“Magic: The Gathering” Bans Cards From Standard, Pauper

Hey folks! Do you all remember that ban list announcement that Wizards pushed from November 18th to October 21st? Well, it’s October 21st, so I guess it’s time that some cards were put on the chopping block.

"Magic: The Gathering" Bans Cards From Standard, Pauper
Finally. Source: Wizards of the Coast

Hot on the heels of Mythic Championship V, despite not being won by a deck that used it (Javier Dominguez was using Gruul Aggro, may I remind you), Field of the Dead has been banned from Standard. I’m not entirely sure what this will mean for any players on Magic: The Gathering: Arena who has at least one copy of the card, but the last time there was a ban in Standard, any copies of that card had been refunded in the form of wildcards. We will see if that holds true for this time around as well.

Wizards of the Coast has gone on the record as saying that the fifth Mythic Championship tournament was in no way a factor in determining the Field of the Dead banning.

"Magic: The Gathering" Bans Cards From Standard, Pauper
Source: Wizards of the Coast

But that’s not all! In Pauper, Arcum’s Astrolabe has been banned as well. I’m not someone who knows a whole lot about Pauper (so hence the relative lack of coverage on it thus far), but I have heard of this card wreaking havoc on games due to its low mana cost and its status as a blink-ready cantrip. Because they know far more about what’s going on in Pauper, here’s what Wizards of the Coast had to say on the Astrolabe ban:

With the unification of tabletop and Magic Online Pauper card pools earlier this year, we’ve allowed the metagame some time to adjust. In that time, we’ve seen Arcum’s Astrolabe rise to become one of the most ubiquitous cards across Pauper archetypes.

Because of the nature of the Pauper card pool, reliable multicolor mana bases have historically been a challenge for many decks. Arcum’s Astrolabe greatly changed this dynamic, as the clear, easiest, and strongest choice for color fixing. As many decks would adopt Arcum’s Astrolabe purely for color fixing anyway, it becomes “free” to gain additional value from it being a cheap artifact and card-advantage engine. To some degree, the metagame has shifted toward selecting for the best Arcum’s Astrolabe deck.

In particular, we’ve seen three-plus-color Skred decks pick up substantial metagame share, at times representing 15–20% of the field with a win rate greater than 55%. Arcum’s Astrolabe not only gives these decks a smoother multicolor mana base, but also combines with Kor SkyfisherTrinket MageEphemerate, and other enters-the-battlefield effects to grind out opponents with card advantage and efficient one-for-one removal. Red-white–based Glint Hawk decks have also maintained a strong win rate, generating card advantage in a similar way but with a more aggressive game plan.

Due to the metagame share and win rate of Arcum’s Astrolabe decks across the board, Arcum’s Astrolabe is banned in Pauper. Underneath this top layer of Arcum’s Astrolabe decks, we’ve seen healthy diversity within the Pauper metagame, and we’re looking forward to continued support for the format as it evolves.”

I’m hopeful that this set of bans really does diversify the formats involved. There is some debate on whether or not Food decks will become more widespread in Standard due to Oko, Thief of Crowns, for example. This leads a lot of speculators on Twitter and other social media websites alike to ponder over whether Oko will receive the banhammer as well.

Magic: The Gathering's Oko
Source: Wizards of the Coast

What do you think about this ban announcement? Does Field of the Dead deserve its newly-found place in the bulk pile? Did Oko deserve similar treatment? Is there any other ban that you think would have suited this announcement in addition? Let us know!