Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December Standard Pauper Snapshot

Better late than never right? Here, at last, is my much delayed metagame snapshot for the month of December in Standard Pauper. With the holiday season, this month only featured three weeks of events, and with our typical end of season slump, the final SPDC of the year failed to reach the minimum number of players to actually count. This left me with five events to consider as I put together this snapshot, each of which included a Top 4 playoff.

The finalists within this events accounted for 12 distinct archetypes, touching all five colors but centered around the Sultai colors of Blue,  Black, and Green. Interestingly enough though, all of these archetypes can really be grouped into four different categories: spell-based Control decks, "Big" creature decks (typically with a sacrifice sub-theme), Orzhov Aura-recursion decks, and Vehicle decks (which tended to be Red and/or Black, sometimes splashing Blue or White). Of special note is that December also included a full ban on Self-Assembler, leaving players free to innovate without having to worry about that card's dominance in the format. Let's take a closer look at each of these four categories.

1. Coming into the month, Izzet Control was the archetype to beat, but its popularity waned as the month progressed. In fact, this deck never finished better than second place (in SPDC 35.08 and 09), but a Grixis variation did take the trophy in SPDC 35.08, piloted by MisterMojoRising. Of course, it's arguable whether it even belongs in this same category, since it primarily relied upon card advantage and Black removal spells, rather than direct damage, as its primary win condition.

2. Sultai Control has been the other major archetype in the format for quite some time, primarily built around the Emerge sacrifice abilities of It of the Horrid Swarm and Wretched Gryff combined with the raw power of Pulse of Murasa. While most early builds were actually straight Simic, the ability to augment the deck with Black removal tended to make these decks much more successful in the long run. Some builds also were more sacrifice focused, primarily utilizing Altar's Reap, Bloodbriar, and/or Bone Splinters to good effect. Moromete captured the only 1st place trophy for this category in SPDC 35.09 with a somewhat different variation that played Byway Courier and Moldgraf Scavenger as additional ways of taking advantage of the Emerge theme of this archetype.

Interestingly enough, in this same event are two other decks that I also included in this category. These decks weren't built around the archetype-defining Emerge creatures at all, but instead went for a more aggressive stance with efficient beaters like Brazen Wolves, Kessig Dire Swine, and Riparian Tiger, or included creatures that had their own sacrifice synergies like Blisterpod, Gavony Unhallowed, and Voracious Null. Yet another build swapped White for Blue, giving the deck access to Ninth Bridge Patrol, Thraben Inspector, and Unruly Mob. However, none of these variations made more than a single appearance in the playoffs.

3. Perhaps the most successful archetype in the month of December was Orzhov Auras, which captured the trophy in MPDC 35.08 and 35.10, with two other Top 4 finishes. JackSlagel's build from 35.08 is pretty typical, utilizing Boon of Emrakul, Choking Restraints, and Dead Weight as removal spells that can be recurred with Ironclad Slayer while also getting additional use out of Prophetic Prism and Vessel of Ephemera with Aviary Mechanic.

4. Finally, our last category is all about Renegade Freighter and Sky Skiff, the Common Vehicles from Kaladesh that rely upon other creatures to activate them. As I mentioned above, there was a lot of variation on which colors supported this deck best, ranging from the single-colored MonoBlack all the way to the three color Mardu. But it was Bubalix's Rakdos build that took the only trophy for this category in MPDC 35.09, combining them with aggressive creatures like Makindi Sliderunner and Thriving Grubs and setting up a lethal combo of either Built to Smash or Rush of Adrenaline into Uncaged Fury for a surprise alpha strike.

Let me extend a special thanks to everyone who participated in these events in the month of December and especially all those who made their voice heard in regards to Self-Assembler. My hope is that the metagame continues to be relatively healthy and enjoyable for everyone as we move closer to the release of Aether Revolt. And if you've never joined us for one of our Standard Pauper events, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us on Sunday at 12:00pm EST / 5:00pm GMT in the #SPDC channel or on Monday at 2:00pm EST / 7:00pm GMT in the #MPDC channel. Hope to see you then!

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