Sorry for the delay in this one folks – a busy week at work and a wedding anniversary takes precedence over my pontificating on Pauper. And the extra few days has given me some time to reflect on this Twitter post from Monday. While I believed the format to be in a good place at the start of the week today I am less sure and it has a lot to do with this week’s League Results. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For reference, here are the Saturday and Sunday Challenges and here’s a chart that tracks every deck with either a Top 8 finish or at least 4 appearances in the past three weeks:
The Sunday Challenge saw a ton of combo decks make the Top 8 and it prompted me to look at the Winner’s Metagame track of archetypes over the first few weeks. What I saw was Affinity ebbing and flowing, Boros finding its feet in the Kuldotha version, and Dimir Faeries starting strong but tailing off. I hypothesized that this was promoting a dynamic metagame – the rise of Boros led to a decline in Faeries which in turn allowed an opening for Combo. And while this might still be true, the League Results have given me something to think about.
At last check the league remained relatively popular. However when fewer than 30 decks get posted to the weekly results, that tends to be the sign things are trending in a bad direction. This week 28 decks got posted and several of them fall into the same archetype (multiple Bogles, multiple Boros, multiple Jeskai Ephemerate, etc.) which could mean a few things.
First, it could simply be a blip. People saw a bunch of new decks crop up and tried them to less success than in an average week. It could also mean that a lot of people are still playing but the same decks are succeeding over and over again.
It could also mean that people saw the weekend results and decided that they’d rather not play the format for the time being.
What do I think? I believe the rules of engagement in Pauper have been shifting for some time and it is only in the most recent round of bans that the new field of battle can be properly discerned. Learning how to navigate the new paths takes time, especially when they have not been disrupted for years. If this is true it does not preclude the format from being in a bad state. I do not have an answer right now but I know I will be watching the weeks closely to see if we are entering a more dynamic phase of Pauper or if things are treading the water of stagnation.