Well, Crimson Vow is right around the corner. After two months, 20 major events, and one nefarious bug, Midnight Hunt season is at an end. It was a season where the prevailing story was that of the dominance of Affinity and Dimir. Today I want to take a look at three different charts – one logging the first four weeks, one logging the second four weeks, and one looking at the entire season.
A few caveats:
- These charts are inclusive of the Delver decks that won during the Faerie Miscreant bug; while this may skew the data some I do not believe they present a large enough sample size to upset the overall picture of the season.
- I excluded the information from the October 9 Qualifier where only 16 decklists were published; Dimir, Affinity, and Ephemerate had a good day which tends to fall in line with the rest of the season.
- Volume represents the number of Top 32 appearances; Weighted Volume looks at the macro archetype’s prevalence in the number of wins above 3 losses.
The First Four Weeks
The first month of the season Faeries -that is Spellstutter Sprite strategies were the dominant force. Affinity was a strong second with Ephemerate/Flicker decks and Creature based combo (Elves, First Day of Class, Wonderwalls) coming in a the top of the next tier. Here the format looked top heavy but given how new everything felt (Chatterstorm had just been banned), nothing looked woefully out of sorts. Both Affinity and Faeries were top strategies during the Chatterstorm era and this looked to be a continuation of that tale.
The Second Four Weeks
In the back half of the season Affinity asserted itself as a dominant force. While Faeries looked to lag some, it was simply folks playing other strategies besides Dimir (here we can see the influence of the Miscreant bug), but overall, Affinity and Faeries converged. Ephemerate decks improved their stock in part due to the iteration and refinement of value decks that also incorporated the Cleansing Wildfire package while Ethereal Armor decks – largely Bogles – put pressure on the format to have an answer.
In both instances, traditional aggro has been a low tier choice at best. Boros Bully came back in force in the back half thanks to some builds opting to run four copies of Dust to Dust main.
Both of these charts tell a similar story – Affinity and Faeries are significantly better than everything else going on in the format. Ephemerate engines are powerful but struggle to be as consistent as the other two metagame monsters. Creature decks have to either avoid interaction (Bogles) or focus on a combo (Elves) to win. Pure board control (Pestilence) is a metagame choice at best and can fall flat if it hits the wrong string of matchups.
Midnight Hunt Final
So here’s the metagame at the end of things. While Affinity might look scarier, with its propensity to take down half of a Top 8, Affinity only took down nearly 29% of all Top 8s included in these charts; Faeries took down just over 30% of the Top 8 slots. The fact is, these two decks are utterly dominant. They are not only highly consistent thanks to card filtering, redundancy, and card advantage, but they also do so at a rate significantly better than everything else in the metagame.
I am not going to rehash my thoughts on what needs to be done – I’ve made that abundantly clear several times. Instead, here are cards I would focus on playing in the early days of Crimson Vow season:
- Dead Weight still kills Atog dead and is not the worst against Ninja of the Deep Hours. Gift of Fangs might be better if you’re running enough vampires.
- Fangren Marauder is quite strong if you can get it out before Atog goes chomping.
- Blood Fountain looks like it is going to be a house in Affinity since it provides two artifacts for a single black mana while also regrowing Atog late.
- Speaking of, Wedding Invitation is going to cause lots of headaches as it gives Affinity another way to go over the top.
- Dawn Charm might be good, but it looks pretty awkward if they have both Temur Battle Rage and Fling.
I wish there was more to say about the metagame right now. There’s a lot of interesting jockeying for position outside of the two best archetypes…but that only matters so much. If you want to succeed in Pauper currently, you shouldn’t concern yourself with anything outside of the top two, because they are so popular and so prevalent.