It’s time for our monthly check in on the Pauper metagame. The banning of Fall from Favor paired with the release of Kaldheim has had a massive impact. For the second time in many months, there’s a new number one deck.
What’s caused these changes? The banning of Fall from Favor allowed some of the other powerful cards from Commander Legends – specifically Annoyed Altisaur and Boarding Party – to shine. Then Kaldheim brought along Pauper’s first dual lands with basic land types which helped to unlock all sorts of deck building possibilities. Let’s get to the Top 10, which has four archetypes that weren’t featured last time around.
Dropped from the Top 10: Heroic, Jeskai Affinity, Orzhov Midrange, Stompy
10. Bogles (Previously Unranked)
Pauper Bogles by reizouko - Top 8, February 20 Pauper Challenge
Bogles has been a staple of Pauper for years. Ancestral Mask and Ethereal Armor are powerful force multipliers and every year there are a few more cheap Auras that help to bolster the archetype. Bogles tends to shine when decks are not running a lot of pieces of Chainer’s Edict-style removal, but thanks to Cartouche of Solidarity and Khalni Garden, it has some counterplay. So why is it having a moment now?
Pauper usually has space for one deck that “goes tall” – that is a deck that wants to build one large threat and ride it to victory. Last time around, this spot went to Heroic. Heroic, however, lacks a way to end the game if it can’t attack. Bogles has access to Ram Through which can punch a hole in your opponent. It also added Arctic Treeline which makes Utopia Sprawl slightly better.
9. Cycling Songs (Previously Unranked)
Pauper Cycling Songs by TomatoCheese - Top 8, February 21 Pauper Challenge
Cycling Songs is a powerful combo deck that wants to use Songs of the Damned and a ton of cards that cycle for one mana to generate a ton of mana, get them back with Reaping the Graves, and then try to kill with Drannith Stinger. The deck is wild and pretty resilient. If anything, it’s gotten a boost from a lack of decks running incidental graveyard hate as a way to try and attack Ghostly Flicker lock decks. Given the current trends in Pauper, I can see this deck sticking around the Top 10 for a bit.
8. Dimir Delver (Previous Rank: 5)
Dimir Delver took a hit this month. It’s not that the deck got appreciably worse, but rather everything else got that much better. Perhaps that biggest knock on Dimir Delver is that it really does not want an early copy of Ice Tunnel, where it’s less aggressive cousin, Dimir Faeries, is better suited to have a tapped land on turn one.
7. Burn (Previously Unranked)
Burn is incredibly good at getting folks dead. While it lacks some of the recurring sources of damage that makes the deck a staple in other formats – namely Eidolon of the Great Revel and Sulfuric Vortex – it gets the job done with Thermo-Alchemist and Curse of the Pierced Heart. All that being said, Burn is perhaps the easiest deck to hate out of Pauper thanks to abundant amounts of cheap and effective life gain (Weather the Storm anyone?).
6. Elves (Previously Unranked)
We’re starting to see a theme: decks that can operate on minimal lands have had a good few weeks. This is due in part to the success of Gruul and Jund Ramp strategies, which can pack up to eight main deck pieces of land destruction. Elves is a deck that can attack from multiple angles and, despite being composed of multiple tiny creatures, is fairly resilient to sweepers. This deck rewards knowing the weak points of the other top decks and packing a kill mechanism that can exploit said flaws.
5. Dimir Faeries (Previous Rank:1)
Dimir Faeries got two new tools in Behold the Multiverse and Ice Tunnel, and yet it took a pretty significant hit in the standings. What gives?
In my experience, the ramp decks perform fairly well against this strategy and, seeing as how they’re some of the most played decks currently, it follows that Dimir Faeries might be struggling a bit. There have already started to be some adjustments – such as copies of Bonder’s Ornament main – to account for this shift.
4. Gruul/Jund Ramp (Previous Rank:10)
Full disclosure: I do not think this strategy is as good as it’s ranking. While it’s absolutely a strong archetype, it’s getting a boost from being the new kid on the block. Ramp is a novel deck that has some unbeatable draws. That being said we’re seeing the metagame adjust to the presence of a powerful Ponza strategy. The next step will be to see if these decks can adapt to their role as top player as opposed to underdog.
3. Flicker Tron (Previous Rank: 2)
My current working theory is that Tron has survived this long because some of the powers that be knew that Pauper was going to be getting a power boost. The philosophy that raised the power level across all Constructed formats has finally trickled down to Pauper. The result is Tron – the best deck in the format for almost 18 months – has fallen from perennial gold medalist to bronze. Tron is not going anywhere but as other decks continue to get new tools that Tron cannot easily add, I expect the deck’s standing to fluctuate.
2. Izzet Faeries (Previous Rank: 6)
Time and time again, Dimir and Izzet Faeries continue to flip flop in the standings. Sometimes having cheap red removal is better, especially when you can back that up with Fiery Cannonade. Volatile Fjord has been a boon to the deck as well, giving it outs to have red sources that help discount on Spire Golem.
1. Boros Bully (Previous Rank: 4)
Boros Bully is the de facto beatdown in the new Pauper. It won both the February 19 and 20 Challenges and has taken down four of the eight events since Kaldheim hit the scene. Battle Screech and Squadron Hawk square up nicely against targeted removal. The air force also does a decent job of getting around Annoyed Altisaur with the help of Rally the Peasants and the deck packs Prismatic Strands to get around Fiery Cannonade. All in all, a winning recipe.