Every so often I need to step away from Pauper. It is not an indictment of the format but rather sometimes, the world just gets to be too much. Without getting into too many details, the past few weeks were really rough on my as a parent of a school-aged child in the United States. Normally at the end of these posts I make a request to sign up for my Patreon but today I’m asking that if you were going to sign up to instead donate that money here.
There’s been a lot going on in Pauper the past few weeks, especially given the announcement that Battle for Baldur’s Gate would not be released on Magic Online in a way the coincides with its paper release. While there are some clues as to which cards are going to be available (thanks to the collection filter on the platform), the Pauper playing masses are trying to piece together what the near future is going to resemble. Affinity remains the fulcrum of the metagame thanks to its powerful threats and ability to easily reload. Krark-Clan Shaman and Makeshift Munitions also give the deck a way to defend against swarm strategies. Looking at the sum of its parts it makes sense that the rest of the format revolves around Affinity.
Yet the metagame around Affinity continues to churn. For a few weeks we saw Familiars, both Azorius and Esper, get a ton of press. More recently Turbo Fog and base-green Cascade/Ponza decks have been picking up popularity. While drastically different on the surface, these decks all share a very important elements that might be contributing to their success.
First, these decks are strong in a place where Affinity is weak: Dust to Dust. Availing itself as a key card these days, not being hit by Dust to Dust is a great way to gain an edge in the current metagame. In a similar vein these decks are resilient to Blue and Red Elemental Blasts. While each of these decks does have cards that get hit by these cheap spells, they all have some way to combat them – Familiars and Turbo Fog have recursion engines that can rebuy key pieces while the green ramp decks have Cascade threats to get around countermagic.
Out of all of these I think that Turbo Fog is the best positioned moving into this weekend. Despite their strength, both Familiars and Cascade have a common weakness to a resolved Magma Spray while Turbo Fog can just ignore a lot of commonly included interaction. There has also been a decline in Burn decks recently while Kuldotha Goblins has seen more play. To that end it makes sense for Turbo Fog to make gains this weekend. So if I were trying to game the system, I would look for a way to run Pestilence without getting run over by Affinity since it provides a convenient way to end the game through Moment’s Peace.