Pauper Meta Report - TOP Decks of 2024 so Far

Pauper is currently a format dominated by robots, or so it seems. The recent buff for the Azorius Affinity Archetype, Novice Inspector, has proven to be strong in a deck that values the extra body and artifact it provides. Over the last two weeks, the upgraded versions of Affinity have risen in popularity, but the meta still sees the same contenders trying to beat the robots.

Let’s take a look at the current Pauper top 10 Archetypes:

Boros Synthesizer

For a while, Boros has been one of the most popular decks in the Format; however, it's not performing exceptionally well. It does have access to eight copies of Thraben Inspector, but the deck is significantly slower. Against decks like Golgari Gardens, it is destined to lose, and control decks can out-grind them as well. The slight advantage this deck has is access to spot removal and Dust to Dust, two things All that Glitters decks particularly hates, but dedicating too many pieces to one deck usually hurts against the match-up against the rest of the field. This deck’s flaw seems to be its overall slowness, despite having access to Pyroblast against blue decks. It's worth noting that for a while, this deck ran four copies of Relic of Progenitus main deck, as the match against Terror was bad, and I don’t think the tides have changed since then.

Golgari Gardens

While Gardens is good in a vacuum against both aggressive versions of Affinity, it struggles more than it should against the control decks of the format. It does an excellent job at stalling the board, but experienced players should know when to capitalize on its weaknesses, like the Monarch, to take over longer games. One niche it has is that, like other black decks, it has access to Snuff Out, along with twelve different pieces of removal. Still, running too much removal can hurt the deck against others that don't care much about it.

Kuldotha Red

Mono-red has always been a strong deck, even prior to the release of Monastery Swiftspear, as it could easily kill you on turn three or four most of the time with the right alignment of spells. Over the years, cards like Experimental Synthesizer, Reckless Impulse, and Goblin Tomb Rider have been introduced to buff this deck. Still, the only thing stopping it from achieving better results is the presence of blue decks dominating the current Pauper meta, as they have access to Hydroblast and Blue Elemental Blast. Players know this and don’t leave home without their 4-6 copies of hate against the deck, which then translates into a format with its hands tied on sideboard slots. On paper, it may not seem so obvious, as players expect this behavior, but in larger events like Paupergeddon, they simply don't run the deck, and since people know the deck won't be present, they can relax the sideboard slots as well. This behavior creates a false sense of diversity in the meta. In theory, one may say the meta is diversified, while in reality, we are just talking about meta calls in a closed environment with open decklist tournaments, a totally different scenario from what you could expect in more casual events.

Grixis Affinity

The more controlling version of Affinity had better numbers prior to the release of Novice Inspector. It's slower, which makes it more prone to the likes of Dust to Dust, but the top decks of the meta really didn’t perform well against it, as white is not a very popular color among the dominant meta decks. Still, it has a very strong match against other decks like Dimir Control, Tolarian Terror, and pretty much everything, thanks to Deadly Dispute. However, it seems to struggle with not having an excellent way to answer the faster starts of Azorius Affinity, and while it can beat the rest of the meta if you struggle against the best deck in it, you will always be behind.

Jeskai Affinity

It may not seem like the Jeskai version should differ too much from the Azorius one, but having access to a smoother manabase usually defines the line between both decks' success. While you get access to Galvanic Blast and Experimental Synthesizer, your manabase gets hurt in an aggro deck that runs a very low land count. Of course, you get access to Springleaf Drum to bypass that, but the problem arises when you don’t draw it in time. It has its pros and cons, but for now, it seems that the straight two-color version is better.

UW Caw Gates

Caw Gates is one of the decks with a very high skill cap, but one that pays dividends if you can master it. It is very good in the current meta, as it has a way to pressure Control decks early with small creatures that eventually will get big, thanks to Basilisk Gate. Speaking of gates, since the deck runs the gate package, you can splash colors with ease, like Pyroblast against blue decks or Suffocating Fumes against creature ones. However, the problem with Caw-Gates is that it does not have any way to interact with your opponents at instant speed with already resolved threats. In principle, we have Prismatic Strands, but little it does against a Gingerbrute that shines. That said, getting access to white gives any deck a good chance to win the Glitters matchup, as you get access to Dust to Dust and many other spells that exile artifacts.

Dimir Faeries

Faeries have had a mix of good and bad results, but they've been getting consistent results since the banning of Monastery Swiftspear. This is a side effect of the deck losing popularity and the need to run some key cards like Lava Dart, which was very effective against decks that run 1/1’s as their main game plan, and Spellstutter Sprite, which hated it especially. Snuff Out and Cast Down are good cards to have to remove threats, and for difficult ones like Guardian of the Guildpact or Tolarian Terror, you can always rely on Chainer’s Edict. While this deck is good, it requires a decent degree of skill to play, as tempo decks usually do. Therefore, it's not a deck you will see played often. It also has some difficulties winning against Tolarian Terror decks, as they can play the game in such a way to deploy multiple creatures in a turn. Usually, you will only be able to answer one at a time. Still, it's a very solid option for closed metas.

UR Terror

This deck has risen in popularity with a very reasonable win rate. Lightning Bolt and Skred can handle low to middle-sized creatures, while Fiery Cannonade or Breath Weapon can act as board wipes. This is a good place to be against almost every creature deck, and on top of that, you also run the Counterspell package to prevent annoying threats from beating you. Both Tolarian Terror and Murmuring Mystic are decent finishers, and both the red and the blue monarch are excellent for outgrinding decks like Golgari Gardens. I expect this deck to see more play once players have realized that it has the most tools to beat Glitters Affinity consistently. The likes of Shenanigans and Gorilla Shaman can be sided in with little to no effort, and if you are looking for flex slots, the likes of Abrade or Cast into the Fire are excellent options.

Dimir Control

Snuff Out is one of the main answers players have against All That Glitters, and along with Counterspell to interrupt the namesake deck's plan, you can hope to not lose on the spot when the opponents cast the broken enchantment. On top of that, Both Tolarian Terror and Gurmag Angler are bigger in size than, let's say, Myr Enforcer, so you will wall and even race in some spots against your opponents. Against the field, the deck is also very solid as it packs the Hydroblast Package against other red decks and can punish slower starts with early Tolarian Terrors on the play.

Azorius Affinity

As I mentioned earlier, Azorius Affinity has been rising in popularity thanks to the introduction of Novice Inspector. Prior to that, the deck had medium to mediocre results, with around a 53% to 52% conversion rate in the top 32 and top 8 Challenges, respectively. But since then, it has risen to 71% in the top 32.

This info here is meant to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt since the numbers are still covering a few challenges, and I expect them to flatten out. However, it is very noticeable not only in challenges but also in Leagues.

While the meta can adapt by adding more sideboard cards to use hate against it, the exile options in Pauper are very narrow and, in black’s case, non-existent. Still, this is part of a bigger problem, as it's not the first time a card has broken affinity. As long as we keep patching the hole, we will continue addressing the symptom rather than the root cause.

Top Decks of the Week

Last week, Affinity managed to take Saturday and Sunday Challenges last week, but this week, we got a nice 1st play finish in the form of Dimir Faeries. Unlike other decks, as I've previously mentioned, this deck requires a very high skill cap, but in the right hands, it is a very solid archetype in the current meta, especially against the shiny robots. It may struggle against some of the faster starts that the deck may have, like the ones leading with Myr Enforcer, but outside of that, you can still do a fine job at beating the deck consistently.

Surprisingly, no one, Affinity won Sunday Challenge. I honestly don't know how many of these first places are legitimate, in the sense that what people usually do is split the finals, and as such, that may impact the accurate win rates of these decks. However, with four copies in the top 8 on Saturday and two on Sunday, Affinity is starting to become a problem if people don't adapt to the meta quickly. This is funny, considering that all it took was a Novice Inspector to break the deck.

Deck of the Week Award

It's rare to see Mystical Teachings nowadays, especially in a fast-paced format like Pauper. Still, getting access to the right answer each time is excellent. Notably, Lorien Revealed, like many other land cyclers, has contributed significantly to fixing mana bases, so it's not surprising to me that it overperformed on this deck.

Wrap Up

Only time will tell what Pauper's future will be. It will be very disappointing to see Glitters go, but if no one can come up with a better solution, I'm on board with it going away. Right now, I understand how frustrating it feels to lose to a deck in just one turn.

Thanks so much for reading up until now! Take care until next time, and we will meet again in my next article!

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