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The Power of Pauper: A Look at Current Pauper Trends

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of The Power of Pauper! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're taking a look at some of the current trends in the Pauper format especially in relation to the competitively slanted aspects of the format on Magic Online. There's certainly been a lot going on within the format since March of the Machine and definitely bound to be more coming soon with the release of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, but it felt like a good time to check in on the format a bit.

In addition to that we've got several events to speak on from this past weekend including a Showcase Challenge event, and a note about Paupergeddon Pisa this upcoming weekend!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Current Pauper Metagame Check-In June 2023

Well now, we're looking in at our first real metagame article and the current state of competitive Pauper. Much of the data being used here is sourced from the Castle of Commons Discord's Challenge data project, and I'm specifically looking at the past eight weeks or so (back to April). You can find their full data set here. We've also got a great video from Gavin Verhey published this week on the format to discuss.

Let's look at some of the graphical data.

In terms of raw metagame share, since April the archetype of Burn has been the most popular deck in Challenges and while it's win rate doesn't seem that great (as players in Challenges have moved the metagame around to accomodate for the deck's existence) the deck's large presence is certainly incredible. I've seen similar parallels here to other formats like Legacy with UR Delver, where its metagame share was incredibly high. Almost 20% of the Challenge metagame is Burn, followed by a close 14% with Affinity, the other deck that people have had a lot of discussion about. Affinity's win rate since April also hasn't seemed that insane at a 50.1%, but the other thing to remember with these decks is that in Challenge metagames it's much easier for the rest of the field to specifically metagame or rock-paper-scissors against the perceived top decks of the format.

It's worth noting that both Jeskai Epehemerate and Golgari Gardens have had really strong win rates, and Gruul Ponza has a slightly better win rate than Affinity. Bogles and Familiars don't seem to have great win rates, nor does Orzhov Ephemerate, but these decks fall into various niches of the format and are still very solid decks. Mono Blue Faeries has one of the better win rates here and it is definitely seen as one of the best decks in the format right now.

This is part of the whole rock-paper-scissors metagame that the Challenges are experiencing. When looking at the raw Challenges week to week it's really easy to see that the format seems to be okay on paper, but there has been a lot of constant discussion about several aspects of the current format that folks are experiencing heartache with. Obviously, we should talk about Burn.

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The biggest complaints leveled at the current format come directly at Burn and the huge amount of speed and card draw this deck received with the power boost of Monastery Swiftspear and Wrenn's Resolve being an additional copy of Reckless Impulse. We also see a lot of complaints leveled at Affinity still due in part to how quickly that deck is able to kill opponents. These decks are highly prevalent in League game play, frustrating a number of players with their play patterns. At the higher competitive levels though, these decks do well but are not so overpowering that they are demolishing the format. In fact, many of the decks doing well right now (Ephemerate, Faeries, Gruul) are doing well because of how good they perform versus the top two perceived best decks. In fact, there are also plenty of newer decks popping up in the format like Poison Storm that are also possible foils to other decks, further enabling the cycle of the rock-paper-scissors style metagame we've talked about.

On that note, let's talk about Gavin's video.

Gavin does call out here that League play vs Challenge gameplay has some difference, but he also notes that it seems that the format is actively evolving continually and with the release of Commander Masters and possible downshifts in that set might have an impact on the format, not to mention the Lord of the Rings set also coming soon here as well.

Ultimately the PFP has come down on the side of "No changes" to the current banned list. There is also a discussion here on unbans with cards like Hymn to Tourach and Sinkhole brought up, but I think it's fine that these cards remain banned personally. There's also some discussion of High Tide and whether it would create too strong of a combo deck. Ultimately the decision here was to not take the risk on it.

At this juncture, I'm fine with no changes going forward with the format. I know that it's probably frustrating to people, but I do think the format is still going through a lot of evolution. I've always been a big fan of "wait and see" when it comes to formats and allowing eternal formats to work themselves out (I've personally seen Vintage do this quite well), and I do have hope that Pauper will do the same.

That being said, I'm also thrilled to have videos like this explaining the thought processes of the PFP. This kind of transparency has been absolutely stellar and I am happy to have these to reflect upon.

At the end of the day, I think Pauper is still an incredibly fun format and it's a format that can have a lot of cool diversity and interesting decks in it. While some play patterns can be frustrating, I think and hope that these will work themselves out and settle into an appropriate metagame space.

Paupergeddon Pisa 6/17 - 6/18

This weekend in Italy is the massive Paupergeddon weekend! These events are usually extremely well attended and have a ton of events throughout the weekend besides their main Pauper event. There's definitely a fun slew of things to do and even Wizards' own Gavin Verhey is going to be there!

You can find the Facebook information for this event this weekend over here and the registration page for the event here. I do know this event will be streamed over on the Lega Pauper Italia Twitch channel.

Pauper Showcase Challenge 6/10

This past Saturday was a Showcase Challenge event for this season of MTGO Premier Play. These events cost QPs to enter but the Top 8 of the event are invited alongside other Top 8 Showcase competitors to the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the season. This particular event had 177 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Castle of Commons Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Burn was the most popular deck here, and it's win rate was definitely fairly solid for sure. Gruul Ponza was also popular with a very middle of the road win rate. Golgari also did very well as did Affinity. The Orzhov Ephemerate decks did not do so good here despite a solid top finish, neither did Familiars.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dimir Terror 1st qbturtle15
Burn 2nd Ixidor29
Gruul Ponza 3rd Make_it_Right
Affinity 4th sebastianpozzo
Orzhov Ephemerate 5th BERNASTORRES
Dimir Faeries 6th Brivenix
Burn 7th Ed_Elric
Mono Blue Faeries 8th RAV92

Fairly reasonable spread of decks here overall. At the end of the event, it was Dimir Terror that won the event.

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Very clean-looking list here. Fallaji Archaeologist is a really powerful and interesting card in these decks, providing fuel for the Delve threats and Tolarian Terror. I also really like Rotten Reunion in the sideboard for the graveyard decks.

In Second Place we have Burn.

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We definitely as noted earlier have continued to see the overall effect that having multiple pieces of red impulse drawing has had on this deck. This deck can churn through cards like butter between all of the options it has to ensure it hits the cards it needs plus the lands it needs to cast those cards.

Also in this Top 8 we have Gruul Ponza.

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Okay I have to say, I love Serene Heart. That is all.

Further down the Top 8 we have Orzhov Ephemerate.

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As noted, this deck's overall performance wasn't great, but this pilot certainly cracked hard into the Top 8 so that's awesome. Pegasus Guardian as another flicker effect is kind of great, especially since it comes with a body later on if you can pull it off.

Pauper Challenge 6/10

The same day as the Showcase there was also a regular Challenge event. This event had 41 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Castle of Commons Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Golgari Gardens was the popular deck of this event and its win rate was quite solid overall. Mono Blue Faeries also did very well and so did Dimir Terror. Gruul Ponza didn't perform as great here, nor did Burn.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Golgari Gardens 1st AliEnWaRe_
Dimir Terror 2nd Lennny
Mono Blue Faeries 3rd Luca5937
Turbo Fog 4th Kirblinxy
Golgari Gardens 5th msskinbolic
Mono Blue Faeries 6th ecobaronen
Affinity 7th Beicodegeia
Dimir Terror 8th _against_

Nice variety of decks here in this Top 8. At the end of the event it was Golgari Gardens coming through as the victor.

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This deck is just really cool. Definitely a deck I would like to build and try out at some point. It just seems very strong.

In Second Place we had Dimir Terror.

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No Archaeologist here, but plenty of powerful cards and removal that makes this deck strong.

Also in this Top 8 we have Mono Blue Faeries.

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This deck is so incredibly clean and it does what it wants to do quite well. It has a strong game plan overall.

Further down the Top 8 we have Turbo Fog.

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I absolutely love this deck. It's so goofy and fun.

Pauper Challenge 6/11

The final Challenge event of the weekend was the Sunday event.  This event had 81 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Castle of Commons Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Gruul Ponza was the most popular deck of the event, but didn't have a strong win rate. Burn did very well here, as did Affinity. Bogles did very poorly here too.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Affinity 1st O_danielakos
Poison Storm 2nd Ramelao
Affinity 3rd Beicodegeia
Mono Blue Faeries 4th _DissonancE_
Dimir Terror 5th irahscott
Burn 6th LucasG1ggs
Burn 7th Ixidor29
Gruul Ponza 8th Starchey

Lot of Burn and Affinity here, the two boogeymen of the format. It was indeed Affinity that won the event here.

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This deck continues to be a really strong presence in the overall metagame. No frills here for sure, but there doesn't need to be. The overall shell is still quite strong.

In Second Place we've got Poison Storm.

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This deck is one I'd like to build at some point as well because it seems super cool. Navigating giving your opponent 10 poison counters without any creatures is a super fun puzzle to me.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Gruul Ponza.

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This deck has so much strength to it, it just does a great job of setting slower decks back in mana development.

Around the Web

  • Card Market's Deck of the Week is Ponza! Check it out here.
  • AdeptoTerra has a look at Lord of the Rings for Pauper. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Alex Ullman recapped last weekend's events. Check it out here.
  • StompyMTG has a video on Mono Blue Terror. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

I am still really digging Simic Ponza!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Pauper!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGPauper Discord Server.

Until next time!

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