It’s good to be back.
After what feels like far too long, I’m excited to write about Pauper again. And what a great weekend to get started – with two different Challenges and a Showcase Qualifier we can get a good idea of the initial post-ban landscape. For better or worse, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the metagame before Modern Horizons 2 dropped. The following chart includes every archetype that had at least one X-2 finish or better over the course of the three events.
So the best deck on the weekend was the only one of the big three from last season not hit by a ban. That tracks. The Spellstutter Sprite-Ninja of the Deep Hours package is incredibly powerful and accounts for 41 of the 96 Top 32 decks from the weekend. More and more often these decks are backing this combo up with Monarch – even Azure Fleet Admiral showed up in Delver this weekend – and Dimir Faeries looks to set the pace of the format for the first few weekends.
So let’s talk about Snuff Out. Right now, Snuff Out is helping to define the format in that if you want to succeed to you need to play a deck that does not fold to the free removal spell. Taking a look at the other top decks, they all have some counter-play to Snuff Out whether its counter magic or the ability to just not care about a single removal spell. Expect this trend to continue and look for more decks running threats that dodge Snuff Out and answer suites focused on beating Spellstutter Sprite and its ilk.
Some players have already found an answer in Pestilence. Various Pestilence and Crypt Rats decks had respectable performances this weekend (7 wins above X-2 in 5 appearances) and I would expect this to continue for at least one more week. These decks were also well set up to beat Bogles, a deck that performed very well before Midnight Hunt and given their ability to fight both Gladecover Scout and Faerie Seer it makes sense for the deck to see a surge in popularity.
An archetype with not as much success was Gruul based Cascade. There were three such decks across all Top 32s, but they all finished at X-3. These decks are filled with 2-for-1s and tend to matchup well against countermagic. That being said these are midrange decks and if they are built for the wrong metagame can stumble. As such I can see them figuring out better options for next weekend and have a better weekend.
Grixis Affinity and Goblin Combo both had good results and we have yet to see a huge surge of cards from Midnight Hunt make their way into decks. Looking ahead I expect to see more Boros Ephemerate crop up and for someone to put up results with four copies of Festival Crasher in their deck.
What decks do you think are poised to break out next weekend? Can anything dethrone Dimir Faeries?