November 27-28 Pauper Weekend Recap

This past weekend there were three major Pauper events. In addition to the Saturday and Sunday Challenges, there was also a Championship Qualifier. While the Qualifier won’t be added to my season end spreadsheet (it only posted the Top 16 as opposed to the Top 32), the format trends continued – Affinity accounted for 10 of the 24 Top 8 slots handed out over the weekend. After six Challenges, here is where the Top 32 metagame shakes out (accounting for every archetype with at least 4 appearances):

If you look at Affinity as a whole (there’s one more Jeskai Affinity deck not listed here), the archetype makes up almost 33% of the Top 32 metagame and has taken down 52% of all Top 8s awarded in Crimson Vow season.

I am not going to spend more time talking about how the format needs a ban – I’ve done that enough and frankly I’m tired of repeating myself. Instead I’m going to repeat myself in another way: talking about why this always feels like this is happening in Pauper.

As formats add cards, combos are going to be uncovered. If not for serious limiting elements and lock pieces, formats like Vintage and Legacy would arguably be more dominated by combo decks than they are today. To a degree, non-aggro, non-prison decks in Vintage do have some combo element – we see you Vault-Key and Tinker. In these other non-rotating formats there are important limiting factors. Cards like Trinisphere, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Damping Sphere, Blood Moon, Wasteland, Force of Will – all of these and more help to keep the broken decks in check to some degree. These cards help to bear the weight of an ever additive cardpool that is constraining existing strategies and taxing “unfair” decks.

Pauper has the ever additive cardpool but completely lacks powerful limiting agents. The result is a format that hangs in a tenuous state where adding the wrong suite of cards has the potential to push an “almost good” combo deck into the stratosphere. At this point we all know that any Storm spout is liable to break the format in half. Currently we’re living under the auspices of Atog – a combo deck that existed for years but was held at bay by one of the true broken limiting agents in Gorilla Shaman.

There are two paths to forge with Pauper. The first is to take more action against these combo decks. Given the nature of the cardpool that means more aggressive bans when these combo decks do arise. Please stop asking for more powerful hate bears at common, that’s not going to happen folks. Force of Will isn’t walking through that door and neither is Dryad Millitant, so let’s stop wishful thinking. For what it is worth, I believe this is the correct path to take.

The other is to just have Pauper be a combo format – one where the game is decided on turn two or three. We have already seen what Pauper looks like with combo running roughshod, so maybe the “answer” is to just do that. For what it’s worth, again, I think this would make for a miserable format where the old Vintage axiom would hold sway: The early game is shuffling, the mid-game is the mulligan decision, the late game is turn one.

What should Pauper be? In my opinion it should be a place where people get to play with commons that may have been overlooked at one point and not have to thread the needle of hoping not to die to an over-the-top combo deck. Given that the best tools against combo decks are not viable at common, the answer becomes a more aggressive management of the ban list.

November 20-21 Pauper Weekend Wrap Up

After four Crimson Vow challenges Pauper is in an unenviable spot. Grixis Affinity took home six Top 8 slots on Saturday and another six on Sunday. Over the course of the weekend 22 players took Grixis Affinity to a Top 32 finish – 11 on each day. The next most popular deck was Dimir Faeries with 4 appearances in the Top 32 on Saturday and none on Sunday.

Folks, this ain’t good.

This chart showcases every deck that has at least 3 appearances in the Top 32 this season or a Top 8 finish. Affinity is almost 29% of the metagame while no other deck has reached 8% Top 32 volume. Affinity is approaching if it has not already reached Splinter Twin status and things are not going to get much better.

Affinity has been around Pauper since the beginning and was the subject of the format’s initial banlist in Cranial Plating. Even after Atog was released as a common on Magic Online in 2011, the deck was merely another good choice for specific metagames. The Artifact Lands, which caused huge problems in other formats, were largely held in check by copious artifact removal headlined by Gorilla Shaman. Running Affinity always meant risking your board development in the face of a turn two or three Mox Monkey. As has been noted several times, the printing of the Modern Horizons 2 Bridge cycle made Affinity far more consistent in the face of hate. While Chatterstorm got a ton of press, Affinity was a strong contender during the reign of squirrels as well.

Now Affinity is not only remarkably consistent with regards to developing its board thanks to dual lands (that, by the way, effectively tap for more than two mana every turn), they also can present a fantastic natural clock in Myr Enforcer, a combo clock in Atog, and multiple combo-kill angles with Atog and Fling or Atog and Disciple of the Vault. It has one of the best removal spells in Galvanic Blast and access to some of the format’s best draw spells in Thoughtcast and Deadly Dispute – that latter of which is basically mana neutral in the deck. And let’s not get started on Blood Fountain which is basically a Sol Ring you can cash in for two creatures in the midgame.

Realistically, what deck can keep up with that?

Normally this is where we could talk about sideboard options. Cards like Dust to Dust and Deglamer have some utility but Fangren Marauder cannot stop Disciple from killing you – on the Fangren player’s turn your Disciple triggers will resolve before their Marauder triggers and well, we know how that ends. Without effective countermeasures, the deck will continue to add tools at a rate other decks cannot match. Affinity cannot continue to exist in its current form as there is no real way to fight the deck except to try and race.

I’m not going to get into the weeds about what should be banned as I’ve already made my opinion well known. We’re past the time for observing, for trying to figure out if something can reliably keep Affinity in check. After months, we know it’s the best deck by a fairly clear margin. There’s only one path forward and the people in Renton have to be the ones to walk it.

Yes, Gush Needed to be Banned

Whenever the subject of bans come up in the Pauper Discourse, Blue Monday enters the conversation. On May 20, 2019 Daze, Gitaxian Probe, and Gush were all banned in Pauper. At the time I had long advocated for a Gush ban as the card fostered a format imbalance that heavily favored blue decks. At the time I was fond of saying that if you wanted to compete you could play any Gush deck you wanted. Some players believe that these bans hit the wrong targets and that some or all of these cards should still be legal.

Clearly I disagree.

Before its ban Gush was powering up several decks – Izzet Blitz (a Kiln Fiend combo deck), Tribe Combo (Tireless Tribe and Inside Out combo), various Spellstutter Sprite decks (Delver, Izzet Delver/Faeries), and Dimir Delver (similar to Legacy Death’s Shadow); the combo decks and Dimir Delver also ran Daze and Gitaxian Probe, while Delver also ran Daze.

Gush is a powerful card draw spell and an engine all rolled into one. While nominally an instant, Gush was best leveraged on your own turn by floating two mana, returning the islands, and then potentially replaying a land to not only get a land drop but to also advance your board state. In Dimir Delver this made it rather easy to leverage an early Gurmag Angler but in Tribe Combo it meant a single Gush was lethal – especially when backed up with Circular Logic – and in Izzet Blitz a Gush could very easily translate to a victory. In the fair decks, Gush was just a fantastic way to accrue card advantage after Ninja of the Deep Hours went to work.

In all instances, Daze would protect investments at minimal cost while Gitaxian Probe allowed these decks to run fewer lands with reduced risk and increase their spell count for interactions where that mattered (Delver of Secrets, Augur of Bolas, Gurmag Angler).

While there were very real costs to running these spells they were far outweighed by the advantages garnered by including them in your deck. Blue is already at a significant advantage in non-rotating formats and these cards compounded that issue in that if you weren’t already playing blue you were already playing from behind. These cards were absolutely problems at the time even if people would like to point to different culprits.

A lot of folks want to place the blame on Augur of Bolas as a reason these cards got banned. Augur is a body that brick walls most aggressive creatures in Pauper while also digging for powerful spells. But Augur’s strength is bolstered by the spells it can dig up and these three, if found off of Augur, could almost always be cashed in immediately. An aside on Snuff Out: Snuff Out does not need to be banned. In an ideal world the cost of casting Snuff Out for four life would be real. As it stands today the life cost does not matter as the “clocks” of the format do not care about four life chunks. In a balanced format, the four life would represent a full turn of the game, not a fraction of one. Augur’s strength is a symptom of blue’s overall power but not the cause.

And then there’s Foil, the other free counterspell. Lots of people love to point to the fact that Gush only really took off once Foil was downshifted in Ultimate Masters. But Foil without Gush is a card that rarely sees play as the alternate cost is rather steep as it costs an Island and another card – some cards in Pauper are worth two cards for sure, but asking to trade three cards for a spell is a bridge too far. Gush was already a powerful card before Foil showed up and if Foil were banned, Gush would still be busted; without Gush providing you with extra cards at no cost, Foil sees almost no play.

There were casualties as a result of these bans. Tribe Combo has become a shell of its former self and only crops up occasionally from dedicated rogues. Izzet Blitz is a deck that has yet to reassert itself as a contender (although Festival Crasher is helping it back up the ranks). But these decks, as novel as they were, were not more important than Gush leaving the format. In both instances other cards could help them return to the metagame (again, as we are seeing with Izzet Blitz), but the number of worlds where the continued inclusion of Gush lead to a balanced and healthy format is infinitesimally smaller than ones without Gush.

So why am I bringing this up two and a half years after the fact? Because the way the Pauper community talks about Blue Monday has forever influenced the ways we approach ban discourse. There are people who want to keep powerful cards in a format because they are fun to cast and to pilot, even if they cause problems with meta health. And so individuals look at ways to navigate around the card causing issues in an effort to keep the potential offender legal. We saw an example of this not too long ago when Expedition Map was banned in an effort to curb Tron. Instead of hitting the actual problem, an ancillary card was axed and we all know how that turned out.

Oh? In case you did not know, Tron got better after Map was banned and pilots turned to Crop Rotation.

I am of the mindset that no one card is more important than the format as a whole. That helps guide my philosophy when it comes to bans. At the same point I understand that what draws some people to Pauper is the opportunity to play with some cards that are banned in other places. There is no easy answer to this conundrum, but I’d rather have a vibrant format with multiple viable options than one where my choice is which variant of the best deck I decide to pilot today.

I may be wrong. You may disagree with me and that’s okay. But Pauper is way past the point where we can ban around problem cards for the sake of preserving the opportunity to cast them.

November 13-14 Pauper Weekend in Review

A new season has hit Pauper. After eight weeks of Midnight Hunt, November 13 and November 14 heralded the start of Crimson Vow season. The early returns show a few cards making waves, headlined Blood Fountain and Reckless Impulse.

While we are still early in the season and can’t draw too many conclusions, we can extrapolate that things have not changed all that much with the injection of some new cards. Grixis Affinity still looks to be a popular and potent pick with Spellstutter Sprite decks not far behind. Boros Bully has been picking up steam recently and I expect that to continue as it remains one of the better Dust to Dust decks.

There was some discussion as to whether or not Blood Fountain would be an automatic inclusion in Affinity and this past weekend was a case in favor – all six Top 8 decks ran the new artifact. The allure of two artifacts early is tough to pass up, especially as it can either convert to three new cards late while also pinging with Disciple of the Vault. Blood Fountain is likely here to stay as it also made an appearance in Rakdos Wildfire.

Speaking of, the latest Cleansing Wildfire deck to make a splash also found a home for Reckless Impulse. This spell is powerful, giving you two cards for two mana, albeit with an expiration date. Having played with it myself I fully expect this card to reshape how red midrange decks are built moving forward, biasing them towards cheaper spells to help mitigate the “draw back”.

But what of the format? Things have not changed much. Affinity presents a problem where even if you aim targeted hate at it you might only delay the inevitable. Pro Tour Venice Champion Osyp Lebedowicz once described Arcbound Ravager as a fairy godmother – it did not matter what you did, when Ravager showed up it would save the day. Pauper Affinity feels similar in that it does not much matter what the opponent does – with Atog and Disciple of the Vault in the mix, there is nothing to do except try to win before they show up. That would be all well and good if these decks could keep Affinity in check, help bring some balance to the metagame. Yet the past 10 weeks have shown us that this is not the case, and as it is currently constructed, Affinity is a force that Pauper has to reckon with, even if it lacks the effective measures to do so.

Hermetic Study: Selesnya “Scales”

Ever since the Hardened Scales deck burst on to the scene in Modern I have been trying to see if it could be ported over to Pauper. The format has a ton of +1/+1 counter synergies and access to Vault Skirge. It does lack some key elements – namely the persistent advantage provided by a card like Hardened Scales or Winding Constrictor. Still, cards like Travel Preparations and Pollenbright Druid enticed the deck building half of my brain.

When Modern Horizons 2 rolled around I got the itch again thanks to Arcbound Mouser. Finally, Parish-Blade Trainee was the finally straw before I felt compelled to put something together. I knew I wanted to leverage Travel Preparations with Tethmos High-Priest and so I set about building a low to the ground White-Green Counter deck. After running a few iterations through the leagues, here is where I settled before putting the deck down in favor of something that was, for lack of a better term, better:

Big thanks to Matt Ferrando and Brian Coval for chatting with me about this idea

The deck performed rather admirably. It could put a lot of power on to the board quickly through the combination of Arcbound Mouser and Arcbound Worker leading into Travel Preparations and Pollenbright Druid. Ornithopter helped the deck hum in the early turns, giving you a clean target for counters if your opponent had early removal. Tethmos High-Priest gave you some action in the middle and latter stages of a game and could set up some turns where you could Duskshell Crawler in for massive damage. The combination of Thraben Inspector and Elvish Visionary provided the deck with some much needed velocity. The deck was exceptionally good at applying pressure to other fair decks in the early stages of the game and the two cheap lifelinkers could often put you in a position to where you could take a few punches.

There are two key things holding this deck back, and only one of them can be easily addressed. The first is the reliance on early artifact creatures. Affinity is a major player in the format and Dust to Dust is a common inclusion. Abrade also sees a ton of play and leaning on Vault Skirge to do the heavy lifting is a recipe for disaster. There is a solution to this – cards like Simic Initiate, Servant of the Scale, and Star Pupil all act as if they have Modular, but they can spread their gifts around to anything, not just artifacts. Sure you probably want to keep Vault Skirge in that situation, but Healer’s Hawk or other cheap lifelink creatures can do the same job.

The other problem was alluded to previously – there is no Hardened Scales. Rather, you have to do work for every little advantage and are playing a fundamentally fair game of Magic. Pauper, currently, is putting a ton of pressure on non-blue fair decks. While these decks can succeed, they often need a way to go over the top, whether it is Rally the Peasants or a Cascade threat. The Counters deck has none of that and instead tries to just play by the rules. Modern Hardened Scales needs Arcbound Ravager to do some tricks and the closest Pauper has to that creature is Atog. At that point, why are you not just playing Affinity?

I am not saying this was a failed endeavor – far from it. There are a lot of cool synergies in the deck and it is likely only one or two cards away from being a fringe contender. However, for the time being, I’m going to be investigating other options.

Midnight Hunt Season Wrap

Well, Crimson Vow is right around the corner. After two months, 20 major events, and one nefarious bug, Midnight Hunt season is at an end. It was a season where the prevailing story was that of the dominance of Affinity and Dimir. Today I want to take a look at three different charts – one logging the first four weeks, one logging the second four weeks, and one looking at the entire season.

A few caveats:

  • These charts are inclusive of the Delver decks that won during the Faerie Miscreant bug; while this may skew the data some I do not believe they present a large enough sample size to upset the overall picture of the season.
  • I excluded the information from the October 9 Qualifier where only 16 decklists were published; Dimir, Affinity, and Ephemerate had a good day which tends to fall in line with the rest of the season.
  • Volume represents the number of Top 32 appearances; Weighted Volume looks at the macro archetype’s prevalence in the number of wins above 3 losses.

The First Four Weeks

The first month of the season Faeries -that is Spellstutter Sprite strategies were the dominant force. Affinity was a strong second with Ephemerate/Flicker decks and Creature based combo (Elves, First Day of Class, Wonderwalls) coming in a the top of the next tier. Here the format looked top heavy but given how new everything felt (Chatterstorm had just been banned), nothing looked woefully out of sorts. Both Affinity and Faeries were top strategies during the Chatterstorm era and this looked to be a continuation of that tale.

The Second Four Weeks

In the back half of the season Affinity asserted itself as a dominant force. While Faeries looked to lag some, it was simply folks playing other strategies besides Dimir (here we can see the influence of the Miscreant bug), but overall, Affinity and Faeries converged. Ephemerate decks improved their stock in part due to the iteration and refinement of value decks that also incorporated the Cleansing Wildfire package while Ethereal Armor decks – largely Bogles – put pressure on the format to have an answer.

In both instances, traditional aggro has been a low tier choice at best. Boros Bully came back in force in the back half thanks to some builds opting to run four copies of Dust to Dust main.

Both of these charts tell a similar story – Affinity and Faeries are significantly better than everything else going on in the format. Ephemerate engines are powerful but struggle to be as consistent as the other two metagame monsters. Creature decks have to either avoid interaction (Bogles) or focus on a combo (Elves) to win. Pure board control (Pestilence) is a metagame choice at best and can fall flat if it hits the wrong string of matchups.

Midnight Hunt Final

So here’s the metagame at the end of things. While Affinity might look scarier, with its propensity to take down half of a Top 8, Affinity only took down nearly 29% of all Top 8s included in these charts; Faeries took down just over 30% of the Top 8 slots. The fact is, these two decks are utterly dominant. They are not only highly consistent thanks to card filtering, redundancy, and card advantage, but they also do so at a rate significantly better than everything else in the metagame.

I am not going to rehash my thoughts on what needs to be done – I’ve made that abundantly clear several times. Instead, here are cards I would focus on playing in the early days of Crimson Vow season:

  • Dead Weight still kills Atog dead and is not the worst against Ninja of the Deep Hours. Gift of Fangs might be better if you’re running enough vampires.
  • Fangren Marauder is quite strong if you can get it out before Atog goes chomping.
  • Blood Fountain looks like it is going to be a house in Affinity since it provides two artifacts for a single black mana while also regrowing Atog late.
  • Speaking of, Wedding Invitation is going to cause lots of headaches as it gives Affinity another way to go over the top.
  • Dawn Charm might be good, but it looks pretty awkward if they have both Temur Battle Rage and Fling.

I wish there was more to say about the metagame right now. There’s a lot of interesting jockeying for position outside of the two best archetypes…but that only matters so much. If you want to succeed in Pauper currently, you shouldn’t concern yourself with anything outside of the top two, because they are so popular and so prevalent.

Pauper Under Pressure

Normally I would be using this space to write about what happened over the weekend in the Pauper Challenges. I won’t be doing that today since there was a pall cast over the format due to a bug that impacted Faerie Miscreant. Instead of requiring a copy already on the battlefield, Miscreant simply drew you a card regardless. As of today, Miscreant will be temporarily banned in Pauper until the Crimson Vow release on November 11. This will impact Delver but in my opinion the ban is necessary to maintain the integrity of Leagues and Challenges, including the Showcase Qualifier on November 6, until a fix can be implemented with Crimson Vow.

The Faerie Miscreant issue frustrated a large portion of Pauper players, with numerous format regulars upset about yet another problem with the format. And I understand this feeling. Over the past two years Pauper has felt neglected with regards to format health. Today I’m going to talk about some of the persistent issues with the metagame and what, if anything, can be done to alleviate the issues.

The current slate of problems began in earnest in May of 2019 with the so-called Blue Monday bans. Daze, Gitaxian Probe, and Gush were all banned. These bans neutered blue combo decks (Izzet Blitz, Tribe Combo) and hampered Delver strategies. I heavily advocated for a Gush ban but was not expecting the other two bans. I still believe banning Gush was correct, but I know there are folks who disagree. In the wake of these bans Arcum’s Astrolabe was released which turned the metagame into Astrolabe-Monarch vs Astrolabe-Tron. Astrolabe was banned in October 2019, right as Mystic Sanctuary was emerging as a threat. Sanctuary created a “lock” with Deprive – one where Delver decks could ignore the drawback thanks to a low curve. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that Sanctuary was banned and some action was taken to rein in Tron – Expedition Map was banned (we’ll come back to this later). The format was doing better until Commander Legends hit and Fall from Favor exposed the problems with Monarch once again. Even though Fall from Favor was expected to cause issues it remained legal until early 2021. Once it was banned, a vibrant and healthy format emerged until the release of Modern Horizons 2 released Chatterstorm and pumped up Affinity. Then a few weeks ago Chatterstorm and Sojourner’s Companion were banned, giving us the current state until the Miscreant Situation.

Some of the issues from the past – namely Tron and Monarch – have been wallpapered over by newer issues, but there exists a worry that if steps are taking to fix the format that the old problems will emerge anew.

So let’s break this down.

First up we have the sheer number of problem cards that have been banned in the past two years. Outside of Mystic Sanctuary, the bans after Blue Monday have all come from non-Standard sets. These sets have different needs that Standard releases for draft and both Fall from Favor and Chatterstorm (as well as the Bridges, which I will address later) served important roles for their Limited environment. However in both those cases it was suspected that these cards would cause issues in Pauper and, spoiler alert, they did.

Second, we have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the format works. I know the folks in Play Design have tins to worry about and truth be told, it does not make good business sense for them to spend a lot of time focused on Pauper. Still, the Expedition Map and the Sojourner’s Companion ban display a lack of knowledge about what makes those respective decks tick. Expedition Map may have helped Tron be more consistent, but the problem with that deck wasn’t achieving an early Tron but rather the mana advantage that rendered non-Monarch midrange and other control options irrelevant. Worse, the Map ban prompted people to move to Crop Rotation which made Tron more consistent in locked out aggro strategies. The Sojourner’s Companion ban displayed an error in understanding what allowed Affinity to be a reasonable part of the metagame – the risk of the mana base. Affinity has long had undercosted threats – Myr Enforcer, Carapace Forger, Gearseeker Serpent – and having another one wasn’t the problem. The problem was (and remains) that indestructible artifact lands remove the risk of playing Affinity, which was a core component in allowing it to be a reasonable part of the metagame. Affinity needs to be Pauper’s Dredge.

These two issues, when combined, leads to a feeling of neglect. The format is forced to live with problematic cards and interactions for extended lengths of times while experiments in power levels are printed (correctly) for Limited but end up ruining the play experience. The reality is this neglect makes sense in that Pauper is not a high priority despite its passionate player base.

All of this is well and good, but what can be done? Simply put, Wizards needs to listen to the people who play the format most often. However the people who play the format also need to be as respectful. I have seen far too many folks decide that because Wizards hasn’t done what they expect that the folks who make the game are “incompetent” or other worse insults.

To those people: what the hell are you doing? Do you really think calling the people you’re trying to influence stupid or bad at their job is going to endear them to your position?

In the past, a Pauper version of the Commander Rules Committee has been suggested. I think a better idea would be a Pauper version of the Commander Advisory Group. While I do not think that this group should have final say on bans, I think they should advise Play Design about the format and what the problematic cards/interactions are. I also think that Play Design should be more willing to ban suspected problem cards quickly instead of letting the format languish for months in the hope things might improve.

But these are just my thoughts – what do you think should happen to maintain a healthy and long-lived Pauper format?

October 23-24 Pauper Weekend in Review

I don’t want to go into depth about the October 23 and October 24 Pauper Challenges since they took place under the auspices of the Faerie Miscreant bug. That is, instead of needing a copy on the battlefield to draw a card, Miscreant was (and remains currently) bugged so that it draws a card all on its own. So while only three Top 32 decks from the entire weekend ran Miscreant, it feels awkward to dive too deep into the results.

Especially since once again, the best decks remain Grixis Affinity and Spellstutter Sprite builds (led by Dimir Faeries). Over the past two weekends these two macro-archetypes combine to account for nearly 70% of the Top 32 metagame and almost 72% of all Top 8 slots.

Today I want to use this space to talk about what I would like to see from the Pauper metagame in broad strokes. I often get accused of searching out an elusive “healthy” metagame without nailing down what I mean. So here it goes.

Over time, a healthy metagame would have a number of decks and strategies that can range from 8% to 20% of the winner’s metagame, while never sustaining numbers above 25% for appreciable lengths of time. There should be a decision from week to week about what the best options are for a given tournament; it should not be a forgone conclusion that one or two decks are always the optimal choice.

That is not to say there should not be a “Top Tier” but rather that the decks at the apex should have natural counterplay from other viable options.

Now this is incredibly hard to achieve in a non-rotating format. Due to the weight of history certain strategies are going to have more and better options. Historically speaking, non-rotating formats that reach back to the start of Magic favor blue because for several years blue was overpowered.

So that comes to the next aspect of what I believe is needed for a healthy metagame: intentional and regular bans. The fact is that Pauper has needed several bans for several years. As time rolls on the issues compound. Occasionally, such as after Fall from Favor was banned and before Modern Horizons 2 hit, there was a period of relative balance even if there was a power push. Now, we are still dealing with the fallout from Modern Horizons 2 completely upending a delicate balance.

The bans are never going to be cut and dry easy in a format like Pauper. A lot of the cards that cause problems are core to the format’s identity. That is part of what got us into the power creep problem. In an effort to combat historically great cards, new potent options were released into the environment. These had to go and as a result the decks that have subsisted on broken cards for much of the format’s history have continued to perform.

Healthy formats don’t just exist – they have to be curated. The fact is that Pauper can be great, but it needs some attention.

I wanted to take a few moments to give a shout-out to my Patreon Community. They are always ready to talk about Pauper and look for potential solutions to the metagame and the format’s woes. If you’re interested in becoming a Patron, you can sign up here. Rewards start at $1 a month.