Core Set 2021 has made its way to Magic Online, as has Jumpstart. Some of the new cards – notably the Thriving Lands – are still challenging to acquire. Still, none of the cards released last week should have such a huge impact that they completely upset Pauper’s apple cart. Last week I took a look at some of the top decks from the end of Ikoria. Let’s see how my predictions ended up.
Stompy: “Stompy is still going to be a popular option so be prepared, but it likely will struggle for the next few weeks after that before finding a groove again.”
There were 7 Stompy decks across both events and two of them had winning records. Stompy is a deck that can succeed when people are preparing for other forms of aggression. After weeks of doing well, Stompy was due for a dip in performance.
Affinity: “Affinity is a sleeper contender. I’d look at Dispersal Shield in the Metallic Rebuke Slot.”
Affinity had a Top 8 appearance and had a Win+ of four in five appearances. While no one ran Dispersal Shield, no one ran Metallic Rebuke either. While I wasn’t wrong, I wasn’t exactly right either.
Dimir Delver: “If you’re dead set on playing Gurmag Angler, consider a Spellstutter Sprite build.”
Nope. Got this one wrong. Dimir Delver had itself a weekend. Two Top 8s, a Win, and a Win+ of 3 in 6 appearances (that’s an average record of X-1 across all these six decks). What did I miss? I think I miscalculated how well this deck was positioned against non-Izzet Faeries decks. As we’ll see later, Izzet had a tough weekend which opened a window for Dimir.
Boros Bully: “Bully is a sleeper contender, but I’d wait until week two before busting it out.”
One appearance and a 3-3 record at that. We’ll see if this prediction pans out.
Izzet Faeries: “Izzet Faeries is still a tier one strategy and if you don’t have a plan for beating it why are you even showing up?”
Two appearances and a Top 8, so it seems that this deck is still a good option. Shocker, I know. Still, when decks come prepared they can help to contain Izzet Faeries. It seems folks had a plan when they showed up.
Flicker Tron: “Just ban something already.”
A win and three Top 8s, and 11 total appearances (12 if you count a Stonehorn-less variant; 14 if you include all Tron variants with Ephemerate), so yeah this deck is still, on balance, the best in the format.
Part of the issue with Flicker Tron is that it can just run all the best cards. It doesn’t much matter what the color or cost restriction is since Tron can spend mana with impunity and has the filtering to do whatever it wants.
Take Bonder’s Ornament. In any “fair” deck this card is quite expensive. Seven mana for one card is fine in long drawn out games when locked in an attrition war. In Tron, this cost is a pittance.
If you ask me, Pauper is coming to a crossroads. There are tons of very cool things you can do in the format but the best engines are hard to disrupt. These engines include the Tron mana engine, Mnemonic Wall (and it’s ilk)/Ephemerate, and Mystic Sanctuary/Tragic Lesson. While these are all very powerful, none are so powerful on their own merits that they present a problem. Rather, it’s how strong they are in relation to everything that they are not that creates issues.
So next week? I’d look at Flicker Tron and failing that, a deck that can pack Journey to Nowhere.