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A New Meta for Pauper


In case you missed it, last week three cards were banned from the Pauper format. These cards were Gush, Gitaxian Probe, and Daze. With the banning of these three cards, many hoped the format would open up more and feature more diversity.

This Sunday, May 26th, we had the first post-ban Pauper Challenge on Magic Online, giving us our first look into the new format. In this Challenge, we saw a wide variety of decks. There were numerous archetypes that showed up in the top 32 lists and while I could easily talk about every one, I wanted to point out and discuss a few notable ones.

First up is the first place: Elves!

To the surprise of everyone, Elves took down the whole thing! I believe according to others who watched through the matches there were one or two other Elves players in the event, but c_is_for_cookie, or "cookie" for short, managed to get there.

If you're unfamiliar, cookie is known for killing it at the MTGO Pauper Leagues (usually the friendly one), and always with Elves. They almost always play the same list. While I think some slight alterations have been made overtime, its largely unchanged over the last few seasons. I may not personally agree with all of their deck-building choices as a regular player of the archetype myself, but their results clearly speak for themselves. Doubly so when their last match of the event was to Orzhov Pestilence! If you're looking for a list to get into the format post-ban, check this one out and give it a whirl!

While second place was taken by Orzhov Pestilence, the list is largely close to the older ones I discussed at length earlier this year. I strongly recommend giving that a read for a more in-depth look at the archetype. Instead I'll be focusing more a bit on the new hotness of the event. As such, let's take a look at this fresh take on post-ban Dimir Delver!

Unlike some lists we saw in the event, this feels like its own new thing as opposed to Dimir Delver decks reverting to the older variations of Angler Delver. This list doesn't run Delver, but nor does it run things like Forbidden Alchemy to look like Dimir Alchemy. Instead, it's its own thing and it clearly did quite well in the process. Dimir may have lost some big cards but still very clearly has legs!

Next up: me! I actually played this event and got fourth place!

While Bogles is something I've definitely talked about in the past, I do want to note that this is something a touch different from ones I previously wrote in depth about. Indeed, this list was actually the one that won the MCQ at MagicFest Los Angeles. Innovated first online by players like pproteus, it absolutely crushed at that event and performed quite well for me in this event.

My only two losses were to Pestilence decks and as such the only thing I'd like to do to sure things up is to find a way to fit in a bit more Cartouche of Solidarity once again. The mana fixes well though and without the slow Blossoming Sands, Selesnya Guildgate, or similar, it's insanely explosive.

I know some expressed dismay that I didn't take Elves this week, but in truth I was working on something else alongside this event. As such, I wanted something quick and easy to play, which Bogles does extremely well. If you're looking for something to grind over and over online, as well as your local events, I definitely recommend giving this list a spin!

Next up: Tron!

Tron was one of the decks people expected to see over everything else and boy did it show up en force. Mathonical piloted a traditional Dinrova Tron (or Fog Tron) list to a sweet Top 8 finish! In his list you may notice a few odd choices including Ulamog's Crusher and Reap and Sow! For one reason or another they were tremendously popular choices this week in a variety of lists!

Let's check out another Tron list from the top 8:

Removal Tron is a vein of Tron we've been seeing a bit of late, focusing on taking out creatures to reach an endgame of quick and powerful kills. It's been putting up some sweet numbers so if you're looking for a more to-the-point Tron list as opposed to the more durdly ones, definitely check this list out.

Next up is regular grinder Amoras27, showing us that Izzet Blitz isn't quite dead yet!

By upping counts on cantrips and Phyrexian mana spells, it's not hard to play without the likes of Gush or Gitaxian Probe. Indeed, the deck that's still built on quick and effective kills out of nowhere can still get you got. I faced a similar build this evening at my local Pauper event and it absolutely still packs one heck of a wallop!

Next up, we actually got some true Blue spice in the Top 16!

That's right: Rakdos Reanimator made it into 12th place. This deck has shown up on the fringes here and there and no doubt got a bit better without the free counterspells to keep it down. It's extremely powerful, leading by discarding an Ulamog's Crusher turn one (and hopefully a Dragon's Breath) with a Faithless Looting or Insolent Neonate. From there, you cast Exhume and start swinging away with a giant 8/8 that devours your opponents' board state. In no time flat, you should be picking up cards from your victory!

Next we've got another deck that was impacted by the ban: Tireless Tribe Combo.

Of all the decks hit by the bans, Tireless Tribe Combo, also known as Inside Out Combo or simply "Tribe," almost required both Gush and Gitaxian Probe to function on multiple levels. Certainly more so than similar counterpart Izzet Blitz. This week, a few players set out to prove the non-believers wrong and we came out with this list from Birbman, known on Magic Online as Entropy263. He's been trying a brand of the deck with Tethmos High Priest and swapped out Gush and Gitaxian Probe for Peek and Accumulated Knowledge. His perseverance paid off well and he landed the deck squarely within the Top 16!

Just beyond the Top 16 we actually got a true Blue homebrew!

With the accurate assumption that Tron lands were going to be everywhere, player Brevenix brought a deck filled to the brim with land destruction spells to the table. While we've seen Mono-Black Land Destruction and Simic/Mono-Green Land Destruction lists in the past, this is definitely something totally different. If nothing else, it's eating away at your opponent's resources until you reach a point where you can kill them with the likes of Mulldrifter.

While I caution players to be wary about picking up this kind of list for their local events, there's certainly a time and a place where this kind of list can really excel. Even if it didn't make the true top, it was still clearly a great showing for a whole new deck!

Next, another post-ban update!

Pproteus brought Izzet Delver to the table with only a few small changes. Of all the decks that really utilized the banned cards, Izzet Delver seemed the least affected on the whole and it shows. We also had a similar Delverless Izzet Faerie Control, which looks very similar to Izzet Delver at the very least. Even with the likes of Gush gone, the core package of cantrips, Delver, Faeries, and Ninja of the Deep Hours is still a force to be reckoned with.

Last but not least, I feel the need to bring up Mythic Championship top 8 player Michael Bonde, aka lampalot's, Golgari Aristocrats deck.

Golgari Aristocrats, aka Golgari Sacrifice (since it lacks the more traditional Aristocrats payoffs), relies on sacrificing creatures for big swingy attacks. These usually include getting in big hits with the likes of Mortician Beetle, Carrion Feeder, and Bloodthrone Vampire. While we've been seeing some lists like this pop up in the recent past, Michael brings his own little twist with cards like Rite of Consumption, Butcher Ghoul, and Scarscale Ritual. I had the pleasure of playing him in one of my rounds and the deck definitely feels like it can really have some legs in this new meta!

In addition to playing the Challenge this week, I also played three Friendly Leagues. In those Leagues, I ran into the following decks:

  • Affinity
  • Boros Monarch
  • Boros Bully
  • Burn x3
  • Dimir Delver
  • Golgari Tortured Existence
  • Izzet Delver
  • Mono-Black Land Destruction Control
  • Mono-Green Infect
  • Rakdos Reanimator
  • Removal Tron
  • Vinestorm (featuring Fathom Seer)

As you can see, between the Challenge and the Leagues, we're seeing all kinds of decks being brought to the table! We're seeing arguably more variety than ever in Pauper, but it's only week one. Modern Horizons is right around the corner and we're already seeing lots of great stuff for the format in there. What cards and/or decks are you most excited to check out in this amazing new meta?

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