Anything But: What You Didn’t See

So last week we took some time off from our regular series to talk about a few cool things coming your way. The first announcement came in two parts; a monthly event called the Academy Showcase and JustSin’s Team League. The first Academy Showcase was a 3v3 all-kill Pauper match, which illustrated how matches go for those participating in the league. This went very well, everyone involved had a lot of fun, and if you missed out on watching it we featured the event in a special article this past Tuesday. If you’re interested in finding out what we’ll be doing for next month make sure you follow me on Twitter for that update.

To update everyone on the league, which is generously sponsored by MTGO Academy, registration opened up on this past Monday and it didn’t take long for those four team spots to fill up. If you’re interested in checking out the details, you can see the original post on the MTG Salvation forums. By the time you guys will be reading this we’ll be well underway into the first round of the league. If you want to see the teams and the matches for the first week, head over to Casting Commons, where I wrote up a short introduction and will be posting short articles breaking down each week. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe to and check out the MTGO Academy YouTube page to catch any matches I manage to record so you can cheer on your favorite teams.

Now the other announcement I made will be the major focus of this week’s article. In order to help provide readers with the best possible information, I’ve decided to put in the time and track the results from every Daily Event and not stick to just the information provided by Wizards. In honor of this big change and our new metagame, we’re going to be basically expanding our Competitive Corner to this entire article.

It feels like a while ago now that Wizards decided to reduce the number of Daily Events that they posted on their website in an effort to… do… something. I won’t go too far down this path because it is a sore subject for me, and I think the reasoning provided was ridiculous. That all aside, this turned out to be a big blow to my regular articles as I relied heavily on that information to provide content. By now I’m sure you know the story, but ultimately life went on and I continued to provide metagame information based upon just those posted events up until this recent set of bans where I decided that I was going to take back the information. So this week we’re going to take a look at not only what the metagame was for the past week, but also what the information provided by Wizards would have us believe it is. Now I’m writing this without prior information, so for all I know at this point, the information will be the same, and I’ll just be proving that it doesn’t matter.

So let’s start things off with a look at what the metagame was over these last two weeks…

As you can see, the table gets a lot more crowded and I’ll probably have to find a better way to present this information because of sizing constraints caused by so many new events. Keep in mind that each week we have 19 Daily Events that could possibly fire for Pauper. What you see here in red is going to be the two events we had this week that crashed before they were completed. I don’t dive into the technical things, but hopefully whatever the issues are get worked out so this doesn’t happen in the future.

No real surprises here among our top decks, and actually there is a pretty clear breakdown between the different tiers. At the top things are pretty well divided with Affinity seeing very heavy play in part thanks to a new approach to the deck, which looked to bring in Ichor Wellspring and Perilous Research to try and attain the heavy draw that Affinity always wanted. There aren’t many new names on this list, but instead more decks that we used to see as rogues finally finding their place in the metagame. The one new name on the list is currently titled Fissureless Familiars, which is a deck that takes the FamiliarStorm deck list and removes Temporal Fissure in favor of a new combo featuring Sage’s Row Denizen.

As I mentioned before, we have gone through and moved our line for rogue status since we now have so many more showings. Whereas this was set up for seven showings, this allows a lot of decks that probably should be repressed more. The new line will be 14 showings, which represents basically one showing a day for the two-week time period we follow. Being the first two weeks of a new metagame, we can always expect a much longer list of rogues as people experiment with new lists. Because of the longer list, we’re going to try throwing this together in a table instead of a long list, which is something I may do in the future to just reduce size a little more. Here’s a look at what we saw…

There were plenty of new names showing up; however, to discuss them all would require an article all in itself. Instead I’m going to quickly describe a couple of these lists, and if you have further questions, feel free to ask in the comments, keeping in mind that if we didn’t see the results actually posted, I can’t comment on full card choices. So from the top…

  • Tortured remained heavily played in its most recent BR version; however there were a few showings by a more traditional BG and a mono-black variant.
  • The IzzetControl was run entirely by one player and was basically IzzetPost minus the locus lands.
  • Rebels were played mostly in a mono-white shell, but there was a showing by a WB.
  • I don’t think we’ve ever really talked Soul Sisters here, but it is a white weenie strategy with Soul Warden and friends.
  • There were a few different Tron builds showing. The Greedy Tron build is a variant running three colors in a low mana base. The Ur Tron is basically a mono-blue version that ran Gorilla Shamans in the sideboard. Tron Trinkets is the Gruul version I discussed in my Tron-a-Thon article.
  • Fissureless Enchants is a similar approach to Fissureless Familiars.
  • I’ve used the title Gray Control to cover any number of decks based around Gray Merchant of Asphodel that didn’t follow a MBC shell, by bringing in additional colors.
  • BG Trash is a hard deck to explain, but works basically on a reanimator engine.
  • UB ArtControl is basically a UB Control that focused on using mana artifacts, particularly Pristine Talisman in order to ramp mana.


So before we start getting into our topic this week, we’re going to take a quick look at our new undefeated showings. I say “quick” because, if you weren’t already aware, this chart works on average showings, so it will change drastically in the first few weeks as we get more results in.

I always liked this type of information because it gives a better idea about what decks are able to achieve that higher prize point. As you can see, despite Affinity having the most showings for the week, we did see MBC achieving the most undefeated showings. I find the percentages always quite interesting, as well, because I see trends where BorosKitty managed to go undefeated in 30% of its showings in comparison to a deck like Goblins, which managed an OK number of showings but only a 10% undefeated rate.

While tracking all this information and watching all of these Daily Events, I feel that I’ve learned a lot more about this format that might get overlooked. The first thing I realized was just how much splitting goes on in Daily Events. This may not seem really all that important at first, but with a significant number of players splitting, it really alters the results, and you’ll find that information provided on undefeated showings is terribly biased. Take, for example, one of the last Daily Events I went through. There were six players who, at the end of the tournament, had a 4-0 record. Of these six players four split their matches with their opponents! This means that we don’t know how the game would have played out, and it was instead decided by who needed the QPs. Any calculations based upon the strength of a particular deck type based upon 4-0 and 3-1 won’t be able to take into account the splits. I was even more surprised to learn that splits were happening at lower levels as well. I don’t think anyone would be surprised that players sitting at 3-0 decide to split (although I was a little surprised at how many do), but you’ll find several decks ending at 3-1 were also split. Now I have never tried to hide the fact that statistical information is biased despite what some people may have said. This is yet another example I’m providing about one of these biases, but I don’t think this means the information is useless. While we do have Daily Events like the one I mentioned earlier where two thirds of the decks going undefeated are splits, this isn’t the majority, and you have to consider that on the strength of the deck and the player, they managed to go 3-0 in order to get to that point.

The other thing I have realized is just how different things seem to be between reported events and those not reported. The Daily Events that do go up are most likely posted based upon the number of participants, but there are several days where you may have two large Daily Events that are reported primarily based upon what time they start. Over these past two weeks I took special note of what events were posted by Wizards and highlighted them so I could build the same metagame information for those posted as I did for those I tracked. Here’s a look at the showings chart for the posted events in comparison to the showings for all the events.

The chart on the left is the results from all Daily Events, while the chart on the right is only from the Daily Events that were shown by Wizards. The difference between these two is quite interesting, so hopefully you can read it acceptably. There is one major difference between these two charts, and it’s focused on two decks: MBC and Eye Candy. If you take a look at the information provided from Wizards, you have Eye Candy with a very strong showing on the week and sitting second overall with MBC in fourth, which is the opposite of what we actually saw. Beyond this, the majority of the other decks ultimately end up in the same spot where they were before. Other switches that we saw included MUC with Stompy and then everything after Burn. If we take a closer look at these beyond just where they are generally placed, you can see a significant difference in the percentages as well. Take, for example, Affinity, which is still first in both; however, based upon the information shown, the deck holds 1% more of the metagame then it really did. When we focus on the biggest lie told by the provided showings, Eye Candy, we see that in the information provided by Wizards, it managed to a 3% larger share in the metagame than it really had.

This may seem like an attack on Eye Candy, a deck I’ve openly professed my dislike of, but it is just the best example of the difference for the past weeks’ time. We also saw a lot of people making immediate claims that Eye Candy was “the best deck in the format”. Take a look at this chart, which shows the showings for Eye Candy per event…

This graph shows all showings from Eye Candy over the past two weeks with the events in green representing those Daily Events that were actually shown to us by Wizards. This provides us with some very interesting food for thought. First off, the overall curve for those shown events is much higher, as the biggest showings were those included in the count, which resulted in the higher overall placing represented. What the shown events overlook is the fact that the actual curve is much shallower. To me this illustrates the point I’ve tried to make in several places on popularity and accessibility versus strength. Going on the assumption that the Daily Events that are shown are the ones with the highest attendance, you can see that lots of people means an increased chance that a number of them will be playing Eye Candy. I guess what you could take from that kind of assumption is that if you’re planning on playing in a Daily Event for peak hours, make sure you have an answer in your sideboard.

At the bottom end of things, we see basically a complete shake-up as far as what goes where. I was a little bit surprised that this didn’t result in decks being left off or moved up/down on the rogues list. I find it interesting how full results can shift things up a bit overall, but you have to wonder, ultimately, whether or not it is necessary to see all the results from a standpoint of simply getting an idea of the metagame. The one argument is that ultimately there wasn’t a lot of motion on the chart, and one percent off here and there isn’t really enough to illustrate a major shift. On the other side of things, there are some significant switches taking place with the difference between MBC and Eye Candy. What it is really going to come down to as far as what side you’re on with these results is how much weight you put on this switch. At the top end of the spectrum you’re going into matches expecting to see these top decks; however, the three percent difference in showings isn’t anything to laugh at. As always, I’m going to leave this decision up to you.

No matter how you feel about the results being shown or not, the bottom line is it won’t stop people from using what they’re given, speculating one way or another, and ultimately it won’t stop me from tracking every Daily Event. The other important thing that I think should be noted about this information, and I’ll probably remind you of it next week as well, is that we’re still forming a new metagame. This data is from the first two weeks of Daily Events after the ban went into place. As you see with the number of rogue decks that are present, anything can happen while people are starting to learn what is playable. Decks we’ll see here, like probably Soul Sisters or certain Tron decks, are things that we’re not likely to see again. Unfortunately it isn’t feasible to focus every week on the difference between the two, so I’ll simply leave you here. Most people know where they can find others who talk about what we’ve seen posted by Wizards, but only here will you find what we see in every event.

With that I leave you to go off and venture into what I deem to be the most fun metagame I’ve seen in my time playing Pauper. Check back here for the new, full Competitive Corner week to week where you’ll find our usual breakdown, and don’t forget that if you follow me on Twitter you’ll find my thoughts on Daily Events as they happen.

  1. Awesome overview, very good insights on the actual metagame! I very much appreciate your work. While parsing through your article I really felt my understanding of the format growing. I also agree this is one of the most fun metagames I’ve ever seen in pauper, perhaps actually the most fun, and the numbers point to a very healthy format! Excellent, I like it when pauper is doing well.

  2. Excellent. Thanks for the updates! Can’t wait to see how things shape up, and what new innovations arise.

  3. I sampled about 800 decks and compared power level based on raw points and weighed points. Kiln Fiend is one of the few decks that actually showed statistically significant power level differences compared to most of the other decks, being the deck with the least power level, save some rogue decks.
    Analysing the decks showed me that it is quite difficult to compare decks in a meaningful way because there are so many variables to be considered.. I tried correlating player power level (sum of showings in the last two months) with DE success, and actually found a (nonsignificant) negative correlation, which was quite surprising, for example.
    Do you include 2-2′s and 2-0′s in your analysis?

  4. what would including 2-0s accomplish as you’d be double counting many decks?

    if I were to track every deck that showed to a DE I think you’d lose a lot because it doesn’t say how strong a deck is just how many people brought it… if you’ve ever played a DE there is always a chance that in Rd.1 you get paired to someone running a very casual deck and including that just would shrink numbers and make it too cluttered I think

  5. I only can say… Thank you very much!

    I can imagine all the work that you have opening every tournament, checking every deck and cataloging them.

  6. I really enjoyed your article, and the statistics are perhaps the most interesting part of it. If in the future though, you could not have the sections in the pie charts be differently coloured that’d be great. It’s a bit confusing when the different data swaps MBC and Eye Candy, but keeps the same colours for the same spaces on the pie chart. Otherwise, all this info is great.