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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
May 05 2009 10:41am
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Since the sanctioning of Pauper, there have been two Premier Events. These events, held nearly two months apart with very different metagames expected, produced the same ultimate result: MBC won. This is not surprising as Black has many of the tools necessary to combat the many threats of Pauper. It has discard to stall control and combo, removal to defeat creatures, and life gain to counter burn decks. It is this middle child that has caused the biggest ruckus, as MBC has access to one of the best creatures in Pauper that is not a creature at all: it is a Wrath variant in the form of Crypt Rats. It is not Pauper's only board sweeper, as more conditional ones exist in Martyr of Ashes and Swirling Sandstorm, and smaller versions exist from Wail of the Nim and Evincar's Justice in Black to Holy Light in White and even the highly conditional and rather wear Sandstorm in Green. Yet only Crypt Rats can take out every creature, regardless of size, given a significant mana investment (unless, of course, they have Protection from Black). IN the end, Rats is the closest Pauper is going to get to a Wrath of God for a very long time. On a side note, how much would a common Wrath of God have to cost to be balanced for Limited formats? Is it even a possibility? Would the effect be too strong at say, 4BBBB?

So what's the big deal? Magic has had board sweepers since the first days of the game. Every Block format has some sort of sweeper to help keep creature strategies in check. These cards serve as an important limiting factor, keeping aggressive creature decks in check and forcing people not to over extend.

Then why are some people calling for Crypt Rats to be banned in Pauper?

A few things first: I do not believe that Rats should be banned, as it is an important limiting factor. I also am not a fan of restriction of Rats, for reasons to be enumerated later. But first...story time.

Back when I first started in PDC over four years ago, Affinity was king. The Artifact Lands were restricted when I started, but Cranial Plating ran free. There was also a different banning system in place: every four weeks all players would gather in a chat room to discuss community items and vote on the format (a fantastic idea that has since been replaced by message boards). This meant that if a deck was doing too well, we could examine it immediately. At the time, numerous cards were called to be banned, including the Circles of Protection; needless to say, the format never changed much. Instead, Affinity was the target. You see, with Plating, PDC degenerated into Affinity against Red-Green aggro. RG was the best way to fight Plating early and was able to do it without losing too much to the rogues of the field. Plating was so powerful that decks that just ran a few Artifacts would also run Plating just for the free (Fireblasts) it would give.

Seriously, Cranial Plating was like having a free Fireblast, or better, every turn.

The community took Cranial Plating away (and the Artifact Lands were restricted) because they took fun away from the format. Attendance was down and innovation was at a nadir. At the time, PDC was still growing (we maybe had thirty regulars and about six dozen total participants over all events compared to the over 1100 board members we have now).

Plating was also way beyond the power curve for the format. Here is a short list of commons that had not been released at the time that today help limit the power of Affinity: Lightning Bolt, Ancient Grudge, Crypt Rats (irony), Tendrils of Corruption, Oblivion Ring, Tin Street Hooligan, Wickerbough Elder, Fireblast, Last Gasp, Stinkweed Imp, Faith's Fetters and many many more. While these cards do not necessarily attack Plating directly, they help to limit the potential explosiveness of Affinity. Pauper did not have these cards, most of which are not even close to the power level of Plating but again, helped limited the Equipment's effectiveness overall. So for almost three years, these cards were banned.

A little over a year ago, I began advocating for the Artifact Lands to be taken off the restricted list. I argued that Pauper had experienced a flattening of the power level and that the other decks had caught up to Affinity. I wrote about this at length here (insert link). At the time, I had conducted some testing of lists with LulThyme where Plating was unbanned. The results were not pretty, as drawing a Plating correlated to a win a vast majority of the time (and this was before Lotus Petal). We felt (and others agreed), that unleashing Plating on the format would limit the number of viable decks, hurt attendance (which at the time was waning), and create a format of Plating against anti-Plating. As such, we just gave back the lands and while Affinity is certainly a great deck, it is no where near format warping. The Premier Event results have backed this up, as they have adopted the same B & R list as Pauper (thanks to some noise over an out of date FAQ).

So, why the story? It demonstrates, to me at least, why a card should be Banned in Pauper (and any format for that matter).

1) It has to limit creativity. Think about all of the broken formats where cards have been banned. A serious number of otherwise good decks have to be discarded simply because they can not deal with any one strategy. Even at the height of Faerie dominance in recent Standard, there were still a number of lists that did well and had game against the deck. Affinity with Plating, there was only one.

2) It has to limit fun. Magic is a game, and if the game ends when one person draws one card, the is it really fun? I exclude combo here, since usually they have to draw that card at a specific time. Affinity with Plating was a combo deck on turn two (swing for 6 next turn with a Frogmite, oh, and also a 4/4). This, in turn, would lead to a drop in attendance and the overall health of a format.

3) It has to warp deckbuilding around the card. This does not mean that decks have to be built to beat the card, but rather warp themselves to include the card. Look at Skullclamp. Tooth and Nail decks actually included Elves at one point just as a way to easily abuse this Equipment, because one grossly powerful effect was not enough.

This last item is more of a corollary of Equipment in general. These cards tend to be easily abused since they are often colorless and can slide into most decks. At its height, certain decks were actually just running Artifact Lands to get the maximum effect out of Plating. Seriously. Any creature deck at the time ran Skullclamp, and later almost every deck ran Jitte because it was not a strain on the mana. In Pauper, where the mana fixing is relatively weak, this becomes even more important.

This is the background of my opinions of banning cards in Pauper and on banning cards in a format in general. Now, here are some reasons people want to ban the Rats.

First, many feel that it pushes MBC over the edge to “dominant deck status.” By giving the deck access to the best Wrath around that scales along with an abundant resource, it allows the deck to have a defensive speed that matches the major investment of the format in creatures. Since very few Pauper creatures have toughness greater than their casting cost, Rats can act as a counter to any threat played. Unlike most other removal spells in the format, it can also take out multiple threats while knocking out a hefty chunk of life. However, there is a serious (although required) investment and there is no guarantee that the Rats will survive to do their job. Yet this is a conditional Wrath that does not require any additional investment besides playing lands (still for a desired effect you still need to pump your mana into it and you have to be predominantly Swamps to get the most out of it). When it fires off, it can have a devastating effect and when combined with MBC's ability to gain life presents a potent threat. It is this ability to not only wipe the board but the deck's ability to recover from the self-inflicted wounds that people feel make the card too powerful. Advocates of this stance sometimes also advocate that Banning might be too harsh, and Restriction might be the right call. I disagree wholeheartedly, as this will simply make the format even less fun because drawing the one Rats is now a lucksack move.

Another common argument is that Rats creates a unique effect in Pauper. Unlike the other “Wraths,” this one only requires that you play Swamps. You do not have to hold back Red cards or fill your graveyard, or accelerate into some absurd amount of mana to pull off a Rolling Thunder. Just Swamps. This argument, in essence comes down to the fact that Crypt Rats is the only card of its level, just like Wrath was until Damnation rolled around.

Side note: I have always advocated talking about Pauper as a distinct format that does not care about Magic with other rarities, yet I have consistently mentioned Wrath in this piece. The reason is simple: Wrath limits aggro like no amount of point removal can. For the most part, across all colors you will find creatures in the common slot thanks to Limited considerations. Without a significant limiting factor and deterrent to running a creature centric strategy, a format could degenerate into creature battles. Pauper, back when it was PDC, looked like this before Rats entered the fray. Back then, the purest control deck was still MUC, and it ran between twelve and sixteen creatures...that were creatures and not spells like Fathom Seer or specialty blockers like Dream Stalker. Every format needs a way to limit aggro. Rats takes this seat in Pauper. Regardless of what some people think, the other cards that sweep would not get the job done in a way that would limit aggro in a significant way.

Back to the point: with Rats occupying unique slot in the format, while spending the most time in a deck that has topped the format has led many to call for banning. Some of these posters have felt that if every color had a Rats like effect, then Black would have no reason to be on top and everyone could be happy. Of course, then all five versions would need to be banned.

The underlying argument to both these points is that Crypt rats saps the fun out of the format. By limiting creature based strategies, which many on the casual side of Pauper find to be the most fun, Crypt Rats is sucking something out of the format. Pauper, at its inception, was a casual format that over time became refined and competitive until the sanctioning. This, thus far, is the only item which corresponds to one I listed as a reason for banning. However, the end result is different. Fun, as defined in the competitive sense, is driving people away from a format. Affinity was not fun, and attendance suffered. Rebels was not fun, and attendance suffered. Currently, Pauper attendance is through the proverbial roof with demand for more events. If, however, MBC and Crypt Rats drives people away, then this item gains validity. Until then, however, this is simply a matter of people projecting their idea of fun on a format.

Looking at the two items listed, neither meets the minimum threshold of having a card banned. Being a piece of a dominant deck makes a card annoying, for sure, but looking at Crypt Rats, it is perhaps the single most fragile card type in Pauper: Creature. In a format defined by creatures and creature combat, creatures are a permanent that need to be dealt with. Yes, Rats has a potent effect and alters the game state but that is what cards are supposed to do- change the game state. Being good does not warp the format. Instead, it should inform deckbuilding. Rather than staying stagnant, strategies must develop and adapt to combat Crypt Rats. This is not the stifling of creativity, but rather a growing edge for it! Sure, your “traditional” aggro deck might not fare well against Rats, but there are a number of creatures, not just those with Protection from Black, who can combat the Rats (and MBC as a whole). These decks, while altering their composition to combat MBC and Rats, and not warped in doing so. Grizzly Bears have long been solid cards in Pauper aggro and “warping” a deck to include one that just so happens to be resilient to a board sweeper is not ban-worthy- it's metagaming.

Occupying a unique slot in a metagame is not a call for banning. If this were the case, here are two cards that could be banned for such a reason: Counterspell and Lightning Bolt. These cards hold unique slots in the format, doing things at their costs and investments that no other card in Pauper can. By an extension of logic, these cards should be banned under the unique slot principle. Yet, these cards do not deserve to be banned just because they are unique. They are cards that everyone must consider while building a deck, yet do not need to be banned. They are cards that only exist in one color, but are not sop strong that they must be expelled from the format.

Pauper is a healthy and vibrant format. There are very few “broken” cards. While Storm is an incredibly potent ability, the decks, while strong, have yet to prove format warping. Crypt Rats, while strong, is just a card that aggravates people who do not want to change their thoughts about investment. While we should remain diligent in watch for cards that could upset the balance of power in Pauper, currently there are none. Looking forward to the sets to be rereleased online, there are none. In fact, Wizards is so conscious of common power levels for limited consideration, that I do not believe that the Pauper ban list will ever get larger than a single card.

Keep slingin' commons,




Just a minor leaguers 2 cents by Scartore at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 12:14
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I don't consider the Rats to be the big problem with MBC as a deck. It's just part of an entirely dominating package of quality cards that no other deck archetype is provided. Tendrils and corrupt are the best lifegain cards in Pauper, as well as being spot removal. The various Edicts get around shrouded or prot black threats. I think you could ban Rats and MBC would still be the Best dec in the classic (and thus sanctioned) format.

I completely agree by Dr_TRex at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 12:47
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When I played pauper, for a while I loved it, but eventually it was just one too many times getting thrashed by MBC. While I certainly don't agree with banning the rats, I do think that something should be done to hamper MBC a little bit, because it's easily one of the most frustrating decks to face (thanks mostly to the outstanding potency of its cards combined with the extreme inevitability that it holds over you). The fact that you can come within 1 point of winning only to face a topdecked corrupt for as much as a double timewalk and half your life is pretty miserable (trust me, I did just that 2 rounds in a row in the first pauper PE)... I don't think there's an easy way to bring MBC down from its throne, but banning crypt rats certainly isn't it.

Don't get me wrong, powerful decks are fine, it's just that a number of the tools available for it are beyond compare.

Banning by SpikeBoyM at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 13:02
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Before we talk about banning anything...what decks were you running into MBC?
Because I have found a significant bank of decks that do very well against MBC and have their own suite of tools.
If you are putting yourself in a position to lose to Corrupt, topdecked or not, you are not fighting by the rules of the format.


Crypt Rats by Thatic (not verified) at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 13:50
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I wholeheartedly agree. I think Crypt rats is definately an annoyance, but isn't that what obsidian acolyte is for? In fact I have yet to play a deck archetype that totally folds to Rats because my decks alwats have an out, from obsidan acolyte, to blinding speed, to burn spells to get the job done.

In my experiance If there's a board sweeper that need s banning, it's rolling thunder xD. THe non-symmetry of it is stupid in my Kodama's Domain deck.

AS a final note, I'm testing a KOdama's Thunder varient that utilizes domain burns, and between my 5 damage swing spells and the COP: Black from sideboard, I have yet to lose a game to MBC....Out of about 16. Find me online at Thatic if you want the list.

MBC is a viable deck. I don't think it's broken powerful, just extremely popular, which helps it's results (Same with G/W slivers). Through experiance, most pauper players are people who will simply netdeck decks and there is a very small percentage of Pauper players who actually develop decks. It's a shame, but it's up to us deckmakers to fight MBC, as much as it is the players.

please... by Amonchakai (not verified) at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 09:19
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Hi thatic can you post the KOdamaas deck?

Well, To be fair... by Dr_TRex at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 17:34
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Well, to be fair the deck I was using was a homebrew domain deck, but I had literally just countered 2 tendrils in a row in the first game...
Even so, I'm not a fan of banning cards. I never really suggested banning, and I'm not sure that banning things haphazardly would even help here. I really wish I had a better idea than just "do something about it" but unfortunately I don't at the moment... I also haven't done much with pauper lately, so maybe I just need to re-tune the deck and try again.

I've generally not had too by rukcuss (not verified) at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 20:37
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I've generally not had too much problems against the MBC deck for a few reasons:

1) Burn Range decks can put enough pressure on the control deck to commit serious creatures to slow the onslaught, then follow up with direct damage while they try to catch up.

2) Play massive life gain decks (Cogs, Blink, Rebels, combinations of the three) to buffer your life total to overcome the swingy life race that tends to happen versus MBC in late game (past turn 10). You get an added bonus of not losing to Burn decks since gaining just five life is equivalent to a countering two burn spells.

3) In white decks, play Prismatic Strands, which counters the damage dealt, but will still gain life in Tendrils case. This also counters Crypt Rat's ability for the turn, allowing you in some cases to gain one more turn of beatdown or force the opponent to spend the mana on his turn. Using Strands against Crypt Rats is marginal at best however, since the game state remains unchanged.

I usually look forward to playing MBC because the strategy is linear and with a small amount of disruption it can be a really easy matchup. This depends hugely on your deck however.

simple solution by windcoarse (not verified) at Tue, 05/05/2009 - 20:51
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The simple solution to cater to the casual/budget crowd is just to make standard pauper searchable and give it queue's. The format changes often and is dirt cheap, so I think it provides a more "fun" environment for that demographic. If you can't make it to PDC's tourneys your basically out of luck when it comes to finding a standard pauper game. I think they should leave the rats alone, wrath effects keep aggro in check in the metagame.

A mostly well presented by blandestk at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 02:29
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A mostly well presented version of the non-ban standpoint from the debate, but, as I have stated elsewhere, I feel these points do not really get to the heart of the matter. And to many people (I sense that most who disagree with this point are those who want to ride MBC to the bitter end) Crypt Rats go against the first two of your numbered ban-worthy points. To me, it violates #3 as well. Don't have to time to elucidate more at the moment, but I will hopefully find some time to respond here or via article.

My reply by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 08:59
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I disagree with your assertion that Rats violates my first two items. Limiting creativity does not mean "every deck should win," but rather to me, that if the deck has to pack specific hate main to beat the card, then it is a problem (and if that hate isn't drawn, the game is over). There are numerous decks out there (WW, RB Husk, MUC, Fish, UG Deep Dog) that can easily navigate MBC without altering their maindecks to the point of being creativly limited. Look at the top 16 of both PEs- While MBC holds a plurality, there are a number of other viable decks and only one true "Hate" deck. This goes hand in hand with number three.
Fun is a bad criteria, since everyone interprets fun differently. To me, fun was a way to get at attendance. Pauper's numbers have not been hurt by Crypt Rats in a meaningful way. Now, if this weekend's PE has say, fewer than 50 competitors, and the reason people give for missing it is "Crypt Rats" a majority of the time, then I could easily see revisiting the issue.
The culprit here is not Crypt Rats- if any card should be banned (and no card needs to be banned in Pauper), it's Tendrils of Corruption. This is the card that is more of a nail in a coffin for aggro as it is more or less a Time Walk and a removal spell against beat down. It also gives MBC the life cushion it needs to be able to Rats effectively. MBC only became the "powerhouse" it is today with the advent of Tendrils- not Rats. However, I am NOT ADVOCATING THE BANNING OF ANY CARDS.
Ive read your posts in the thread at pdcmagic.com numerous times. Here is an analogy for how I feel:
Cryptic Command is a limiting factor in Standard- you have to take it into account when preparing for a Standard event. If not, you are refusing to play by the "rules" of the format. Command does not deserve to be banned.
replace Cryptic Command with Crypt Rats and Standard with Pauper, and the same is true- a strong card for sure and one that provides a limiting factor to the format but is by no stretch of the means worthy of a ban.


The mistake everyone seems to by blandestk at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 18:58
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The mistake everyone seems to make is that the criterion for banning a card is not simply an amazingly broken level, i.e. Cranial Plating. There are plenty of cards across different formats that feature banned/restricted cards that are not at the uppermost limit of power level. (As a side, I do maintain that Crypt Rats is that powerful, but for the sake of the argument, I'll let that point slide) The analogy to Cryptic Command seems to make sense on the surface, but if you really examine what the cards do, the analogy doesn't work so well for me. Is CC a card you have to build around? Yes. Is it a great card. Of course. Is it the only card in the format that can achieve the goals it achieves? Not even close.

That's the problem with Crypt Rats. It is reusable, it is flexible, it is the only card in the format that does what it does. Throw all the other "sweepers" out; they are not the same type of card. Rolling Thunder is as far away from Crypt Rats as you can possibly get. (Another side note, if there were five different cards that did what CR does, you would not need to ban them all, you would have to ban none) The arguments that this card keeps the aggressive creature decks in check is a fairly weak argument, simply because black has so many options for removal. And it has so many options for removal that get around even pro-black guys or enablers. MBC can hang with Slivers, et al, with just its removal and/or sac-removal. Add in Crypt Rats, however, and the game field just isn't level.

As to limiting creativity, many of the decks that have game against MBC do pack main-deck hate. Sure, those cards have hate for Tendrils/Corrupt, as well, but we all know why they're in there. The pro-black hate really does nothing against sac-removal. Further, some of the decks have game against MBC, but fairly little against the rest of the field. When you have that scenario, it really is only an eyelash away from best deck vs. hate-against-best-deck deck.

The attendance is a shaky barometer. In general, I agree with you, but because Pauper is still a new format in terms of official sanctioning, the amount of play and attendance will probably be high no matter what. People just want to play PEs in this format right now. Believe me, I know plenty of people who really hate MBC mostly due to Rats and some have stopped playing because they know they either have to play MBC or some sort of deck that packs tons of hate.

Tendrils is strong, yes, but in the end it really only is removal. Slivers and other creature decks can easily overcome Tendrils, or at least stay competitive. But when Rats shows up, it's like Varsity vs. Junior Varsity.

My reply by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 19:18
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First, with your assertion that cards are banned for not being absurdly powerful in their format, please provide some examples from Wizards sanctioned formats (aside from ante and dexterity cards in Vintage).
Um, for what it's worth, Cryptic Command is the only card in Standard that does what it does- I defy you to give me one card that can accomplish all the Cryptic does.
The fact that Rats occupies a unique slot in the metagame has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it should be banned. As I said, numerous cards occupy unique slots and have non-replicate cards yet you aren't asking for them to be banned- only Rats because it's "reusable" and "flexible." I can make the same argument about Krosan Tusker or mesmeric Fiend or Mogg fanatic. In Pauper, all creatures are reusable and the best ones are flexible.
The fact that Black has other options for removal has no bearing on this argument, as we are talking about Crypt Rats. Is Black a powerful color with access to great effects? Yes. Is that, in conjunction with the potency of Crypt Rats enough to get Rats banned? I still don't think so.
We now have a card in Standard, Vengeful Rebirth that lets us reuse Wrath of God- should we ban Wrath?
Nucklavee lets you get back a Cruel Ultimatum and a Cryptic Command - let's ban all three!
Rats only makes it Varsity vs JV if you refuse to acknowledge its power and prepare for it. If you're playing a deck that just flat out loses to Rats, then you're not playing to win, you are playing to prove a point.


You're completely missing my by blandestk at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 22:36
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You're completely missing my point on reusability. I'm not talking about bringing it back from the graveyard. I'm talking about activating it multiple times in response to anything the opponent does. THAT is an enormous power boost; and you know it.

Also note that I said banned/restricted. There are a plethora of cards that are b/r in multiple formats that are powerful, but only when you pair them with other cards. A good example: Flash. Which card is more inherently powerful? Crypt Rats or Ponder? Gush? Not so cut and dry, is it? Goblin Recruiter: not inherently off the power charts, but coupled with other cards from the history of Magic, it becomes banworthy.

Of course there is not a specific card that does everything Cryptic Command does. Otherwise that card would be called CC II. But if Cryptic Command did not exist, are you telling me that control players would not be running some other form of permission or bounce? There's plenty of that around. The form of mass removal we're talking about in regards to Cryptic Rats in pauper, on the other hand, not replaceable. Make sense?

Uniqueness alone does not warrant bans or restrictions, as I've argued on the forums. It's just one piece of the pie. You can't pick apart the argument by saying that one specific piece of the argument isn't enough to call for a ban. I never said that. It's a sum effect. This card is much more complex in its utilization and effect than Cranial Plating. Yes, numerous cards are unique, but they don't have as broad - even the term we've been using for it is broad: sweeper - an application as CR.

I never said that black's potency is a reason to ban the Rats. I said black is versatile enough to survive without the Rats, which is a counter to the argument that everyone makes about its place in the metagame. "It keeps things in check." Well, yeah, because it's absurdly powerful. Black would be ok without it, but everyone assumes it's only the Rats that do this.

You are getting a little outrageous at the end of your post. I won't consider the parts about banning Wrath, Nuck, CC, and Ultimatums, because you misinterpreted by statement about CR's reusability. But to assume that I'm not acknowledging the power of the card is a bit absurd. I'm talking about the power of the card. Of course I take it into account when I build and play a deck, that's the point. To beat it, many times you have to pack the hate or get fortunate, or fare poorly against the field, or one of many other subpar outcomes. Why would I ever play a deck in a competitive format that flat out folds to the best card/deck? That makes no sense at all.

This is exactly why I by bjbrains at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 23:24
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This is exactly why I advocate banning Crypt Rats. Decks *must* heavily prepare, mainboard and sideboard, for the crypt rats (discounting the low-creature decks like MUC, and Burn which tend to have a better matchup vs MBC partially for this reason). Crypt rats are the only sweeper who's damage is only limited by your mana in Pauper. The "But then aggro would always win" argument fails to impress me, as MBC role in the current metagame is *not* an aggro hoser, as it has multiple good matchups beyond aggro (and some mediocre aggro matchups).

Every deck in Pauper has to either plan for Crypt rats (Through the anti-sweepers), or play around them by not playing many creatures (Burn, MUC). This is *not* WoG in standard (Which Wizards just printed a hose for, ironically).

Replies by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 08:49
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First off, you are right- I misunderstood your point about the multiple activations of Crypt rats since you called it "reuseability."
All the cards you mentioned are restricted in formats where A)They win the game when drawn or B) Reduce the variance of decks and help them find their game winning cards. While Crypt Rats is awfully good, drawing it alone does not equal a win. The ability to activate Crypt Rats multiple times is an advantage when trying to get around Circles of Protection and Obsidian Acolyte, but that's really about it. Please xplain how this is such a huge power boost.
With regards to Cryptic Command, you said "Is it the only card in the format that can achieve the goals it achieves? Not even close." It is the only card that can do all the things it does, and hence achieve those goals. If a "Blue" deck did not want to run Cryptic Command and still have access to all those abilities, it would have to run copies of four different cards.

Take a look at the top 16 from the last event, or even the top 32. How many decks there are heavily prepared with specific hate for Rats main? By my count, one. Burn does not have a good matchup with MBC, in my experience, thanks to the abundance of life gain in MBC.
Just because decks have to prepare for a card in the metagame does not mean it warrants being banned. It just means you have to be prepared.

As I understand it, here is the argument against Crypt Rats:
It's a good card in a good deck, and the only card that can do what it does. If we take it away, the deck will still be good. All decks in Pauper must prepare to face Crypt Rats.

Now, if that is true, I can simply replace Crypt Rats with ANY HEAVILY PLAYED CARD in Pauper and I could come up with an argument for banning. For example:

Fireblast is a good card in a good deck, and the only card that can do what it does. If we take it away, the deck will still be good. All decks in Pauper must prepare to face Fireblast.

Please correct me if I am wrong in my assertions.


Well, if you look at the by bjbrains at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 17:47
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Well, if you look at the actual top 16 decks, a majority of them are tweaked maindeck and sideboard to further their MBC matchup. Note the River boa and the Guardian of the Guildpact in the cloak list to combat MBC's primary removal methods. The 3rd place deck is a anti-MBC decklist, pure and simple with 8 maindeck prot-black creatures. Martyrlock doesn't really have any need for anti-MBC, due it its highly controlling nature, but note that a good reason to play guardian is that it will always have protection from non-edict removal. The storm list is a grapeshot-based list, which obviously has a better chance vs MBC (doesn't scoop to crypt rats). Note that the RG aggro list in the top 10 included more shroud creatures as well, and I do think that the deck would benefit from some (wrap in vigor)s to help combat removal. On another note, I think going for creatureless lists is much better for burn vs MBC. The only lifegain that MBC has is Tendrils and corrupt (which costs 6 mana). Burn should be able to kill MBC before they can corrupt if they don't have to worry about tendrils. I don't see how going creatures will help them fight MBC. The next top 16 deck is MUC, which obviously has a great matchup vs MBC.
Also, take a note on how MBC placed in the top 8. MBC had 37.5% of the top 8 slots, vs its 16.8% representation in the field. Decks that have good tools vs MBC (Hate, MUC, creatureless storm) made higher slots than their matchups vs non-MBC would indicate, while Slivers made a very low ranking despite being one of the strongest decks vs non-MBC. If that isn't a skewed meta, then what is? (Don't bring up mirrodin affinity, as it is obvious that the field is nowhere near as degenerate as that, and never will be in the forseeable future).

Okay by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 18:40
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GotG is in the deck mostly as a target for Cloak. The fact that it dodges Black removal is not incidental, but it is not specifically there for Black ,as it also turns off blocking and all manner of Red removal. And if that deck really was concerned with MBC, I am sure it would have run Mire Boas over River Boas, as Swampwalk seems, I dunno, better in that situation.
Yes, 3rd place is a hate deck, but that's one.
I do not know what your are testing, but in my experience, Storm, no matter how many creatures, is a dog to MBC, since MBC can just overload on discard and Chittering Rats.
Yes, MBC made up a plurality of the top 8, but that makes sense, since it was also a plurality of the field.
I am not saying the meta is not skewed, but it is my opinion that skew comes from A) People net decking MBC B) People not innovating C) People refusing to acknowledge certain truths about the format.


I don't think Crypt Rats is by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 19:30
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I don't think Crypt Rats is Yawgmoth's Will of Pauper, so I don't think arguing on it's power level is going to get anyone anywhere. I think it will only become target of banning if the metagame gets warped past its current state getting closer to that Mirroden reference. When the metagame gets to that point(it hasn't and it may very well not but I'm dabbling into "what ifs") and 50% of the field is MBC all the time then the decision has to come how best to nerf the decks power level without killing the deck outright or having a splash effect onto other decks. Crypt Rats is a card that greatly increases to the overall powerlevel of MBC but to no other deck, which is why it would probably be the primary target for banning. I think both sides could argue to the death of CR's powerlevel and come to no conclusion, and I don't think it's solely advocates of MBC calling for them to remain untouched.

MBC has at least 60% against burn by Boin at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 18:59
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MBC has more than tendrals and corrupt to fight burn. It also has Chittering rats and modern builds have targeted discard in addition to shinobi. MBC has always been a favorite against burn and will continue to be regardles of if burn cuts keldon maurauders. Tendrals can hit MBC's own guys.

The reason CR is not an by blandestk at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 00:01
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The reason CR is not an auto-win when drawn is because there are no common cards that are designed to be auto-wins. Yet CR is as close to auto-win as you can get in many scenarios MBC finds itself in. I could easily take your B) statement about finding the right win cards and skew it like you did with my points about CR, but it wouldn't really advance the argument. Like you said, most times one specific uniqueness about a card will not be enough to get it banned or restricted. My point about cards like Ponder or Gush (which is not really a classic variance reducer) is that different power levels can be banned or restricted. It's not simply the most powerful cards created. Further, the power level of Pauper is a fraction of other formats; it would hold that the power level of its banned/restricted cards would also be a fraction of other formats.

In regards to the multiple times you can activate Rats: yes, it helps a ton against Acolyte and COP: Black, but that is by no means the only application it has. Even if Slivers has a sizable force on the board and holds a Temporal Isolation, if the game has gone long enough, a top-decked CR will wreck the team because you can activate multiple times. You can't do that with Rolling Thunder or any other "sweeper" in Pauper. Again, that's just one part to my reasoning, not the whole deal.

There are multiple cards you can run that achieve more than one of CC's abilities. But that's a tangent.

The synopsis that anti-B/R people have that "here is how I see your argument: CR is a good card in the best deck and since the deck can survive without it, you should ban it" is so lazy and offbase that I almost can't stand it anymore. Just because you don't want to accept or agree with a point of someone's argument doesn't mean you should just lazily condense it into the fact that it's a good card in the best deck so we should get rid of it.

I will replace your argument with another card and then we'll analyze.

Now, if that is true, I can simply replace Crypt Rats with ANY HEAVILY PLAYED CARD in Pauper and I could come up with an argument for banning. For example:

Cranial Plating is a good card in a good deck, and the only card that can do what it does. If we take it away, the deck will still be good. All decks in Pauper must prepare to face Cranial Plating.

Yup, exactly the same argument for CP and it's banned. See how it's not so cut and dry? I have made detailed arguments for my side about CR, but people on the other side only counter with, well, then we have to ban all good cards and/or it keeps aggro in control. I certainly did not make the argument solely that CR is good so we have to cut it. Come on.

bladestk - I don't like how by ghweiss (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 12:28
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bladestk -

I don't like how you keep claiming that those who oppose a ban on Crypt Rats are ignoring you or misunderstanding your position. I honestly have not seen evidence of that. Rather, what I see are a lot of people simply disagreeing with you. In good faith, I'd like to try my best to summarize your argument:

Crypt Rats produce a "Tier 1" effect that no other card can produce. Only Swamps can produce Crypt Rats. Therefore, only Swamps can produce this particular effect.

A balanced format does not require a player to use one particular land type. Crypt Rats imbalances the format by effectively requiring a player to use Swamps (or else knowingly play a deck without access to the same "Tier 1" effect). Therefore, Crypt Rats should be banned.

Does that sound about right?

"As I understand it, here is by blandestk at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 19:09
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"As I understand it, here is the argument against Crypt Rats:
It's a good card in a good deck, and the only card that can do what it does. If we take it away, the deck will still be good. All decks in Pauper must prepare to face Crypt Rats."

Is that really taking the points I make into consideration? If it is, I guess I don't have a solid understanding of simplification.

You hit a couple of the points, but it has more than one Tier 1 effect, in my opinion. The main point I was trying to make is that people who call for no ban/restriction (note that everyone always jumps to banned, even though I almost always cite both possibilities) don't make any points at all other than the vague: "it keeps aggro in check." I just want to see the points for maintaining the status quo in a detailed manner.

SpikeBoyM's picture

1) It keeps aggro in check.
2) It is a vulnerable card type. Creature removal is the most prevalent form in Pauper. When any card type springs up ,people will run cards to counter them (see Stone Rain vs. Karoos, Kami of Ancient Law vs. Pillory of the Sleepless, Flaring Pain vs. Prismatic Strands).
3) The effect is symmetrical. Unlike cards that are banned in other formats which usually just have an effect that are asymmetrical, Crypt Rats hurts the caster just as much as the opponent. Note that this is talking about Crypt Rats alone, and not the deck it fits into.
4) It meets none of the minimum thresholds for banning a card. Look at cards banned in formats recently (excluding Vintage which is its own monster).
4a)It does not warp the format. Does it influence deck design? Yes, but it does not warp the format around it. This is not a "Crypt Rats or no" situation.
4b) It does not limit creativity. As MaRo always says, restrictions breed creativity. The fact that Rats exists forces new decks to arise. RG would not be constructed as it is now (with maindeck Shroud) if not for cards like Tendrils. Crypt Rats is a limiting factor in the format, not one that defines it (alone).
4c) It has not driven down attendance. This is the one most likely to change, but seeing as how Pauper queues are still firing and both PEs have been the size of healthy PTQs. If the attendance dips and continues to drop, then this one could change. As of now, however, Rats has not driven enough people away to make a noticeable dent.
5) It is not part of a degenerative combo. Numerous cards have been banned or restricted because they are part of degenerative combos.
6) It is not a tutor. See above.
7) Finally, it is powerful, but not broken. Banning should be reserved for those cards that truly break the format. As some one who has played through Skullclamp, Urza's Saga, and numerous other powerful moments in Magic History (Nightmare-Survival with Great Whale before the original errata), this card does not even begin to approach the power level necessary to consider banning, even in a format only of commons.

This are just the reasons I could think of now. There are more.

Please again, so I understand more clearly, state your reasoning for banning (or restricting) Rats.


PS: The reason no one takes the talk of restriction seriously is because it is relegated strictly to Vintage style Magic. This is because those formats want to reward people for playing for a long time and amassing collections, and unless a card really breaks something or breaks a rule (ante, manual dexterity), it will not be banned, just restricted (in most cases). No format, aside from Vintage/Online Classic, has a restricted list.

The first FNM after Darksteel by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 21:46
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The first FNM after Darksteel came out.... I still have nightmares...

1) People act like it's the by blandestk at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 01:04
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1) People act like it's the only card that achieves this goal. That is not true. Therefore, I do not think it is a valid reason to cite.

2) Yes, it is vulnerable as a creature. But because of its instant-speed activation, that really is moot. The player simply needs to deploy it at the right time. Even instant-speed damage prevention or removal cannot keep it from going off.

3) The effect is symmetrical in terms of life totals, but it is rarely symmetrical in terms of actual damage dealt to creatures. A mono-black player could (not does or should, just noting the possibility) play four Rats and all spells and still win, only using it as a sweeper.

4) It meets plenty of standards for being banned. We disagree on its power level and its warping nature, so this point will have to be a disagreement.

4a) I disagree about its warping nature. There are different definitions for warping than simply play it or don't play it. Another standoff.

4b) You view the "restrictions" as a means to creativity. I view it as a necessity toward maindeck hate, which is a symptom of warping. But when I say this, for some reason, I am told I simply do not pay attention to the existence of Rats. Never really got that one.

4c) Nothing could hinder Pauper's attendance at the moment. It's brand new. Cranial Plating would not even hinder its attendance. Plus, there is historical evidence for people showing up to tourneys even during the most debilitating formats of stagnancy.

5) You are right. But that is not a requisite for banning/restricting.

6) You are right. But that is not a requisite for banning/restricting.

7) I've played since Revised. I've seen it all. I know the most degenerate, broken cards and have lived through them all. It's not Skullclamp, no, but this is Pauper, not Standard/Extended/Classic/Vintage/Legacy, where uncommons and commons are designed to be much more powerful. We have to scale down what is "broken." To me, its power level is high enough to warrant the B/R.

1. The power level of Crypt Rats is much higher than any other sweeper in the format. Two seem to approach it: Rolling Thunder and Martyr of Ashes. Martyr can't hit players or flying creatures and is dependent on Red cards in hand. Obviously it is strictly inferior. Rolling Thunder can hit all creatures without shroud or protection and players, so let's examine them side-by-side.

One is a sorcery; the other can be activated whenever. One has a maximum number of damage to dole out (the amount of mana you have available); the other can scale to infinity in the abstract, since it deals to each creature = activation AND players. One's value can only be chosen once and used once; the other can be activated multiple times in response to any sort of answer (as long as you have enough mana).

2. It goes in one deck, which is often a valid reason to examine a card. Sometimes it's the cards that go in all decks that get banned/restricted. Sometimes it's the ones that go into only one deck. Rats only sees play in MBC. And this deck just happens to win the first two PEs? Not a huge coincidence.

What happened the last time a card was that powerful and worked with basically only one strategy? Cranial Plating was banned.

3. Rats puts the deck over the top. Test it against Slivers with sac-removal. You don't need Rats to keep aggro in check. But with Rats, it's an uneven playing field.

These points could be expanded in multiples, but that's the boiled-down version. As I've said before, it ultimately just comes down to an opinion on the power level, since my arguments won't be enough to sway anyone and the other side hasn't swayed me.

Hopefully the tourney over the weekend will show that Rats can be put down. I'd rather that happen than need a ban/restriction, but I just don't see it happening. I really hope someone shows me I'm wrong.

This message board format blows by ghweiss (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 03:01
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blandestk - You can safely ignore anyone's commentary on why Crypt Rats should remain legal. Know why? Because they don't have to be right when they're on the winning side. You, however, are the one with the burden of proof, so let's look at your bulleted points:

1. "The power level of Crypt Rats is much higher than any other sweeper in the format."

First of all, please don't mention Rolling Thunder again. That's a straw man argument where you set yourself up to prove, once and for all, that Crypt Rats is better than Rolling Thunder. Who cares. Stick to your point, which seems to be that if there is only one "Tier 1" sweeper, it should be considered for banning. This implies that in order for a format to be healthy, there must be at least a small variety of cards that can perform any given task. That's a nice thought, but it's not a requirement for a good format. Block formats are known for having very limited options; but many have turned out quite well, with ample opportunity for creativity and growth. Your claim that uniqueness leads to poor format health simply has no basis in wotc policy or practical evidence.

2. "It goes in one deck, which is often a valid reason to examine a card."

Wrong. It is not a valid reason to examine a card, because it is a rather ordinary quality for a card to have. If you want to talk about it in pie chart terms, there are only 2 types of playable cards: those that require a specific context, and those that can fit into several (or all). Neither is inherently problematic.

3. "Rats puts the deck over the top."

Vague. Let's assume you are claiming that Crypt Rats makes the popular MBC list good enough to obsolete anything other than dedicated hate decks. In that case, I'd happily agree with you that Crypt Rats should be banned. But it's not sufficient to merely make the claim. The evidence has to be there, and I don't see it. Not even close. I'm aware the same deck won twice in a row. It might even win today. That doesn't mean you can't play another deck and win it all next time.

blandestk - This isn't going by ghweiss (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 22:11
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blandestk - This isn't going to go anywhere if you c/p Alex and respond as if it were me that said it. Personally I don't think it matters that Crypt Rats "keeps aggro in check" or any other supposedly positive service to the health of the format. That's why I didn't say so. What matters to me (and wotc) is whether or not a card invalidates all (or nearly all) other strategies. If you think Crypt Rats is guilty of that, I think you simply aren't trying that hard.

I disagree, the only basis by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 22:43
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I disagree, the only basis for banning a card isn't whether or not it invalidates all other strategies. I do agree it is a very good reason, but there are other reasons. I don't advocate a Crypt Rats banning, but saying this is the only template for banning is narrow. An easy example was the previous artifact land restriction, the lands themselves didn't invalidate other strategies, the general nature of the affinity synergism with those lands did, so restricting them brought the archtype down a notch. The same idea is then applied to MBC with Crypt Rats. If the powerlevel is realized to the point where everyone is playing this deck and it warps the field, removing the rats brings this deck down to par, even if the Rats themselves weren't invalidating entire tactics.

ghweiss, I didn't mean to by blandestk at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 01:07
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ghweiss, I didn't mean to imply that you had stated something like that. I was simply responding to your statement that you hadn't seen anything like the scenario I had described, where someone simplifies the argument to that level. Obviously, that has happened.

Thanks, Aluminum, despite the disagreement in opinion. I think too often people get caught up in really strict definitions of banning/restricting, when it's a much more complicated issue than most rules can set. I've said it before, but I think the power of the Rats is much more subtle than something like Cranial Plating, but it's nonetheless very powerful, which makes the task of deciding it status very hard.

That's basically the problem by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 08:51
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That's basically the problem with trying to get rats banned right now, the effect isn't "off the charts" Tolarian Academy Style broken, so you're getting a plethora of arguments(whether or not you agree with) from the other side. Which leads me to believe the only time Rats will come under banning is probably:

1. Meta warps to gross MBC levels.
2. MBC consistently makes a 25%+ PE top8 portions for a while.
3. Other decks being to use(and/or break) Crypt Rats.

I think once one of those 3 are realized most people will come into agreement even if you were right all along.

Obviously it takes an entire by ghweiss (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 01:09
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Obviously it takes an entire deck to "invalidate a strategy," because cards do not exist in a vacuum. Crypt Rats do not stand up by themselves and march over to your Elf deck then launch rolls of toilet paper over it. A card is banned when its role in certain (if not several) decks leads to the invalidation of any deck that doesn't play it. Specific cases can look like different criteria, but it all comes down to the same principle.

What I just said goes for banning a card, not restricting it. There is only one reason to restrict a card - if it fits the criteria for banning but can't be banned because we are talking about Vintage, aka "the last bastion of broken cards." If you don't understand why restricting cards is generally an ineffective maneuver, do some homework. Wotc can explain.

I don't feel, even in say a by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 08:37
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I don't feel, even in say a 50% MBC warped meta, that Crypt Rats would invalidate any deck that doesn't play it in combination with all other MBC cards. I'm simply saying it would become target of banning at that point for the health of the metagame because it is the best way to bring down the powerlevel of an archtype without splashing to other decks. Other strategies may be(and are) perfectly valid at dealing with it, yet would still be a banning target.

Obviously it takes an entire by ghweiss (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 01:09
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Obviously it takes an entire deck to "invalidate a strategy," because cards do not exist in a vacuum. Crypt Rats do not stand up by themselves and march over to your Elf deck then launch rolls of toilet paper over it. A card is banned when its role in certain (if not several) decks leads to the invalidation of any deck that doesn't play it. Specific cases can look like different criteria, but it all comes down to the same principle.

What I just said goes for banning a card, not restricting it. There is only one reason to restrict a card - if it fits the criteria for banning but can't be banned because we are talking about Vintage, aka "the last bastion of broken cards." If you don't understand why restricting cards is generally an ineffective maneuver, do some homework. Wotc can explain.

Just a thought by Thatic (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 10:56
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But I'm reasonably sure control wouldn't even be a valid archetype in Standard without cryptic. It's just their card that solves everything. Yes, Crypt Rats is the same thing for MBC, but it's not integral to the deck itself as much as cryptic command is. It's just a good card, not a borken card like CC. Just my 2 cents.

Meh Crypt Rats is fine imo... by Anonymous at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 10:08
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Meh Crypt Rats is fine imo... it's a mid-range game changer what's it does is keep G/W Slivers, Thallids, and Storm(less so) from being dominating decks. Remove Crypt Rats, and you lose that sweeper, and basically you have very few ways to counter those mentioned decks. Makes me wonder though if Crypt Rats were banned how long before these other decks would run rampant greatly limiting deck creativity?

RE:anonymous by Salgy at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 11:57
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I for one have not played pauper in a long time and to be honest I kinda miss it. But to be honest I agree with this post if you remove the mass sweeper than slivers, RG beats, and thalids would run all over the format.

Banning is a lasy solution by Kaneda_EX (not verified) at Wed, 05/06/2009 - 18:44
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Banning is a lasy solution for everything. Deal with MBC or go away and play extended, standard, etc...

There is so much irrelevant by ghweiss (not verified) at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 13:15
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There is so much irrelevant chatter in this thread. What matters is whether or not you MUST play Crypt Rats to be competitive. The answer to that is clearly no. Sorry if this doesn't cover your pet deck.

are you stupid? why would you by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 05/07/2009 - 20:37
Anonymous's picture

are you stupid? why would you ban crypt rats? it's not THAT good.

My Last contribution to the irrelevant Chatter... by Thatic (not verified) at Fri, 05/08/2009 - 11:18
Thatic's picture

Someone wanted the deck so....

Creatures: 16
4x Sakura Tribe Elder
4x Coiling ORacle
4x Krosan Tusker
4x Mulldrifter

Spells: 19
4x Kodama's Reach
4x Exploding Borders
3x Tribal Flames
4x Rolling THunder
4x Resounding Thunder

Lands: 25
7x Forest
6x Mountain
5x Island
2x Plains
1x Swamp
4x Terramorphic expanse

Sideboard: (Really Rough, sorry...)
4x Recuperate (For Warrenless storm and Burn)
3x COP: Red (I hope I don't have to explain this one...)
2x COP: Black (To help my already nuts MBC matchup)
4x Martyr of Ashes (Vs. Aggro. Don't side out Red spells for it xD)
2x Grim Harvest (I really don't know why. But it's good, since all the creatures either have an activated effect [Martyr, Elder] or a CIP ability [Mulldrifter, coiling oracle])

5-9-2009 PE by SpikeBoyM at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 19:18
SpikeBoyM's picture

92 players, and the top 8 broke down like this:
2 Cloak Aggro
1 WW
1 Slivers
1 Mono-Blue Aggro
1 Storm
1 Affinity

Not even a deck with a Swamp.


Sucks that I couldn't play, by AluminiumMastermind. (not verified) at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 19:51
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Sucks that I couldn't play, but top8 nice and diverse as always. Healthy.

Congrats Alex by Scartore at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 21:01
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Both on being vindicated and on your 10th place finish! Out of curiosity, what did you run, and what the heck did that MU Aggro Dec look like?

Thanks! by SpikeBoyM at Sat, 05/09/2009 - 21:40
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I ran BR Husk (list forthcoming in the article, of course). As far as Mono-Blue Aggro, I have no idea what it looked like. We'll know more come Thursday when the top 8 decks are released to the public.


In pauper on MTGO, people are by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 03/11/2010 - 19:10
Anonymous's picture

In pauper on MTGO, people are playing these absurd elf decks, where every turn is 1) play forest 2) play elf. They just accumulate like 15 elves on the board and then start attacking.

To me, that is not "magic" as I know it. It takes no creativity or skill to pilot that type of deck.


Without c-rats, these lame green decks can just play this absurd style. Nothing sucks more than when you know you've got better cards, you've got card advantage and board control -- but without any "wrath" effect, you've got nothing.

I play a UB aggro-control deck that is very successful against pretty much all the dominant pauper decks. I don't like maindecking crypt rats b/c it kills my mulldrifters, but they are a must-own on the SB for elves/goblins.