The Price of Pauper

As with the original Modern Masters, Modern Masters: 2015 Edition was a double edged sword. Some of the cards that were reprinted went down in price, but enough other cards spiked hard to counteract it. The sad reality is that Modern will be an expensive format without dramatic reprints on a level not seen before. To many players, Modern is a format that is just too much of a jump to get into with price levels rising. But there is another format that is competitive, eternal, and fun with a bunch of additional benefits: Pauper.

The mostly online, commons-only format is fantastic and diverse. It allows players to jump between decks as they see fit with minimal cost while still providing a non-rotating competitive format. Although Modern Masters: 2015 Edition may have raised the price of Modern, it brought many Pauper staples to all-time lows, making it the perfect time to buy into the format. The real question now becomes what is the real cost of Pauper?

priceofpauper01

If we look at recent event results, almost every heavily played deck is somewhere from 5-50 tickets, with the current top list clocking in under 10 tickets. Almost any of these lists can be made cheaply and are significantly less expensive than corresponding decks in other formats. In addition, there is an interesting mix of decks in this top tier from Aggro (Burn, Stompy) to Control (Mono-Black, Delver) to Combo (Familiars). Yet many players don’t get into Pauper just to get one deck, they like to bounce around and play many different styles of decks. There are multiple decks in Pauper that have similar cores to other decks, but play out very differently.

Two of the most popular decks in the format are Delver and UR Fiend. Delver is an Aggro-Control list based around getting down an early [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and protecting it with counters, bounce, and draw spells. UR Fiend is a combo list centered around going off with [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] and [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. Both have the same core of 4-of [c]Ponder[/c], [c]Preordain[/c], and [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]. They both run about 17 lands and are a blue based deck.

After that, there starts to grow a divergence in the lists. UR Fiend adds red to get the combo creatures, Delver adds counters to protect its creatures, and so on. By growing a collection, it can become quite easy to jump from one list to another such as with Delver and UR Fiend.

But how to price a collection is not a simple task. The simplest way to tabulate the cost is to look at the price of the most played cards in the format, such as the 50 most played cards from MTGGoldfish. I took this list early June 14th and added in the prices MTGOTraders.com was selling them for. The vast majority of the cards were 5 cents or less a piece with only 7 over a dollar. If you bought a playset of each of the top 50 most played cards, the price is only $99.20.

$99.20 for all of the most played cards in the format!

Unlike any other competitive format, you can buy into Pauper for about $100. While I doubt anyone is going to just buy the top cards and not a deck, it demonstrates how cheap the format is and how having multiple decks is not very expensive at all. Relative to Modern where all of the top lists are over $200, Pauper is a dream for your wallet. Also, the majority of the expensive cards are sideboard cards which are not vital in making the decks run. If you just remove [c]Pyroblast[/c] and [c]Hydroblast[/c], 2 strong and common sideboard cards that you do not need to be competitive, the price falls to $55.56. Yet, that list does not look at the most expensive lands in the format. Thankfully, lands are not expensive at all in Pauper, as the only ones worth money are the Artifact lands and Urza lands. The format is very cheap, so let’s go over some of the best places to start.

priceofpauper02

One of the most consistently successful decks in the format is Stompy, a mono-green beat down deck with lots of pump to back up the punch. The deck relies on getting down a few cheap threats and using one of the many pump spells to deal damage fast. In addition, this version of the deck is a steal at only $19.72.

[d title=”Stompy by DromarX – June 12, 2015″]
Creatures
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
4 Young Wolf
3 Safehold Elite
3 Wild Mongrel
2 Basking Rootwalla
2 Garruk’s Companion
2 River Boa

Spells
4 Groundswell
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Rancor
2 Gather Courage
1 Bonesplitter

Lands
17 Forest

Sideboard
4 Scattershot Archer
3 Gleeful Sabotage
3 Gut Shot
3 Nourish
1 Bonesplitter
1 Viridian Longbow [/d]

Another classic, and a deck relatively unique to Pauper, is Mono-Black Control (or MBC). The deck utilizes a disruption package including [c]Chittering Rats[/c] and removal to control the opponent while it uses its many creatures to control the board. The heavy hitter finishers include [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] and [c]Gurmag Angler[/c]. This deck has proven to be extremely popular and is a blast to play, making it one of the most common decks out there. In addition, the deck is only an Andrew Jackson away at $19.99.

[d title=”Mono-Black Control by Claudiocruz – June 13, 2015″]
Creatures
4 Chittering Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Phyrexian Rager
2 Gurmag Angler

Spells
4 Sign in Blood
3 Geth’s Verdict
3 Victim of Night
2 Chainer’s Edict
2 Unearth
2 Disfigure
2 Oubliette
1 Corrupt

Lands
19 Swamp
4 Barren Moor

Sideboard
4 Duress
3 Choking Sands
3 Shrivel
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Wrench Mind
1 Tendrils of Corruption [/d]

If you just want to test out the format with basically no monetary investment, Pauper has its share of dirt cheap decks, such as this 4-0 Burn list that costs a total of 2.99 tix. There are other decks that can come this cheap as well, such as W Tokens, but Burn is the most successful of these recently. This list is not too complicated, just throw fire at their face!

[d title=”Burn by Gommasd – June 9, 2015″]

Creatures
4 Keldon Marauders

Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Needle Drop
4 Searing Blaze
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
2 Searing Spear

Lands
16 Mountain
2 Forgotten Cave

Sideboard
4 Electrickery
4 Smash to Smithereens
4 Stone Rain
3 Lightning Strike [/d]

This is not all the decks. Pauper is an open format and new brews pop up all the time. The nice thing is once you have a collection, almost any brew that pops up is almost no investment at all. You can play what you want to play and don’t have to be bothered by continual spikes.

One of the best ways to get into the format is to play the free, prize-supported, Pauper Classic Tuesdays Tournament on Gatherling. They start at 8 pm Eastern and tend to run for a few hours. If those are below your pay grade you can always play in the Pauper Daily Events that run once a day on weekdays and twice everyday on weekends. Also, visit the hub of the Pauper community at /r/Pauper on Reddit.

Thanks for reading!

-Najay

Pauper Daily Report: May 11, 2015

needle drop art

Hello, my friends. It’s been awhile now since Paupers & Kings wrapped up, and I’ve been trying to find a new series idea that thrills me. In the meantime, I’ve been playing lots and lots of Magic (check out the YouTube channel) but not writing quite as much. I thought an easy win and a good way to bring more Pauper content to the site would be to write-up the Daily Events I have been playing. I usually manage to get one in per week, generally on Mondays, so that syncs up well with a Tuesday article.

This week I played Mono Red Burn in the Daily Event. I’m not sure why I picked it, except that I thought it would do well against MBC and the various creature decks that try to work around MBC. It’s not a great match vs Delver, unfortunately, and the WW Tokens list that is super popular right now can also pack a lot of lifegain. But if I avoided those two pitfalls, I thought I could do okay.

As of this article, MTGGoldfish claims Burn is under 3% of the competitive metagame (just counting 3-1s and 4-0s). It’s practically a rogue deck at those numbers. I netdecked a list that mcguire8 used to win the May 9 Daily, since it had all the things I like in a Burn list.

[d title=”Mono Red Burn by mcguire8 (Pauper)”]
Land
2 Forgotten Cave
16 Mountain

Creatures
4 Keldon Marauders

Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Needle Drop
4 Searing Blaze
2 Shard Volley
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart

Sideboard
2 Electrickery
4 Flame Rift
2 Flaring Pain
2 Martyr of Ashes
2 Molten Rain
3 Smash to Smithereens [/d]

You can’t get a lot simpler than that. Play mountains, burn face. Let’s see how it went.

Round One vs BorosKitty

BorosKitty can pack a ton of lifegain, and they can race with a good hand. Anything they want to do (e.g. gain life) they can do over and over thanks to all the bounce effects. I’d put this match-up under 50% for Burn.

Game 1: I suspended [c]Rift Bolt[/c] into [c]Curse of the Pierced Heart[/c] and he proceeded to gain a lot of life from his [c]Radiant Fountain[/c] which he took turns bouncing along with his card-draw artifacts. He didn’t get any real pressure going until T6, but by then it was too late, since I top-decked another [c]Fireblast[/c] and, blowing up five of my lands (2x Blast, 1x [c]Shard Volley[/c]) I got him down to 1 life and let my Curse finish him off during his upkeep.

Sideboard: IN 3x [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c], 2x [c]Molten Rain[/c], 2x [c]Flaring Pain[/c] | OUT 4x [c]Curse of the Pierced Heart[/c], 3x [c]Needle Drop[/c]. Blowing up artifacts AND getting 3 damage in seems like a no-brainer, here. I brought in Molten Rain mainly to deal with things like Radiant Fountain again, while Flaring Pain stops a lockout from COP: Red, which most decks with White run 1x or 2x in the SB.

Game 2: He gets an [c]Azorius Chancery[/c] followed by a [c]Lone Missionary[/c]. I blow the Missionary up with [c]Searing Blaze[/c] only to have him cast another and start bouncing it. Annoying! On turn 5 he returns the Missionary to his hand and can’t recast it that turn, and I top a [c]Molten Rain[/c] to blow up his Chancery, cutting him off from white mana and keeping the Missionary stuck in his hand. The burninator in me cackles. Unfortunately it’s turn 5 and he still has 16 life. I get him to 7 with a [c]Fireblast[/c] and [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c] still in my hand, but unfortunately (and oddly) he has no artifacts in play. Turn 8 he plays a [c]Great Furnace[/c] before swinging in with his team, and in response to his attack I blow up the artifact land and fireblast him for exactees.

Match score: 1-0 | Game score: 2-0

Round Two vs MBC

Mono Black Control is probably the underdog, here. Their greatest threat is discard, but if we get Hellbent as quickly as possible, even that doesn’t matter. Once they hit 4 mana and up we do have to worry about [c]Tendrils of Corruption[/c] and then [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] and then [c]Corrupt[/c] gaining them life. Not all lists play Tendrils, so the main goal here is to kill them before Gary starts coming down.

Game 1: We’re on the play, and [c]Chain Lightning[/c] into Curse gets us off to a great start. I love Curse on t2 since you’re maximizing the impact. Our opponent plays some [c]Cuombajj Witches[/c], and we [c]Searing Blaze[/c] both of them with landfall, then risk a [c]Keldon Marauders[/c] into a possible t4 Tendrils play from our opponent. He only has [c]Geth’s Verdict[/c], though, which is completely fine, and we close the game out with a [c]Shard Volley[/c] on our t5 (before our opponent gets to 5 mana).

Sideboard: IN 4x [c]Flame Rift[/c] | OUT 4x [c]Keldon Marauders[/c]. If he has Tendrils he will keep them in no matter what, but this way he will have to target his own creatures instead of ours. Flame Rift simply helps us close out the game as early as possible. We’re the aggressive deck here, so the symmetry of the card is fine, it’s still to our advantage.

Game 2: We keep a one-lander on the draw, which is rough considering our hand contains [c]Fireblast[/c], [c]Shard Volley[/c], and [c]Searing Blaze[/c]. We keep it anyway and draw another Fireblast. Damn. Our opponent hits us with a t2 [c]Duress[/c] and takes the Searing Blaze, even though we don’t have the mana for it and he has no creatures out. We draw a third Fireblast (double-damn!) and throw a [c]Lava Spike[/c] at our opponent’s head. On our third draw we finally hit our second land, but at this point we have 3x Fireblast, 1x Shard Volley, and 1x [c]Needle Drop[/c] in hand. Rough. Our opponent simplifies our life somewhat by casting [c]Wrench Mind[/c], and we happily throw away 2x Fireblast. At the end of his turn we throw a Volley into his face so that we can Needle Drop. This puts us back down to one land, our opponent at 10 life, and we draw a [c]Flame Rift[/c] off the Needle Drop and then a [c]Rift Bolt[/c] on our turn, which we suspend. So our opponent makes it to t5, but he’s stuck on 3 land and has almost no pressure with double witches on board. We draw another Flame Rift, he casts a [c]Phyrexian Rager[/c] putting him to 6, and we pick up another land on our next draw for the game, hitting with Rift for 4 and then our remaining Fireblast to close it out.

Match score: 2-0 | Game score: 4-0

Round Three vs UB Angler Delver

The closest I get to playing against Delver in this event, and he has plenty of counters (it looks like 8x main) and unkillable threats ([c]Gurmag Angler[/c]). This promises to be a tough one unless we can win before he stabilizes.

Game 1: He plays a t1 Delver. We had to mulligan a no-lander and end up with 3x Mountain, [c]Rift Bolt[/c], [c]Searing Blaze[/c], and [c]Fireblast[/c]. We drop a mountain and suspend the bolt. His Delver doesn’t flip, so we only take 1 and he spends his turn and mana on a [c]Preordain[/c] and a [c]Ponder[/c]. We hit him with the bolt and then Searing Blaze him and his Delver for 3. By t5 we’ve only seen one [c]Counterspell[/c] which hit a Curse, and we have him at 9 life with a Fireblast in hand. He gets an Angler to put some pressure on us and we keep drawing lands. He gets another Angler with counter mana up, and we finally rip a Lightning Bolt. He’s at 7, so if we stick both pieces of burn we win, but he counters the Fireblast and since we’re at 2 life with 10 damage coming in next turn, we concede.

Sideboard: IN 4x [c]Flame Rift[/c], 2x [c]Molten Rain[/c] | OUT 4x [c]Curse of the Pierced Heart[/c], 2x [c]Needle Drop[/c]. Curse is too fragile and slow at this point, and Needle Drop works best when you have the curses. Flame Rift can’t be [c]Dispel[/c]led and hits hard, while I have a theory that Molten Rain may help keep him off {B} mana and stop the Anglers.

Game 2: He starts off with two [c]Dismal Backwater[/c], which means he has black mana but is slow versus us in terms of developing the board and keeping up countermana. We hit him with Lightning Bolt, Rift Bolt, Needle Drop, and Flame Rift by t3, so he is at 11 and we’re at 16. He does land a Delver, which he flips on t3 with a [c]Brainstorm[/c] during his upkeep, and then he plays another Delver, leaving just one mana open. We cast Incinerate and Lava Spike on our turn since he only has the one mana up and they get through to take him down to 5 life. We have Lava Spike and another Incinerate still in hand. He flips the other Delver and brings us to 7, and we rip a Shard Volley. We have lethal in hand, but he has countermana up, now, and we can’t cast all three of our spells to push lethal. We pass with mana up and he brings us down to 1 with the Delvers, passing the turn with 4 mana up. EOT we cast [c]Incinerate[/c] which he lets through, but he counters the follow-up Shard Volley. We untap and draw a Chain Lightning, pretty much assuring our victory even if he has another counter since we have 2 castable burn spells. He seems to be out of counters, though, as the first spell goes through for lethal.

Game 3: We keep a beautiful 2-lander with lots of gas, and play a [c]Lava Spike[/c] to get things started. Our opponent gets stuck on one land for awhile and uses it to cast a lot of cantrips and filters to dig for more. We land some [c]Keldon Marauder[/c]s which we even get to hit him with (5 damage for 2 mana is great) and going into t4 our opponent has 9 life and a couple marauders staring at him, and we have 3 mana and 3 cards still in hand: Flame Rift, 2x Incinerate. He plays a Delver to block our Marauder and gets a third land into play. We cast 2x Incinerate on his EOT, which he lets through, going to 3 off the burn and down to 2 from my Marauders during my upkeep. We rip a Rift Bolt and get our Flame Rift countered, so we suspend the bolt. He counters the Rift Bolt, too, so we have to top-deck something. Chain Lightning off the top finishes him off, just as he was starting to stabilize with an Angler on board.

Match score: 3-0 | Game score: 6-1

Round Four vs Affinity

His explosive starts can outrace us and his 4/4s are out of burn range. He has [c]Hydroblast[/c] post-board to shut down some burn, too, so we have to work around that. Otherwise we just try and count to 20 before he does.

Game 1: We’re on the play and keep a nice 2-lander. We start with a Lava Spike, and he just plays a land and passes. We curse him and pass, and he plays another land, a [c]Frogmite[/c], and then passes back. We rip a Searing Blaze and play land 3 to deal 3 to him and remove the Frogmite, since it is one of the only creatures he has that we can blaze and it keeps his affinity count down. He plays a land on his turn and passes again, and we Needle Drop EOT into mountain #4. We play a second Curse and leave up bolt mana, keeping the mountain in our hand in case we draw another Searing Blaze. He casts two [c]Galvanic Blast[/c] on our EOT and a [c]Myr Enforcer[/c] on his turn, but goes to 9 off the curses and then 6 off our bolt. We rip a Needle Drop which we don’t need, but cast it anyway after the Fireblast gets him to 2, drawing into another Fireblast, so we finish him off on our turn rather than letting the Curses do it during his upkeep.

Sideboard: IN 3x [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c] | OUT 3x [c]Needle Drop[/c]. Affinity is why we have Smash, though it does work against [c]Spire Golem[/c]s and Kitty decks, too. Needle Drop is easy to take out since its impact is so small. I debate bringing in Martyr, but it’s such a horrible top-deck that we keep things simple instead.

Game 2: Our opponent mulls to 4 while we keep another one-lander on the draw. We rip a land straight off and bolt him to get things going. We have Fireblast, Smash, Incinerate, Searing Blaze, and Curse in our hand. After a mull to 4 I wait to see if he is stuck on mana, since then I could smash his lands, but he appears to have plenty of mana and no gas. We go with the Curse on t2 instead and he starts playing lots of artifacts that don’t impact the board and a [c]Thoughtcast[/c] to draw some cards. He puts a [c]Frogmite[/c] down t4 and I consider Smashing it, but drop my land next turn instead and hit it with Searing Blaze. He [c]Hydroblast[/c]s the Blaze, though, so we Chain Lightning him and bring him down to 8 after the next Curse ping. He gets to hit us for 2 with the Frogmite but doesn’t do much else, so on our turn we Smash the frog and bolt him, and he goes to 1 off curse during his upkeep. He knows he either needs to draw a way to win or destroy the curse and he doesn’t do either, so our opponent concedes. We still had [c]Fireblast[/c] and [c]Keldon Marauder[/c]s in hand, so it was going to go badly for him no matter what.

Match score: 4-0 | Game score: 8-1

Wrap-up and videos

We got some good matchups for the list, avoiding U Delver and WW Tokens entirely, but we still faced off against some strong lists. Burn shines because it is so consistent. Both UB Angler and BorosKitty can do very well against Burn, but they are also more likely to stumble. Affinity just beats itself from time to time, something we’re happy to take advantage of. And MBC does far worse, generally, when it doesn’t have any creatures to blow up. Yeah, he brought in discard spells, but they didn’t make too big a difference in the end.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of this kind of event report. Here are the videos!

 

Legacy on Mondays: Epic Tournament Write-Up (Almost)

innocent blood

Welcome Back!

This week I wanted to discuss a rather tilt-inducing situation for me, as well as share a deck list.

So, this past weekend was the SCG Open in Syracuse, NY. Creepy fact: That’s an event that is relatively close to where I live. While the format of the open itself was Standard, there was a Legacy 5K Premier IQ yesterday on Sunday. As a Legacy player, I jumped at the chance to get to go and play in a more competitive field. Sadly, things fell apart.

It started with something quite simple: I did not have a deck to play. I do not really own a lot of complete Legacy decks in paper. The only one I had was Enchantress, but I lent that to my friend and he went on an extended vacation before I got a chance to ask to have it back. I thought I might play [c]High Tide[/c], but I lacked the necessary [c]Force of Will[/c]s. I did have part of burn put together, and said to myself: “You know what? Just buy out the rest. It’s not that much.” No problem, right? I even paid a bit extra for some expedited UPS shipping. Well, there were floods in Kentucky, and as such my package was delayed. Hell, if you’re reading this on Monday, they probably are not even in my mail box yet. So that’s problem 1.

Problem 2 is that my other friend whom I was supposed to pick up so we could go together called me on Saturday night to tell me that he had made some Easter plans suddenly. I have no problem with religious observances and holidays, but when you make plans with your friends to burn some fossil fuels to play Magic, make sure that you keep those plans. Clearly the cards are more important than the environment, yes? Still, I was really looking forward to playing in this event with him.

The third problem is likely the most damning. I could play my bastardized Forceless High Tide if necessary, but when I woke up Sunday morning I felt terrible! Rather than going into detail, let’s just leave it that I would have been unable to make it to tournament, let alone my car. Yes, it was finally then that I threw in the towel and said “No more. I scoop to life;” that is also why this isn’t an epic tournament write-up and matchup analysis.

There is a lesson to be learned from all of this. I am out $150 in cards that I wanted to use for this tournament. In the grand scheme of things, that is no huge loss, but it is no chump change either. What is does, however, is give me an excuse to play with my friends more, since I am no longer tied to my lent Enchantress deck for Legacy. I think that alone is easily worth the money I spent. And hey, it also means that they have to get some [c]Circle of Protection: Red[/c] as soon as they possibly can :)

Also, I honestly tilted a bit. Terrible illness, inability to go and play in a more competitive tournament, and not being able to see my good friend all ruined my mood. As Steve can attest, I did try to brighten things up a bit with some Kangaroo Court EDH, but I still felt pretty bad. Writing this, though, has made me realize that life happens. While Magic is a great game, sometimes life just needs to remind you that it comes first. Stay healthy, and do not tilt too much if things jump out of your control and you cannot make it to your IQ.

With that, check this out:

[d title=”Pox by Reid Duke, circa December 2011″]
Creatures
2 Nether Spirit
Planeswalkers
4 Liliana of the Veil
Lands
13 Swamp
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Wasteland
Artifacts
3 Cursed Scroll
Instants
4 Dark Ritual
1 Spinning Darkness
Sorceries
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Sinkhole
4 Smallpox
3 Innocent Blood
1 Pox
Enchantment
1 Nether Void
[/d]

Why would I show you such a deck? Well, this is a very quick continuation of my Getting Into Legacy series. If you bought [c]Wasteland[/c] as a staple, and love systematically dismantling your opponents, then this is the deck for you. But the list is totally antiquated? Pox has not changed much over the course of time. You can find Mr. Duke’s excellent primer on the deck here.

The deck is mono-color, so no fancy fetches or duals, and is one of my favorites decks in Legacy. I may be a bit of a combo junkie, but Pox really suits me for some reason. Also, feel free to ignore [c]Nether Void[/c] and [c]The Abyss[/c] for the most part. I’ve never had them be totally amazing, and I like to play a [c]Night of Soul’s Betrayal[/c] in the main instead. Looking for a more updated list? I would provide one, but all that I have found that have done well in relatively recent events have delved into other colors and are playing cards like [c]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/c]. Stick with mono color; it’s your best bet.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see y’all soon!

Legacy on Mondays: Or You Could Just Play Burn

Welcome Back!

In this series, my goal is to get newer Legacy players into the format without breaking the bank. There are serious signs that the Legacy format is in decline, as one of the biggest supporters of the format, Star City Games, has relegated most of their opens to Standard, and made Legacy a Sunday-only IQ event. Some Wizards of the Coast employees have stated that they just “do not like” the format, and many are shying away from playing for Modern and Standard.

I do not want this to happen. Legacy is a very fun format, and its interactions and playstyle are distinct from those in other formats. I want you guys to get into this format however you can.

As for me, I initially just wanted a taste of the format, but once I got started I just wanted to play more eternal. Even if you just have a little bit of money to start playing, you can go to those Sunday IQs with a budget deck and still have the chance to clean house.

Last week I talked about how to get some staples to start the format if you do not want to play a budget deck, and instead wanted to get something quite competitive, but over a longer period of time. If there is a Legacy FNM (rare, to say the least!) in your area and you want to be there within a month, this article is for you. I am going to show you three decks, all of which can be acquired for a reasonable Legacy deck price, that you can play without buying a bunch of staples. And yes, one of them is Burn.

Let’s start with that, shall we?

I. Burn

[d title=”Burn by Peyton”]
Red Fire Dudes
4 Goblin Guide
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
3 Grim Lavamancer
Sudden Red Fire
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Price of Progress
3 Searing Blaze
Slower Red Fire
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
Red Fire That Sticks Around
2 Sulfuric Vortex
Realms of Red Fire
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Bloodstained Mire
12 Mountain
Sideboard of Hate (And more Red Fire)
2 Sulfuric Vortex
3 Mindbreak Trap
2 Red Elemental Blast
3 Smash to Smithereens
3 Relic of Progenitus
2 Ashen Rider
[/d]

This is my own list of Burn, and one that I am in the process of buying so that I can take it to a larger event which is pretty close to me in a few weeks. Note that I am meta’ing Burn; I do not expect much red hate and want to capitalize somewhat. I also like [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] in Legacy right now. Anyway, this deck has become even cheaper since Khans reprinted eight red fetches for us to use. [c]Grim Lavamancer[/c] is an amazing tool against decks like Death and Taxes, and there must be fetchlands to enable ol’ Grim.

Fetchlands increase the overall consistency of the deck through thinning, as well as enabling [c]Searing Blaze[/c] as a powerful card against creature decks. Optimally, this should be a 10-10 split for fetch/[c]Mountain[/c] ratio, but for an extra $60, I cannot justify adding two [c]Arid Mesa[/c] just for a slightly better ratio. Do not do it unless you are a serious Burn player, in which case you should also buy [c]Ensnaring Bridge[/c] for your sideboard.

This brings me to the attractiveness of this particular list. It plays the reprinted cheap fetches, an effective Burn maindeck without sacrificing key components for price, and the sideboard is effective yet budget-minded. The current TCGplayer cost of this deck after optimization for direct shipping at moderately played or better condition is as follows (sans Mountain):

Burn Price

At just under $350, this deck can be picked up without a lot of prior experience and win games. It is the perfect example of how speed meets consistency that has stood the test of time. Go out there and burn some face!

II. Manaless Dredge

[d title=”Manaless Dredge, Fairly Stock List by Peyton”]
A TON of Creatures that Do Graveyard Stuff
4 Balustrade Spy
2 Flayer of the Hatebound
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Golgari Thug
4 Ichorid
4 Narcomoeba
4 Nether Shadow
4 Phantasmagorian
3 Shambling Shell
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Street Wraith
Stuff that Works from the Graveyard
4 Bridge from Below
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Dread Return
Some Enablers
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Mishra’s Bauble
Narrow Sideboard
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Mindbreak Trap
2 Sickening Shoal
1 Ashen Rider
[/d]

Manaless Dredge is a newer deck that operates on discarding a dredger or the powerful [c]Phantasmagorian[/c] turn one, and then discarding a bunch of dredgers or dredging the following turn to pile up a graveyard quickly. The deck can combo kill as early as turn two with a [c]Balustrade Spy[/c] milling everything, then reanimating a [c]Flayer of the Hatebound[/c] followed by a huge Grave Troll for the win. You can also lock out the opponent with [c]Iona, Shield of Emeria[/c] if she is a more readily available win condition.

The deck is not overly expensive, but MUST play four white Leyline in the sideboard to shore up the Burn and Storm match-ups. Those are likely to be disastrous game one, as you cannot interact and must combo kill before they do. [c]Mindbreak Trap[/c] is also important, as the Storm player can potentially remove a turn zero Leyline before combo. These cards are not cheap. Creature decks can also be pretty hard, so a couple of post-board options like [c]Contagion[/c] or [c]Sickening Shoal[/c] are needed to ensure victory. Otherwise, Iona isn’t cheap, and neither are typical dredge pieces.

Here is the cost of the entire deck, following the same criteria as before:

Dredge price

The deck only costs a bit more than Burn, and this is mostly because 4 [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] is a $120 investment straight away. I am honestly not sure which is a “better” deck. Dredge can certainly be faster and more powerful in certain matchups and metagames, but some metas are just rife with graveyard hate. The same can be said for Burn, but Manaless Dredge can also just win before the opponent assembles some hate, which is less likely for the Burn deck.

The other nice thing about playing Manaless Dredge is that it opens the possibility for playing normal, mana-infused Dredge in the future, which I personally prefer. Normal Dredge has better answers to hate, and is potentially equally explosive if not more so a la [c]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/c]. If you like cool combo for little monetary investment, this is the one for you.

III. Enchantress

[d title=”Legit Enchantress by Peyton”]
Enchantments
3 Elephant Grass
2 Exploration
3 Mirri’s Guile
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Wild Growth
2 Rest in Peace
4 Enchantress’s Presence
3 Sterling Grove
1 Oblivion Ring
3 Solitary Confinement
1 Sigil of the Empty Throne

Enchanted Ladies (And Cthulhu)
4 Argothian Enchantress
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Enchanted Realms
4 Serra’s Sanctum
4 Windswept Heath
1 Plains
11 Forest

Magical Enchanted Lady Finder (And sometimes some short guy)
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
Lonely Metal Hat
1 Helm of Obedience

Wicked Hateboard
3 Stony Silence
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Curse of Exhaustion
4 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Carpet of Flowers
1 Choke
1 Gaddock Teeg [/d]

This one is a bit of a shocker to be on here, and is the most pricey of the three decks. Unlike the others, I would like to start with this deck’s price point:

burn

Enchantress Price

Clearly, that is a lot higher than Burn or Dredge, by a margin of $200. Then why in the heck is it in this article? Well, for a Legacy deck, $570 is a surprisingly low number. For those of you unfamiliar with Enchantress, it is basically a combo deck that chains together an insane number of enchantments while drawing cards with the Enchantresses and their Presences while maintaining a [c]Solitary Confinement[/c] lock. The deck wins with Helm/RIP, a hard cast Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a ton of Sigil angels.

The deck is older and has barely seen any play at all in recent years. That being said, I think the deck could make a comeback. For a reasonable amount of money, this deck crushes aggro and most tempo decks, and has great post-board game against most combo and control decks. If you want to invest a bit more in the format, and get a “true” competitive (albeit declining) deck, I highly recommend Enchantress. This list would benefit from one maindeck [c]Karakas[/c], but this is not necessary for it to function.

That’s all for this week. I hope you have found the article helpful! If you have any questions or comments, post them below or email me at [email protected]

Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week when I talk about how to pick, build, and play a deck with those staples you bought. Cheers!

/Peyton

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?

skullcrack

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?

amulet-of-vigor

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.

tom-martell-bannings-modern

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.

tumblr_njhrx5Pc0K1tctdpao1_1280

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

Creatures
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

Sideboard
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.

SF20150106_uheygsfvsf2_icon

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

Creatures
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.

Verduran-Enchantress

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

Creatures
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.

gatekeeper-of-malakir

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

Creatures
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.

-drinkard

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 34

Worlds! Special guests! The end of the Gauntlet. Mono Red. Nerds! Brennon Sam and Dan welcome Jphsnake to the show to discuss Pauper of all types, Treasure Cruises, Pauper bans and more. Plus a review of the end of the Gauntlet, and the rise of Mono White in Standard Pauper. This is The Jam Treasure Cruise into Everything Show, thanks for listening.

website: magicgatheringstrat.com
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The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 32

Not Gruul? Then set review. This week it’s Green Red and Multicolor. Izzett Kicks and Golgari Butt fights abound. Set review smash!!
The Gauntlet is entering the end game and only 3 decks remain. Who will be the champion! The guys review two rounds.
This is the Standard Pauper Show!

Win More, Lesson One: Start By Winning

Hi all,

I want to share with you all how to win more. Primarily, I suppose I am a Modern writer, but this lesson will help you win more at Magic in general. The concept of “Start By Winning” is a deck-selecting, opening hand-mulliganing, and game-playing philosophy I have adopted since attempting to become a more competitive Magic Online player, and it has really advanced my level of play.

What’s more is that it has boosted my enjoyment of the game immeasurably.

Backstory

The first deck I remember copying was called “Wrath of Titania.” This was before “netdecking” had even gained meaning. There may have been a few Angelfire sites out there with various brews, but otherwise the concept didn’t exist. Instead, I found the list in a Duelist magazine. Does anyone even know what that is anymore?

The deck was beautiful. The opponent was completely controlled by artifacts until I played [c]Wrath of God[/c] and [c]Titania’s Song[/c] in subsequent turns. Sometimes the song would be followed by [c]Armageddon[/c]. This was in Type 2, as Standard was known then.

Basically, this type of deck really appealed to me for many years. A lot of Modern players are really attracted to this strategy: don’t let your opponent do anything until whatever absurd card wins the game for you. Whether it is playing enough hateful white enchantments, discarding enough cards from your opponent’s hand, destroying enough of their lands, or locking them by some other means, you will encounter this behavior in the Tournament Practice room roughly one out of three (if not more) games.

Don't let your opponent do anything.
Don’t let your opponent do anything.

Present Day

Have you ever tried this strategy? How did the games go? If I had my guess, I would say none of the games appeared remotely close. Either:

  1. Your opponent conceded at the first sign of [c]Wrench Mind[/c], [c]Runed Halo[/c], or maindeck [c]Molten Rain[/c].
  2. You succeeded in preventing your opponent from finding any enjoyment from the game.
  3. Your opponent applied pressure and left you likely with very little on the board because they answered your attempts to control them.

Whenever you see a deck that you think is interesting, measure how easy it is to build versus its success in actual tournaments. If it is cheap to make and is not placing in tournaments, then it should no longer be interesting. Still, these decks are rampant in the Tournament Practice room, and apparently this practice is not going well for them. The decks continue to be absent from dailies results.

The problem with the “control everything” strategy, particularly in Modern, is the power level of early plays. A simple early [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c], or in some cases [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] is all the pressure the opponent needs to kill you, even if it takes many turns to do so. Their lands are untapped during your turn, meaning they can interact with the ways that you try to stop them.

The calligraphy of combat is written with strokes of sudden blood.
The calligraphy of combat is written with strokes of sudden blood.

I have been on both sides of the one-drop beatdown. While experimenting with Modern decks such as Bogles, Eggs, Mono-Red Burn, and Ad Nauseam I would often get destroyed by a turn one [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]. At the same time, I was trying to figure out why the lists that were working succeeded. I have tried many times on this site to articulate why certain archetypes like Gruul Beats and Mono-Green Infect performed well at certain times.

Finally I think I’ve figured it out: their fundamental approach is to start the game in a winning position and remain there.

Many Modern decks do not have this design. Decks in Modern aim to assemble specific combinations of cards or to prevent the opponent from winning. Players would do much better to take the upper hand right away. If you don’t start winning until you have [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] and [c]Ad Nauseam[/c], or [c]Slippery Bogle[/c] with two auras on him, or Urza Tron, then you are doing yourself a disservice in a significant percentage of your matches. You are starting the game severely behind your opponent, disadvantaged, and with the hope that your pieces come together. If they don’t, and your deck has a back-up plan, then your deck is most likely diluted.

Instead of crossing fingers and hoping to achieve a winning position by turns 3 and 4, what I’m telling you to do is to play a solid early beater and maintain the winning position. Early beaters include [c]Wild Nacatl[/c], [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c], [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c] and possibly even [c]Steppe Lynx[/c]. With no investment of mana during your turn, you can easily carry these creatures to victory quickly.

Once you have your victory condition and the requisite mana placed in your deck, I find that the best cards to support your win are those that serve either the purpose of protecting the win or speeding up the win. Consider some of these examples:

  • In Infect, [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] and [c]Giant Growth[/c] deal colossal amounts of damage or protect your creature from [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], or [c]Path to Exile[/c].
  • In Zoo, [c]Boros Charm[/c] protects your creatures from spot removal and mass destruction, or it deals four or more to the dome.
  • [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] is easily supported by any instants and sorceries. Even playing a couple of [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]s targeting your opponent can save Swifty from a [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] your opponent may have!

When your win conditions are beaters, cards like [c]Mutagenic Growth[/c] and its kin serve both to protect the win and to win faster.

Nothing quickens the predator's blood like the unfamiliar scents of new hunting grounds and the mewling cries of new prey.
Nothing quickens the predator’s blood like the unfamiliar scents of new hunting grounds and the mewling cries of new prey.

Applying The Philosophy

I’ve shared Infect decks with you before. If you want a [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] deck, literally look at any results page from the past several months, and you can find a few. Lately, though, my weapon of choice has been a JohnnyHotSauce Zooish Burnish… thing. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s pretty darn good.

[d title=”HotSauce ZooBurn (Modern)”]
Land
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Copperline Gorge
2 Mountain
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Windswept Heath

Creatures
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Wild Nacatl

Other Spells
3 Become Immense
4 Boros Charm
3 Gut Shot
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Searing Blood

Sideboard
2 Chained to the Rocks
3 Destructive Revelry
1 Gut Shot
3 Path to Exile
3 Rest in Peace
2 Searing Blaze
1 Searing Blood[/d]

This is by far my favorite deck I’ve ever played on MTGO.

I also happen to be starting out relatively successfully with it. I’ve been in two finals of Player-Run Events, winning the first, and I’ve gone 4-0, 3-1 twice, 2-2, and 0-2 in dailies for an overall 9:6 match record in ticketed events.

Giant double-striker on turn 3, here we come!
Giant double-striker on turn 3, here we come!

I have strayed from the original list in the following ways:

  • JohnnyHotSauce originally played 9 fetches, including 4 [c]Arid Mesa[/c], and 8 shocks. Honestly my mana-base is unacceptable. It hasn’t cost me a game that [c]Windswept Heath[/c] can only fetch shocklands yet, but it has been awfully close. I should play the full 8 shocks and 4 [c]Bloodstained Mire[/c], 4 [c]Wooded Foothills[/c], and 1 [c]Arid Mesa[/c], as it would be functionally identical to his mana-base.
  • I removed the 3 [c]Dismember[/c] from the sideboard in place of [c]Path to Exile[/c]. [c]Dismember[/c] is clearly better overall, but I felt like I had too little to side in against Burn, particularly when on the play. Between [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Gut Shot[/c], and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], there are simply too many cards to side out that need good replacements.

Beyond those, I have forced myself to stay true to the original list. It is tiresome to hear reviews of decks after the reviewer has gutted them out of some key cards. I want eventually to test something in place of the [c]Rest in Peace[/c] cards, whether they are [c]Pillar of Flame[/c], [c]Jotun Grunt[/c] or other similar pieces. This change would allow me to get back to the original [c]Dismember[/c].

You serve Phyrexia. Your pieces would better serve Phyrexia elsewhere.
You serve Phyrexia. Your pieces would better serve Phyrexia elsewhere.

This deck is the epitome of start winning and then either protect or speed up the win. An early [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] or [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] can go the distance over the course of many turns, protected by removal, pump spells, and [c]Boros Charm[/c], or you can randomly KO people on turn three (happens a lot!) with [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Boros Charm[/c], double striking with a 9/9.

Hopefully you can look forward to seeing me more with the deck. I will write about its match-ups and sideboarding plans in the future, but I really just wanted to use it here to illustrate the effectiveness of the start-by-winning mindset. I hope that you’ll try it out because I know you won’t be disappointed.

-drinkard

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 30

This week Brennon and Sam talk about PREs and Spoilers. Dan joins discusses round 8 of the Gauntlet. And everyone decides that a Lava Axe is probably better then a Dragon. Its the Standard Pauper show, listen and enjoy!

Happy Holiday Festival: Brews for Power

Hi all,

I don’t know that I have ever been more excited about a Magic-related announcement then at this time. Take a moment to read this piece of news, or get the long and short of it here:

  1. Qualify for the Holiday Festival Vintage Championship. Any player who places 4-0 in a Legacy Daily Event or 3-1 or 4-0 in a Vintage Daily Event earns an invitation to play in the tournament.
  2. Enter the tournament with a deck that has neither Power nor Bazaar of Baghdad. No, this isn’t actually part of the rule, but it is essential for our purposes.
  3. Place among the top three tournament entrants that have no Power or Bazaar of Baghdad in their decks. You do not have to place among the top 32 for the ultimate prize, but it is gravy if you do!
  4. Win a complete set of non-foil Vintage Masters!

Every piece of Power, every Vintage and Legacy dual, Force of Will, and more will be yours! Don’t get me wrong; you can win this thing in a traditional sense as well and be just as well off. The reason I’m excited, though, is that budget players can conceivably get in this thing and really win big. Let’s break it down piece by piece.

Step 1: Earning An Invitation

This part is really tricky. If you are drawn to the free power by playing no Power like I am, then you are probably playing on a budget. If you are playing on a budget, it is very difficult to get 4-0 in a Legacy event or a game win in Vintage. It can be done, though!

The cheapest Legacy decks that have gone 4-0 in recent months are Burn and Manaless Dredge. A player can easily build either deck for under 100 tickets. Recently, Burn lists have exploded in price because of how good [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] is in the deck and format. While Burn players before Khans were able to do reasonably well with mono-red, players did so much better adding the required dual and fetch lands to draw into more gas. Nevertheless, here is a very streamlined and powerful build that Rich Shay used to 4-0 a Legacy Daily recently. I have taken out the [c]Scalding Tarn[/c] playset and replaced it with the newly-reprinted [c]Wooded Foothills[/c] to save $150.

[d title=”The Atog Lord Burn (Legacy)”]
Land
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Bloodstained Mire
14 Mountain

Creatures
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
3 Grim Lavamancer

Other Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Price of Progress
2 Searing Blaze
2 Searing Blood
4 Rift Bolt
2 Sulfuric Vortex
4 Fireblast

Sideboard
1 Price of Progress
2 Searing Blaze
2 Searing Blood
4 Dragon’s Claw
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Smash to Smithereens[/d]

[c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] and [c]Goblin Guide[/c] have offered less excitement in Modern and Legacy lately, so naturally their price is dropping down.

I imagine the [c]Dragon’s Claw[/c] will be especially necessary in the sideboard between the 10th and 19th of December, as other players will be fighting for the holiday prize.

More recently, Manaless Dredge, at price points even as low as $50, has placed in Legacy events. User Ricopdx went 4-0 (the magic number!) on November 15 with the following:

[d title=”Rico Dredge (Legacy)”]
Land

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Ichorid
4 Nether Shadow
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
4 Shambling Shell
4 Phantasmagorian
4 Narcomoeba
1 Greater Mossdog
1 Flayer of the Hatebound
4 Street Wraith

Other Spells
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Dread Return
4 Bridge from Below
2 Urza’s Bauble
4 Gitaxian Probe

Sideboard
4 Ashen Rider
4 Surgical Extraction
3 Noxious Revival
2 Sickening Shoal[/d]

These Legacy Dredge players have frequently had the audacity to play less than 15 cards in their sideboard. I don’t know what metagame factors went into the decision to run 2 [c]Sickening Shoal[/c] rather than 4, but it must have been optimal!

Both of these decks will have to be on our watch list when we are creating a sideboard for the Legacy environment of the qualifying dates.

Unfortunately, neither of these decks transfers very well into a good list in Vintage. No one has performed well in Vintage with Burn despite many attempts, and the Manaless Dredge list is simply begging for the [c]Bazaar of Baghdad[/c] that would make our deck illegal.

On the other hand, maybe Dredge hate will be very light in the Holiday Festival because of this exclusion. That is something to ponder another day.

Until then, I have scoured Legacy and Vintage results pages looking for an archetype that meets these criteria:

  1. It must operate in both formats with minimal additional cards needed.
  2. It must function well on a budget.

The second goal is disputable, but I’m making it the goal because someone can easily build a functioning version of U/R Delver and the like for Vintage without [c]Ancestral Recall[/c] and [c]Time Walk[/c]. These decks would likely require [c]Force of Will[/c] and [c]Wasteland[/c] to compete in Vintage, and at that point, someone’s budget probably allows them to buy Power as well.

At the end of all this searching, I believe that the best list to receive an invite in the Legacy Dailies AND climb the charts in the Holiday Tournament will be Goblins. It is very unfortunate not to be able to run [c]Wasteland[/c] and [c]Rishadan Port[/c], but again, if we fork out $800 for these, then the Power is very easy to acquire.

Even with this setback, the deck is not without a great amount of interactivity. Let’s look at some of the hate that Goblins offer against decks you’ll be sure to face using a build from TheManaDrain’s desolutionist, which he has used to hit 3-1 in Vintage events.

[d title=”Desolutionist Goblins (Vintage)”]
Land
3 Badlands
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Cavern of Souls
9 Mountain
1 Strip Mine
1 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4 Goblin Lackey
2 Goblin Piledriver
1 Goblin Recruiter
1 Stingscourger
2 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Matron
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Goblin Warchief
1 Goblin Ringleader
2 Krenko, Mob Boss
3 Earwig Squad

Other Spells
1 Black Lotus
4 Chalice of the Void
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Mental Misstep
1 Sol Ring

Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Crash
3 Ghost Quarter
2 Ingot Chewer
1 Pulverize
2 Pyrokinesis
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Shattering Spree[/d]

Against Dredge, [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] kills [c]Narcomoeba[/c] at inopportune times and exiles [c]Bridge from Below[/c] from your opponent’s graveyard in the same activation, so I think I’d like to see him in the coming list. In the list above, though, you can opt not to pay an echo cost, ping your own guy with [c]Goblin Sharpshooter[/c], or cycle [c]Gempalm Incinerator[/c] to kill one of your guys. The sideboard [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] is perfectly acceptable when its target is [c]Bazaar of Baghdad[/c] because your opponent will not have any basics.

Against other graveyard-based strategies, first we have maindeck copies of [c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c], but also we have [c]Stingscourger[/c] to return reanimated fatties to our opponent’s hand. They have to find a way to get them back into the graveyard and a reanimation spell. [c]Stingscourger[/c] also makes [c]Show And Tell[/c] awkward.

Against many combo decks, [c]Earwig Squad[/c] removes the essential pieces, whether they are [c]Tinker[/c] targets, [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c], big creatures to bring out with [c]Oath of Druids[/c], or [c]Time Vault[/c].

Against Aggro, Delver, and Midrange, the deck is able to gain so much incremental advantage that it’s hard to stop the aggressive pressure. [c]Goblin Ringleader[/c] and [c]Krenko, Mob Boss[/c] are very difficult for these decks to beat.

[c]Young Pyromancer[/c] has nothing on a good [c]Goblin Sharpshooter[/c], especially if the latter has haste.

So here are my ports of desolutionist’s deck into budget Vintage to try and 3-1 the qualifying dailies and into Legacy to (don’t throw things at me) 4-0.

[d title=”Vintage Goblins”]
Lands
4 Badlands
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Cavern of Souls
5 Mountain
1 Strip mine
2 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Goblin Ringleader
4 Goblin Matron
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Earwig Squad
2 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Skirk Prospector
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Krenko, Mob Boss

Other Spells
4 Chalice of the Void
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mana Crypt

Sideboard
1 Crash
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Ingot Chewer
2 Pyrokinesis
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Stingscourger
4 Smash to Smithereens[/d]

[d title=”Legacy Goblins AKA If Manaless Dredge Can Do It…”]
Land
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Cavern of Souls
8 Mountain
2 Plateau
2 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Ringleader
4 Goblin Matron
4 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Skirk Prospector
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Stingscourger
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
1 Tuktuk Scrapper
1 Goblin Sharpshooter

Other Spells
2 Tarfire
4 Aether Vial
3 Grafdigger’s Cage

Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Mogg Fanatic
2 Path to Exile
1 Stingscourger
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Tuktuk Scrapper
3 Warmth
1 Wear/Tear
[/d]

So there you have it. Here is your equipment to go and fight for power. What 3 brews do you believe will win complete sets of VMA? I think it’s Goblins, and I encourage you to try.

Either way, good luck, have fun.

-drinkard

Some Modern Cards to Brew Around

Hi all,

This week I’ll be avoiding the bandwagon topics and pick up a few cards that need more decks built around them.

[c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c]

I love [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], especially in the current online meta-game. It has seen play in decks such as [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] combo, [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks, and Travis Woo’s [c]Death’s Shadow[/c], [c]Spoils of the Vault[/c] deck. With no combo potential whatsoever, it even finds its way into the sideboards of B/W Tokens and Zoo decks. Why? Well, Burn of course!

Burn has minimal draw engine available to it, excepting the few players that are attempting [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] right now. If you can gain a certain amount of life, you buy yourself up to three new draw steps and turns. Burn mitigates this counter-strategy with one of its own: [c]Skullcrack[/c] and [c]Flames of the Bloodhand[/c]. [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] bypasses all that and gains you between ten and thirteen life, no exceptions. Since Burn is designed to have twenty damage within its top 10-11 cards, you now have more opportunity to get in the game, interact, and win.

The [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks aim to ramp to seven mana using [c]Pentad Prism[/c] and [c]Lotus Bloom[/c]. Over the course of the next turns, the opponent is increasingly constricted with [c]Greater Auramancy[/c], [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], [c]Dovescape[/c], and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], not necessarily in that order. Any time the opponent does successfully knock you below zero, even if it is a combat step of 78 damage, you still begin after that to accumulate poison counters. Then your life total resets to 5 thanks to [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], and you start all over.

So what I hope to answer with this brew is, what if we skip [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] and just try to run out [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] using the same ramping process? It’s very risky in a Burn-heavy metagame, so we’re going to have to give ourselves hexproof.

[d title=”The Great White Hate”]
Land
4 Arid Mesa
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
8 Plains
4 Rugged Prairie
4 Sacred Foundry

Spells
2 Blood Moon
1 Enduring Ideal
3 Form of the Dragon
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Lotus Bloom
2 Luminarch Ascension
4 Pentad Prism
4 Phyrexian Unlife
2 Poryphory Nodes
4 Runed Halo
2 Sphere of Safety
[/d]

This is part mono-white Nykthos hate, part [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] combo. Tweaking the deck and practicing with it can be filed under my “things to do.” That being said, I’m tempted to jam [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] into the main of many online decks. As of this weekend, I’m 2/3 on cashing with Bogles that includes Leyline in the side and 0/2 on cashing without it.

You may have noticed that lately there has been a prevalence of [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] decks placing in Dailies. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] and [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] package the deck has to fight the overwhelming amount of Burn.

[c]Fury of the Horde[/c]

This card creates a win in the [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c] deck that is regaining popularity now that everyone wants the turn two kill that [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c] apparently has. It is also used in Travis Woo’s new combo deck built around [c]Narset, Enlightened Master[/c]. I want to build a deck that uses [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] with another Khans card, [c]Howl of the Horde[/c], just in case we need to attack for 80 on turn 3.

[d title=”Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaid”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Immolating Souleater
4 Kiln Fiend
2 Nivmagus Elemental
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Other Spells
4 Assault Strobe
4 Brute Force
4 Double Cleave
4 Fury of the Horde
4 Ground Rift
4 Howl of the Horde
2 Psychotic Fury[/d]

The sheer amount of redundancy in a deck like this is surely getting close to the breaking point. There are so many different combinations of cards that easily produce a turn three kill. Would it be more resilient with a Rakdos mana-base and some discard disruption? Heck yes, especially in this Delver, Burn-infested metagame. But for the time being, I want to attack with a 1/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] on turn 3, then have three copies of [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] and a 7/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] to take advantage of them. In order to do this, I have to have plenty of red cards.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]

I love Affinity. I love what [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] has done for Affinity, and that I have a pretty sweet Affinity deck for 100 tix. I sort of cross my fingers in the hopes that [c]Mox Opal[/c] is spoiled for Modern Masters 2 so that this deck becomes more than 100 tix, but I am not a talented shot-caller or speculator.

I also love Infect. Mono Green Infect was a $40 Modern investment that repaid me well over 100 tix in 2-man queues, 8-man queues, and dailies. I bought 4 Noble Hierarchs with my winnings! Eventually, the metagame had too much incidental hate, including Pod’s maindeck [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c].

When playing Infect, many decks use their life total as a resource in a more aggressive way than they would against any other, more traditional aggro or midrange deck. This is where [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and a couple of [c]Rancor[/c] enchantments would shore up a lot of games. It would come up at least once in a daily or 8-man for me.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] could serve the same purpose in an Infect deck as Hierarch and [c]Rancor[/c] did, as long as the deck was built a little differently. Here is my take on mono-blue Infect that is built to utilize [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]. Bonus: We can use [c]Ghostfire Blade[/c] from Khans!

[d title=”Modern Blue Infect”]
Land
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Island
4 Polluted Delta
2 Watery Grave

Creatures
4 Blighted Agent
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Spellskite
4 Vector Asp

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Cranial Plating
4 Ensoul Artifact
2 Ghostfire Blade
4 Mox Opal
4 Serum Visions
4 Welding Jar[/d]

The real beauty here, besides the multiple angles of attack, is that blue offers us many more sideboard choices to counteract the hosers that exist. We can play [c]Dispel[/c] and [c]Spell Pierce[/c], [c]Unsummon[/c] or [c]Vapor Snag[/c] (the former actually has its merit in this list over the latter!), and [c]Echoing Truth[/c] or other counters.

This deck also has to resolve less spells at the right time to function. The mono green list has to hold up [c]Ranger’s Guile[/c] and [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] to maintain lethal, and here we can use [c]Aether Vial[/c] at the end of turn to play our threat when the opponent is not prepared. Or we can Vial in a [c]Spellskite[/c] (credit to deluxeicoff here, you can see his U/G lists on stats pages).

I’m fairly devoted to a couple of different lists in Modern right now and have less time to test and practice brews, but if these spark something in you, good luck, have fun!

Closing question: Have you considered what can be done to fix the Modern MTGO metagame that is so littered with burn? Does anything need to be done besides deck adjustments?

-drinkard