Community League #3: Wrap-Up

Somewhere there is a fat lady singing. For some, it’s a little victory song. For other’s, a sad and lonesome dirge. After some delays due to illness and holiday, the third MagicGatheringStrat Community League has come to an end. We had some great matches in the top 8, and strong competition. In the end, the winner became more than a man. He became a legend.

Alright, alright. So I feel weird writing about this, because I ran the event, and then I won the event. Which is cool; I’m stoked. But it feels self-aggrandizing to go on about it too much. So I’ll just do a little announcement in some sort of large, bold font, and then we’ll move on to some videos and some of the deck lists that made it into the top 8.

The final bracket


DrChrisBakerDC and najay1 never actually got a chance to play their “bronze match” so really they both get 3rd place.

The Winner

Congratulations to Bava for winning the third MagicGatheringStrat Community League and becoming a champion of Standard Pauper. We did not, sadly, hit our donation cap to turn on prize support, but a good time was had by all, and some damned fine Standard Pauper was played.

Bava ran Gary’s Cruise in weeks 1 and 2; winning the first week against Heroic and losing in week 2 against Esper Control. In week 3 he switched over to Chris Baker’s Boros Heroic, which he ran through the rest of the event, making some minor changes along the way. For the record, that means this list went 5-0.

Here is the final list.

[d title=”Boros Heroic (Standard Pauper)”]

4 Wind-Scarred Crag
5 Mountain
6 Plains
4 Evolving Wilds


3 Akroan Crusader
4 Akroan Skyguard
4 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
4 Satyr Hoplite
2 Jeskai Student
2 Ainok Bond-Kin

2 Inferno Fist
4 Defiant Strike
4 Feat of Resistance
4 Chosen by Heliod
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Gods Willing

2 Fall of the Hammer
3 Scouring Sands
4 Pillar of Light
2 Lightning Strike
4 Hopeful Eidolon [/d]

And here is the complete run on video. Apologies for the semi-final match, which has no commentary. My computer was on the fritz that week, so I had to play the match on a different machine and make a recording after. Chris Baker has the match on his channel (along with other excellent Magic), so go check it out there if you like.


Top 8 Lists

Thanks to those who chose to share their lists from the Top 8. If you’d like to share your own lists (however well or poorly they played out for you) please feel free to do so in the comments or over on the forum. I’d love to see what people played and hear about their experiences in the league.


The deck I played in the top 8 was a poor meta-game decision. I knew that DrChrisBaker was likely playing a Boros Heroic deck and I went for W/B Control list I had never played before. That was a mistake as Chris easily took me out.

Here’s the list I played in the T8.

[d title=”W/B Control (Standard Pauper)”]
4 Evolving Wilds
3 Plains
2 Radiant Fountain
4 Scoured Barrens
9 Swamp

3 Scholar of Athreos
1 Griffin Dreamfinder
2 Pharika’s Chosen
3 Servant of Tymaret
4 Disciple of Phenax
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel

2 Feat of Resistance
2 Last Breath
4 Kill Shot
1 Pillar of Light
3 Debilitating Injury
3 Eternal Thirst
1 Font of Return
3 Read the Bones
2 Flesh to Dust

1 Last Breath
3 Pillar of Light
2 Feast of Dreams
2 Pharika’s Cure
2 Festergloom
3 Child of Night
2 Sultai Scavenger [/d]

Here is the list I should have played which got me into the T8; I would have probably still lost to Chris (since it’s virtually his deck) but at least I would have been playing a deck I was familiar with.

[d title=”Izzet Control (Standard Pauper)”]
4 Evolving Wilds
9 Island
5 Mountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs

Creature-Like Spells
4 Rise of Eagles
4 Flurry of Horns

Other Spells
4 Voyage’s End
4 Nullify
4 Divination
4 Treasure Cruise
3 Magma Spray
4 Lightning Strike
2 Tormenting Voice
3 Bolt of Keranos
2 Traveler’s Amulet

4 Disdainful Stroke
1 Force Away
3 Negate
3 Coral Barrier
4 Scouring Sands [/d]



Congrats on taking it down, Bava!

Here’s my list: Boros Heroic v2.0. Looking forward to the next league. :D

[d title=”Boros Heroic v.2 (Standard Pauper)”]
6 Plains
5 Mountain
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Wind-Scarred Crag

4 Akroan Crusader
4 Akroan Skyguard
4 Jeskai Student
4 Wingsteed Rider
3 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

4 Chosen by Heliod
4 Defiant Strike
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Feat of Resistance
4 Gods Willing
2 Ajani’s Presence

3 Pillar of Light
3 Scouring Sands
3 Lightning Strike
4 Hopeful Eidolon
2 Erase [/d]



Congrats for the league. Here is my list, too. It’s Stompy with a fancy name.

[d title=”Green Deck Wins (Standard Pauper)”]
18 Forest
3 Radiant Fountain

4 Alpine Grizzly
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Leafcrown Dryad
4 Swordwise Centaur
3 Nessian Asp
3 Sedge Scorpion
2 Hooting Mandrills
2 Netcaster Spider
2 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Golden Hind

4 Aspect of Hydra
3 Mortal’s Resolve
3 Ranger’s Guile

3 Savage Punch
3 Plummet
3 Naturalize
3 Highland Game
3 Awaken the Bear [/d]



Congrats on the win! Here was my list.

[d title=”Mono-Red Aggro (Standard Pauper)”]
19 Mountain

4 Akroan Crusader
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Borderland Marauder
3 Sigiled Skink
3 Valley Dasher

4 Dragon Mantle
3 Hammerhand
4 Magma Spray
4 Titan’s Strength
4 Lightning Strike
4 Bolt of Keranos

2 Crowd’s Favor
1 Hammerhand
4 Deathbellow Raider
2 Scouring Sands
3 Act of Treason
3 Seismic Strike [/d]


Community League #4

What will it be? When will it start? Not much is known about this mysterious league. Hopefully you know you want to participate in it, no matter the format. That’s the part that matters!

We’ll probably start planning in mid-January for a league to start the beginning of February. Did you like the format of this league: 4 weeks of Swiss and cut to top 8? Should we do something else? This is where your input is crucial!

And the format? Here are some choices. Vote in the comments for your top choice or write-in something different.

Modern Silverblack – Commons and uncommons from Modern. This format remains wide open and it would be fun to revisit.

Standard Silverblack – Commons and uncommons from Standard. Unexplored territory and a natural segue from Standard Pauper.

Rotating Block(s) Pauper – Each week you get 1-2 blocks to build a Pauper list from. Blocks rotate every week.

BYOBlock Pauper – Same as above, but you get to pick one block and a second block is assigned each week.

Pauper EDH – 100 cards. 99 singleton commons and 1 uncommon Commander (doesn’t need to be a Legend). EDH commander color restrictions apply.

Those are the choices I think would be fun. Vote in the comments for your favorite!

Thanks everyone for playing. I hope you all had a great time and will join us for League #4.



Legacy on Mondays: Spoiler Alert

Welcome Back!

Like many people this holiday season, I have become a hermit from our beloved Magic. The family wants to get together, there is enough food to have a hundred diabetics pass out just from the sight… Basically, I was living under a “muggle” rock. And thanks to Frank Lepore, I got a good solid look at the WOTC Holiday Gift for this year; it’s a sneak preview card from Fate Reforged:

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Think this is just a fake? Think again.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, there is a new colorless planeswalker on the block! I know everyone is busy corralling the kids, cleaning, and/or watching someone else do these things, so this discussion will be pretty short. If you want to see more in-depth analysis, post a comment below and I can augment this article.

Well, the power level certainly isn’t lacking for an 8-mana walker. He reminds me of [c]Karn Liberated[/c] in that it seems a bit more likely that his -X ability is to be used the turn he is cast to protect the player and himself that turn. Even so, both Planeswalker’s plus abilities are impactful in their own ways. Both Ultimate abilities are game-winning (at least Ugin’s seems to be), so both are or appear to be significant threats to the opponent. But who is going to use this card? It’s not cheap mana-wise, so who is bold enough to try?

Let’s go format by format:


Ehh… Maybe (BIG maybe) the land-heaviest of control decks might play this guy as a 1-of. A [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] every turn is not bad, and the fact that it can also do a very nice [c]All is Dust[/c] impersonation should not be ignored. But it does have cmc 8, which is fairly hefty even by control’s standards. I wouldn’t count on it seeing Standard play, but I’m no Standard expert so who knows.


Your brain: “Oh! That card looks like it’s perfect to play in Tron! I can’t wait to run two instead of two [c]Karn Liberated[/c]!”

My brain: This should not be played in Tron. The difference between 7 and eight mana is huge in a deck that hits 7 mana turn 3. A turn 3 Karn is clearly superior to a turn 4 Ugin, as an 8-mana [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] is unlikely to be as potent as a 7-mana [c]Vindicate[/c] that early in the game. I just prefer Karn in the Tron decks, but maybe you crazy brewers will find a home for Mr. Spirit Dragon.


This is where I see Ugin potentially finding a home. Take a look at this deck list:

[d title=”MUD by Peyton (Legacy)”]
4 Lodestone Golem
4 Wurmcoil Engine
3 Steel Hellkite
3 Phyrexian Revoker
3 Metalworker
2 Platinum Emperion
2 All Is Dust
4 Grim Monolith
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Thran Dynamo
3 Voltaic Key
2 Karn Liberated
4 City of Traitors
4 Wasteland
4 Rishadan Port
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Ancient Tomb
2 Buried Ruin
4 Trinisphere
4 Cursed Totem
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 All Is Dust
1 Karn Liberated

It’s everyone’s favorite, MUD. I see a lot of mana, and 2 [c]All is Dust[/c] main-deck. I would be willing to cut an AiD main-deck for an Ugin, as most of the time the nuke is killing only their permanents of about CMC 4 or less. Most decks that we would want to nuke are playing those smaller creatures. While Ugin cannot immediately deal with [c]Griselbrand[/c] or [c]Progenitus[/c], we do have the other AiD in the board. This is a switch I would totally be willing to make, as we are basically not changing a spot for the wrath effect, and adding a powerful threat to the list. I like it!


I’ll save this discussion for Steve in case he wants to do it, but decks like [c]Karn, Silver Golem[/c] and [c]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/c] already play [c]Karn Liberated[/c]. It’s not a stretch to make room for another planeswalker in the long-game grind that is the typical EDH game. I mean, [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] every turn is a 14 turn clock right? That’s not bad :)

That’s all I have for you this week. I hope the holidays are going well for y’all. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!


Commander Corner: Feldon of the Third Path

Happy Holidays,

Feldon was one of the most influential mages on his plane. He formed the Third Path, an alliance of mages, artificers, and other intellectuals, on a mission to defeat the Brothers during the Brothers War. During the formation of the Third Path, he met a wonderful Argivian woman named Loran. They fell in love with each other, but were then separated once the Brotherhood of Gix betrayed them.

This betrayal led to the destruction of the Third Path, lead by the powerful artificer Mishra. His juggernauts and other machinations laid waste to all that stood in their path, but some managed to flee. Hurkyl managed to dispach the menacing machines, saving the surviving wizards. These wizards took up Hurkyl’s teachings in a effort to protect themselves, Feldon among them.

During the two lovers’ separation, Loran sought to get the Golgothian Sylex to safety, but was captured by Ashnod. She was tortured and beaten until she gave up information about the Sylex. Afterwards, she managed to escape Ashnod’s clutches. She reunited with Feldon, and they lived together in a small cottage outside of the Ronom Glacier.

Ashnod later used the information she acquired from Loran to use the Sylex. She gave this information to Urza, who used it to deal with Mishra. The blast was the most powerful force in the plane’s history. The activation of the Sylex led to the Ice Age on Dominaria.

During the Ice age, Loran, weakened from age and from the cold, coupled with the wounds she sustained from her run-in with Ashnod, passed on. Feldon fell into madness, fueled with grief over the lost of his love. He tried everything in his power to bring her back to life. He even built an automaton in her image, but then dispatched it, as he was displeased with his work. He knew that this was not the Loran he fell in love with. He made the manikin into a statue over her grave.

Over many years, Feldon sought help in resurrecting his love. He met many mages, each one unable to help him. Finally, he met a white mage who gave him the ability to create a copy of Loran using his memories. After he created a copy of her, he said his goodbyes, and let her go. He decided that closure is all he really wanted in the end. Feldon spent the rest of his days happy, allowing people to use his library, along with his own knowledge for magical research.

[c]Feldon of the Third Path[/c] is a card full of potential and flavor. The card encapsulates a moment in his life when he was searching for a way to bring back his love, Loran. He works exceptionally well with any card with an ETB or death trigger. The ability to abuse him with a few untap effects and the powerful interactions between him and [c]Sundial of the Infinite[/c] can create an unstoppable army of artifacts to beat your opponents into dust. Let’s take a look at what Feldon will bring back to you.

feldon of the third path

“She will come back to me”

[d title=”Feldon of the Third Path (EDH)”]


1 Feldon of the Third Path


1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

26 Snow-Covered Mountain

1 Smoldering Crater

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

1 Scrying Sheets

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Miren, the Moaning Well

1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

1 Forgotten Cave

1 Flamekin Village

1 Deserted Temple[/d]



1 Zealous Conscripts

1 Wurmcoil Engine

1 Spitebellows

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Rummaging Goblin

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Precursor Golem

1 Pilgrim’s Eye

1 Myr Battlesphere

1 Mogg War Marshal

1 Mindclaw Shaman

1 Manic Vandal

1 Mad Prophet

1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

1 Keldon Firebombers

1 It That Betrays

1 Ingot Chewer

1 Inferno Titan

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Firemaw Kavu

1 Duplicant

1 Burnished Hart

1 Beetleback Chief

1 Balefire Dragon

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Academy Raider[/d]



1 Smash to Smithereens

1 Skred

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Lightning Axe

1 Incinerate

1 Fling

1 Firestorm

1 Comet Storm

1 Chaos Warp


1 Vandalblast

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Gamble

1 Faithless Looting

1 Chain Lightning


1 Warstorm Surge

1 Vicious Shadows

1 Pandemonium[/d]



1 Thran Dynamo

1 Thousand-Year Elixir

1 Sundial of the Infinite

1 Staff of Domination

1 Sol Ring

1 Skullclamp

1 Sensei’s Divining Top

1 Rings of Brighthearth

1 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Mind Stone

1 Magewright’s Stone

1 Helm of Possession

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Gauntlet of Power

1 Feldon’s Cane

1 Extraplanar Lens

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Caged Sun


With some looting and plenty of enter the battlefield, deals combat damage, or death triggers, this deck is at its best with Feldon in play. The deck can run by itself, but kicks it into high gear when Feldon is on the battlefield. Being able to use this [c]Kiki-Jiki[/c]-esque effect after your threats are dealt with is extremely powerful, forcing your opponent to commit more resources to dealing with a card they already dealt with before. There are downsides to this style of deck, as you will be running sub-optimally without Feldon in play.

The standard gamut of creatures that one would expect to see with this style of deck are [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c], [c]Precursor Golem[/c], [c]Myr Battlesphere[/c], [c]It That Betrays[/c], [c]Inferno Titan[/c], and [c]Balefire Dragon[/c]. These creatures will be able to take control over the game and really do a number on your opponents. The plus for this deck is that a creature is never really dealt with unless it’s exiled. I would argue that having the ability to make a creature token based from a creature in the graveyard is more powerful then making a token copy of a creature on the field. Even after your opponent spends a card dealing with the threat originally, they still have to deal with it when you bring it back with Feldon’s ability each turn. There are also various looters to help fuel your graveyard while providing some card advantage.

One card that most lists don’t take full advantage of is [c]Sundial of the Infinite[/c]. This bizarre card is actually exactly what any Feldon deck is looking for. Being able to end the turn at any time during your turn is a powerful interaction with Feldon, as you get to keep the tokens you make with him. This combo can easily overwhelm your opponent with your powerful creatures. It’s going to be hard for any opponent to come back after having to deal with an army of [c]Balefire Dragon[/c]s or [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]s. This deck takes some time to set up, but has a snowball effect, since you’re going to be generating so much advantage out of each creature you play.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you guys or gals have any suggestions for a new commander you want me to take a look at, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we build a toolbox. See you next week my friends, and happy holidays.

-Steven Gulsby

The Pauper Gauntlet, Season Two: Top 10

We are almost ready to enter the endgame of the second season of the Pauper Gauntlet. Before we do so, I wanted to share with you the results so far and explain to you what The Top 10 Playoff is.

Without further ado, here are the results of the Pauper Gauntlet.

Decks eliminated before round seven

Only three decks out of 77 lost during double elimination (R1+2): Pox, Deathtouch, Dumb Green Tron

Round three

The early losers were Icy Hot Hottie, Illusory Tricks, Love Train, AzoriusKitty by ShaffaWaffa5, Mono Black Control, 1-Land-Spy, Allies, CawBlade, Cogs, Dimir Cipher Tricks, GruulKitty, GW Beatdown, Hobo Omelette, Glass Cannon Red, Izzet Splice and Burn, Metalcraft, Midnight Presence, Mono Green Devotion, Mono Red Kuldotha Tron, People of the Sun, Pesky Clerics, RG Madness, Rise of the Legionaire, Rot Wolf Control, Shock the Kitty, Slivers, Thunder Trees, Turbo Fog, UB Creatureless Control, WatchRites, White Hot Hottie (31 decks)

Round four

UB Trinket Control, Delver, BeastDown, Tron, Izzet Control, Croca Jund, Crypt Songs, Elf Bomb, Hexproof, Golgari Undead Dredge, Infect, Squawks to Plowshares, Squawk Rites, Thallid Bowel Control, UG Madness, Zoo.

The voteback

You decided that Love Train, TurboFog and Illusory Tricks deserved a second chance at glory.

Round five

Devil Children lost to Affinity 0-2
Dimir Teachings lost to Affinity 1-2
Five Color Green gets its enchanted lands destroyed by RG Land Destruction 0-2
Gray Mercenaries of Asphodel lost to Affinity 1-2
Mana Burn lost to Delver 1-2
Mono Blue Artifacts lost to RUG Tron 0-2
Mono Red Ping lost to Izzet Trinket 0-2
Persistently Undying lost to Izzet Cruise Control 0-2
Project X got run over by DelverFiend 0-2
Turbo Fog lots to Obzens playing AzoriusTron 0-2

Round six

Bant Presence lost to DelverFiend 0-2
Illusory Tricks lost to Burn 0-2
Love Train lost the unlikely mirror match 1-2
Mono Black Land Destruction lost to Affinity 0-2
MUC lost to Affinity 0-2
Tortured Toolbox lost to Winter Zoo 0-2


Round seven turned into a bloodbath. Only half the decks survived! That was unexpected, to say the least.

AzoriusKitty lost to Affinity 0-2. Yes, it was Eredion again. That guy is a Gauntlet killer!
BorosKitty lost to Burn 0-2. The champion has fallen!
DelverFiend lost to Boros Metalcraft 0-2
Goblins lost to Surucucu playing RG Aggro 1-2
Green Grifters lost to Affinity 0-2
Green One was defeated by Izzet Tron 0-2
Rebel Grind lost to Izzet Tron 0-2

The winners that are about to enter round 8

Only seven decks remain. That means that these seven decks are in the top 10! Why is that important? Well, the top 10 decks are automatically qualified for the third season of the Pauper Gauntlet (if there is such a thing)

But these decks are winners! They are all champions already! Let me show you their great triumph!

Affinity beats Esper Control 2-1

BUGs & Pigs defeats BUG Slivers 2-0

Burn defeats DelverFiend 2-1

Exhume Control defeats … another ShaffaWaffa deck you know and love!

Familiars beats Zoo Hexproof 2-1 despite 7 mulligans!

Mono Red Heroic beats Hexproof 2-1

Stompy defeats 1-land-spy 2-0

These seven decks will start to play round 1 on the first day of 2015.

Wait? That’s a whole week from now! What about the weekly rounds? Well, we have some other business to attend to.

The top 10 Playoff

The seven decks that lost in round 7 will now have to play a whole mini-gauntlet with three winners to determine which three decks belong in the top 10 with the winners. This mini-guantlet can be several rounds of action until three clear winners remain, but be not afraid – I promise you it will all be done by New Year and that by December 31st we will konw which three decks take the 8th, 9th and 10th place in this season of the Pauper Gauntlet.

So, to remind you, the competitors for the last three spots in the top 10 are

Green Grifters
Green One
Rebel Grind

Other stuff

I have a secret. When I write this TWO of the top 7 decks are still unclaimed in the competition! That is pretty strange IMHO. Maybe you all placed your bets a bit early.

What is the Pauper Gauntlet and what are the rules?

Full list of the 77 Pauper Gauntlet decks for the second season.

The Standard Pauper Show, Issue 25

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Unfortunately, that is about it for the week.

We did have Bava on to discuss his rise to glory and that was awesome. Thanks man!

Here is his deck list:

2 Ainok Bond-Kin
3 Akroan Crusader
4 Akroan Skyguard
2 Jeskai Student
4 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
4 Satyr Hoplite
4 Defiant Strike
4 Feat of Resistance
4 Gods Willing
4 Chosen by Heliod
4 Dragon Mantle
2 Inferno Fist
4 Evolving Wilds
5 Mountain
6 Plains
4 Wind-Scarred Crag

2 Fall of the Hammer
3 Scouring Sands
4 Pillar of Light
2 Lightning Strike
4 Hopeful Eidolon

The “curve”:

Yeah, not really a curve just a tower of power!

I wish I had more to offer. But it is the holiday season and I am already worn out. Whose idea was it to have so many holidays in one month? I think I need to write a letter to someone and voice my concerns.

Section 2: The Speculation

With so few cards spoiled for the next set, “Fate Reforged”, I thought I would speculation/wish for a new common.

100% fake card
buckler beetle
Pure speculation

Yes, I totally ripped off a Yugioh card.

With the mechanic spoiled, I feel this is a decent representation of what Bolster can be used on. Turn one [c]Gladecover Scout[/c], turn two Buckler Beetle. Now you can either have a 2/3 on the field or a 3/3 hexproof. I love that idea. It is like [c]Bond Beetle[/c] but for {G}{G}.

Let me know what you think!

Season’s Beatings 2: Element of Surprise

Hi all,

Merry Christmas! This is my last article of 2014, so here are some of my resolutions.

-Continue to avoid Jell-O.
-Learn a Jellyroll Morton song on piano.
-Cash with a deck cheaper than any other I can find on results sites. This gives me a budget of $10 in Modern because of an Elf-tribal aggro deck that placed years ago. As of this week, I have $21 to work with in Legacy. A player ran Burn with neither [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] nor [c]Goblin Guide[/c] to a 3-1 finish. For these lists, refer to the links at the end of this article.

I have no idea what I can do with either of those budgets at the moment. Check back with me in a year; I work well under a budget.

What draws players to budget Magic is enough content for an article series, I’m sure. The articles could cover strategy, economics, sociology, psychiatry, the gamut. Suffice it all to say, if you run across a list with two digits before the decimal point, it catches your attention. This week, MTGO user Asthenic’s Mono Red Elementals deck is that list. Take a look for yourself:

[d title=”Asthenic Elementals (Modern)”]
16 Mountain
1 Smoldering Spires

3 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Nivmagus Elemental

Other Spells
4 Apostle’s Blessing
4 Assault Strobe
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Ground Rift
4 Gut Shot
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Noxious Revival
2 Titan’s Strength

4 Young Pyromancer
4 Dragon’s Claw
3 Clout of the Dominus
2 Vandalblast
2 Pyroclasm[/d]

Phyrexian mana spells have really been popular lately, and their volatile price peaks and troughs are evidence of their power without a definite home. I like the deck; it is rather soft, but the element of surprise is enough to steal a few game ones in a Daily Event. By the time your opponent knows what you’re up to, they’re regretting their early-turn decisions while shuffling up for game 2. The sideboarding plan is surely a mess, and I would enjoy better Affinity hate, some number of [c]Sudden Shock[/c], and maybe even a [c]Surgial Extraction[/c] or two. Regarding the main-deck, I personally hate to see 17 land outside of Pauper, and I suspect that Pauper players are chronically using too few lands themselves. Your [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] plan requires 2 lands on turn 2 to be effective, and the math just isn’t there.

The history of this deck begins with Gerry Thompson, who piloted a Rakdos list of the same archetype to a high finish for a Return to Ravnica Pro Tour event. Most recently, Dejohne Umtuch placed second at the SCG Premier IQ Portland with a list that replaces the [c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c] with copies of [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] to reduce tempo loss and have more threats. Additionally, Khans sweethearts [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] join the party. The former is yet another combo enabler with the free spells, and the latter gives us enough gas to keep the pedal to the metal. Here is Dejohne’s deck:

[d title=”Dejohne Death’s Shadow (Modern)”]
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Blood Crypt
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Polluted Delta
1 Steam Vents
4 Sulfurous Springs
1 Watery Grave

3 Death’s Shadow
3 Kiln Fiend
3 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Nivmagus Elemental

Other Spells
3 Apostle’s Blessing
1 Dismember
3 Gut Shot
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
3 Tainted Strike
2 Assault Strobe
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Ground Rift
4 Thoughtseize
3 Treasure Cruise[/d]

What a wild assortment of amounts these cards have! I’m convinced that all the 3-ofs must be the either the result of so much or so minimal testing. If I saw this list outside of the event results, I would probably tell myself that someone just wanted to play all of the cards with no regard for when they drew how many of them.

The greater strike I have against this deck, or the reason that it is so tainted in my opinion, is … did you figure it out? That’s right: [c]Tainted Strike[/c]. In the old haymaker lists, you had three creatures to attack with at the most: [c]Kiln Fiend[/c], [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c], and [c]Death’s Shadow[/c]. Whenever any of these creatures reached nine power, [c]Tainted Strike[/c] dealt a lethal blow in its one swing.

This deck is different. Here, our plan B is to build lethal incrementally using [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c], and it’s a darn good plan, especially with the support from [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. In a format where mana-bases deal five damage to their players, let’s take advantage of being the deck that can most quickly deal 15 more. Let’s not allow our opponent to be functionally at 25 life before the game begins, dealing 19 points of regular damage with Swiftspear and 10 more with a [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] targeted by [c]Tainted Strike[/c]. It works for Affinity, but that’s a different animal altogether.

So, taking a more streamlined, regular damage approach, here is my build of Grixis Elemental combo:

[d title=”Drinkard Elementals (Modern)”]
4 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 City of Brass
4 Polluted Delta
1 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave

3 Death’s Shadow
3 Kiln Fiend
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Nivmagus Elemental

Other Spells
4 Apostle’s Blessing
2 Assault Strobe
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Ground Rift
4 Gut Shot
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
3 Treasure Cruise

4 Not of this World
2 Rakdos Charm
2 Shattering Spree
4 Thoughtseize
3 Young Pyromancer

After tinkering around with the list, I can definitely understand the number of three-ofs. I may drop [c]Assault Strobe[/c] altogether, as many Pauper U/R Delver Fiend players have done. It may prove to be overkill. On the other end of the spectrum, I may be too greedy by dropping the maindeck [c]Thoughtseize[/c]. The thing is that I don’t expect there to be a faster combo, and [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c] plus the regular suite of pump effects protect our creatures.

The sideboard is my favorite part of the deck. We get another free spell in [c]Not of this World[/c]. It has been used in [c]Dark Depths[/c] Legacy combos to protect Cthulhu, and similarly it can save a [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] after two others instants or sorceries have resolved, a [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] when we are at six life, or a [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c] after three activations. We bring these guys in to support [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c] in the matchups where we expect to see [c]Path to Exile[/c] and even [c]Slaughter Pact[/c].

It’s not the cheapest deck I could enter into a Modern Daily Event, but it would probably be the most fun. Enjoy the free spells, and enjoy the free wins!


As promised, here are the benchmarks for cheapest decks (that I’ve found anyway) in Modern and Legacy:

User mlschultz’s absurdly cheap Elf Lord deck in Modern:

User alexstrasza_95’s 20 ticket Legacy burn deck:

Legacy on Mondays: EPIC Combo

Welcome Back!

So as you all know, I am a huge fan of combo decks in this format. I spent a month writing about [c]High Tide[/c] for goodness’ sake! But this week I want to share a combo deck that is even crazier in some circumstances. I mean, [c]Omniscience[/c] is a helluva card. Before M13 though, we had a blue enchantment that was equally broken: [c]Dream Halls[/c]. For half the mana, both players get a way of going bananas and casting everything just by discarding a card with a common color. The best part of this deck is that it uses that weird, never-player rare from Conflux: [c]Conflux[/c]. Casting [c]Conflux[/c] with any card in the deck in hand allows us to pull of some incredibly broken things. Check out the list:

[d title=”Dream Halls”]
1 Bogardan Hellkite
4 Progenitus
3 Lotus Petal
4 Dream Halls
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
4 Conflux
3 Cruel Ultimatum
4 Ponder
4 Show and Tell
4 Thoughtseize
4 Lim-Dûl’s Vault
5 Island
3 Ancient Tomb
4 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Underground Sea
2 Pithing Needle
3 Propaganda
2 Meditate
1 Hydroblast
1 Rushing River
2 Spell Pierce
4 Duress

The Setup

Like most combo decks, this one packs a plethora of spells to set up the combo turn. The classics like [c]Brainstorm[/c] and [c]Ponder[/c] are of course present, but there is one card here that is strangely good but awkwardly worded: [c]Lim-Dul’s Vault[/c]. The vault is amazing; for just a few life points it lets you set up amazing draws for a few turns.

Another part of the setup that I believe most people ignore is the pre-protection. Having 4 [c]Thoughtseize[/c] main deck allows us to remove some of the opponent’s permission before trying to get a [c]Dream Halls[/c] down. We then have [c]Force of Will[/c] to fight through whatever else they may have. Overall, the potential to have a safe combo is very high in this deck. As you will see in the next section, [c]Conflux[/c] also enables a very safe combo while trying to go off, as it can find [c]Force of Will[/c] while you attempt to kill them.

The Combo

Step 1: Get [c]Dream Halls[/c] in play. This can be achieved by hard-casting it with [c]Lotus Petal[/c] and [c]Ancient Tomb[/c], or by using [c]Show and Tell[/c]. [c]Show and Tell[/c] can also be used to just drop [c]Progenitus[/c] into play, which is brutal. He can also be cast using [c]Dream Halls[/c] if a combo is not available. This can just put away most fair decks.

Step 2: Cast [c]Conflux[/c] using the Halls. Search for [c]Bogardan Hellkite[/c], a [c]Cruel Ultimatum[/c], another [c]Conflux[/c], [c]Force of Will[/c], and [c]Progenitus[/c].

Step 3: Discard the Hellkite to cast an Ultimatum, returning Hellkite to your hand.

Step 4: Cast the other [c]Conflux[/c], searching up the same things except keeping the Force in hand and the Hellkite.

Step 5: Repeat using all three [c]Cruel Ultimatum[/c] to get the opponent to 5, then for the kill just cast the Hellkite with [c]Dream Halls[/c] for the final 5 damage.

Step 6: GG.

It is really an amazing deck. The fact that you are casting so many spells to win is rather irrelevant; the deck can find a [c]Force of Will[/c] every time you [c]Conflux[/c]. The [c]Progenitus[/c] backup plan is also very effective, especially against fair decks. Fortunately, [c]Dream Halls[/c] is also a state-based effect (I am pretty sure that’s what it is called? Judges, please confirm!), which means that [c]Pithing Needle[/c] and [c]Phyrexian Revoker[/c] are completely ineffective combo hate.

The sideboard also gives the deck some resiliency and backup against other strategies. It is fairly self-explanatory, except for [c]Raging River[/c] and [c]Meditate[/c]. The River is for matchups when lots of permanent removal, i.e. [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] and friends, will be there to try and slow you down. Normally the land sac doesn’t matter too much, especially for the benefits of being able to hit two things instead of one. [c]Meditate[/c] is for the control matchups when drawing cards is worth skipping a turn. It also goes along quite nicely with [c]Lim-Dul’s Vault[/c] to get powerful combo hands.

Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you like the deck, and maybe you will play it instead of Sneak & Show for more fun and cool wins at your next event. Thanks for reading!


The Standard Pauper Show, Issue 24

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

EDIT: Sometimes in my zeal for editing I go over board. This was one of those times. Our own Bava has made the top 2 in the league! Please give him a shout out when you can. Congrats Bava!

Four months of the gauntlet so far, I still can’t believe it has gone by so fast.

MPDC 27.08
15 December 2014
Standard · 17 Players
11 Decks · ~65% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 4 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

1st Wins! by MyGalaxy
2nd Izzet Control by tazerdadog
T4 UW Heroes by AmericanGaren
T4 BWR can’t touch this by Ruthelis

Cruise Watch: 2014
1st Place: 0 Cruise
2nd Place: 4 Cruise
3rd Place: 0 Cruise
4th Place: 0 Cruise

Lowest count so far this season. That cost may just be too steep for this format to really embrace it.

Section 2: The Winning Deck

Standard · Aggro
1st by MyGalaxy in MPDC 27.08 (5-0)

4 Loyal Pegasus
4 Mardu Hordechief
4 Selfless Cathar
4 Sungrace Pegasus
3 Akroan Skyguard
3 Jeskai Student
1 Cavalry Pegasus

4 Ajani’s Presence
4 Raise the Alarm
3 Inspired Charge
3 Triplicate Spirits
2 Gods Willing

19 Plains
2 Radiant Fountain

4 Pillar of Light
4 Oppressive Rays
3 Divine Favor
3 Kill Shot
1 Triplicate Spirits

Curve time!

Again, the double tower approach to the curve reigns supreme.

You probably cannot ask for a better opening hand. You have two heroes, some creature based pump and a protection spells. What more do you want from an opening hand?

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

If you like gas, then have I got a six card rip for you! I really like where this deck is going. You be aggressive in white and come out looking like a saint! (See what I did there?)

Section 3: You did it! You really made it happen!

For several weeks I have been asking all of you to make Standard Pauper happen at your local gaming store. Finally, one of you did it!

Dr. Chris Baker, who helps out Team Fireball with his medically trained hands, managed to pull off quite the coup! None other than itself is hosting a real live Standard Pauper event this weekend. I am in shock. I love this so much.

Let’s take a look at their posting:


12/21 Standard Pauper
Come join us for Standard Pauper this Sunday!

Format: Standard Pauper is a Constructed format of 75 cards (60 Maindeck, 15 sideboard) consisting entirely of Standard-legal commons only.

Entry: $6

Time: Noon

Rounds: 4


  • 4-0: 10 packs
  • 3-0-1: 8 packs
  • 3-1: 6 packs
  • 2-1-1: 4 packs
  • 2-2: 2 packs
  • 1-3: 1 pack

Amazing, for only $6 you can play a great format, get real live competition experience, and win some really good prizes. This is about as good of support as we could possibly hope for. ChannelFireball is the real deal. They sponsor a killer team at all of the Grand Prix’ and they have some of the best content around for serious magic players. If we ever wanted to be “legit” then now is the time!

I am very sad that I cannot make this event. Unfortunately it is about 1.000 miles away in Santa Clara, CA, and that is a bit out of my range for a day trip. I am hoping that anyone who goes to this event will take pictures or at least copy down some deck lists. I will post them up here along with next article and mention them on the Show as well. If you are in the area please click the link above and register for this fun event.

Season’s Beatings: Red/Green in different formats

Hi all,

I’m getting ready to celebrate some time off work with some online grinding that I haven’t been able to do for quite a while. I really love where I am with MTGO right now; I have the skeletons of several decks in Legacy and Modern, lots of Event Tickets at my disposal, and time to brew, practice, and enter events coming my way.

But down to business.

Christmas colors are Red and Green, so here are some Legacy and Modern brews as my gift to you.

Modern Aggro

Here’s a turn 3 aggro deck in a format where Wizards is keeping combo decks to turn 4.

For Modern I wanted to present some things that are a little different, but we are stuck within some confines of Red, Green, so you know we are going to go beats first of all. Here we have an [c]Experiment One[/c] deck that is, well, experimental.

[d title=”Gift of the Woods”]
2 Copperline Gorge
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Experiment One
4 Kird Ape
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Vexing Devil
4 Wild Nacatl

Other Spells
3 Colossal Might
4 Groundswell
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Rancor[/d]

There are lots of lines of play here that lead to a turn 3 kill. They have several variations and levels of risk, but the classic line is this:

Turn 1: [c]Experiment One[/c]

Turn 2: [c]Burning-Tree Emissary[/c] into [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] and [c]Vexing Devil[/c]. Attack with a 4/4 [c]Experiment One[/c]. Opponent is at 16 or 12, depending on how they responded to [c]Vexing Devil[/c].

Turn 3: Assuming the opponent is at 16, our creatures have 13 power, but all we need is [c]Colossal Might[/c], [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], or [c]Groundswell[/c] for the rest regardless of the demon being in play.

There are also plays involving [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] that are convoluted and require a lot of typing. The point is the keyword “prowess” is insane. [c]Rancor[/c] triggering prowess makes me feel all warm inside, like milk and cookies.

The pump spells here help us operate against [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], so don’t just run them out unprotected.

The [c]Colossal Might[/c] is a strict upgrade over [c]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/c] because it has more synergy with [c]Burning-Tree Emissary[/c], and it can be used during any phase of the game.

Modern Combo

When other combo decks are stunted, let’s play the one that can get there on turn 2. The format now is probably better for Infect than it ever was at Theros’ release: no one is playing [c]Lingering Souls[/c], and Pod players are not running [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c]. If Delver resolves [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], though, you probably won’t have the gas to keep up.

[d title=”Serpent’s Gift”]
2 Copperline Gorge
4 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Pendelhaven
3 Stomping Ground
2 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Glistener Elf
4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Necropede

Other Spells
3 Apostle’s Blessing
1 Become Immense
4 Groundswell
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Rancor
4 Vines of Vastwood[/d]

So we have a plan for everything, but sometimes you draw into the wrong plan against the wrong opponent. There are more trample and protection effects in this deck than in traditional Mono-Green Infect decks, and [c]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/c], despite my earlier-posted reservations, dodges [c]Spellskite[/c]. Also, in a pinch, when the opponent has recklessly used their life total as a resource, he can win handily with regular damage.

Legacy Aggro

RIP Legacy Aggro. I tried so very hard to get Zoo going. I think I am about two months too late to win packs with Zoo. There was a tiny blip where the format primarily had [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] for removal and had a lot of Elves and Delvers. That time, and that time only, was perfect for a Zoo deck whose creatures survived its own [c]Pyroclasm[/c] and [c]Volcanic Fallout[/c]. The combo matches were awkward, I’ll admit, but at the same time, we are more consistent game 1. In games 2 and 3, there is enough hate in Naya colors that we can play to slow them down without diluting our strategy. On a last note about Zoo, while looking through creatures that cost 2 and have 4 or greater toughness, I found [c]Plant Elemental[/c]. What the heck, why isn’t this online? Is there a list of cards that aren’t online but are printed?

Nevermind my failed experiment, though. Let’s fire out another attempt at Aggro in Legacy. This Goblin deck sets itself apart from the rest by maximizing on [c]Goblin Lackey[/c] effects, token generators, and Lord effects. Instead of a solo [c]Goblin Piledriver[/c] swinging for 30, we want lots of 3/3 guys, and we won’t say no to one or two of them having double strike.

[d title”Gift of The Gargantuan…Goblins]
4 Cavern of Souls
7 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Pendelhaven
4 Taiga
4 Wooded Foothills

2 Boartusk Liege
4 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Goblin Chieftain
3 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Goblin Ringleader
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Matron
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
4 Mogg Fanatic
1 Stingscourger
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Tarfire[/d]

In our sideboard, we want to jam all the [c]Chalice of the Void[/c] and [c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c] that we can muster against the graveyard-centric combo decks. I know the green-ness of this Christmas-themed Red/Green Goblin deck is in question (did you not see the cost of [c]Boartusk Liege[/c]?), but if we hope to have a chance against Miracles, then we will play [c]Krosan Grip[/c] in the side.

Legacy Combo

Here is a land-centric combo deck with lots of inevitability, which I really like in Legacy with a lot of durdlesome decks going around now. [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] and [c]Dark Depths[/c] are two win conditions that cannot be countered and in general are very difficult to deal with. We are splashing red in this traditionally Mono-Green deck because Christmas and also because [c]Pyroclasm[/c] feels really good right now. Additionally, we have [c]Boil[/c], [c]Sudden Shock[/c], and [c]Ancient Grudge[/c] as sideboard options. Want to beat Delver and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]? Play threats that cannot be countered and ignore removal, and you can’t get tempo’d out.

[d title=”Gift of Estates”]
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cavern of Souls
4 Cloudpost
1 Dark Depths
2 Dryad Arbor
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Glacial Chasm
4 Glimmerpost
1 Karakas
1 Riftstone Portal
2 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Taiga
4 Vesuva
3 Wooded Foothills

1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Eternal Witness
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Primeval Titan
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Ulamog, The Infinite Gyre

Other Spells
1 All Is Dust
4 Crop Rotation
4 Expedition Map
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
2 Into the North
2 Moment’s Peace
1 Perilous Vault
3 Pithing Needle
3 Sylvan Library

Legacy has questions, and this deck has answers.

I hope you have enjoyed these brews or archived lists with varying degrees of a loosely-based Red/Green theme. Maybe you’ll see one posted with my name on it in January.


‘Tis the Season: Gaming for Charity

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to talk about charity. If you’re looking for some good Pauper content, I suggest you go read this.

Earlier this year, Dan, Peyton, and I all spent time streaming to raise money for local children’s hospitals through the Extra Life Game Day. We had a lot of fun and we raised a little money, but we only got about halfway to our goal.

So, this is the last time I’ll ask, but I hope you’ll consider supporting us. If you think of the great content we provide, for free, here on the site and over on our YouTube channel, perhaps you will find it a worthy investment to chip in on our behalf. Our team goal is to raise just $200 before the end of the year. It’s completely reachable.

Below are videos of our streams: Peyton’s and Dan’s as they happened; mine I cut up into more digestible chunks. Check them out and please donate to support Extra Life if you are able. Even $2 helps support a great cause and gets us closer to our goal.

Donate here.

Thank you.

Bava’s Stream for the Extra Life Game Day


Donate here.

Dan’s stream for the Extra Life Game Day


Donate here.

Peyton’s stream for the Extra Life Game Day


Donate here.

Thank you for your support!


On Cannons and When To Use Them

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the kings’ horses,
And all the kings’ men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Thanks to pictorial evidence, many of us have believed our entire lives that Humpty Dumpty was an egg. The nursery rhyme says nothing of eggs, but Lewis Carroll dressed an egg in a fine suit and called it Humpty Dumpty. Did you know that legend has it that Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon employed in the English Civil War?

A powerful weapon was destructive to its enemies, but even it had a weakness: it couldn’t withstand a fall. Depending on the fall, who can blame Humpty? Not many of us do well with falls, particularly with age.

As a format, Modern is full of cannons of varying weaknesses. By this, I mean that Modern has a lot of combo decks. I would argue that the proportion of combo decks is larger in Modern than in other formats. Brewers love Modern, and brewers love combos, whether strong or weak. What’s more, watchers of brewers particularly love to see combos work. For fun and flavor, let’s give each combo type a name: Fodder Cannon, Loose Cannon, and Glass Cannon.

Fodder Cannon

These are combos that are too weak to the format or otherwise require a lot of effort but produce minimal result. Here are the simple rules of combo decks and some ways that decks adhere to or break these rules:

1) The deck must be able to win by turn four or tame Burn.

Burn is the pacesetter of Modern. If you have a combo deck that is built around [c]Rooftop Storm[/c] and [c]Beck[/c], then you had better do one of two things: play removal and counter-magic, or play ramp (frankly, in this case, you’d better do both, and then scrap the idea). Otherwise, once you have finally assembled six mana of specific colors and successfully played the enchantment, you will probably be at approximately -49 life.

This rule sets the casting cost bar at roughly four. [c]Splinter Twin[/c] and [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c] are able to break this rule because they have removal and counter-magic.

2) Your combo must not contain more than two cards.

Additionally, it would be best if the order of card resolution didn’t matter. Modern is full of soft counters, so if you have to resolve spells in a specific way, [c]Mana Leak[/c], [c]Remand[/c], and [c]Spell Pierce[/c] become more powerful.

In accordance with the turn four rule, we cannot try to sculpt our hands to contain three specific cards for a combo. [c]Serum Visions[/c] has become more expensive online than [c]Timetwister[/c] of power nine fame, and it is because the hand-sculpting in Modern is ghastly. We do not have [c]Brainstorm[/c], [c]Ponder[/c], and [c]Preordain[/c] like other formats do (even Pauper!), so while it is great to witness [c]Bronze Bombshell[/c] play an [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c], we cannot depend on it happening reliably enough to be a good idea.

Notice here, I mean that combos must be two cards period, to win or do something big. I am not saying infinite-mana two card combos. [c]Freed From the Real[/c] and [c]Bloom Tender[/c] is a three-card combo, and as such, it hasn’t shown results.

3) If your combo has two cards, then it must have some redundancy.

Again, our draw is terrible. [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] combo plays [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] to draw its entire deck, but what does it do if it doesn’t draw [c]Angel’s Grace[/c]? It plays [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c]! Meanwhile [c]Mystical Teachings[/c], [c]Dig Through Time[/c], and [c]Peer Through Depths[/c] find the [c]Ad Nauseam[/c].

Decks that win based on an infinite two-card combo will suffer if the two cards are limited to four-of each, especially if that two-card combo only generates infinite mana.

4) [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] is the most commonly played card in Modern, period.

[c]Midnight Guard[/c], [c]Etherium Sculptor[/c], [c]Laboratory Maniac[/c], [c]Grand Architect[/c] and [c]Pili-Pala[/c] are all cards that scream “Build a combo around me!” but ultimately, they die too easily to a card you will face in roughly 47% of your games. In the case of [c]Laboratory Maniac[/c], when he goes, so do you.

Decks that break these rules are fodder. Trade fodder, trash can fodder, just fodder. Without a draw and tutoring engine, a two card combo with redundancy, pieces that cost less than five mana, and some level of resiliency, these combo decks are, sadly, trash.

Loose Cannons

This, like “fodder cannons,” is a term that I am coining here myself, I believe. These are combo decks that can prey on a format that is soft to them. These are the most interesting to me. These aren’t glass cannon decks that are only strong as long as the opponent shows a lack of respect for them, but they are decks that are only strong when particular decks are strong.

My favorite example of this is Mono-Green Infect.

Right around the release of Theros, Jund, Pod, and Twin were kings. As such, Tron was the fourth most popular deck. Tron preyed on its favorable match-ups, and Tron players grew in numbers. This paved the way for combo decks that were able to beat Tron such as Infect. Every time I saw an [c]Expedition Map[/c], I knew I was well on my way to a pack.

Similarly, a few months ago, Burn reigned supreme. It was awful how prevalent Burn was in Modern. As a result, Soul Sisters, Martyr Proclamation, and Bogles entered the foray. Guess what’s good against these decks! Infect, of course. And naturally, like clockwork, decks with price tags under 50 tickets have been earning packs because their opponents were worried about gaining life.

We will call these Loose Cannon combo decks “C” decks, because they are designed to beat deck “B.” Deck A is ruling the format, so a tier 2 or below deck has emerged as a foil. If you can recognize and capitalize on these moments, then you stand a fair chance of winning with your combo deck.

I will say, though, for the players aspiring to win with C decks, it is often miserable to play against Deck A. When I played Green Infect, it was dreadful to get paired against Twin, Jund, and Melira Pod (especially the latter), and it was wonderful to get paired against the decks that beat it. Today, if you registered an event with Green Infect hoping to be paired against Bogles, Soul Sisters, and Martyr Proc, you will be happy to face those (and probably a few others), while being disappointed to face the Delver and Burn decks that they are designed to beat.

Glass Cannon

This term has been defined so many times. I personally use it to describe a combo that is vulnerable to an often-hated mode of Magic play. In every eternal format, you can expect there to exist varying amounts of artifact hate and graveyard hate, and you can expect [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]. There are powerful, powerful decks built around both artifacts, graveyards, and low-toughness creatures, and as long as the metagame isn’t paying these strategies the sideboard slots they are due, the decks will win big. The best example of this is Vintage Dredge. Expect to lose on turn two games 1 and 2 without dedicating sideboard space (or maindeck even) for its hate.

In Modern, combo decks that are dedicated to artifacts are Eggs variants. These will always be soft in the Modern metagame as long as Affinity requires players to use artifact hate. Nevertheless, sometimes [c]Etherium Sculptor[/c] isn’t bolted, and [c]Rest In Peace[/c] doesn’t enter the battlefield, and [c]Stony Silence[/c] doesn’t disrupt [c]Krark-Clan Ironworks[/c], and absolutely nothing is targeted by [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c] or [c]Shattering Spree[/c] enough times in an event that [c]Open the Vaults[/c] decks will place.

Combo decks that are graveyard-centric in Modern include [c]Griselbrand[/c]’s very own Tin Fins. [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c] has seen more play recently, or perhaps it is better to say that it has seen more victories recently. Three results of it cashing in dailies are published in the past month. Apparently [c]Tormenting Voice[/c] really was that much better than [c]Wild Guess[/c]. Many decks are hating graveyards to combat Delve strategies, but maybe there just were enough Delve decks that didn’t want graveyards exiled that [c]Griselbrand[/c] could come out to play. If it ever became a real problem, though, players would easily be able to adapt with a few sideboard slots, and the fire would be squelched for a few months.

Finally, glass cannons that are built around creatures include the [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] strategies. Gerry Thompson polluted many a mind by playing four of these with [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c], and others have followed him, toting [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] and [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] with them. I just don’t know what these people are on about. Modern is lousy with [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Path to Exile[/c], and [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], but I guess I have to forgive them with all the talk I do about [c]Glistener Elf[/c]. It is, after all, very tempting to play a deck that aims to lower the opponent’s life total when 1/4 or more of the damage is done for you with fetches, shocks, and [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c]s that U/R Delver players are firing off with no regard for their safety.

All of these glass cannon decks are insanely powerful, insomuch as the opponent does nothing. They are ever-present blips in the Modern metagame, whereas the Loose Cannon decks are those that have their heyday until the format puts them out.

I hope this discussion gives you some direction with how to build decks and what to play. My Magic-centered thinking for the next while is Legacy and Vintage, thanks to the Holiday Festival. I still haven’t landed on a Vintage or Legacy deck, but it is often on my mind. Will I see you there? Hope so!

Good luck, have fun.


Legacy on Mondays: How to Beat UR Delver

Welcome Back!

So, after my metagame analysis last week, I wanted to pick something simple to do with it. How about I choose a deck that I think is pretty well-suited to our metagame? Well, the analysis in a nutshell was that Blue Red Delver is all over the bloody place, and decks that beat it are decks that are doing well. Decks that are not so great against it, such as Goblins (which is why no one is sadly playing it; I stand firm in that it might take an unsuspecting meta by surprise), have fallen out of favor.

Well here is a rather “classic” Punishing Jund list. Let’s take a look, shall we?

[d title=”Punishing Jund”]
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
4 Punishing Fire
2 Hymn to Tourach
1 Life from the Loam
2 Sylvan Library
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Wasteland
3 Badlands
3 Bayou
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Marsh Flats
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Life from the Loam
2 Pithing Needle
1 Krosan Grip
1 Engineered Plague
2 Pernicious Deed
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Red Elemental Blast
2 Pyroblast
2 Duress


What makes this deck good?

Traditionally, Punishing Jund has been known for being disruptive with discard and removal coupled with efficient threats and sheer resource power. [c]Dark Confidant[/c] is so busted; this deck’s curve tops out at a measly four, and most of the time Bob will be dealing much less than that for an extra card a turn, while [c]Shock[/c]ing the opponent every turn if they cannot block him. Another similar card is [c]Life from the Loam[/c]. It lets the engine start rolling to [c]Wasteland[/c] lock the opponent or just thin the deck, recur a [c]Grove of the Burnwillows[/c], or spin a [c]Punishing Fire[/c] into the bin.

Besides those two card advantage sources, and the ridiculous removal count (12 main-deck if you count [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]!), Jund’s creatures are brutally efficient. If you have read my article about the cascade aggro deck, you know how much I love [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c]. The card is banned in Modern for goodness’ sake! Same with [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]. Those slow drains can quickly put an opponent away when coupled with another creature. And, of course, [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] is here to add the beats.

But why is it good for the metagame?

Well, this particular list absolutely wrecks Blue Red Delver. All of the removal in the deck, main and post-board, is relevant against them, and [c]Punishing Fire[/c] in particular kills every creature in the deck. Be wary of a [c]Daze[/c] to give that [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] a slight boost in response; even with Prowess a timely Fire can put away the annoying 1/2.

Post board, we are without Lilianas. They are just not that relevant. The edict is underwhelming with [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] tokens cavorting about, and the discard will probably help them to [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] more than it will help us. Instead, we have things like [c]Engineered Plague[/c]. This guy can keep elemental tokens off the board for good, or if “human” was named prevent [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] from ever living long enough to make them. Human mode also kills off the unflipped [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], and severely weakens Swiftspear.

[c]Pernicious Deed[/c] can also be used as a reset button should they escape the plethora of spot removal present. [c]Duress[/c] is a bit better than [c]Thoughtseize[/c] since it nabs most of their relevant stuff that we can’t prevent with out removal. Finally, all of the Red Blasts are a great way to stop their permission and kill Delvers should that be necessary. [c]Force of Will[/c] never looked so bad, facing down all of those lovely blasts…

So that’s Punishing Jund. The fairest of fair decks that just wants to drain your resources and kill everything you play. I believe it to be well-situated for the current meta, as it does well against Delver and many other decks that run permission and creatures. Looking at you, Merfolk.

I hope you enjoyed reading and hope to see you next week!