The July 16 and July 17 Pauper Challenges continue to story of Double Masters 2022 and Battle for Baldurs Gate. Monastery Swiftspear is currently defining the format even if the decks it houses are not tearing up the metagame.
Monastery Swiftspear powered red decks are far and away the most popular discrete archetype. However, when looking at larger buckets we see Spellstutter Sprite decks as the most popular with just under 24% of the Top 32 metagame. When looking at the winner’s metagame – that is the share of wins at X-2 or better – Faeries comes in at just under 31%. Compare that to just over 16.5% for Red Blitz and the picture starts to become far more clear – Spellstutter Sprite is back even if it never left.
This makes sense. Roughly speaking you are going to be on the play 50% of the time and all of the spells in the Blitz deck are cheap. Spellstutter Sprite can stop them from storming off and put a blocker in the way of Monastery Swiftspear, buying you the time to draw into more counters and ways to mitigate the damage output. Or maybe you’re running red and you now have the time to find Lightning Bolt, Skred, or Fire // Ice.
All of this combined pushes the critical turn of the format down. While the Fundamental Turn – that is the turn when games are largely decided on the board – still hovers around 4, it may be that the most important turn in the format right now is turn two. If you are taking too much time off to develop your game plan, whether it be with tap lands or cards that do not directly impact the board, you can very easily find yourself three steps behind when it comes to Spellstutter and Swiftspear. At the same time the format is awash in sweepers that can do a solid job of helping you catch up, from Fiery Cannonade to the newer additions Breath Weapon and Arms of Hadar. All that being said you need to survive to that point.
So where does that leave the state of things? To me you really want to be looking at high impact one-drops. Cards like Lunarch Veteran have proven their worth already and maybe it’s time to bust out Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant as well. I’ve already extolled the virtues of Dead Weight and believe it should be seeing way more play. Finally, it might be time to look at Elvish Mystic as a way to jump the curve and get you to the sweepers that much faster. If you’re trying for Arms of Hadar, Mind Stone or Signets might be the best call.
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