Well met my fellow Planeswalkers. The time has come for us to gather once again and discuss the events of our travels across the Multiverse. Whether it be current events on the now whole New Alara or the forbidden artifacts and spells hidden on the free floating plane of Shandalar you have found, this is the time to refuel your mana reserves and tell the stories. Welcome to Matt’s Menagerie!
Speaking of forbidden spells, today marks the official return of two of magic’s ( particularly modern) most potent spells. Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf will now be legal cards to add to your arsenal of spells in modern. Why is this such a big deal? Let’s take a stroll through time, Sarkhan Vol does it so why can’t we?
Ban lists were introduced into magic during the end of 1996. Before this, cards were restricted to a single copy of certain cards in your deck. Magic’s first official standard banning was Zuran Orb, the restricted cards shifting onto the ban list following that.The ban list came at a weird time as the set Zuran Orb was in (Ice Age) actually briefly left and returned to standard. Since then, standard bannings were not as often as you’d think due to sets and cards rotating out and into other formats. Since 97′ there have been sporadic bannings when things got out of control. Standard bannings have occurred since 1998,1999,2004, 2005 and a quiet spurt until the Jace banning of 2011. More recently there have been a ton of cards banned in standard. OK are we all here still? Excellent, let us now go to 2011….
Grand Prix’s are huge magic tournaments run throughout the year. Grand Prix’s are the place ANYONE can come and get a taste of competitive magic. You do not have to be a professional magic player to participate in one. Due to this, Grand Prix attendance skyrockets to 2000 or more people over the course of the weekend it is held. It becomes a central hub for mtg artists, cosplayers and vendors. The Grand Prix circuit changes venues, countries and cities every time one happens. Keeping it fresh and new. Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas was a different story however. Jace, the Mind Sculptor was becoming a force in the mtg world. It’s design was so powerful every deck in the Top 8 of that tournament had 4 copies in it. If you weren’t playing Jace, you weren’t playing anything else but the cards that could try and beat him. It was a tough time to play magic beyond the kitchen table. Every competitive event was packed full of jaces.
Wizards of the Coast saw the sheer power and amount of Jace, the Mind Sculptors being used and had to act. They stepped in and banned Jace (along with another powerful card being used during this time period, Stoneforge Mystic) halfway through the standard season. This never allowed Jace, the Mind Sculptor to enter the modern format. This was a time where a lot of professional magic players left the game or were very close to leaving. Last week MTG’s R&D department announced JTMS and Bloodbraid Elf would be coming off the modern banlist starting today. A question that crosses a lot of peoples minds when they hear about a banned card in a TCG is “why would they make it if it is just going to be too powerful for play?”
The answer to that is pretty simple actually. Designing games is very tedious. Especially card games. Each card is individual and usually comes with it’s own rules and game mechanics. Magic also churns out multiple sets throughout the year for a vast amount of formats. This can make it very hard to play test to figure out all the combinations that make certain cards too powerful. Usually overpowered combo’s are discovered by us the players.When this happens, it can have a hugely negative effect on the game. Players feel the game becomes stale and unbalanced. Prices for cards get ridiculous on the secondary market. Banning a card allows other cards, decks and strategies to emerge from oppression and flourish.
As the game has grown and changed over the years, so have the cards that wizards designs. Certain kinds of cards get printed that have a higher power level than before and can eventually allow cards like JTMS and Bloodbraid Elf to come out from retirement and make their way into our decks. Cards that are designed better to keep them in check. This is what makes magic so unique among games. It is ever changing and things that were unbeatable in the past, aren’t on top of the charts anymore. This does not make them weak by any means. I feel both Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf will be great forces in the modern scene.
With modern returning as a Pro Tour event, this is a perfect time for R&D to see if power cards like these can function in the new modern scene. Reprinting Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Masters 25 was probably another force to have him return. It will allow more players to have access to Jace, not leaving him for only those with the bankroll to afford one. Over the last couple years WoTC has been incredibly active in the ban lists in both standard and modern. Do you feel it’s because Wizards hasn’t been play testing enough? They are producing too many sets each year? Have cards just been getting more and more powerful as time has passed? Are players just getting better at breaking the game? will you be playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Bloodbraid Elf in your modern games? What answers do you have up your sleeves for them? I’d love to know what you feel in the comments below.
Well with that, this is the end of this week’s Menagerie. I’ll leave you with the upcoming events at Kapow this week. I’ll see you at the Tap-Pit!
Monday- Modern, 6 pm, $8.00 entry. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf are now legal in modern)
Tuesday- Standard Showdown, 6 pm start, $8.00 entry.( No JTMS or Bloodbraid please…..as badly as you want to and as awesome as that would be)
Thursday- Casual Commander, 6 pm. Free event!
Friday – This week’s FNM format is Proxy Legacy, draft and commander. 10 cents a proxy is the entry fee for legacy. 6 pm start time. Promo’s and fun!
Saturday – Casual Commander, 1 pm. Free event! Commander League will start soon. We will be announcing a new Commander League schedule.