How do you discuss a boulder?
Do you talk about its exterior? Its composition? How much of this depends on where you encounter the mass? Are you intimately familiar with the surroundings or is this boulder entirely new?
What is your perspective? Are you experiencing this boulder as a passing moment in time – racing by on foot? Are you some cosmic being, perceiving the formation and entropy of said boulder in the blink of a human eye?
The February 9th Pauper Challenge presents the Pauper metagame as a boulder as perceived by a human. It is large, stagnant, and tough to move. This may run counter to the end result – Delver coming out on top – but I want to dig a little deeper.
These are the results from last week’s challenge. Elves and Izzet Faeries split the finals with Affinity and Flicker Tron putting up strong finishes in the Top 8. The metagame did adjust to three of of these elements. Cards like Electrickery, Ancient Grudge, and Gorilla Shaman saw more play on February 9th. But Flicker Tron is a boulder around which the world of Pauper revolves. The deck is hard to hate out but there are other avenues of attack, like racing.
There is a distinct lack of aggressive decks in the metagame. And on top of all that, the Top 8 looks nearly identical, with a lone Pestilence Control deck making it over a second copy of Affinity. It is not that the metagame is solved as much as there is just not a ton of space to find success. Yes, decks like WonderWalls will crop up and make waves for a few weeks but the beat of that butterfly wing will not spark the tropical storm to unseat FlickerTron.
I started writing these metagame breakdowns as a way to track the changes in Pauper from week to week. Right now, the amount of change is lacking. Throne of Eldraine season ended with Flicker Tron taking down over 29% of all Top 8s. Four weeks into Theros Beyond Death season that number sits at 31.25%.
Something has to give. At some point the boulder will move or decay. Or maybe the world around it will crumble to dust first.