Yesterday, during the Weekly MTG, we had a Banned and Restricted Announcement for the Pauper format. Some changes were predictable while some were a bit less called!
You can read the full article from Gavin Verhey about the bans by clicking here but I wanted to share with you my thoughts about them.
The fact that Affinity was being problematic was clear for everyone I guess, but there were various possible bans that could have resized the power of the deck.
I personally was a fan of the option of banning the original Mirrodin’s Artifact Lands: it would have helped in slowing down Affinity but I also think that it wasn’t a definitive solution to the problem.
Another cards that surely would have helped if banned are the new indestructible artifact lands from MH2; it would have been the best move to cripple Affinity without removing such an iconic piece like Atog but it would have also been really bad seeing all those Wildfire shenanigans die with them.
Atog was a card that was like an emblem for the Pauper format and seeing it go was hard but I think it was the right choice to slow Affinity down. The ones that know says that the archetype is dead with this ban they are wrong; it can still go the aggro way by returning to some of its old pieces like Carapace Forger and Frogmite… or it can still play like usual by switching to Atog’s little brother: Krark-Clan Grunt. The Grunt is still a sac outlet for artifacts that doesn’t require mana, but it costs 3 and it will only get +1/+0 and First Strike when an artifact gets sacrificed to it. The fact that it doesn’t increase in toughness is extremely important as Atog was able to avoid being removed by spells like Lightning Bolt and Fiery Cannonade with his +2/+2.
I’m certain that even after the ban, Affinity will see play.
Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism
These two bans instead were completely unexpected! Maybe because in my local meta it wasn’t much played in its classic flicker version but I wasn’t thinking that Tron might be the one hit by a ban in this announcement.
With the data in hand about its win rate and remembering how Tron can overwhelm the game, I agree that it was not a bad choice to ban some cards to stop him from being the new deck that would have overwhelmed the format. However I wonder if these two bans ended up killing Tron instead of only resizing its power and if they also didn’t end up crippling other decks in the process. Prophetic Prism can be an ok ban and it can be substituted with a Prismatic Lens in decks that look for color fixing, or other small artifacts in decks like Boros Monarch.
Bonder’s Ornament’s ban instead ended up hitting other midrange decks, like Pestilence, or tier 2 deck that used it to get the card advantage needed.
“It was never really intended for competitive Constructed formats” is a motivation to the band that I honestly don’t like at all, Monarch is another mechanic that wasn’t intended for completive Constructed formats and it is still part of Pauper.
Speaking about Monarch, to be honest I thought that one of the changes coming to the format announced in the tweet, might have been the removing of the mechanic from Pauper as it is something that you constantly hear the players complain about… but after the b&r announcement I’m glad it is still here: without the bonder, Midrange decks need it to fight the quick assault of aggro deck and the constant card draw of Control.
To sum it up, I was pretty happy with the bans and I think this might be a good start for the Pauper Format Panel; however I think they should have started by banning only the prism to begin with and see if Tron would have still been a problem even without the card draw from playing and flickering it, instead of stripping it and other midrange deck from the Bonder.