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Flickering from Favor in Pauper

Love at first sight. It’s a beautiful thing.

From the moment I spied this deck from across my Twitter feed, I knew I was about to embark on an affair for the ages!

I didn’t even have to brew because this 75 is exactly what I like and how I like it! Value, attrition and a “greatest hits” of my favorite cards. I probably would have put this list together even if @jakeAls has said he 0-5’d with it. I just like the concept of this strategy. 

Commander Legends has made a big splash on Pauper in a hurry. Alex Ullman put out a great write up a few days ago laying out how and why the new monarch cards are completely redefining the entire metagame and I happen to agree with him 100 percent. If you want to go “big picture meta” for Pauper, I think Alex does an awesome analysis and projection.

Pauper Four Color Ephemerate by Brian DeMars

Four Color Ephemerate is your basic “Good Stuff.dec.” Every card in the 75 is a top-shelf playable card, they all work together in a synergistic way and the sideboard for the most part covers rough matchups in effective ways. After playing with the deck for a few days, I’ve seen zero reason to change the main deck (it feels great given the early state of the meta) and have only hedged the sideboard numbers slightly. I ticked up on Lone Missionary and Ray of Revelation because I think they are important in the match ups they are for (and I’ll get to that momentarily). 

I should also note that Four Color Ephemerate is not a good choice to play unless you really enjoy long, grindy games of Magic. It’s uncommon for my games to be less than 10 or 15 turns long. It is a deck all about attrition and grinding an opponent into submission. It takes a lot of clicks and loops for value to complete the checkmate so clock will always be something to pay attention to on Magic Online. 

I linked to Alex’s article because he makes an important point about the profound impact the Commander Legends cards have already have, and will continue to have, on the metagame and gameplay of Pauper. 

Fall from Favor

In particular, Fall from Favor is such a powerful card that it literally changes how the game is played. 

It’s simultaneously an easy and difficult card to describe and evaluate in a vacuum because there’s really never been a card quite like it before. A good exchange with a Fall from Favor on the stack is often to Doom Blade one’s own creature! A blue removal spell that is so good that, on many board states, having a removal spell to kill one’s own creature and get two-for-one’d in response to not lose on the spot is new territory for me. 

Pauper doesn’t have a ton of great ways to generate efficient, recursive card advantage but this deck takes advantage of the few ways that do exist and at the best rate of exchange. The monarch and Bonder’s Ornament are both cards that really don’t feel like commons at all and unsurprisingly they are a huge plot point in the narrative of the metagame.

A three mana removal spell that drops the crown into play is a huge obstacle for an aggressive deck to turn the corner on if the opponent cannot immediately take the monarchy back on the following turn. 

It’s safe to say we can take the established meta information generated from the previous months and toss it completely out the window because this is a new format and meta. 

The Four Color Ephemerate obliterates a lot of established decks. The ability to take the crown on turn three is a big gain but I also can’t understate how devastating a card like Fiery Cannonade is against the small creature and token strategies. A cheap sweeper takes a lot of wind out of the sails of aggressive decks. Cannonade also has great synergy with another staple of the archetype.

Kor Skyfisher

The way the deck is able to play so man top shelf quality cards is through its obscene mana base: 

Abundant GrowthThriving IsleAsh Barrens

The dirty snowball may be gone but we can reprise the basic concept via looping Abundant Growth with Kor Skyfisher. We have a “good enough” soup mana base that essentially facilitates playing the objectively most powerful and synergistic cards in the format. 

Do I think Four Color Ephemerate is unbeatable? No, in fact it’s an underdog to Tron perhaps even more so than the UR and UB Delver decks of the previous level metagame. However, the upside is that Four Color crushes so many other decks in decisive fashion and still has a respectable game against Tron which does similar types of powerful things but also has Tron and more capacity to loop. 

I also think that as people start to become more familiar with Fall from Favor and how powerful and format warping it’s destined to become that we’ll see dramatic metashift. If and when lists like this become more widely adapted, it makes a lot of sense to me that getting leaner, less slow and clunky makes sense for fighting over the monarch. 

Spellstutter Sprite

The ability to flash down a Spellstutter Sprite on an opponent’s end step to pressure the monarchy is a hugely important interaction. Using Ephemerate on a value creature in response to a Fall from Favor is also a huge tempo swing. There’s obviously a tension between going fishy and playing with or against a great sweeper like Fiery Cannonade, but being able to win the early battle to seize the crown and ride it to victory is insanely important in various Fall from Favor match ups. 

Another deck that I think becomes exponentially better positioned is Auras Hexproof. A deck like Four Color has very little game against Auras pre-sideboard. It’s also true that Auras already has the Kor Skyfisher plus Abundant Growth package to facilitate a splash for Fall from Favor, an enchantment that shares a ton of synergy with the deck already. It’s also cute that hexproof creatures are naturally immune to Fall from Favor which is going to be a format defining strategy. 

If you’re playing from the Four Color Ephemerate side, one card you’ll want to watch out for is Prismatic Strands

Prismatic Strands

The card was already on an elite level in the format but it actually gets a lot better in the type of meta Pauper fans are projecting. For one, it protects small creatures from being swept away by Fiery Cannonade so it’s always important to pay attention to an opponent who has 2W up if you’re thinking about pulling the trigger. It’s also hard to counter, since you’ll need to counter it twice if trying to force through a Cannonade since they can just tap a white creature to flash it back once it’s countered. Obviously, protecting an advantageous board of small creatures against a sweeper is great utility, but Strands also allows a player to leverage the monarch crown since it blanks combat damage. 

Boros is too good of a deck to be pushed out completely, but the controlling blue decks certainly give it problems right now. As the meta shifts to accommodate new monarch based blue control and aggro control, how those decks settle out will ultimately determine Boros’s role. Boros is obviously much better against Faeries than against a pile of Four Color blue card advantage. 

Is Fall from Favor too good for Pauper? I’ve only been playing with it for a few days and I have no idea, but I do think it and Urza Tron are the format defining strategies that everything else will have to account for going forward. 

I’ve even noticed the prevalence of Fall From Favor strategies increasing in my pairings even over the course of a few days as other players are starting to figure out how to harness the card’s incredible power. I will say that my games are interesting, complex and I’ve enjoyed playing the deck thus far. I’m interested to watch and participate in how this monarch meta is going to shape up and play out. 

With that said, I think the question in Pauper right now is what different ways Fall from Favor can be synergized with or against. It’s certainly unlikely to be a strategy that becomes less ‘Paup’ular in the coming weeks! 

Take the crown and Ephemerate that Mulldrifter because drawing ‘em up is where it’s at on the heels of Commander Legends.

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