This past weekend, three Magic Online Pauper events took place. There were the normal Saturday and Sunday Challenges, but there was also a Pauper Super Qualifier on Saturday. This is our first real look at the metagame in the wake of the Initiative bans and this weekend was rather instructive in sorting out the wheat from the chaff in the competitive metagame.
The Super Qualifier had two decks that out performed the rest in CawGate and Grixis Affinity. Combined these decks took down five Top 8 slots (including a win) and had over half of the Top 32. Oddly enough, the most played deck in the 203 player event – Dimir Terror – did not have a Top 32 finish (but more on that later). Neither of these decks are all that quick but can pivot from developing to victory rather quickly – just ask anyone who has been on the receiving end of the triple Myr Enforcer turn – and both fall on “control” end of the spectrum. That might explain the relative success of Kuldotha Red as well – a low to the ground deck that uses Great Furnace and Experimental Synthesizer to pump out tokens with Kuldotha Rebirth – as a way to “go under” the top of the metagame.
All three of the best decks use their mana base as a supplemental engine. Affinity needs its artifact lands to power out its absurd turns, but also as a secondary source of fodder for Deadly Dispute and Reckoner’s Bargain. CawGate cannot pump through damage with out Basilisk Gate. Kuldotha Red doesn’t just need Great Furnace as more material, but actively wants Mountains for Fireblast. The nature of land based engines means that decks like Gruul Ramp – with its nine land destruction spells – has some merit in the current metagame.
But what about the rest of the weekend? Dimir Terror won on Saturday and had a fantastic weekend in the Challenges while Lunarch Bully – another Basilisk Gate deck – won on Sunday. There was also a relative dearth of Spellstutter Sprite decks – with 7 in the Challenges and none in the Super Qualifer, and only two of those seven touched a secondary color in Red. I am not sure if this is just a matter of meta positioning or if Tolarian Terror is powerful enough to push people away from Spellstutter Sprite in their blue control decks.
With all this in mind, here is where I have the metagame tiers right now. The Top Tier is Grixis Affinity, Dimir Terror, and CawGate, with Kuldotha Red not far behind in a Tier 1.5. Tier 2 is where we get our first hint of green in Gruul Ramp and Bogles, with Madness Burn residing here as well.
All of this is to say that right now removal is regent. Chainer’s Edict and Unmake look fantastic right now, but a lot of this space is taken up by Agony Warp in the Dimir decks. So if I were looking to gain an edge for October 8 and October 9 I would be trying to find the Dimir Terror deck that leans on removal while not giving up any ground to the existing Dimir Terror decks.
Looking to buy any of the decks talked about today? Click here for my TCGPlayer affiliate link. Any purchases through the link let the folks there know you like my content!
I want to take a moment to thank all my Patrons – both old and new. I am going to do my level best to keep providing you with the kind of content that brought you here in the first place. If you are interested in supporting my work, rewards for my Patreon start at just $1 and every little bit helps.