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The Power of Pauper: At the Altar


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 going to be taking a look at Altar Tron! This is a sweet variant of Tron that utilizes a combo element. In addition to that we've got Challenges to look at!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

At the Altar of Urza

Make no mistake about it, while their metagame share has dropped a lot over time, the Tron Lands (the Urza's Lands) are still considered one of the long time mainstays of one of the big draws to play the Pauper format. Every so often we see new takes on the deck, from Ephemerate Tron to even colored variants like Red Tron. One of the variants that has done very well for itself on paper is what is known as Altar Tron. This deck sees much more play in paper events due in part because the deck has issues with time management on Magic Online. The biggest reason for that is because Altar Tron is actually a combo variant of the deck.

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The key linchpin card of the deck here is Myr Retriever. As the deck plays four copies of this, ideally it wants to get one of them into the graveyard while it has cards like Ashnod's Altar in play. At that point, the deck can loop between sacrificing Myr Retriever and getting back Myr Retriever to continue looping between the two. On the surface all this really does is generate a large storm count as each sacrifice loop only generates CC. This can be turned back around however with cards like Golem Foundry as every cast of a Retriever will generate a charge counter on the card, allowing one to make a large amount of Golem tokens. These tokens can also be cashed in for mana with Ashnod's Altar which then results in being able to usually win off the spot off something like Makeshift Munitions or an impossible to beat Weather the Storm (gaining so much life that the opponent simply can not win before the Altar Tron player buries them in their own game plan if for example you don't have the Munitions yet in play)

This deck is quite strong overall. While Retriever is the only real main deck creature, its usage as a combo piece makes it centrally important to the deck's game plan. It pushes its board presence mainly through cards that either find other colorless cards like Ancient Stirrings to the wide array of draw effects that exist within Pauper's toolbox like Deadly Dispute, Rowan's Grim Search, and numerous artifacts that all draw cards.

This churn through the deck is what lets the deck do its thing so efficiently, while using cards like Weather the Storm to stay alive. Post board, the deck gets effects like Fangren Marauder which allow it to sideboard juke into more of an aggro deck that naturally gets better by exercising its game plan.

This is a sweet deck, and unfortunately I'd love to see it more on MTGO and while it did Top 8 one of the last weekend Challenges, its presence on the client is generally fairly low and much of that has to do with the amount of clicking required to play the deck there. This is however, a solid deck for paper Pauper tournaments, where you are able to simply demonstrate the loop and go from there, so if you're looking for something your opponents may have never seen before for your next paper event, this might be a fun deck to try out.

Pauper Challenge 32 5/3

The first Challenge to talk about is the 5/3 event. This event had 59 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Burn was the most popular deck of the event, and despite having a top finish it's win rate was actually pretty poor. Golgari Gardens and Azorius Gates both did very well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Azorius Gates 1st twister66
Jeskai Ephemerate 2nd DenisevichAlexey
Boros Synthesizer 3rd Magdaregina
Dimir Faeries 4th carvs
Jeskai Ephemerate 5th Foresterf
Burn 6th Graciasportanto
Golgari Gardens 7th PedraStone
Dimir Terror 8th O_danielakos

Fairly interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event it was Azorius Gates that won.

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Very straightforward and solid list here. The most interesting card to me here is Swirling Sandstorm. The card functionally does nothing if you have threshold, which is pretty wild, but once you have threshold 5 damage to each creature without flying is pretty cool.

In Second Place we had Jeskai Ephemerate.

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It's pretty nice seeing the format cycle back to decks like Ephemerate and Gates doing well. I love Ephemerate as a deck, it's fair and very powerful, but interactive and fun.

Also in this Top 8 we had Boros Synthesizer.

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Very stock looking Boros list here. We continue to see this deck still perform rather well overall. It's definitely very powerful.

Pauper Challenge 32 5/4

The second Challenge to look at is the 5/4 Challenge. This event had 54 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Burn was again the most popular deck, and it had two top finishes but it's win rate was still less than 50%. Boros Synth did very well as did Dimir Faeries.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Goblins Combo 1st Hamuda
Walls Combo 2nd Terminus0
Dimir Faeries 3rd Niederschatten
Dimir Faeries 4th Andrea94
Burn 5th Make_it_Right
Burn 6th TopLeitche
Dimir Terror 7th medvedev
Altar Tron 8th Hampuse1

Very interesting Top 8 here. Faeries and Burn both well represented here, but it was Goblins Combo that won.

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We've talked a bit about this deck recently and it is continuing to put up strong results. It has a strong angle of attack that lets it get on board with its combo very quickly.

In Second Place we had Walls Combo.

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This is yet another combo deck where it can get on board rather quickly. I don't personally enjoy the matchup this deck has versus Goblins Combo as Krark-Clan Shaman is a real beating. This is still a big favorite of mine in Pauper for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had Dimir Faeries.

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Solidly straightforward list here. I definitely enjoy seeing Extract a Confession, as it's seemed like a very solid card overall in these decks.

Pauper Challenge 32 5/5

The third Challenge is the 32 player Sunday 5/5 event. This event had 41 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Burn continues to be the most popular deck to play, but again it's win rate was pretty subpar. Azorius Familiars performed quite well here though.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Azorius Familiars 1st Gn42
Azorius Gates 2nd Heisen01
Dredge 3rd Lollopollo2001
Dimir Faeries 4th nuninman
Mono Blue Terror 5th Selkcahs
Jeskai Affinity 6th Walker735
Dimir Faeries 7th Beicodegeia
Boros Synthesizer 8th cicciogire

Honestly a pretty reasonably diverse Top 8 here. At the end of the event it was Azorius Familiars that won.

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Familiars continues to be one of my favorite decks in the format at the moment. It's such a fun and interesting deck with a lot of really deep gameplay. This is a very nice list for sure.

In Second Place we had Azorius Gates.

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Outlaw Medic has been very interesting to see in these lists. The card looks quite good on the basis of making it biggers with Basilisk Gate. I'm digging it.

Further down the Top 8 we had Dredge.

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This list is pretty sweet. Writhing Necromass is a pretty awesome slot-in card. Getting a 5/5 Deathtouch for B is super cool.

Pauper Challenge 64 5/5

The final Challenge of the weekend was the 64 player Sunday event.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Burn was the most popular deck yet again but it's win rate was the worst of all weekend. Boros Synthesizer did very well, while most of the decks above the cut here did rather poorly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Golgari Gardens 1st LuffyDoChapeuDePalha
Mono White Aggro 2nd jwaves
Jeskai Affinity 3rd elvis10
Inside Out Combo 4th seasonofmists
Azorius Gates 5th _rash_
Boros Synthesizer 6th Oppa
Gruul Ponza 7th MrSkittles
Mono Blue Terror 8th 19LNC91

Nice diverse Top 8 here overall. At the end of the event it was Golgari Gardens that won.

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I always find it super amusing that Campfire sees play in these decks simply as a method of either gaining life or being able to reshuffle your graveyard into your library. Super fun.

In Second Place we had Mono White Aggro.

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Very solidly straightforward deck here. I dig seeing Battle Screech (Vintage Masters draft all star) in decks.

Also in this Top 8 we had Inside Out Combo.

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Yes! I love this deck. It's such a wildly cool deck. When you get to play super sweet cards like Shadow Rift, it's so very cool. I especially enjoy seeing Escape Tunnel here.

Around the Web

  • StompyMTG has a video on Kuldotha Burn. Check it out here.
  • Heartyshow has a video on Golgari Sacrifice. Check it out here.
  • Casting Commons has a new episode out. Check it out here.
  • Alex Ullman has a new article recapping last week's events. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

As League results are now spread out across the week, let's dig in and find something spicy!

This turbo Initiative / Goblin deck is pretty cool.

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Pestilence with Holy Cow!

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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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