This year, Wizards of the Coast formed the Pauper Format Panel (PFP), a committee dedicated to the nuances of the Pauper format with the goals of balancing and fine-tuning it. The PFP was established in January and they’ve already made two, major Banned and Restricted announcements.
Pauper B&R Announcements
The Pauper Format Panel’s first bannings occurred on January 20, 2020, in which they targeted two decks: Tron and Affinity. Bonder’s ornament and Prohetic Prism enabled Tron decks to abuse all five colors of Magic. And Affinity decks could easily grow Atog to a 20/20 creature which they’d Fling at opponents for lethal damage.
Once the dust settled from January’s B&R announcement, the Pauper format was still imbalanced. So, on March 7, 2022, the PFP followed up with an additional bans.
Once again, the PFP felt the need to hinder Affinity decks, which remained a dominant strategy even after they banned Atog. Therefore, they banned Disciple of the Vault.
Galvanic Relay joins Chatterstorm on the Pauper banlist. Both of these Modern Horizons 2 storm cards dominated Pauper while they were legal.
Lastly, the PFP unbanned Expedition Map. After January’s B&R announcement, Tron was left in shambles and needed a power boost.
The Pauper Metagame After Bannings
A recent Pauper Challenge on MTGO gave some initial insight on the status of Pauper after the bannings. After banning the relatively recent Pauper developments, the metagame looks similar to what it was two years ago. But that’s not a bad thing. The format has a diverse range of decks and looks really fun.
Affinity Lives On
Despite losing Atog and Disciple of the Vault, Affinity still took 1st and 2nd place in the Pauper Challenge. The deck doesn’t have the potential to kill out of nowhere like it once did, but it still has some aggressive plays using Makeshift Munition to kill opponents.
Tron Looks Very Different Now
Before the bannings, Pauper Tron worked very differently than Modern Tron. Both decks use Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant, and Urza’s Tower to make seven mana as early as Turn 3. But before these bannings, Pauper Tron was actually a five-color control deck that locked opponents out of the game by repeatedly playing Stonehorn Dignitary with Ghostly Flicker.
Without all five colors, Pauper Tron decks will function similarly to their Modern counterparts. They will attempt to assemble the Urza lands, then slam big threats like Fangren Maurader and Maelstrom Colossus.
More Pauper Standouts
Judging by the top 32 decks from the Pauper Challenge, the metagame is in a healthy spot. A wide range of decks performed well such as Faeries, Bogles, RW Monarch, Burn, and Elves.
New Pauper Additions From Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
New additions from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty are renovating classic Pauper archetypes. Multiple decks use Experimental Synthesizer including Affinity and Boros Monarch. And Faerie decks gain additional copies of Ninja of the Deep Hours in the form of a new Ninja, Moon-Circuit Hacker.
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