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Faeries and the Crown


A few weeks ago, I wrote my Pauper set review for Commander Legends, and in it I talked a bit about the new monarch cards. My predictions included each of them seeing lots of play, Staunch Throneguard showing up in Tron lists, and that the others would spawn their own builds. The Throneguard might not be showing up quite just yet as the Flicker variants of Tron still reign supreme, but the others have been taking over the land of commons - especially the enchantment Fall from Favor.

Fall from Favor

It turns out that when you're playing in an exceptionally creature-heavy format, a cheap three-mana aura that gives you the monarch goes a tremendously long way. It goes even further when it allows you to not only draw cards, but keep the opposing creatures tapped down in the process. What a lot of people miss is that you can even enchant your own creature to get the monarch going and then your creature won't tap because you're the monarch!

Crimson Fleet Commodore
Azure Fleet Admiral

The other two new cards - Crimson Fleet Commodore and Azure Fleet Admiral - have also seen a solid amount of play in their own right. Remember the new lists I mentioned? Yeah, they're showing up as well. I wasn't able to pull up any lists off-hand, but going through leagues on Magic Online it's not hard to run into them at all.

All three of these cards have spawned tons of screenshots and tweets showing the bizarre and crazy state of the format at the moment. You haven't lived - it seems - until you have five copies of Fall From Favor on a single creature!

The place we're really seeing get a boost from the crown? Faeries, of course! Many wondered if the various forms of the deck would be able to survive when Mystic Sanctuary was banned. As it turns out, the decks had been holding their own quite well already. The addition of Fall from Favor is only making them stronger! The most notable ones are the Dimir variety of Faeries and Delver. Here's two lists - one with Delver and one without:

As it happens, this deck has been getting quite a bit stronger for a while now.

Suffocating Fumes
Cast Down

The additions of the instant speed board wipe Suffocating Fumes was a huge boon to Dimir builds when Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths came out. Thanks to cycling on the card, you could even run it in the main deck! After that, we got the downshift of Cast Down in Double Masters. I talked about it in my review saying it wouldn't be as backbreaking as it looked, but it would definitely have a sizeable impact on the decks that would've previously played Doom Blade. This is because it's now possible to fell Gurmag Anglers with ease. As such, decks like Dimir Delver adapted to run it - and even ended up leaning a bit more on the faeries package that the more traditional Izzet and Mono-Blue lists would run.

Delver of Secrets

You'll notice that some decks just aren't running Delver of Secrets anymore. It feels strange to say but that's been happening far more often lately. While you'll still certainly see plenty of Delvers floating around in the format, many players choose to eschew it in favor of focusing on the more controlling aspects with spells and Spellstutter Sprite shenanigans. Frankly, no, you'll almost certainly never see Delver banned in Pauper.

Next is a more traditional Izzet variation of Faeries:

This looks pretty comparable to the Izzet lists we've been seeing for years, sans the traditional inclusion of Delver. Aside from the new Fall from Favor card, we also see the inclusion of Abrade here. This list - which placed 3rd in this past Sunday's Magic Online Pauper Challenge - likely ran the card to not only be standard creature removal but to also deal with artifacts. Affinity won both of the prior week's Challenges, so this feels more like a meta call than anything, but it's still a strong card nonetheless.

Fiery Cannonade

The other card that I find interesting here is the Fiery Cannonade in the sideboard. Now I'm not a Delver/Faeries player by any stretch of the imagination - which is why I largely focus on aggro strategies - but this just feels weird and wrong. None of the creatures the deck runs are pirates and in fact all of them - with the sole exception of Augur of Bolas - die to the card. Sure, it helps with some of your opponent's bigger creatures if they're on, say, Stompy, but I just can't help but feel like the deck would be better off sticking to long time mainstays like Electrickery and Swirling Sandstorm.

As a small aside, this card is showing up quite a bit in other decks, but not as much as you might think. Not all Tron lists are running it and I've barely seen it compared to a lot of the other sweepers. This may simply be a side effect of monarch taking over, but it's interesting to see the card everyone thought was going to dominate not be the biggest player after all. I think it'll have more time to shine when bans inevitably happen - as I'm sure they will within the next month or two.

Last but not least, here's a more classic Mono-Blue list:

Yup, even Mono-Blue dropped the Delvers! It still plays quite a bit on the tempo strategies but not quite as much as it used to. You've got Snap, sure, but there's no Vapor Snags or anything like that. Some lists still sometimes run Force Spike or Mutagenic Growth as a bit of a gotcha factor, but not as much as you might've seen a few years ago.

The most interesting thing I see in this list outside of the new Fall from Favor is the inclusion of Moonblade Shinobi. I don't think I expected this card to make much of a splash because, let's face it, Ninja of the Deep Hours is some pretty hefty competition. But still, it seems like a solid fun-of to help get extra value off of your Spellstutter Sprites. Some decks have also run Mistblade Shinobi so as to get a little extra tempo value, but I haven't seen it in a while.

All in all, I can't see a world where Fall from Favor at the very least - and possibly more monarch nonsense - sticks around more than another month or so. Remember, Gavin Verhey has stated on numerous occasions now that Wizards knew Commander Legends would likely shake up the Pauper format quite a bit. As a result, they've got a very watchful eye on the format and its metagame right now. While it's unlikely we see any changes prior to the holidays - as Wizards historically goes on vacation for about two weeks this time every year - I'd expect something in January. This is especially true with the newly announced PTQ style qualifier coming up on Saturday, January 23rd on Magic Online. Enjoy the rule while it lasts.

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith

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