I am not going to dive too deep on the October 17 and October 18 Pauper Challenges. Taking into account what I wrote about last week, not a lot has changed. Goblins and Bogles both put up some solid results but the top of the metagame remains Flicker Tron and Dimir Faeries.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Eternal formats this week thanks to the Eternal Weekend events on Magic Online. The allure of Eternal formats like Legacy and Vintage is that you can find a deck and stick with it for years at a time and while these decks may not always be the best in a given tournament, they can still compete.
Part of this is due to narrow, high impact cards that only a few decks would ever want having the ability to completely change a matchup. I’m thinking of Molten Vortex in Lands but with the vast card pool the possibilities are astronomically high.
Pauper has some of this, to be sure. Thoughtcast has some significant restrictions as does Savage Swipe. The incentives in Pauper push towards Tron and the decks is both adept at adopting the best cards available. While other decks have to be focused on their, for lack of a better term, theme, Tron has the mana flexibility to run the best possible cards. This wouldn’t be a problem if the archetype was not dominant (almost 25% of the Winner’s Weighted metagame, with no sign of slowing down).
What would Pauper look like if Tron was brought in line with other top decks? What if Tron remained around 15% of the metagame by volume but only over achieved by 3%? Would other fringe decks have that band of opportunity to shine? I don’t know, but that’s the thought rattling around my brain.
The problem with in my estimation Pauper isn’t necessarily Tron’s dominance or the strength of Monarch or Spellstutter Sprite. Rather, it’s the fact that Pauper is an Eternal format that lacks the diversity of high end competitive choices.
There is some allure to a format with a known enemy. To a format where one deck sits at the top, waiting to be attacked and dethroned. The issue is there is no real way to subvert Tron in any meaningful way.