Pauper Leagues: Two Years of Data in Review. Part 2

Pauper Leagues: Two Years of Data in Review. Part 2

Last week I’ve showed the data that I’ve gathered about the Pauper leagues’ metagame [check out Part 1]. In the present article, instead, I’m going to analyze some interesting aspects of that data and compare it to the challenge data.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve seen last time:

A. ban = Astrolabe ban; S&M ban = Sanctuary and Map ban; CMR = Commander Legends; FFF ban = Fall from Favor ban; MH2 = Modern Horizons 2.

​Section 3: Patterns

Looking at how each deck goes up and down during the two years, you’ll notice how some share similar behaviors. I’ve isolated four (plus one) patterns, which I’m going to show in five separate charts. I believe that they can teach us something about how the format moves and reacts to changes (like the ban that has been announced for this week!).

The interpretation of these charts involves many factors and can put you in front of chicken-and-egg problems. I’ll do my best to produce reasonable interpretations, but feel free to share yours too!

Important note: these charts show data points connected by artificial lines, not continuous flows.


This chart shows the decks that grew popular during the Fall from Favor era. Here, we can distinguish three couples of decks.

  1. Volatile tempo decks (Izzet Faeries and Mono Blue Delver)
  2. Go-tall decks (Bogles and Heroic)
  3. Ramp cascade decks (Walls and Green Ponza)

Why are Izzet Faeries and Mono Blue Delver more volatile than their Dimir counterparts? First of all, they have more extreme matchups (i.e. they tend to have excellent matchups and horrible matchups instead of relatively even matchups). Additionally, Dimir decks have always had access to their secondary card advantage engine (Thorn of the Black Rose). Izzet and Mono Blue, instead, have been more reliant on cards that had to get banned (Mystic Sanctuary and Fall from Favor).

Bogles and Heroic prey on Izzet Faeries and follow its path. On the other hand, I believe that the cascade decks behavior isn’t directly related to the other decks in the chart. Boarding Party and Annoyed Altisaur simply happened to be printed in the same set as Fall from Favor.


The decks that tanked during the Fall from Favor era can also be divided into three groups:

  1. Midrange decks
  2. Stompy
  3. Flicker Tron

Interestingly, but not shockingly, midrange decks behave more or less all in the same way. The surprising part is how they tend to do the opposite of the volatile tempo decks, instead of preying on them. The reason becomes clearer when you recall that ramp cascade decks happened to share the tempo decks’ ups and downs, as midrange isn’t a good archetype against Walls and Ponza. Up until now, I’ve considered it natural for two decks that have a polarized matchup to share the same pattern. In this case, I believe that cascade decks weren’t specifically targeting midrange decks. Their rise caused the midrange demise as collateral damage, so it makes sense for these two archetypes to go in opposite directions.

Stompy had two major downfalls, the first motivated by the fear of Fiery Cannonade and the second by its inability to beat Storm and Affinity. Similarly to midrange, Stompy would be good against the volatile tempo decks, but it can’t fully take advantage of this because of other decks that follow the A pattern, namely the go-tall decks.

Like the midrange decks, Tron doesn’t have a good matchup against Walls and Ponza, and this ultimately determined its downswing. It also makes sense for Tron to follow the same pattern as midrange and aggro decks since it can be seen as a predator towards them.


These are the decks that benefited the most out of Modern Horizons 2.

Excluding MH2, Affinity followed the B pattern, and Dimir Delver behaved similarly to Mono Blue Delver, but in a less emphatic way.


These three decks consistently declined since Commander Legends. What they have in common is that their strategy focuses on getting to the late game, where they can leverage their inevitability.

This kind of deck lacks an efficient beatdown plan, therefore they have a hard time stealing the monarchy, which can easily compromise their plans for the late game. I believe that the injection of many new monarch cards with Commander Legends is the general cause for the decline of late-game-oriented decks, even though they might have been influenced individually by additional factors.


These three decks are outliers. They may move in a way that’s similar to that of other decks, but they don’t truly belong to any of the previous patterns. Being a somewhat regular presence in the leagues seems to be what best characterizes them.

Section 4: Leagues vs Challenges

Thanks to the work of pproteus, who created for me some special filters in the challenge project sheet, I’ve been able to put league and challenge data side by side.

Challenges have higher stakes than leagues and the data reflect it by showing how, in each era, challenges registered higher meta shares for the decks that were considered the top decks.

Note: the challenge project sheet doesn’t display decks with less than 1% of meta share. Thus, when you see a deck with 0%, its real meta share could be any number between 0% and 1%.

​Appendix

If you’d like to see the exact numbers for all my data, check out this sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1B9b5pDgoLHtIwlqdWTF2Qkg2zxyxphQdb_FMosXdMqE/edit?usp=sharing

It’s ugly, as it was only meant as a workspace for me, but if you’re interested in the numbers, they are there. For example, you can see the whole composition of the “Other” categories or the exact numbers in the Leagues vs Challenges charts.

If you’re a maniac and you’d like to see the raw data (i.e. the data as it was sent by the collectors), feel free to contact me via private messages and I will share it with you.

Pauper Leagues: Two Years of Data in Review. Part 1

Pauper Leagues: Two Years of Data in Review. Part 1

Thanks to the Challenge Project, run by the Castle of Commons Discord server [https://discord.gg/U4hnkNT], we have (almost) full information about the Pauper challenge meta. As far as the Magic Online leagues go, instead, having full information will never be possible unless data is released from WotC itself. However, we can at least get a picture of the league meta by using data collected by the people who keep track of their league matches, which I’m going to do here.

In this article, I will show my methodology and talk about five Pauper metagames. Soon, I will also focus on the evolution of the meta over time and the differences between Leagues and Challenges. The data that I’m using consists of 4938 matches, spread over 22 months and recorded by 13 people: me (Walker735), apas72, HeWhoIsInTheWater, bren, Jayrod_Silva, Zimplfy/NotGood, kalko, bnoru, kalikaiz/saidin.raken, BluStalker, Calpine, pproteus and A_AdeptoTerra.

Huge thanks to all the people who contributed!

Walker735

The data that I received from bren is a special subset, because, in addition to tracking their matches, they kept track of the matchups found by content creators and by people who shared their league results on Discord. Therefore, the data technically comes from more than 13 people, even though bren’s data only covers the period between Fall from Favor’s ban and Modern Horizons 2. To express this, I’ll make a “+” follow the number of data collectors when referencing the number of people who contributed to that data set.

Data can be framed in different ways and tell different stories. What I’m showing here is shaped by my current understanding of the format, but I will be transparent about my criteria so that at least you can judge by yourself to which degree you agree with them.

I’ve broken up the last two years of Pauper into 5 segments, using B&R announcements and high-powered sets release dates as dividers, except for Double Masters release date, which was ignored because it was too close to a ban. For each segment, only decks which have at least 2% meta share in that segment will be featured in the respective pie chart. Everything else falls under the “other” category. More details about my deck categorization can be found at the end of this article.

Keep in mind that meta share doesn’t necessarily relate to power level and that league grinders usually prefer decks that lead to quick matches. Fun fact: my win rate with Elves tends to be inversely proportional to the deck’s presence in leagues.


Section 1: the Five Eras

From the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe (Oct 21, 2019) to the banning of Mystic Sanctuary and Expedition Map (July 13, 2020)

This meta saw a cyclical fight between blue tempo/midrange decks (Izzet Faeries, Dimir Delver, and Mono Blue Delver, for a total of 18.6% meta share), Flicker Tron (9.6%), and Boros midrange decks (Boros Monarch and Bully, for a total of 9.9%). It was commonly held that the blue decks beat Tron, which beat Boros decks, which beat the blue decks. As you can see by the disproportionate amount of blue decks, this rock-paper-scissors mechanism wasn’t perfect, but the format was fairly balanced, and many tier 2 decks were allowed to exist and thrive. I’m not saying that there wasn’t any underlying issue, but the meta was pretty close to what I would consider a “normal” Pauper meta, as opposed to the other two pre-ban metagames that we will review: the Fall from Favor meta and the Modern Horizons 2 meta [I know that there hasn’t been any ban following MH2, but we all know that it’s coming.].

In this period, thanks to new cards (Winding Way and Crashing Drawbridge) and Caleb Gannon’s brewing efforts, Walls parted its way from Familiars, becoming an autonomous and respected figure in the metagame.



From the banning of Mystic Sanctuary and Expedition Map (July 13, 2020) to the release of Commander Legends (Nov 18, 2020)

This season originated from one of the most controversial ban announcements in the format’s history. According to the most successful Tron players, Flicker Tron benefited from Mystic Sanctuary’s ban more than it was hurt from Expedition Map’s ban. Consequently, the three archetypes system was broken and Tron ended up dominating the challenges for months.

By contrast, leagues numbers look rather healthy and diverse in this time frame. The ban’s impact on Tron (9.0%) and tempo decks (17.3%) was negligible in terms of meta share, and the format kept more or less its pre-ban shape. If we look inside the “tempo deck” conglomerate though, we can see the true legacy of the Sanctuary ban. The need for a new value engine (Thorn of the Black Rose) and the printings of Suffocating Fumes and Cast Down all contributed to the birth of a new giant: Dimir Faeries.

Meanwhile, another deck was being hit by Mystic Sanctuary’s ban: Familiars. Surprisingly, this deck’s meta share nearly triples after the banning of one of its key combo pieces. My guess is that Sanctuary Familiars was an exoteric deck, with hidden lines and convoluted combos that were hard to perform on Magic Online, so, when the deck went back to being a normal Flicker pile, it became more accessible and attracted more pilots (like me).

The most popular deck in this era is Stompy. I think that Stompy being popular in leagues is usually a good sign about format health, as it means that no deck is broken enough to be worth playing over the quick and consistent Stompy from the grinder’s point of view. But this is probably an oversimplification of how things work.

From the release of Commander Legends (Nov 18, 2020) to the banning of Fall From Favor (Jan 14, 2021)

Commander Legends was certainly one of the most impactful sets ever for Pauper. The set introduced many new cards that have shaped the format ever since they appeared, and in the first portion of the CMR season, the metagame was turned on its head.

Unsurprisingly, Fall from Favor greatly increased the blue tempo decks’ popularity, bringing them to an impressive total of 24.9% of the metagame. It was also tried with success in Affinity, but that didn’t stop Affinity from registering its lowest meta share in these two years. Experiments to put FFF in Elves, Familiars, Mono Black and other decks were also made, with less success. Faeries and Delver decks were the best shells for the card.

On the other hand, the cascade creatures made green-based Ponza decks become real contenders in the meta and gave birth to a new version of Walls. Cascade Walls and Ponza had an explosion in popularity, despite having bad Faeries and Delver matchups, likely because people simply loved playing those two brand new decks featuring cascade creatures. Between the cascade trend and the fact that blue decks had just got the cheapest monarch card of all times, midrange decks and Tron tanked in popularity.

At the same time, another old faerie predator had disappeared: Stompy. Stompy was very good against Fall from Favor and land destruction, especially, but not only, thanks to Quirion Ranger. My explanation for Stompy’s demise is that people were afraid of the newly printed Fiery Cannonade, even though the following months would’ve revealed that the card isn’t that big of an issue for Stompy in particular, which has a remarkable go-tall component.

With all these decks gone, it was up to Bogles and Heroic to try and keep faeries in check, so they increased in popularity.

From the banning of Fall From Favor’s (Jan 14, 2021) to the release of Modern Horizons 2 (June 3, 2021)

With the banning of Fall From Favor, the format reverted to a fairly normal shape, except for the fact that it was still under the influence of Commander Legends, which in this case was a positive influence in my opinion.

Ponza and Walls were redimensioned, but they kept their presence and role in the metagame, preventing  Tron from recovering its past glory (remember that I’m just talking about popularity here). Meanwhile, green-based cascade decks became the most popular kind of midrange in the format.

With Strixhaven’s release, blue-based control decks were turned into control-combo decks featuring Serpentine Curve, and a Goblin Combo deck featuring First Day of Class was born.

The Modern Horizons 2 meta (June 3, 2021 – today)

MH2 caused the biggest shakeup to date in the 2 years that we’re reviewing here.

Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens were banned in 2013, and no good Storm deck has existed ever since. Now, Chatterstorm has brought Storm to an astonishing 16.8% of meta share, beating by far the 9.7% that we registered for Stompy during the post-Sanctuary era, which was the highest number reached by a single deck yet. And yet, Affinity manages to be even more popular than that, with its 20.7%, thanks to Sojourner’s Companion and indestructible artifact duals. Dimir Delver and Dimir Faeries (total 12.6%) are considered to constitute together the third pillar of this format, but they aren’t nearly as popular as Storm or Affinity.

The only other deck that has experienced substantial growth is Jeskai Ephemerate, which has finally found a new way to fix its mana through Cleansing Wildfire, thanks to the new indestructible dual lands. An honorable mention goes to Soul Sisters, which was rediscovered after the release of Adventure in the Forgotten Realms, thanks to Celestial Unicorn. It isn’t popular enough to appear in the chart, but it went from 0% to 1.8%, which is a very good accomplishment, even though it probably isn’t going to last for long.

Every other deck shrunk, or simply disappeared because it can’t keep up with one or more among the three format pillars; the most glaring example being Stompy, which used to be the most popular deck just in the previous meta, and is now reduced to a humble 0.6%. By the way, most of its sightings come from the early stages of the new metagame. The current situation is likely even worse for Stompy.

My takeaway is that if there have been times where you could enter a league hoping to dodge the best deck, this is not one of them. You can’t enter a league with a nice deck that loses to Storm or Affinity, willing to accept the loss if I run into it, because expecting to have a good result would be unrealistic, given those decks’ omnipresence.

I will admit that this meta has one positive element, which is how the matchups between the three top decks are very balanced, unlike the matchups between the three old pillars of the Sanctuary era, which were quite polarized. But at the same time, the gap between tier 1 decks and tier 2 decks has never been so wide, and too many decks have disappeared. The situation is ridiculous and I’m sure that action will be taken as soon as someone at Wizards of the Coast will seriously look into it.

I would also like to point out that Faeries is the only archetype that keeps being a top strategy over the years, despite regularly receiving bans and powerful cards being printed for other archetypes. While banning Chatterstorm is the priority, I honestly think that banning something from the blue tempo decks is more important than banning something from Affinity. Enough about bans though. The aim of this article is just to provide some context for the data, and meta share alone doesn’t provide sufficient information to seriously talk about format health.

Section 2: Deck Categorization

As I mentioned, I’ve gathered data from different people. Of course, each one of them had their way to classify decks, like I have mine. So, for the purpose of this roundup, I had to translate everything into a coherent system. I opted for having broad concepts, rather than minute distinctions, mainly for two reasons: (1) it makes the data more readable, and (2) it lowers the chances of running into data that can’t be translated. For example, let’s say that I consider Jeskai Affinity a different deck from Grixis Affinity; then, I run into some data that only mentions “Affinity”. How do I translate it?

On the other hand, the archetypes couldn’t be too broad, as that would have resulted in a loss of critical information: it’s a tough balance.

These are the most relevant choices that I’ve made:

Affinity” includes every version of Affinity, regardless of what colors they play. But it doesn’t include metalcraft decks like Brute Squad, which have their own category, that you don’t see simply because they never reached 2% of meta share.

Izzet Faeries” includes both the classic version and the one that runs Delver of Secrets in addition to the faerie package. Dimir Faeries is distinct from Izzet, and Dimir Delver (which includes Dimir Angler) is distinct from Dimir Faeries, because:

  • They are more established decks compared to the countless versions of Affinity or other archetypes (is the Affinity that splashes black for Deadly Dispute as Grixis as the one that splashes for Disciple of the Vault?).
  • It’s interesting to see the different behaviors of these decks in different metagames.
  • I had the option to do so. Everybody distinguishes them when they track their matches. There is only one exception to this statement. Apas72 didn’t make any distinction between Dimir Faeries and Dimir Delver in the FFF era (only in that period). So I had to artificially split his Dimir category in Faeries and Delver, with a 60-40 proportion based on data from the other 3 sources about that time frame.

Stompy” includes both the classic version and the Bayou Groff aristocrats-ish version.

Black Midrange” means “black-based midrange decks” and it includes things like Mono Black Devotion, Rakdos Midrange and even things like Mono Black Corrupt, even if it isn’t a midrange deck strictly speaking, but it doesn’t include Pestilence. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve grouped Mono Black Corrupt with Pestilence, but don’t worry: I can assure you that it wouldn’t have changed much, as Mono Black Corrupt has always been almost inexistent.

Elves” includes both the Simic and the mono green version.

Mono Blue Delver” includes various versions of the deck, like the one with Quandrix Pledgemage and even some other weird variations, more focused on the beatdown plan.

Boros Monarch” includes both the classic version and the ones that splash black to any degree.

Bully” includes some other white-based fringe token strategies in addition to the classic version, but it’s distinct from White Weenie.

Blue Control” includes Goblin Wizardry decks, Serpentine Curve decks, Mystical Teachings decks, Mono Blue deserts and other blue-based control decks. It also includes Rat-lock. I was hesitant about including a Flicker deck in this category, but at the end of the day, to belong to this category, it doesn’t matter too much which endgame you choose, as long as you execute a control gameplan.

Pestilence” includes both the midrange version with Kor Skyfisher and the Control version with Pristine Talisman.

Walls” includes both the Combo and the Cascade versions. This decision is probably the one that bothers me the most, as these two decks have fairly different game plans and matchup spreads. But I wasn’t always able to distinguish the two archetypes in the raw data, and Combo Walls is basically extinct anyways since the printing of the Cascade creatures.

Familiars” includes both the classic Azorius version and the one that splashes for red, as well as the Rainbow version with Utopia Sprawl.

Green Ponza” includes every green-based land destruction strategy, from mono green to Jund, but the most common one is Gruul.

Green Cascade Midrange” includes all the green-based cascade piles, like Jund, Gruul or Sultai.

Storm” includes all versions of Storm with Chatterstorm as win condition. But keep in mind that the Izzet version, the Gruul version and the Rakdos version with Street Wraith are all extinct, and the overwhelming majority of Storm decks is made by the Rakdos Relay version.

Jeskai Ephemerate” includes a few blue-based Ephemerate piles, such as Geskai, with Kor Skyfisher and Abundant Growth, but the most common version is the one with indestructible duals and Cleansing Wildfire.

Analisi Metagame & Spunti

Analisi Metagame & Spunti

Articolo di Bragioto Pietro

Panoramica

Farseek

Prima di cimentarmi in questa impresa dell’analisi meta ed in quella ancora più ardua di dare spunti interessanti e utili, vorrei ricapitolarvi per l’ennesima volta i grandi cambiamenti dell’ultimo periodo:

  1. Nazi-ban della trinità free: Gush, Daze e Gitaxian Probe ci hanno abbandonati;
  2. Modern Horizons i ha regalato quel giocattolino di Arcuum’s Astrolabe;
  3. Ephemerate si è rivelata più di una carta da draft con il power-up di un’espansione “master”.

Come avevo ampiamente previsto, i ban unilaterali hanno letteramente tagliato fuori dal meta la fetta di Tempo.deck e Combo; prima probabilmente troppo presenti ed ora inesistenti o comunque resi inermi.
Senza Gush e Daze, Mono U retrocesso a Tier 3, ottimisticamente Tier 2; per non parlare dei combo deck come UR Kiln o UW Tribe che senza l’aiuto di un getto d’acqua vanno davvero poco lontano.
L’unico che può avere ancora delle concrete speranze è UR Delver perchè non è mai stato un tempo e può trovare soluzioni abbastanza convincenti per rimpiazzare Gush, come Accumulated Knowledge, Phantom Seer, Deep Analysis o Rain of Revelation.

Mono U, Mezzel, 2nd Place Pauper Challenge, 11 Agosto

Creatures (20)
Augur of Bolas
Delver of Secrets
Faerie Miscreant
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Spellstutter Sprite
Spire Golem

Sorceries (8)
Ponder
Preordain

Instants (14)
Counterspell
Force Spike
Mutagenic Growth
Snap
Lands (18)
18 Snow-Covered Island

Sideboard (15)
Annul
Coral Net
Dispel
Gut Shot
Hydroblast
Relic of Progenitus

Qualcuno potrebbe obbiettare che nell’ultima challenge Mezzel ha ottenuto un ottimo secondo posto con il suo Mono U Delver, vero ma bisogna contestualizzare.
Mezzel, nonostante abbia le mani e sia uno dei migliori player che potrete trovare nello zoo di MTGO, dai Ban anti-blu in poi, nelle Challenge ha fatto mediamente risultati abbastanza mediocri per uno come lui abituato alla vetta della competizione.
Anche se nell’ultima Challenge si sono allineati gli astri per il suo Mono U, i suoi risultati dell’ultimo periodo sono da imputare alla scelta del suo pet deck di sempre, non certamente alle sue abilità come player.
Tradotto: Mono U è una scelta che, anche se spika in un singolo torneo, nel medio periodo under-performa in questo meta.

Con Arcuum’s Astrolabe ed Ephemerate sono avvenute svariate rivoluzioni al meta che avrete sicuramente colto giocando qualche torneo oppure leggendo uno degli innumerevoli articoli sull’ artefattino fixante; l’essenziale può essere ridotto in 2 punti:

  1. Tron riesce ad imporre il miglior late game del formato, a patto di non essere troppo disturbato da counter e reliquie;
  2. Jeskai sembra essere diventato de facto la miglior scelta tra i Midrange, non sembra avere senso giocare altro come Boros o MBC.

 

Analisi Metagame

Curious Homunculus

Nel seguente grafico a torta, vi propongo gli archetipi più performanti nelle Pauper Challenge di MTGO che, nonostante i loro mille difetti, purtroppo sono l’unica fonte consistente di dati.
A costo di suscitare qualche polemica non prenderò nè la top 16 nè la top 8, prenderò solo gli archetipi che sono andati X-1 o X-0 in svizzera: non ha senso includere i pochi X-2 che sono entrati in top 8 per Rating e non ha senso partire dagli X-2 in poi perchè si avrebbe un numero di dati eccessivo e poco significativo.

Pendendo il risultato dell’ultimo mese e mezzo di Challenge, ossia tutte quelle dopo il Pauper Playoff del 1° Luglio, emergono i seguenti mazzi con X-1 o X-0:

  • 8 Jeskai;
  • 3 Stonehorn Tron;
  • 3 Affinity;
  • 3 Stompy;
  • 2 Teachings Tron;
  • 2 RDW;
  • 1 W Heroic aka Pisellini;
  • 1 Mono U;
  • 1 Elfi;
  • 1 UR Faeries;
  • 1 G tron.

Prima perdonate il grafico basic da scuola media, poi passiamo a raggruppare, in maniera grossolana ma efficace, il tutto in macro-archetipi: anche se non del tutto corretto ho incluso Affinity, Heroic ed Aura tra gli Aggro, ho considerato UR Faeries come un Midrange perchè quel mazzo non è assolutamente un tempo.deck come Mono U Delver, quindi nella zona “Altro” rientreranno Elfi e UR Faeries.

Con questi due grafici a torta in mente, posso fare le seguenti considerazioni:

Tempo e Combo in estinzione

la riprova di ciò che ho affermato sopra nel freddo mondo dei numeri, la parte ironica di tutto ciò è che questo sarebbe il meta ideale per un buon combo, ossia abbondanza di Trono, Midrange senza troppe removal o Prismatic Strands ed Aggro; a quanto pare i ban li hanno indeboliti così tanto da renderli ridicoli anche nel meta ideale.
.
Si continueranno a provare UR Kiln con Manamorphose o UW Tribe con Whiteout, personalmente spero in un ritorno dall’esilio di almeno uno dei due mazzi, il meta ne ha bisogno e molti player sentono la mancanza della loro poesia, il sottoscritto incluso.
L’unico a non sentire la loro mancanza è Tron che diventa di giorno in giorno sempre più greedy.

Il monarca spodestato

Jeskay sembra essersi affermato come la prima scelta fra i vari Midrange e sembra che i vecchi monarch.deck come Boros, Rakdos o MBC non riescano a reggere l’astro dei tricolor che unisce la manipolazione ed i Counterspell del Blu alla scuola Sasso into Sasso del Bianco, con una spruzzata di loop e botti.
D’altra parte se un Midrange riesce a calare piccioni più rapidamente che in passato grazie ad Astrolabio, non abbandonando un buon late grazie a Mulldrifter ed Ephemerate, è davvero dura per la concorrenza tenere il passo sperando di rubare le partite di monarca.
Jeskay sembra l’unico Midrange a non soccombere di default dalla minaccia del Trono, riuscendo ad opporre un valido piano fatto di Value, Counter e Reliquie.
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Ho sempre il dubbio che possa essere soltanto una moda e che i vecchi Monarch deck possano ancora dire la loro con un apposito setting, ma i risultati su MTGO prendono a schiaffi questa teoria mettendomi di fronte un bel 0 risultati utili in 6 Challenge.
Vedremo se il tempo farà appassire definitivamente questo dubbio o se qualche pilota di Boros o Pestilence riuscirà a far risbocciare la corona, una corona probabilmente Mardu in quanto Boros potrebbe ricorrere al servizio di Okiba-Gang Shinobi e Peste potrebbe tingersi di rosso per Pyroblast, Faithless Looting e Skred.
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Burn, fiamma domata?

0, ancora questo numero inequivocabile.
Questa volta stiamo parlando delle presenze di Burn, verrebbe da domandarsi il perchè della crisi di un mazzo che comunque continua ad essere giocato con consistenza nelle Challenge al contrario di Boros e Peste.
.
Burn sta storicamente bene da Tron, Midrange ed Elfi e fatica un pelo da Aura, Affo o aggro troppo spinti come Stompy ed RDW.
Il Mu contro Teachings Tron non è più così positivo come un tempo a causa di Atrolabio che velocizza la build in early ma soprattutto per colpa di Weather the Storm, carta che già di main capovolge i conti dell’onesto piromane.
Contro Jeskay torno a pensare che Burn sia un favorito nel complesso, Curse of the Pierced Hearth è la chiave del MU ma restano ovviamente un problema una possibile concentrazione troppo alta di Counter ed Hydro avversari in early, inoltre resta proibitivo battere tech come Aven Riftwatcher o Navigator’s Compass.
Il Mu contro Stompy peggiora a causa di Savage Swipe che impedisce molte vittorie di Thermo-Alchemist e contro RDW si rimane degli underdog perchè lui è 1/2 Turni più veloce.
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Inoltre in ogni meta, i giocatori di MTGO tendono a fare side settate contro Aura e Burn; vuoi perchè i più detestano perdere da questi mazzi, vuoi perchè si hanno a disposizione le sidate più devastanti contro questi archetipi, fatto sta che su MTGO dovete aspettarvi side avversarie sempre sature di odio contro i piromani e gli amanti degli zainetti.
Il problema sempreverde di fondo consiste nel fatto che Burn sia sempre un bimbo inerme contro l’hate avversario non avendo a disposizione effetti anti-lifegain e anti-prevenzione come Skullcrack o Flames of the Blood Hand; non sono un giocatore abituale di Burn ma spero davvero in un downgrade o di una stampa funzionale in questa direzione.

 

Aggro alla ribalta

Stompy e RDW stanno vivendo una vera e propria rinascita post ban: Jeskay non è un mazzo perfetto ad è davvero carente di un buon numero di removal come il vecchio Boros, se si riescono a gestire Kor Skyfisher ed eventuali Seeker of the Way con botti o Savage Swipe, la strada è in discesa.
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Il vero problema di questi mazzi si chiama Stonehorn Tron, mazzo che presenta 6 nebbie di main delle quali 2 flshbackabili e 4 con le gambe pronti ad essere flickerati o effimerati; mentre Tron normale rimane un MU giocato e tutt’altro che impossibile salvo loop in anticipo sulla tabella di marcia.
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Anche Aura e Pisellini si confermano predatori di Jeskay, essendo mazzi resilienti a Skred e difficili da interagire senza una sidata specifica;  Aura, grazie alle maggiori possibilità di splash per Astrolabio e per fronteggiare meglio Tron, ha incominciato ad adottare 2 Fling come slot fisso MD affiancati da qualche Dispel post side che nell’ultima Challenge sono addirittura stati spostati nel main!
Personalmente non riesco a capire perchè si utilizzi il pacchetto Kor skyfisher e Glint Hawk in un mazzo che fa della linearità e non interattività la sua forza; vero che Astrolabio permette di splashare e porta a 8 i target utili a Kor con le Abundant Growth, ma è altrettando vero che Kor è un diluzione del piano originale e che Astrolabio è rimpiazzabile dalle ben più sinergiche Unbridled Growth.
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RDW
è sempre stato il predatore di Teachings Tron e con i suoi numerosi botti riesce a gestire Kor e Seeker il più delle volte; resta un mazzo fragile con creature davvero subottimali ma è senz’altro uno dei mazzi che ha guadagnato maggiormente da questo Astro-meta.

Stompy by _DissonancE_, 1st Place Pauper Challenge, 4 Agosto

Creatures (24)
Burning-Tree Emissary
Nest Invader
Nettle Sentinel
Quirion Ranger
River Boa
Silhana Ledgewalker
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
Vault Skirge

Sorceries (4)
Savage Swipe

Instants (7)
Hunger of the Howlpack
Vines of Vastwood

Enchantments (7)
Elephant Guide
Rancor
Lands (18)
18 Forest

Sideboard (15)
Epic Confrontation
Feed the Clan
Gleeful Sabotage
Gut Shot
Serene Heart
Weather the Storm

Astro Aura by PauloCabrar_BR, 2nd Place Pauper Challenge, 4 Agosto

Creatures (14)
Gladecover Scout
Heliod’s Pilgrim
Kor Skyfisher
Silhana Ledgewalker
Slippery Bogle

Instants (2)
Fling

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Enchantments (22)
Abundant Growth
Ancestral Mask
Armadillo Cloak
Ethereal Armor
Rancor
Utopia Sprawl
Lands (18)
Crumbling Vestige
Khalni Garden
12 Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Plains

Sideboard (15)
Fling
Cartouche of Ambition
Crimson Acolyte
Dispel
Electrickery
Gorilla Shaman
Lifelink
Standard Bearer

RDW, TopGrinder, 1st Place Pauper Challenge, 12 Agosto

Creature (33)
Burning-Tree Emissary
Foundry Street Denizen
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Cohort
Goblin Heelcutter
Jackal Familiar
Mogg Conscripts
Mudbrawler Cohort
Valley Dasher

Instant (4)
Lightning Bolt

Land (17)
17 Mountain

Sorcery (6)
Chain Lightning
Goblin Grenade
Sideboard (15)
Gorilla Shaman
Sparksmith
Electrickery
Flaring Pain
Flame Slash

Se fate parte della folta schiera dei seguaci Jeskay, vi do’ un prezioso consiglio: non concentratevi eccessivamente sul Mirror e Tron scendendo troppo di removal MD, 6 penso sia il numero giusto per questo tipo di slot; non tralasciate nella vostra side carte come Swirling Sandstorm e cominciate ad adottare un sano 2x di Journey to Nowhere, so che solitamente non è una carta da side ma copre davvero tanti punti deboli del mazzo, dalle creature sotto steroidi di Stompy, River Boa in primis, ai manzi spesso ingestibili di Affinity.
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Una prateria per Affo

se in quel di MTGO non si fanno mai trovare sprovveduti di fronte a Burn e Aura, lo stesso non si può dire dell’hate contro Affo che non viene quasi considerato tanto che Gorilla Shaman è un animale in via d’estinzione.
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Uniamo questa scarsità di hate con il fatto che i Midrange hanno abbandonato carte come Journey to Nowhere e Prismatic Strands, tutto questo dipinge una prateria che consente a quello stallone di Affo di scorrazzare in libertà.
Per fronteggiare Tron si è aumentato il numero di Fling che attualmente gira attorno ai 3 e si continua a giocare la versione Aggro di Affo spruzzata talvolta con Metallic Rebuke sempre per il discorso Tron; specialmente nelle versioni che spingono maggiormente verso l’aggro, Affinity rimane il peggior nemico di se stesso.
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A quanto pare oltreoceano non è ancora arrivata la rivoluzione di Affo Monsters, va detto comunque che stanno cominciando ad apprezzare una versione distorta di Atogshift con gli Astrolabi, arrivata addirittura 2 volte in Top8 nelle ultime Challenge.


Astro Atogshift by N3nne, 6th Place Pauper Challenge, 4 Agosto

Creatures (8)
Atog
Gearseeker Serpent

Sorceries (4)
Thoughtcast

Instants (14)
Fling
Galvanic Blast
Muddle the Mixture
Perilous Research
Temur Battle Rage

Artifacts (15)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Chromatic Star
Ichor Wellspring
Prophetic Prism
Relic of Progenitus
Lands (19)
Darksteel Citadel
Great Furnace
Seat of the Synod
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain

Sideboards (15)
Ancient Grudge
Dispel
Electrickery
Hydroblast
Krark-Clan Shaman
Pyroblast
Ray of Revelation
Red Elemental Blast

Affinity by GALL, 1st Place Pauper Challenge, 7 Luglio

Creatures (17)
Atog
Carapace Forger
Frogmite
Gearseeker Serpent
Myr Enforcer

Sorceries (4)
Thoughtcast

Instants (10)
Fling
Galvanic Blast
Metallic Rebuke
Perilous Research
Temur Battle Rage

Artifacts (12)
Chromatic Star
Flayer Husk
Prophetic Prism
Springleaf Drum
Lands (17)
Darksteel Citadel
Great Furnace
Seat of the Synod
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers

Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Dispel
Electrickery
Hydroblast
Krark-Clan Shaman
Pyroblast
Ray of Revelation
Reaping the Graves

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Tron in testa ma diviso

Nonostante il clock spesso opprimente su MTGO, Tron si conferma uno dei 2 top dog assieme a Jeskay, tuttavia lo ritroviamo diviso, non tra Astrolabio e Lifelands perchè su MTGO spopola il primo, ma tra Stonehorn Dignitary e Mystical Teachings.
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La versione Stonehorn ha come capofila il player Hellsau che è riuscito a far ben 2 piazzamenti degni di statistica; essenzialmente questa versione non gioca manipolazione all’infuori di una monocopia di Compulsive Research, suppongo per un eventuale piano mill, e non vuole l’aiuto di Mystical Teachings preferendo andare all in sul piano loop con ben 4 Ghostly Flicker e 2 Ephemerate.
Qualche lista può anche giocare il mono Teachings, resta comunque il fatto che i suoi target da tutorare sono meno della versione normale e giocate molto come Teachings per Teachings oppure Teachings per Forbidden Alchemy restano delle perfette sconosciute.
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Rispetto alle liste tradizionali, avendo pochissima manipolazione e meno mappe, fatica di più a chiudere Tron o a reggere Mirror e counter avversari, vivendo spesso al topdeck quando qualcosa non va per il verso giusto in maniera naturale o quando l’interazione avversaria è troppa a livello di Counter e reliquie; in compenso, questa incarnazione del trittico si mangia letteralmente gli aggro deck ed è la migliore a mettere in atto un loop se lasciata indisturbata.
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Interessanti anche le vecchie versioni di “Mono” G Tron che fanno della brutalità la loro arma vincente: la parte loop del metagame, ossia Jeskay e Tron, è molto suscettibile ad Ulamog’s Crusher, con 4 Fangren Marauder siamo al sicuro da Affinity ed abbiamo chance da Burn, dulcis in fundo Delver e Combo sono in estinzione quindi non sono più un problema.
Il mio punto di domanda principale è come questo mazzo possa gestire mazzi Aggro, Aura ed Elfi, di main certamente è sotto e di side deve mettere a punto una buona sidata per recuperare terreno.
Tutto considerato si tratta di un buon metacall se il vostro meta atteso sia in gran parte Loop ed Affinity, se riuscite a raddrizzare i Mu senza speranza di Main può rivelarsi una scelta inattesa e vincente per i vostri futuri tornei; personalmente virererei più verso la vecchia versione con 4 Ulamog’s Crusher, 4 Crop Rotation e 3 Fierce Empath come collante per tutorare il bestione giusto per il MU.

 

Stonehorn Tron by Hellsau, 3rd Place Pauper Challenge, 28 Luglio

Creatures (15)
Dinrova Horror
Mnemonic Wall
Mulldrifter
Stonehorn Dignitary
Trinket Mage

Sorcery (1)
Compulsive Research

Instants (13)
Condescend
Dispel
Ephemerate
Ghostly Flicker
Moment’s Peace
Mystical Teachings
Prohibit
Pulse of Murasa

Artifacts (10)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Expedition Map
Prophetic Prism
Lands (21)
Ash Barrens
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower

Sideboards (15)
Dinrova Horror
Moment’s Peace
Gut Shot
Hydroblast
Lone Missionary
Pyroblast
Shattering Pulse

Teachings Tron, Modern_Monkey, 4th Place Pauper Challenge, 12 Agosto

Creatures (10)
Dinrova Horror
Mnemonic Wall
Mulldrifter
Stonehorn Dignitary
Trinket Mage

Instants (16)
Capsize
Counterspell
Dispel
Ephemerate
Forbidden Alchemy
Ghostly Flicker
Impulse
Moment’s Peace
Mystical Teachings
Prohibit
Pulse of Murasa
Weather the Storm

Artifacts (11)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Expedition Map
Prophetic Prism
Lands (23)
Cave of Temptation
Mortuary Mire
Snow-Covered Island
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower

Sideboard (15)
Stonehorn Dignitary
Dispel
Moment’s Peace
Ancient Grudge
Hydroblast
Pyroblast
Ulamog’s Crusher
Wretched Gryff

Teachings Tron, Modern_Monkey, 4th Place Pauper Challenge, 12 Agosto

Creatures: (16)
Fangren Marauder
Mulldrifter
Self-Assembler
Ulamog’s Crusher
Wretched Gryff

Sorceries (8)
Ancient Stirrings
Flame Slash
Rolling Thunder

Instant (1)
Crop Rotation

Artifacts (16)
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Expedition Map
Prophetic Prism
Lands (19)
Cave of Temptation
Haunted Fengraf
Rugged Highlands
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower

Sideboard (15)
Earth Rift
Electrickery
Leave No Trace
Relic of Progenitus
Weather the Storm

All hail Jeskai!

Non c’è dubbio: Jeskai esce da questa prima analisi come vincitore; indipendentemente dalla build sembra far sempre bene nelle Challenge riuscendo sempre a piazzare almeno una copia in top 8.
Ne stanno girando varie versioni: dalla versione Faeries che abbandona Glint Hawk, a quella con Augur of Bolas che va all in sul loop, ma secondo i risultati ed a mio avviso la migliore resta sempre quella con 8 piccioni e Seeker of the Way che cerca di imporre un buon clock contro Tron e di lenire la debolezza del mazzo agli aggro.
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Non c’è una netta distinzione tra le varie versioni perchè spesso si vedo degli ibridi, c’è ancora spazio per sperimentare, come ha dimostrato il nostrano Heisen01 portando in cima una particolare versione con l’aggiunta spicy di 2 Mystic Remora MD; Mirco Ciavatta non è l’unico a portare alto l’onore italiano nelle internazionali Challenge, ci hanno pensato anche Modern_Monkey alias Francesco Manzari con Jeskay Faeries e hjc alias Hermann Consiglio con Jeskay Seeker.

Jeskay seeker by hjc, 4th Place Pauper Challenge, 4 Agosto

Creatures (19)
Archaeomancer
Glint Hawk
Kor Skyfisher
Mulldrifter
Seeker of the Way
Trinket Mage

Sorceries (4)
Preordain

Instants (12)
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Ephemerate
Skred

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Enchantments (2)
Journey to Nowhere
Lands (19)
Ancient Den
Ash Barrens
Great Furnace
10 Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains

Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Electrickery
Hydroblast
Leave No Trace
Lone Missionary
Pyroblast
Relic of Progenitus
Standard Bearer
Swirling Sandstorm

Jeskay by Heisen01, 1st Place Pauper Challenge, 29 Luglio

Creatures (12)
Archaeomancer
Custodi Squire
Kor Skyfisher
Mulldrifter
Seeker of the Way

Sorceries (7)
Flame Slash
Ponder
Preordain

Instants (16)
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Ephemerate
Lightning Bolt
Remove Soul
Skred

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Enchantments (2)
Mystic Remora
Lands (19)
Ash Barrens
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains
Terramorphic Expanse

Sideboard (15)
Electrickery
Hydroblast
Oblivion Ring
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Relic of Progenitus
Swirling Sandstorm
Weather the Storm

Jeskai Faeries by Modern_Monkey, 4th Place Pauper Challenge, 21 Luglio

Creatures (16)
Archaeomancer
Faerie Seer
Kor Skyfisher
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Spellstutter Sprite

Sorceries (4)
Preordain

Instants (17)
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Ephemerate
Essence Scatter
Fire // Ice
Lightning Bolt
Skred

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Lands (19)
Ash Barrens
Evolving Wilds
10 Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains

Sideboard (15)
Electrickery
Flame Slash
Hydroblast
Leave No Trace
Pyroblast
Swirling Sandstorm

 

Extra Stats

Per chi fosse un nostalgico dei vecchi metodi ed avesse da ridire sulla mia scelta statistica degli X-1 come soglia, riporto anche i grafici a torta delle top8 che in queste ultime 6 Pauper Challenge hanno accolto:

  • 14 Jeskai;
  • 8 Tron (2 Teachings Tron, 2 Green Tron e 2 Stonehorn Tron);
  • 4 Affo (2 versioni normali e 2 Atogshift distorti);
  • 4 Astro-Aura;
  • 3 Stompy;
  • 3 RDW;
  • 2 Mono U;
  • 2 Elves;
  • 1 Astro Mappazzone di Giraffe;
  • 1 Familiar;
  • 1 UR Faeries;
  • 1 Burn;
  • 1 Boros Monarch;
  • 1 MBC;
  • 1 GW Tribe;
  • 1 W Heroic aka Pisellini.

La terza via mancante

Ponder

In questo meta sembrano esserci due vie: Aggro & Loop, mi stupisce ed un po’ mi rattrista che online nient’altro abbia successo, manca una terza via per bilanciare il meta.
Si stanno assistendo a degenerazioni come questa lista che gira ultimamente partorita dalla mente malata di quel genio di 420dragon: eccovi l’ennesima chimera, ossia Bant Ephemerate.

Bant Ephemerate by Joseph Hourani

Creatures (11)
Sunscape Familiar
Archaeomancer
Mulldrifter

Instants (11)
Snap
Weather the Storm
Memory Lapse
Ephemerate

Sorceries (15)
Ponder
Explore
Preordain
Temporal Spring

Artifacts (2)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Lands (21)
Evolving Wilds
Azorius Chancery
Simic Growth Chamber
Ash Barrens
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Plains
Snow-Covered Island

Sideboard (15)
Nature’s Chant
Relic of Progenitus
Weather the Storm
Dispel
Hydroblast
Seeker of the Way

Se volete provare qualcosa di diverso da queste due strade vi consiglio di andare tribale con elfi oppure riesumare UR Faeries trovando un setting ottimale; infine se come me non avete perso la speranza nella via della poesia, vi lascio come partenza questa reminiscienza piena di speranza.
Lei tornerà da me.
Preparatevi al ritorno della Tribù!