December 29th Pauper Challenge Breakdown

The final Pauper Challenge of 2019 was also the 10th event since the Arcum’s Astrolabe ban that reported the Top 32 decks – the December 1st Playoff only provided Top 16 data. While Flicker Tron decks had been on the decline as of late, they came back in force. Four of these decks placed in the Top 32 with three of them making the Top 8.

In many ways this challenge looks like it is going to be representative of the metagame until Theros: Beyond Death hits the scene. A big claim, considering there are only a few weeks between this event and the next release. Still, we see Flicker Tron and Mystic Sanctuary combo decks as a big player, while Mystic Sanctuary tempo decks have carved out a niche for themselves. Boros Bully has taken precedence over Boros Monarch and Burn takes the role of the volume shooter – it takes so many shots one is bound to hit. Bogles has made a return as well, and perhaps it is time to explore green aura based fixing in shells outside of its traditional home.

This chart only tells part of the story. Looking at archetypes that make have at least 6 Top 32 finishes, Boros Bully is the most popular. Flicker Tron decks are the second most popular archetype but they continue to perform at an average record of X-2 or better. If we isolated Flicker Tron – that is decks running both Stonehorn Dignitary and Dinrova Horror in the well established shell, the deck makes up 10% of the metagame while taking home 16% of the weighted metagame. Compare that to Izzet Faeries – the next best deck.

But there are some decks in that list that are more fringe than anything else. A deck like Mono Black Control might be a format staple but it is hardly impressive.

This is not a chart of every deck to make Top 8, bur instead those with at least two appearances in the elimination rounds. A bit of a refresher: Win+ takes a deck and measures it against an X-3 record. A Win+ of 1 is the equivalent of a 5-2 in a 7 round challenge. Expected Top 8 takes the ratio of Win+ to Volume and multiplies it by 0.3125 – that is a Win+1 deck will make Top 8 on average 2.5 times.

For example: Flicker Tron has made Top 8 in half of its Top 32 appearances and, using this metric it is out performing its expected Top 8 appearances by nearly 5 trips.

Moving into 2020 I would say that Flicker Tron remains the best deck, with Boros Bully and Boros Monarch slightly overrated. Izzet Faeries and Stompy are likely underrated while Burn might be properly rated if overplayed. If anything, be prepared for Mystic Sanctuary and other decks that want to use the graveyard for their endgame. And a deck that figures out how to consistently win through a Fog – Soul’s Fire for example – could be the next big thing.

Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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