Pauper Meta Report - 2024 First Quarter Round Up

In my previous post, I discussed how Azorius Affinity rose in popularity at the beginning of March, thanks to the introduction of Novice Inspector. Today, at the end of the year's first quarter, I will review League and Challenge MTGO data to see how players have reacted to this behavior.

Do we expect a Ban in the next few weeks? Has the meta corrected itself, as always? Let 's find out.

The Big Picture

In this first part, I will discuss the general picture across online Pauper formats in the year's first three months.

In leagues, the decks with the most trophies on their shoulders are Mono Red (of course), with 210, and Golgari Gardens, with 126. There is a very clear contrast between both decks, as the first one is the fastest of the format and the second one the slowest.

In third place, we got UR Control, a deck that SpockVidaLoka has popularized, and that has had consistent results in leagues.

Fourth, we’ve seen Azorius Affinity with a notable bump in trophies in March, almost doubling the number it had in February, and a notable spike in usage compared to January. This makes sense, as technically, MKM was released in February, but players began popularizing Novice Inspector in March.

Challenges have a similar story for the top 10 decks, and as expected, the number of appearances on both the top 8 and top 32 of Azorius Affinity decks in March has been insane.

With that in mind, I want to point out that we’ve been getting one more Challenge on Sundays in March, which has increased the number of deck appearances in the month.

Winners

Azorius Affinity was the clear winner by the end of the quarter.

In challenges, it had a mediocre performance in January and February, with only five decks in both months combined, reaching the top 8 and an average conversion rate (appearances vs decks in the top 8) of 53%.

At the beginning of March, players began to test Novice Inspector, a card identical to Thraben Inspector that provides more depth and resilience to the deck. With it, in the first week, we got a Top 4 of a challenge with only Azorious Affinity decks in the tournament.

While this has not been repeated, the deck's popularity has risen. Towards the end of the quarter, we received twenty copies of the deck, which reached the top 8 in March and tied for first place in deck appearances with Mono Red.

The other two decks that have shown a significant rise in popularity have been Golgari Gardens and Dimir Faeries.

Of course, getting access to more challenges will increase its usage rate, but in leagues, it's somewhat the same story. So, my only assumption is that Snuff Out decks are rising in popularity as a response to All That Glitters being dominant in the meta, which will make a lot of sense.

Lastly, Jeskai Ephemerate and Boros Synthesizer are notable mentions of decks that have also risen in popularity in March compared to the previous two months in Leagues.

Cast Into the Fire, Revoke Existence, and, of course, Dust to Dust are cards that are extremely good at exiling artifacts. While other colors have access to destroy effects for artifacts such as Naturalize, it is clear that the best way to answer the best deck in the meta is to exile them. (Thanks, Bridges.)

Losers

This section is for the decks dropped from players' preferences to play them in both Leagues and Challenges.

The first one is mono-red. While it is one of the best decks for getting consecutive reps in one day and multi-queuing on weekends to play Challenges, it's not as consistent as it was before the Monastery Swiftspear ban. It seems like players have switched from playing it to using All that Glitters decks instead, a deck that is equally as fast and has a better late game than the former.

Despite their explosive starts, aggro decks can struggle to maintain momentum in the late game, and this is where Affinity decks beat mono-red ones. While the latter has access to eight Reckless Impulse effects, affinity has an improved version in the form of Thoughtcast and Of One Mind that cost two mana and does not limit you on where you have to play the cards you got.

On the flip side, examining the Caw Gates deck is intriguing because its popularity in Leagues has dropped significantly compared to last month. However, it continues to be used frequently in Challenges and maintains a high conversion rate in decks. Strictly speaking about the latter, it ranks among the decks with the highest performance.

Lastly, Jeskai Affinity has dropped in popularity as its usage rate has significantly decreased in both tournament formats, proving that consistency is critical in aggro decks.

The Rest of the Meta

Regarding usage rate, the rest of the decks in Pauper have maintained a similar usage rate.

If we consider that we got more challenges in March, you will see that, overall, numbers even out in the Challenge meta.

While Blue Red and Dimir Control have been performing decently across the first quarter, unlike some of the other decks in the meta, they require more skill, impacting their usage rate.

Still, regarding efficiency, both decks have the highest conversion rate across the format.

Wrap-Up

Honestly, this is how Pauper has been for a while now. In a nutshell, it is a rough environment for players to dive into. If you are somewhat new and run, let's say, a League or a Challenge, you will most likely get paired with Red and Affinity decks.

At a major glance, this is why I’ve been saying Monastery Swiftspear ban did nothing to the metagame at all; red is still vastly represented, and people keep bringing from six to eight copies of Hydroblasts. Midrange is dead, and control strategies packing dedicated removal and hate pieces is the way to survive.

Of course, there are combo decks like Dredge or Cycle Storm that can win, but they are the resistance represented by the minority of players in the 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.

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