The October 24 and October 25 were nothing new. The best decks rose to the top of the metagame and Tron was a dominant force. This week a new crop of hyper linear decks came to battle, headlined by Bogles, Elves, and Turbo Fog. These decks had a solid Saturday and poor Sunday. I don’t want to get to bogged down in the data this week as it would simply be regurgitating what I’ve been saying for much of this season.
Today I want to build on what I discussed in this piece. There I focused on cards to remove from the format to change deckbuilding incentives. With a new set mere weeks away – one where the lead designer on the set had Pauper on his mind – I thought I would talk about what new styles of cards could be used to improve Pauper, separate from bans.
This is the number one thing that can be done to improve the overall health and diversity of the Pauper metagame. While plenty of decks win via attacking – Bogles and Izzet Blitz come to mind- there is only one traditional “aggro” deck in Stompy and one non-traditional aggro deck in Boros Bully. This is not the fault of the aggressive cards but rather the incredible payoffs that exist for building slower decks. While Stompy can put out a ton of damage the fail rate is far higher than stalling out the game to draw a ton of cards with Monarch or Bonder’s Ornament, or play tool box with Ephemerate.
How do you encourage people to turn creatures sideways? Pauper already has two mana 3/3s. I think the best way to do this would be to print weak hate bears that tax spells and not creatures. This is a tough rope to walk as you do not want to lock people out of games entirely but you want to make the bears good enough to see play.
The goal then is to not create a deck that runs these and uses them to beat down. Rather it is to use these creatures to put a tax on control decks which can then hopefully open up a lane for more aggressive strategies to blossom.
Double Down on Existing Engines
Take away Monarch and Ephemerate for a moment. Pauper has plenty of engines that just aren’t nearly good enough at the current moment. Tortured Existence and Tilling Treefolk come to mind but there are plenty of other cards that could form the backbone of a deck if given the opportunity and additional options. Trinket Mage, for example, is a powerful card that simply doesn’t do enough on its own. Pauper is littered with cards like this that just pale in comparison to what can be done with the current best options.
If we aren’t going to remove the best options, we can provide new tools for existing ones. Give decks better Retrace spells so Tilling Treefolk can be more than just a bad Mulldrifter. Give Tortured Existence a card like Syr Konrad, the Grim to it can close out games.
These are the two things that keep coming to mind as ways to increase diversity at the top of the metagame. That being said I am wary of kicking the can down the road, hoping the next non-Standard release will be the one that fixes Pauper. That being said, I think both of these are attainable goals that could go a long way to shifting the incentives in Pauper.