April 22-23 Pauper Weekend Recap

April 22 and April 23 Pauper Challenge Top 32

March of the Machine season has arrived! After ten weeks of Phyrexia: All Will Be One a new set of cards has entered the fray. If you’re interested in my take on the new cards you can check them out here but today I want to talk a little bit about the April 22 and April 23 Challenges.

First off, it is hard to make any declarations about a format after a few days. The early chatter from March‘s release indicated that Wrenn’s Resolve would push red to another level and Meeting of the Minds was incredibly strong in Azorius Familiars. After two events these portents appear to be pointed in the right direction.

Let’s start with Wrenn’s Resolve. Kuldotha Red has adopted the card while a somewhat new archetype – Reckless Burn or Impulsive Burn – has hit the scene. The latter deck runs a lighter burn suite than traditional Burn but runs the full suite of Thermo-Alchemist and Kessig Flamebreather. In this way it plays a bit like a slow storm deck, chaining together its draw spells to provide a steady stream of damage. Compare this to Kuldotha Red which has cut some of non-core creatures – that is, creatures outside Voldaren Epicure and Monastery Swiftspear -to fit in the second playset of draw spells.

The divergence is sure to have ramifications in the metagame as these decks require rather different answers. Against Reckless Burn, for example, cards like Lightning Bolt go up in value as they pick off several of their key threats, while Smash to Dust and End the Festivities lose value since there are fewer targets. Reckless Burn also does not run Great Furnace (at least not yet), which turns off Galvanic Blast but in exchange it has Searing Blaze. Targeted removal is better against this newer deck but it is rather resilient, aiming to win in the mid and late game.

4 Snap
1 Prohibit
4 Sunscape Familiar
3 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Ghostly Flicker
3 Archaeomancer
1 Mortuary Mire
4 God-Pharaoh's Faithful
8 Snow-Covered Island
4 Mulldrifter
1 Lose Focus
2 Ephemerate
1 Dawnbringer Cleric
2 Plains
2 The Modern Age
2 Obscura Storefront
4 Preordain
4 Ash Barrens
4 Azorius Chancery
4 Meeting of Minds
1 Saiba Cryptomancer

1 Prismatic Strands
3 Dust to Dust
1 Holy Light
4 Hydroblast
2 Inside Out
2 Revoke Existence
2 Negate

Azorius Familiars has been one of the format’s secret best decks for years. The main thing holding the archetype back is the fact that it is difficult to pilot effectively on Magic Online without quite a bit of practice due to the user interface. Leaning on loops with Ephemerate/Ghostly Flicker and Archaeomancer, the deck can eat up a ton of clock. Despite this when the deck does show up it performs rather well. Over Phyrexia season it had 29 Top 32 finishes and made Top 8 in 14 of those while averaging close to a Top 16 Swiss finish; approaching an average event finish in the tenth-sixth place spot, and had two wins to boot. Meeting of the Minds provides more card advantage at a bargain basement price. Familiars is already adept at reducing the cost of spells and so, given the composition, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where Meeting can be looped for effectively free.

Where does that leave things going into next weekend? Red is going to be everywhere, but which version remains to be seen. It would not surprise me to see a small uptick in Familiars while Affinity remains constant. Bogles also had a strong weekend but I don’t see it having consistent staying power. If I were trying to tech for the meta I would want to try and figure out an Arbor Elf/Utopia Sprawl deck that could survive against red until it could stick a Flourishing Hunter.

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Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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