Examining the New Tournament Payout Model for Magic Online


Magic Online (MTGO) has needed to fix tournaments payouts for a while now. In the last two years the economy has literally fallen apart with a consequent decrease in tournament attendance. The reasons behind this decline are hard to evaluate but I think this article gets pretty close to the truth.

Magic Online is not a free-to-play game. On the contrary, it is quite expensive, so the possibility for players to even partially repay themselves by playing well is crucial in order to maintain a large crowd of active non-casual players. I think a change was necessary, and I believe that with this new policy (you can find the announcement here) Wizards of the Coast is also stating that there is a problem that must be fixed.

The direction WotC is taking seems quite promising, though there are a couple of problems that I want to discuss with you all.

With this article, I will walk you through my thoughts, analyzing the pros and cons of the new and the old system. Before going deep into my considerations, though, I want to introduce you to a base concept that I often use when I need to analyze MTGO tournaments. That concept is called Expected Value, or EV.

Expected Value (EV)

Let’s assume that a friend of yours asks you if you want to play a game set like this: you pay $10 to roll one dice; if the number that comes out is between 1 and 4 you lose, if it’s 5 you earn $20, and if it’s 6 you earn $30. You might want to know if it’s worth playing or not. Tossing aside whatever gambling inclinations you may have, there’s a parameter that is possible to calculate that can estimate if such a proposal is worthwhile or not. This parameter is called expected value and it determines how much you can earn on average each time you roll that dice.

Considering the odds of each number as 1/6, we can make this table.

Buy-In = $10

Numbers | % | Payout
1-4 | 67% | 0
5 | 17% | $20
6 | 17% | $30

The EV is calculated by adding all these numbers together using this formula: EV=P(1,4)*(Payout(1,4)-Buyin)+P(5)*(Payout(5)-Buyin)+P(6)*(Payout(6)-Buyin)

We can plug the numbers in our table above into the formula to get this: EV=4/6*(0-10)+1/6*(20-10)+1/6*(30-10) = -1.6667

You can see that the final EV in this scenario is negative 1.6667. So what does it mean that you have a negative EV?

It means that on average every roll is making you lose money. In this case, over the long term, you would be losing about $1.67 every time you rolled the dice. Of course, it’s a game of probability so while it remains possible to win in a short run, in the long run you will almost certainly end up with less cash than when you started.

How is EV related to MTGO?

MTGO works the same way as the example that I used above: we can calculate the EV for every tournament we decide to participate in to help us understand if it is worth playing in them or not. Let’s understand how we can compare it with our dice experiment. We can try to draw the same table we did before, for instance we’ll look at an MTGO Daily Event (DE) with the old system.

Buy-In = 6 tix

Results | % | Payout
x-2 | ? | 0
3-1 | ? | 6 boosters
4-0 | ? | 11 boosters

As you can see the only thing missing is the % likelihood of each result. This probability is related with our win rate.

What’s the win rate, you might ask? Well it’s the probability of winning a game of Magic against an unknown opponent. It is not possible to calculate this number in advance, but we still can evaluate how daily events compare to other tournaments by looking at a variety of win rates to understand which events are more convenient, or simply to try and determine if the new system is better than the previous one.

On of the factors to consider is that the higher is the payout, the less we need in terms of win rate to have a positive EV. The opposite is true as well; the lower the payout, the higher our win rate should be, assuming the same buy-in. Let’s see how is possible to calculate the probability (P) to make a 3-1 or even a 4-0.

  • Winning a game of Magic on MTGO is like flipping a coin; you can only win or lose. The only thing different is that the probability of these two events are different so while the odds of having tail or heads is 50% the chance of winning is WR% (win rate) and losing is 1-WR%.
  • Calculating the chance of making a 4-0 is pretty simple, you just have to toss your coin 4 times hoping that you win the roll every time. Therefore
    P(4 wins)=(W〖R)〗^4.

  • We have 4 different ways in which we can achieve a 3-1 (WWWL,WWLW, WLWW, LWWW) so the formula is P(3 wins)=(WR)^3*(1-WR)*4.
  • The rest of the cases are the X-2s but we don’t care to differentiate those as much, so the probability is calculated like this P(2 wins or less)=1-[P(3 wins)+P(4 wins)].

The same formula used to calculate our EV before is still applicable for our DE:

EV = P(4w)*[Payout(4w)-Buyin]+P(3w)*[Payout(3w)-Buyin]+P(2w or less)*(-Buyin)

Let’s fix three different values for the price of booster packs (3 tix, 2.5 tix, and 2 tix), and see how the EV is different with a change in our win rate and/or payout.


As in our previous example, this graph could be read as follow: with an 80% win rate in the 3 tix curve we will expect an average 15 tix gain per daily event; or at a 53% win rate in the 2.5 tix curve the EV will be 0 and we will break even. As you can see the higher our win rate the higher the EV, but the less the payout the less the EV. The more value we see in our booster packs (payout) then the lower our win rate can be while still maintaining a positive EV.

Now that it’s clear what Expected Value is and how it works, I’ll continue my analysis comparing Daily Events and 8-man tournaments in the old and the new structures.

Daily Events – Old vs New

Let us first look at Daily Events with both the old and new models.

Old System

  • Buy In = 6 tix
  • 3-1 finish gets 6 boosters, 4-0 finish gets 11 boosters

Dailies are the backbone of constructed Magic on MTGO. They retain the highest EV possible and for years (I assume) they have worked well. The boosters a player won could be sold on the secondary market for tix. However, in the last two years the market was saturated too quickly with unwanted boosters and consequently the prices of those boosters plummeted.


This is the price trend of KTK boosters over time between their release and the release of Dragons of Tarkir. The price went down from 3.9 to 1.4 tix and significantly lowered the EV of daily events. For simplicity let’s consider only the period of time when dailies where paid with KTK boosters only, from October (3.9 tix each) to February (2.2 tix each), and see how the EV decreased over time for 3 different win rates.


As you can see the 55% win rate curve was earning 5 tix per event in October but by February was merely breaking even. Any win rate lower than 55% was losing money by February! The system needed a fix. Let’s see how things will change with the new system.

New System

  • Buy In = 12 tix OR 120 Player Points
  • 3-1 finish gets 3 boosters + 180 Player Points, 4-0 finish gets 6 boosters + 360 Player Points

This new system features the introduction of Player Points: an untradable way of paying for tournaments. This appears to be an attempt to fix the variable EV of daily events caused by booster price fluctuations, but is it really that convenient?


As you can see this system will cause you to lose less money if boosters are decreasing in value (the slope is less high), but in the end on average has a lower EV than the old system.

This is not, however, true for all the win rates. In fact, for win rates higher than 64%, this new system is actually more profitable. I believe this is due to the fact that increasing the buy-in and consequently the payouts really helps players with a higher win percentage.


Overall, though, this new Daily Event system should be revisited. Let us see, for instance, what could happen with a different payout. What if a 3-1 finish gets 3 boosters + 240 Player Points while a 4-0 finish gets 6 boosters + 480 Player Points?



This payout system gives you a lower EV for Win rates under 52% and provides a lower risk of losing money if booster pack prices drop extremely low. I think it’s a better transition from the old system because it keeps the same EV for average win rates while decreasing the difference in EV between release dates.

Moving on from daily events, let’s take a look at 8-man events.

8-Man Events (5-3-2-2) – Old vs New

Here is what the buy-in / payout breakdown looks like in the old and new systems.

Old System

  • Buy-in = 6 tix
  • 3-0 finish gets 5 boosters, 2-1 finish gets 3 boosters, 1-1 finisher gets 2 boosters

New System

  • Buy-in = 6 tix OR 60 Player Points
  • 3-0 finish gets 2 boosters + 140 Player Points, 2-0 finish gets 1 booster + 60 player points, 1-1 finish gets 60 players points

Let’s take a quick look at our EV in daily events vs 8-man events in the old system.


The problem with 8-man events is that when boosters are less than 3 tix each your first win no longer allows you to repay the buy-in for your next event. Looks like WotC had this problem in mind when reshaping the payouts. In fact, so long as you win one match it’s guaranteed that you can join another tournament.

To evaluate if this new system is better or not we have to consider three different booster pack price scenarios: booster prices under, equal to, and over 3 tix. Let’s look at EV based on pack prices of 2.5 tix, 3 tix, and 3.5 tix.


Looks like WOTC really nailed it! The EV in the new system is far less dependent on the booster price and is even a little bit higher than in the old system. I guess now we will be encouraged to play 8-man events a little bit more.

Other considerations

There are a few other considerations that I want to point out in conclusion:

  • Doubling the Daily Event buy-in is beneficial for grinders (who tend to have a higher win rate) because the payouts are also increased. Having higher payouts means that other tournaments like PTQs and Drafts are actually cheaper in proportion. This change is detrimental for casual players, however, who tend to have a lower win rate and now they have to pay double the price they were paying before.
  • Adding Player Points as a reward will decrease the number of boosters packs in circulation and will hopefully ensure that they will better maintain their value. This might actually be bad for single card prices but I’m not sure yet which factor will be dominant.
  • Not having Player Points available for trade means that really good players will have a stock of actual junk, because they will earn too much compared of what they need. WotC should implement more ways for players to transform their player points into something with value, like boosters in the store, promo cards, or something similar. Finally, with less tix at our disposal and a plausible increase in card price, it may become more costly to collect the single cards needed for constructing decks.

Magic Online is a complex financial system, and instead of doing nothing I’m actually glad that WotC is trying to shake up things a bit. Based on the changes they’re making now, it is my opinion than daily events still need some revision while 8-man events saw a substantial improvement.

Thanks for reading, and that’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed the article!

Until next time, Mattia

PS: You can find my excel sheet with all the calculations here.

Mid-Week Pauper Meta Report: June 4, 2015

gut shot art

About this article: This is a weekly report on the online Pauper meta. The data it uses are from last Wednesday to this Wednesday. It looks at the data that Tom the Scud collects from a selection of dailies. He watches the replays on MTGO to figure out how each person did, not just the 3-1s and 4-0s that Wizards publishes. This allows us to see the whole iceberg and figure out how well each deck did in total. Now, this data is just for this week and just from the data Tom collects, so it does ignore the other 3-1/4-0 results which means it is not perfect. Additionally, the conclusions in this article are just based on this week, and as the meta is fluid, the top decks shift. This is intended to see what decks are performing well this week and is not necessarily a reflection of the deck’s overall strength.

This article uses data from the 5/28, 5/29 evening, 5/31 afternoon, and 5/31 evening (courtesy of Patrick Johnson) results

Welcome to the new season! As Modern Masters 2015 was officially added for Pauper this week, and new cards are available, decks can really shift in the meta. The big story out of MMA2015 was [C]Gut Shot[/C], yet the ping spell did not seem to ping into decklists as it was in 0 of the 29 Wizards reported 4-0 lists (which is a different data set than the one looked at here). One of the main reasons for this is because of the graphs below. Gut Shot is not good versus 5 of the top 8 decks (MBC, Burn, Affinity, Boros Kitty, and UB Angler) which make up 50% of the meta. The deck it is arguably best against (Delver) only made up 6% of the meta. Still, the card is new and I would expect it to grow in popularity as more people get their hands on the card and test it out.


There are 4 really large takeaways from these graphs. First, Burn has moved up to being a dominant presence in the meta, but did not advance to the cash as much as it did previously. Second, Esper Fae Combo again had a huge week as the 7th most popular deck in total, but was the 3rd most popular deck from the 3-1s and 4-0s which is a massive jump. Third, and potentially the strangest, is that the other decks actually improved from the total to the cash, something very rarely seen. As the other category often includes suboptimal decks that go 0-2 or new brews, the most established decks in the category really had a huge week. A ton of interest decks cashed like Bant Midrange, Rhystic Tron, Grixis Contrl, Infect, RB Control, etc. This means that the meta is ripe for innovation and for rogue decks to do really well. Lastly, UR Fiend and W Tokens dropped under the 5% mark and were not included in these graphs. W Tokens is unsurprising, but UR Fiend just barely was under the limit with only 2 less copies than UB Angler. It’ll be here again. The last graph looks at how the best decks did in terms of cash rate and win rate last week.


This really demonstrates how much Esper Fae and Delver were ahead of the curve this week, despite being two of the decks most vulnerable to Gut Shot. The rest of the top decks all did a bit under the curve with all of them (excluding the newcomer Boros Kitty) getting less than a 30% cash rate and under 50% win rates, but just by a bit. That means that all of these decks were slightly below average, or in UB Angler’s case, way below average. This was a week that was taken by the rogue decks and it begs the question – is this variance, or just how the meta will go?

Thanks for reading! -Najay1


1. Esper Fae Combo – Making up only 5.39% of the meta, this continual force put up a 62.50% cash rate and a 71.19% win rate. This deck has been consistently above par, but still faces a major problem in dealing with it. The deck is potentially the best deck in the format (it has been recently), but rarely picks up new players and makes it so that its popularity is low enough that it may be correct not to sideboard for the matchup. That way it is hard to devote slots against a deck when it isn’t seen all that often. It is probably best to have cards that are good against this deck, but also great against other top decks if you want to beat it. If Gut Shot can be more popular, it may make the deck a bit worse, but until something happens, expect Esper Fae to continue comboing off into the winner’s circle.

2. Goblins – The old red force has not been seen too much of recently, but was able to get 4.38% of the meta this week (similar to past weeks) and put up very strong results. With a 53.85% cash rate and 62.22% win rate, the deck put up very strong results through 13 pilots. Despite the strong results, I doubt the deck will put up better results than this week. With a deck very reliant on having 2-3 lands, if it draws too many, or too few, the deck can be screwed. A very similar deck is Affinity, but Affinity has a much higher power level when working full speed – and is much harder to get a great start. I like the deck, and it deserves to be a solid T2 deck, but I doubt it will dominate the meta anytime soon.

3. Delver – Another strong week for one of the best decks in Pauper. Although it remained low in popularity, the deck put up a 47.37% cash rate and a 60.56% win rate. With 16 decks between 4-0 and 2-X, and only 3 worse, this deck looks to be one of the best in the metagame. Yet, there is a problem. A new problem. Gut Shot. This is the deck that stands to lose the most from having the card in the meta. Yet, as long as MBC and Burn stay atop the meta, and Delver isn’t very popular, this deck can continue having success as Gut Shot may not be a good meta call. Unlike the past, I doubt this deck will become number one in popularity anytime soon, yet the deck still seems like a strong choice until Gut Shot becomes popular and right now it is not. Still a great choice to play Delver.


1. UB Angler – With so many decks doing badly this week, UB Angler managed to counter its growing popularity with shrinking success. Clocking in with a 12.50% cash rate and a 43.14% win rate, the deck had only 2 pilots make the cash out of its 16 pilots. It did, however, have 5 decks at 2-X and have a win rate much higher than the cash rate, suggesting that this week’s failure was at least a bit related to luck. It could be argued that the deck just cannot stand up to the decks at the higher levels, but crush more decks lower on which gives it so many more decks close to the winner’s circle, but not in it. As past results do not support that too much, I would be surprised if that is the case. Either way, this is a deck that has had high highs and low lows recently. I am not yet sure where it will land.

2. MBC – The king of the format only this week got a serious challenge to its popularity, but it still managed to be the most popular deck by one with 47 pilots. As has been the trend though, it did not put up equally dominant results. With a 27.66% cash rate and 45.89% win rate, the deck again put up slightly below average numbers. With more players at each 1-X and 0-X than in the cash, the deck seems to again put up lower results through this data. Despite that, the addition of Gut Shot may help the deck up a bit. As more people play a card that is terrible against this deck, MBC will gain some amount of percentage points. On the other hand, it is important to look at the decks that Gut Shot does well against and how MBC fares against those decks. Most of the decks that are bad against Gut Shot are bad against MBC which means that Gut Shot may not actually be great for the deck. Either way, the effect will probably be small and the much larger impact is the surging growth of Burn. Burn is one of this deck’s worst matchups and it now is about as popular as MBC. For MBC, it is good that Burn will probably subside and MBC has a higher outlook in the future. Last season 2 different decks rose up to fight MBC, and MBC has withstood through both of them, it has done so with mostly losing records. I would expect to face a lot of MBC, but would not be excited to play it.

3. Burn – This is a deck that has grown in popularity in direct response to MBC and looks to have reached the tipping point. The deck has striking similarities to the path W Tokens took just a bit ago. It grew from a small deck to one of the best decks with great success, but then the hate cards started flowing in. Burn, as W Tokens, is very bad against certain cards and decks and once people notice its presence, they start preparing more for the deck. People have noticed, and Burn had bad results with a 26.09% cash rate and a 48.37% win rate. It still was not as bad as MBC (with less 0-X results and significantly more 2-X and 1-X results), but the deck was not able to put up as strong of results as usual. This indicated Burn has reached the tipping point, the moment in which the deck is hated too much to be successful. As with W Tokens, I believe the deck has a small amount of weeks as a very prominent deck. The popularity may not dip too much this week, and should still be hated upon, but in 2-3 weeks, the deck will fall to be just one of the top decks. Right now is not the time to be a Burn player, but it is still time to plan to beat this deck. The deck will subside soon, the tipping point has been reached.

Deck to Watch For

Boros Kitty – A deck that has consistently put up strong results, but never shown up in numbers, I was very surprised when the deck made up 6.06% of the meta. It put up decent results with a 33.33% cash rate and a 53.97% win rate, still better than every top deck except Delver and Esper Fae. I think this deck is very well positioned right now as it has great matchups versus MBC and some other top decks. I would not be surprised to see the deck going up or down in the near future, as this week’s spike in popularity was unexpected, but I hope it to continue as it seems to be a solid choice in the upcoming meta.

Brew of the Week

Bant Midrange – One of the more innovative decks I have seen have success in a while, this list runs a lot of cards that are not seen too often, or at all. It is mainly a UW grindy list that is splashing green for Armadillo Cloak. Some of the key cards are Squadron Hawk, Mulldrifter, Trinket Mage, Brainstorm, and lots of counters/removal. The deck interestingly does not play 4 of any spell, partially because of Trinket Mage, but that suggests to me that the list needs to be streamlined a bit more. It packs a Trinket Mage package, some removal, some counters (including 3 Hindering Light), and some bounce. In a world of Burn, I can see how this had success with 3 Last Breath, 2 Radiant Fountain, and 2 Armadillo Cloak (along with interesting Affinity tech Divine Offering). Intriguing, but the deck needs to be improved before it is truly competitive.


Thanks to Tom the Scud. Check out his Facebook and his Spreadsheet.


PCT Results

The PCT is a weekly tournament hosted on Gatherling.com by LongTimeGone. It occurs Tuesday at 8 pm est.



Mid-Week Pauper Meta Report: May 21, 2015

ghostly flicker art

About this article

This is a weekly report on the online pauper meta. The data it uses are from last Wednesday to this Wednesday. It looks at the data that Tom the Scud collects from a selection of dailies. He watches the replays on MTGO to figure out how each person did, not just the 3-1s and 4-0s that Wizards publishes. This allows us to see the whole iceberg and figure out how well each deck did in total. Now, this data is just for this week and just from the data Tom collects, so it does ignore the other 3-1/4-0 results which means it is not perfect. Additionally, the conclusions in this article are just based on this week, and as the meta is fluid, the top decks shift. This is intended to see what decks are performing well this week and is not necessarily a reflection of the deck’s overall strength.

The large story of the last few weeks had been the explosion in popularity in W Tokens. The deck shot up to the 2nd most popular deck last week, but as the deck got more popular, the hate made its way in. This week, the legion of 1/1s regressed to the 7th most played list. MBC also continued its reign as the most popular list and Burn became a much more dominant force after having one of the worst weeks ever a few weeks ago. The chart on the left below shows the percentage of the meta (from the entire daily) each of the top decks make up (decks that had >5% of the meta). The one on the right shows those same decks prominence in the 3-1 and 4-0 results.


As seen, MBC takes he biggest hit from deck prominence to cash prominence at a loss of 8% and the other decks lose 9% (which is to be expected as many are not established decks). Stompy and Esper Fae Combo took the majority of that, each gaining ~7%, making up equal portions of the cash prominence. There appears to be a lot of diversity from the top lists here, and a decent spread between the top lists. The next graph looks at the same top decks and their cash and win rates (as a note, ~31.5% is the average for cash rate).


I like this as a nice way to really visualize the results from the week. If you have any other graphs that you would like to see make sure to let me know!

Lastly, these are going up on MagicGatheringStrat solely which simplifies things a lot for me and allows the use of visuals in a much better and more streamlined way. Thanks for reading!


1. Stompy – This is a strong week for the Green Machine in a slightly unexpected position. Based on the amount of hate that W Tokens has attracted to the format, Stompy would have seemed to be only a decent option this week. That proved not to be the case as it had a 64.3% cash rate and 61.7% win rate. It had 9 people in the cash out of 14 pilots, compare that to MBC’s 10 pilots in the cash out of 47 tries. A little concerning is that only one of those pilots 4-0ed, which is not fantastic out of 9 appearances. Either way, I believe that Stompy is the best aggro deck in the format right now and should be played more than it is right now. If it can survive a week with as much hate as there was for W Tokens (although the hate isn’t close to as good v. Stompy), it can do well in the future.

2. Esper Fae Combo – The former dominant power, the explosive combo deck had a surprisingly large 16 pilots for a 7.3% prominence. Of those 16 pilots, 9 made it into the cash and 2 of those 4-0ed. The deck then had 3 0-X, 1 1-X, and 3 X-2. This is an interesting split and could come just from the learning curve of playing the deck, or also just variance. It had a 56.3% cash rate and 63.2% win rate. Esper Fae has been putting up better numbers as of late after a slump at the beginning of the season. I’m really surprised that the popularity grew in decent numbers – and had great success. As this deck has a massive learning curve, it is difficult for it to sustain great numbers if more people pick up the deck. A good sign for a deck that has been trending up.

3. Delver – With 18 pilots for the aggro-control deck, it made up 8.3% of the meta. With 4 pilots at each 4-0, 3-1, and 2-X, the deck had a very strong week with a 44.4% cash rate and 60.7% win rate. The 4 decks at 4-0 is really interesting. It is rare that a deck does so well reaching the 4-0 stage. In general, I don’t look too much into the difference in 4-0 and 3-1s because in just 3 dailies, there is a large amount of variance and without something too outstanding, it is difficult to take too much from 1 4-0 v. 2. Yet, when a deck is so successful at reaching 4-0 (as Delver was this week), it says something about the quality of the deck and its position in the meta. Even though there was a 20% difference in cash rate between Stompy and Delver, their win rates only differ by 1%. This is a much more even distribution for Delver which could be interpreted various ways. My theory is that it shows a lower variance deck, which could also mean greater rewards for better play. In general, the rewards for being a strong control player can be greater than a strong aggro player because if you make more correct decisions over a longer game, you have a better chance of winning. Delver is a strong choice (as it usually is), and the rewards are great if you get good at this deck and continue to improve.

4. Burn – Very polarized results this week as Burn also had a great week. It was very similar to Delver in that it had 18 pilots for 8.3% of the meta and had a 44.4% cash rate and a 59.7% win rate. The main difference in the results is that Burn was skewed slightly towards the losing end, but by a very small amount. Burn, just a few weeks ago, went 0-13 in dailies, probably the worst result I’ve seen since I started looking at the meta data. Yet, with such a strong MBC matchup, it got back into the game. In fact it went 12-0 v. MBC. Twelve wins and zero loses. On the other side of the coin, it went 0-6 v. Delver. As long as MBC is a player in the meta, the bolt deck can expect to do decently. I like this deck as a meta call for the near future.


1. MBC – With 21.6% of the meta and 47 results, MBC is dominating the meta in terms of numbers. Yet, it is not experiencing too much success in these dailies. With a 21.3% cash rate and 42.7% win rate, MBC again did not have a great week. One of the nice things about Tom’s collection is that it can give us the individual win rate of decks and see how they did in the matchup. One thing that can be noticed is that MBC played the mirror 15 times. Adjusting for that, MBC went 45-68 in non-mirror matches. That is a win rate of 39.8%. Not huge, but it means that the win rate is actually inflated when it plays the mirror, opposite of what happens when decks with a >50% play the mirror. While W Tokens isn’t a menace to the deck as much, Burn came in and gave the deck fits. This is the deck to beat in the current meta and it seems like a lot of decks are doing just that.

2. UB Angler – This is a deck that has been doing decently in recent weeks, and it was not close to as successful this week. The Delver list (as opposed to the Teachings version) really started to emerge as the favorite in recent weeks. It made up 4.6% of the meta with only 10 pilots (and there is some problems with smaller sample sizes such as this in terms of increased variance). Even so, the deck had a 20% cash rate and 37.9% win rate. 7 of the pilots went 0-X or 1-X, and the win rate suffered as a result. Despite that, the deck certainly isn’t done and I’m watching this one to see how well it does in the near future.

3. W Tokens – The main story of the past few weeks, the token machine has lost its meta momentum. With just 5.1% of the meta, W Tokens is receding back into a T2/T3 deck. It had a 18.2% cash rate and 42.3% win rate. Potentially more importantly, it went 1-3 against MBC and Burn has emerged as the MBC hate deck. Really I expect that this is on the heels of significant amounts of tokens hate. The deck generated a buzz in the past few weeks, but that buzz has slowly descended to a whisper. If you want to play this list, I would wait a few weeks when the hate goes away and then return to the deck. Right now, this is not where I want to be.

Deck to Watch For

Boros Kitty – The slow card advantage machine has gone under the radar for the past few weeks and it is high time that stops. This week, the deck went 3 for 3 in appearances, 4-0ing once and 3-1ing twice. This is one of the best decks that isn’t being played and it has consistently done this throughout the season. Since the banning, the deck has had a 64% win rate and a 53% cash rate. This deck has averaged getting in the money and 5 of the 16 cashing decks were 4-0. This deck should be played more than it is right now, the deck is just good.

Brew of the Week

UG Land Auras Fae Combo by DoGBiscuit – A variation on the Esper Fae Combo list, this list is mainly just 2 colors (although it is able to run black and red cards because of the fixing). One of the nice things about this list is that it uses enchantments to help it go off instead of familiars. This is significantly more resilient game one, although it does open the deck open to more hate post-sb. One of the other problems with this list is that it plans to go off with a one-of [c]Kaervek’s Torch[/c] cast off of a two-of [c]Fertile Ground[/c]. This means that it can take longer to go off than Esper Fae. There are some other differences as well (such as only needing two colors mainly), but those appear to be the main ones. Overall, this is an interesting list, although I do not think it is as strong as Esper Fae, but I’m not 100%.


Thanks to Tom the Scud. Be sure to check out his Facebook and his Big Fat Spreadsheet.


PCT Results

The PCT is a weekly tournament hosted on Gatherling.com by LongTimeGone. It occurs Tuesdays at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.



Mid-Week Pauper Meta Report: May 13, 2015

nettle sentinel

This article courtesy Najay1 and is reprinted with his permission.

About this article

This is a weekly report on the online pauper meta. The data it uses are from last Wednesday to this Wednesday. It looks at the data that Tom the Scud collects from a selection of dailies. He watches the replays on MTGO to figure out how each person did, not just the 3-1s and 4-0s that Wizards publishes. This allows us to see the whole iceberg and figure out how well each deck did in total. Now, this data is just for this week and just from the data Tom collects, so it does ignore the other 3-1/4-0 results which means it is not perfect. Additionally, the conclusions in this article are just based on this week, and as the meta is fluid, the top decks shift. This is intended to see what decks are performing well this week and is not necessarily a reflection of the deck’s overall strength.

The meta continued to develop this week, with the big story being W Tokens. The deck exploded onto the scene 2 weeks ago, and put up strong results in those weeks, but did not have quite as good of a week. Also, many of the top decks continued to put up middle of the road results. The tier two players came out to fight this week, and did very strong in the process. It’ll be interesting to see how these successful, yet less popular, strategies develop in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!


1. Stompy – Stompy put up one of its strongest weeks of late with a 69.2% cash rate and a 66.6% win rate. It was the 5th most popular deck, making up 7.1% of the meta. This is one of the decks that I expected to be strong going in, but has only really put up modest results. This week was a strong exception as not only did the 13 pilots put up 6 3-1s, they also put up 3 4-0s. Just absolutely insane numbers, and something that can be expected not to happen frequently. I would expect this deck to continue to put up strong results, but not close to as strong as this weeks result.

Strong Outlook

These decks all put up very strong results, but were at or under 5% of the meta, with 9 or less pilots, which means that their results are able to be more influenced by variance. All of these decks are known quantities, and many have been doing better recently, so it is interesting to see how strong they were, but the small sample size means they should be taken with a grain of salt.

1. UB Teachings / UB Angler – There again is two main flavors of UB Angler, but the Delver version seems to be getting slightly more results recently. The deck had 9 pilots for a prominence of 5.0%. The Delver version had 3 3-1s and 1 4-0 whereas the Teachings version had a lonely one 3-1. This makes for a cash rate of 55.6% and a win rate of 55.4%, both quite strong. This deck has consistently put up results and has continually grown. Based on the success of the deck, I wouldn’t expect that to stop.

2. Esper Fae Combo – One of the bogymen of the last format, this deck has slumped back into the shadows recently. Never one to have too many decks, it was just 3.9% of the meta last week with 7 pilots. They put up a cash rate of 57.1% and win rate of 58.3%. As there is only 7 decks, this could obviously be variance, but it is a bit of a departure from some recent bad results. At this point, I’m pretty confident that it will not increase in popularity too much (as it never did when it was one of the best decks) so maybe don’t watch out for this one too much.

3. UR Control – Another deck that was a lot more popular in the previous meta, UR Control has made a slow comeback to be a deck to look out for. Combined with UR Fiend Control, it could make up a decent force in the meta, but the decks do end up playing out differently. This week it had 6 results (3.3% of the meta) for a 66.7% cash rate and 68.0% win rate. Now this could be variance, but 4 out of 6 decks in the cash is still very strong. Also, it appears the decks are making some new card choices which could be a factor in their success as seen just a bit below.

kiln fiend art wide


1. Affinity – This was the top performer last week, and is now the worst performing deck. It had a 18.8% cash rate and a 35.3% win rate. Now, a lot of this seems to be from a bad record against non-top decks, 6-10. As Affinity is a very high variance deck, I’m not too surprised at the difference from one week to another. Sometimes Affinity can just get lucky and get strong results, this was the opposite of that. Part of this week to me says it was bad luck, but that is one of the downsides to playing a deck like Affinity. At that same point, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the deck continue to do below average.

2. UR Fiend – UR Fiend has been very much average as of late. Even with the addition of Temur Battle Rage, the deck has not been able to get into solid tier one status. This week it had a lot less pilots than it has averaged, with a 6.1% prominence (compared to about 9% usually). Out of the 11 decks, 6 went 0-X. Looking at its matchups, the majority of that came from a 6-13 against those less popular decks talked about above. Usually, UR Fiend is strong against these decks as it can come out of nowhere to win and a deck that cannot deal with that very quickly will lose. I would expect this to change next week as it faces different rogue matchups.

3. W Tokens – The token machine jumped up to being the 2nd most popular deck with 9.4% of the meta in really just its 3rd week on the scene. One of the defining characteristics of this deck is how much it can fold to silver bullet cards. These were at least partially used as W Tokens fell to a cash rate of 29.4% and a win rate of 28.9%. A lot of that came from the fact that over half the decks went 0-X. This was at least a bit from the fact it went 4-4 vs. MBC, down from 6-0 last week. Most of the MBC decks were packing at least 4 hate cards between Shrivel, Crypt Rats, and Pestilence. Yet, the real culprit was probably the 4-17 record against those pesky rogue decks. This means it went 15-13 against the top tier decks which is actually really strong. As the rogue matchups change more rapidly than top decks, I would expect this to still be a viable option for the near future, even if not the best. I would expect the hate to grow which means that eventually the deck will probably have to go back into tier 2/3 status. I would expect this deck to be strong next week, but it will find too much hate at some point in the future.

distant melody art

Deck to Watch For

Elves – Not always the strongest deck, Elves is one of the combo decks that exists in pauper. With 4 pilots this week (at a total of 2.2% of the meta), they had 2 3-1s and 2 2-Xs for a cash rate of 50% and a win rate of 62.5%. As a combo deck, it is relatively resilient and puts out a ton of creatures (which gives it reasonable protection from sacrifice effects). The real interesting this to me was how each pilot did very well with the deck. Not sure how well it is positioned in the meta, but it seems to have done quite well for a rogue deck up to this point.

Brew of the Week

UR Control by carthaginians – There wasn’t too many brews that had success this week, but this UR Control deck seemed very interesting in the card choices it has. It plays 4 Beetleback Chief as one of its main threats. The Chief is a fantastic value in a format filled with lots of 1-for-1 removal. Additionally, he plays 1 Vulshok Morningstar to get more value out of the tokens and his 8 other creatures. Another one of the more interesting choices is 2 Harvest Pyre, not an option in the Treasure Cruise days, this allows the deck to take out things such as Gurmag Anglers in a deck that would previously have to spend 2+ cards to get it off the board. Really interesting choices for a deck that has seen some more success (as referenced above). Carthaginians was able to 4-0 one daily and 3-1 two others (over the whole week, not just from Tom’s dailies) and it looks like an innovative list.


Thanks to Tom the Scud. Check out his Facebook and his [Big Fat Spreadsheet.


PCT Results

The PCT is a weekly tournament hosted on Gatherling.com by LongTimeGone. It occurs Tuesday at 8 pm est.



MagicGatheringStrat: The Podcast Ep. 3

This week there are Dragons and Spoilers everywhere. It’s spoiler season again and we have commons. Plus Standard Pauper, Pauper Classic Tuesday’s, Sealed League, Patreon, Vacations, and Silver Black League!!!!
Its the only podcast you need, and thanks for listening!

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.

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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!

Faithless Looting #15: Izzet Over Yet?

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

I’ll make my call now and then shut up about it. My prediction is the TC gets banned, but not until January, and that it is banned in at least Pauper and Modern; I don’t follow other formats well enough to know if it is breaking them. That said, our weekend Daily results were mixed. One of the dailies had very little Cruise, and the next had plenty. Zero of the 4-0 lists on November 7 were packing Cruise; three out of four were on November 8.

If you can’t beat ’em …

If and until TC gets banned, I recommend picking up the damn card and playing it. You like drawing three, don’t you son? Well, there you go.

The list I like the most is this Kiln Fiend control deck, exemplified by Zakurero22 here:

[d title=”Kiln Control by Zakurero22 (Pauper)”]
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Great Furnace
5 Island
4 Izzet Boilerworks
5 Mountain
2 Seat of the Synod

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Kiln Fiend
1 Mulldrifter
4 Nivix Cyclops

2 Deep Analysis
3 Faithless Looting
4 Firebolt
3 Flame Slash
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Preordain
2 Serum Visions
3 Treasure Cruise

1 Deep Analysis
3 Electrickery
2 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Flaring Pain
4 Hydroblast
4 Pyroblast [/d]

Use burn to control your opponent’s board, then hit them for 4-7 with a Kiln Fiend. Use TC to refill (obvs), and you’ll be saying GG before you know it. This deck is great right now because it has both a strong aggro plan and a strong control plan; few decks can switch so capably between a quick goldfish and a grindy game of card advantage.

… stomp ’em.

If playing TC isn’t your thing, now is a good time to go green. Stompy is putting up results and it’s always a strong deck; just tune it slightly for the meta and it can 4-0, no problem. Of course, if you really love green, you might consider giving Elves a shot instead. Here is the list that Garruk17 went 4-0 with this past weekend.

[d title=”Elves by Garruk17 (Pauper)”]
12 Forest
1 Island

4 Birchlore Rangers
3 Elvish Mystic
2 Fyndhorn Elves
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Lys Alana Huntmaster
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
3 Sylvan Ranger
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Wellwisher

4 Distant Melody
3 Viridian Longbow
1 Spidersilk Armor

2 Spidersilk Armor
3 Fog
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
2 Thermokarst [/d]

The 4x Wellwisher in the main make it so that all the other aggro decks have a really hard time racing you. 3x Viridian Longbow and 1x Spidersilk Armor give Delver a tough run, too.

Sign up for our League!

It’s not too late to sign up for Community League #3, but it’s getting close. The format is Standard Pauper, the goal is to have fun and meet people, and there are nearly 30 people signed up so far. Join the fun! Sign up in the comments over here. You’ve only got a couple days left before registration ends. Week One match-ups will be posted here on the site on Friday, November 14.

That’s all for this week. Don’t forget to check out our Extra Life page, and give if you can!

Extra Life

Do it for the children.

Until next time, keep the faith!


Faithless Looting #13: Cruising with Commons

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

If there is one truly contentious card brought to us by Khans of Tarkir, that card is [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], and it is contentious because it just might be “too good.” Its effect, after all, is very similar to [c]Ancestral Recall[/c], and while you’ll never cast Cruise on turn 1, it is pretty easy to meet the conditions on t4-5 to cast it for 1-2 mana. In long, grindy games, it’s a powerhouse.

People think it should be banned in quite a few formats; other people act like you’re trying to steal their baby when you try and ban cards. It will be interesting to see what WotC decides to do, if anything. Today we’re going to look at Cruise in Pauper. After all, if a card is considered OP in formats like Modern and Legacy, it must REALLY be OP in our beloved all-commons format, right? It certainly makes Blue that much more powerful and consistent; things that Blue really didn’t need since it already dominates the meta. Let’s take a look at other places the card shines, starting with Daily lists from this past weekend.

ScionOfJustice, who usually wins with black cards, decided to splash blue to include 4x [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in the main, and a singleton [c]Ghostly Flicker[/c] for good measure. Basically he is playing MBC with Cruise in it; I guess you really can play it in every deck. Here is the list.

[d title=”MBC Cruise by ScionOfJustice”]
1 Augur of Skulls
4 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Liliana’s Specter
1 Mulldrifter
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
3 Phyrexian Rager

4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Syphon Life
4 Treasure Cruise
1 Wrench Mind
1 Devour Flesh
1 Ghostly Flicker
1 Undying Evil
2 Oubliette
1 Pestilence

4 Dimir Guildgate
4 Dismal Backwater
15 Swamp

1 Crypt Rats
2 Child of Night
2 Choking Sands
1 Disfigure
2 Font of Return
2 Geth’s Verdict
1 Nausea
1 Pharika’s Cure
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Stinkweed Imp [/d]

Surucucu added 2x Cruise in Delverfiend, which seems like a very natural inclusion.

Dirknight put the full set into UR Control, and I think this deck is one of the biggest Cruise winners. Enough to push it into consistent Tier 1 territory? I guess we’ll see, but the deck seems very strong. Here is his list:

[d title=”UR Control Cruise by Dirknight”]
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sea Gate Oracle

4 Firebolt
4 Flame Slash
4 Preordain
4 Treasure Cruise
4 Counterspell
2 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Exclude

6 Island
3 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
3 Mountain
1 Radiant Fountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Terramorphic Expanse

2 Curfew
2 Curse of the Bloody Tome
1 Electrickery
4 Hydroblast
2 Negate
4 Pyroblast [/d]

RainbowSlushy played a faeries version of UR Control with a full set. Zakurero22 4-0ed with a list that is a cross between Delverfiend and UR Control and ran 3x Cruise.

Funny enough, the dominant blue deck in the format, Delver (or Mono Blue Faeries), is only checking in at 1x Cruise for the most part, with the greedier lists reaching for 2.

We’re not seeing [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] make its way into green decks like Stompy or White Weenie lists quite yet. Sensible choice, or simply lack of imagination? While we’re being hypothetical, does Cruise make [c]Thought Scour[/c] playable in blue decks? I was a little surprised to see zero Cruise in the various Affinity decks that placed; it seems like a fair 1x or 2x in a lot of those lists, especially the lists that are sacrificing all those 1-mana artifacts to draw cards anyway.

Outside of daily lists, there are other places where Cruise might fit. I personally tried Burn and, like most attempts at adding a color to Burn (or any similar “win fast” list), I felt like diluting the deck made it worse rather than better. Even so, two distinct threads popped up just for Cruise Burn on Reddit, so people are having similar thoughts.

Dredge & Delve

If there are two mechanics that work well together, these two seem like they’re it. The synergy is simple and natural: one adds cards to the GY, often for a beneficial effect, and the other takes cards away from the GY, also for a beneficial effect.

Aside from Cruise, Delve has a couple good cards we can experiment with, including [c]Death Rattle[/c], [c]Hooting Mandrills[/c], and [c]Sultai Scavenger[/c]. We only get 7 cards total at common level with the Delve mechanic, though we’ll likely see more in upcoming sets. That’s still more cards than we have with Dredge, though, which clocks in at only 5. Notable players include [c]Stinkweed Imp[/c], [c]Golgari Brownscale[/c], [c]Moldervine Cloak[/c], and [c]Shambling Shell[/c].

Based on the cards we have with each mechanic, we are looking at Black cards with both mechanic, Green cards with both mechanic, and Blue cards with … oh wait, it’s just [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. We could consider [c]Logic Knot[/c] as well, but Cruise is strictly better, I think, and we need to be careful about how many Delve cards we include in a list.

So a D&D list would be UG, UB, or GB. Mono-colored lists could be possible, but I think two colors makes a lot more sense. We’re not playing a speedy aggro deck in any case, so the additional color should only help us. We could even go all three colors if we want to get greedy.

In UB, we definitely want Stinkweed Imp and Treasure Cruise, which automatically has us looking at a grindy control deck with card advantage. Cards like [c]Pilfered Plans[/c] let us draw cards AND fill our GY, which seems pretty good with Cruise. [c]Soul Manipulation[/c] is another fun include, while [c]Lurking Informant[/c] is FAR too fiddly, but scrying every turn and adding cards to the GY seems fun in a casual list. [c]Scarscale Ritual[/c] is another of my favorite UB cards and works particular well in lists with Undying, which UB also has, namely [c]Stormbound Geist[/c]. [c]Death Rattle[/c] and [c]Ghastly Demise[/c] are both good pieces of removal that care about how many cards we have in our GY; we don’t want too many, but a few fit in nicely.

GB has the other best synergies (UG seems unappealing, really). [c]Shambling Shell[/c] is the only self-sacrificing recursive creature in the game. He single-handedly sends himself to the graveyard AND brings himself back, filling our GY with more cards in the process. [c]Grisly Salvage[/c] helps us dig for creatures or land and fills the GY as well. [c]Drown in Filth[/c] is decent removal if our GY is full. Golgari also gifts us with Scavenge creatures like [c]Sluiceway Scorpion[/c] if we want another angle on GY shenanigans. Cards like [c]Desecrator Hag[/c] and [c]Pit Keeper[/c] let us gain card advantage from having creatures in the GY, and we could even go for an [c]Exhume[/c] angle (or at least back-up plan) using Dredge to throw an [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] or another fatty in the GY and (if we want) a singleton [c]Dragon Breath[/c] just for kicks.

I don’t have any lists for you, but I think there are some there asking to be built. Even though there isn’t a contest this week, feel free to look at some of the cards above and submit lists in the comments if you think something’s there.

Until next time, keep the faith!


Faithless Looting #9: The Fast and the Furious

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

I made it a goal for myself to try and play in one Pauper Daily Event per week. I’ve missed one here or there (last week because I played Khans instead), but for the most part I’ve been able to get an event in every week, and I’ve been doing horribly! Want to know why? It’s not the decks I’m playing; even though I’m avoiding MBC and Delver, every deck I’ve played has the potential to win a DE. It’s consistency that is the problem. My consistency. To this point I have refused to become an “expert” on any given deck, especially in Pauper where I find brewing and experimenting so rewarding (and financially possible), and hate to think of being tied down to a single list. Really I just need to find a deck I like and practice, practice, practice.

I’ll probably play Khans this coming weekend instead of Pauper, so I’ve got two weeks to pick a list and practice. If you have suggestions on what list I should play, please feel free to send them my way.

I’m a pretty good Magic player, but I make a lot of mistakes because of unfamiliarity with lists and with match-ups. This last week I lost to MBC when I (maybe) could have won by playing around [c]Tendrils of Corruption[/c]. The worst part? I had just been talking about playing around Tendrils, but decided to push the extra one point of damage instead! If I have a point, it’s this: if you want to play Magic competitively, even in Pauper, you need to pick a good list, and then you need to practice, practice, practice. Despite losing, I did have a fun time playing Goblins, and I still think it could be a good deck to “go under” some of the big lists in the format right now, with a more consistent pilot.

Feel free to check out the videos:


Now let’s get on to awarding some prizes.

Faithless Contest #8: Winner!

The contest last week was to build around a wedge (or shard) in honor of Khans. I got four good entries. Archivold sent me Bant Midrange which felt somewhat underpowered in play; I really like the cycle of dudes including [c]Bant Sureblade[/c] and [c]Esper Stormblade[/c] but I’ve tried to use them before and, in the end, I don’t think they’re playable. I’d be happy for someone to prove me wrong, though. Sam sent me NecraKitty, which was, essentially, a Kitty deck crossbred with a Tortured Existence deck. It could very well be a thing, but I have to admit I don’t love playing TE decks.

So, the two decks that I really enjoyed this week were Brennon’s Cogs deck and Aught3’s Dervish list. Both lists lost in my play testing, but to some extent that was my poor play (see my notes above about practice!) and, in any case, they were fun matches and the lists felt powerful. Dervish felt so strong I got cocky, which contributed to my doom. In the end, between the two of them, I love Cogs just a little bit more. It’s an archetype I’ve played with in the past, and as one of Brennon’s ongoing pet projects, it was a really well-tuned list.

The winner this week, for his Jeskai Cogs list, is Brennon!

Congratulations, sir. You will receive two items, randomly selected, from my current Loot Crate stash.

Aught3 gets a clear runner-up spot here and is, overall, submitting awesome lists every week. I invite everyone to check them out and beat them, namely because I don’t want to keep shipping stuff to New Zealand. ;)

Here is Brennon’s winning Jeskai Cogs list:

[d title=”Jeskai Cogs (Pauper)”]
3 Ninja of the Deep Hours
3 Aven Riftwatcher
4 Leonin Squire
3 Steamcore Weird
2 Sanctum Gargoyle
3 Mulldrifter
4 Trinket Mage

1 Bonesplitter
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
1 Viridian Longbow
4 Skred
4 Momentary Blink
1 Aether Spellbomb
2 Pyrite Spellbomb

9 Snow-Covered Island
1 Ancient Den
6 Snow-Covered Plains
6 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Great Furnace

2 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Porcelain Legionnaire
2 Nihil Spellbomb
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Aven Riftwatcher
3 Apostle’s Blessing [/d]

And the video where I played against a previous FL winner, 0C-BuC!


Thanks again to everyone who submitted decks! Here are the rules for next week, contest #9. FYI coming up with contest rules is the hardest part about these articles, so if you have suggestions, pass them along.

Faithless Contest #9: Rules

1. Send me your fastest “kill” lists; any format so long as they are budget.

2. Submit it in the comments below. Don’t forget to tell me which format the list is for.

3. Submissions due before Monday, October 6.


  • Decks should be “budget”, but otherwise may be for any format.
  • Pauper can win on turn one, I expect the same is true in any other format. Decks will be judged on innovation, fun, power, and consistency. There are a lot of routes to go between abusive aggro and finicky combo, so I hope to see some fun and interesting lists. Most lists should probably be “able” to win before turn four.
  • I will highlight the most interesting decks in next week’s article, and may play some on video for the YouTube channel. One lucky winner will get two items, randomly selected, from my current LootCrate stash. Check out the videos at the bottom of this post to see what’s available.
  • Your chances of winning greatly increase if you submit a deck.

Faithless Decks #9: Brews Cruise

Last week I highlighted some of the great lists that Peyton has been sharing on this site for Legacy. This week I’d like to highlight another of our great authors, Troy Drinkard.

Drinkard has been examining deck archetypes across formats and, lately, looking at how Khans might impact the game. Here are some of my favorite lists that he’s shared in his articles.

Last week Drinkard gave us two Pauper lists utilizing recent card additions, [c]Tyrant’s Choice[/c] for Rakdos Burn, and some of the new Morph creatures from Khans for a “Morph and Shift” style fatty list. I like them both.

[d title=”Rakdos Burn, by Drinkard (Pauper)”]
4 Bloodfell Caves
12 Mountain
4 Rakdos Guildgate

3 Goblin Fireslinger
4 Spark Elemental

Other Spells
4 Bump in the Night
4 Chain Lightning
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
3 Fireblast
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
2 Shard Volley
4 Tyrant’s Choice [/d]

[d title=”Pac Man Red Ghost by Drinkard (Pauper)”]
14 Forest
6 Plains

4 Avacyn Pilgrim
4 Aven Riftwatcher
4 Abzan Guide
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Llanowar Elves
1 Snowhorn Rider
3 Titanic Bulvox
4 Woolly Loxodon

Other Spells
4 Cloudshift
4 Otherworldly Journey
4 Turn to Mist [/d]

As for Rakdos Burn, how about a list in Modern that uses [c]Bloodchief Ascension[/c]? It seems like a surprisingly good Burn card.

[d title=”Rakdos Burn by Drinkard (Modern)”]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Blood Crypt
2 Dragonskull Summit
8 Mountain
2 Sulfurous Springs

4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Hellspark Elemental

Other Spells
4 Bump in the Night
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
1 Searing Blood
3 Shard Volley
4 Skullcrack

4 Bloodchief Ascension
1 Dark Tutelage
3 Molten Rain
3 Rakdos Charm
2 Searing Blood
2 Shattering Spree [/d]

Moving into Legacy, we have an interesting Bargain Tendrils list that weighs in under 100tix.

[d title=”Bargain Tendrils by Drinkard (Legacy)”]
1 Phyrexian Tower
11 Swamp

2 Ornithopter
4 Phyrexian Walker
4 Shield Sphere

Other Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Cruel Bargain
4 Culling the Weak
4 Dark Ritual
3 Diabolic Intent
2 Gitaxian Probe
3 Ill-Gotten Gains
3 Infernal Contract
4 Lotus Petal
3 Tendrils of Agony [/d]

In the same article he gives us a Vintage version of the list as well, so go check it out.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you over to my new Pauper DE Breakdown series and share the only Rogue list that placed in the September 20-21 Pauper Daily Events.

[d title=”Trinket Affinity by herosaine2006 (Pauper)”]
1 Dimir Guildgate
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Great Furnace
2 Island
1 Izzet Guildgate
1 Mountain
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Swamp
4 Vault of Whispers

4 Faerie Mechanist
4 Frogmite
4 Mulldrifter
4 Myr Enforcer
3 Trinket Mage

4 Galvanic Blast
4 Thoughtcast

2 Bonesplitter
2 Executioner’s Capsule
4 Flayer Husk
2 Prophetic Prism
1 Sylvok Lifestaff

2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Pyroblast
3 Smelt
4 Vault Skirge [/d]

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and here are the Loot Crate videos where you can find out what sort of awesome loot is up for grabs.

Until next time, keep the faith!


Loot Crates:


Pauper Daily Event Breakdown #1: September 20-21

First things first.

This is an experiment. If you want to see this on a weekly basis, you need to let me know in the comments. If I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume it is not useful to you and therefore won’t waste my time doing more.

Second things second. Part of the reason I am doing this is because we don’t currently have anything slotted for the site on Friday, and I’d like to fill in that gap with something (anything!) but hopefully something good. That said, if you like Magic, and you like writing, you should get in touch. Yeah, it’s a tough job, but at least the pay is awful.

Third things third. Here is the video. I’ll add some additional analysis after.


You may have noted in the video I said that for more in-depth analysis you should check out AU’s stuff. That kills me a little bit because, historically, he hasn’t been very nice to me or my Magic friends. He does have plenty of Pauper experience, though, so feel free to check out his stuff on Facebook and PureMTGO. No, I’m not so nice as to provide links.

It turns out, though, that I like to do analysis and statistical breakdowns as well. And really, I would rather do my own. So here you go. These are the decks we saw go 3-1 and 4-0 last weekend.

pauper daily event analysis 9-20-21-2014

And here are links for September 20 and September 21, respectively. They are a pain to track down very long after the fact, so having links is handy.

Delver & MBC

So what do we see here? Well, no surprise, but MBC and Delver are huge. If you want to play in a DE, have a plan to beat those decks. And if you’re playing one of those decks, have a plan to beat the mirror. We saw more Delver lists including resilient or big flyers like [c]Stormbound Geist[/c] and [c]Stitched Drake[/c]. Geist, in particular, is good against both MBC and Delver; I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of them in the future. It’s worth noting that EVERY single MBC list ran 2x [c]Oubliette[/c]. AU thinks this may be because MBC players are dumb; I think that Oubliette does a number of things well. I’ll copy some of the points I made over in the comments on Pure.

Pros and Cons of Oubliette

  • Con 1 – Fights for space in 3cmc spot.
  • Con 2 – No longer bugged, so can be destroyed and opp can get creature back.
  • Con 3 – Sorcery speed.
  • Pro 1 – The only removal being run in MBC that does something other than send a creature to GY. Good against recursion decks including TE, others.
  • Pro 2 – Adds 2 devotion to Gary. This seems to me it would be very helpful in the mirror, where it’s a game of attrition and who plays bigger Garys makes a difference.
  • Pro 3 – Targeted removal that kills anything in one spell including Young Wolf, Stormbound Geist, Loyal Cathar, etc.

Longtimegone seconded the point about Gary in the mirror, and that it won him two close games over the weekend. He also reminded me that Oubliette kills creatures AND the enchantments attached to them, e.g. [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] AND [c]Rancor[/c], so that’s another chit in the pro column.

There are good points on both sides, but I think the benefits are enough that running 2x seems like a pretty good call, alongside another suite of faster, lower-cmc removal. What surprised me over the weekend, really, was how many MBC decks ran Tendrils. Another note from Longtimegone:

“I took two different MBC decks 3-1 this weekend, first one with more traditional cheaper removal, then one of the Tendrils/Corrupt builds. The tendrils gave a *lot* of comeback potential, they come online a bit later, but they are usually able to gain back more life than you lost to the delay.”

Other lists

Familiar Combo was the third most popular list in the standings. In my mind, this deck picks up a lot where Fissure left off, though it isn’t, maybe, quite as horrible to play against. Nothing was worse than getting your entire board returned to your hand and then having to wait 20 turns until your opponent could finally finish you off. Familiar Combo at least has a plan that can win pretty early and consistently, so you don’t have to wait forever to die. Small favors.

White Weenie had a good showing, coming in with three placements and over all the 1-of and 2-of showings. Two of these lists were borderline “vanilla” WW, while one was a WW Tokens list by Naga_tsuki.

The one, true rogue

There was only one real “rogue” deck that didn’t fit into an established archetype, and it was this Trinket Affinity list from herosaine2006. Here is the decklist:

[d title=”Trinket Affinity, 3-1 by herosaine2006″]
1 Dimir Guildgate
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Great Furnace
2 Island
1 Izzet Guildgate
1 Mountain
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Swamp
4 Vault of Whispers

4 Faerie Mechanist
4 Frogmite
4 Mulldrifter
4 Myr Enforcer
3 Trinket Mage

4 Galvanic Blast
4 Thoughtcast

2 Bonesplitter
2 Executioner’s Capsule
4 Flayer Husk
2 Prophetic Prism
1 Sylvok Lifestaff

2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Pyroblast
3 Smelt
4 Vault Skirge [/d]

So how should you prepare? MBC and Delver are decks you either need to get under (win early) or outlast (more control, more card advantage, grind them out). Doing either of those can be challenging.

I was chatting with obZen a bit yesterday, and he mentioned he had just taken CoP:Red out of his Sideboard because he was running into Burn so infrequently. I think that in the going under category, Red decks are a good choice right now, either straight-up Burn or a reachy version of Goblins with 8-10 solid burn spells. In the Outlast category, I recommend Teachings or a Kitty deck. One is straight-up card advantage control, and the other is grindy, grindy Midrange. Both are pretty good against MBC and Delver, but both also require a lot of skill and experience to pilot well. Patrickj has been killing it with Boroskitty week after week, but he seems to be the only one. The question is, is he the only one playing the deck, or just the only one winning with it?

That’s it for this week. Again, let me know if this is a useful column. If so I can do it weekly, otherwise we’ll just consider this one a fun diversion.

Until next time, may your opponents’ verdicts only ever eat [c]Khalni Garden[/c] tokens,


Standard Pauper Show, Issue 12

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Sam and I talk about the SPDC and my experience at the Khans of Tarkir PreRelease. Also, Dan joins us to talk about The Pauper Gauntlet.


So much going on in the Gauntlet. There are plenty of decks left to pick from. With actual foil cards for the winners, this going to be great. You can go here to pick your deck:

Section 2: The Winning Decks

MPDC 26.06
22 September 2014
Standard · 22 Players
18 Decks · ~82% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 8 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

Lets look at the results:

1st Wb auras by Forli
2nd Rapid Red by ByeBye
T4 Remove You by rremedio1
T4 WB Pilgrim by Torreth
T8 RDW by Dwarven_Pony
T8 Dimir Mill by Garth_Edu
T8 Stracciatella by GodZo
T8 Gruul by MisterMroz

Another WhiteBlack deck wins the day. Forli went 6-0, now that is impressive. Orzhov domination is becoming a pattern. Well, not for too much longer! I will go through the decks next week and try to prep you all for the upcoming rotation. Can you believe it is already time for rotation? Seems that we will need to get used to it happening more often after M16.


Standard · Aggro-Combo
1st by Forli in MPDC 26.06 (6-0)

4 Akroan Skyguard
4 Auramancer
4 Heliod’s Pilgrim
4 Hopeful Eidolon
4 Wingsteed Rider
2 Keening Apparition

4 Ethereal Armor
4 Gods Willing
4 Pacifism
2 Font of Return
2 Stab Wound
1 Ajani’s Presence

11 Plains
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Orzhov Guildgate
2 Swamp

4 Celestial Flare
4 Duress
2 Keening Apparition
2 Beckon Apparition
1 Pillar of Light
1 Feast of Dreams
1 Ajani’s Presence

Let’s look at a sample opening hand:

Had to mulligan a 1 land hand. However, this hand is perfectly keepable. You have all you need to get your beats on!.

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

Better roll your pants legs up, there’s a flood a comin’. Even with the land flood, you still have what you need to make the first 12 cards into a win.

Section 3: A look at Classic Pauper

Bava did a video where in he goes over the 4-0 and 3-1 list for the latest Pauper events. Lets take a look:


I am curious if Khans has anything for classic. Jason Moore wrote an article about that very subject. He brewed up a list to utilize the potential 1 cmc draw 3 that is [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. Even though that is a very tempting card to brew with, I think the [c]Mardu Skullhunter[/c] has a better shot at a spot. Also, our own Drinkard wrote a similar article, but looking at Rakdos Burn and Selesnya Flicker in Pauper.

What do you all think?