At the end of August, Wizards of the Coast looked to shake up Magic: The Gathering's Standard, Modern, and Vintage formats with several changes to the banned and restricted lists. Now, the October 2019 MTG banned and restricted announcement has come, and no changes have been made to any format. While no bans in MTG frequently suggests that all of the Magic: The Gathering formats are healthy, certain players feel that this is simply not the case, and today's announcement is leaving some of these fans frustrated.
This frustration is primarily centered around Pauper, a Magic: The Gathering constructed format where only cards that have been printed in a set at common rarity can be played. Since the release of MTG's Modern Horizons set in June 2019, two cards in particular have impacted Pauper to such an extent that some suggest that the format has warped around them. Those two cards are Arcum's Astrolabe, a mana fixer that also cantrips, and Ephemerate, a one-mana instant blink effect.
While these two cards have a somewhat broad application in Pauper, with Arcum's Astrolabe being one of the most played cards in the format at this time, the most striking result has been the rise of a Jeskai deck that looks to blink its own permanents to both draw additional cards and disrupt the opponent's development. According to Magic: The Gathering strategy website MTGGoldfish, this Jeskai deck currently comprises more than 17% of the metagame, while other popular decks sit at around 4-9%.
For certain fans, these figures, coupled with their own experiences, suggest that MTG's Pauper format is not in a good place. The fact that neither Arcum's Astrolabe or Ephemerate were addressed in the Magic: The Gathering October 2019 banned and restricted announcement has some of these players confused, and they have taken to forums like the MTG subreddit with suggestion that these two cards are having a net negative impact on Pauper.
Additionally, some players are also indicating that the October 2019 B&R announcement should have hit Magic: The Gathering's Standard format as well. While this popular constructed format has just seen a rotation with the release of the MTG Throne of Eldraine set, early results suggest that the combination Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead may simply be too powerful for Standard.
That said, many are quick to mention that decks centered around these two cards are extremely new, and it may be too early for WotC to consider any type of ban. However, if Golos-based decks continue to perform at the level that they are currently are, it may only be a matter of time before a Standard card is added to the Magic: The Gathering banned and restricted list.
The Magic: The Gathering Throne of Eldraine expansion set is now available.