It has been just over five weeks since Disciple of the Vault and Galvanic Relay were banned in Pauper (and Expedition Map was unbanned). The metagame has had time to adjust and things, for the most part, have improved. A trio of top strategies have emerged and while they are definitely the best, the optimal choice changes from week to week. On top of that, the best implementation of these strategies also shifts, meaning that the metagame has a sense of dynamism.
It does not always feel this way. Several of the decks that will appear on these Pauper Power Rankings have overlapping engines so at times, the format can feel repetitive. The very best decks are able to both play to the board and accrue cards at a rate other decks struggle to match. As a result, many decks that are taking swings at the top of the meta are focused on enacting their game plan as quickly and efficiently as possible. This can give the impression that some matchups are two ships passing in the night.
Bogles continues to chug along. The deck can apply plenty of pressure and is remarkably consistent. The deck has picked up a new tool in Commune with Spirits and even has reach in the form of Ram Through. Bogles is a perfect example of a deck that wants to exert its will on a match but Ram Through gives it another angle. Bogles does not have to rely on attacking alone and instead can use the Ikoria card to end games outside of combat.
There’s not much to say about Burn that has not been said before. The deck can put out a ton of damage and when every card fills a similar function, it can be hard to disrupt without sufficient life gain. Some intrepid players put a spin on the archetype by running Insolent Neonate in addition to Voldaren Epicure as a way to enable Fiery Temper.
8. Rakdos Blood Burn
Pauper Rakdos Blood Burn by Faisal
Speaking of Fiery Temper, this deck combines the black burn decks with red and a Faithless Looting engine to present a unique deck that can not only go directly after an opponent’s life total, but can also see a ton of cards. Faithless Looting is fantastic, but Vampire’s Kiss can apply pressure while also bringing some much needed filtering to the party. The deck is much greater than the sum of its parts and I am interested to see if it has lasting power.
7. Combo Tron
Pauper Combo Tron by Gerschi
The unbanning of Expedition Map has reinvigorated Tron decks. Combo Tron started off as a Galvanic Relay/Disciple of the Vault deck but has switched to Jace’s Erasure as the spout. The kill is simple: get out a Foundry Inspector and empty your library, and then continuously loop Conjurer’s Bauble until you can reduce your opponent’s library to zero. Scattershot can pick off an entire army in this deck while Weather the Storm can put you at an unassailable life total. Combo Tron is incredibly powerful but also susceptible to graveyard hate – something several decks can consider a weak point these days.
6. Azorius Familiars
Azorius Familiars continues to put up some gaudy numbers albeit in a small sample size. Familiars continues to post an impressive rate but sees significantly less play than the most popular decks in the format. Whether this is a function of the clock on Magic Online or the difficulty of piloting the deck is up for debate, but when Familiars gets played it tends to do exceptionally well.
The best “control” deck in the format, Jeskai Ephemerate just had a great run at the Paupergeddon event in Italy (the premier tabletop series in the country). The deck layers the powerful Ephemerate/Archaeomancer engine on top of the Cleansing Wildfire package, giving Jeskai Ephemerate the ability to power through to its dominant end game. More recently, the deck has picked up Fire // Ice as a way to play to the early game and with access to Dust to Dust in the sideboard, as well as the Elemental Blasts, it’s not hard to see why the deck does well.
4. Goblin Combo
Out of all the decks on this list, I consider Goblin Combo to be the most volatile. It has had some incredible weeks and some weeks where things have gone horribly askew. The more popular the deck becomes, the worse it does the next week. Goblin Combo has some serious weak points that can be easily exploited if you know where they lie (such as killing a Putrid Goblin with the persist on the stack so it stays good and dead).
Boros encompasses several archetypes, from those running Kuldotha Rebirth to those with Rally the Peasants and those with neither. The game plan revolves around pairing aggressive creatures with burn and card advantage to dictate the pace of the game. Boros’ access to both Pyroblast and Dust to Dust make it a reliable option but the secret is knowing which specific build is best for a given weekend.
Affinity has barely lost a step. Instead of being an aggro-combo deck, it has shifted towards midrange, sometimes going so far as to run Counterspell. The deck maintains an absurd card advantage suite with Thoughtcast, Experimental Synthesizer and Deadly Dispute. It also has reach beyond Galvanic Blast with Makeshift Munitions. The deck is not going anywhere and because it has been the target of several rounds of bans, it gets a lot of press that should be aimed at our number one.
Spellstutter Sprite continues to be a format-defining card. Faeries is consistently at the top of each weekend’s results and has been remarkable in its consistently good finishes over the past five weeks. There is not much more to say about this strategy that has not already been said: strong cantrips, good countermagic, excellent removal and the ability to pair Ninja of the Deep Hours with the monarchy make for an amazing package of cards.