April 29-30 Pauper Weekend Recap

April 29 and April 30 Challenge Top 32

We are now into the second week of March of the Machine season and the new metagame is started to round into shape. While things may look similar is some regards the top of the format is shifting in a way that could have a cascading impact.

Let’s start with Red. While Monastery Swiftspear is still leading the charge, Kuldotha Red – the deck that leans on artifact synergy and Kuldotha Rebirth – has taken a backseat. It is not that the deck is bad, per se, but Wrenn’s Resolve has given the color another opportunity to grind. The result is Reckless (or Impulsive) Burn, a build that leans more on Thermo-Alchemist and Kessig Flamebreather to plink away at a life total. It wants to build its own Grapeshot kill, but over several turns instead of several. Reckless Burn had a rather absurd weekend as it asserted itself, with three Top 8 finishes in six total Top 32 appearances, taking down both Challenges. It had an average finish firmly in the Top 16 (1.33 Win+ average) and with a K-Win average of 3.5, it split the difference between Top 8 and Top 16. Make no mistake – the face of red has changed.

Azorius Familiars was the second most popular deck but potentially suffered as a result. The strategy has always been strong but never popular, yet Meeting of the Minds has made the deck more accessible to a wider population of players. It had a very respectable two Top 8 finishes in eight total Top 32 placings and a Win+ average of 0.63, meaning it is trending towards the Top 16. It is just a far cry from it’s 0.97 Win+ average during Phyrexia season. So what gives? Chances are with more people playing the deck it has more opportunities to lose, but also given that it is now much more on the radar and showing up more in leagues, more players may be figuring out how to beat the strategy. Familiars is still a very good option and I don’t believe it will stay mired in relative mediocrity for long.

The rest of the top tier should look familiar. Faeries has been on an absolute tear since adopting a more assertive stance. Grixis Affinity is not going anywhere either as the strength of the machine is too much to deny. I would also keep an eye on Bogles. In a metagame where decks are trying to enact their gameplan as quickly as possible, Bogles can slip between the cracks and steal wins.

The big edge one can get in this metagame is properly picking your removal. Cards like Lightning Bolt may go up in value as they can pick off key pieces of both of the creature based combo decks (Reckless Burn, Familiars) at the top of the metagame while not being entirely dead against Faeries. This could leave an opening for decks like WonderWalls, Bogles, or even Elves to make a case for themselves provided the focus shifts to these pseudo-combo builds.

Another path is to lean on Battle Screech, or rather decks where Battle Screech is at its best. Soul Sisters – a mono white token deck using Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant – can gain enough life to stabilize against both Red and Faeries. If the strategy can figure out a way to beat Familiars consistently it could make itself a true threat.

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.

Can’t make a commitment to Patreon? I now have a Ko-Fi where you can make a one time contribution.

Looking for another way to support my work? Click here for my TCGPlayer affiliate link. Any purchases through the link let the folks there know you like my content!

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.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: