Wizards of the Coast has banned Atog, Bonder’s Ornament, and Prophetic Prism in Magic: The Gathering’s Pauper format. These are the first bans handed down by the Pauper Format Panel, which was announced early last week.


Affinity has been the most popular deck in Pauper for quite some time. In fact, it is played at twice the rate of the next deck and has warped the metagame to the point that anti-artifact cards like Dust to Dust are making appearances in maindecks. When combined with the fact that the deck can kill in a very frustrating, non-interactive way convinced the Pauper Format Panel that “something from Affinity needed to go.”

The panel considered banning Disciple of the Vault, Deadly Dispute, or the 10 indestructible artifact dual lands from Modern Horizons 2 (e.g. Razortide Bridge), but felt that none of those would sufficiently weaken the deck. Instead, they felt like they had to go straight to the main enabler: Atog.

“We tried to find reasons to not ban Atog,” the panel said, “but ultimately, it seemed like the clear and correct choice. We investigated the other options and just kept coming back to Atog.” It is the key card in the combo with Disciple of the Vault and/or Fling that results in one of the fastest (and least interactive) kills in the format.

The panel is hoping to both weaken the Affinity deck and shift its focus with this ban. “Our hope is that Affinity moves back to versions that run cards like Carapace Forger to be an aggressive large-creature deck,” the said, “as opposed to this version that combo kills you with Atog.”

Finally, the panel says that the banning of Atog is likely to enable the removal of Sojourner’s Companion from the Banned and Restricted list, so look for that in a future update.

Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism

While Affinity may be the most popular deck in Pauper by far, the data shows that Tron has the best win rate. A large part of that is due to the lack of Tron hate in the format—most hate is currently aimed at Affinity—and the fact that Tron can use its sideboard to answer almost any opposing strategy.

The Pauper Format Panel looked at a wide range of cards, like Moment’s Peace, Mystical Teachings, and Ephemerate. However, those cards all have plenty of similar cards in terms of functionality that could easily replace them in the case of a ban.

Therefore, the panel took a different approach: banning Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism in order to reduce the ease with which Tron decks generate card advantage and get access to all five colors of mana. “[C]ards that let you easily play all five colors ‘for free’ (replacing themselves) are probably not healthy for the format,” they said. “The philosophy here is not that different from banning Arcum’s Astrolabe, which has seen bans in multiple formats for both power and enabling access to colors too freely. While this does cost an additional mana, that is not much of an ask in a deck like Tron.”

As a result of these bans, the panel expects “to see more Temur-centered Tron decks focused around turboing into big creatures.” For example, there is a cascade-focused version of the deck that plays Maelstrom Colossus, Annoyed Altisaur, and Boarding Party.

Similar to the situation with Atog and Sojourner’s Companion, the Pauper Format Panel expects that the banning of Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism will make it possible to unban Expedition Map in the future.

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