Tuesday, January 8, 2019

January 6 Pauper Challenge Breakdown

The January 6 Pauper Challenge showed that Boros Bully is the other big bad to Dimir Delver. The go-wide strategy earned was one Win+ point shy of the monster under the bed but did so in three fewer appearances. Journey to Nowhere is a solid removal spell and the ability to consistently chump block Gurmag Angler cannot be underestimated.

It is also nice to see the rise of Rakdos Monarch. Called it. Terminate does a good job of killing singular threats and the addition of Arc Lightning and Crypt Rats gives the deck some game against hordes of angry birds. 
Still the deck has some problems to overcome. The threats it can present are anemic - Chittering Rats is not as scary as it has been in the past - and without Gurmag Angler the deck has trouble closing out games. In many ways the deck is reminiscent of Dimir Alchemy in that it runs plenty of good cards but can struggle when trying to actually win the game. These decks may want to shift to a Mono Black Control shell, using red only for Terminate and Pyroblast, giving another avenue to win through Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Alternatively, they could incorporate Pestilence or maybe Sultai Scavenger. I'm saying, it has options.

Still, it may not matter. We are five challenges deep into Ultimate Masters seasons and the stratification of the metagame is only increasing. Out of 40 decks to make Top 8, 18 of those have been Gush decks (13 of those were Dimir Delver - 1 was Grixis Delver). The next most popular pillar is Monarch with 12 total Top 8s (one fewer than Dimir Delver). Tron decks, considered by many to be a blight upon the format, have amassed four total Top 8s - that's one more Top 8 than the Burning-Tree Emissary decks.

This problem isn't going to solve itself. Spoiler season for Standard legal sets are yielding less fruit and it isn't design's fault. Rather, as the card pool grows it becomes harder and harder for new cards to find purchase as they are almost always going to be a worse version of a card that already exists. Relying on downshifts isn't healthy either as what makes it to common is completely arbitrary and depends on the needs of the specific set.

The 2% threshold for making it to the leaderboard this week was three appearances. Boros Bully has edged out Dimir Delver for the lead, and these two are getting ready to lap the field.  

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