Wizards of the Coast has banned Arcum’s Astrolabe in Pauper.

The ban comes two weeks after the previous Banned and Restricted update, when many players expected bans to address Arcum’s Astrolabe and Ephemerate in Pauper. Both cards were introduced into the format with the release of Modern Horizons this past June and combined to have a massive impact.

Arcum’s Astrolabe became a problem in Pauper because it broke one of the foundational limitations of the format: the nature of the Pauper card pool, which is restricted to commons, makes building reliable multicolor mana bases extremely difficult. “As many decks would adopt Arcum’s Astrolabe purely for color fixing anyway,” Wizards said, “It becomes ‘free’ to gain additional value from it being a cheap artifact and card-advantage engine.”

The cheap, colorless mana-fixing and card draw was too much for Pauper. “To some degree, the metagame has shifted toward selecting for the best Arcum’s Astrolabe deck,” Wizards concluded.

This was specifically apparent in the Flicker/Skred archetype, which also relies on Ephemerate. “[W]e’ve seen three-plus-color Skred decks pick up substantial metagame share [since the release of Modern Horizons], at times representing 15–20% of the field with a win rate greater than 55%,” Wizards said. “Arcum’s Astrolabe not only gives these decks a smoother multicolor mana base, but also combines with Kor Skyfisher, Trinket Mage, Ephemerate, and other enters-the-battlefield effects to grind out opponents with card advantage and efficient one-for-one removal.”

Pauper Jeskai Snow Flicker Skred

Creatures (17)
Glint Hawk
Kor Skyfisher
Spellstutter Sprite
Trinket Mage

Spells (20)
Lightning Bolt
Pulse of Murasa

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Lands (19)
Ancient Den
Ash Barrens
Azorius Chancery
Evolving Wilds
Great Furnace
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains

Sideboard (15)
Blue Elemental Blast
Celestial Flare
Leave No Trace
Lone Missionary
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Red Elemental Blast

Wizards believe that removing Arcum’s Astrolabe from Pauper will dramatically improve the format. “Underneath this top layer of Arcum’s Astrolabe decks, we’ve seen healthy diversity within the Pauper metagame,” the said, “And we’re looking forward to continued support for the format as it evolves.”


Don’t miss our coverage of the banning of Field of the Dead from Standard, which occurred in the same Banned and Restricted announcement.

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