A First Look at Post-Ban Pauper

It has been just over a week since the latest round of Pauper bans have gone into effect. In that time there have been two Challenges and one set of Magic Online League results. Today, I want to take a look at some of the most exciting and interesting lists that have gotten published from the post-ban Pauper world.



Header - Affinity

Pauper Affinity by Tozla, Winner January 22 Pauper Challenge


Let’s start at the top. Affinity was one of the main targets of last week’s bans with Atog being asked to hide their face for the time being. In the toothed-one’s stead, Krark-Clan Grunt stepped in to do some work and help win Saturday’s Challenge. This deck is largely the same as pre-ban Affinity except it eschews Fling for Gearseeker Serpent. The result is an aggressive deck that still has a way to combo-kill the opponent, only not as quickly. Makeshift Munitions has been a sneaky great card for some time and as long as there are cards that can generate a lot of artifact material a la Blood Fountain and Deadly Dispute, this style of Affinity is going to persist.


Pauper Affinity by HinaHara, Top 8 January 22 Pauper Challenge


The very same Top 8 saw a slightly different take on Affinity. Rather than Krark-Clan Grunt, the sacrifice outlet of choice was Krark-Clan Shaman, which does a fairly stellar job of keeping the ground clear. The offensive substitution for Atog is Glaze Fiend, which also appreciates Blood Fountain quite a bit. While it plays a very different game than Atog in that it wants to come down before you have built out a board, it can present a lot of damage quickly. It’s not uncommon for Affinity to put three or four artifacts onto the board in a single turn which turns the Glaze Fiend into a very quick clock. 


Header - Tron

Pauper Simic Tron by Baladin, 5-0 Pauper League


Tron has also adjusted to life without Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism. The successful decks thus far have cut back on the colors, sticking to one or two colors (with a light splash). This is a radical departure from the four or five-color monstrosities that were omnipresent for years. This Simic Tron deck plays a similar game to the old Flicker Tron decks and even goes as far as to touch black for Dinrova Horror and the flashback on Mystical Teachings. It also has adopted some colorless cards like Wretched Gryff in the main and Serrated Arrows in the sideboard. The deck still has a Ghostly Flicker game plan and can mill opponents out with Compelling Argument.


Pauper Green Tron by Wickedeasy81


The other variety of Tron making a splash should look familiar to players who have assembled UrzaTron in other formats. Mono-Green Tron wants to get Tron online as soon as possible, but instead of endlessly Flickering a Wall, it wants to resolve giant monsters. Ulamog’s Crusher is the headliner but Ruin Processor, Accomplished Automaton and the aforementioned Wretched Gryff all make an appearance. Fangren Marauder is as powerful as ever and this deck can run its own Chromatic Stars to pad the deck’s life total. New this time around is Wilt, which seems like a great addition to ding Affinity but also to hit opposing copies of Journey to Nowhere.


Header - Storm

Pauper Cycling Songs by Bryant_Cook, Winner January 23 Pauper Challenge


Moving beyond the decks directly affected by the ban we come to the winner of Sunday’s Challenge. Cycling Songs has been a deck since Ikoria significantly upped the number of cheap cyclers and gave us Drannith Stinger. Bryant Cook has been one of the most stalwart supporters of the archetype and has several strong finishes with the deck. The idea is to churn through your deck and cast Songs of the Damned and other rituals to fuel Reaping the Graves to do it all again until you can stick a Stinger and cycle your opponent to death. This deck capitalized on a metagame that was still adjusting but make no mistake – it is a contender. Cycling Songs isn’t the only combo deck in town thanks to the surge of Galvanic Relay decks, meaning that for the first time in quite a while Pauper players have a variety of viable combo decks from which to choose.


Pauper Ping Storm by Saiden.raken, 5-0 Pauper League


Beyond this, not a ton has changed. Dimir and Izzet Faeries both remain strong options while Boros Bully is still one of the premier aggressive strategies. However, there are two cards that are putting in work in reshaping how black based midrange decks are functioning. 


Header - Mono-Black Control

Pauper Mono-Black Control by GLNemesis, 5-0 Pauper League


Blood Fountain and Deadly Dispute are powerful cards that provide a ton of value. This duo are helping to provide black midrange – an archetype that normally struggles to keep up on cards – keep pace in the current metagame. Blood Fountain can help filter away dead removal spells or excess lands with the Blood token while rebuying disruptive creatures with the Fountain itself. Mono-Black Control might not be a top deck anymore but can still put in work when it chains copies of Chittering Rats into Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Deadly Dispute also works perfectly with the Fountain. Not only does Fountain provide the requisite material for Dispute, the Forgotten Realms instant can also bin a creature that has done its work so it can be rebought with Fountain. Together these cards are helping to keep the Gray Merchant dream alive.

If you’re looking to jump into Pauper, now is an excellent time. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are just getting started:

  • Lots of decks use the graveyard as a resource so Relic of Progenitus is a common sideboard inclusion. Consider including it yourself or a way to answer it if you are a deck that stores important pieces in the bin.
  • Respect Spellstutter Sprite as it is one of the most heavily played creatures in blue decks. Do not play into it if at all possible. At the same time, know that you can kill a Faerie with its trigger on the stack to reduce the efficacy of the Sprite.
  • Have a real plan for aggressive strategies. Weather the Storm might buy you some time but don’t use it as your panacea. Burn is a very real deck that can easily win on turn four and now that Tron is on the downswing other aggro decks are reemerging.
  • Despite the ban, Affinity is still great. Don’t ignore artifact removal.

Pauper is exciting right now and if the early spoilers from Neon Dynasty are any indication, things are about to get even brighter.


1 thought on “A First Look at Post-Ban Pauper”

  1. Best meta ever? I really think it’s thanks to the new team that works with wizards to keep this format amazing. Thanks Alex and the rest of the team! Keep it up

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