Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler explained the transformation of grief in “Five Stages of Grief”. This concept is hard to understand unless you have experienced such pain. I don’t want to bring the house down so let’s see if the Simpsons can show us the way. With that, lets watch Homer go through all 5 stages of grief.

Denial, Anger, Fear, Bargaining, and Acceptance.

Standard pauper is about to change forever. Its rotation time and that means we are losing an entire block.

Denial:

This won’t be a huge change right? Not much is really going to be different.

Let’s look at the data provided by PDC’s standard pauper events. Of the sampling provided, there are 10 decks that make a consistent showing.

Dimir_Mill – Black Blue creatureless deck that uses harsh control and removal to wear down the opponent. The major win condition is Curse of the Bloody Tome.

Drakeird and MonoBlue Fliers – These decks use the consistent mana base of mono blue to get out tough fliers and overwhelm the opponent along with a bit of control to power the creatures through.

Gateflicker –This deck uses the synergy between Ghostly Flicker and the Black and Green Gatekeepers to lock the opponent out the game through removal and near infinite life. This is accomplished by recursion of ghostly flicker.

GW Midrange – A Selesnya deck that has a life gain sub-theme.

Hexproof – Much like classic pauper, this hexproof deck uses the hexproof ability and auras to assemble a Voltron creature and beat down.

Izzet – Red Blue agro control. Fun, fast and lots of burn. Nivix Cyclops is win condition with all the red and blue spells in this deck.

MonoGreen – The standard version of stomp. Efficient creatures and ramp keep this deck moving.

RDW – Mono red deck with burn and fast creatures for quick wins.

White_Warriors – The fancy term for White Weenie. Mostly because of the abundance of Soldiers and knights.

Using the decks listed above, here is a list of every unique card represented:

Abundant Growth Fortify Ranger’s Guile
Act of Treason Foundry Street Denizen Ravenous Rats
Aerial Predation Frostburn Weird Ray of Revelation
Ajani’s Sunstriker Gatecreeper Vine Rubblebelt Maaka
Ambush Viper Ghostly Flicker Safe Passage
Arbor Elf Gladecover Scout Saruli Gatekeepers
Archaeomancer Goblin Arsonist Scatter Arc
Attended Knight Golgari Guildgate Scrapskin Drake
Auramancer Gore-House Chainwalker Searing Spear
Avacyn’s Pilgrim Grave Exchange Selesnya Guildgate
Azorius Arrester Gravepurge Sensory Deprivation
Basilica Screecher Gruul Guildgate Sentinel Spider
Beckon Apparition Gryff Vanguard Seraph of Dawn
Bloodhunter Bat Hands of Binding Shimmering Grotto
Borderland Ranger Harvest Pyre Shock
Brimstone Volley Haunted Fengraf Shrivel
Centaur Healer Inaction Injunction Silent Departure
Claustrophobia Island Simic Guildgate
Clinging Mists Izzet Guildgate Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers
Cloudfin Raptor Kessig Recluse Spectral Flight
Cloudshift Loyal Cathar Splatter Thug
Crocanura Madcap Skills Stitched Drake
Crypt Incursion Mark of the Vampire Stormbound Geist
Curse of the Bloody Tome Mind Sculpt Sundering Growth
Dead Weight Mist Raven Sunspire Griffin
Deadly Recluse Mizzium Skin Swamp
Death’s Approach Mogg Flunkies Syndic of Tithes
Delver of Secrets Mountain Think Twice
Deviant Glee Murder Thought Scour
Devour Flesh Naturalize Thunderbolt
Dimir Guildgate Negate Tragic Slip
Dispel Nephalia Seakite Traitorous Blood
Disperse One-Eyed Scarecrow Transguild Promenade
Divination Outwit Travel Preparations
Doomed Traveler Pacifism Trestle Troll
Elgaud Shieldmate Pilfered Plans Tricks of the Trade
Elvish Visionary Pillar of Flame Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
Erdwal Ripper Plains Uncovered Clues
Essence Scatter Plummet Victim of Night
Ethereal Armor Prey Upon Volcanic Strength
Evolving Wilds Primal Huntbeast War Falcon
Faithless Looting Prophetic Prism Watercourser
Fog Psychic Strike Welkin Tern
Forbidden Alchemy Rakdos Guildgate
Forest Rakdos Shred-Freak
133 unique cards

That is not an insignificant number of cards. I can see how you may think the soup will never thin. Now let’s look at it after rotation:

Act of Treason Essence Scatter Naturalize Simic Guildgate
Aerial Predation Ethereal Armor Negate Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers
Archaeomancer Fog Nephalia Seakite Splatter Thug
Auramancer Forest Pacifism Sundering Growth
Azorius Arrester Fortify Pilfered Plans Sunspire Griffin
Basilica Screecher Foundry Street Denizen Plains Swamp
Beckon Apparition Frostburn Weird Plummet Syndic of Tithes
Centaur Healer Gatecreeper Vine Prophetic Prism Transguild Promenade
Claustrophobia Gladecover Scout Psychic Strike Trestle Troll
Cloudfin Raptor Golgari Guildgate Rakdos Guildgate Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
Crocanura Gore-House Chainwalker Rakdos Shred-Freak Uncovered Clues
Crypt Incursion Gruul Guildgate Ranger’s Guile
Deadly Recluse Hands of Binding Rubblebelt Maaka
Death’s Approach Inaction Injunction Saruli Gatekeepers
Deviant Glee Island Scatter Arc
Devour Flesh Izzet Guildgate Selesnya Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate Madcap Skills Sensory Deprivation
Dispel Mark of the Vampire Shimmering Grotto
Disperse Mizzium Skin Shock
Divination Mountain Shrivel

71 cards. That is almost half of what’s currently used.

Which brings us to the next stage.

Anger

“Wizards sucks and doesn’t know how to make card games!” – 80% of everyone at Mtg Salvation.

This isn’t true and you know it. You know they will do their best to provide the highest quality gaming experience (even though I still do not buy the scry land argument). Why? Because they want your money. And guess what? You will give it to them. After you get over being mad, that’s when the fear sets in.

Fear

“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

The Bene Gesserit litany is my favorite quotes in all of fiction. Fear is not an object. It cannot be touched or tasted. It is a mental construct. It exists only in our minds. Ok, getting too heavy again. The fear of change is very common. We get used to the way things are and we do not like to be disrupted. Routine and familiarity are what we crave. Rotation disrupts that and we must get past this mental block and move forward.

Here is how I can help you: Theros block is coming!

A new set with new possibilities! New mechanics to brew with! Devotion, Heroic, Monstrosity oh my! It makes this southern boys heart go pitter pat! Even though I am not that great at brewing, I love doing it. It’s a mental puzzle. Now comes the next stage.

Bargaining

“We use the new block to replace cards we are losing and everything will be great!” I have seen it everywhere. Even Chris Plummer from Pauper to the People mentioned he has seen this phenomenon as well. People want to keep the dream alive so badly. Can we patch it up and keep it running? Let’s look at one deck:

BUG Flicker Gate (Standard Pauper)

Lands (22)
Forest
Island
Swamp
Golgari Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Haunted Fengraf

Creatures (25)
Ravenous Rats
Elvish Visionary
Borderland Ranger
Mist Raven
Archaeomancer
Bloodhunter Bat
Gatecreeper Vine
Saruli Gatekeepers
Ubul Sar Gatekeepers

Spells (13)
Prophetic Prism
Forbidden Alchemy
Victim of Night
Gravepurge
Murder
Ghostly Flicker
Sideboard (15)
Naturalize
Beckon Apparition
Dispel
One-Eyed Scarecrow
Trestle Troll
Basilica Screecher
Devour Flesh

Deadly, efficient and sinister to the core. This deck usually vies for number one each time it enters a tournament. Why? Because it’s just plain good. Here is what it looks like after rotation:

Terrible version of Flicker Gate

Lands (20)
Dimir Guildgate
Forest
Golgari Guildgate
Island
Simic Guildgate
Swamp

Creatures (16)
Gatecreeper Vine
Archaeomancer
Saruli Gatekeepers
Ubul Sar Gatekeepers

Spells (1)
Prophetic Prism
Sideboard (12)
Naturalize
Beckon Apparition
Dispel
Trestle Troll
Basilica Screecher
Devour Flesh

Wow, that’s a dramatic difference. What’s that I am hearing you tell me from the future? This is just one deck and of course it won’t last because ghostly flicker is going away and is not representative of the meta as a whole? Ok, let’s look at something simple like Mono Blue Fliers.

Mono-Blue Flyers

Lands (21)
19 Island
Haunted Fengraf

Creatures (30)
Welkin Tern
Delver of Secrets
Stitched Drake
Stormbound Geist
Gryff Vanguard
Mist Raven
Scrapskin Drake
Frostburn Weird
Cloudfin Raptor

Spells (9)
Negate
Divination
Silent Departure
Thought Scour
Hands of Binding
Sideboard (15)
Claustrophobia
One-Eyed Scarecrow
Silent Departure
Mizzium Skin
Hands of Binding
Scatter Arc

That deck is awesome. You hit the ground running and you don’t stop! But once again I have to break your dreams:

Post mortem MonoBlue Fliers

Lands (19)
19 Island

Creatures (8)
Frostburn Weird
Cloudfin Raptor

Spells (5)
Negate
Divination
Hands of Binding
Sideboard (10)
Claustrophobia
Mizzium Skin
Hands of Binding
Scatter Arc

I could keep doing this but I think the fourth stage has set in by now.

Depression

“But, but I could have… I never got to… it’s too late…” You’re right. The glory days are over. Flickering yourself into almost decking just before the time runs out has run its course. The door is closing and all you see is the bleak reality that is rotation.

Snap out of it! It’s time to move on to the last stage.

Acceptance

Now the fun begins. With only a fraction of the new set spoiled is too early to start brewing. Over the next few pages I am going to look at the archetypes I think will last and how we can prepare ourselves to adapt to the new landscape.

At the beginning of this article I discussed 10 dominate decks in standard pauper (don’t worry I won’t make you go back up and reread them.) In short, we have the follow archetypes:

  • Flicker Gate
  • MonoBlue Fliers
  • Dimir Control
  • Midrange Aggro (Selesnya and MonoGreen)
  • Hexproof
  • White Weenie
  • Izzet Aggro

Now we will have a mini set preview along with some post rotation deck tech.

Flicker Gate – This deck is dead. The gatekeepers still have a nice ETB but the engine that makes this thing churn will be gone. Rotation will gut the engine out of this deck. Therefore, you will have to go read my Flicker Gate in classic pauper articles! (Shameless self promotion)

MonoBlue Fliers – This deck is also dead (as of today.) The best fliers are gone and there is no more sweet undying recursion. However, this is where I want to discuss a new way of thinking about this deck. At its core, this is a Blue Weenies deck, albeit with a predominately flying motif. What we are left with is a core set of cards that lets us take this in a new direction. In order for this deck to work, I must preview a couple of cards that have already been spoiled on the Mother Ship.

Lets start with one I know will be making splashes in Standard and Classic Pauper:

Omenspeaker

I really like this card. A 2 drop 1/3 with a very good ETB. Scry 2 lets you dig for your next draws or send them to the bottom in the hopes something better will arise. With a reasonable toughness to block some early aggro, this card will be able to hold its own. This card will enable our new engine for the revised MonoBlue deck, but more on that later.

The second card I want to talk about is:

Nimbus Naiad

This naked little flier isn’t as nuts as Stormbound Geist or a Stitched Drake but it offers a different kind of value. The Bestow mechanic, in case you hate reading text on pictures, lets you put this card on a creature like an enchantment. It is kind of a combo of morph and the totem enchantments. If the target becomes invalid or dies, this mystical nudist will revert into a flying 2/2. That value not matter how you slice it.

Now for the last creature I plan on previewing (don’t worry, we have spells that need addressing to.)

Wavecrash Triton (I say Wavecrash Tight Yum!)

Look at that dude. Wicked mohawk, totally buff quads, and Avatar Korra like water control. If I was into fish dudes, this guy would be on my list. The Heroic mechanic works each time he is targeted by a spell you control. If only we had some spells that we could trigger every turn… like maybe each time we damaged an opponent… where could I find such spells… (oh, I found some, don’t you fret.)

Now, what to do about the spells we lost.

Lets look at this one:

Voyage’s End

The flavor text makes me laugh. This can replace silent departure. It might not have the flashback, but Scry 1 is nothing to sneeze at. You may also be thinking about Disperse. Keep that card in mind and lets move on to the next preview card

Lost in a Labyrinth

Lost in a Labyrinth Theros Spoiler Instant, Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn. Scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
This flavor text is a snooze fest. Anyway, this card is a combat trick plain and simple. It also lets us Scry 1. I will grant you that this is not necessary, but I think once you see the theme, you will like it.

What I want to show is a creature based control deck. We do not have a lot of catch all counter spells so we need a bit more engine to drive this deck to victory.

I want to make a point here if I may. This deck is a shell. We have not seen the full preview and I think more action may follow. I do feel this structure is viable and it should get you thinking about future builds.

Lets look MonoBlue Aggro Control or Super Scry Creature Feature

Mono Blue Aggro

Lands (20)
20 Island

Creatures (24)
Cloudfin Raptor
Frostburn Weird
Wavecrash Triton
Omenspeaker
Nimbus Naiad
Seacoast Drake

Spells (16)
Claustrophobia
Hands of Binding
Voyage's End
Negate
Hidden Strings
Divination
Sideboard (15)
Cancel
Voyage's End
Mizzium Skin
Sensory Deprivation
Lost in a Labyrinth
Scatter Arc

Needless to say, I like this deck. Lets walk through it and discuss the finer points.

Cloudfin Raptor – Pauper all-star. 1 cmc with limitless growth potential. He could be all yours for the low low cost of a single blue mana! Every other creature in the deck evolves it at least twice with a max, best case scenario of a 3/4 flyer after three creatures hit the board.

Frostburn Weird – Another hold over from the previous MUF deck. 2CMC for a big butt that can go on the offensive. Solid card that will see play for a long time in classic.

Wavecrash Triton – He can potentially lock down your opponent and is out of shock and “lightning” range. My goal is to use Hidden Strings to start up a crazy combo of constant tap down. Combine with Hands of Binding and Claustrophobia to send your opponent into frustration mode.

Omenspeaker – Much like an Augur of Bolas or the dreaded Sea Gate Oracle, this card lets you block early attackers and has a handy Scry 2 attached! Now this does not let you draw a card, but I suspect card draw is on the horizon. This may make Scatter Arc a much more useful spell.

Nimbus Naiad – A new mechanic! We have a 2/2 flyer for 3 cmc. Instead of undying, we get to Bestow +2/+2 and flying onto another creature. The reason I like this so much is that it acts like a totem armor and avoids target removal. The nice thing about a 2/2 is that it evolves the Cloudfin Raptor twice.

Seacoast Drake – Evasion, out of shock range, can block if needed. Value town!

Now for the spells:

Claustrophobia, Hands of Binding, Voyage’s End – These three cards will help control the pet population by spaying and neutering your opponents creatures. Voyage’s End has the extra special effect of Scry one for our trouble!

Negate – This helps with the removal we are likely to see. However, murder and victim of night are out. My hunch is that we are going to get a few more removal cards as the block progresses. If not, that would be a very interesting move.

Hidden Strings – This was the first card I thought of when I saw Wavecrash Triton. Imagine the perfect scenario. Triton is on the board, you cast Hidden Strings, target both untaps onto the hunter. Next you put both his triggers on opposing creatures. Then you cipher the strings on to what ever can make contact and swing in. Next put both the cipher triggers (oh yes, you do cast it so it works, my concern is if it works twice. Here’s to hoping.) back onto the hunter, therefore locking down another two creatures if needed! This combo is awesome but not 100% needed to make the deck work.

Divination – This lets all the scry you have work to your advantage!

Sideboard time.

Each of these spells has a similar affect to spells we already use. I think of this sideboard as a supplemental draft. A pack of ideas if you will. Until we see the new meta fleshed out I think sideboarding is premature.

Well there you have it. Part 1 is done and I want you get your brew on and start thinking about the new cards.

Part two is in the works and features the White Weenie deck and how I think it can survive.

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