Strixhaven has been out for just over a month on Magic Online and is definitely having an impact on the Pauper Power Rankings. While the First Day of Class Goblins combo deck burst onto the scene, it has yet you put up consistent finishes in the Challenges. Outside of the weekend events however, the impact has been far greater. Learn cards have been cropping up in various midrange decks as a way to pack supplemental spells into builds that otherwise would have marginal sideboard cards. This is a breath of fresh air in a format that can be somewhat stagnant and stale.
Of course, this breath of fresh air is about to become something else entirely. Modern Horizons 2 is coming up fast and if it’s anything like the first set, it would be a gale force wind compared to the current nice breeze. Provided that there’s nothing egregiously over the line this time around (why would I even think that?), Modern Horizons 2 could inject some variety into these Pauper Power Rankings.
As a refresher, here are last month’s Pauper Power Rankings:
8. Jund Cascade
7. Jeskai Affinity/Grixis Affinity
4. Dimir Faeries
3. Boros Bully
2. Izzet Faeries
1. Flicker Tron
And now for things with Strixhaven in the mix!
10. Boros Bully
Boros Bully keeps chugging along. The deck got a new option in Thrilling Discovery as a supplement to Faithless Looting. That hasn’t been enough to bolster the aggressive option up the standings though. While this deck has been a consistent force, the metagame is fairly hostile to Squadron Hawk and its ilk at the moment.
9. Boros Monarch
Boros Monarch has experienced a bit of a resurgence in the past few weeks. The deck is well positioned against Burn and various Faeries decks but traditionally has struggled against Flicker Tron. Boros Monarch has had an uphill climb thanks to the advent of top-end cascade threats, which can render its incremental card advantage grind moot.
8. Gruul Ramp
Some people really love blowing up lands and Gruul Ramp is quite good at that. Pauper has seen some innovation in the build in the past few weeks, including some people experimenting with Field Trip as a way to access cards like Introduction to Prophecy or Introduction to Annihilation. Other players have gone back to earlier builds to add blue for Mulldrifter, a card which gets even better when you cast it for free off of cascade.
The biggest problem with Stompy is that it has largely peaked. Bayou Groff is a neat option but it doesn’t give the deck an additional dimension. Other decks have been able to steadily improve over the past year or so but Stompy remains largely unchanged. Because of this, it’ll have a day in the sun again, but it’s hardly the model of consistency it had been in a past era.
Speaking of consistency, that is a great way to describe Burn. The deck has done rather well in Strixhaven season and it’s worth taking a moment to understand why. Like Stompy, Burn has not added any new cards and like Stompy, Burn can make waves in the right spots. For Burn to thrive, it needs a metagame where it can act as the clock while also seeing a dearth of white sideboard life gain all-stars like Lone Missionary. And if you look at the decks in these Pauper Power Rankings, you can see that the top half is rather bereft of Plains.
5. Grixis Affinity
Despite being one of the breakout decks of this season, I fear Grixis Affinity could already be on the down slope of its bell curve. While it placed higher this month than in April, the metagame is adapting to a popular Affinity deck. It won’t be long before cards like Gorilla Shaman and Ancient Grudge are making life difficult for these decks. And if the ramp decks ever adopt Fangren Marauder, well, that’ll make things even rougher.
4. Izzet Faeries
You can make the case that Izzet Faeries should be higher on these rankings. In 10 Challenges, it had six Top 8 finishes and a win in 17 total Top 32 appearances. That’s a solid conversion rate. Fully half of those finishes, including the win, came this past weekend. So while these Pauper Power Rankings are always biased towards recent results, the old standby needs to show me a little more before it takes the next step up.
WonderWalls is a wild deck. With five Top 8 finishes and two wins, the best combo deck in the format is also Pauper’s best clock. While it may not kill until turn four, it can put itself into a winning position as early as turn three. The combination of cheap creatures with defender, Overgrown Battlement and Quirion Ranger rivals Gaea’s Cradle for mana output and Annoyed Altisaur has given the deck a consistent kill. More copies have been adopting Valakut Invoker as an additional spout that also functions as board control, giving the deck another dimension, on top of the transformative Galvanic Alchemist sideboard plan.
2. Dimir Faeries
Just as Izzet Faeries could be higher on this list, Dimir Faeries could be lower. It had the most Top 32 appearances this season with 38 and the most Challenge wins with four. It’s in third place with nine Top 8 finishes (Burn has 10, Flicker Tron has 11). So why am I bearish on the deck? Whereas Izzet Faeries is on the upswing, Dimir Faeries has taken a small step back. This is par for the course as the Izzet and Dimir varieties often trade places from week to week, so when one ascends, the other declines.
1. Flicker Tron
I’m out of things to write about this deck. It has the most Top 8 finishes (11) and that’s in 29 total Top 32 finishes. It averages a Top 16 finish as a deck. Flicker Tron has been the best deck in the format for quite some time and it’s unlikely anything in Modern Horizons 2 will change that.