Announcing Community League #4: Standard Silverblack

Hi everyone!

Thanks to the amazing support of our patrons, I am happy to announce our fourth community league event. The format will be:

Standard Silverblack

community league 4 banner

In addition to this league, so long as our patrons keep coming through, we are now guaranteeing bi-monthly league events! That’s right, a new league every two months, guaranteed.

Here’s the thing, though.

This may be the last public league event. I’m not sure yet, but the reward does say “patron-exclusive” and I want to reward the people that are helping us live the dream. Running a league takes a lot of time and energy (as many of you know), so we also need to make sure that the investment has some payoff.

The biggest payoff is and always will be building a community around the Magic formats we love.

We’re seeking new partnerships and finding new ways to bring amazing content to an international audience. We love doing that, and we love the community that we have built up so far.

We don’t want to sacrifice that, and we won’t. So I want to ask you all, what seems fair?

Here are some options:

Option 1

Keep the bi-monthly leagues open to all, and find a different way to compensate our patrons.

Option 2

Keep the bi-monthly leagues open to all, but only people who are patrons will be able to win prizes.

Option 3

Make future league events patron-only. $2 per month is not too much to ask for great articles, videos, and player-run events.

What do you think? Pick a choice in the form at the bottom of this page, and weigh in down in the comments.

Sign up for the league

While you’re down there in the comments, sign up for league #4, Standard Silverblack!

To sign up, provide your MTGO username, your real name (or preferred pseudonym), and your time zone.

Registration closes on Thursday, March 12. Pairings will go up on the 13th, and you’ll have a week to get your matches in. We’ll continue to have weekly articles and there will be a place in the forums to discuss the format, matches, and more.

Weigh In

We want to do right by everyone, so share your thoughts.

Commander Corner: Horde of Notions

Welcome Back,

On the plane of Lorwyn, how elementals are created is an interesting thing. The grander elements are actually ideas. They are manifested dreams and ideas that have taken the form of bizarre and often animalistic beings.

One of these manifestations is [c]Horde of Notions[/c]. This being is known to many as the eldest elemental. It has been around for many years, even older than the oldest treefolk and elf.  It contains the answers to many of Lorwyn’s deepest and darkest secrets. It is the embodiment of these truths that have been a part of the underbelly of Lorwyn since the beginning of time.

Its whereabouts are a mystery. No living mortal has been able to spot this bizarre creature in the wild. Its power over nature, though, goes without question. Let’s take a dive into this manifestation of all that Lorwyn was, is, and ever will be.


This unique creature reminds me of a whale, a bear, and a tree merged together into some unique otherworldly being.

[d title= “The Leader of the Elements (EDH)”]


1 Horde of Notions


1 Azorius Guildgate

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Boros Guildgate

1 Breeding Pool

1 Cavern of Souls

1 City of Brass

1 Command Tower

1 Dimir Guildgate

1 Flooded Strand

1 Forest

1 Godless Shrine

1 Golgari Guildgate

1 Gruul Guildgate

1 Hallowed Fountain

1 Island[/d]


Lands Cont.

1 Izzet Guildgate

1 Mana Confluence

1 Maze’s End

1 Mountain

1 Orzhov Guildgate

1 Overgrown Tomb

1 Plains

1 Polluted Delta

1 Primal Beyond

1 Rakdos Guildgate

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Sacred Foundry

1 Selesnya Guildgate

1 Simic Guildgate

1 Steam Vents

1 Stomping Ground

1 Swamp

1 Temple Garden

1 Watery Grave

1 Windswept Heath

1 Wooded Foothills[/d]



1 Animar, Soul of Elements

1 Ashling, the Extinguisher

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Brighthearth Banneret

1 Composite Golem

1 Flamekin Harbinger

1 Forgotten Ancient

1 Fusion Elemental

1 Incandescent Soulstoke

1 Ingot Chewer

1 Inner-Flame Igniter

1 Liege of the Tangle

1 Maelstrom Wanderer

1 Mulldrifter

1 Nevermaker[/d]


Creatures Cont.

1 Nova Chaser

1 Shriekmaw

1 Skullbriar, the Walking Grave

1 Slithermuse

1 Smokebraider

1 Soul of the Harvest

1 Spitebellows

1 Spitemare

1 Supreme Exemplar

1 Thicket Elemental

1 Thornling

1 Vigor

1 Voice of Resurgence

1 Whisperwood Elemental

1 Wispmare[/d]



1 Dismember

1 Eladamri’s Call

1 Enlightened Tutor

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Path to Exile

1 Swords to Plowshares


1 Conflux

1 Cultivate

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Kodama’s Reach

1 Shard Convergence

1 Sylvan Scrying

1 Titanic Ultimatum[/d]



1 Genju of the Realm

1 Heartbeat of Spring

1 Maelstrom Nexus

1 Mana Flare

1 Mana Reflection

1 Mirari’s Wake

1 Oblivion Ring

1 Prismatic Omen


1 Chromatic Lantern

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Door of Destinies

1 Fist of Suns

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Obelisk of Urd

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Quicksilver Amulet

1 Sol Ring


Just like its commander, this deck is a little weird. It sort of lends itself to a toolbox strategy with a heavy tribal theme. Many elementals do different things, and the only thing they share in common is that they can attack decently and have the same creature type in common. So to leverage this, we make a simple yet effective toolbox.

You do have ways to deal with a multitude of different permanents while having recursion of your tools via [c]Horde of Notions[/c]. He creates a fun and interesting style of tribal deck that’s not just focused on smashing your opponent as quick as possible. It also doesn’t fall into the same trappings that normal tribal decks do. It can actually survive mass removal, which is key when going into the later stages of the game.

This deck pretty much does it all. It has bits of card advantage with [c]Slithermuse[/c] and [c]Mulldrifter[/c], ways of dealing with non-creature permanents via [c]Ingot Chewer[/c] and [c]Wispmare[/c], and ways of smashing your opponents face with [c]Liege of the Tangle[/c] and [c]Maelstrom Wanderer[/c]. Each card has some specific use that you can tutor up with this decks various tutoring effects. These tutors go a long way to keep the deck together and make sure you have what you need at the right time.

There are two ways to win with the deck. One is by beating your opponent down with all of your powerful threats. The other is by using [c]Maze’s End[/c].

[c]Maze’s End[/c] wasn’t originally intended to be in here as a win condition, but as a mana fixer. During testing though, this card did come up a handful of games. More often than not you’re going to be winning through combat damage, but sometimes the board just gets clogged up and it’s nice to still have a viable way to win over the course of the game. It’s more of an incidental win condition, but it’s still a win condition all the same. The importance of [c]Maze’s End[/c] does highlight one of the decks major shortcomings, which is its mana base.

As with any five color deck, the mana base is generally not the best. As I was tweaking it, I found that this is the most ideal mana base I could come up with without spending a ridiculous amount of money. You have enough fetchlands to be able to search for what you need and, as I said before, [c]Maze’s End[/c] will definitely help you fix your mana. There are a handful of five-color lands in here as well which will help smooth things out for you. You really have to put in a lot of effort to make these mana bases work, and even then they still might not cooperate.

There are some games that you simply won’t get the right color you need at the time and just lose the game. It’s the risk you have to take whenever you play with a deck with five colors. If you can make it sing though, you will have a hard time losing.

Once you can establish your mana base, you can pretty much handle whatever comes your way. This deck has the tools it needs to survive almost any situation. What leads to this resiliency is its commander. [c]Horde of Notions[/c] makes this deck shine. Having the ability to reanimate your threats and answers is wonderful, as you basically get to do what not may tribal decks get to do, survive into the late game. With Horde in play, you will be able to beat your opponent down after they cast their wrath effects.

It puts you into an interesting position. Sometimes you almost want them to wrath the board, which is why I included [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] in the list as a way to break stalemates. You get to wrath the board and then easily bring back your threats and crush your opponents.

This deck can be tons of fun for people who are looking for a different style of tribal. Its toolbox nature helps it last into the late game by providing flexibility, which not many other tribal decks have. This is not a linear strategy. It’s about answering your opponents’ threats and surviving.

Once you establish yourself, it’s time for the beat down. Or you can just clog up the board and win with [c]Maze’s End[/c]. It never ceases to put a smile on my face when I win with that card.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for commanders that you want featured in a future article, please let me know in the comments below. Next week, I work with one of my enemies.

See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

The MagicGatheringStrat Show, Ep. 2

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Section 2: Player run events

There was no MPDC this week due to technical difficulties. So lets look at the SPDC again

SPDC 28.02
22 February 2015
Standard · 10 Players
10 Decks · 100% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 4 playoff
Hosted by DrChrisBakerDC

1st RW Aggro* by Asmodeusz
2nd Izzet Control* by beatnik bobby
T4 Boros Heroic* by DrChrisBakerDC
T4 Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living* by rremedio1

Cruise Watch: 2015
1st Place: 0 Cruise
2nd Place: 4 Cruise
3rd Place: 0 Cruise
4th Place: 4 Cruise

You either Cruise with the best, or Boros like the rest! I don’t think that is a real saying.

Due to a bad power supply, stay strong Gwyned, MPDC has been delayed. So, lets talk about Sam’s latest creation:

3 Jeskai Sage
3 Jeskai Windscout
3 Whirlwind Adept
4 Akroan Skyguard
2 Akroan Crusader
3 Satyr Hoplite
2 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

3 Temur Battle Rage
3 Pressure Point
2 Crippling Chill
3 Dragon Mantle
3 Treasure Cruise
3 Gods Willing
3 Titan’s Strength

4 Evolving Wilds
2 Swiftwater Cliffs
2 Tranquil Cove
2 Wind-Scarred Crag
4 Plains
3 Island
3 Mountain

2 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
4 Scouring Sands
3 Voyage’s End
2 Feat of Resistance
1 Gods Willing
3 Disdainful Stroke

3 color rage deck. Lets take a closer look.

Now, lets look at an opening hand:

I would keep the hand. But that puts a lot of faith on the Skyguard.

Now, for the curve!

Interesting, not really a curve but not the tower of power we have seen recently either. More of a ski slope, with moguls.

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

I like the next six probably more than the original seven. The hoplite is going to get you moving. He seems to be less of an autokill than the skyguard. However, throwing a dragon mantle on him and a battle rage and you can hit for 6 pretty quick.

So, what do you think of this shell Sam has created? Worth some more thought? or should we just try to power out more anglers and use battle rage on that crazy fish?

MagicGatheringStrat: The Podcast Ep. 2

This week on the Magic Gathering Strat Podcast Sam and Dan present live radio play by play of Classic Pauper Tuesday. Brennon talks about Standard Pauper Pre winners and runner ups. Sam presents a shell of a Prowess Rage deck. Dan talks about Turbo Angler and Crusing with Gary.
Remember if you like our content to support Magic Gathering Strat’s Pateron. Goals have been met with many more to come!
This is the Magic Gathering Strat Podcast, thank you very kindly for listening.
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How To Survive In Post-Cruise Modern

Hi all,

Since the banning of [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], everyone has dropped Delver. Unfortunately, no other deck must have been able to grind out the first few turns of the game and replenish its gas in a similar way.

Affinity, Infect, Amulet, Storm, and Burn are tearing up the format.

become immense

Affinity has the most consistent turn 4 wins of any aggressive deck out there. Its creatures are difficult to block. Removal spells are often pointless; the 1/1 creature you targeted simply becomes a +1/+1 counter on another creature.

Infect just picked up [c]Become Immense[/c]. With [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and [c]Spellskite[/c], the deck can prevent all successful interaction and easily earn a win by turn 3. Any attempts to nickel and dime the Infect player only fuel the immensity that it can become.

Amulet has always been a problem. It seems that online players have known this better than paper players because until Justin Cohen tore through Fate Reforged, not many people were talking about it. On the first turn, [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] can win or set up the turn 2 win. You attempt to board in [c]Primeval Titan[/c] hate, and then you become assimilated into the Borg and unwisely cast [c]Summoner’s Pact[/c] in spite of not being able to pay for it thanks to [c]Hive Mind[/c].

Similarly, Storm wins on turn 3. You bring in graveyard hate and enchantment hate in game 2 only to lose to a [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c]-fueled chain of spells. Do you have 1-for-1 creature removal to handle Electromancer? The storm player will simply play a couple [c]Pyretic Ritual[/c] into [c]Empty the Warrens[/c] and easily crush you with six 1/1s.

Burn. You may not realize that you’re losing on turn 2 because you have 15 life, and your opponent only has [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], but when you have to cast two spells to have a chance, and your opponent is holding 9 points of burn in their hand, they know well that they have won. Thanks to [c]Skullcrack[/c], even [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] can’t keep a [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] at bay. He just becomes a “gain 1 life, prevent combat damage from one creature for one turn” spell that costs you a ton of life to cast thanks to fetchlands and shocklands.

What can men do against such reckless hate?


Each of these decks succeed in the face of “the turn 4 rule” that has led to the banning of [c]Seething Song[/c], [c]Rite of Flame[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], [c]Dark Depths[/c], [c]Blazing Shoal[/c], Artifact Lands, [c]Glimpse of Nature[/c], and maybe [c]Second Sunrise[/c] and [c]Dread Return[/c].

I suspect the last two are arguable.

Still, a good 14 cards on the Modern banned list for this reason, composing almost half the list.

So what do we do in light of this infraction of a fundamental rule of Modern?


Well, on his Twitter, Tom Martell suggests a sweeping ban of the worst offenders: [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Manamorphose[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c], [c]Griselbrand[/c], and [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]. That’s a solid list, although I think [c]Summer Bloom[/c] is both more difficult to interact with and more powerful than [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] in the same deck.


On the other hand, players who have long since given up on Modern argue that the fundamental rule is in itself the problem.

Mattias Kres argues that only [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c], [c]Mental Misstep[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], and [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c] should be banned, leaving everything off the list. The power-level would be similar to Legacy and the last days of Extended, when Zoo ruled the roost.

That’s right, Zoo, an aggro deck, in a field of insanely fast combos.

I don’t know which of these is the better option. I don’t really look forward to both, and also I don’t really mind Modern at the moment.

All I’m concerned about is how to succeed with the hand we’re dealt.

To do this, we have two options.

Option One: Join ‘Em

Aim to win by turn 3. Here’s my most recent attempt to do so on a regular basis.


[d title=”Drinkard Infectless Infect (Modern)”]
4 Arid Mesa
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Forest
1 Mountain

4 Wild Nacatl
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Guide
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Steppe Lynx

Other Spells
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Temur Battle Rage
4 Become Immense
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth

4 Hooting Mandrills
3 Destructive Revelry
4 Sudden Shock
1 Stony Silence
3 Phyrexian Arena[/d]

This deck is hell-bent on assembling three mana, an attacking creature, four cards in the graveyard, and [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] in hand on turn 3.

You have 12 fetches and 8 free cantrips to fill the graveyard and draw more lands and the combo.

The advantages the deck has over Infect include haste creatures and creatures with higher toughness. The benefit of this deck over Super Crazy Zoo is that you can manage your life total more conservatively against Burn.

I have only played in one Daily Event with the deck, and I went 2-2 after losing the die roll and thus two games on turn 3 against Infect. I am interested in developing the deck further, and I am super excited about how effective Delve and Ferocious are in an Eternal format like Modern.

If we don’t want to join the players who are breaking the fundamental turn 4 rule, then we have to beat them. And to beat them, we have to apply the breaks very quickly.

Option Two: Beat ‘Em

I hate these decks.

I would hate myself for entering them into a Daily Event, and my opponents would probably hate Magic after losing to them.

But that’s where we are at.


[d title=”Humble Red (Modern)”]
22 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Scrying Sheets

4 Boros Reckoner
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Humble Defector

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Skred
4 Pyroclasm
4 Koth of the Hammer
2 Anger of the Gods
4 Blood Moon
2 Volcanic Fallout [/d]

When I saw [c]Humble Defector[/c], I thought that [c]Skred[/c] Red would be a natural home for him. He provides draw to a deck that sorely needs it, and his drawback is mitigated thanks to the mass-removal spells. He simply draws two and then goes away with the rest of your opponent’s board.

This deck has an answer to everything, and the decks like Affinity, Infect, and Combo Zoo will certainly fold to the amount of removal, but sometimes the wrong answers come up facing the wrong decks.

Time will tell whether additional draw will help here.


[d title=”Enchantress (Modern)”]
4 Temple Garden
4 Nykthos, Shrine To Nyx
8 Forest

4 Arbor Elf
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Mesa Enchantress
4 Verduran Enchantress
4 Eidolon of Blossoms

Other Spells
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Sphere of Safety
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Fertile Ground
4 Overgrowth
4 Garruk Wildspeaker [/d]

This is another take on a different Enchantress list played by MTGO user Brainless96, and his win condition was [c]Banefire[/c].

I’m happy to lock the opponent out of the game, allow my mana-ramp to assemble the pillow fort, and win with [c]Overrun[/c]. Well, sort of happy.

Finally, a brew that wins against Burn and Creature-based aggro decks, but is absolute garbage against everything else.


[d title=”Mono Black Control (Modern)”]
24 Swamp

4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Divinity of Pride

Other Spells
2 Sorin’s Thirst
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Sorin’s Vengeance
4 Geth’s Verdict
3 Devour Flesh
1 Darkblast
2 Slaughter Pact
3 Phyrexian Arena
2 Go for the Throat
2 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Inquisition of Kozilek [/d]

Like I said, it’s good against Burn and creatures.

It’s a mono-removal deck with a load of 1-for-1s that will get its gas back with [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c]. You’re steadily gaining life, playing lands, and killing threats until you’re ready to win. Destroy creatures, lose to Tron and other control decks. Never a close match.

Enough Diversity?

I don’t know if we’re at an optimal Modern right now. Maybe there is enough diversity, and we are.

There are some decks who are trying to win before turn 4 at all costs. Others are trying to stop them at all costs. Some ride through the middle. That sounds healthy to me, but then when I play in Events, it doesn’t feel as good as it did a few months ago.

Hope this gave you some direction.


Paupers and Kings, Ep. 5: Soul Sisters

soul sisters

Hi everyone, and welcome to the fifth episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget.

How do you feel about gaining life in Magic? Sure, it’s handy against Burn, but most people who know about these things will tell you that gaining life doesn’t advance the game and it is, in general, a bad strategy. So how is it that we have these lists where lifegain is a major priority?

The trick, of course, is that lifegain can only be a part of the plan.

This week we are looking at Soul Sisters lists in Modern and Pauper.

The sisters in the spotlight are [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c]. Ignoring the fact that Attendant is a hopeless fraud of a healer (read her flavor text), these two lovely humans fit in nicely with a number of strategies that utilize lifegain to do broken things. Maybe not broken things, but pretty powerful things.

Let’s take a look, first, at our Modern list for the week.

Wary Soul Sisters

There are more “standard” mono-colored Soul Sisters lists in Modern, but meh. You’ve seen ’em, and I wanted to do something a little different and more fun. So instead of those we’re playing with a Boros build that abuses [c]Norin the Wary[/c] and [c]Champion of the Parish[/c], along with a bunch of lifegain, to make giant face-beaters and win the game. Here is the list we’re using, adapted from this list from Uota on Goldfish.

[d title=”Wary Soul Sisters by Uota (Modern)”]
9 Plains
4 Mountain
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Clifftop Retreat

4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Champion of the Parish
2 Mentor of the Meek
3 Norin the Wary
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Soul Warden
3 Soul’s Attendant
1 Legion Loyalist

4 Genesis Chamber

2 Return to the Ranks
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Path to Exile

1 Aven Mindcensor
2 Electrickery
2 Mark of Asylum
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Suppression Field
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Sowing Salt
2 Wear/Tear [/d]

The interactions are pretty straight-forward and hinge around getting Norin onto the board. Once he hits, he is bouncing in and out on all of your turns and usually on your opponents’ turns as well. This lets you:

  • Gain life with the soul sisters.
  • Grow your Champions (and Pridemates if you’re gaining life).
  • Create Myr tokens, duplicating any other benefits you may be receiving (except Champions).
  • Kill your opponent with Purphoros triggers.

Mentor of the Meek helps make sure you don’t run out of gas, while Legion Loyalist is tutorable via Ranger of Eos and enables you to swing in effectively once your army has gotten big and tough enough. Return to the Ranks provides some resilience to sweepers, while Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile clear out annoying threats across the table.

Wary Soul Sisters on a Budget

I sprung for some more expensive cards than I might, normally, because they are land and sideboard staples. [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] is, namely, a great card for most tribal lists, so I picked up a playset. It has the major added benefit of working around Chalice, which is otherwise a very strong piece of SB hate against all our one-drops. Still, the best place to start budgetizing lists is usually in the mana base. It has an impact, for sure, but you can still get the right lands and play your game without a hitch plenty of the time.

Ranger of Eos and Purphoros are both strong components of the list, but it kind of works without them, so you could save some money there. You will be missing out on tutors and wincons, though, so consider alternatives. More Mentors could come in to replace Ranger, and you could consider [c]Harsh Sustenance[/c] as a cheap wincon if you found a way to splash black.

[c]Condemn[/c] is my favorite budget alternative to Path and will do in a pinch.

Even as it stands the list is less than 150 tix. For the price, you’re not getting something as powerful as the U Tron list we looked at last week, but it can still blow out games and does quite well in certain match-ups. It is also very fun to play.

Now let’s check out our Pauper list this week.

Midnight Presence

If you watch videos on our YouTube channel at all, you will recognize this list from the Pauper Gauntlet, submitted by mad brewer, Aught3. While it packs the Midnight Guard / Presence of Gond combo in the list, it is more of a midrange list that stalls your opponent with lifegain, grows an army of saprolings, and then swings in for a massive alpha strike. Here is the list.

[d title=”Midnight Presence by Aught3 (Pauper)”]
4 Khalni Garden
3 Forest
4 Blossoming Sands
7 Plains
4 Selesnya Sanctuary

4 Midnight Guard
4 Pallid Mycoderm
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Veteran Armorer

4 Presence of Gond
3 Scatter the Seeds
4 Sprout Swarm
3 Spidersilk Armor

3 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Standard Bearer
3 Sunlance
1 Prismatic Strands [/d]

Along with stalling out via lifegain, the main Spidersilk Armors allow your creatures to get big and, along with the Veteran Armorers, give you good blocks to shut down your opponent’s offense. After that, it is just a matter of growing your army much, much, much larger than theirs, and then smashing in with a Pallid Mycoderm activation (or 2 or 3 or 4) to make your saproling tokens mean business.

You win with the combo from time to time as well, but Presence of Gond does good work on any creature you cast it on, while the Guard does a good job blocking things like Spire Golem that your 1/1s have an issue handling.

If you want to try something different in Pauper, I recommend taking this list for a spin. It is surprisingly strong against a lot of lists, but it does have some very bad matchups. MBC lists with edicts and discard aren’t too bad; MBC lists with direct removal and Pestilence / Crypt Rats are much harder. UR Control is a challenge. We probably just lose to Familiars. For competitive play, this deck does exactly what you don’t want to do in the current meta, it tries to be fair and play its own game. It gets punished for its efforts.

All the same, it’s a great deck for the practice room, and wins as much as it loses.

Here are the videos for this week’s lists.


I took Midnight Presence for a spin in a Pauper Daily Event. Those videos will be up on our YouTube channel soonish, so keep an eye out.

Next week on Paupers and Kings

I’m abusing combo elves for next week’s article, and it should be a ton of fun. As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that crossover formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your Norins ever be wary.


Cheap as Chips, Ep. 3: Cake and Ice Cream

Ice cream and chocolate cake. Bagels and cream cheese. Prosciutto e melone. Trample and regenerate.

Some things in life go together so well that, as time passes, you really can’t imagine one without the other. In the pantheon of Magic creature static abilities, trample holds a special place. Almost every other creature static ability is designed to either wound your opponent or wound your opponent’s creatures. A few static abilities do neither, but instead help protect your creature.

But trample? Trample is all about crushing through a wall of critters to smash your opponent’s face all in one go. Do that and also throw in the ability to protect your creature and you are well on your way to a rib-tickling good time at the Magic table.

Enter [c]Lotleth Troll[/c].

Now, before we go further, let me say that at a current price of 0.25 tickets on Mtgotraders, Lotleth Troll is at the outer end of what we uber-budget brewers are willing to spend on a card. But for Lotleth Troll, it’s worth it. We want this guy so bad we’re going to build a deck with 8x of them (well, sort of, keep reading). This deck may stretch our 5-ticket limit, but let’s see what we can do.

Lotleth Troll’s ‘discard a creature’ buff ability led me to think that adding [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] would allow a range of fun activated abilities to stay on the table even if a pile of creatures are in the graveyard. And if one of your precious Lotleth Trolls should somehow perish, Necrotic Ooze becomes a big impersonator of the troll (well, ok, minus the trample, but that’s what [c]Rancor[/c] is for).

The starting point falls within the same overall playbook as my rogue deck from last week: play weenies that can grow, and disrupt your opponent’s hand while you’re hitting them in the face. The difference here is better disruption, but at the cost of having some more expensive 4-mana critters. [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] offers up a range of possibilities. Let’s see what I came up with:

[d title+”Necrotic Troll”]


8 Forest

9 Swamp

4 Woodland Cemetery

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Golgari Rot Farm


2 Slithering Shade

1 Elvish Mystic

2 Scute Mob

2 Slitherhead

4 Lotleth Troll

1 Royal Assassin

4 Necrotic Ooze

1 Glissa Sunseeker

2 Reaper of the Wilds

1 Avatar of Woe


2 Despise

2 Duress

3 Extirpate

3 Rancor

1 Font of Return

2 Wrench Mind

4 Grisly Salvage


1 Font of Return

2 Geth’s Verdict

1 Infest

1 Memoricide

2 Murderous Cut

2 Killing Wave

2 Gleeful Sabotage

2 Great Sable Stag

2 Glissa Sunseeker


Ideal gameflow:

T1: Disrupt your opponent’s hand. Consider using Extirpate to remove a set of fetch lands from the game, for example.

T2: Play Lotleth Troll. You know you want to. In fact, this is risky here because you have no mana to protect him. It requires a monumental amount of patience, but try to play him next turn. Instead play one of your one-drop dorks or disrupt again.

T3: Okay, play your Lotleth Troll here so you can protect him.

T4: Discard a Slitherhead and then scavenge it. Swing with a 4/3 trampler. Grisly Salvage or Wrench Mind, while leaving black mana open to protect Mr. Lotleth.

T5: Now consider some of your other creatures, primarily [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] or [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]. Depending on what’s in your graveyard, you can tap the Ooze to destroy stuff, buff it by discarding creatures, or give it hexproof or deathtouch.

The many options you’ll have make this a fun deck to play with. I feel it’s missing a big finisher, however. There’s no real way to jump up and surprise your opponent with a huge pile of damage (like [c]Notorious Throng[/c] from my deck last week, for example). But your board presence by T6 can get substantial if you have a [c]Scute Mob[/c] down and either of your 4-drops. The question with this deck is whether there’s really enough power to close out fast enough to avoid the T5-T6 kills that most premium Modern decks can easily manage.

Card analysis:

[c]Duress[/c], [c]Despise[/c], [c]Wrench Mind[/c], [c]Extirpate[/c]: These cards work well together as combo-busters, but they do take up a lot of space I would normally reserve for weenies. But I feel like the deck lacks power against tier-1 or 2 match-up without a bit of disruption.

[c]Slithering Shade[/c]: Once in the graveyard, allows you to pump your [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c].

[c]Scute Mob[/c]: Loads of fun when he starts to grow.

[c]Slitherhead[/c]: A key engine to grow Lotleth Troll.

[c]Font of Return[/c]: You may end up with too many critters in the graveyard. A single Font is there as deep back-up. Do you guys know rugby? This card is your full-back.

[c]Royal Assassin[/c], [c]Glissa Sunseeker[/c], [c]Avatar of Woe[/c]: My attempt to be a bit tricksy with Necrotic Ooze. You want these cards in your graveyard, so toss them to Lotleth Troll’s ability if you can.

[c]Necrotic Ooze[/c], [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]: Four mana creatures are not the normal style for a budget deck that needs to swing fast before the combos start going off. Reaper’s scry ability is great, she also helps out in the graveyard. I just couldn’t resist.

Sideboard: Just some standard removal cards and [c]Great Sable Stag[/c] if you run into dimir colors. The [c]Killing Wave[/c] is my attempt at a budget [c]Damnation[/c]. Yeah I know, not the same thing. I feel like this sideboard needs a lot of improvement. Let me know what you think.

How does it play? Let’s check out some sample games.

Commander Corner: Zurgo Helmsmasher

Welcome back,

Saying [c]Zurgo Helmsmasher[/c] is an aggressive creature is an understatement. This guy is the embodiment of the Mardu Horde. He eats, sleeps, and breathes combat. He doesn’t care about subtlety,  grace, or anything of the sort. He relies on his armies speed and sheer power to overwhelm any opposing force. His leadership goes unquestioned, and so does his brutality on the battlefield. He emphasizes being the first to the punch and punishes any amount of stumbling from his opponents. If they make any mistake, they will surely be destroyed.

The type of deck that he lends himself to relishes in cutthroat moves, brutal tactics, and often dirty plays. Demolishing all of your opponents resources, while leaving yourself with the only thing on the battlefield, is the path to victory with [c]Zurgo[/c]. Lets take a look at the Zurgo deck that is up to no good.


Some orcs just want to watch the world burn

[d title= “Zurgo, Worldslayer (EDH)”]


1 Zurgo Helmsmasher


1 Arid Mesa

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Clifftop Retreat

1 Dragonskull Summit

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Godless Shrine

1 Isolated Chapel

1 Marsh Flats

5 Mountain

1 Nomad Outpost

12 Plains

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Sacred Foundry

1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion

5 Swamp

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Vault of the Archangel[/d]



1 Etched Champion

1 Goblin Welder

1 Godo, Bandit Warlord

1 Junk Diver

1 Leonin Shikari

1 Myr Retriever

1 Puresteel Paladin

1 Shimmer Myr

1 Shriekmaw

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Steelshaper Apprentice

1 Stoneforge Mystic

1 Stonehewer Giant[/d]



1 Chaos Warp

1 Disenchant

1 Doom Blade

1 Enlightened Tutor

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Lightning Helix

1 Oblation

1 Path to Exile

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 Terminate

1 Utter End

1 Wear // Tear


1 Armageddon

1 Cataclysm

1 Catastrophe

1 Day of Judgment

1 Jokulhaups

1 Planar Cleansing

1 Steelshaper’s Gift

1 Wrath of God [/d]



1 Argentum Armor

1 Basilisk Collar

1 Batterskull

1 Boros Signet

1 Coalition Relic

1 Coercive Portal

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Grappling Hook

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Masterwork of Ingenuity

1 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Orzhov Signet

1 Scourglass

1 Sculpting Steel

1 Semblance Anvil

1 Sol Ring

1 Sunforger

1 Sword of Body and Mind

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

1 Sword of Fire and Ice

1 Sword of Light and Shadow

1 Sword of War and Peace

1 Thran Dynamo

1 Umezawa’s Jitte

1 Worldslayer


1 Nahiri, the Lithomancer [/d]

This deck is designed to be as brutal and cutthroat as possible.

It’s for people who need more of a competitive deck and are willing to shell out the money for it. This deck is working at its best when Zurgo and maybe an equipment with him is the only thing left on the battlefield. Once that happens, your opponent has almost no time at all to deal with him. By the time they even start to recoup their losses, they are already dead.

Sometimes you even need to destroy all lands in order to get the job done. For this deck, it doesn’t matter how you get the job done, as long as it gets done.

The main way to win the game is by commander damage. Zurgo is the main way to beat your opponent down. He can take down almost any creature he comes across, which is even easier if he has equipment with him. There are a myriad ways of searching up equipment with [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c], [c]Stonehewer Giant[/c], [c]Steelshaper’s Gift[/c], and a handful of others.

Once you have Zurgo suited up, you can start destroying the world. You can start casting your [c]Wrath of God[/c]s and [c]Day of Judgement[/c]s to clear the way for Zurgo to crash into your opponent. The deck gets even better if you get to use [c]Cataclysm[/c], [c]Jokulhaups[/c], and [c]Armageddon[/c] to completly wipe out your opponents resources. Once that is done, they will pretty much be unable to be able deal with him.

On the other hand though, if they do, you might have a difficult time coming back.

Once you destroy everything with your wrath effects or your [c]Worldslayer[/c] and your opponent just plays a land and [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c] your Zurgo, you’re probably screwed. This deck tends to put all of its eggs in one basket. To win most of the time, you have to pull the trigger on destroying everything. Once you do that, you need to hope either you have a way to stop them from touching Zurgo, or just that they don’t have it.

Granted, you do put your eggs in the Zurgo basket, but it is definitely an enticing one and has shown to work time and time again in testing.

At the end of the day, it’s a deck that does one basic concept very well. It plays Zurgo, it throws swords on him, destroys everything, and kills your opponent. Rinse and repeat. While this may seem simplistic, it’s fun as hell to play. Putting your opponent to the test immediately once you cast your general is a thrill. The heavy sigh you get from him resolving is an interesting feeling. You can see that they know there is only a matter of time before everything they worked for is swept away and only death is left for them in the end.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. Like always, if you have any suggestions on what commander you want me to feature in a future article, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we play with the elements. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

The MagicGatheringStrat Show, Ep. 1

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

New name, same great taste … in cards.

Section 2: Player run events

MPDC 28.01
16 February 2015
Standard · 18 Players
13 Decks · ~72% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 8 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

1st Izzet Control* by beatnik bobby
2nd Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living* by rremedio1
T4 I hate rats by masterofphysics
T4 Red Deck Wins* by _ShipIt_
T8 RDW* by Carnuz
T8 UB Midrange by drazinus
T8 Red Soldier* by goomy1
T8 UR Control* by tilt_aint_sexy

Cruise Watch: 2015
1st Place: 4 Cruise
2nd Place: 4 Cruise
3rd Place: 4 Cruise
4th Place: 0 Cruise
5th – 8th Place: 7 Cruise

Wow, y’all went cruising this week for sure!


Standard · Control
1st by beatnik bobby in MPDC 28.01 (5-1)

3 Benthic Giant
3 Coral Barrier
2 Sigiled Starfish

4 Flurry of Horns
4 Lightning Strike
4 Treasure Cruise
3 Rise of Eagles
3 Voyage’s End
2 Barrage of Boulders
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Divination
1 Nullify
3 Whisk Away

9 Island
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Mountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
3 Radiant Fountain

4 Scouring Sands
3 Negate
2 Nullify
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Cancel
1 Coral Barrier
1 Barrage of Boulders
1 Whisk Away

Beatnik! You may have defeated me this week, but I’ll get you next time! Next time!!

Yes, he defeated me in this week’s standard pauper sealed league match. But that is ok. It was an awesome fight and we beat each other up real good.

The thing I like about this deck is the [c]Sigiled Starfish[/c]. You read that correctly, the starfish. Why you may ask? Because he lets you scry at instant speed. And he blocks Minotaur tokens. This ridiculous starfish blocks raging minotaurs. How is that even possible? I have no idea. I am just glad he does.

What is the proper title for for a being that can reproduce by segmentation? It? That seems mean. I will just say he and if someone can correct me, feel free.

Now, lets look at an opening hand:

Keep! Very nice hand. And I get to have my pet starfish. Secret tech, you can scry the first upkeep you have after you play the starfish. Yes, it taps it for the turn but you smooth your draw immediately which is nice and can be crucial.

Now, for the curve!

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

Well, I gotta say, Gwyned was right. Izzet is pretty strong. Even though you have a lot of high cost spells, you have the tools to keep it going until you throw your hay maker.

Would you keep the original hand? Let me know what you think in the comments!

MagicGatheringStrat: The Podcast Ep. 1

It’s the first episode of the Magic Gathering Strat Podcast and everything is new and shiny! The guys talk about Standard Pauper, Classic Pauper, and what the name change means for the show! Plus special guest Gwyned breaks down being an awesome part of the Standard Pauper community! All this and your chance to support Dan with the Patreon! It’s the Magic Gathering Strat Podcast thanks for listening!

google +:

Laws of Magic: Sutton’s

Willie Sutton was a notorious bankrobber during the early 20th century. Standing at 5’7″, he would dress as a maintenance worker, carry an unloaded tommy-gun, and arrive just before the bank opened to relieve its operators of its contents. Finally, after stealing over $2 million and being sentenced to a lifetime of prison for his fourth [caught] offense, he was asked by the media, “Why do you rob so many banks?” His legendary answer, and the reason he is a law’s namesake:

“Because that’s where all the money is.”

What else should he be robbing, if what he wants is money? If the goal were for him to get clothes, then he would rob a clothing store.

This principle is taught to medical students, not to encourage them to get into plastic surgery, but to teach them to focus on the obvious problems when diagnosing. No matter what someone may have learned from the TV show, House, if a patient is suffering from pain in the feet, a doctor should not conduct a lung x-ray or head scan. Look at the feet!

How can we apply this to Magic? And hint, this is not a finance article. Instead, I want to apply this to how we build decks. I think that players do themselves a disservice when they hope to win by finding a card, combo, or engine and say, “Let’s build around this.” They’re often looking in the wrong place for wins.

First, let’s review the ways to win a game of Magic: The Gathering:

1) Reduce your opponent’s life total to zero.
2) Give your opponent ten poison counters.
3) Force your opponent to draw a card when there are zero cards left in their library.
4) Trigger an alternate victory condition that reads, “You win the game.”

If you start your deck-building process with any goal other than one of these, then you are doing it wrong. You do not consistently win with a deck that aims to destroy all your opponent’s creatures. You do not consistently win by preventing creatures from attacking, or spells from being played, or lands from untapping. If you want to win, then look for where the wins are.

Build a deck around winning, not around a theme.

Before I go too far, let me specify that in this article, I’m really talking about Modern. In Legacy and Vintage, there are decks that are designed to lock your opponents out of the game, and they consistently succeed. The requisite number of design mistakes that make this possible in those formats do not exist yet in Modern.

Looking at the history of Modern, then, consider the Merfolk deck. Tribal strategies are easy to build. Wizards has practically done the work for us! People, for whatever reason, love tribal decks. They are aggressive, flavorful, and easy to pilot. Someone along the way said that they were going to build a deck with the goal of swarming with Merfolk, including the multiple 2-mana lords that boost each other member of the team.

Now, it could just be that the 2-mana lords put Merfolk over other tribes like Goblins and Elves. Or it could be that [c]Spreading Seas[/c] plus the Islandwalk ability from the Merfolk lords puts the tribe over the top. But Slivers have more two-mana lords than Merfolk do, and they have evasion that doesn’t require a combo. Goblins have access to [c]Blood Moon[/c] and [c]Goblin King[/c] for lordship and evasion, and we don’t see these cards in conjunction with one another.

No, I think that somewhere along the line, someone asked themselves what decisions they were making in deck-building that had to do with Merfolk and what decisions they were making for the sake of winning. This train of thought brings the question, “What is keeping me from winning?” and, instead of, “What Merfolk do we play?” they asked, “How can I keep winning?”

Do you see the subtle nuance? Today, [c]Kira, Great Glass Spinner[/c] is seen main-deck in Merfolk decks despite not being of the namesake tribe. Why? Because [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Path to Exile[/c], and [c]Dismember[/c] were the cards keeping Merfolk from winning, and someone started making better deck-building decisions. It is for this reason that I think Merfolk outperforms other tribal strategies in Modern.

So if you want to take your casual strategy to the next level, or if you’ve attempted to make something competitive out of a line of thinking that doesn’t start with how you’re winning, then whether you’re making the deckbuilding decisions in order to win or not is something for you to consider. Ask yourself questions like, “Does my Goblins deck need [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] in order to compete?” or maybe even, “Should Goblins be mid-range instead of all-out aggro?”

If your 4 [c]Funeral Charm[/c], 4 [c]Wrench Mind[/c], 4 [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c] deck isn’t getting results, ask yourself whether your deck is built to win or built to discard your opponents’ cards.

I hope this has helped you reconsider your brews, and that you get success as a result.


Fan of History, Episode 6: 950s BC Legends of King Mu

Dan and Kevin look deep into the dark age, trying to find something to talk about. How about Robots?

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A music video tribute to Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria:

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Music: “Tudor Theme” by urmymuse.

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Editing by Kevin Cross. Logo by Brennon Rankin.

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