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GOAT Magic: Unbanned Modern—Jace vs. Bloodbraid

Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan is kicking off in a few hours, which means the focus of the community is on the Modern format. While Wizards stuck to its word and didn't shake up the format with bannings heading into the event, Wizards mentioned that there could be come unbannings after the Pro Tour. To figure out what might be safe to unban, we decided to give some of the most discussed options the GOAT Magic treatment. So, here's the plan for today. Richard will be playing Unbanned Jund, featuring not just Bloodbraid Elf but Deathrite Shaman as well, while I'll be playing Unbanned UW Control built around Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic. Are any of these cards safe to unban in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out!

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Post-Game Thoughts

Rather than talking about the matches, which went pretty well for Unbanned UW Control, let's focus in on the four banned cards. Based on our experiences today, are any of Bloodbraid Elf, Deathrite Shaman, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or Stoneforge Mystic safe to unban in Modern?

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Before playing our match, I was on the fence about unbanning Jace, the Mind Sculptor but interested in giving the planeswalker a trial run. After playing our match and being reminded of just how powerful Jace is, it's hard to imagine it being allowed to run wild in Modern. While a midrange deck like Jund is a good matchup for Jace, the Mind Sculptor—and it's certainly true that a four-mana planeswalker isn't all that scary against decks like Affinity, Storm, and Tron—if Jace, the Mind Sculptor is unbanned, it would push all the midrange and control decks toward running it and probably reduce the diversity of the format.

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Deathrite Shaman is simply too good for Modern. While Richard didn't manage to steal any games with Unbanned Jund, the Elf Shaman was by far the best card on the battlefield in several of our games, single-handedly keeping Richard in the game. The combination of ramp, being a finisher, being graveyard hate, and also hosing aggro makes Deathrite Shaman too good in too many matchups. If anything, it should probably be banned in Legacy rather than being let loose in Modern.

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While Jace and Deathrite should probably stay on the banned list, Stoneforge Mystic and Bloodbraid Elf might have a brighter future in the Modern format. While both of the cards are strong, I'm not sure they are too strong for the format. Stoneforge Mystic is oddly slow in a lot of matchups. Even if nothing goes wrong, a Turn 3 Batterskull still loses to all of the unfair decks in the format, and Fatal Push gives the format another solid answer to Stoneforge Mystic itself. Meanwhile, fair midrange decks like Jund have fallen by the wayside in Modern recently, and Bloodbraid Elf might be the shot in the arm the archetype needs to at least be somewhat competitive. While being a two-for-one is nice, there's a lot of variance involved, and without Deathrite Shaman allowing Bloodbraid Elf to come down on Turn 3, it seems pretty fair in a format with Goryo's Vengeance and Hollow Ones taking over games on Turn 2 and Karn Liberated and Storm kills happening on Turn 3.


Anyway, that's all for today. So, what do you think? Should something be unbanned in Modern? If so, what about Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Stoneforge Mystic, Deathrite Shaman, and Bloodbraid Elf? Are any of the cards safe for Modern? Let us know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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