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Paupergeddon: impacts of LOTR on Pauper and decks that overperformed

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This article takes a look at Paupergeddon Pisa Tournament, exploring the meta and the decks that overperformed. We analyze the successful strategies and decks that outperformed others, while also highlighting the most impactful LOTR cards utilized in the tournament.

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revised by Tabata Marques

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What is Paupergeddon

Paupergeddon is the World Cup of Pauper!

It is an event that is run every three-four months in Italy. The recent one was Paupergeddon Pisa and this 481 player event was also the first one where the The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earthlink outside website set was legal. Let's dive right into how that looks!

The data


Image content of the Website


What those percentages actually mean

As you can see by the image above, there were a lot of different archetypes at Pisa.

I don't know about you, but visually these images are great to see, but how these transition into actual pilots is how I best understand it.

Those are as follows:

Mono Blue Faeries had 63 Pilots.

Pinger Burn had 38 Pilots.

Boros Synth had 38 Pilots

Affinity had 33 Pilots.

Golgari Gardens had 33 Pilots.

Kuldotha Red had 33 Pilots.

Dimir Terror had 27 Pilots.

Familiars had 19 Pilots

Walls had 19 Pilots.

Caw Gates had 19 Pilots.

Altar Tron had 19 Pilots.

Ponza had 19 Pilots.

Bogles had 14 Pilots

Boros Initiative had 14 Pilots

Jeskai Ephemerate had 14 Pilots.

*Mono White Aggro had 10 Pilots

BW Initiative had 10 Pilots.

There were 73 Pilots on other Strategies.

Top 8 Decklists

1st place - Affinity - Roberto Francini

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2nd place - Altar Tron - Tomasso Loss

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3rd Place - Boros Synth- Emanuele Navarra

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4th Place - Affinity - Mislav Dinarina

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5th Place - Affinity - Filippo Spaggiari

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6th Place - Boros Synth - Andrea Mengucci

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7th Place - Mono Blue Faeries - Andrea Beatrice

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8th Place - Boros Synth - Marco Casotto

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Comments on the results

So looking at the results, Percentages and Pilots, the highest played deck was Mono Blue Faeries which yielded one copy into the top 8. Whereas the Boros Synth & Affinity on Similar pilot numbers, 38 and 33 respectively, yielded three copies each.

With some new cards playing a role in the success of the Boros deck, Mengucci showing that the maindeck was well positioned before these cards came to fruition.

Altar Tron yet again shows us that it is a great deck to play, especially in paper, and is limited to only the way Magic Online games work - due to the nature of the chess clock system that MTGO operates, going through the iteration of the combo takes too much time and timing out is a real issue, especially if your opponent interferes somehow. Taking this into account, only the fastest and established MTGO grinders play this deck on the online version.

Overall, I think the paper Pauper metagame is well-balanced and shown in the graphic above with over 17 individual archetypes being named, and 73 pilots playing something else unique.


The two clear overperformers are Boros Synthesizer and Affinity.

In terms of Magic Online metagame, Affinity has steadily been decreasing in popularity, but still appearing in lots of top 8's and top 16's of challenges. To me, this shows the deck is still a powerhouse, but people have been moving away from it due to other factors. The popularity of other archetypes and not wanting to fight the excessive Sideboard hate most decks have access to. This also shows that Cast into the Fire isn't a strong sideboard card to solely rely on to beat Affinity.

However, in Paupergeddon these pilots are incredibly established Affinity players, and have potentially played this archetype for a long time. Meaning they can fight through the expected hate like Dust to Dust and the new Cast into the Fire that were everywhere.


Boros Synth has been a strong deck since before the release of Barbed Batterfist. However, since its release, having access to recur a threat due to the living weapon mechanic, the deck has become a lot stronger. This strength is then bolstered with the new addition of Lembas and Cast into the Fire.

The popularity of the deck was basically non-existent, though. That will now change with the inclusion of new cards and how well it performed over the Paupergeddon weekend.


To me, the clear underperformers are Mono Blue Faeries. This was the biggest meta share and only yielded one copy in the top 8.

The reason for this is the surprising number of copies of both Boros Synth and Cast into the Fire at the event, which can be incredibly difficult for Faeries to deal with.

Another deck that generally underperformed for me as well is Golgari Gardens. This archetype has been on an absolute tear lately, especially on Magic Online, and for it to have 0 copies in the top 8 and 0 in the top 16. I would have been confident predicting that at least one copy would have made it into the top 16.

It most likely have a difficult time dealing with Kor Skyfisher/ Glint Hawk decks.


This probably should have been shown in the Underperformers, but I believe most people would be surprised that there wasn't a single Mono Red deck in the Top 16. No Kuldotha, No Pinger Burn.

The First copy we see is in 17th Place which was a Kuldotha Burn, running 7 copies of Reckless Impulse. The Red menace has plagued Magic Online Leagues and Challenges for a long time. It has kept decks in check and others out of the meta completely. So it is surprising that not one copy ran hot and made it to top 16.

How LOTR affected the meta

There were a few different LOTR cards that have seen play throughout Paupergeddon Pisa.


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Lembas appears to be a great card and its potential hasn't been fully explored yet. Most Boros Synth players were on at least two Lembas as a way to get card selection with the Glint Hawk/Kor Skyfisher engine.

Other decks like the 2nd place Altar Tron played a full four copies in the main.

The card seemed to perform well for a lot of people playing the Boros Synth deck, and with a bit more tuning it could easily be a staple four of moving forward.

Cast into the Fire

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Cast into the Fire was the actual real star of the show. It saw Maindeck and sideboard slots in large numbers. Was a four of in all three Top 8 Boros lists. Was a sideboard card for an Affinity list in the top 8. That is only the Top 8.

In the Top 16 it saw Maindeck and Sideboard play in Caw Gate, Ponza and Izzet Fae.

Why was this card so successful?

I have covered the card with details in my Highlight articlelink outside website, but overall, it allows you to condense your sideboard slots whilst also being a strict upgrade to other cards.


Condensing your sideboard is so important in Pauper right now as slots are at a premium as you usually need 5-7 sideboard slots for both Red and Affinity. So having a sideboard card that both helps one of those matchups and is great against Faeries/Caw Gate. Similar to Smash to Dust, this card can easily be slotted into your maindeck and never truly be a dead card.

It was an easy pick for the best card in LOTR, and it is great that it was shown in the first big event with LOTR legal.

How the meta will look moving forward

Moving forward, I believe the meta will likely shift towards Boros Synth being a big player in the metagame, especially on Magic Online.

Additionally, Altar Tron will continue to be the unsung best deck in the paper format, but completely restricted by Magic Onlines chess clock.

Other archetypes will likely adapt to beat Boros and Affinity. Midrange decks like Golgari Gardens will likely move towards more flying threats like Vampire Sovereign and move away from Avenging Hunter. We could also see these Pilots shift back to playing Orzhov Ephemerate as it has a much better Boros Matchup and has access to better Affinity hate in Dust to Dust.

Red will still continue to be a real contender and the menace that keeps all these decks in check. However, I feel like they will completely revert back to Kuldotha Rebirth and Galvanic Blast builds. Playing on the board really helps get through the Lifegain spells people are playing, like Weather the Storm.


The Tournament was well run as Paupergeddons always are, and shout out to Alessandro and the team for such a smooth event and coverage!

The paper Pauper format is balanced and doesn't reflect the Online Meta and its struggles.

It was great to see so many diverse decks and such a different top 8 and top 16 that we have seen in recent events.

The meta will continue to evolve and revolve around the powerhouse cards in recent printings like Experimental Synthesizer, Deadly Dispute and the Artifact Bridges.

Until next time!