you look upon the tarrasque
12, Jul, 22

Online MTG Format is Finally Aligned with Paper Play!

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Article at a Glance

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate had a relatively minor effect on Eternal MTG play, with one exception. Sure, Displacer Kitten may have screwed up Commander a little bit, but one Eternal MTG format saw a total reworking from cards released in the set: MTG Pauper. Multiple Baldur’s Gate cards revolutionized the format as we know it. Gates from the set became the premier strategy of choice when building in Pauper. Unfortunately, because Baldur’s Gate was not appropriately supported for Online clients, these cards became incredibly difficult to acquire.

The Paper VS Online Debate Demonstrated

Pictured above is a tweet from MTG personality Andrea Mengucci highlighting an example of the Baldur’s Gate cards that have recently made huge waves in the format. Looking at recent MTGO Pauper challenges, you’ll notice that these cards are actively absent. Availability for Baldur’s Gate cards on MTGO was so little that it single-handedly changed the metagame for MTG Pauper. No one could find the cards to build the Gates deck, so Pauper players had to build in a format where the cards didn’t exist.

MTGO isn’t the most friendly client for new players. The client doesn’t have any real resources to help players get started, and the interface is not intuitive. Graphically, the game looks like a Windows 2000 simulator cropped together with a bunch of spaghetti code. That being said, it is the best resource to gain matchup knowledge for older MTG formats. I say all this to state that most players on MTGO compete in paper, as they are the only ones who would go through the hassle of learning how to play on this client in the first place.

Because most MTGO players also compete in paper tournaments, learning Pauper knowledge on the client becomes useless. Let’s face it; competitive hopefuls should prioritize paper play because it is much easier to qualify for premier play. Why play online MTG Pauper when all of the decks you will be facing in paper is the one that no one can play? Fortunately, MTG Online has seen this problem and fixed it!

Bringing Back MTG Pauper

basilisk gate

In an MTGO update released on July 12, 2022, Daybreak Games states that all Pauper players will be getting two free copies of the Baldur’s Gate commons that have been impacting Pauper:

“We listened to your feedback regarding supply issues for key Pauper commons from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. To help cards flow to our most engaged Magic Online Pauper fans, we are granting two copies of each of 38 commons to a group of players as part of our weekly patch between 9–10 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow.”

The cards being granted to the affected accounts are as follows: 

  • Arms of Hadar
  • Atrocious Experiment
  • Bane’s Invoker
  • Basilisk Gate
  • Bhaal’s Invoker
  • Black Dragon Gate
  • Blessed Hippogriff
  • Blur
  • Breath Weapon
  • Bronze Walrus
  • Chain Devil
  • Circle of the Land Druid
  • Citadel Gate
  • Cliffgate
  • Cloak of the Bat
  • Cloakwood Swarmkeeper
  • Clockwork Fox
  • Decanter of Endless Water
  • Dire Mimic
  • Draconic Lore
  • Fang Dragon
  • Goggles of Night
  • Gray Slaad
  • Greatsword of Tyr
  • Heap Gate
  • Icewind Stalwart
  • Manor Gate
  • Mold Folk
  • Navigation Orb
  • Nefarious Imp
  • Nimblewright Schematic
  • Patron of the Arts
  • Prized Statue
  • Roving Harper
  • Sea Gate
  • StirgeSword Coast Serpent,
  • Winter Eladrin.

The only bad news here is that players who have not been actively participating in Pauper will not be getting these cards added to their accounts. They will still be available in Treasure Chests, but a savvy MTGO player generally trades these in for currency instead of opening them. This may cause a continuing precedent where some MTGO players cannot play the Gates deck due to availability if the format becomes more popular. Hopefully, if quantity remains a problem, Daybreak Games will repeat this process in the future. Alternatively, this could become an account expansion behind a paywall. If this is the case, I hope the price will be relatively low.

Another issue is the ironic lack of some of the cards mentioned in Andrea Mengucci’s post. While all the Gates are there, some initiative-based commons making waves in Pauper are still missing from the update.

For Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate players out there, it’s important to state that these are the paper versions of the Baldur’s Gate cards to avoid confusion.

Wizards of the Coast has Heard, but Will MTGA Get the Same Treatment?

This is the biggest question plaguing online MTG players right now. It’s no secret that Alchemy is at the top of MTGA’s agenda, but, especially with the return of paper play, will WoTC deliver on the same wish for Magic Arena formats? Currently, MTG in paper and MTG online are totally different games. This was never supposed to happen, but here we are. The last thing we need is one more division in an already divided community. For those interested in the Wizards of the Coasts statement regarding Pauper, you can find it here.

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