It has been one month since Zendikar Rising’s release and it’s time to check in on the Pauper metagame. There have been eight Magic Online Challenges, as well as one Players Tour Qualifier. We have plenty of information to see how the metagame has shifted since last time. In order to make the top 10 a deck needed to have at least 2% of the Top 32 metagame; around 6 total appearances. For more information on how I break down the metagame check out this explainer.
The following archetypes have fallen out of the Top 10: Dimir Delver, Jeskai Ephemerate, WonderWalls.
- Jeskai Affinity
Pauper Jeskai Affinity
This deck has gained popularity recently. Instead of using Tree of Tales and running Carapace Forger, Jeskai Affinity opts for Ancient Den and runs Thraben Inspector and Glint Hawk. Some builds go one step further and add Of One Mind to supplement Thoughtcast, but that is less common these days. Of all the decks listed today this is the one I am least confident has staying power. While it has put up solid results (two Top 8s and a win in 14 total appearances), it tends to finish outside of the Top 16 and leans hard on Atog and Fling to win games.
The other green machine is quietly having a respectable season. Elves is one of Pauper’s Lead the Stampede/Winding Way combo decks, using mana dorks to spit out a massive army of creatures. Most builds run a smidge of blue for Distant Melody as a way to overload on cards in the early stages of the midgame. Elves benefits from the ability to vary its win condition and we’ve seen builds opt for various kill cards, from Gruesome Fate and Harsh Sustenance to Wildheart Invoker and Valakut Invoker.
- Izzet Faeries
Izzet Faeries continues to struggle. While the deck remains a Top 10 contender it has not been able to match the other top Spellstutter Sprite decks. Izzet Faeries has also moved more towards midrange thanks to the addition of Crown-Hunter Hireling. Giving the deck access to Monarch has been a boon but it has also required running additional lands.
Bogles shines when decks overloading on removal are at their worst. Given what lives at the apex of the metagame it makes sense than folks are packing fewer removal spells these days. As Chainer’s Edict style effects are at their best when paired with other removal spells, Bogles has found a path to success. When black based removal decks make their return, I expect Bogles to fall off a bit.
Burn continues to get people dead. The Rodney Dangerfield of the format in that it gets no respect, Burn quietly has five Top 8s this month, tied for third most. Part of this archetype’s run is based upon the fact that it can simply beat Tron with an average draw, and that counts for quite a lot these days.
- Boros Monarch
While this deck has fallen a bit from our last look at the top 10, it is still an excellent choice. Boros Monarch was one of the few decks to get a real addition from the latest set in Spare Supplies. While not revolutionary, it has added another element of long game card advantage to a deck that was already swimming in the stuff. The recent builds have been loading up on non-basic lands which makes them susceptible to Cleansing Wildfire.
Listen, Rancor is a hell of a card. And so are Burning-Tree Emissary and Savage Swipe. Stompy has the ability to get a lot of decks dead quick, but struggles when the game goes long. Given the rest of the metagame, the fact that Stompy is so high is a testament to its consistent speed.
- Boros Bully
The more aggressive take on Palace Sentinels is having a resurgent season. A lot of this has to do with more decks packing Suffocating Fumes in the sideboard and fewer copies overall. Rally the Peasants is a great way to steal wins and the deck has access to a wide range of red removal. All that being said, when black decks make a return I expect Bully to be knocked back a few pegs.
- Dimir Faeries
The second most popular deck (39 appearances) is also tied for second most Top 8s (6, tied with Boros Bully and Boros Monarch). Dimir Faeries has not gained anything but the deck remains a top strategy. Currently the best shell for both Counterspell and Spellstutter Sprite, Dimir Faeries is able to play a traditional control game while also applying pressure. The deck leans hard on Brainstorm and as such rewards those players who make the correct choice on complex decisions.
- Flicker Tron
We all knew this deck would be at the top but really, it’s in a league of its own. Just this past weekend Flicker Tron took down 10 of the 16 Top 8 slots. It has 23 Top 8s out of 72 this season – nearly a third of all available Top 8s. It’s also the only deck that finishes inside the Top 16 more than in 17-32 place. Flicker Tron is just a dominant force and is the kind of deck that, if it were tearing up Standard, would necessitate a change in the format.