Zendikar Rising is here and thus a new season of data tracking can begin. The latest set has some powerful options and three different cards (Cleansing Wildfire, Spare Supplies, Tuktuk Rubblefort) have already found their way into Top 8 lists. I do not expect these to be the last cards from Zendikar Rising to have an impact in Pauper.
All that being said, none of these new cards are format warping. Rather they present useful tools and solid upgrades for existing lists and archetypes. The end result is that the metagame should look largely the same as it did going into this season. In fact, let’s compare this past weekend’s results to my most recent Power Rankings. The data below pulls from the September 19 and September 20 Pauper Challenges.
I’m going to ignore Flicker Tron because, come on, that’s a gimme. It was the best deck before the latest set and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. If there is an opening it is that many pilots are switching away from Stonehorn Dignitary and instead leaning on Moment’s Peace as an answer to creatures turning sideways. This could create an opening for Flaring Pain or decks that can turbo out an Ulamog’s Crusher.
Number two on my list was Boros Monarch and, well, the deck did fairly well. Two Top 8s in 6 appearances is on pace with last season (although let’s not infer too much, given the small sample size and all). Dimir Faeries won a Challenge and was the second most popular archetype. The archetype is continuing its climb (and be on thelook out for an introduction to the deck from yours truly) proving again the combination of Ninja of the Deep Hours and Spellstutter Sprite is really good.
Next up on my Power Rankings: Stompy. Two Top 8s might look good but the Win+ of 2 looks positively abysmal. Part of this is due to the fact that these small challenges had several Stompy pilots finish in the Top 32 with a 2-4 record. If we remove them from the equation, the deck has a Win+ of 6 in 8 appearances. That represents a bit of resurgence for the Green Machine, one I would expect to continue as the rest of the metagame continues to evolve.
The last deck in my Top 5 was Izzet Faeries, which was the fifth most popular deck this past weekend (with a Top 8 to boot). So while my rankings were perfect, they were in the ball park.
And being in the ballpark is sometimes good enough. Without comprehensive metagame data it is a struggle to get a complete view of the metagame. However seeing what consistently rises to the top can help inform deckbuilding choices moving forward. So here’s how I see things moving into next week:
- Be prepared for Flicker Tron but don’t expect the Rhino to show up game one.
- Dimir Faeries struggles against two-for-one removal. Firebolt is great but don’t overlook Strangling Soot.
- Cleansing Wildfire is probably at its best against Boros, so run enough basic lands to function.
- Have a plan for Affinity – between the traditional and the Jeskai variant, the archetype put up 3 Top 8s in 4 Top 32 finishes.