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Pauper Power Rankings: January Update

Kaldheim is right around the corner and that means it’s time to take a look at the Pauper metagame. The biggest change since I last looked at the top decks in the format was the banning of Fall from Favor. Since the Aura was removed from the format Pauper, has had four Challenges and one two-slot qualifier on Magic Online. These Power Rankings lean heavily on the post-ban results to help paint a  picture of the format going into Kaldheim.

 

Dropped from the Top 10: WonderWalls, Bogles, Boros Monarch, Faeries

 

 

10. Gruul Ramp (Previously Unranked)

Pauper Gruul Ramp by Unicornparadise - Top 32, January 23 Pauper Challenge

 

Gruul Ramp is a deck that was made possible after the release of Commander Legends. While Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl have been fringe players in ramp and land destruction strategies for years, these decks lacked a top end. The last release gave the deck a pair in Annoyed Altisaur and Boarding Party. If that wasn’tenough, it also gave the deck access to a reliable sweeper in Fiery Cannonade. The result is a deck that attempts to keep Tron in check while also hammering other strategies that rely on lands like Boros Garrison.

 

9. Orzhov Midrange (Previously Unranked)

Pauper Pestilence Control by PyotrPavel - 1st Place, January 23 Pauper Super Qualifier

 

There are two and a half distinct varieties of Orzhov Midrange. The more controlling version runs a scant few creatures and instead leans on the combination of Guardian of the Guildpact and Pestilence to both control the battlefield and win the game. The deck also pairs Evincar’s Justice with Pristine Talisman to break the symmetrical effect. Earlier versions of this deck ran the monarch but the addition of Bonder’s Ornament means the crown is no longer mandatory.

 

Pauper Orzhov Monarch by SinkholeCAM - Top 4, January 23 Pauper Super Qualifier

 

Pauper Orzhov Pestilence by Kirblinxy- Top 16, January 23 Pauper Challenge

 

The other versions are more creature-oriented with one running main deck copies of the monarchy cards. These are both Kor Skyfisher decks that operate in a similar vein to Boros Monarch. They also have the advantage of using Skyfisher with Omen of the Dead for even more late game value.

 

8. Jeskai Affinity (Previous Rank: 5)

AtogGalvanic BlastMyr Enforcer

 

Jeskai Affinity is still quite good at getting folks dead. The loss of Fall from Favor has forced the deck to look for other options. Some have reverted to Of One Mind while others have decided to stick with the monarch and add Azure Fleet Admiral to their builds.

 

7. Heroic (Previously Unranked)

Pauper Heroic by Murk - Top 8, January 23 Pauper Super Qualifier

 

Heroic is the other Ethereal Armor deck in the format. Instead of Slippery Bogle, the deck leans on Lagonna-Band Trailblazer as its main threat. The advantage of the Centaur is that it dodges early copies of Skred and Fiery Cannonade. Heroic also can evade black removal thanks to Benevolent Blessing, Emerge Unscathed and Karametra’s Blessing. The biggest thing holding Heroic back is its lack of reach in end games where its attackers are invalidated.

 

6. Izzet Faeries (Previous Rank: 2)

BrainstormSpellstutter SpriteLightning Bolt

 

Don’t let the drop in standing fool you – Izzet Faeries is still a top flight deck. Losing Fall from Favor certainly hurts the deck but it’s not as if blue is wanting for card draw options. Azure Fleet Admiral and Crimson Fleet Commodore are both reasonable cards if Izzet wants to keep playing with the throne. Failing that, Frantic Inventory is a hell of a Magic card. 

 

5. Dimir Delver (Previous Rank: 4)

Delver of SecretsRecoilGurmag Angler

 

I had previously grouped Dimir Delver with Dimir Faeries but the format has forced the decks to evolve along different paths. The current builds of Dimir Delver are far more focused in pressing an early tempo advantage. In the January 23 Super Qualifier, the tech of the day was Recoil. The Invasion Limited all-star can hit a land loaded up with Utopia Sprawls or snipe a Guardian of the Guildpact. It also happens to play neatly into the deck’s main game plan by helping to clear a potential path for Gurmag Angler.

 

4. Boros Bully (Previous Rank: 4)

Squadron HawkBattle ScreechRally the Peasants

 

Boros Bully is adept at recovering from board wipes thanks to Battle Screech. Given the abundance of Fiery Cannonade, Electrickery and Suffocating Fumes, it makes sense that Boros Bully continues to perform. Pilots have started to add ways to peck in for those final few points of damage with both Makeshift Munitions and Viridian Longbow making main deck appearances.

 

3. Stompy (Previous Rank: 9)

Burning-Tree EmissaryNest InvaderNettle Sentinel

 

Stompy continues to bounce between the top tier choice and an also-ran. Currently, the green machine is in the format’s good graces as it attempts to capitalize on the absence of Fall from Favor. Not much has changed, although the deck is poised to benefit a bit from Kaldheim when it gets to potentially add Mammoth Growth and Struggle for Skemfar.

 

2. Flicker Tron (Previous Rank: 1)

Urza's TowerUrza's Power PlantUrza's Mine

 

Let’s be clear about something: Tron is still the best deck in the format. The ranking reflects a relatively poor performance in the qualifier where it failed to finish in the Top 16 (although the two pilots who finished in the Top 32 did so with the same record as the Top 16). This is less about Tron’s inherent strength and more about the respect players gave the deck. Gruul Ramp was one of the most popular decks on Saturday with over 17 percent of the field. That level of hate alone could have made for a rough road, to say nothing about other decks tuned to beat the best. However, one weekend doesn’t tell the whole story and I wouldn’t not be surprised to see Tron back on top when we visit these rankings.

 

1. Dimir Faeries (Previous Rank: 4)

Faerie SeerNinja of the Deep HoursSpellstutter Sprite

 

Dimir Faeries had two finishes in the Top 8 of the qualifier, including a players who split the finals against Pestilence Control. It’s also the most popular archetype in the post-ban winner’s metagame and has taken home nine total Top 8s. Dimir Faeries takes the time tested combination of countermagic and a flexible suite of removal while pairing them with some of the best creatures in the format. The result is a deck that, for now, is at the top of Pauper.

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