May 8-9 Pauper Weekend in Review

Strixhaven Midyear Break

We are four weeks into Strixhaven season and thanks to the May 8 and May 9 Pauper Challenges we have the results of eight different events. To that end I want to do a slightly deeper dive on the winner’s metagame.

But before we get to that, here’s a TL; DR quick hit version:

  • Dimir Faeries is the most popular archetype and is somehow both better and worse than its raw numbers.
  • Flicker Tron might be the best deck but its standing is more volatile than in season’s past.
  • Burn is underrated and under-respected.

So let’s take a look at the winner’s metagame as it relates to raw volume. Any deck listed has at least 5 Top 32 finishes, which is approximately 2% of the Top 32 metagame.

Winner’s Metagame, April 17-May 9

Speaking from the perspective of popularity, Dimir Faeries leads the way with Stompy and Flicker Tron in the second group, Burn, WonderWalls, Grixis Affinity, and WonderWalls as the next tier and a large scrum around the 5% mark. This is a relatively diverse metagame at a macro level – even if you lump all the Spellstutter Sprite decks together they don’t top 20% of the raw volume.

Dimir Faeries has backed up this popularity with four wins – the most of any archetype – and 7 Top 8 appearances. Dimir Faeries is one of the better decks once you make it to the elimination rounds but perhaps due to its popularity can often suffer in the Swiss. Consider if you will how powerful Snuff Out is and how awkward it can be in the mirror. Dimir Faeries therefore may struggle against itself but have a strong matchup against the field at large.

None of this is to say Dimir Delver is a bad deck. Rather it occupies a weird space where going into the Top 8 it is merely good, but once there it can be a dominating force. Compare this to Flicker Tron (no wins, 9 Top 8s), which does a great job of making the Top 8 (over 39% of Tron decks in the Top 32 make the Top 8), but struggles to seal the deal (at least in this season). Still, it is hard to argue against Tron as the best deck as it is more likely to finish int he Top 16 than outside it at this point.

Weighted Metagame, April 17-May 9

This leads us to the curious case of Burn. Burn is an archetype by some Pauper regulars as it is perceived as a deck that requires a different skill set – a skill set some imply is “less than”. It is hard to deny that over the first four weeks of Strixhaven season Burn has been borderline great. It has a win and 7 finishes in the Top 8. That puts it into conversation as one of the better decks for the past four weeks.

If you look at Dimir Faeries and Flicker Tron as one end of the interactivity spectrum, the other two top decks – Burn and WonderWalls – showcase how to succeed in the face of countermagic. Both of these decks are relentless in their assault and approach the game from a different angle of attack. The result is that they can simply win when opponent’s are unprepared. These decks likely benefited from a lack of Orzhov Pestilence based decks in the field, which tend to not only pack creature removal and discard, but also have access to some powerful life gain spells.

So what does this mean for the next few weeks? Personally I would be avoiding combo decks that fold to removal. I would also avoid Faeries as I expect to see a surge in Pestilence and similar effects. As a result I anticipate seeing a surge in other Monarch strategies, Tron, and more traditional Delver strategies. Consequentially I could also see a boost to Elves as WonderWalls takes a small step backwards.

What do you think? What will be the big player in the run up to Modern Horizons 2?

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Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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