The two Pauper Challenges this weekend took place under a dangling sword. A Banned List update was announced for July 13th and the prevailing wisdom was that some part of the Tron deck was going to be excised from the format and that Mystic Sanctuary was a goner.
The announcement came and went. Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary are banned. The decks they propped up aren’t going anywhere but I doubt they will remain the same. Tron decks will need to rework their configuration to allow for the inclusion of Ancient Stirrings, Crop Rotation, Impulse, or Preordain, as well as run enough of the proper lands to ensure they can cast the cards in question. Mystic Sanctuary decks lose their potent end game, but these decks have been put on the chopping block time and time again (they are Delver decks, after all) and have never fully gone away.
This weekend’s challenges tell us a story parallel to the one that unfolded on Monday. It told us what to expect, outside of Tron, in the coming weeks.
The next result of the ban is that at best, Tron gets one turn slower. At worst, it has the same fundamental turn as before. The aggressive decks in the format – Affinity, Red Deck Wins, Stompy – all get a small bump. Stompy is likely to benefit most from the extra time but only if Tron moves towards blue. Biasing towards green could make it easier to run additional copies of Moment’s Peace and put additional pressure on cards like Ram Through.
One deck getting a boost is WonderWalls. While highly redundant, the deck is somewhat vulnerable to countermagic. As people shift away from Delver strategies (and their ilk), it is likely there will be fewer copies of Counterspell in the format. Since Tron hasn’t taken that large of a hit and WonderWalls is solid against Tron, the defender based combo deck could be a big early winner.
The other big winner is Tron. Mystic Sanctuary decks were important in helping to keep Tron in check. It appears that the bans were designed to give aggro more of a puncher’s chance, in turn boosting midrange strategies as a viable check on aggro. The test will be how much slower Tron is without map. Early hyperbole indicated that this was barely a hit on Tron and considering the options available to the deck, it is easy to believe the deck remains unscathed.
So that’s where we are: the format’s next several months hinge on whether or not the in-game time bought by removing Expedition Map matters enough to give beatdown decks the chance to beat Tron before the game ends.