New Year, New Pauper
Happy new year to all! Let's start the year analyzing how the current Pauper metagame is through the main decks of the format, and see what has shown up in the latest updates to fight the meta, so you can decide what is viable to play today.
The Main Decks of 2023
Pauper has always had classic decks ever since its creation, but even the established ones can renew themselves with the annual releases, and change the meta.
We'll start by one which, when I started researching, surprised me: Kuldotha Burn.
I chose this list specifically to show necessarily the use of Great Furnace. Artifact lands have been used in Pauper for a long time now, due to their specific abilities: Metalcraft and Affinity.
We aren't using anything Affinity here, and Metalcraft itself is only found in one card, Galvanic Blast. When it reaches its condition, it is better than a Lightning Bolt, which is already reason enough to try to use more artifacts, and by having artifacts that create card advantage, the strategy strengthens.
Experimental Synthesizer and Implement of Combustion are artifacts that help this strategy a lot, and using Kuldotha Rebirth, it allow us to sacrifice these cards, triggering the draw effect and creating three goblins as a bonus.
What most surprised me was the card from the latest set, The Brothers' War, Dwarven Forge-Chanter. Just like Monastery Swiftspear, it has the Prowess ability, which is quite strong already. Unlike its partner in crime, it doesn't have Haste, and costs , but its advantages are quite good, such as having 3 resistance and a 2 lifepoint Ward, which makes it a Shock in case it is hit by removal.
Burn has always been a solid deck, but I never imagined it as top of the meta. This way, this forces players to answer it properly.
The following deck is another classic deck updated, Affinity.
Mirrodin was the second plane presented in Magic:The Gathering's universe, bringing one of the most broken mechanics ever created: artifact Affinity, allowing you to play your whole hand onto the board by turn two or three, putting immense pressure on board.
In Pauper, it wasn't different. Throughout the times, it was hit by many bans, including last year, which you can check out in this article.
And, simultaneously, it was getting many updates, including Modern Horizon's indestructible bridges, which help against Gorilla Shaman, which has always been a sideboard answer against it; Blood Fountain, which speeds up Affinity and allows you to recover creatures; and, finally, Deadly Dispute, with Reckoner's Bargain.
These last two cards, beside giving us card advantage, one keeps Affinity and helps correct colors, while Reckoner's provides nice life gain against Burn, being a good meta counter, which keeps this list up top.
This is a deck that is quite new in the meta. Dimir Terror traditional strategy was to use Fae, just like Izzet Faeries, but with the addition of Tolarian Terror and Fallaji Archaeologist, a solid strategy of winning through self mill was built, controlling the enemy board and summoning big creatures at a low cost.
This deck doesn't only use its graveyard as a resource, but it also uses its health points as a resource with Snuff Out. To compensate, it still plays with Unexpected Fangs in the main deck to grant Lifelink to a big unit and win health every turn.
In its sideboard, it counts with four Blue Elemental Blast to fight aggressive red decks, showing us how it's important to know and fight the meta.
This one surprised me to see it being so popular. Bogles has always been a known figure in the format, as the combination of Hexproof and Auras shows itself strong enough to unlevel a meta of interactions, and it always helped keep Chainer's Edict present to try and deal with it.
It never got any new pieces, as Hexproof has already started being unusual to print, due to the ability's power, and rarely we have an Aura stronger than the ones present in the format.
It's interesting to note that Lifelink has been used in the maindeck besides Armadillo Cloak because Burn is strong, and as the format doesn't have any preventions against life gain, it becomes quite useful.
I like seeing this deck here enormously. First, it is one of the most budget decks of this list; second, the color combination is extremely fun; and third, it uses many newly arrived cards in this format.
With the addition of Crimson Vow, the Blood tokens came, which were an excellent addition to this format because besides being able to give the deck flexibility by discarding an unnecessary card, it also interacts well with mechanics such as Affinity and Madness.
It's good to notice that Pauper is filled with value, and almost every deck is based on that. With Rakdos Burn, there are twelve cards with Madness, which, alongside the blood tokens and Faithless Looting, can be discarded to draw cards and cast them at the same time, gathering then speed, value and consistency in this strategy.
As I mentioned before, value has been the great theme of most of the decks in this format, and this deck is all based on value.
Kor Skyfisher sees play ever since its release, due to its interaction of returning permanents to hand and casting them again, such as the case of the already known Ichor Wellspring, but everything changed when Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty attacked.
It was already mentioned here too, but this artifact really revolutionized the format. For one mana, basically doing what Ichor does, and also being able to sacrifice itself creating a 2/2 in its place and impulsive draw, this card found home in many decks, but this one abuses its power.
The arrival of Monastery Swiftspear allowed the deck to take advantage of the high number of noncreature spells cast, and alongside Seeker of the Way, they made the deck more aggressive, at the same time it doesn't lose the value gathered by Kor Skyfisher.
Here we have a man who returned from the dead. When the ban hammer hit Prophetic Prism, Tron felt it, as it lost one card that helped with its colors and also sped up the game at the same time.
With the arrival of The Brothers' War, the replacement came, and it is called Energy Refractor, with the same mana cost and a similar ability. Tron felt alive again.
With Weather The Storm and Moment's Peace in the main deck, it is armed against more aggressive decks and protects the game plan. In the side board, we also find four Blue Elemental Blasts to fight against the red meta.
To complete today's Top 8 most popular decks, we have Gates, a new archetype created with the last Commander Legends, bringing new gates to the format, including one that is the deck's win condition.
Basilisk Gate is the card that makes the deck what it is. Here, we intend to control our opponent with counterspells and removals so that creatures are strengthened by Basilisk Gate by each gate land in play.
As the new Baldur gates can choose the mana they want to cast as soon as they are in play, they help the mana base play both with Hydroblast and Pyroblast, which are the same thing as Blue Elemental Blast and Red Elemental Blast.
It's worth mentioning two decks that, though they aren't among the most played, with practice can become strong options for this format and win matches, such as Wall Combo and Mono White Heroic.
Wall Combo has existed for some time in this format, and got some cards that are worth mentioning here, such as Forgotten Realms' Secret Door, granting the deck one more win condition, and at the same time being a shield, and Shield Wall Sentinel, a perfect tutor for the deck, which is based on Defensor units.
Mono White Heroic is quite similar to Bogles with a few key differences. Instead of using Hexproof creatures to protect them, it uses protection spells, and with Heroic's ability of strengthening them, by doing so, you can at the same time strengthen them and aggro your opponent.
Its latest great addition was Benevolent Blessing, released from Commander to Pauper, making the deck more resilient against the meta.
Most Used Cards in the Meta
And together with that, because Moment's Peace and Prismatic Strands have become more popular, decks have used Flaring Pain to fight damage prevention, and guarantee that aggressive decks can finish matches before slower decks start to take over the match.
Smash to Dust has also seen more play due to its versatility in dealing with small creatures, artifacts and even Defensors who might be relevant in a few matches.
2023 came in strong for Pauper, a cheap, fun and very diverse format.
Now that you know the main decks and a few other strategies, you can also play in your favorite store or even play in MTGO, with the advantage of even being able to play in Cards Realms' free tournaments, such as Pauper Royale, which happens every Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Fuguete Champ, which happens every Wednesdays at 9 p.m.!
Have fun and see you later!
Fascinado pelo Pioneer desde o Seu começo, jogador de Pauper, Iniciante em commander e desbravador de deckbuilder de 29 anos.