September 8, 2021 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Posted in News on September 8, 2021

By Ian Duke

Ian Duke is a developer in Magic R&D and has been with Wizards of the Coast since 2012. A gift of an Ice Age starter deck in 1995 sparked Ian's lifelong passion for Magic. He also enjoys math, physics, board games, and puzzles. To the surprise of few, his favorite guild is Azorius.

Announcement Date: September 8, 2021


Chatterstorm is banned.

Sojourner's Companion is banned.

Magic Online effective date: September 8, 2021

Modern Horizons 2 introduced many new high-impact cards to Pauper, and we've been watching the metagame absorb and adapt to those additions over the last several weeks. In that time, Storm and Affinity decks have risen to occupy a large share of the metagame. We've heard community feedback that metagame pressures from Storm and Affinity have pushed out a variety of other deck options that were previously viable.

In recent weeks, Storm combo decks had the highest non-mirror match win rate among top decks and earned by far the most 5–0 performances in Magic Online leagues. These decks use fast mana to power out a large Chatterstorm, often in combination with First Day of Class, to create an insurmountable board state or even win the game on the spot. Given the limitations of the Pauper card pool, many decks struggle to interact with this win condition. Therefore, to address Storm's high win rate, high metagame share, and difficulty to interact with, we are banning Chatterstorm.

We considered banning Galvanic Relay as well, but our hope is to allow players to experiment with slower, lower-powered versions of the deck. Additionally, we've seen the card being used in other contexts where it's more about generating value than winning the game on the spot.

Affinity has been a slightly different case, in that from a pure win-rate perspective, the metagame seemed to adapt successfully, with the most popular Grixis Affinity variants settling in at just under 50% non-mirror match win rate. That said, while Affinity was being kept in check by a small number of top decks, its win rate against many of the less represented decks was high. To open the metagame to more diversity, we're choosing to ban Sojourner's Companion. We considered other options, such as Atog or Disciple of the Vault, but opted to preserve the unique gameplay style of the deck. Banning Sojourner's Companion should lower the consistency and win rate of the deck without fundamentally changing the way it plays.

We're aware that some players have voiced other potential metagame concerns that could result from Storm and Affinity being weakened. But due to the unique nature of the Pauper card pool and the complexity of the metagame, we've chosen to start with these two changes and observe in practice if further changes are needed rather than try to predict and preempt cascading metagame changes.

These Pauper changes will be live later today on Magic Online.

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