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Pauper Updates – Winners and Losers

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While I did play in a Theros Sealed flight for the prerelease this weekend, I don't have much to say on the topic that you won't hear better somewhere else. The removal is bad, Bestow is good (and counter-intuitive) and big monsters reign supreme. Unfortunately, the timing of the effective date of the ban list make this a pretty useless week for a deck breakdown, as Pauper Dailies for the new format won't be available until October 2nd. Instead, I'm going to talk about some of the major players, and perhaps some more overlooked strategies, and how the bans will impact them- both generally and with some depth where the situation calls for it.

The Winners

Delver

I touched on this last week, and this seems pretty obvious. Delver has the most efficient card-filtering in the format along with most disruptive spell suite to back up a fast clock. Its weakness tends to be to opponents casting "bigger" effects than it can- if opponents can survive long enough to do so. Killing Cloudpost makes this feat more difficult.

Daze gains quite a bit of stock without Cloudpost in the format, and also happens to assist Delver greatly at stopping decks from casting those bigger effects, such as Serrated Arrows and Mulldrifter.

That all said, I'm going to make the not-so-bold prediction that cards that kill Delver of Secrets- and in turn nearly all of the Delver deck's threats- will become much more widely played in the format. Maindecking Fume Spitter and Electrickery is much less embarrassing without the Post decks more or less blanking your removal spells.

Delver is, of course, resilient, and sideboard options such as Stormbound Geist (championed by myself) and Curse of the Bloody Tome (not championed by myself) will allow the deck to combat removal-heavy opponents. Even with everybody gunning for it, I still expect Delver decks to earn the lion's share of cashing records.

Rats

Rats, Monoblack, MBC, whatever you want to call it. Killing creatures is just going to be WAY better than it used to be. Having access to Grim Harvest also allows the deck to compete quite well with slower opponents- often completely invalidating slow decks lacking in Graveyard hate.

The glaring issue with Monoblack Rats, though, is that in many respects it feels like a worse version of another deck:

UB Trinket Control

Crypt Rats paired with Grim Harvest is strong. Crypt Rats paired with Grim Harvest and an easily tutored Sylvok Lifestaff is virtually unbeatable for aggressive decks. It's a loop that's a bit on the slow side, but the deck comes with a good chunk of cheaper removal to help it get there, such as the Trinket Mageable Executioner's Capsule. Not to mention that casting Mulldrifter is just dramatically better than casting Chittering Rats.

Urza Tron

While I haven't seen any decks utilizing this set of lands yet it is clearly possible and wasn't viable at least in part because Cloudpost was just better. Unlike with Cloudpost, I'm not convinced that you can play a two-color Tron deck in Pauper. It just makes your mana too awkward and you don't have Glimmerpost to make up your tempo and then some for "free".

As for which color could best exploit the Tron engine, I'm not completely certain. I'd definitely put it between Blue and Green though.

In all likelihood, Blue decks are better off just playing regular lands, drawing extra cards and casting their spells eventually. Green is much better suited to accelerate its mana otherwise (because, let's be real, Tron-ing in Pauper isn't going to be a consistent turn three-four thing) and, outside of card draw, generally has better things to be doing with large (but not Cloudpost large) quantities of mana. A Tron-updated version of Greenpost wouldn't surprise me. I don't know how good it would be, but Ancient Stirrings and Serrated Arrows isn't exactly a bad start to a deck.

Losers

Elves and Goblins

These decks strugger IMMENSELY with removal-heavy decks. You know, decks with the spells that just got a lot stronger. There are versions of Goblins that can have a pretty good Delver matchup, and Elves can steal games there as well, but I predict a near-extiction of these two tribes.

Affinity

While affinity has more game than Elves or Goblins against a removal heavy opponent, it's really not by much. A 4/4 stands up pretty well against Lightning Bolt, but not against Doom Blade or Geth's Verdict. Large Atogs into Fling is a line that the deck has, but I wouldn't want to crutch on such a "combo" against what I anticipate will be such a significant portion of the metagame.

Additionally, Affinity tends to strugger against Delver draws involving the deck's namesake. Delver just races much better than Affinity when it's on.

Hexproof

Hexproof's recent resurgence had a lot to do with the fact that it could beat Fissure Post. With that deck out of the picture and with Counters and Edicts abound, I wouldn't recommend picking up Hexproof.

Kilnclops

I never thought this deck was very good, and it just got worse. Most of Kilnclops' wins came from playing against opponents who were bad at interacting and were just trying to race. Much like with Affinity, decks that can kill four toughness creatures with any consistency won't sweat Kilnclops.

Stompy

I'm going to grant that I've never played with, nor had the desire to play with, Monogreen Stompy, but it always felt like a very good matchup for me when I was playing Delver or when I was good at killing creatures. It's possible that a shift to more River Boas and an attempt at playing a more resilient version of the deck will prove my initial thoughts wrong, but I'm going to say with some confidence that Stompy still won't be where I want to be come October.

One Last Winner...

And last but not least, the biggest winner from the most recent ban is going rogue. While Delver is still going to punish a great deal of strategies, the ban of the farce of a mana engine that was Cloudpost opens up a TON of possibilities for grindier decks. Tortured Existence gains a lot of stock in a world where it can't be Rolling Thunder'd or Temporal Fissured out of the game, and I won't be the least bit surprised to see Chris Kronenberger piloting five-color Skred.

Next week I'll be looking at a specific deck for battling in the new Pauper format, why I think it's a good choice, and what it costs to build. I know I'm excited.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

13 thoughts on “Pauper Updates – Winners and Losers

    1. I think that it’s pretty weak to Delver. A 3/2 flier is real tough for monogreen to deal with. Bounce spells also trump Rancor pretty hard. I don’t believe that there is a very bright future for green aggro.

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