame sure has been Dominated by decks with islands, jaces, and preordains. but playing jace has by far been the only viable stradegy. Boros is a fairly solid choice, We’ve seen patrick sully come back from the dead crack open his red box, and take home a trophy. in a meta where tec edges and spreading seas aren’t everywhere (3-color caw blade)valakut is a very powerful choice. The vengevine aggro decks do well for themselves. almost as ubiquitous as Jace, has been Stoneforge mystic since Paris, if you look at that meta you’ll see a 60+% dominance of the format. if we ban big jace all you do is Brutally Butcher RUG, and UB control. CawBlade shrugs, throws in a baby jace or two, runs more into the roils and counter spells, as it becomes the new jace deck and continues to pull it’s 50% of the top 8 dominance.

    Skull Clamp’s banning didn’t totally make decks unviable, it simply threw some inconsistency into the mix. Banning Jace at this point in time will wreck most if not all combo, Makes RUG just a really bad Valakut deck. and take almost all of the wind out of UB control’s sails. Stoneforge mystic decks will get to run free knowing the deck across from them can’t dig deep enough to answer all of their threats they’ll attack with.

  19. Jace is a powerful card but also one that is beyond the reach of many players financially. I don’t expect pros to care about that but I do expect WotC to care about it. Do we really want to further emphasize that to play competitive T2 you need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars? I think Jace would be fine if he was $20 but is an unforgivable travesty at >$100. WotC can fix this without banning him.

    • I would love a Jace, TMS Vs. Deck.

      The only down fall is that iit would cost 20elease… then 80 after the first two days.

      Oh yeah, The reason there’s non-Jace decks at all right now is because there’s not enough Jace 2.0’s for everyone.

      • My point was that, IMHO, it’s the fact that only some people get to play Jace that makes it unfair. Presuming the law of supply and demand holds true, Jace is the card in the highest demand in T2 history. That means there are not enough of them.

        It’s a fantastic card but I’m not scared of playing against it. I just think the price is out of hand.

  20. The majority of cards that deserve banning (or restricting) historically are cards that provide insane card advantage:
    Ancestral Recall, Balance, Necropotence, Skullclamp

    or those that gain insane mana advantage:
    Black Lotus, Mox X, Lotus Petal, Channel

    Jace falls easily into the first category and Primeval Tital, the second.

    STOP printing cards that push these borders. Cards that do immense damage for little mana (fireblast, Tendrils of Agony, and T-Goyph) are easier to answer and provide for interesting, not broken, meta’s.

  21. Minor thing to keep in mind that not only is Hex Parasite a 1 drop answer to Jace, but Karn answers Jace just fine as well. Need to protect your bigger creatures? Spellsplitter can eat Jace unsummons every turn for 2 mana + U/2life.

    I can’t imagine the precedent set by bringing down the banhammer would be better than letting New Phyrexia hit. Having only seen less than 14% of the spoiler at the moment, there’s a lot of room in there for cards that can redefine the format and of the 14% already spoiled, we’ve already seen several.

    • You realize that Karn is a 7-drop that isn’t an artifact for Grand Architect to ramp…and Hex Parasite requires 1 to drop, then ANOTHER 6 at the earliest to stop Jace after the first Fate Seal.

      Now, check this out…you need 6 MORE mana to make Hex Parasite work as early as the turn right after Jace gets out, and you’d have to have it mainboard if you don’t want to lose first game. By the way, if you don’t have the mana for it right away, don’t bother leaving it on the battlefield because Jace will just bounce it right back to you.

      Let’s not forget you’re giving up 2 life if you don’t run black mana. Reactive answers should not be that expensive. Flashfreeze, Deathmark, those are cheap spells to counter reactively. Hex Parasite doesn’t do that at all.

      I shouldn’t have to pay 7 mana to answer a 4 CMC Planeswalker…period. They finally have a card that’s a one-drop black mana to take a creature or planeswalker, but hey, it’s BLACK, so the other colors are screwed.

      Yay, Jace…

  22. Valakut is only half the reason why Vengevine is getting crushed. Gideon is the other half. Fortunately, both of these will rotate out with Jace.

  23. This is not on either side of the arguement, but the logic if we ban X, the Y which X is keeping down will become crazy, is exactly like Faeries in TSP/Lorwyn. Banned Bitterblossom, Cryptic, or Mistbind Revillark will take its spot. Just thought for some perspective. Personally I quit Magic when Scars came out, have not looked back, just don’t dig the negilent attitude of R and D, Bitterblossom, Revillark, Bloodbraid Elf, Jace, and titan they always splashy cards to sell sets, which is fair but it ends hurting the game when flashy cards get made haphazardly without proper counters.

  24. Maybe you should get a larger sample of data for your claims, preferably one that doesnt include only GPs or SCG tournaments.

    Looking at big tournaments in MODO and some qualifiers all over the place (Europe, Japan, etc, yes ppl play Mtg in these places also) you will see that decks with Jace are dominant but far from the reality that your sample shows.

    Point being Jace is extremely powerfull but a lot more vulnerable than you claim.

  25. I play blue and cannot stand that card. I’ve played blue for as long as I have played the game and have refused to play him for more than 90% of that time. The 10% of time that I did, he made no help to the deck he was in and I cut him in favor of Cancels and Temple Bells. Honestly, you couldn’t pay me his worth per game to play him. I’d take Jund or Faeries any day. Standard ceased to be enjoyable the day of rotation, as its nearly all just cheap wins that everyone feels they need to play rather than come up with something that belongs to them, but my opinion on being a sheep about decks is an entirely different matter.

    The price is another huge factor when it comes to it. I was lucky to open my cards, but most people just don’t have that kind of money to spend on pieced of paperboard. There is a serious problem when going to the Star City Open in Memphis and spending more on six cards on the way there(three each Stoneforge Mystics and Mind Sculptors) than you spend on the hotel for two days, food for four people, and gas to get there and back. Admittedly, the gas wasn’t as bad as we were coming from Nashville, but the point is still valid.

    On another note, if they actually bothered to put decent removal back in the game, things would be so much better. After all, this is the first time since Planeswalkers were introduced that Oblivion Ring hasn’t been in Standard.

    The end of the matter is Standard isn’t enjoyable anymore and there really isn’t widespread support for any other format. Something’s got to give, be it more support for something other than the cash cow or a decently level playing field.

  26. I am working on my post on the same topic, but wanted to point out something here.

    I just started playing Magic with MBS. I love FNM, and buying cards. Despite the awful value, I *love* opening packs. I have more cards in MTGO than IRL. Additionally, I am a childless adult with a fair bit of disposable income. In short, I am exactly the sort of sucker—er, fan that WotC wants.

    And JtMS has stopped me not only from going to FNM, but from playing standard altogether. I agree that Jace should be banned–I think it is patently obvious that it should never have been printed. How they could have looked at that card and not seen that it was going to mess things up is beyond me. You have to wonder if they actually play the game.

    The idea that if Jace is banned, Primeval Titan will just be the new over-powered card is silly on it’s face. If you are even able to understand that statement, you should see that is not the case. PT can be removed easily, by many options in almost every color. Frost Titan would be harder, but not impossible at all.

    It would seem to me that the obvious solution to all of this–the mythic issue, the Planeswalker issue, the Jace issue and a lot of it–is to put restrict mythics to 1 per deck. Problem solved. Jace owners get to play them (and can tutor them out with enough regularity) while still leaving some room for someone else to play.

    At any rate, Jace provided the initial push for me to play pauper, and now I have no desire to leave. I have stopped going to FNM, and my MTGO purchases have been almost completely limited to common singles on the secondary market, outside of drafts. The best part is that playing pauper has greatly increased the value of booster packs–now I ditch the 4 other cards and get much more use of the others 🙂

    So people can say what they want, but I am living proof of this card turning people away from MtG, and that is not good for anyone.

  27. Pingback: Sideboard: A new(ish) player’s perspective on Jace « Common Good

  28. jace is as important to winning decks as string cheese is important to car repair.
    myself and a few of the freinds we play with, all refuse to use jace and out of the 6 of us, 4 have been placing in the top 10 in all our regonal events.. jace be dammed.

    jace is as likely to be restricted or banned as the aforementioned cheese is though, so dont go holding your breath. he’s no memory jar.

  29. Great article, I totally agree with your assessment. I’m at the point where I am ready to play in a tournament and concede the game if I see Jace being played. It’s not fun playing the same theme over and over again without being able to respond effectively. I’ve always thought that making unique decks and not playing decks off the internet was a more enjoyable way of playing magic, so to see all decks railroaded into Jace++ (or 77% as you point out) is really disappointing. As soon as Jace comes out, I find myself scrambling to stay above water, while my opponent leisurely plops out whatever strategy they have; holding me at bay as though they had a virtual palm pressing on my forehead pinning me in place legs flailing to move. I am sorry so many folks paid $300.00 – $400.00 for a complete set of Jaces, but I’m not willing to do that nor am I interested in putting together Jace deck #25 b. That is not what magic is about to me. Chess is about improving on a game with known parameters; Magic is about reinventing those parameters and playing in that environment.
    So, I hate to see your $70, to $100 cards get banned, that always sucks, but the alternative seems to be no standard for me for 6 more months, or enjoy the 40 percentile of all tourney’s till he is gone. I don’t even think banning is needed, just restricting. Having said that, I think Wizards is scared to death of banning such a valuable card. What a great way to –really- upset people that dished out a lot, or even if they got him cheap, they would still take a significant financial hit in Jaces value. So, what do I think will happen, Wizards knows it’s broken, and will just live with it till he goes away on his own. I think they will let standard be broken, and upset those of us trying to play in and get involved in standard for the next six months rather than deal with the wrath of their loyal happy Jace owners. Which at this point, makes sense.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s