Hey everyone! Welcome to another Modern Musings! This week we are going to have to put our Induced Amnesia brew on hold for a little while, while we talk about the unbannings that were announced by Wizards on Monday.
I’m going to be honest with you guys, while I suspected the Bloodbraid Elf (henceforth known as BBE) unban as I’ve indicated in past articles, I did not expect the Jace, the Mind Sculptor unban. There have been times in Modern’s history where a Jace unban would have been perfectly reasonable, like during the reign of Titan Bloom, Infect, or Eldrazi decks. Now, however, is not one of those times and I’m here to explain why I think this unban was not a good idea.
The Bloodbraid Elf Unban is Fine
The unbanning of BBE was warranted and expected, especially when cards like Collected Company (aka CoCo) exist. CoCo and BBE are very similar cards, they both get you things that have CMC 3 or less from the top of your deck. The upside to CoCo is that you can get to have more control over what you get, the downside being you can only get creatures. BBE on the other hand can get anything, but you don’t get any control over what it is (beyond what you put in your deck of course).
In addition to that, Jund, the traditional home for BBE, has not been posting very good numbers recently. I think that considering this, it is not unreasonable to remove BBE from the ban list to give G/R/x midrange lists a bit of a bump. The other deck I think that significantly is improved by BBE is R/G land destruction, A.K.A. Ponza. Ponza is, at its core, a tempo deck, and what better tempo card is there in R/G than BBE? I can’t wait to cascade into some stone rains.
The Elephant in the Room
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is a card that has been banned since Modern’s inception. This was not unwarranted either, Modern became a format just after Jace and Stoneforge Mystic had been banned in Standard. People were wary of Jace at that time and tired of seeing him in constructed formats, myself included. I actually took my longest break from Magic because of that Standard format and didn’t come back to magic until Return to Ravnica hit the shelves. While I think that Jace would have been a laughable card in the early days of Modern with decks like Blazing Shoal Infect dominating the format, Modern has slowed down considerably to the point that traditional U/W/x control lists have been popping up again. It seems to me this is the perfect time for Jace to be an effective card in Modern.
So should Jace have been unbanned? Time will tell, but my preliminary thought is: why risk it? Prior to this unbanning, Modern was probably the most diverse and interesting it has ever been. Why risk making the format worse? The answer, as usual, is money. I have to imagine that after all these Standard bannings, sales of Standard-legal sets have fallen. Given that Jace is in Masters 25, I think that this is a pretty clear move by Wizards to make up some of the money they lost by dwindling demand of Standard-legal sets. This seems like a financial holdover until WOTC releases Return to Dominaria, a set that is almost guaranteed to be awesome.
Now I’m not necessarily saying that Jace is too good for the format, he very well might be fine (though I kind of doubt it), but I would’ve much rather seen him unbanned at a time when Modern needs a boost.
The Brew Potential
Now that we’ve unlocked some of the more notorious cards in Modern from the banlist, It’s definitely time for brewing. In the next couple weeks I’m going to try and find/create what I think are the best brews for BBE and Jace. While as a Modern enthusiast I’m not too thrilled with the unbans, as a brewer I find them enticing. I’ve seen a couple brews already that are fairly exciting, like Todd Steven’s U/G Turbo Lands deck. I believe that the biggest game though, is probably in the miracle cards that were so powerful in Legacy but so underused in Modern.
Anyhoo, that’s all for this week, let me know what you think in the comments. Is Jace too good for Modern? Will BBE make jund good again? Next week we’ll be going over the Induced Amnesia brews that I had planned for this week. Until then, have fun playtesting!