The May 12 Pauper Challenge is in the books. Another 6 round affair, the creature light version of Orzhov Monarch won the event. There were three copies of Dimir Delver in the Top 8 and two Monarch-less versions of Boros Bully (Author Note: I originally published that these two lists featured Palace Sentinels).
There is not a ton to talk about this early in the season. The White-Blue Tron deck looks similar to the old Temur Tron decks with a bit of a palette swap. These Izzet Delver decks are still shaving copies of Delver of Secrets. Aggressive strategies remain largely dead.
So rather than rehash the same talking points I've been writing about for the better part of half a year, I wanted to talk about how we talk about Pauper.
In a word, the discourse around the format sucks. And I bear some of that responsibility.
I want to be clear - the folks out there making content do a good job. I think that Mike and Adrian of Color Commontary, Kendra, Deluxeicoff, and everyone else (sad to see you go Jeff) who produces Pauper content does good work. The issue, as I see it, is talking about the format outside of these pieces.
First, an admission. Despite my best efforts, I know that at times I act as a gatekeeper to this format. Not in a way that intentionally excludes people but by doing something far more insidious. Someone will come to me excited about a Pauper deck and my gut reaction is always to talk about its role in the metagame.
That can be incredibly deflating to someone who would otherwise be excited about playing Pauper.
I can do better. At the same time I do not want someone to go into things unprepared.
Like I said, I can do better. I will do better.
The community can do better as well. The discussion about the format in many public forums can devolve into personal attacks. Looking at some threads on r/Pauper I see the same individuals using insults to try and make their points. Talking about Pauper in these spaces means understanding that the chance exists that instead of talking about Magic, the writer is going to become the subject.
Why would anyone want to go into a space to talk about Magic only to be met with insults?
To be clear - not everyone in these spaces acts this way. Many are supportive of people posting their ideas for decks and try to help them tune their brew. There are people proudly displaying battleboxes full of Pauper decks and as-foil-as-can-be decks. While these posts may not be for me I think it is completely awesome they exist.
I am worried about the future of Pauper. I worry about the health of the format and what happens if it goes unchecked. I worry about the declining participation numbers on Magic Online and the appearance of a stale metagame. I worry that if the community at large does not take a big step forward, if it does not focus on welcoming new faces instead of infighting, then none of this will matter.,
2019 is going to be a banner year for Pauper. I want to continue to be at the forefront of the metagame. If you like the work I do, please consider becoming a Patron. Thank you!