A 1-Land Pauper Combo Deck

balustrade-spy

Hello everyone, I know I usually write on Wednesdays and in the Competitive section but I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about my 1-land combo deck. Seeing as how the deck is okay, but is currently not something I’d recommend for a daily, I figured I’d put it here. The deck is super fun though.

This is my current list:
[d title=”Miserable Spy (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest
Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
3 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Guardian
Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
1 Commune with Nature
4 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
1 Destroy the Evidence
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Manamorphose
4 Springleaf Drum
Sideboard
1 Pyroblast
4 Duress
1 Flaring Pain
4 Spore Frog
4 Ingot Chewer
1 Ray of Revelation [/d]

So the way this deck works is you get your Forest out with Land Grant.Then you cast some rituals to get out your Balustrade Spy and target yourself. Now that your library is in your graveyard, you Conjurer’s Bauble the Haunting Misery and it pops into your hand. You then shoot your opponent with a lethal Misery.

I don’t recommend this deck as competitive because you have a cap on how much damage you can do, and it just auto-loses to counter magic. But it is extremely fun, and really gets your brain moving. It is hard to play and hard to tweak. You have only one land but the list is choked full of cards you need to keep.

Today I got wind of a player named Oninaka who had taken my initial list that I assume I disseminated to his friends (unless they came up with this entirely independently of my work, which is a total possibility), and they made it even better. Here is a picture of his list. See if you can spot the insane-o changes they made, and figure out why the changes are so good. He went 2-2 in this tournament, winning the first two matches. So they deck is capable of winning competitive matches, but you probably won’t win all that many haha.

The nice part about a deck that mills itself is that it is easy to get the exact maindeck.

Here is another version by obZen. He took interest in my initial build and has been going a different route, using a culling the weak and creatures he dubs “Tall men”:

[d title=”Tall-Men Miserable Spy (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Crimson Kobolds
1 Crookshank Kobolds
4 Shield Sphere
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Wild Cantor
4 Phyrexian Walker

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Culling the Weak
4 Dark Ritual
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Read the Bones [/d]

Feel free to post your tweaks below.

I don’t have a bunch of time right now to post all the nuances of this deck, but I will a bit later on today or this weekend.

Editor’s note (February 26, 2016) – Since they can be challenging to find (heck, these articles have been lost for many months until now), here is a list of One-Land Spy articles and resources from around the time of the original brewing in late 2013.

Enjoy! /bava

Now You See It, Now It’s Mist: Playing Tricks on the Pauper Daily

Illusory Tricks is a fun deck to play. Looking at the mana base, you might think it’s similar to Delver. You’d be wrong. For one thing, Tricks doesn’t really do counterspells. We’ve got a couple dispels, but honestly, we could mostly care less about them. The real idea behind our bag of tricks is to keep the opponent guessing; we’ve got off-color ramp, overloading hexproof, snags for tempo and charms for faeries and elves – there’s a little bit of everything and that’s just how we like it. And faeries? Sprites? No thanks. We like our flyers to hit for 4 or more, and we’ve got the tools to make it happen.

All of which is to say, it might look similar to other decks, but I think it has some unique play and a different kind of power in the current meta than most decks. Check out some of the previous articles on the deck for some more discussion.

Here’s the current list (updated June 3 2013):

[d title=”Illusory Tricks”]
Lands
19 Island

Creatures
4 Krovikan Mist
4 Dream Stalker
2 Stormbound Geist
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Cloudfin Raptor
2 Fathom Seer
4 Spire Golem

Tricks
4 Piracy Charm
4 Vapor Snag
4 Ponder
4 Counterspell
1 Oona’s Grace

Sideboard
4 Coral Net
4 Hydroblast
4 Reef Shaman
2 Serrated Arrows
1 Hindering Touch
[/d]

I took Illusory Tricks for its first daily ride earlier this month, after about 20 or so practice matches. There’s room for tuning, I think, but for the moment, the deck is remarkably similar to its first iteration. I’ll talk some more about tuning potential after the recaps.

Round 1: Illusory Tricks vs Stompy

 

We’re off to a rough start in this one, losing the first game in less than 2 minutes when we don’t hit our 2nd land. We have good sideboard tech, though, adding 4 coral nets, and taking out 2 phantasmal bears and 2 mizzium skins. The bears die to everything (e.g. Quirion Ranger), so we can’t depend on them. The mizzium skins are much more use against a deck that wants to kill our guys, whereas Stompy really just wants to hit us in the face, so they come out as well.

In game 2 our land is much better, and once we finally flip our Delvers, we’re off to the races. Our opponent misplays pretty hard, though, discarding cards to Coral Net instead of just letting it be the straight removal it should be (pro tip: unless you REALLY have a lot of useless cards in your hand or lethal on board, discarding to coral net to keep your dude alive is probably the wrong move). Not only does he discard, but he bins a Hunger of the Howlpack, a card that would have gone morbid on his Silhana Ledgewalker with great gusto. After that, it’s easy to ignore his 1/1 ledgewalker, charm and snag anything else he tries to buff, and fly over for the win.

Game 3 we keep one land again, but it works out much better than it did in game 1. Not that we draw a second land right away, but we have no less than 6 1-drops to work with, so we don’t mind. 2 ponders and a shuffle later, we hit our second land, and things go much better from then on. We pretty much get coral nets and piracy charms to deal with his stuff, manage to flip 2 delvers at once (again), and as soon as we dream stalker our way to a 4/5 cloudfin raptor, it’s GG from our opponent.

Stompy is a tough match-up overall. We do have better sideboard options for it than it does for us, though, and a lot more unpredictability. Our opponent undervalues his ledgewalkers in this match to our benefit, because they’re the real card we have to worry about and play around, especially when they go to 4/4 and higher from howlpack and other buffs.

Round 2: Illusory Tricks vs Goblins

 

Outside of us faltering and goblins taking advantage, this is a significantly better match-up for us than the stompy match-up. Piracy charm kills most goblins, and we have lots of ways to block his creatures and deny his removal that make it hard for him to make good combat decisions.

Bouncing Sparksmith in game 1 is an easy tempo win, especially when we’re nailing him for 7+ every turn. We bring in hydroblasts and take out mutagenic growth and stormbound geist; we don’t want to shock ourselves in this match-up, and we do want to block his ground creatures.

Game 2 see goblins overextend at the beginning, but killing an annoying amount of our creatures as well, to the point that the board is clear and we’re both top-decking. We top-deck a lot better than goblins do, though, hitting spire golem, cloudfin raptor, and dream stalker. He hits another Sparksmith, but puts himself to 4 to kill our raptor, and can’t stop our spire golem from killing him in the air. Props to the goblins pilot, adamtetlow, for being a good sport, and we end up chatting quite a bit about the deck after the match.

Round 3: Illusory Tricks vs Delver

 

I was actually dreading this match-up, though I knew it was unavoidable. Delver is an incredibly potent and popular deck, so we were bound to run into it at some point. Unfortunately, in all my practice rounds, I didn’t meet it a single time, so I went into this match cold. It is, surprising to me, a better match-up than I thought it would be.

Game 1 is a learning experience for me, trying to figure out what Delver has that I really need to worry about. The answer, it turns out, is really only 8 cards. Spire golems and Delver himself. Nothing else in the deck is remotely threatening (Dream Stalkers block Frostburn Weird for days), so we actually don’t have to worry about too much. I take an early lead in this game, but we quickly stall out with comparable air battalions. He draws a ridiculous amount of cards with Accumulated Knowledge. We draw them the old-fashioned way, and save up until we can play a bunch of cards at once, making him try and sort out what he wants to counter and what he wants to let resolve. At some point I just decide we’ll try and beat him on the clock; this may be what leads him to conceding the first game despite still having plenty of life and 12 creatures on board (to our 5). We have nothing worthwhile to bring in from the SB for this match-up, so we submit our deck as-is and hope we can keep stalling.

Game 2 we get kicked, countered, and faeried to death, as Delver loves to do. It’s a much, much faster game than G1, but we do get his clock down to 9 minutes in the match.

Game 3 sees us do exactly what we want to do. Get our airforce on the board without much disruption, and then tempo / remove his creatures to get in for lethal. It’s not quite that easy, but by the time he stabilizes he only has 3 life left, and eventually we manage to draw more creatures than him, including a dream stalker to pump our raptor on the table, and he concedes. He still has over 5 minutes on the clock, so we don’t get to fulfill our dream of running him out on time, but that’s okay. It just makes our win feel more legitimate. And now we’re 3-0!

Round 4: Illusory Tricks vs Boroskitty

 

I was surprised to see Boroskitty in the daily, but I had played with it a few times (with absolutely zero success), so I was probably more prepared than most. The match-up is okay, I think, and I know how I want to play it. Luck isn’t on my side, though. We mulligan to 5 cards in game one, with 2 Krovikan Mists in hand, but he immediately bolts one and so we’re stuck with a 1/1 flyer, who isn’t doing much. We do have a nice time chatting with our opponent about the deck while he whollops us, ending the game with 23 life.

We take out our piracy charms and vapor snags (they don’t hit anything we want to hit, really), and bring in coral nets and hydroblasts. Coral net is okay, but not great, since he can bounce his guys pretty easily most of the time and drop the enchantment.

Game 2 we keep a one-land hand with a delver and ponder in it, playing out the ponder first to see if we can hit a land-drop. We don’t see a land, but we’re lucky enough to shuffle into one for our next turn. Boroskitty really gets me off my tempo; there’s enough removal that I leave protection up, then the removal never comes, and I’ve failed to develop my board properly. In the meantime, I give Kitty plenty of time to bounce things and draw things and get even closer to finding the removal I’m already sure he has anyway. On top of that, his flyers do a pretty good job of getting in our way as well (2/3 is pretty beefy when it’s on wings), but eventually we develop an airforce to tromp his, after he draws a lot of lands but no answers.

Game 3 we’re still not sure about our sideboard plan, but don’t make any additional changes. He hasn’t seen our coral nets yet, so hopefully we can kill a few of his guys by surprise. We’re on the draw and hit one land again, and keep it with a hand full of nothing but one-drops. We hit our second land right off the bat anyway, and it seems like just the kind of aggressive hand we want to have. We have two 1/2 raptors and a delver on the table by the end of turn 2, and I feel pretty good. We play a ponder hoping to see something to flip both our delvers, but instead see 3 creatures on top that seem worth keeping, so we don’t shuffle. I feel pretty good when we dream stalker into double 4/5 cloudfin raptors; I feel less good when he starts journeying them to nowhere. Without our raptors, our board state looks a ton worse than it did, and our delvers, who we’ve had on board since turn 3, still haven’t flipped.

I won’t give away the end. That’s what that video up there is for. Suffice to say that for it’s first time in a pauper daily, I feel like Illusory Tricks handled itself very well.

Wrap-up Thoughts

As I said at the beginning, I like the deck and it’s really fun to play. I also think it’s competitive, and I’ll definitely run it in another daily some time. I love the Dream Stalker / Cloudfin Raptor interactions, and the illusion sub-theme is pretty fun, too. When you draw a dream stalker with 4 mana in play and a cloudfin raptor on the table, it’s great fun to pump the raptor to 4/5 and still finish with an island untapped. That said, it could probably use a little fine-tuning.

I don’t love the phantasmal bears or the dispels. I really like the fathom seers, even more than I thought I would, but I don’t want 4 of them. I’d like to find 2 other illusions to bring in, but I don’t know what they would be. I’m not really fond of the suspend guy or any of the other morph illusions even though they are the best options. David Shaffer commented that he might try a singleton inside out, which seems fun. Hitting for 5 with a dream stalker seems good to me, especially as a cantrip.

We have good match-ups across the board, almost. Our toughest matches are against Crypt Rats, since we can’t stop them from coming into play and we can’t stop them from completely killing our board. This means MBC is tough, UB Trinket is ridiculously bad, and Deluxeicoff’s Grey Ghost (dontlaughitworks.dek) probably slaughters us as well. Aside from those decks, though, we aren’t afraid of much. The deck can goldfish turn 4, so it can kill fissure decks before they get going, and it has a good variety of tricks and blockers to stop aggressive strategies too.

Hopefully you enjoy the idea of the deck, and the videos of my run in the daily. Did I make any silly plays? How about masterful ones? Leave some comments and let me know what you think. Is this Tier 1 material, or just a decent tier 2 deck at best?

Pauper Matchups: UB Trinket Control vs Illusory Tricks

Time for a matchup between two of our popular Pauper brews: Trinket Control and Illusory Tricks!

In the blue corner: UB Trinket Control played by Dan

[d title=”UB Trinket Control”]

Lands
4 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Island
1 Bojuka Bog
7 Swamp
3 Vault of Whispers
1 Barren Moor
4 Terramorphic Expanse
Creatures
4 Fume Spitter
4 Augur of Skulls
2 Chittering Rats
3 Crypt Rats
3 Trinket Mage
4 Mulldrifter

Other Spells
2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Undying Evil
3 Tragic Slip
4 Sign in Blood
4 Diabolic Edict
2 Grim Harvest

Sideboard
4 Duress
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
2 Chittering Rats
2 Spinning Darkness
1 Crypt Rats
2 Geth’s Verdict
2 Distress

[/d]

Power_T is interviewed by Dan about the deck here: http://mtgostrat.com/2013/03/pauper-walkthroughs-episode-6-ub-trinket-control-with-power_t/

Here is a matchup analysis based on 1099 matches played with UB Trinket: http://mtgostrat.com/2013/03/1034/

In the red corner: Illusory Tricks played by Bava

[d title=”Illusory Tricks”]

Lands
19 Island
Spells
2 Dispel
2 Mizzium Skin
2 Mutagenic Growth
4 Piracy Charm
3 Vapor Snag
4 Ponder

Creatures
2 Phantasmal Bear
4 Krovikan Mist
4 Dream Stalker
2 Stormbound Geist
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Cloudfin Raptor
2 Fathom Seer
2 Spire Golem

Sideboard
3 Boomerang
4 Coral Net
3 Curfew
1 Faerie Macabre
4 Hydroblast

[/d]

The origin of this tricksy, mono-blue deck is discussed in this article: http://mtgostrat.com/2013/05/pauper-brew-illusory-tricks-by-bava/

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!

The match, as seen by Dan:

 

The match, as seen by Bava:

Final analysis by Dan:

This is the kind of deck that UB Trinket Control should just beat. The lack of counterspell and ninjas make this a somewhat easier matchup than regular Delver. All the tricks, affecting mostly combat, are not at their peak performance against Trinket, a deck that really does not care about its own creatures very much.

Final analysis by Bava:

This is, more or less, the worse kind of match-up for Illusory Tricks. I’m trying to decide if I agree with Dan that we’re an easier match-up than Delver. I think we probably are, but it’s close; what we lack in counterspells and ninjas, we make up for in a more consistent “beat you in the face via airforce” game. We also don’t waste 8 creature slots with stupid 1/1 faeries. Unfortunately, while we have good board options against fissure, UR post, and the more prevalent control decks, we don’t have anything that’s particularly helpful against UB Trinket, or even MBC. You’ll see in game two that I tried to side in boomerangs, hoping to disrupt Trinket’s landbase (bouncing the aquaducts can be a major setback if they’re having any clunky land issues), but I took them back out for game three. Game one is a good example of how we CAN beat trinket (great draw for us, bad draw for the trinket player), but overall I’d say Trinket is heavily favored.

Do you like this format of article? Let us know in the comments below and we will do more of these.

Pauper Brew: Illusory Tricks

Inspired by Jason Moore’s “tricks” deck and David’s Thoughcast post on MTGOStrat, Bava combined some ideas and created this Illusory Tricks deck.

Jason’s post on Blackborder: http://www.blackborder.com/q/node/16706

David’s post on MTGOStrat: http://mtgostrat.com/2013/05/thoughtcast-top-ten-lists-by-color-of-pauper-cards-you-should-be-playing-but-probably-arent-part-i/

And a decklist:
[d title=”Illusory Tricks”]
Lands
19 Island

Spells
2 Dispel
2 Mizzium Skin
2 Mutagenic Growth
3 Piracy Charm
4 Vapor Snag
4 Ponder

Creatures
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Krovikan Mist
4 Dream Stalker
4 Stormbound Geist
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Cloudfin Raptor

Sideboard
3 Boomerang
3 Coral Net
3 Curfew
2 Dispel
1 Faerie Macabre
3 Hydroblast
[/d]

Bava played two matches with the deck:

This is the deck intro and part of a match against Familiar Storm (they leave halfway through G1).

This is a full match against Affinity.

Introduction to Pauper part 2

by Chris Weaver

In Part 1, I talked about reasons to join Pauper along with the core deck archetypes. I went into strengths and weaknesses of the pure aggro decks. Today, I will be discussing the pure control choices available to you.

Control:

[d title=”Blue-Red Cloudpost(Finespoo)”]
Lands
4 Cloudpost
4 Glimmerpost
7 Island
3 Izzet Guildgate
6 Mountain

Creatures
2 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Mnemonic Wall
4 Mulldrifter

Spells
1 Condescend
1 Electrickery
1 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Firebolt
3 Flame Slash
1 Lightning Bolt
4 Preordain
1 Harvest Pyre
2 Mana Leak
4 Prophetic Prism
1 Rolling Thunder
1 Capsize
3 Compulsive Research
2 Ghostly Flicker
2 Mystical Teachings
1 Serrated Arrows

Sideboard
1 Firebolt
2 Hydroblast
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Stone Rain
4 Pyroblast
3 Earth Rift [/d]

[d title=”Mono Black Control(sneakattackkid)”]
Lands
4 Barren Moor
2 Polluted Mire
17 Swamp

Creatures
3 Augur of Skulls
3 Ravenous Rats
4 Chittering Rats
3 Crypt Rats
4 Phyrexian Rager
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

Spells
3 Dead Weight
2 Duress
3 Unearth
2 Echoing Decay
4 Geth’s Verdict
4 Sign in Blood

Sideboard
2 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Rendclaw Trow
1 Victim of Night
1 Snuff Out
2 Corrupt
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Sorin’s Thirst
4 Choking Sands
1 Duress [/d]

[d title=”Blue-Black Trinket Control(Din_Mamma)”]
Lands
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Island
7 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Vault of Whispers

Creatures
4 Fume Spitter
4 Augur of Skulls
2 Chittering Rats
3 Crypt Rats
3 Trinket Mage
4 Mulldrifter

Spells
2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Tragic Slip
3 Undying Evil
4 Diabolic Edict
2 Grim Harvest
4 Sign in Blood

Sideboard
2 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
1 Nihil Spellbomb
4 Duress
1 Distress
1 Deep Analysis
2 Spinning Darkness
2 Geth’s Verdict [/d]

[d title=”Mono Blue Control(Shyft4)”]
Lands
18 Island
2 Quicksand

Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Frostburn Weird
4 Spire Golem

Spells
4 Portent
2 Brainstorm
2 Preordain
3 Thought Scour
4 Piracy Charm
4 Counterspell
3 Logic Knot
4 Memory Lapse
1 Exclude
2 Gush
2 Repeal

Sideboard
4 Dispel
4 Hydroblast
3 Coast Watcher
2 Weatherseed Faeries
2 Serrated Arrows [/d]

These decks all actively LIKE playing the long game. They eek out card advantage and board control and eventually win in turns 10 and up. Each deck has pros and cons, so we’ll break these down as before.

UR Cloudpost:

Pros: with an array of answers to multiple different situations, UR Post players seem to “have it all.” Their topdecks in late games are far more powerful than other decks, so when they’ve stabilized, they’ve actually usually won. It might take them awhile to get there, of course, but it’s a matter of time before they stick a threat or just straight bludgeon you with a huge Rolling Thunder. UR Post can generate more mana than any other fair deck via the Cloudpost engine, and can remove threats through counterspells or protection just because they have access to more mana and utility spells than opponents.

Cons: This deck can easily lose in the first few turns of the game because they don’t have the mana base ready to deal with a multitude of attackers in the early turns. They often spend the first 3 turns playing tapped lands or fixing their mana before they can take control. Post decks can also suffer against big tempo plays, such as an early Temporal Fissure or even just a simple Boomerang on a Cloudpost. The removal suite for the UR decks also has a major issue dealing with hexproof creatures, outside of Counterspelling them.

Mono Black Control:

Pros: Hand destruction and creature destruction are Black’s specialty throughout Magic’s history. MBC is no exception, attacking the board of opponents and their hand as well. Black has great sideboard options as well, including “free” kill spells like Snuff Out and Spinning Darkness, along with land destruction and more kill and discard spells!

Cons: MBC is incredibly slow, and opponents can fairly easily recover with a few good topdecks. MBC decks can’t provide reasonable clocks on opponents either: The creatures are all small and don’t protect themselves, dying to a simple Firebolt most of the time. If your only threat gets Bolted, you’re relying on topdecks to get you back into the game. Even if you get back into the game, another Bolt puts you back at square 1, relying on topdecks to get you back in. The lack of card draw other than Sign in Blood can also be hugely detrimental, and black has no way to generate lots of extra mana like Cloudpost does. MBC often loses just based on not topdecking well.

UB Trinket Control:

Pros: Trinket Control plays more like a MBC deck with the bonus of utilizing blue for card draw and card advantage. It abuses Mulldrifters and Trinket Mages to stabilize the board and fetch important artifacts. Evoking a Mulldrifter, then casting Undying Evil on it nets you +2 cards and a 3/3 flying body. It has good to favorable matchups against much of the format. It attacks opposing hands and boards just like MBC, and uses Blue to refill your hand.

Cons: Stormpost. Seriously. The deck isn’t fast enough to kill a Stormpost player before they go off, and doesn’t use Counterspells to disrupt the combo. Hand destruction is the only tool you have against Stormpost, and that’s not even very good when they can redraw their hand with a few Compulsive Researches and a Mulldrifter. It has at least a 50/50 matchup against every other deck in the format(except Burn, because once again, no Counterspells). You can play the matchup lottery and hope to not encounter Stormpost decks, but every other deck you have a good matchup against.

Mono Blue Control:

Pros: MUC is an older idea, long before Delver of Secrets got tossed into the Faerie deck to make the more common Mono U deck of the format. MUC is interesting though, and has the bonus of having all of the Counterspells be unconditional. This means you’ll never groan when an opponent plays a 3 mana spell when you have a Spellstutter in hand that’s 1 Faerie short. Your opponent can’t kill the Spellstutter to render the Counterspell trigger useless. Opponents will often sideboard against you assuming that you have Faeries in the deck, making some of their choices rather silly. You also get the bonus of almost never having dead cards in hand, like the Faeries variety often does. Ninja of the Deep Hours isn’t that impressive if opponents remove your creatures before you can Ninjitsu.

You also get premium card selection, since you get to pick and choose which cards you want with 1 mana cantrips, which coincidentally let you blind flip Delvers on turn 2 more often. On top of that, you get to manipulate opponents’ libraries with Portent, Memory Lapse, and Thought Scour. This lets you get rid of troublesome cards or make opponents draw dead.

Cons: It’s harder to deal with early threats like Nettle Sentinel and Mogg Conscripts because Piracy Charm doesn’t kill them. This means you’re relying on Spire Golem and Frostburn Weird defensively, and hoping to live long enough to get Counterspells effective. You can often get swarmed by opponents flooding the board. You also run a serious risk of just running out of Counterspells and not being able to counter critical Mulldrifters in the late game. It’s very easy to lose control quickly too. Opposing Cloudpost decks can resolve a Compulsive Research or Mulldrifter or two, and you just get out-carded by them.

-Chris

An Introduction to Pauper Part 1

by Chris Weaver

Definition of Pauper: Pauper is a Magic Online format in which all cards used must have been printed at the common rarity in a Magic Online set or product. Common promo cards are only legal if the card has been printed at the common rarity in a set or product. Other than that, the usual rules for Constructed decks apply (a minimum deck size of 60 cards in the main deck, an optional 15-card sideboard, and so on). If a common version of a particular card was ever released on Magic Online, any versions of that card printed at other rarities are also legal in this format.
Example: Counterspell was a common card in the Seventh Edition core set, which was released on Magic Online. Counterspell was reprinted in Masters Edition II with an uncommon expansion symbol. Both versions of the card can be used in the Pauper format.

Example: Hymn to Tourach, another uncommon from Masters Edition II, is not legal for use in the Magic Online Pauper format. Even though Hymn to Tourach was printed as a common in the Fallen Empires set, that set was never released on Magic Online.

The Pauper banned list is:
Cranial Plating
Empty the Warrens
Frantic Search
Grapeshot
Invigorate

So why play Pauper?

Pauper is an eternal format, which means you get to play with some of the most broken cards of all time. This also means your opponent has access to the same cards, of course. Being an eternal format though is a good long term investment: Once you buy in, you’re set as long as you own the cards to play.

It’s cheap! This is one of the primary reasons I got into Pauper, since I couldn’t keep up with the expense of Standard’s metagame. Every major deck in Pauper can be bought for the price of one Standard deck, excluding the relatively cheap Mono Red builds in Standard right now. If you get tired of your $40 Affinity deck, just spend another $40 to get a FULL Stompy deck. Decks pay for themselves with just two 3-1′s in Pauper Daily Events!

The metagame is stable at any random point in time. Fluctuations happen as with any format, but your deck isn’t obsolete the second Wizards prints a hate card. The cards are all there, and Wizards typically isn’t printing real hosers any longer. So your Goblins deck will likely be just as competive now as it will be after the next set release. Every once in awhile, Wizards even throws quite the bone to previous archetypes, reviving them(such as Foundry Street Denizen for Goblins).

There’s something for everyone in Pauper. If you like playing ultra-fast reckless aggression, we have a deck for that. If you like playing ultra heavy control drawing metric tons of cards and grinding out wins, we have a deck for that. If you like playing 20 spells in a single turn, turning a can’t win situation into a can’t lose situation, we have a deck for that!
The community is great! Barring a few bad peas in the pod, most Pauper players are friendly and will freely talk strategy and possible builds with you. They’ll tell you where you messed up and how you could have beaten them(after the fact, of course) if you ask them. I gladly answer any comments and questions posted on my articles and videos, and I love doing it.
When writing an introductory article, I like to start off with the basics. In Magic, there are 3 primary deck archetypes. This article will attempt to break down and dissect each archetype, and hopefully provide some insight into which archetype is right for you.

The 3 major players in any given format are: Aggro, Control, and Combo. I won’t go into which beats which, but let’s just say it’s a game of paper, rock, scissors.

Pauper is kind of an anomaly, because most major decktypes don’t fit into just 1 of these 3 categories. Pauper is an eternal format with tons of possibilities and deckbuilding potential, so most Pauper archetypes will sort of mesh 2 of the 3 archetypes. That being said, we can mostly say certain decks lend themselves more to one category than another. Almost as if it’s aggro splashing control, or control splashing combo.

Pure Aggro decks of the format:

[d title=”Stompy (hr_caldeira)”]

Lands
17 Forest

Creatures
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
4 Young Wolf
3 Shinen of Life’s Roar
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
2 Wild Mongrel

Spells
4 Gather Courage
4 Groundswell
3 Hunger of the Howlpack
4 Rancor
3 Vines of Vastwood

Sideboard
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Thermokarst
3 Faerie Macabre
4 Skyshroud Archer [/d]

[d title=”Goblins(DromarX)”]
Lands
17 Mountain

Creatures
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Mogg Raider
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Cohort
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Sparksmith
3 Goblin Arsonist
4 Foundry Street Denizen

Spells
2 Death Spark
2 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard
1 Electrickery
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Pyroblast
2 Smash to Smithereens
3 Gorilla Shaman
2 Flame Slash
2 Flaring Pain
1 Flame Jab [/d]

[d title=”Burn (magicdownunder)”]
Lands
4 Forgotten Cave
15 Mountain

Creatures
4 Goblin Fireslinger
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Keldon Marauders

Spells
4 Rift Bolt
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Needle Drop
4 Fireblast
1 Faithless Looting
4 Searing Blaze

Sideboard
4 Molten Rain
3 Smash to Smithereens
2 Martyr of Ashes
2 Electrickery
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart [/d]

[d title=”White Weenie(SteffenG)”]
Lands
2 Secluded Steppe
20 Plains

Creatures
3 Doomed Traveler
4 Icatian Javelineers
4 War Falcon
4 Kor Skyfisher
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Leonin Skyhunter
4 Veteran Armorer
2 Guardian of the Guildpact

Spells
4 Bonesplitter
3 Journey to Nowhere
2 Prismatic Strands

Sideboard
2 Patrician’s Scorn
2 Obsidian Acolyte
3 Dust to Dust
1 Divine Offering
3 Crimson Acolyte
4 Standard Bearer [/d]

These decks all attempt to win on turns 4-6, with some having significant late game reach. Each deck has its own pros and cons, so lets break these down.

Stompy:

Pros – Amazingly versatile creatures and Rancor. The pump spells are also amazingly diverse, serving to save your own creatures, pump for lethal, or prevent opponents from doing shenanigans on their own creatures such as Snapping their Cloud of Faeries for mana acceleration or Ghostly Flickering their Mnemonic Walls for infinite mana or life loops. Stompy is generally considered favored against Delver, UR Cloudpost. It preys on the slower decks of the format by beating them down before they can get an endgame plan. Stompy also has roughly 50/50 matches against most of the rest of the format, depending of course on the skill of the pilots and the build of the Stompy deck.

Cons – Stompy can really only do damage via creatures. This makes cards like Prismatic Strands and Moment’s Peace almost an auto-win for opponents. Stompy also runs a relatively light creature package for an aggro deck, sitting somewhere around 24 creatures for any given deck. This makes creature removal particularly effective against Stompy decks. If you kill their creatures, opponents can often get stuck with multiple pump spells in hand without a target. Stompy attempts to remedy this problem by playing creatures like Young Wolf and Safehold Elite. Of course those cards only go so far when other decks draw way more cards than Stompy and can provide multiple answers.

Goblins:

Pros – Redundancy! Goblins decks play multiple copies of the same effective cards(Mogg Conscripts = Goblin Cohort, Mogg Raider = Goblin Sledder), along with just providing an endless stream of 30+ Goblins. Every deck is just swarming you with weenies, and the tricks provided with Mogg Raider and Goblin Sledder can threaten an unblocked creature becomes a 7/7. Goblins also has burn reach to plow through Fog effects like Moment’s Peace. Death Spark is huge, since you can eliminate pesky blockers or unflipped Delvers. Death Spark is an engine as well, costing you a measily Goblin to buy it back. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had a Goblin deck held at bay with myself at 4 life, when he topdecks a Death Spark and proceeds to ping me to death. Goblin Bushwhacker is a beast, turning those 7 Goblins into straight up murder sticks threatening a whopping 16 damage on turn 4-5.

Cons – Alot of 1/1 creatures aren’t very threatening by themselves. The 2/2 creatures have drawbacks, requiring you to cast creatures to attack with them. This negates some combat tricks, such as Lightning Bolting a Spire Golem to get it off the table. Hydroblast is a VERY common sideboard hate card, and for 1 mana it counters a crucial Bushwhacker or kills a dude. The sideboard options are also pretty narrow and mostly reactive cards that thin out the Goblins deck’s critical plan of swarming with dudes and beating face in. In order to remove blockers, Goblins sometimes just HAS to 2-for-1 itself.

Burn:

Pros – Extremely fast and violent. The deck requires little thinking beyond how to count to 20, and represents a fast clock for any deck without Counterspells. Sometimes decks just can’t compete, since their decks are often packed with ways to deal with creatures. Burn decks don’t particularly care about their creatures, the 3 damage spells are far more important.

Cons – Against any deck packing mainboard counterspells and lifegain, playing as a burn player is an almost unwinnable proposition. The sideboard options are even more narrow than Goblins, since Goblins at least have resilient threats after you bring in sideboard hate cards like Pyroblast.

White Weenie:

Pros – Lots of powerful creatures with resilient and important abilities. Almost every creature is a threat that must be dealt with or countered by opponents, and many creatures provide massive card advantage. White Weenie will typically be a more difficult matchup for opposing aggro strategies, since cards like Doomed Traveler and Loyal Cathar can block and leave behind bodies as well as taking out opposing creatures or pump spells. White Weenie also has great utility spells such as Journey to Nowhere and Prismatic Strands to turn the tides. Guardian of the Guildpack is a huge threat in Pauper. Very few decks have ways to deal with a resolved Guardian.

Cons – White Weenie is a turn or two slower than the other aggro decks, and suffers from the same problem Stompy has. It can really only deal damage via creatures. You can’t alpha strike on turn 4. The creatures can also be readily killed, no matter how resilient they are, making your deck slower by another turn, which gives opponents more time to stabilize. In Pauper, white suffers a major problem: jack of all trades, master of none.

DelverFiend just became a lot better

I have been wondering why DelverFiend is not played more. It has an excellent Stormpost matchup. Maybe it has problems with Delver? Maybe it has problems with control? Maybe 8 creatures + 4 Delver of Secret is just not enough.

I think one of the fundamental problems of Delver Fiend is the low creature count. There are just no other good creatures.

You just have a hard time winning with DelverFiend as the opposing deck has more removal than you have creatures.

BUT WHAT IF YOU HAD 16 CREATURES?

I predict that if Temporal Fissure and Cloudpost is not banned DelverFiend will be a major contender. With 4 Lightning Bolts, DelverFiend even has the reach to finish the game (they also have Dispel) when Simic Stormpost sets up the Moment’s Peace wall.

Fun, fast games of Pauper ahead of us! And good times for Trinket, I hope.

Consider this deck:

[d title=”DelverFiend (Pauper)”]
Lands
8 Island
6 Mountain
2 Evolving Wilds

Creatures
4 Nivix Cyclops
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Wee Dragonauts

Spells
3 Assault Strobe
1 Brainstorm
1 Dispel
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Piracy Charm
3 Ponder
4 Preordain
3 Shadow Rift
3 Apostle’s Blessing

Sideboard
1 Electrostatic Bolt
3 Pyroblast
2 Hydroblast
2 Flame Slash
3 Dispel
2 Flaring Pain
2 Electrickery [/d]

This would not be one of mine articles if I did not have a video or two at the bottom, would it?

Here is me playing DelverFiend vs Dimir Post:

And here is DelverFiend vs Stompy

I think DelverFiend has a golden future ahead of it. And I guess Surucucu is the happiest player in Pauper now. He has been putting in so much time with the deck.

By the way, people were abandoning Delver for this deck when Izzet Post ruled the meta right after the bannings. So this deck has game is currently underplayed. As I said, I am not really sure why.

Go DelverFiend!

A Pauper Chat with Deluxeicoff (and some info on Hexproof)

Talking Pauper in general and Hexproof in detail with Deluxeicoff, one of the best pauper players on MTGO.

His Hexchant Hexproof deck –

[d title=”Hexchant by Deluxeicoff (Pauper)”]
Land
13 Forest
4 Selesnya Guildgate

Creatures
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Aura Gnarlid
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Bond Beetle

Enchantments
4 Abundant Growth
4 Ehtereal Armor
3 Ancestral Mask
4 Armadillo Cloak
4 Rancor
4 Utopia Sprawl

Sideboard
3 Asha’s Favor
4 Moment’s Peace
4 Standard Bearer
4 Thermokarst [/d]

Soul Sisters in Pauper

For a short while, Deluxeicoff was tearing up the Pauper Dailys in 2012 with this very different White Weenie deck.

Then he got bored and moved on.

I can’t stop loving it though. It beats any aggro deck in the format, including Stompy and Delver. It dies horribly to combo and was a dog to Storm. Maybe now its time has come again.

Here is a current list:

[d title=”Soul Sisters by Deluxeicoff (Pauper)”]
Lands
22 Plains

Creatures
4 Benevolent Bodyguard
2 Cenn’s Enlistment
4 Doomed Traveller
4 Kor Skyfisher
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Suture Priest
4 Veteran Armorer

Spells
4 Guardian’s Pledge

Sideboard
4 Crimson Acolyte
4 Icatian Javelineers
4 Patrician’s Scorn
3 Prismatic Strands [/d]

There will be more info on this deck posted in the near future.

Next level Delver – Mezzel Delver

Delver Blue has long been a tier 1 deck in Pauper (even before the printing of Delver of Secrets, though that card was what brought it to the very top). The meta is now shifting away from the good matchups into weird and bad territory for Delver. Storm was a good matchup and you seldom saw the good Delver players complain about Infect, but they do fear Cloudpost, Temporal Fissure and Stompy.

So what are the weaknesses of this fantastic deck? Most lists play too few lands (16) and no true card advantage (only Ninja of the Deep Hours) and too many card sorting spells that takes mana and stops them from countering essential turn 2 and 3 plays from the other decks (the culprits are Preordain and Ponder).

So what do you need to do to win with Delver?

Enter: Mezzel, the guy who won the most packs on Magic Online in Pauper during 2011.

Here is his take on Delver, which solves all of the problems above.

[d title=”Mezzel Delver (Pauper)”]
Lands
17 Island
2 Quicksand

Creatures
4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Phantasmal Bear
4 Spellstutter Sprite
3 Spire Golem

Other spells
4 Brainstorm
4 Counterspell
2 Exclude
2 Gush
1 Oona’s Grace
3 Piracy Charm
4 Snap

Sideboard
3 Boomerang
3 Dispel
4 Hydroblast
3 Steel Sabotage
2 Stitched Drake [/d]

I have been testing his deck a lot. I did it before the bannings and I will continue to do so after the bannings. It is slightly more complicated than the “regular” Delver decks, but I think it has what it takes to make Delver remain a top tier deck in the new meta.

Relevant links:

An interview with Mezzel

http://puremtgo.com/articles/common-kings-interview-pauper-pros

Alex Ullman writes an excellent article about playing Delver (pre-bannings):

http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/standard/25462-Delving-Deeper-Into-Pauper.html

This is a link to the Walkthrough video itself:

Fighting the new Pauper meta – RG Land Destruction

On the 2nd day of the new Pauper meta, ScarletMacaw brought this interesting deck to the Meta:

[d title=”RG Land Destruction (Pauper)”]
Lands
13 Forest
9 Mountain

Creatures
4 Aurochs Herd
4 Durkwood Baloth
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Llanowar Elves

Other spells
4 Firebolt
4 Misguided Rage
3 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
3 Staggershock
4 Stone Rain
4 Thermokarst

Sideboard
4 Ancient Grudge
3 Flame Slash
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Smash to Smithereens [/d]

Here is the event: Pauper Daily 4991703

I have been testing the deck as I found it very interesting:

This deck has the neatest sideboard plan I have ever seen (compared to UB Trinket Control four pages of card exchanges):
SIDEBOARD PLAN

Are you playing against Affinity?

If yes:
– 4 Misguide Rage, -3 Staggershock, -4 Firebolt, – 4 Thermokarst

+4 Ancient Grudge, +3 Flame Slash, +4 Gleeful Sabotage, +4 Smash to Smithereens

Are you playing against creatures with 3 or 4 toughness in droves and no smaller creatures?

If yes:
+3 Flame Slash
-3 Staggershock

If you are playing against anything else, do not sideboard. It is tempting to side out parts of your maindeck LD, but your main idea is to prey on the aggro decks that play too few lands, so you need to cast a land destruction spell on turn 2.

So what are the matchups like?

Affinity: Horrible pre-sideboard, super-good post-sideboard.

Burn: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Delver: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Elves: Worse than other Aggro decks, so really bad.

Familiar storm: Very good.

Goblins: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Greenpost: If any Cloudpost deck can survive this onslaught, it is Greenpost. Needs to be tested.

GW Auras/Hexproof/Ancestral Mask: Good.

Infect: Good.

Izzet Post: Very good.

KILN FIEND/WEE DRAGONAUTS: Not good.

MBC: Really bad.

Mono-blue Post: Good.

Mono-blue Stormpost: Good.

MUC: Really bad.

Random aggro: Not good, but their manabase is probably shaky as everyone is too greedy in Pauper when building mana bases.

RG Aggro: Not good.

Slivers: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Songs of the Damned: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Stompy: Not good, but their manabase is shaky.

Suicide Black: Not good.

Tortured Existence: Not good.

UB Trinket Control: Good.

UB Control: Good.

UB Ninja Teachings: Good.

UG Stormpost: Good.

UG Temporal Fissure Storm: Good.

WW: Not good.

I would very much like to take part of your testing and see how this deck is doing.

There is a somewhat dated thread on Pauper Land Destruction in the forums here:

http://www.paupertothepeople.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=pauperdecks&action=display&thread=403

I think that the time for Land Destruction is now, if there ever is such a time. I have to admit, though, that perhaps there never is nor never will be such a time. Land Destruction has never really worked in Magic.