Pauper Meta Report - Final week of July 2023

As we wait for Commander Masters's downshifts to be legal later this week, we see a lot of brewing, mainly on Twitter, of some new cards that are setting up high expectations in the community. 

Where is Pauper Heading?

Pauper state will definitely change in the upcoming weeks, but where? Let’s take a few steps back to understand some common archetypes.

  • Aggro decks are typically fast-paced and proactive, aiming to end the game before opponents can set up more powerful strategies.
  • Midrange decks seek to control the board during the early turns and then pivot to a more aggressive stance or a value-driven approach in the mid-to-late game.
  • Control decks focus on delaying the opponent's plans, disrupting their strategies, and maintaining board control. They prefer to play a reactive game, using counterspells, removal, and board wipes to handle threats while they gradually gain an advantage.
  • Combo decks focus on assembling specific combinations of cards that, when used together, create a powerful and often game-winning effect.
  • Tempo decks focus on controlling the game's pace and tempo by efficiently using its resources to disrupt opponents while maintaining pressure on them.
What Pauper decks fall into each category?

Aggro Combo Control Midrange Tempo
Burn Boggles Caw-Gates Affinity Mono-blue Faeries
Kiln Fiend Altar Tron Dimir Control Boros Synthesizer Izzet Faeries
Goblins Combo Mono Blue Jeskai Ephemerate Dimir Faeries
Elves Ephemerate Tron Orzhov Ephemerate
Walls Combo Gruul Ponza

This data comes from analyzing the top 20 decks on MtgGoldfish over the past two months. What stands out is that the only consistently successful aggressive decks in this format are two different versions of mono-red decks. It's unfortunate because there used to be more options, like Stompy or black burn, but those have vanished from the competitive scene.

Aggro decks haven't received any significant card upgrades from Commander Masters downshifts, whereas graveyard strategies have received a significant boost with cards like Dread Return and Mire Triton. Additionally, cards like Guttersnipe and Windrider Wizard have generated a lot of excitement in combo decks.

As a result, at least two new combo decks will likely emerge in the metagame. This could potentially upset the balance, leading to more combo strategies than any other archetype in the format. It remains to be seen whether these new decks will be strong enough to dominate, and only time will reveal the actual impact. My advice is to be prepared and consider making room in your sideboard to address these new challenges. Dust off your precious Relic of Progenitus and maybe adjust the cards you use against burn and affinity. Alternatively, you could play blue for counterspells, which might offer advantages in this evolving metagame.

Top Decks of the Week

While we wait until the new cards are legal, Here's a brief compilation of the decks and tournament lists from the week that did good and surprisingly well during the Final week of July 2023.

Surprising no one, the winner of Saturday Challenge is Burn. Cast into The Fire seems to be the only thing this deck needed to combat the indestructible lands that Jeskai Ephemerate and Affinity run, and with it, the decks seems to have virtually no bad matches and it only loses to itself.

On Sunday, Kiln Fiend's deck won, and another mono-red deck came close in the top four.

From my point of view, decks like Golgari Gardens. Jeskai Ephemerate and Dimir Control are trying their best to keep up and not die against the crazy starts that Burns has. I think this quote from Hamuda, someone who has probably played more matches than you and I combined, summarizes the concern that Monastery Swiftspear is in turn one.

A few days ago, I saw a similar list being brewed. I changed it a bit and added a set of Dread Return and Fire/Ice to give it more depth and access to more removal in the initial turns. It's a cool concept, and it's worth looking at it in the next few months.

Latest Pauper Brew

Last week I showcased a Monoblack Control decklist ran a few weeks back on a Pauper challenge that went 4-2. Overall is a very strong build and a sweet addition to the format.

Wrap Up

Overall, I'm very excited about what Pauper will look like in the next few days but also somewhat scared if this result in the combo decks being dominant. Nevertheless, for good or bad, a change in the meta was needed, and only time will tell how players can adapt to the new meta.

Where to Play Pauper?

I have compiled a list of places to play Pauper, mostly IRL. The address may vary, but it's a helpful place to start and check if some of them are near you. They may not play Pauper every day, so it's always a good idea to ask before traveling.


If you would like to support me, I have compiled a list of designs that can be customized in different products such as T-shirts, Hoodies, and even Mugs!


Another way to support me is via Ko-FI, where you can also find FREE sideboard guides for my pauper brews and exclusive content for members.

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