Anything But – A New Month in Review

It’s officially that time again. If you remember about a month ago, when Pauper had first been introduced to major alterations with the bans of Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, and Invigirate, we had taken a final look at that metagame. This final farewell to Storm and Infect was a look at approximately a month’s worth of time in order to see what the big picture was with that metagame. Just for clarity’s sake, please remember that while I refer to this as a “month” in review, this is based upon the data I’ve collected in the Competitive Corner over the past four articles, which really breaks down into two months time.

There’s a famous saying out there about knowing where you’ve been in order to determine where you’re headed. The week following our last “Month in Review” article we jumped right in to see what the unevolved metagame looked like. This was premature of course, but it was still interesting to be able to come back and compare where we are now to where things started. In a new meta everyone is always running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to determine what the new, most powerful deck is going to be. This can lead to us seeing old classics show up again in a decent variety or everyone gravitating towards a single deck that may not even be the strongest one. Now we’ve had plenty of time for things to settle down. New decks have solidified their positions in the metagame, old decks dropped out of favor, and things are pretty well set (at least for now). So it seems to me the perfect time to come back to our “Month in Review” so we can finally see how things looked on a bigger scale and can draw some comparisons/conclusions with consideration given to the past. This may be a particularly interesting timing as well, given that we’re going to be entering into life with a new set, as Dragon’s Maze is due out shortly after you’re first reading this. Now in order to round out our “month” in time we need to first take a look at what the metagame looked like this past week…

For those who may be worried, you should be reassured with the fact that things have calmed down quite a bit on the Fissure front. Last week the 8-post version of the deck managed to have a huge showing, but it has been knocked down since. While Fissure was running wild there was quite a bit of discussion on the fact that the deck was out of hand by a number of “big names” in the Pauper community. I do wonder what, if any, impact all of this discussion over the fact that players need to be wary of the effect this had on the deck’s showings this week.

Daily Event Results 4/18 – 5/1

Things were still pretty close at the top. DelverBlue took first place handily with a five point lead, but right behind it was Affinity and FissurePost/Stompy (tied for third). I still find it interesting how much things drop off from this point. Between third and fourth place, there is a difference of 24 showings. I guess this best illustrates the different tiers because after the showing of 15 by Hexproof, things drop significantly once again, this time by 10 showings, to form the third tier. Things remained mostly the same from last week as the middle ground is still made up by the likes of IzzetPost, Goblins, Burn, and Elves (in almost that exact order).

There was a pretty strong week for rogue decks with a total showing of 28, which is the most we’ve seen since the new bans went into place. Here’s how those decks broke down…

1. FamiliarStorm – 5
2. WeeFiend – 5
3. MBC – 4
4. DimirTrinket – 3
5. Infect – 2
6. DimirPost – 2
7. SimicPost – 2
8. MWA – 1
9. MUC – 1
10. EnchantStorm – 1
11. Stinkweed Zombies – 1
12. GreenPost – 1

With little surprise, we see an increase in the number of people getting behind WeeFiend, as it’s usually a good idea to become familiar with a deck and how it works before you go altering it. With the release of Dragon’s Maze the deck is going to get access to Nivix Cyclops, which is going to perhaps give the deck a better edge. It’s amazing how important that extra one toughness is in a format where Lightning Bolts are some of the best removal options. It’ll be interesting to see if players deem it worth the trade off for the evasion that Wee Dragonauts provides. We also saw some life from the other Temporal Fissure decks, including a single showing by EnchantStorm, which has been MIA since players have come to realize that the 8-post version provides a bit more consistency. Not much else worth noting here except perhaps the single showing of GreenPost, which I think is perhaps a bit underestimated.

Here are this week’s undefeated decks…

The first thing I want to note here is that, since we’re talking this article about the large picture, please remember that the undefeated chart that I provide each week includes all of the weeks information. The undefeated table is tracked based upon an average of total 3-1 as well as undefeated showings that deck types had with a limitation of a minimum average of five showings total. Okay, now that that is out of the way, we are starting to see the numbers shrink down as I had mentioned. If you remember, when we first brought back this information, it was based upon a larger pool as there was a slight delay in the article. Numbers are starting to round out, and the strong showings of DelverBlue in the past few weeks are catching up, as it’s now tied FissurePost for top undefeated showings. We did see DimirTrinket drop off the list, as its average total showings dropped to four, which is understandable since again the first week’s worth of data is a bit of an outlier. There were big drops this week from FamiliarStorm and MBC with reasonable potential for these two to drop from the list all together.

Just like last time we’re going to have a bit of an abbreviated Spotlight this week so that we can get to the long-term data a bit faster, but like the meta information from the Competitive Corner this is an important part of the data!

Fast Stats!
Daily Event: 5374123
Number of Players: 45
Deck Types Represented: 13
Packs Won: 99

This week’s spotlight event was a smaller one, with only 47 players participating. Among these 47 players, there were thirteen different deck types represented with Affinity sitting as the most popular for the third week in a row. Here’s the full breakdown…

Affinity – 10
Stompy – 8
FissurePost – 6
Goblins – 5
DelverBlue – 3
Elves – 3
IzzetPost – 2
DimirTrinket – 2
FamiliarStorm – 2
Hexproof – 1
Burn – 1
WeeFiend – 1
EnchantStorm – 1

By the end of the second round, there had already been twelve players eliminated, including one player who dropped after losing in the first round. Another eleven players would be forced to drop from the tournament by the end of the third round with no hopes of ending in the money. This week’s condolences go out to ThomasH who was the only player to start at 2-0 and then drop the last two games. Although it should perhaps be noted that ThomasH was granted a first round bye. Here’s how the decks matched up this week…

Eliminating outliers, this week’s top performer was IzzetPost, which managed to win 71% of its matches. This is a rather small sample, however, as there were only two players running the deck. In a similar way, EnchantStorm and Hexproof both managed a 75% win rate, but only had one player each. Decks with a larger data pool and high win rate included DelverBlue, which won 67% of its matches, and Stompy, which won 69% of its matches. At the low end of things we find Affinity. Despite the fact that there were ten players who decided to sleeve up this deck, it only managed a win rate of just under 32%. Also sitting at the bottom we have Elves, which had a 33% win rate. In our low showing and poor win rate category, we have the likes of DimirTrinket at 20%, FamiliarStorm at 25%, and Burn at 33%.

This week our undefeated showings were provided by Stompy, FissurePost, and IzzetPost. Also ending in the money was eleven other players who managed to bring about a 3-1 record for a combined total of 99 packs won.

Normally this is where we’d jump into a deck spotlight and recap video. However, since we’re trying to get right into things and there will be plenty to talk about in the numbers from this past month, we’re going to just get right into it.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but it would seem there has been a lot of discussion in Pauper about FissurePost recently. Let’s get more specific actually. There have been complaints here and there about all of the different pieces from Ghostly Flicker to Temporal Fissure to Cloudpost/Glimmerpost. With this as the biggest thing on the mind of most players, it still only seems appropriate that we start from the beginning and see what the meta breakdown has been for the past month…

This information includes all the non-rogue results we’ve had over the last five articles. What’s represented here and not labeled includes decks that accounted for approximately 1% or less of the meta. I also decided that this time around I’d include a running total on rogues just to give a general idea not only of what percentage of the metagame rogue decks account for, but to also provide a true picture of the deck totals. While the top four remain a majority of the total metagame, it’s important to note that the real drop-off point from tier 1 decks falls after that fifth deck, IzzetPost. The difference between IzzetPost at number 5 and Goblins at number 6 is a total of 132 showings.

With the bannings in place and a scramble to determine a new meta, I had high hopes for a significant number of rogue decks showing up as people attempted to try and solve the problem of what to play. What I failed to take into account was perhaps the idea that people often feel safer going with solid answers that they know have proven themselves in the past instead of really making a reach.

As you can see, the number of rogue decks from week to week actually did not start to increase until about a month into the new meta, where things finally rounded out. By the time we were approximately a month into this new meta, people finally had an idea of what the strong decks were. What you have to remember about the concept of rogues is that they are usually put together as a way to attack a specific type of deck, ideally the one that is most often played. That way you are hoping to capitalize on the weaknesses of the most popular deck in order to hopefully pull out more wins. So what are these top decks that we should look to attack?

The chart on the left is the top 4 as it was before the bans were put into place. On the right is the comparison with the new top 4. Before the bans were put into place the top 4 decks accounted for just over 50% of the meta and I thought that was too much real estate for just four decks to hold. The current top 4 pushes that even further. The new top 4 is inches away from holding a 60% share over the metagame. To me, when a small number of decks account for a large portion of the metagame, the format starts becoming stale. I’ve always believed that it’s important to have variety. This is perhaps a bit harsh because you do have to still take into account the fact that the remaining 42% of decks in the metagame break down into a decent variety; however, that is a big drop point from one to another.

After you set aside the fact that the top 4 is part of a growing majority, there is another interesting point to make on this chart. Despite the first place showing last week and the significant complaints from the Pauper community, FissurePost is actually not making up the largest portion of the meta. In fact it doesn’t even fall into the top 3! The bottom line is that DelverBlue continues to be the most significant deck in the format and perhaps will stay strong using Hidden Strings. When I wrote the last month-in-review article, I had it in my mind that Storm and Infect were running unchecked in the metagame, but when you looked at the numbers, they only accounted for a quarter of the showings. In a similar way, I am not a fan of the bans and heavy play of Temporal Fissure. I can go on about this forever, it would seem, so I won’t tread down that path once again, but I will say that I’m still not happy with it. Even with the evidence showing that the deck doesn’t have a choke hold on the meta, I still find it completely uninteractive and I’m not alone in this. The biggest complaints usually focus on Temporal Fissure and/or Cloudpost/Glimmerpost. So I wanted to see just what part of the meta these types of decks made up.

After the last month in review article I had taken a look at where I thought the new metagame was headed. At that time I had pointed out the trend of these decks. Here’s how the chart looked at that time…

At the time I wrote that article, I was worried that things would continue to shift in that direction, and as we see, they have. While the shift may seem minor, with the number of Fissure and 8-post decks increasing only by 4%, it is something that I don’t see decreasing anytime soon. I think the best we can hope for is that things level off and stay as is. Not surprising we’ve seen the shift in Temporal Fissure decks moving away from the EnchantStorm and FamiliarStorm variants towards the 8-post decks that provide quite a bit more consistency. In its increase the FissurePost decks have managed to even encroach on the territory of the remaining 8-post decks. Part of this is the evolution of the deck sub-types. When FissurePost first made its appearance on the scene it was pre-ban and it was limited to the Simic variation. Here’s what a typical Simic FissurePost deck looks like today…

From this we saw the FissurePost idea completely engulf the BluePost deck type. It seems not that long ago I had taken the time to break out BluePost from MUC as control players took the time to adapt it into the heavy mana base of 8-post. Since the new bans went into effect, the control BluePost decks have basically died out completely and any mono-blue, 8-post deck that you’ll see will be a Temporal Fissure variant. Here’s what the typical Mono-Blue FissurePost deck looks like…

From there players continued to be creative about how to abuse the combination of the big mana of the locus lands and the storm ability on Temporal Fissure by bringing in another color. Based on the Daily Event data that we’re granted, the first showing of this new version of FissurePost is going to be credited to rc6311 who managed a 3-1 with the deck on March 26th. The new version took an odd turn as it paired blue with white for Sunscape Familiar and sideboard options such as Prismatic Strands. Thus the Azorius FissurePost deck was born. While it still remains the least popular of the three versions (approximate breakdown is 70% Simic, 27% Mono-Blue, 3% Azorius), you will still see it showing up from time to time. Here’s the most recent version of the deck I’ve seen…

Now, while the oppressive nature of Temporal Fissure is my major complaint, I have to say it seems like the community holds higher concern for how fair the mana generated from Cloudpost is. Perhaps this is a legitimate concern. Without going into too much detail over the discussion of 8-post, which has been really beaten into the ground, it is still safe to say that it enables quite a few different decks. If we take a look at that last chart and simply highlight the 8-post decks in the meta, here’s how things look…

By simple addition we can see that 8-post decks accounted for approximately 30% of the Pauper metagame. When you break this out there were 324 8-post decks in this month, but it’s not surprising that FissurePost and IzzetPost dominated the scene with 63% and 32% of the total 8-post decks respectively. With both those decks numbering in the hundreds, things drop off severely from there and we get single digit showings from the likes of DimirPost (9), SimicPost (7), BluePost (1), GreenPost (1), and JunkPost (1). While the chart is messy, I’ve put it all together to get an idea at the trends and it would seem that despite all the angst over 8-post may be a bit much as 8-post decks are slightly declining from week to week. The decline is minor but there nonetheless. Perhaps this is only a temporary thing, but I think people need to keep remembering that because 8-post is so heavily played, it’s not unreasonable to see people playing hate for it in their maindeck.

Take, for example, the “Just For Fun” room. This is usually an area that is considered to be set aside for casual games, but if you’re a regular there, you’re well aware that people feel free to bring tournament lists in there all the time. In my experience it’s not uncommon to be playing against some variation of 8-post in 8 out of 10 games played in the “Just For Fun” room. So knowing this I’m going to be playing rogue type decks that are built to take down 8-post, which often leads to this type of interaction…

In the early days of the new meta, we saw at least one player doing the same thing. With people unsure of what the strongest deck was, there was a significant understanding that it would probably be some variation of 8-post. At that point ScarletMacaw took the initiative to try and take advantage of this, going 3-1 with this land destruction based RG deck…

Now I’m pretty sure I’ve shown this to you before, but I think this list is a great definition list for rogue. This deck focuses hard on countering 8-post and can easily switch to heavy Affinity hate after Game 1. While this type of list could probably benefit from the extra mana generated from the locus lands itself, it also takes advantage of the fact that Empty the Warrens was banned and therefore cards like Electrickery wouldn’t be around as often to remove its mana elves. I’m constantly trying to stress to people the importance and fun that can be had by trying to target down the top decks. This is partly why DelverBlue has so much success even though it’s far from being rogue. The deck holds great matches against most, if not all of the other decks at the top of the meta.

So how do you know what decks hold up against what matches? Well, hopefully I can provide some of that information for you! If you’ll remember, I’ve discussed the use of match tables by various sites and my own curiosity on how accurate they actually were. Each week what you’ll see from me in the Weekly Spotlight is a specific Daily Event breakdown where I look at the decks played and how the matches went. Well, just like before, I’m going to be providing you with a full match table based on my findings so far!

Daily Event Match Table

If you saw the one from last time around, you’ll notice some small changes. I have obviously gone through and removed the Storm decks that have now been banned into the void as well as reset the numbers for Infect because it’s illogical to compare the Infect of today with the pre-ban Infect. If you haven’t checked out the match table before, you’ll see there are two tabs with the second being the legend. If I took the space to write out all the labels, you’d have to scroll so much to see things, that hopefully this helps. This time around I’ve also color-coded things based upon their match, ranking from unfavorable to favorable. As always, I caution everyone to take these in stride and consider that some small data skew things. For example, if you see the match of DelverBlue vs. Infect you’ll see that DelverBlue is 1-0 in that match and it’s listed as a favorable match. While a no-loss showing is a favorable thing, there is only the datum of a single match to go off of and there could be other determining factors that could alter that. A more reliable match would be DelverBlue vs. IzzetPost, where DelverBlue is 10-10. With more data to pull from, it is safer to assume that the match is really close to 50/50.

To the far right side you’ll see a running total of the wins and losses calculated for each deck type and what the win percentage is for that deck. Based on those numbers you’ll see the decks with the best win rate are EnchantStorm and IzzetPost. Again when looking at these numbers, I caution against small samples. The best percentage is actually listed as Slivers at 75%, but this was the result of one player in one event going 3-1. This provides a much less accurate picture of the deck’s performance when you compare it to the overall record of, say, IzzetPost at 66-44. Looking at the other end of the scale we have only one deck that had a decent number of games and a low win rate in DimirTrinket that comes in at just under a 28% win rate. In an ideal world I would love to continue to maintain this table for people based on Daily Events I track. In a more perfect world I’d love the information for every Pauper Daily Event to get an even better picture, but unfortunately that is an unrealistic time commitment. I’m going to mull over the continued use of this simply for the one Daily Event I track every two weeks, but I partially worry about the table growing too large to be useful as rogues appear in events. Something to think about.

So on a bigger picture that’s what the meta looks like. Hopefully this helps you out a bit getting an idea of the format’s health. Keep in mind that we’re again on the verge of a new set release, and there’s been some great information already provided about Dragon’s Maze and the potential it has for Pauper. My regular readers know that I don’t like to jump on the prediction bus for new sets, so I’ll recommend a couple good pieces for those who are looking for more input…

Let’s Brew Pauper with Dragon’s Maze by Jason Moore
A Pauper Run at Dragon’s Maze by Alex Ullman
Pauper to the People Ep. 106

Now I know a lot of other authors have also provided their own lists of favorite cards for the new set, but I just wanted to throw out what I recommend people be looking to pick up in Dragon’s Maze.

Simic Guildgate – Or any gates you’re missing!
Deputy of Acquittals
Tithe Drinker
Nivix Cyclops
Lyev Decree
Hidden Strings
Simic Cluestone – and its friends!
Viashino Firstblade
Boros Mastiff
Uncovered Clues

There are also a few other casual options I’d consider exploring in Wake the Reflections, Beetleform Mage, the gatekeepers, and Pilfered Plans. I’ve heard a few “meh” reviews of the new set, but I see some new opportunities for casual play and I’m happy. Life doesn’t always have to be competitive!

And finally, before I leave you guys here, I want to give a quick update as to what’s upcoming mostly as a response to a few comments I’ve received recently on articles. First off, you might see a few more casual articles coming from me (but don’t worry: the Competitve Corner will still be there!) because there was a great response to my last one. I had a lot of fun digging through some old Pauper decks and there are some real gems in that folder. This is of course subject to change if there’s something in the meta that I want to jump on.

Also during last week’s article there was a request about the first game I played. If you watched it, I had played a casual game against an interesting deck that I’ll straight-up admit had me dumbfounded. I think you can probably tell from me watching it, that was the response, but there was a request in the comments about seeing if I could track down the deck. Well, for those wondering there is good news. I found the player and after a request for the list, he has been kind enough to share it with me, so I’ll probably try it out for next week’s article. It’s a very cool list and I’m grateful that it was shared with me.

And finally there have been a few complaints the past few articles about video quality. Now, I’m not sure what happened, but clearly something went wrong because I had not heard these complaints before. After watching, while I think they were okay, as you could still see the picture and understand what the card was, I understand the issue. After some fooling around and playing with settings I’m happy to say I’ve figured out the issue and the videos you’ll see from me here out will fit that 720p mark and be much clearer. So sorry for those issues, but rest assured, it’ll be better next time!

Until then don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MTGOJustSin for running random thoughts and an open forum to give me direct input!

  1. Great article, as always. I love the breakdown of fissure, but I think one thing that should be taken into account for the number of them “not showing up” is the outright cost of the deck. I have found that the cost of making the top tier decks can have an effect on what you will find yourself facing.

    Maybe in a future article you could include a little bit of finance regarding the competitive corner.

  2. great suggestion, thanks! If you managed to catch my “Intro to Competitive Pauper” article on PureMTGO a bit ago I did cover that, but it was quite a bit of work and not something I’ll do that often… that being said perhaps tracking down a reasonable price estimate for the deck could be done

  3. A really useful site I’ve found for the average price of various competitive Magic Online decks in :)

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