Thursday, December 8, 2016

Follow-Up on Self Assembler Ban

So as I announced last week, this week Self-Assembler was banned in both of our Standard Pauper tournaments. At least at MPDC, I had several players thank me for the decision and strongly urged me to continue the ban for next week. Now, it's important to remind my readers that this was not a decision to ban the card entirely. Instead, this was a fact-finding expedition, an experiment if you will, to see how the metagame would shift without having Self-Assembler appearing in every deck. So, what did the metagame look like this week?

By and large, it didn't really seem that different, at least accordingly to my quick examination. Blue, Black, and Green continue to be the dominant colors, split closely among Dimir, Simic, and Sultai. Izzet also made an appearance, in both a typical build and one splashing Black. There was also an Orzhov Artifact build and a Golgari build as well. I did see a few new cards among the decklists, including Dukhara Scavenger and Kessig Dire Swine, but overall I didn't really see anything that felt like it would have been bad had Self-Assembler still been a possibility.

On the other hand, it's clear to me that, if nothing else, Self-Assembler has been having a psychological effect on our player base, making them feel like the format is stale or revolves around who can resolve the first Assembler the soonest in a game. If removing this card from the metagame, even if temporarily, makes people feel more encouraged or excited to play, then that alone is a pretty good reason to exclude it.

However, I would love to see some conclusive evidence that the format is able to grow and evolve without the presence of Self-Assembler. For now, my recommendation would be to continue to ban Self-Assembler, at least for the next two weeks, after which we go on our Holiday Break. That will give us more time to get a better sense of what's going on in the card's absence.

So how did this week feel differently to you? I'd love to hear about it below. Thanks for reading.


  1. Since Lotus Petal was printed as a common in Tempest, and it reappears in Kaladesh, is it available for Standard Pauper (despite its extraordinary price value as now Invention/Mythic Rare)? Are the comparatively expensive Terrain Elementals and Flame Lashes still okay in this format, or will they get a closer look at restrictions/bannings/etc.? Thanks!

    1. Lotus Petal isn't legal in Standard, so no issue there (none the special Inventions are legal for Standard). Terrain Elemental hasn't seen any play and isn't anything special. Flame Lash is definitely a strong card, and it's a shame that it isn't widely available at a reasonable price. But it's not so good that it's worth banning. You can play a very competitive Izzet or Burn or Red Control deck without it.

  2. Huh- didn't realize Inventions weren't Standard-legal. Goes to show how out-of-touch I've been with MTG lately, taking care of many personal health issues. Have been impressed with how well you continue the format and update the blog quite regularly. It seems you listen to the players, too, on the forums- well done! Have you considered addressing WotC regarding the power creep of Self-Assembler left unchecked in (now defunct Standard) pauper metagame? It seems its rise to power went unnoticed by R&D since they don't have to consider the Standard Pauper impact. Please continue to write- I enjoy the window you open into MTGO and other topics. Please write more, too, as it seems to be a passion of yours!

  3. So...Pauper Frontier? Yea, nay, etc...