Post-Ban Pauper Predictions


A new year for Pauper means new bannings. The most recent targeted Affinity and Tron, and so the format's landscape will change once again. Of course, the old top dogs aren't done yet, but other contenders should play a larger role. We have a ton of decks from either camp to look at!

atog - munitions

There have been some big changes to the Pauper format recently. After a long period of Affinity dominance, one of the key cards of this archetype, Atog, was banned. In addition to this, Wizards preemptively aimed their guns at Five-Color Tron, banning Prophetic Prism and Bonder's Ornament. In this article, I want to share with you my predictions on how the format will look after the bans.

The Position of Tron and Affinity

How painful are the bans for these two archetypes? Affinity lost two cards that have always appeared in lists. In my estimation, we will now see many different approaches: a version of Temur returning to Carapace Forger and the old ways of "Big Affinity," Jeskai Metalcraft with Ardent Recruit and Auriok Sunchaser, and probably the most sensible one at the moment—Grixis with Deadly Dispute, Makeshift Munitions, and Disciple of the Vault. I've seen people trying to replace the Atog with Krark-Clan Grunt, Defiant Salvager, or even Glimmer Bairn. Well, don't. Makeshift Munitions is probably the best sacrifice outlet for Affinity right now, and the three mentioned before are not even close to its power.

The loss of Prophetic Prism and Bonder's Ornament might force Tron players to find other builds than those that went to five colors. One option might be to limit the colors to three. But if Tron players go Temur, they will lose Ephemerate and Stonehorn Dignitary. If they go into Bant, they will lose important sideboard cards like Fiery Cannonade and Pyroblast, as well as access to Rolling Thunder. They might want to completely change the approach and try to focus on playing large cascade creatures or use the storm mechanic via Galvanic Relay. History shows that Tron will always find a way, and I'm very curious to see how it will dominate the metagame this time.

Faeries, Monarch, Flicker, and Cascade

Weakening Affinity and Tron allows the metagame to be refreshed. Many of the format's strongest strategies and synergies remain intact, and this is a good time to bring them out again. I believe the most successful decks will be those that are built around or include one or more of the following elements: Faeries, monarch, flicker, and cascade. There are plentiful examples, and I expect them to compete by leaning toward more and more greedy combinations. Which of these will prove to be the best? We won't know until we see more results.

Where Is the Aggro?

Affinity was the strongest aggro deck for a long time, and it was hard to find a reason to play any other. Sometimes people chose Bogles, just because sideboards (and main decks) were stacked with Affinity hate, which gave our little potatoes a little bit of space. The specter of Tron giving up fogs and greedy decks infighting at the top could see the return of old strategies like Stompy or Heroic. They are not the strongest decks, but the speed they generate means that greedy decks do not have enough time to realize their theoretical advantage.

How About Combo?

Affinity was not only the best aggro deck but also the best at playing the combo game. Atog's ban leaves this seat vacant, and there are already several contenders gunning for it. First to come to mind are Moggwarts, Wonderwalls, and Storm, which still has supporters who are trying to put it together. Combo can replace aggro and hold greedy decks in check like Moggwarts, or join them and play as a combo-ramp strategy like Wonderwall does. The development of these archetypes is always a mystery, but I'm sure they will have their impact as the post-ban metagame takes shape.

It will certainly take some time for the metagame to settle and solidify. Now we're in for a tumultuous but exciting few weeks of multi-deck dominance battles. Let's just hope that the bans turn out to be effective and we actually see a refresh of the format!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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