Where do we go from here?
In case you missed it, Chatterstorm and Sojourner’s Companion have been banned in Pauper. You can read my collected thoughts on the bans in this thread but that’s not why we are here today. Instead I want to look ahead and get a jump start on what the metagame might look like for the upcoming Challenges and Showcase Qualifiers.
Let’s start by looking at the top performing decks from Strixhaven season. We have data for 14 challenges and this list contains every deck that made up at least 2% of the Top 32 metagame (around 9 appearances):
This is just a guide as there have been two releases (with another coming soon) since this season ended. That being said I think this is a good place to start.
Out of the gate I think Affinity is the best Day One deck. It loses Sojourner’s Companion but can easily go back to Carapace Forger or Gearseeker Serpent, or even look to Etherium Spinner as a way to generate additional artifacts for the Atog-Fling kill. If there will be one thing holding Affinity back it will be that sideboards won’t have to dedicate the same number of cards to Storm (at least not as we know it today) but even so Affinity is likely to be well positioned for the next few events.
Various Tron builds should benefit from these bans. Unless the newest iteration of Storm is as good as some folks fear, the game should slow down enough for Tron to establish its engine. Tron is a deck that can easily run Fangren Marauder if needed, which can throw a wrench into Affinity’s plans. Tron is also well positioned to run various narrow answers thanks to Mystical Teaching and as such could blunt Affinity’s assault. This is contingent on the format’s clock being slower.
Tron’s reemergence also depends on how popular Cleansing Wildfire decks will be moving forward. In the above chart there are three decks that can easily slot in the Cleansing Wildfire package, not to mention the various builds that emerged during Modern Horizons 2 and Forgotten Realms seasons. Cleansing Wildfire does not beat Tron on its own but it can prove troublesome. Depending on how popular Wildfire Midrange becomes, it could prove a stumbling block for Tron’s climb.
There are other decks, of course. WonderWalls, various Delver and Faerie builds, and different Monarch strategies could all come out of hibernation and hope to fill the vacuum left by Storm’s absence. That being said, here are some elements I believe will be important in the coming days:
- Don’t skimp on creature removal. Affinity, Faeries, and WonderWalls all need creatures to function. While it hasn’t made a splash yet, a card like Unholy Heat could do work in Pauper. And if the Marauding Blight-Priest Storm deck is real, removal helps there as well.
- Have a plan for Affinity – even in its weakened state it is going to be a presence and you cannot hope that other people running Dust to Dust is going to keep it down.
- Fiery Cannonade is still a thing! While it saw play for the past several weeks its impact was lessened due to Storm’s reliable kill. Three toughness is going to be a break point moving forward.
- Ephemerate is still a thing and is likely to be one of the better midrange options.
- You’re going to face Monarch decks, for sure.
- People are going to be playing Burn and Stompy, at least in the first week.
So what do you think? What decks gained the most from these bans? What do you expect to do well moving forward?