Outside of Lurrus of the Dream-Den being banned in both Pioneer and Modern, Monday’s ban announcement touched upon another format: Pauper. Today I’m going to analyze the latest ban list update, keeping in mind what Gavin Verhey and the rest of the Pauper Format Panel wrote in their explanation of the Pauper bans.
Every time Wizards prints a common with storm, it inevitably breaks Pauper and needs to be banned soon after. This happened with Chatterstorm few months ago, Galvanic Relay this past Monday and it’ll happen again.
The problem aren’t these cards, but the fact that you can play with Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame and Cabal Ritual in Pauper, cards that are either banned in Modern or only legal in Legacy. At this point, I don’t foresee the Pauper ban list banning them, as Gavin confirmed in his article:
“The first is the ritual package—Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Lotus Petal, and so on. These kinds of cards are almost always up to no good. You could argue that banning them and cutting off storm entirely is something that would save the format substantial grief over time. While it is an interesting discussion, a lot of people enjoy these cards for that “Legacy feel” Pauper often has and, as mentioned above, having access to less powerful storm decks we think can be fine for the metagame and attract players.”
While I don’t agree with the decision I’m fine with it, and can only hope to not see storm cards at common anymore in the foreseeable future. Reaping the Graves and Weather the Storm is all you can do with storm cards these days, and that’s enough.
Affinity has always been a valid option in Pauper, although in the most recent sets it received incredibly pushed cards that turned the deck into a value machine from what was previously an aggro deck.
While I love the indestructible artifact dual lands in combination with Cleansing Wildfire, they’re excceptional in Affinity, as it took away one of the biggest weakness of the deck: Gorilla Shaman and its ability to one-sided Armageddon the opponent, which was one of the biggest liability of the deck.
Blood Fountain and Experimental Synthesizer are two new tools that give you card advantage, at times up to a three-for-one, while increasing your artifact count. They’re both great, cheap options that will give the deck way more reach.
Makeshift Munitions became Pauper-legal with Commander Legends. It’s incredibly strong against Faeries and at times unbeatable in Game 1, although it becomes worse post-sideboard when you can fight it with Hydroblast. Makeshift Munitions gives the deck inevitability, and it’s an additional way to gain value from your Chromatic Star, Ichor Wellspring and Experimental Synthesizer.
Reckoner’s Bargain is just a strict upgrade to Costly Plunder, which saw play before Bargain was printed in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. While the life gain from sacrificing a Myr Enforcer or a Frogmite can be sometimes backbreaking, it doesn’t add to the deck much more than what Costly Plunder did.
I left Deadly Dispute for last because I believe this is the best card in format. It’s essentially an Ancestral Recall whenever you get to sacrifice an Ichor Wellspring or Experimental Synthesizer. This combination is so strong that it powered up the Storm deck that got Galvanic Relay banned, and also powers up the Goblins Combo deck. It’s for sure a real threat to the format with so much card advantage sitting in the Rakdos colors.
Deadly Dispute made Thoughtcast redundant, making Affinity only need to play two colors, abandoning blue and giving it more resiliency and speed with only seven taplands. It can also exploit your opponent’s removal spells that target your Myr Enforcer as an additional way to make some free and clean card advantage.
Banning Disciple of the Vault will definitely weaken the Affinity deck, which now cannot kill anymore out of nowhere thanks to Makeshift Munitions or Krark-Clan Shaman, but will certainly not knock it out of the Tier 1 territory. Outside of control matchups, I never felt the Disciple of the Vault to be particularly strong in this deck, and was often sideboarding it out. Seeing it getting banned is weird and doesn’t necessarily satisfy me.
When Expedition Map got banned in July of 2020, it felt so weird. The card wasn’t even that good in Tron, and was immediately replaced by Crop Rotation. I’m happy to see in unbanned, especially paired with the most recent banning of Prophetic Prism and Bonder’s Ornament that totally nuked Tron.
Will Tron be able to fight back and amass enough colorless mana to hardcast Ulamog’s Crusher as early as turn four?
Post-Ban Pauper Affinity by Andrea Mengucci
This is my first draft of Pauper Affinity post-ban. I believe that you can rely on only 12 cards to win the game (Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, Gurmag Angler and Makeshift Munitions). The deck makes huge amount of card advantage and Blood Fountain will help you bring back the few creatures you play.
I love the speed that the Pauper Format Panel is acting on the Pauper ban list. Without them, we would probably be stuck with Galvanic Relay for three more months at least. It’s a great thing for Pauper and I hope for a bright future for this wonderful format and its thousands of players around the world.