The Pauper Metagame After Double Masters, in 3,673 Matches

PyotrPavel

Double Masters 2022 released on Magic Online in July and brought with it one of the most hyped downshifts in recent history: Monastery Swiftspear. Did it shake up the Pauper format? Was Affinity finally tamed? Let's explore these and other questions by analyzing 3,673 matches played between July and August!


pauper data - monastery swiftspear

Disclaimer and General Project Info

You can find clarifications on the naming of archetypes in Appendix 1: Deck Dictionary at the end of the article. There I list the cards normally seen in each deck and discuss some of the naming conventions, things like why Boros instead of R/W.

This data set was crowdsourced via players in the Pauper Leagues of Magic Online from July 1 to August 31, similar to the famous Challenge Projects of Vintage, Legacy, and Pauper. I received everyone's data and was tasked with the merging, organization, and treatment of it. Some players just sent decks, some also sent the results, but as the project evolves we hope more people will also start to share their results to improve our data. After everything was done, we had 3,673 matches. Of those, 2,044 were played during July and 1,629 in August. And from those played in August, we have 1,059 with win/loss information.

This neither comes from nor has any affiliation with Wizards of the Coast, and it does not offer a full picture of the metagame. Pauper Leagues range from 650 to 720+ players. Despite our sample size, averaging 59 matches a day, it is still only part of what happened on Magic Online during this time. Nonetheless, we believe the data may help highlight overall trends in the world of Pauper.

Note: Brazil is at UTC−3, and the many Brazilian players gathering the data usually play between morning and a couple of hours past midnight. Decks seen in Leagues from our 2:00/3:00 to 8:00 are seldom registered. Therefore the data may exhibit some level of bias toward the Brazilian time zone.

There can be duplicate data points of a deck being piloted by the same player in the same League, which shouldn't be treated as if it were two entries of the deck in two different Leagues. The player could have played only one League, thus five matches, on the same day or split them across several days. If said player matched with more than one of the folks tracking their data, we would have at least two data entries instead of one. However, the player may have instead played two Leagues (ten matches) with the same deck in a row, and in this case it makes sense to have multiple data points. I couldn't find a good way to differentiate between these scenarios. Therefore all entries are treated the same, meaning that a deck can unfortunately have extra entries. As we track more matches, it is reasonable to assume the sheer volume deem these situations negligible. As far as the win/loss results, I made sure to remove all the duplicates when they happened: If player A faced player B and both send me their data with that match, I registered it only once.

Metadata


July August
Starting date: 2022-07-01 2022-08-01
Final date: 2022-07-31 2022-08-31
Number of days: 31 31
Number of matches: 2,044 1,629
Unique decks: 65 + Rogue 58 + Rogue
Entries Day 1 to 10: 441 (21.58%) 545 (33.46%)
Entries Day 11 to 20: 811 (39.68%) 571 (35.05%)
Entries Day 21 to 31: 792 (38.75%) 513 (31.49%)

Introduction and Motivation


dark-dweller oracle militia bugler

Double Masters 2022 released on Magic Online on July 1 and brought many relevant downshifts to the Pauper format, such as Dark-Dweller Oracle, Izzet Charm, and Militia Bugler. However, the card that generated the most anxiety was, without a doubt, Monastery Swiftspear. All the cards mentioned caught people's attention as they were likely to find a home in well-established decks, and they did. But the Swiftspear addition was hyped to be the most impactful. Not just another one-drop, it was going to accelerate red decks to the point where everyone had to respect the new speed. It would surely slot into any build of Burn, and it could even breathe new air into forgotten decks, such as those running Kiln Fiend, either in the blue-red combination or strictly monocolored.

Curious to see how the meta would develop throughout the month of July, I asked everyone I knew to help me track deck appearances so I could paint a picture of the changes. The experiment was so successful that I again asked people for their data for the month of August, and I plan to repeat this with September. After treating all the 3,673 matches, some interesting patterns emerged. This article explores these patterns and the meta changes that occurred while the format adjusted to the powerful Monastery Swiftspear.


monastery swiftspear kiln fiend

I'm immensely thankful to everyone who helped, especially to those I didn't know beforehand, who joined later and trusted me with their data. Some players were already tracking their matches for themselves, others weren't and started because of this project. It also was tricky to get everyone to follow a standard of naming. I think everyone got acclimated to it by now, so the next metagame breakdowns will come earlier. But at the start they had to endure a lot of bothersome questions from me, going as far as having to watch the replays of their own games, so I could get the right classification.

For July we don't have any win rates, as it was already a lot to ask of players just to get the decks everyone was facing. However, by August the majority of players were also tracking their wins/losses, and we managed to have 65% of that month's data with this information.

Metagame Breakdown

I identified 65 unique decks for July and 58 for August, with August adding three new decks. A few of the decks submitted, ten in total, were too hard to classify or looked too experimental and thus received the "Rogue" label. Just to further justify the classification, these included a Bant deck with Serpentine Curve, and a Tron deck in black and red. These builds are far from what we normally see in the format and don't warrant the creation of another deck label.

In order to track the changes over time, I split the data for each month in three periods of ten days each, with the last one having one day extra, the 31th. Below I first focus on the month of July and then discuss August.

Breakdown for July 2022


Top 16 most played decks, July 2022
Top 16 most played decks, July 2022 (all charts via Flourish Studio)

You can find the table with all the decks as well as their meta share for each period at the end of this section. However, to make the analysis easier to follow, I want to highlight the Top 8 of the most played decks in each period.


Top 8 Most Played Decks, July 2022
Rank Day 1 to 10 Day 11 to 20 Day 21 to 31
1. Monored Burn 12.7% Monored Blitz 12.95% Monored Blitz 11.62%
2. Rakdos Burn 11.79% Rakdos Burn 9.25% Monoblue Faeries 8.96%
3. Monored Blitz 9.98% Monored Burn 8.51% Boros Synthesizer 8.59%
4. Monoblue Faeries 5.67% Boros Synthesizer 5.67% Rakdos Burn 6.06%
5. Boros Bully 4.99% W/B Pestilence 5.3% Grixis Affinity 5.3%
6. Boros Synthesizer 4.76% Monoblue Faeries 5.3% W/B Pestilence 5.05%
7. Auras 4.54% U/R Faeries 4.32% Monored Burn 4.92%
8. Ponza 4.54% U/B Faeries 4.07% U/R Faeries 4.04%

At the beginning of the month, specifically the first ten days, the most played decks were, in order: Monored Burn, Rakdos Burn, and Monored Blitz. Monastery Swiftspear showed up in all of them, except that not all Rakdos Burn builds incorporated it, but all the Burn and Blitz builds would pack a full set. Everyone wanted to play with the new card, and it made perfect sense to choose these decks. Swiftspear fits the strategy and all these decks already existed in some capacity. The real question was: Which of these decks would prove the best home for the card?

Throughout the month of June, thus before Double Masters, Rakdos Burn was a pretty popular deck! The player Bernardocssa won a Challenge and Showcase with it. So it made complete sense for the deck to be popular again throughout July, with the added bonus of being a red deck that could potentially use, despite not being the obvious choice for, Monastery Swiftspear. Not only that, the deck is notoriously good against other Burn decks, potentially enjoying an edge in the Swiftspear mirrors! Vampire's Kiss or Alms of the Vein used to trump the opposing burn capabilities, but is that enough healing power to match the added velocity of Swiftspear in Monored Burn? And can the deck survive the insanely faster starts of Blitz decks?

From Day 11 to Day 20 it was the same triad of most played decks, however in the order of Monored Blitz, Rakdos Burn, and Monored Burn. So it seems Blitz won the race for Swiftspear's favor, at least during this period. Burn was outclassed, and Rakdos Burn still kept some proeminence but lost relevance. If we look at the development of the meta—see next chart—we see a sharp decline in the presence of those two and an increase in Monored Blitz, only losing some meta share in the final days of the month, which seems natural as the meta adapts to it. Keep in mind that the Pauper format has access to powerful anti-red cards in the form of Hydroblast and Blue Elemental Blast, so it doesn't take that much to adapt, and decks can try to cheese wins by putting a set of each, eight cards, into the sideboard.

By Day 20 it is safe to assume everyone realized the true home of Monastery Swiftspear was the Monored Blitz deck. By that point the meta share lost by the other two decks amounted to 4.19% (Burn) and 2.54% (Rakdos Burn) while Blitz gained 2.97%! By the end of the month everyone lost even more participation in the meta. Only Blitz remained with a net positive in relation to the beginning of the month, and not just that, it still remained the most played deck by the end of July!


Meta share of decks with Monastery Swiftspear, July 2022
Meta share of decks with Monastery Swiftspear, July 2022

From Day 20 to Day 31 the most played decks were: Monored Blitz, Monoblue Faeries, and Boros Synthesizer. You can see the development of these three decks confronted with the other three top decks of the other periods below. The first twenty days were mostly focused on Swiftspear, likely due to the novelty as everyone wanted to play with the card. However, as Blitz kept putting up numbers, it became clear there was a lot of merit to the card and deck. Novelty alone can't justify those numbers. Worthwhile to note, some of the Boros Synthesizer builds were running Monastery Swiftspear themselves, and some were running the Gates package (the payoff of which is Basilisk Gate). So far it is undecided which version is stronger, or if all versions will converge. There remains some brewing potential going forward.


Meta Share of the top three decks of each period, July 2022
Meta Share of the top three decks of each period, July 2022

Lastly I want to discuss the role of Grixis Affinity in the format. Considering the results in the Challenges and Showcases, with the deck constantly overperforming and frequently among those with the highest win rates (according to the data of the Pauper Challenge Project) while being the most played and most targeted deck in these events, it seems the deck is (or was) underplayed in Leagues.

The question many seasoned players had was if the downshift of Monastery Swiftspear was enough to tame the power of Affinity. On one hand, the artifact deck was traditionally weak to Burn strategies. On the other, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty gave the deck a new tool in Reckoner's Bargain, which paired nicely with its game plan and allowed the player to gain easily between 4 to 7 life with Frogmite and Myr Enforcer. Despite this printing, some builds of Affinity were not respecting Burn enough and weren't maximizing the Bargain. What's more, the madness engine of Rakdos Burn coupled with Kitchen Imp meant this variation of Burn was a serious threat to the builds of Affinity popular throughout June up to mid-July.

But looking at the changes at the end of July and after the first big events of August, it seems Affinity switched to using extra interaction in the form of Metallic Rebuke and maximizing Reckoner's Bargain. By the end of July, according to the crowdsourced data, the deck was trending up! During the first ten days it was the tenth most played deck, but by the end of the month it was the fifth! No other deck climbed as much during this time.

You can examine and further explore the trends for July by selecting additional decks in the following embed (via Flourish Studio).


Gathered Meta, July 2022
Deck Day 1 to 10 Day 11 to 20 Day 21 to 31 Total
Monored Blitz 44 (9.98%) 105 (12.95%) 92 (11.62%) 241 (11.79%)
Rakdos Burn 52 (11.79%) 75 (9.25%) 48 (6.06%) 175 (8.56%)
Monored Burn 56 (12.7%) 69 (8.51%) 38 (4.8%) 163 (7.97%)
Monoblue Faeries 25 (5.67%) 43 (5.3%) 71 (8.96%) 139 (6.8%)
Boros Synthesizer 21 (4.76%) 46 (5.67%) 68 (8.59%) 135 (6.6%)
W/B Pestilence 14 (3.17%) 43 (5.3%) 40 (5.05%) 97 (4.75%)
U/R Faeries 17 (3.85%) 35 (4.32%) 32 (4.04%) 84 (4.11%)
Grixis Affinity 17 (3.85%) 23 (2.84%) 42 (5.3%) 82 (4.01%)
Boros Bully 22 (4.99%) 30 (3.7%) 28 (3.54%) 80 (3.91%)
U/B Faeries 20 (4.54%) 33 (4.07%) 23 (2.9%) 76 (3.72%)
Ponza 20 (4.54%) 29 (3.58%) 26 (3.28%) 75 (3.67%)
Auras 20 (4.54%) 22 (2.71%) 29 (3.66%) 71 (3.47%)
W/U Familiars 10 (2.27%) 17 (2.1%) 19 (2.4%) 46 (2.25%)
Monoblack Control 10 (2.27%) 16 (1.97%) 16 (2.02%) 42 (2.05%)
Caw Gates 0 (0%) 15 (1.85%) 22 (2.78%) 37 (1.81%)
Monowhite Heroic 7 (1.59%) 21 (2.59%) 6 (0.76%) 34 (1.66%)
Moggwarts 5 (1.13%) 19 (2.34%) 9 (1.14%) 33 (1.61%)
Jeskai Wildfire 7 (1.59%) 6 (0.74%) 18 (2.27%) 31 (1.52%)
Elves 6 (1.36%) 14 (1.73%) 10 (1.26%) 30 (1.47%)
G/U Turbo Fog 6 (1.36%) 10 (1.23%) 8 (1.01%) 24 (1.17%)
Gates Soup 1 (0.23%) 6 (0.74%) 16 (2.02%) 23 (1.13%)
Tron (Eggs) 4 (0.91%) 11 (1.36%) 7 (0.88%) 22 (1.08%)
Aristocrats 3 (0.68%) 9 (1.11%) 9 (1.14%) 21 (1.03%)
Monowhite Aggro 3 (0.68%) 10 (1.23%) 8 (1.01%) 21 (1.03%)
Monogreen Stompy 5 (1.13%) 4 (0.49%) 11 (1.39%) 20 (0.98%)
Cycle Storm 5 (1.13%) 6 (0.74%) 8 (1.01%) 19 (0.93%)
Monored Deck Wins 2 (0.45%) 11 (1.36%) 3 (0.38%) 16 (0.78%)
U/B Angler 4 (0.91%) 5 (0.62%) 6 (0.76%) 15 (0.73%)
W/U Evoke 0 (0%) 8 (0.99%) 6 (0.76%) 14 (0.68%)
Jund Pile 3 (0.68%) 3 (0.37%) 7 (0.88%) 13 (0.64%)
U/B Delver 3 (0.68%) 5 (0.62%) 4 (0.51%) 12 (0.59%)
Rainbow Gates 0 (0%) 6 (0.74%) 4 (0.51%) 10 (0.49%)
U/R Blitz 4 (0.91%) 4 (0.49%) 2 (0.25%) 10 (0.49%)
Monoblack Burn 2 (0.45%) 3 (0.37%) 4 (0.51%) 9 (0.44%)
Tron (Monsters) 0 (0%) 3 (0.37%) 6 (0.76%) 9 (0.44%)
Walls 3 (0.68%) 3 (0.37%) 3 (0.38%) 9 (0.44%)
Infect 5 (1.13%) 2 (0.25%) 0 (0%) 7 (0.34%)
U/R Control 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 5 (0.63%) 7 (0.34%)
Monoblack Khalni Dispute 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 6 (0.76%) 6 (0.29%)
Rogue Deck 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 6 (0.76%) 6 (0.29%)
TortEx 1 (0.23%) 4 (0.49%) 1 (0.13%) 6 (0.29%)
Zoo Beatdown 1 (0.23%) 3 (0.37%) 2 (0.25%) 6 (0.29%)
Mardu Pile 1 (0.23%) 2 (0.25%) 2 (0.25%) 5 (0.24%)
Monoblack Land Destruction 0 (0%) 5 (0.62%) 0 (0%) 5 (0.24%)
Soul Sisters 1 (0.23%) 3 (0.37%) 1 (0.13%) 5 (0.24%)
Tron (Flicker) 3 (0.68%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 5 (0.24%)
W/U Tribe 0 (0%) 4 (0.49%) 1 (0.13%) 5 (0.24%)
Mardu Affinity 3 (0.68%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.13%) 4 (0.2%)
G/W Tethmos 0 (0%) 3 (0.37%) 1 (0.13%) 4 (0.2%)
Rainbow Familiars 1 (0.23%) 1 (0.12%) 2 (0.25%) 4 (0.2%)
Boros Heroic 0 (0%) 3 (0.37%) 0 (0%) 3 (0.15%)
W/B Ephemerate 0 (0%) 1 (0.12%) 2 (0.25%) 3 (0.15%)
Monoblack Aggro 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 3 (0.38%) 3 (0.15%)
Monoblack Zombies 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 1 (0.13%) 3 (0.15%)
Monogreen Ramp 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 1 (0.13%) 3 (0.15%)
U/B Control 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 1 (0.13%) 3 (0.15%)
Rakdos Pile 1 (0.23%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.13%) 2 (0.1%)
Temur Pile 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 2 (0.1%)
W/U Acid Trip 0 (0%) 2 (0.25%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.1%)
Temur Affinity 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.13%) 1 (0.05%)
Brute Squad 0 (0%) 1 (0.12%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.05%)
Grixis Control 1 (0.23%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.05%)
Rakdos Reanimator 1 (0.23%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.05%)
Slivers 0 (0%) 1 (0.12%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.05%)
U/B Reanimator 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.13%) 1 (0.05%)
W/U Faeries 1 (0.23%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.05%)

Breakdown for August 2022

You can find the table with all the decks at the end of this section, but first, let's focus on the top. Throughout the whole month, our crowdsourced data showed Grixis Affinity fighting with Monored Blitz for the title of most played deck. The third place changed in each period and the fourth was kept by Rakdos Burn in all of the periods analyzed.


Top 8 Most Played Decks, August 2022
Rank Day 1 to 10 Day 11 to 20 Day 21 to 31
1. Grixis Affinity 11.19% Monored Blitz 10.68% Grixis Affinity 14.62%
2. Monored Blitz 7.34% Grixis Affinity 8.76% Monored Blitz 9.94%
3. U/R Faeries 6.97% Boros Synthesizer 7.36% Ponza 7.02%
4. Rakdos Burn 6.79% Rakdos Burn 5.6% Rakdos Burn 7.02%
5. Monoblue Faeries 6.06% Monoblue Faeries 5.25% W/U Familiars 5.46%
6. Boros Synthesizer 5.87% U/B Faeries 5.08% Caw Gates 4.68%
7. Monored Burn 5.69% Boros Bully 4.9% Boros Synthesizer 4.29%
8. Ponza 5.5% Ponza 4.73% Monoblue Faeries 4.29%

Among the eight most played decks in each period, U/R Faeries popped up as the third most popular at the beginning of the month, which can be explained by Márcio Carvalho (kbol_ on Magic Online) winning a Showcase Challenge with the deck right at the end of July. But after that, it dropped to be the thirteenth and tenth most played deck in the second and third period analyzed. From my experience playing in Leagues, this absolutely makes sense as the deck needs to put in a lot of work to beat any Affinity version and also because Boros Synthesizer was popular throughout the whole month, which is notoriously good at punishing any Faerie deck.


Top 16 most played decks, August 2022
Top 16 most played decks, August 2022

Caw Gates rose from rarely seen in Leagues to seventh most played in the third period, and this is particularly interesting as the deck seems to be underplayed! From talking with Zoohn, the deck's creator who won a Pauper Challenge piloting it, I know it isn't easy to play and requires some amount of work to have good results. Zoohn also played less with it after these first good results, which can explain a lack of interest for the deck in Leagues. However, the player Selkcahs started to run it regularly in Leagues and had decent results in Challenges with it, winning one by the end of the month, so it makes sense that the deck started to gain in popularity again then.

Ponza—and here we include only green-based Ponza—took the last spot in the Top 8 in the first two periods and went up to third for the last period, finishing in fifth place for the month! Is this a sign that the meta is moving toward less interaction and stronger early-game plays? Grixis Affinity and Monored Blitz set the pace for all the other decks, and from the Top 4 of the last period, it seems that the best way to play Pauper today is to go for fast wins and try to cheese victories.

The rest of the Top 8 decks in each period were overall stable. The tone of the meta is still being set by Affinity and has been pretty much since Chatterstorm was banned. There were brief periods in which the deck was eclipsed by novelties, like Monastery Swiftspear or bans aimed at Affinity, but the deck is absurdly resilient and always rises back to the top.

You can examine and further explore the trends for August by selecting additional decks in the following embed. The table listing all the decks follows it.


Gathered Meta, August 2022
Deck Day 1 to 10 Day 11 to 20 Day 21 to 31 Total
Grixis Affinity 61 (11.19%) 50 (8.76%) 75 (14.62%) 186 (11.42%)
Monored Blitz 40 (7.34%) 61 (10.68%) 51 (9.94%) 152 (9.33%)
Rakdos Burn 37 (6.79%) 32 (5.6%) 36 (7.02%) 105 (6.45%)
Boros Synthesizer 32 (5.87%) 42 (7.36%) 22 (4.29%) 96 (5.89%)
Ponza 30 (5.5%) 27 (4.73%) 36 (7.02%) 93 (5.71%)
Monoblue Faeries 33 (6.06%) 30 (5.25%) 22 (4.29%) 85 (5.22%)
U/R Faeries 38 (6.97%) 17 (2.98%) 17 (3.31%) 72 (4.42%)
Monored Burn 31 (5.69%) 25 (4.38%) 14 (2.73%) 70 (4.3%)
Boros Bully 21 (3.85%) 28 (4.9%) 15 (2.92%) 64 (3.93%)
U/B Faeries 14 (2.57%) 29 (5.08%) 20 (3.9%) 63 (3.87%)
W/U Familiars 16 (2.94%) 16 (2.8%) 28 (5.46%) 60 (3.68%)
W/B Pestilence 20 (3.67%) 18 (3.15%) 15 (2.92%) 53 (3.25%)
Caw Gates 15 (2.75%) 8 (1.4%) 24 (4.68%) 47 (2.89%)
Elves 10 (1.83%) 21 (3.68%) 13 (2.53%) 44 (2.7%)
Auras 19 (3.49%) 12 (2.1%) 10 (1.95%) 41 (2.52%)
G/U Turbo Fog 11 (2.02%) 16 (2.8%) 13 (2.53%) 40 (2.46%)
Monowhite Heroic 7 (1.28%) 17 (2.98%) 10 (1.95%) 34 (2.09%)
Monoblack Khalni Dispute 10 (1.83%) 15 (2.63%) 6 (1.17%) 31 (1.9%)
Jeskai Wildfire 5 (0.92%) 12 (2.1%) 10 (1.95%) 27 (1.66%)
Monoblack Control 12 (2.2%) 5 (0.88%) 3 (0.58%) 20 (1.23%)
Monowhite Aggro 4 (0.73%) 9 (1.58%) 7 (1.36%) 20 (1.23%)
Monogreen Stompy 8 (1.47%) 7 (1.23%) 4 (0.78%) 19 (1.17%)
Jund Pile 6 (1.1%) 9 (1.58%) 2 (0.39%) 17 (1.04%)
Tron (Eggs) 3 (0.55%) 6 (1.05%) 6 (1.17%) 15 (0.92%)
Aristocrats 5 (0.92%) 2 (0.35%) 7 (1.36%) 14 (0.86%)
Gates Soup 3 (0.55%) 5 (0.88%) 5 (0.97%) 13 (0.8%)
Cycle Storm 5 (0.92%) 4 (0.7%) 3 (0.58%) 12 (0.74%)
U/R Control 7 (1.28%) 4 (0.7%) 1 (0.19%) 12 (0.74%)
Moggwarts 5 (0.92%) 3 (0.53%) 3 (0.58%) 11 (0.68%)
Tron (Monsters) 3 (0.55%) 2 (0.35%) 6 (1.17%) 11 (0.68%)
Walls 6 (1.1%) 3 (0.53%) 0 (0%) 9 (0.55%)
W/U Tribe 2 (0.37%) 4 (0.7%) 2 (0.39%) 8 (0.49%)
Mardu Pile 2 (0.37%) 0 (0%) 5 (0.97%) 7 (0.43%)
Tron (Flicker) 1 (0.18%) 3 (0.53%) 3 (0.58%) 7 (0.43%)
Affinity (Rakdos) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 4 (0.78%) 5 (0.31%)
Grixis Control 0 (0%) 3 (0.53%) 2 (0.39%) 5 (0.31%)
Infect 1 (0.18%) 2 (0.35%) 2 (0.39%) 5 (0.31%)
Monoblack Aggro 1 (0.18%) 2 (0.35%) 1 (0.19%) 4 (0.25%)
Monored Deck Wins 1 (0.18%) 2 (0.35%) 1 (0.19%) 4 (0.25%)
Rakdos Pile 1 (0.18%) 3 (0.53%) 0 (0%) 4 (0.25%)
Rogue Deck 0 (0%) 3 (0.53%) 1 (0.19%) 4 (0.25%)
Slivers 3 (0.55%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 4 (0.25%)
U/B Angler 2 (0.37%) 1 (0.18%) 1 (0.19%) 4 (0.25%)
U/B Delver 2 (0.37%) 1 (0.18%) 1 (0.19%) 4 (0.25%)
W/U Evoke 3 (0.55%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 4 (0.25%)
Rainbow Familiars 2 (0.37%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 3 (0.18%)
Rainbow Gates 0 (0%) 2 (0.35%) 1 (0.19%) 3 (0.18%)
U/R Blitz 0 (0%) 1 (0.18%) 2 (0.39%) 3 (0.18%)
Mardu Affinity 0 (0%) 2 (0.35%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.12%)
Boros Heroic 1 (0.18%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.12%)
Monoblack Burn 0 (0%) 1 (0.18%) 1 (0.19%) 2 (0.12%)
U/B Control 1 (0.18%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 2 (0.12%)
W/B Ephemerate 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.06%)
Monoblack Land Destruction 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.19%) 1 (0.06%)
Naya Pile 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.19%) 1 (0.06%)
Petal Festival 0 (0%) 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.06%)
Soul Sisters 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.06%)
TortEx 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.06%)
Zoo Beatdown 1 (0.18%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.06%)

The Head-to-Head (H2H) Breakdown

As mentioned, I didn't get win/loss results for the month of July. However, by August enough players were tracking their results and were willing to share the data with me that I could compare the win rates for the decks discussed.

Because this article is long enough already, I'll only focus on the eight decks with the most matches recorded. For everything else—including full win rates, matchups, and a search function to look up the results of a specific deck—please consult this Google Sheet.


Top 8 H2H Data, August 9–31
Deck ↓ Matches ↓ Win-Loss Win Rate Nonmirror Confidence Interval
95%, Nonmirror
Grixis Affinity 465 280-185 60.22% 61.90% 61.81%–62%
Monored Blitz 334 201-133 60.18% 61.33% 61.19%–61.47%
W/U Familiars 175 112-63 64.00% 64.50% 64.24%–64.75%
Boros Synthesizer 82 25-57 30.49% 29.49% 28.99%–29.98%
Ponza 81 42-39 51.85% 51.90% 51.29%–52.5%
Rakdos Burn 77 27-50 35.06% 35.06% 34.49%–35.64%
Monoblue Faeries 70 22-48 31.43% 30.30% 29.71%–30.89%
Tron (Eggs) 69 40-29 57.97% 58.21% 57.52%–58.9%

What immediately catches the eye is how well Grixis Affinity, Monored Blitz, and W/U Familiars performed. There may be a bias here, as many of the people helping with the data frequently play these decks and are absurdly experienced with them. Speaking for myself, I had a 67% win rate with W/U Familiars in the month of August. This is first because it is a powerful deck and one of the best against Grixis Affinity, which was popular throughout the month. (According to the H2H data it went 16-7 against Affinity.) Secondly I have plenty of experience with the deck, easily over 1,000 matches.

As this project continues, we will have more data and will be able to better assess these results and remove these biases. Another source of data is the Pauper Challenge Project in the Castle of Commons Discord, which involves a player watching the replays of every Challenge and recording the decks of everyone involved. Any analysis of our crowdsourced League data should take into consideration their Challenge data as well, available on this Google Sheet where you can also select a timeframe.

For the same period, the Challenge Project recorded a nonmirror win rate for Affinity (across 613 matches) and W/U Familiars (76 matches) of 56.37% and 59.21%, respectively, while Monored Blitz (349 matches) came in at 52.58%. The Challenge and League metagames are different. Leagues are arguably more laid back and feature a broader variety of decks, while Challenges see a higher level of competition and a more stable meta. I choose to share all data as well as discuss its potential limitations so the reader can draw their own conclusions.

At the end of the analysis, be it by win rate or based on how frequently the decks were registered in our crowdsourced data for Leagues, or even if you just look at Challenge data, some things are clear: Grixis Affinity and Monored Blitz are the two most relevant decks of the format, followed by W/U Familiars, which seems to be underplayed.

Final Considerations

Overall the meta as observed in Leagues during the month of July appeared quite open and diverse. But after looking at August's data, it seems it was mostly the novelty of Double Masters 2022 and its downshifts. By the end of July one could ask the question about the overall role of Grixis Affinity, as it's frequently the most played deck in Challenges, while barely seen and possibly underrepresented in Leagues. However, it was trending up and became absurdly popular throughout August, being the favorite choice among the top grinders of the format.

One thing is clear, the downshift of Monastery Swiftspear forced the meta to be faster. It made everyone rethink their deck-building choices, and not all decks managed to survive. Let's check back when September ends and we can analyze the changes caused by Dominaria United as well as the recent addition of the initiative mechanic to Magic Online.

If you wish to help in any way with this project, feel free to message me, on Magic Online, Twitter, or Cardmarket, I'm PyotrPavel everywhere, or just email me. (My address at Google Mail is pyotrpavelmtg.) You can also find me on the majority of Pauper Discords as PyotrPavel.

Appendix 1: Deck Dictionary

The whole naming convention tries to follow what the Pauper community uses as a standard. For everything else I tried to make the classifications as broad as possible to avoid pulverizing the data of lesser played decks too much. Three-color combinations are named after the Shards of Alara or Khans of Tarkir, a custom the whole Magic community tends to follow.

The color pairs are named according to what has been used the most by the Pauper community over the years. This means we will always use the guild name for Boros decks instead of R/W. But we get things like U/B Faeries instead of Dimir Faeries, as there isn't an established preference for the other color pairs, and the tendency is to avoid the guild name for them. Some of this may look confusing to newcomers, but I judged it would be better to follow what people have been doing for years. It also makes my life easier when I sift the data, as the names submitted typically match these patterns. The bottom line is: Naming archetypes, and agreeing on those names, is complicated.


Deck Definition
Aristocrats Sacrifice matters strategies, main color black, but can have splashes: Carrion Feeder, Mortician Beetle
Auras Hexproof creatures and Auras: Slippery Bogle, Ancestral Mask, Ethereal Armor (Voltron game style)
Boros Bully Squadron Hawk, Battle Screech, Rally the Peasants, Faithless Looting
Boros Heroic Tenth District Legionnaire, Monastery Swiftspear, Seeker of the Way, (Voltron game style)
Boros Synthesizer Kor Skyfisher, Glint Hawk, eggs like Experimental Synthesizer and Spare Supplies
Brute Squad Metalcraft creatures like Auriok Sunchaser, Gingerbrute, mostly white, with blue or red as secondary color
Caw Gates White-blue: Squadron Hawk, Sacred Cat, Basilisk Gate
Cycle Storm Reaping the Graves, Songs of the Damned, Drannith Stinger
Elves Elf tribal, mostly with blue splash: Timberwatch Elf, Priest of Titania, Distant Melody
G/U Turbo Fog Stream of Thought, Moment's Peace, Weather the Storm
G/W Tethmos Tethmos High Priest, typically in a combo shell
Gates Soup Any experimental brew with Gates whose payoff is Basilisk Gate
Grixis Affinity Artifact lands, Myr Enforcer, Blood Fountain, Thoughtcast
Grixis Control Counterspells and removal
Infect Strictly Infect, no Gates! Vines of Vastwood, Ichorclaw Myr
Jeskai Wildfire Jeskai Control with Cleansing Wildfire and the Bridges from MH2
Jund Pile Any pile of Jund cards
Mardu Affinity Artifact lands, Myr Enforcer, Kor Skyfisher, Glint Hawk
Mardu Pile Any pile of Mardu cards
Moggwarts First Day of Class, Skirk Prospector, Putrid Goblin
Monoblack Aggro Fast aggro, mix of Black Burn, Aristocrats, and MBC
Monoblack Burn Okiba Reckoner Raid // Nezumi Road Captain, Tyrant's Choice, Morsel Theft
Monoblack Control Black removal, Chittering Rats, Sign in Blood, Vampire Sovereign, or Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Monoblack Land Destruction Icequake, Choking Sands, Peat Bog, Thorn of the Black Rose, Gurmag Angler
Monoblack Khalni Dispute Spinning Darkness, Gurmag Angler, Crypt Rats, Reckoner's Bargain, Deadly Dispute, Khalni Garden, seldom with green spells
Monoblack Zombies Zombie tribal, graveyard shenanigans, removal: Gempalm Polluter Ghoulcaller's Chant
Monoblue Faeries Faerie tribal/tempo deck: Spellstutter Sprite with Ninja of the Deep Hours, Moon-Circuit Hacker as non-Faeries, can have Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration. A Tempo Deck.
Monogreen Ramp Green ramp, with or without land destruction, and big creatures like Annoyed Altisaur and Owlbear
Monogreen Stompy Burning-Tree Emissary, Nest Invader, River Boa
Monored Blitz Kiln Fiend, Festival Crasher, Monastery Swiftspear, Temur Battle Rage
Monored Burn Monastery Swiftspear, Thermo-Alchemist, Fireblast
Monored Deck Wins Goblins or straight monored beatdown
Monowhite Aggro Traditional White Weenie, can splash for Rally the Peasants or Arms of Hadar
Monowhite Heroic Heroic mechanic and Auras: Lagonna-Band Trailblazer, Akroan Skyguard
Naya Pile Pile of Naya cards, usually with Cleansing Wildfire
Petal Festival Combo: Peer Through Depths, Psychic Puppetry, and Stream of Thought as win condition
Ponza Any green-based land destruction strategy, splashing red or black or blue: Arbor Elf, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Thermokarst, and big-creature payoff
Rainbow Familiars Primarily Bant but splashing fourth or fifth color, popularized and named by player Raptor56
Rainbow Gates Three- to five-colored control-ish deck, Flicker or Monarch, with Gates
Rakdos Affinity Artifact lands, Kuldotha Rebirth, Rites of Initiation, Frogmite, Myr Enforcer
Rakdos Burn Faithless Looting, Vampire's Kiss, Kitchen Imp, Fiery Temper
Rakdos Pile Any pile of Rakdos cards, usually with Cleansing Wildfire, Boarding Party, and Bleak Coven Vampires
Rakdos Reanimator Exhume, Ulamog's Crusher, Dragon Breath
Rogue Deck Experimental/kitchen-table brews
Slivers Sliver tribal, typically Naya
Soul Sisters Soul Warden and other life gain effects, Celestial Unicorn
Temur Affinity Artifact lands, Carapace Forger, Fangren Marauder, Myr Enforcer, Frogmite
Temur Pile Pile of Temur cards that is neither Ponza nor Affinity
TortEx Tortured Existence, Grave Scrabbler
Tron (Eggs) Tron lands, eggs, Golem Foundry
Tron (Flicker) Tron lands with a control plan using Ghostly Flicker and Mnemonic Wall for inevitability
Tron (Monsters) Tron lands and big creatures like Maelstrom Colossus, Self-Assembler, Ulamog's Crusher
U/B Angler Midrange: The Modern Age // Vector Glider, Deep Analysis, Gurmag Angler, and black removal
U/B Control Evincar's Justice or Serpentine Curve as payoff, Mystical Teachings toolbox
U/B Delver Tempo: Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration, Gurmag Angler with Spell Pierce, Force Spike, and other cheap counters
U/B Faeries Spellstutter Sprite, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Thorn of the Black Rose, Snuff Out
U/B Reanimator Gurmag Angler, Exhume
U/R Blitz Blue cantrips, Kiln Fiend, Mutagenic Growth, Temur Battle Rage
U/R Control Either Serpentine Curve or Goblin Wizardry or just Crimson Fleet Commodore as payoff
U/R Faeries Spellstutter Sprite, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Skred
W/B Ephemerate Ephemerate, Chittering Rats, Vampire Sovereign, all sorts of black removal, and monarch, generally Thorn of the Black Rose
W/B Pestilence Guardian of the Guildpact, Pestilence, lots of removal; alternatively a more midrange version with other creatures like Kor Skyfisher and Inspiring Overseer and less removal
W/U Acid Trip Reality Acid, creatures that bounce cards like Kor Skyfisher and Dream Stalker
W/U Evoke Angelic Renewal, Soul of Migration, Mulldrifter
W/U Faeries Spellstutter Sprite, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Last Breath, Inspiring Overseer
W/U Familiars Sunscape Familiar, Mulldrifter, Archaeomancer, and Ghostly Flicker, Ephemerate
W/U Tribe Tireless Tribe and Inside Out combo, sometimes with Squadron Hawk
Walls Defender tribal with Axebane Guardian, Overgrown Battlement, either combo with Secret Door, Freed from the Real or cascade with Annoyed Altisaur, Boarding Party
Zoo Beatdown Green-based aggro deck with splashes

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



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