Augur of Bolas card art. Image courtesy of Wizards of the coast.

The Pauper Format and Magic Online

Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.

Pauper is an interesting Magic the Gathering format that uses exclusively common-rarity cards. However, as of late, blue decks have been dominating Magic Online Pauper with a win rate of 55%, according to an article on the Wizards website. With the addition of Augur of Bolas and the Foil/Gush combo, blue decks are even able to outmatch aggressive decks that used to keep blue in check.

The question was which cards to ban to weaken blue’s win rate while keeping the spirit of Pauper intact. Ian Duke, a developer in Magic R&D, said, “We believe that different formats should offer different styles of play and that many Pauper players have come to enjoy efficient card selection as one of the hallmarks of the format.”

Narrowing Down the Suspects

The one mana spells Ponder, Preordain, and Brainstorm were looked. In addition, they sought to try and disrupt the Foil/Gush combo. Gush was the prime suspect in the combo to be the one to get banned. Card draw is a key factor in blue’s win rate in Pauper.

Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.

Finally, they took a look at “free” spells. These are spells that have alternative costs other than mana. Gush, Daze, and Gitaxian Probe fit neatly into that niche. Along with Augur of Bolas, decks with these cards are able to have options even when low on mana. That can be a very powerful combination when used correctly.

Duke continued, “It became clear that free spells, in addition to being extremely powerful themselves, were also powering up the other cards on the list. They are also the category that is most likely to continue to break as new cards are added to the format.”

Who Got the Axe

After much consideration, Gush, Daze, and Gitaxian Probe were banned from Pauper.

“We understand the possibility that weakening blue tempo decks may cause a rise in the popularity of Tron decks. However, we believe that this combination of bans will result in a healthier mix of aggro, tempo, control, combo, and midrange that can adjust to balance out each other’s populations,” said Duke.

R&D promises to continue to monitor the situation to make sure that the bans made were the correct ones.

Other Magic Formats

Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.

At this time, there is no intention to ban other cards in other formats, according to the article. Some concern was brought up about Neoform plus Allosaurus Rider, Ugin’s Conjurant plus Celestial Kirin, and Karn, the Great Creator plus Mycosynth Lattice. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your opinion, these cards are here to stay, for now.

“Other competitive formats are generally looking healthy at this time, and we’ve determined no need for changes.”


Did you run Gaze, Daze, or Gitaxian Probe? Are you glad your opponents are without them now? Let us know in the comments below.