15 February 2018
Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf make a return to Modern
Two of Magic: The Gathering’s most iconic banned cards are making a return to the collectible card game.
The biggest news is the reintroduction of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to the game’s Modern card list after almost seven years.
One of the most iconic and powerful planeswalkers to ever be added to Magic, Jace was immediately outlawed from Modern matches when the format was introduced in the spring of 2011, before being subsequently banned from Standard matches, too.
In a blog post explaining the decision, Wizards of the Coast’s Ian Duke said that a trend towards four-mana cards such as Jace becoming risky to play in Modern matches had made the card’s viable again as a risk-reward option against what are often quick and cheaper barrages of spells.
Joining Jace in the updated Modern list is Bloodbraid Elf, another four-mana card that was banned at the start of 2013 in an effort to open up options for mid-range decks and stop the domination of Jund decks.
“Since that era, Modern has seen black-green-based midrange decks evolve to use a variety of other colors and threat packages,” wrote Duke. “With the unbanning of Jace, we may even see some of these decks shifting toward blue. On top of that, other midrange decks like Mardu Pyromancer have emerged. There are now sufficient options available to have confidence that Bloodbraid Elf will no longer be as detrimental to deck diversity as it once was.”
It also happens that Bloodbraid Elf is an effective way to take down Jace, but Duke insisted that the unbanning of the opposing cards at the same time wasn’t just an attempt to balance the cards against each other, saying that the cost of casting any four-mana spell in Modern had made more expensive cards a better fit overall within the format.
While the restoration of the cards to the Modern list is sure to shake things up, there’s a good bit of time for the changes to take hold before the next Pro Tour, to which Modern has returned as a tournament. Jace also makes an appearance in Magic’s Masters 25 set, marking the 25th anniversary of the game, which means the planeswalker is easier for players to add him to their decks.
Duke also responded to criticism from some Magic fans that Modern decks that have performed well in tournaments have resulted in banned cards, offering the reinstatement of Jace and Bloodbraid Elf as evidence to the contrary.
“When we discuss changes to the [banned & restricted list], we are far more interested in healthy play patterns, diversity in the metagame, interactive gameplay, and decks having counterplay and counterstrategies than in what deck won the last tournament,” he said.
“Ultimately, our fundamental goal in making changes to the B&R list is to make Magic formats the most fun they can be.”