While we have reached the official end of Modern Horizons season, what with the advent of Core 2020 and the Unification, the impact of the straight-to-Modern set continues to be felt in Pauper. One only needs to look at the July 7th Challenge results to see that at the moment it's Arcum's Astrolabe's world and we're just living in it. There were 14 copies of the Snow Artifact in the Top 8, and another 16 in the Top 16. The ability to fix your mana and draw a card is just that good.
Actually, it's probably better than that. The Astrolabe engine, whether paired with Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher, or with Trinket Mage (in Tron builds), or all three, provides a fairly steady stream of cards. On July 7th every there was a clean break from 16th to 17th place: everyone in the Top 16 went X-2 or better. Out of all those decks there were 30 copies of Astrolabe to help keep things moving. Combined, there were six copies of Palace Sentinels and Thorn of the Black Rose.
Let's put that into context. Previously Monarch was one of the driving forces in Pauper. It was a steady stream of card advantage that was hard to stop and easy to defend. A free card every turn is barely good enough in the face of Arcum's Astrolabe (at the moment). Combine that with the card's ability to subvert the mana system and it makes sense that this card is omnipresent.
It also makes some sense as to why Affinity is resurgent. After a long while on the sidelines the machine is back on top. Winning this Challenge (and last week's Playoff) the archetype is putting up some gaudy numbers. No doubt aided by the London Mulligan helping to ensure smoother draws, the deck has the ability to Just Win thanks to Fling and Temur Battle Rage. Skred is great at killing a 4/4, but much worse at killing 8 of them. The result is the Affinity is climbing the ladder and is ready, willing, and able to steamroll anyone who takes too long to set up.
Given all of this I think Gorilla Shaman is well positioned next week. At the same time I think Tron decks should be packing Shattering Pulse - Ancient Grudge is fine but barely replaces itself in the wake of Astrolabe and Prophetic Prism - and decks that can support Spell Pierce probably should add some copies. Stopping the first Astrolabe can be key in slowing down these decks and that cannot be understated.
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!