After an unintended vacation due to some gremlins in Renton (or wherever Magic Online‘s servers are housed), we are back with the breakdown of the March 27 and March 28 Pauper Challenges. These challenges represent the start of the third 4 week chunk of Kaldheim season. I prefer longer seasons as they provide more opportunities to examine trends in the metagame. Let’s get right to it. Here is what the first two Challenges of the third chunk look like:
So there are a few things of note. First, Flicker Tron is back in a big way. While it never went away it did have a few down weeks, to the point where I had it fall out of the top spot in my Power Rankings on more than one occasion. Second, we are seeing a surge in Izzet Delver (and Delver in general). Now these are not all decks packing four copies of the creature, but they are builds that are adapting to be more aggressive and have the option to play a beatdown game against the field. Third, Boros Bully has continued to struggle after a stellar first four weeks. Finally, we are seeing dedicated Gruul Ramp/Ponza take a hit and a rise in Jund Cascade.
Let’s try to break this down a bit more. The addition of Commander Legends and Kaldheim have changed the incentives in Pauper. Prior to these two releases the best deck at both accumulating and deploying resources was Tron. Outside of Tron decks Pauper in many ways became a battle of card economy where the player who managed to draw more cards would eventually triumph. Some decks – like Elves and WonderWalls – attempted to subvert this by winning before the sheer quantity of cards would matter. Cascade has changed that as decks can now both accumulate and deploy resources. While this has not impacted Tron in a major way (other than providing a check to the deck), it has forced out decks that have traditionally relied on amassing cards as a path to victory – Boros Monarch, for example, has all but vanished.
Now that decks are able to both draw cards and play them, committing to the board matters more. Again we see decks like Elves and WonderWalls continue to perform but this also helps to explain the return of Delver of Secrets. Delver is one of the best turn one plays if your goal is to apply continuous pressure. Delver also allows the deck to get a head start on the damage race while also leaving up mana to Spellstutter Sprite on the second turn and it does rather nicely against a deck trying to blow up a land.
If I had to pick the three best decks going into next weekend (and the Super Qualifier), they would be Flicker Tron, Izzet Delver/Faeries, and Elves. Burn, Dimir Faeries, Jund Cascade, and WonderWalls should all be on your radar as well. Kor Skyfisher looks to be an incredibly important piece next weekend due to how well it can matchup with the top of the field, but I would avoid pairing it with red this time around.
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