This past weekend saw the first Pauper Challenges where Neon Dynasty was legal. The set is jam packed with power and over the Saturday and Sunday Challenges seven new cards made the Top 32 cut.
In a surprise to almost no one, Moon-Circuit Hacker was the most popular Neon Dynasty card last weekend. Various Faerie decks – Delver, Dimir Faeries, Faeries, and Izzet Faeries – all ran the new ninja. Despite being obviously powerful, Faeries as a macro strategy struggled possibly in part because everyone knew it would show up.
When a card as clearly good as Hacker gets printed, it makes sense to either have a deck that beats Hacker or the best Hacker deck that beats Hacker and its predators. Last weekend it was the former that excelled.
Faerie decks were the most popular option on the weekend with 20 Top 32 finishes across the two challenges. However they only had 8 total wins above an X-3 record and two total Top 8 finishes. So what did well?
It should come as no surprise that both Affinity and Boros variants excelled in the world of Hacker. Boros is traditionally strong against Faerie strategies and Affinity, in its Rakdos variety, is perhaps the single most assertive deck in the format. Affinity saw 13 Top 32 finishes with 9 wins above an X-3 record (across two different builds) and had an impressive five Top 8s.
But Boros came out swinging. In 10 total appearances across four strategies – Boros Bully, Boros Metalcraft, Boros Monarch, and Kuldotha Boros – Boros had 13 wins above and X-3 record, six Top 8 finishes, and won both challenges. Part of this speaks to the versatility of the color pair but out of these 9 decks, 8 were aggressive. While it does not have Moon-Circuit Hacker it still has Kor Skyfisher which continues to do a great job of blocking Ninjas. Combine the veteran powerhouse with rookie sensation Experimental Synthesizer and you have a recipe for a ton of card flow in a shell that can also leverage Galvanic Blast. If I had to iterate on a deck for next weekend’s Challenges it would be Boros Metalcraft:
That being said I believe there is merit to exploring more controlling decks at the moment. While this first weekend featured a ton of assertive decks – that is decks trying to dictate the field of battle as early as turn one – so many of the best decks relied on one toughness creatures. A deck that can both resolve Eyeblight Massacre and handle Myr Enforcer (and friends) could make waves this weekend. That is a pretty big ask so it might be more reasonable to adapt one of the black based midrange decks to be stronger against Affinity.
That, of course, is a task in its own right.