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The Power of Pauper: The Mid March Metagame Check-In

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 the current state of Pauper! In addition to that we've got three Challenges from last weekend to look at.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Mid-March Pauper Metagame Check-In

It's a good time to check in on Pauper! We talked last week about the rise of Azorius Affinity, and I mentioned doing another metagame check-in. Well, let's get to it! This is all based on data I've collected from the beginning of 2024 here based on Challenges and Premier level events on Magic Online. Since January 1st I've collected 1772 entries! This is a pretty solid number of decks since the beginning of the year. You can find all of this data located here.

Let's start by looking at the graphical data.

Since the beginning of the year the most popular deck has been Burn, but the longer time has gone on for this deck the lower the win rate has dropped. At 14% of the metagame, the deck has a 46.6% non-mirror win rate, showcasing the fact that the deck was powered down a lot by the banning of Monastery Swiftspear. It's certainly settled quite a bit here. That being said, right behind it in popularity is Azorius Affinity, a deck we talked a lot about last week which had a huge boost in playability thanks to the printing of Novice Inspector in Murders at Karlov Manor.

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Right now, that deck is sitting at a rather solid 52.6% non-mirror win rate and it seems like one of the better decks in the format to be on right now. The rest of the Top 5 of popularity hovers between Golgari Gardens, Dimir Terror, and Azorius Gates, the latter of which seems quite strong at the moment. Dimir Terror is a bit below the 50% cut, and I do think while the deck is good, it's got some competition now. Surprisingly enough, utterly gone and nearly off the map right now of the cutoff is Mono Blue Terror, a deck that had drawn the attention of a lot of people due to its strong manabase and powerful spells, but it simply hasn't been able to keep up with its brethren of Dimir and Izzet in the same way, currently sitting at a 46.2% non-mirror win rate.

For the most part the rest of the format seems rather reasonable, many of the decks have variable win rates in and around the 50% mark and nothing seems too insane. Even Azorius Familiars noted 56.4% non-mirror win rate isn't crazy given that the deck is roughly 2.7% of the metagame and much of this can be chalked up to sample size. Familiars is also a bear of a deck to play at times given its intricate and unique game plan that it is quite difficult to master.

The new kid on the block of Dredge seems to have a poorer win rate at just right above the cutoff, but I also attribute this to the deck being extremely new and underplayed. As more people hop on the train we might see these numbers change a bit.

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Outside of the cutoff and not on the graphs is also some otherwise interesting data. Plenty of decks that look good on paper with strong win rates that might have spiked an event or two, but also decks like Altar Tron which are completely nonexistent on MTGO due mostly in part to the fact that it is insanely difficult to play quickly on MTGO.

Really, the biggest concern for a lot of players has been how omnipresent Azorius Affinity has been, but I also think that giving the metagame time to breathe and change is a good thing. I am definitely willing to see what happens here, but for now I'm pretty happy with how Pauper is looking. There's a wide array of interesting and playable decks and it seems like many different ones are doing well in events. That's a good place to be, honestly.

Pauper Challenge 32 3/16

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the Saturday event. This event had 47 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.

Azorius Affinity was the most played deck by a bunch, but it's win rate was pretty poor despite a top finish. Gates and Dimir Faeries did very well as did Gardens. I think we can definitely attribute Azorius Affinity to getting the treatment of "best deck syndrome" where more players jump on the deck but don't have the raw experience or hit bad matchups to convert. It happens a lot with these decks and that's where we see the win rate get dragged down. Amazingly enough, below the cutoff there were only two Burn players.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Cycle Storm 1st Tyerube1618
Azorius Affinity 2nd GzusReturned
Dimir Faeries 3rd _Tia93_
Golgari Gardens 4th LuffyDoChapeuDePalha
Dredge 5th Kirblinxy
Izzet Faeries 6th VingadorMTG
Burn 7th gybird
Bogles 8th Make_it_Right

Interesting Top 8 here for sure. One of the two Burn players made this Top 8 which is pretty great, but the winner at the end of the event was Cycle Storm.

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This deck is so intricate and has many interesting little pieces to it. I especially enjoy cards like Dihada's Ploy having a home in the format in a deck like this.

In Second Place we had Azorius Affinity.

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One player out of 14 itely converted with this deck, and I think it just shows that again, raw experience and a bit of good matchups combined with strong play can take you pretty far. Sequencing is incredibly important with this deck and having cards that convert upwards.

Further down the Top 8 we had Dredge.

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This is really one of my favorite new decks to appear out of the format with cards like Dread Return being legal now. I'm amazed it took a bit to hit upon this strategy, but it's a very good one.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Izzet Faeries.

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Skred as a card simply amuses me as a way to convert your creatures to not be blocked so you can Ninjutsu in your Ninjas. It's a cool effect. I also especially appreciate seeing Escape Tunnel here. It is definitely quite good with this game plan.

Pauper Challenge 32 3/17

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the 32 player minimum Sunday event. This event had 52 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.

The more common Burn and Azorius took a backseat to Golgari Gardens in popularity here, as Azorius suffered in win rate while Burn had a middle of the road go at it. Gardens did very well, but it was Dimir Faeries that had the strongest performance overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dimir Faeries 1st Mogged
Boros Synthesizer 2nd Heisen01
Walls Cascade 3rd Burek
Burn 4th vini_torres
Golgari Gardens 5th BrunoGuerra
Izzet Faeries 6th Drugo
Boros Synthesizer 7th cicciogire
Gruul Ponza 8th Skpchino

Honestly this is a super reasonable Top 8 here. At the end of the event it was indeed Dimir Faeries that won.

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So many strong cards here that can be used to clean up the board. It's important that many of Azorius' creatures are actually pretty small without All That Glitters beefing them up, so if you can interact with Glitters by countering it via Counterspell you can usually mop up the board with stuff like Arms of Hadar.

In Second Place we had Boros Synthesizer.

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This deck is incredibly sweet. Surprised to not see a full 8 Inspectors here, but this deck has a lot of tight space in it and those effects are hard to fit above the initial four-of. Foundry Helix is the card I really enjoy seeing here. It's a strong card overall and a lot of fun.

Also in this Top 8 we had Walls Cascade.

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The big difference between this deck and regular Walls is that this is more of a Ramp deck into Cascade spells and gaining the Initiative, where regular Walls is functionally a combo deck that wants to generate infinite mana.

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

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Speaking of ramp decks, this is doing a lot of the same things overall, except it's doing them alongside effects like Thermokarst and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss as a way to also delay the opponent.

Pauper Challenge 64 3/17

The final Challenge event of the weekend was the 64 player minimum event from Sunday. This event had exactly 64 players to fire thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

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

Golgari Gardens was again super popular and it's win rate was very good. Azorius Affinity had a pretty strong win rate here again too, while Burn and Gates suffered a bit.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Boros Synthesizer 1st FerMTG
Golgari Gardens 2nd PedraStone
Azorius Affinity 3rd PauloCabral_Br
Azorius Familiars 4th Gn42
Golgari Gardens 5th Windup_Emma
Dimir Faeries 6th _Tia93_
Azorius Affinity 7th Hamuda
Dimir Faeries 8th Beicodegeia

Quite a bit of Faeries, Affinity, and Gardens in this Top 8, but at the end of the event it was Boros Synthesizer that won.

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This list does jam in the full eight Inspectors! Having more Clues to sacrifice or bounce for free to Glint Hawk or Kor Skyfisher is pretty good, I feel.

In Second Place we had Golgari Gardens.

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The amount of card draw and removal this deck has is quite staggering. I love how powerful this is for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we had Familiars.

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I like this list a lot. This is most assuredly one of my favorite decks in the entire format. It's so clever and powerful.

Also in this Top 8 we had another Gardens deck with a splash of Red.

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Having access to some things like Red Blasts as well as destruction effects is kind of cool honestly. I can dig it.

Around the Web

  • Pr0boszcz posted a sweet 20 page primer on Dredge in Pauper! Check it out here.
  • Pauperganda posted a video on GG Pauper. Check it out here.
  • Heartyshow has a video on Esper Ally vs Affinity. Check it out here.
  • Alex Ullman has a great article on Green in Pauper. Check it out here.
  • Bryant Cook has a video on CYCLE STORM. 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!

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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