A new set always means an injection of new cards and the release of Dominaria United has done just that for Pauper… in a manner of speaking. Due to the staggered release schedule of Battle for Baldur’s Gate on Magic Online, the cards with initiative have finally made their way to the digital platform. The impact has been immediate with decks packing the new mechanic taking the weekend Challenges by storm.
At first glance, the initiative resembled the monarch but in practice they are rather different. The monarch rewards defending the game piece in an effort to accumulate cards and deploy cheap answers in an effort to slowly win the game. The initiative asks you to play to the board and develop threats, all while potentially making these threats more imposing – and chunking life – puts the screws to the opponent early. The mechanic has proven so powerful in its early run that a version of the deck using Pauper Storm’s mana shell has cropped up.
Because of the recent influx of power, these rankings are a bit different than before. Several decks have changed their composition entirely while others have seemingly vanished from the metagame.
Not much has changed with this staple of the format. Slippery Bogle backed up with Ethereal Armor remains a quick clock and the opportunity to gain tons of life with Armadillo Cloak is a powerful option when the initiative is trying to ensnare you in the Trap!
9. Lunarch Bully
Pauper Lunarch Bully by MatheusPonciano
Boros Bully looks a little different these days. The deck has added additional life gain in Lunarch Veteran and has added a secondary damage engine. Basilisk Gate gives the otherwise anemic creatures some real staying power. When combined with Sacred Cat, Basilisk Gate can do a halfway decent Baneslayer Angel impression.
8. Izzet Faeries
Some things never change and Spellstutter Sprite decks backed up with solid removal will always be competitive.
Like its Izzet cousin, Delver is rarely a bad choice. The almost modular nature of the deck allows it to adjust to new metagames.
6. Madness Burn
A relative newcomer to the format, showing up for the first time earlier this year, Madness Burn has established itself as a meta deck. Using Blood tokens to discard Kitchen Imp and Fiery Temper, the deck sees a ton of cards and can pressure the opponent using its off beat burn spells combined with Monastery Swiftspear.
5. Turbo Initiative
Pauper Turbo Initiative by NotGood
Remember how I was talking about Storm? Turbo Initiative takes the depletion land and ritual mana engine and uses initiative as a spout. The deck took the September 10th challenge by, well, storm. The initiative is powerful but this deck invests a ton of resources in an attempt to stick a signature card – something that can be easily exploited as the metagame adjusts.
Pauper CawGate by Zoohn
CawGate burst onto the scene after the introduction of Basilisk Gate. Squadron Hawk and Brainstorm has been part of the format for over a decade, but without a way to convert the flyers into damage, the deck has often fallen flat. CawGate has emerged as a good check on initiative in part because it can run a wide array of countermagic, giving it game against the field as well as a way to stop the Initiative from being as huge a factor.
3. Kuldotha Red
Pauper Kuldotha Red by Oliver_Hart
A mashup of Red Blitz, Burn and Kuldotha Rebirth Boros decks, this deck tries to go wide in an effort to steal the initiative. Low to the ground and loaded with high quality cards, Kuldotha Red can hit hard and fast while also attacking from multiple angles.
2. Grixis Affinity
There is not much else to say about Grixis Affinity. The deck has been a top tier option for quite a while thanks to the combination of efficient threats, card draw and staying power.
1. Dimir Initiative
Pauper Dimir Initiative by Beicodegeia
How good is initiative? It has gotten the Dimir Faeries shell to stop running Ninja of the Deep Hours. Instead it leans on Moon-Circuit Hacker and the usual suspects to help bide time until it can stick a Vicious Battlerager and ride it to victory. I think this is the better initiative deck than Turbo Initiative, in part because it has a better backup plan, but time certainly tell on that one.