There are no Winners in Pauper
The weekend of July 18th and 19th showcased the first Pauper Challenges since Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary were banned. It’s far too soon to make sweeping declarations of the state of Pauper, but initial impressions seem to indicate the format is trending in a healthy direction.
Stompy was a well positioned deck in Week One – it’s easier to adjust to new metagames by being aggressive – but both Tron decks and “Delver” decks failed to take a significant dip. Some felt that the addition of Preordain to Tron would provide a boost to the deck, but that did not pan out in the first weekend.
You wouldn’t have known any of this if you were browsing Twitter on Sunday evening. Instead you’d likely have seen another instance of someone in the Pauper community being accused of manipulating Magic Online to leverage a win. And again discussion of the Pauper community and its reputation.
And again I started to think about why Pauper has this reputation. What is it about the online community that it can be so off-putting to a decent chunk of the Magic playing world?
In Magic Online Pauper there is nothing but winning and losing.
In Magic Online Pauper there is the anonymity of the internet.
These two together help to create a toxic environment where the relatively small gains of victory are so outsized that they propagate a community where winning is valued over almost everything else. Placing well in Challenges or getting a list published in the league results are the highest possible achievement for the vast majority of players in this community as they are the way to notoriety. No one knows who you really are, so what does it matter if you spam trade requests or float mana needlessly to make your opponent spend time to click “OK”?
If you’re reading this you probably play a decent amount of Pauper: how many names of Pauper players do you know? How many handles?
I understand the desire to remain anonymous in these times and respect people’s choices to do so. The nature of the anonymous internet, however, creates incentives where the “you” online is not the same entity as the “you” in the physical world.
Magic Online Pauper has created a place where the victory matters and there are no consequences. If we want Pauper to be a place where people feel welcome, there have to be consequences for this behavior. The community has to hold people accountable.
When winning is the only thing that matters there are no winners. Let’s remember that there’s a person on the other side of the match. Let’s think about what is going through their head if this is their first experience with Pauper.
Let’s make it so they want to come back.