Pauper Format Panel: Hopes and Fears

da | Gen 13, 2022 | English

Earlier this week, WOTC’s Senior Game Designer Gavin Verhey, announced the formation of a content creators’ group that will advise Wizards on the pauper banlist, called PFP, aka Pauper Format Panel.

This act might be interpreted as Wizards’ admission to have no or very few players with considerable experience in the Pauper format in its testing teams, which is a consideration that arose multiple times in the community.
This solution is similar to the one adopted for another player driven format (Commander) where a Commander Committee was introduced in recent years: the only difference between the two solutions is that every decision that the PFP will make has to be discussed and approved by WOTC in a second moment.

Personally, I had been wishing for this kind of approach by WOTC for a long time and I am gladly surprised to see it in practice; although some names in the PFP perplex me, I think this will be a huge step ahead compared to the abyss that we call metagame in which we plunged.
Finally, we won’t need to wait several months to see cards like Chatterstorm and Fall from Favor eating the dust they deserve.
This is my basic expectation which I think will not be disappointed, since all the players (even novices) can grasp it by themselves.

The Process

I want to be ambitious regarding what to expect from this committee: a wide and playable metagame: this is the goal to tackle in order to fix the format and make it redeem itself.
While it’s easy to ban blatantly broken cards from new sets like Chatterstorm, it’s far more difficult to do the same with old and established cards that are now staples of the format.

As I had previously written, i don’t like the approach of bannings cards in order to fight the Tier 0.5 decks that are predominant in a given period of time: with a dedicated team that has a huge experience in playing the format, I hope in a far-sighted approach, with a clear vision that drives the format in a direction where single cards won’t affect a whole metagame environment.

I will be disappointed if the first series of actions of the committee were something like these:
Ban of Atog because Affinity is a problem;
Consequently ban of blink effects because Tron doesn’t have any clear rival;
Ban of the Monarch mechanic because it’s warping and not enjoyable;
Ban of something from Faeries because it suffocates the metagame that arises from the previous actions.

The solution I stand for, which requires a larger maneuver about bans and unbans, requires much more bravery, foresight and especially a huge testing time to confirm if this new solution will be balanced and enjoyable.
Now that we have this new testing group I expect that it will be up to tackle this challenge in the best way, starting to work and test intensively.

The Falsification

I think that a good testing phase and the metagame analysis are the key components to fight controversy: as Karl Popper said, each theory has to be tested and conceivably proven wrong.
In other words: a single vision on the Pauper format is not enough, words aren’t enough, intentions aren’t enough, community’s approval is not enough: there’s the need to test every proposed change.

A metagame with Gush unbanned and an array of bannings composed of Fiery Cannonade, Snuff Out, Atog and Augur of Bolas can be a glimpse of genius in my mind, but has to be proven by data and fiery testing; if the testing goes wrong, this theory will be discarded, and another set of possible banned and unbanned cards will be taken in consideration, triggering a cycle similar to the scientific method: theory, test and results, providing a banlist that is supported by facts.

The Bitter

I hope that this process will stand for every solution that the committee decides to test.
Let’s start with an example: after countless hours of discussions, the FPF comes up with a conclusion: it is the right thing to Ban Atog, Ephemerate, and the Monarch mechanic.
I hope that the new metagame that will result from these bannings will be tested properly beforehand in order to anticipate imbalances between archetypes or stand alone cards that might warp the format.

My biggest hope is that the FPF won’t solely be a group of discussion, but also a group of testing.
On the other hand, my biggest fear is that each hypothetical scenario that can be generated after each banning announcement won’t be taken into consideration, and compromises that are based on opinions will arise; in this case, the FPF will be a wasted opportunity.

Article from Pietro Bragioto (CrilaPeoty)
Translation by Matteo Mazzola and Lorenzo Di Grazia

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