Pauper Meta Report - January and February 2024 Breakdown

Since the banning of Monastery Swiftspear, many strategies have risen in popularity in Pauper. From new Brews to previously unplayable decks, I will cover all you need to know about the new meta! But first, let's answer the big question: Is mono red dead?

To answer this, I will rely primarily on data gathered from MTGO Leagues and challenges, mainly because I acknowledge a significant difference between speculation and actual data. While it's far from a 100% trustworthy source of knowledge as it doesn't consider any in-person events, it is the only quantifiable evidence we get daily.

With that in mind, let's look at January and February 2024 data.

*Sources: MTGO.COM, MTGGOLDFISH.COM

Table of Contents

Is Mono Red Dead?

By far, the deck's burn and mono-red synthesizer versions add up to more than 17% of the undefeated trophy meta, almost double the appearances of other decks. Still, it is worth mentioning that this is a deck that has tons of explosive starts, and games can end relatively quickly. So, one could argue that the number of reps determines the success the deck can pull into the queue, and while that may be true, Challenge Data has some good and insightful data.

For the first seventeen challenges of the year, Burn has won two of them, similar to the median of other archetypes with about the same number of wins, except Dimir Control, which has four first-place finishes in 2024. This can be tricky to determine if we don’t see the full picture: Burn has had 152 appearances in challenges, with 11.84% of them appearing in the top 8 and a very low 46.71% of reaching the top 32. I say low because if we compare it to other decks like Dimir Control, we see a clear difference, as the latter has a 17.89% top 8 spread and a solid 57.89% rate in the top 32.

It is worth noting, however, that the deck is still being hated left and right as if you look at the deck's sideboards, which run from four to six copies of hydroblasts in them.

It is curious that the deck performing the best, Dimir Terror also runs the most copies of hydroblasts in the sideboard, but let's take it a bit further.

Note that the decks that run Hydroblast on their sideboard have a significantly worse win rate than the ones that do not, and that from the other top 10 decks of the meta, eight of them do run it. Well, if that is not a rough environment to live in for red decks, I honestly don’t know what one would be, and still, the deck is solid enough to have decent results.

With this context in mind, mono red is one of the easiest and fastest decks to pilot, and players tend to use it because of that. While not a powerhouse, it is still a solid deck to take if you don’t have much time to play and still want a competitive option to play leagues or challenges. So, is burn dead? No, it is still respected/hated by 80% of the meta, and if you are an off-meta brew that does not run any plan against it, you will have a tough and annoying time.

What About the Rest of the Meta?

While we are here, it's worth noting that Affinity decks have made a significant appearance, but from version to version, the Grixis one has slightly better numbers. Initially, the bridge was a bit more noticeable, but one thing changed: The introduction of the Novice Inspector.

Access to a second Thraben Inspector effect is critical for these aggro decks to not fall behind in card advantage, and Myr Enforcer over Frogmites is critical at surviving board wipes. This was reflected thoroughly on data for 02/03/2024, where the first four places of the top eight decks were all similar versions of Azorius Affinity decks.

With this change, now all versions of affinity have roughly the same 53%-54% on top 32. However, the best decks of the meta, at least from a win percentage perspective, are both UR Control (66%) and Caw Gates (64%), with the former having fewer appearances overall in challenges rather than the latter, which can cause the data points to work in favor of it.

The rest of the decks exist in Pauper, with decent rates of top 32 that range from 55% to 60%.

Is Pauper Healthy?

This is a question I have a lot of difficulty answering, but let's address the facts.

  • Pauper has a lot of playable archetypes on it.
  • Eight of the top ten archetypes are blue.
  • Best decks run a solid hate against artifacts and burn.

With those statements in mind, I leave the question to you, the reader.

Top Decks of the Week

Clearly, the four top places of Saturday’s challenge are a solid bump in the table from Azorius Affinity, as well as one of the Sunday Challenges where the winner was also an Azorius Affinity Deck.

Only time will tell if All That Glitters will get banned in return or if the PFP will finally sacrifice the sacred cows of the archetype to make it more digestible. For now, you can always take a look at my Glitters Affinity deep dive if this is a deck you are interested in navigating.

On the other hand, Jund Dredge has been rising a lot in popularity, making more and more consistent solid places on leagues and challenges, so before it catches you off guard, I recommend finding at least a couple of sideboard slots against it.

Deck of the Week Award

This is a weird Temur control list that went 5-0 (RGrzywocz) in an MTGO league.

I say weird because it has this “artifact synergy” going on with cards like Cleansing Wildfire and Thoughtcast. It also uses Hard Evidence and Deduce to get more artifacts on the table, and with Campfire on the field, it creates a place where your life totals should be safe.

I don't know how good this deck is, but it's worth looking out for in the next few weeks.

Wrap Up

And that’s it; the state of Pauper is that we got three new decks, and only one is rising to be tier 1, Jund Dredge.

The rest of the meta reflects what we had before the Monastery Swiftspear Ban: Blue decks dominating, trying to survive against red decks.

Thanks a lot for reading until now, and we will catch up with more content through the rest of the week. Take care, and we will meet again next time!​

Where to Play Pauper?

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