Wizards of the Coast has announced it's going to be giving more focus to Magic the Gathering's community-made Pauper format, and has started a panel of influential players to help shape it.
The Pauper format can use cards from any set, but only the commons. Uncommons and up are not legal in the format, and that deckbuilding constraint has proved popular with players who run multiple community tournaments and events on Magic the Gathering Online. It helps that even the most competitive of Pauper decks is a fraction of the cost of a Modern or Commander decks (the current favourite, Grixis Affinity, costing just $51).
Though Wizards has overseen the Pauper format for a while now, it announced yesterday that it will be forming the Pauper Format Panel, a group of seven people who will discuss Pauper and help identify problems in the format that need solving. It will consist of six influential members of the community and senior Magic designer Gavin Verhey, who will serve as the go-between between the panel and Wizards of the Coast.
A comparison was drawn between it and the Commander Advisory Group – whose job is to keep abreast of the Commander format and suggest changes – and the Commander Rules Authority, a team independent of Wizards who has the final say in any bans or rule changes. Verhey explained the Pauper Format Panel as lying between them, but skewing more towards the role of the Rules Authority. They won't be able to make unilateral decisions, but anything they suggest will usually "be taken wholesale and put into action".
This doesn't mean whole, made-for-Pauper products are being produced (yet). It does mean that we're less likely to see the format thrown into disarray by new sets quite as often. In 2020, the release of Commander Legends introduced Fallen From Favor, a blue enchantment that completely warped the format and had to be banned just a few weeks later. Things got even more extreme in 2021, when Modern Horizons 2 added Sojourner's Companion and the infamous Chatterstorm to Pauper.
Both cards had such a detrimental effect on Pauper that players were forced to protest at a Pauper Preliminary tournament on Magic Online, where all but one player ran decks that used nothing but basic lands. This move prompted Wizards to make the first Pauper ban in months, striking both of them out of the format.
As for what the Pauper Format Panel will be doing, Verhey said it has "just started discussing possible changes", but we likely won't hear about them during the upcoming Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty previews, which begin on January 27.
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