Mid-Week Pauper Meta Report: Delver Dominance

About this article: This is a weekly report on the online pauper meta. The data it uses are from last week Wednesday to this past Wednesday. It looks at the data that I collect from a selection of dailies. I watch 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 this data, 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.

These results are from the 7-10 afternoon, 7-12 evening, and 7-13 dailies.

The transfer is complete. I am ready to call Delver as the current king of the metagame. Taking home a whopping 16.96% of the meta, Delver is the new king. Interestingly enough, Delver did not do well this week at all. It brings up an interesting comparison to MBC just a few weeks ago where the deck dominates a large portion of the meta, but it just doesn’t put up the results to justify it. As Delver has gained more and more popularity, it has not seen as strong of results as before, which is potentially to be expected. I think there are 3 main theories as to why this happen and they are all probably right to some extent for each case.

First theory is as popularity increases, more people with less experience (with that deck) are playing the deck and that means worse results. Second theory is that as a deck becomes popular, more new players with less experience overall pick up the deck (whereas they are less likely to pick up some T2 non-budget deck). Third theory is that as popularity increases, more people play hate against the deck/pick decks to beat it which will hurt its results.

In this case, I think it is some combination of the 3. The deck is generally regarded well by the community which causes people to play it, new players may be brought in by the popularity or also by the professor’s latest video, and people are looking to hate on Delver more (but really waiting for [c]Aerial Volley[/c] in order for great hate). Either way here is how much it dominated the meta this week.

After all that about Delver doing badly, it isn’t even shown too well here. Because there is an important distinction. Delver did bad, for Delver. Usually it grows, this week it just didn’t at all. Other than that Affinity put up a dismal showing and everything else was pretty standard. Affinity is one of the best anti-Delver decks. In fact, I tracked Delver’s matchups for the last 2 dailies and the PCT and here are the results.

Affinity is the biggest standout with a -4 difference and a 25% win rate. That much is to be expected, as is the weakness to UB Teachings. Yet, based on past data, one would expect the matchup with Esper Fae to be much better. Overall, it just doesn’t get the job done against enough of the top matchups like UB Angler, Burn, MBC, and Affinity. Delver did not win in each of those matchups and that is one of the main problems. This is a stat I’ll continue to track. But, enough about Delver. Let’s have a look at how the rest of the decks did last week.

UB Teachings and Affinity are clearly the best and worst performing of the top decks, respectively. Other than that, almost every deck was within a few points of what is expected. Honestly, other than the two main outliers, nothing is too surprising here other than the success of Burn/MBC and failure of Delver.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading! –Najay1


1. Esper Fae Combo – Stats: 4.46% Prominence; 60.00% Cash Rate; 67.50% Win Rate. After a few weeks where it got bad results, Esper Fae is back on top. Now, it must be considered that the deck only had 10 pilots so variance is a factor, but the deck did very strong. One of the reasons that this may have happened was that because there were so few pilots, only the strong ones continued to play the deck. At that same point, I could just be variance. The deck continues to be one to watch.

2. UB Teachings – Stats: 7.59% Prominence; 41.18% Cash Rate; 57.38% Win Rate. This is one of the bigger surprises, but it is here to stay. This was a fringe deck until just recently where it has now exploded in popularity and still put up respectable results. This is really the first week where it put up really strong results and this was very strong results. Part of that is because it is decently positioned versus Delver. Another part of this is because the deck has swung to being very control heavy with Delver, UB Angler, and MBC being the most popular decks. I expect this deck to continue being good, but I don’t expect results as strong as this week.


1. Affinity – Stats: 7.59% Prominence; 11.76% Cash Rate; 38.46% Win Rate. This is one of the surprises of the week for sure. Affinity has been putting up good results and this week is a full step away from that mold. IT was even able to play Delver 8 times, and did well, but it just couldn’t play with the other decks. One of the reasons it could have done badly is the matchup with UB Angler. The matchup isn’t great – unless you play [c]Flayer Husk[/c]. That card is amazing in the matchup and makes it so that your 8+ 4/4s trade with their Anglers and your 3/3 flyers eat their flyers. Really the matchup shouldn’t be too bad, but it can be turned into a great matchup with that one little card. Overall, I don’t expect this deck to put up such a bad result again and I actually expect it to be back around average.

2. UB Angler – Stats: 8.93% Prominence; 25.00% Cash Rate; 46.03% Win Rate. Affinity was the #1 winner last week and UB Angler was #2. They are still #1 and #2, just on the other side. So what caused such a bad result from a deck that had done so well? Well, I’m not sure to be honest. Part of that is probably due to weakness to MBC (of which was actually playing for the top spots), and the fact that Affinity wasn’t playing in the top spots. Now, last week was more of an outlier and there is a strong chance that the losing will continue. We’ll have to watch to see where it goes from here.

3. Delver – Stats: 16.96% Prominence; 28.95% Cash Rate; 46.67% Win Rate. The last loser of the week has already been discussed quite in length, so I won’t go too far into depth here. Overall, I like Delver going forward as a deck, but it doesn’t appear to be as well positioned as it once was.

Deck to Watch For

Goblins – Stats: 6.25% Prominence; 35.71% Cash Rate; 52.17% Win Rate. I just talked about this deck last week and it bounced up to being a very popular deck. Not only did it have a lot of pilots, it also put up very respectable results. I think the meta is in a place where Goblins really can do well. Look out for the tiny monster, with the addition of [c]Subterranean Scout[/c] the deck can even get better.

Brew of the Week

[d title=”Jund Songs Combo by Wonderman225 – July 10, 2015″]
Creatures (29)
4 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Fume Spitter
4 Monstrous Carabid
3 Crypt Rats
3 Gurmag Angler
3 Pit Keeper
3 Satyr Wayfinder
3 Street Wraith
2 Krosan Tusker

Spells (11)
4 Songs of the Damned
3 Gnaw to the Bone
2 Consume Spirit
2 Grisly Salvage

Lands (20)
5 Swamp
4 Forest
4 Jungle Hollow
2 Evolving Wilds
2 Mountain
1 Barren Moor
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Rugged Highlands

Sideboard (15)
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Choking Sands
2 Duress
2 Hush
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Gnaw to the Bone
1 Death Spark
1 Electrickery
1 Faerie Macabre
1 Scattershot Archer

This is a very interesting deck similar to Ad Nauseum in Modern. It cycles through cards and fills up the graveyard until it is able to cast [c]Songs of the Damned[/c] for lots and use [c]Crypt Rats[/c] or [c]Consume Spirit[/c] or just cast big creatures (although that is rarer). Usually I would look at results and dismiss them as a lucky day, but not only did the deck do well here, it also got a 4-0 recently and it doesn’t usually have too many bad results. Not sure that is necessarily indicative of anything, but it certainly is an interesting deck to look into.


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: Esper Explosion

About this article: This is a weekly report on the online pauper meta. The data it uses are from last week Wednesday to this past Wednesday. It looks at the data that I collect from a selection of dailies. I watch 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 this data, 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 6-27 Afternoon, 6-28 Evening, and 6-29 daily results.

Coming out of last week, a few things were expected to happen. First, Burn was expected to drop in popularity. Secondly, Stompy and Delver were expected to rise a bit. Lastly, MBC was expected to go back to bad results. All of those came true, but nobody really predicted everything that was going to happen.

First off, Delver absolutely dominated this week. Even as the top deck (by a growing margin), they still managed to gain 8% prominence from overall to cash. It’s time to bring in the [c]Gut Shot[/c], if that card is ever going to be good, it is this upcoming week. Delver was not the only deck to have a strong week, Stompy and UB Angler also did fantastic and were the top 3 decks in the cash. On the other hand, MBC, Burn, and Esper Fae Combo all had bad weeks. Esper Fae didn’t do terrible, but for the first time in a long time the deck actually didn’t do well. So why didn’t the deck do well? Here is a full list of every match (not individual games) Esper Fae played and why it wasn’t able to achieve success.

Every single one of these matchups are within one game except for UR Fiend (which is within 2) and Delver. Esper Fae went 4-8 versus Delver. You simply cannot have such a bad record against the best deck in the meta! I didn’t actually expect Delver to do this well, but it really was a great deck against Esper Fae. Unlike most other decks in the meta, it was able to play the aggro role (necessary to be truly great against the deck) while keeping up tons of prevention. It seemed like the deck had the most success when it decided what role it wanted to play and stuck with it. Interested to see whether Delver can continue beating Esper Fae this bad. I watched Esper Fae’s games and determined the turn they ended again as well.

This week was certainly a bit different than last week. Significantly more 5 turn combo wins were seen from Esper Fae, and I think I was wrong in declaring turn 6 as the turn that you can expect them to be able to go off. Turn 5 may be that turn where you need to be ready to stop them going off. Also, the deck was able to go off on turn 7 or earlier in 62.50% games where it went off and on turn 7 or earlier in 49.02% of games it won. Finally it went off that early in 24.27% of games. Now that is low this week simply because it lost so many games. It is also interesting that the games it won were mostly decided pretty quickly or took much more than 10 turns. I’ll continue looking at this to gain some more data and get a better insight into the deck.

Here we see another week with some very strong, and very weak, decks. Stompy has the best week by far, but UB Angler and Delver also did fantastic. Affinity and UR Fiend continue to be simply above average, but not fantastic. Burn and MBC did not do well as usual, but the real kicker is Esper Fae. It had a cash rate of 20% (less than half of its usual) and it had a win rate of 46.94%, not amazing either. But we’ll jump into that later on.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading! –Najay1


1. Stompy – Stats: 5.74% Prominence; 66.67% Cash Rate; 62.79% Win Rate. This is one of the better weeks that we have seen in quite a while. Out of the 12 pilots, 8 of them went 3-1. That is insane! After that, 3 went 1-X and 1 went 0-X. The deck had a fantastic week and it is just quite well positioned in the meta right now. It has quite decent matchups versus the majority of the meta including MBC and Delver, the two top decks. In addition, it is a great [c]Scattershot Archer[/c] deck, a card that is now starting to become strong enough to be played mainboard, as it is in about half of the top Stompy lists. I think this deck will become more popular soon, but it has dipped to unusually low levels for a top deck.

2. UB Angler – Stats: 10.53% Prominence; 40.91% Cash Rate; 62.34% Win Rate. This is one of the bigger surprises this week. It hasn’t been too fantastic recently, but this week it went insane. It had 6 people at 4-0 and 3 people at 3-1. This is one of the stranger results as UB Angler had double the amount of 4-0s as 3-1s. One thing this could suggest is that the deck is well positioned against the top decks, but it also could just be variance. Definitely one to watch as the meta progresses.

3. Delver – Stats: 15.79% Prominence; 45.45% Cash Rate; 58.77% Win Rate. This is the dominant deck over the past few weeks. After a long time where it had strong results, but low prominence, it has finally taken over the top spot as the king of the meta. Now it did not have the best results this week, but it one of the few decks that has had great weeks over and over and over. It has not had a bad week in forever. It is time to start bringing in Delver hate or playing the deck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the meta goes back to Delver v. others.


1. Burn – Stats: 5.74% Prominence; 8.33% Cash Rate; 36.11% Win Rate. Finally Burn has fallen! The meta has been hostile to a deck that needs the right meta to succeed. It seems that its continual failure has caught up to it and people are dropping the deck like hot potatoes. The deck has not done well in a while, but finally it seems like it’s not going to played quite as much. I would expect Burn to lower in the meta and you don’t need to build around it quite as much.

2. MBC – Stats: 12.44% Prominence; 19.23% Cash Rate; 43.37% Win Rate. After a bit of sunshine, MBC is back in its normal place – the losers circle. I still am not a fan of this deck, but as Delver grows more and more popular, it may gain a bit in success. I would be surprised to see MBC get more strong results continually.

3. Esper Fae Combo – Stats: 7.18% Prominence; 20.00% Cash Rate; 46.94% Win Rate. Here is the shocker. It still wasn’t as bad as some other lists, but the deck was not able to place in the winner’s circle close to as much as it wants to. I think a decent bit of that is because Delver was such a force this week. In addition, the deck was not able to combo off as often on Turn 6 or earlier as often. In addition, it faced much faster decks this week as they lost many games before they were able to go off. If you can go off before them, they are forced to try to combo off when they may not have all the pieces in place. I would be surprised if you see the deck do this badly again, but I’m certainly watching and recording.

Deck to Watch For

UB Teachings – Stats: 4.78% Prominence; 30.00% Cash Rate; 41.38% Win Rate. A deck that I thought was mostly gone, but has experienced a resurgence in the past few weeks. Now, it never put up fantastic results, but it has been strong enough that I would not be against playing the deck if you enjoy the style. Also, as this deck and UB Angler are very similar, make sure you know the differences so you know what deck you are playing at the start, as they end up playing out very different.


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

Modern Upheaval: Some Post-Ban Brews

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I’ll be brief: I’m sad about the bans, but not because I played Pod or Delver. I enjoyed playing against both of those decks because I was 50/50 in the first and favorable in the second. I personally don’t think the latter was oppressive, but oh well.

The point is that it happened. It has been an awkward week since because all Daily Event results posted have been totally uninteresting. No new tech matters until the bans take effect. All I can do is speculate what will be good in the time to come.

In order to do so, first I look at the cards that benefit the most from the bans. Here is a list in no particular order.

Cards that win from the bannings

1) [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c]: Already he lead one of the most consistent online pack-winners, and now he has gained simply by not being gutted with the bannings. Gone are the concerns of easy access to [c]Orzhov Pontiff[/c], [c]Linvala, Keeper of Silence[/c], and even [c]Murderous Redcap[/c] to ruin Affinity’s day. Gone are the blowouts from [c]Forked Bolt[/c]. Historically at the top of the Modern heap with Twin and Pod, now he shares the throne with one less ruler and a lot more openings. Affinity will stunt the emergence of many decks during this time of uncertainty simply because it is a fast and consistent aggro deck.

2) [c]Splinter Twin[/c]: Even though [c]Dig Through Time[/c] seemed to be tailor-made for Twin combo, the deck lost its primary predator in U/R Delver. Unfortunately after untapping with [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], or [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] in play, the Delver player was free to interact a turn or two sooner than the Twin deck was. Now that their power level has been nuked, Twin will likely restore its place in the big three.

So the question we ask ourselves is, what will take Pod’s place as the third oppressive and common match? One of the following are the answers I find most likely:

3) [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]: Lily’s first two effects were garbage against Delver. The +1 effect read “Turn one card in your opponent’s hand into a [c]Lotus Petal[/c],” and the second read “Your opponent loses a minute amount of value from their [c]Young Pyromancer[/c].” Similarly, against Pod, your opponent used their board and their library moreso than their hand, and so many of their creatures didn’t mind being sacrificed. In fact, it was their purpose. Now, though, she and the decks to which she belongs are ready for a return. Like many others, I expect Junk and Jund to be powerful forces in the near future. What’s more: former [c]Birthing Pod[/c] players own most of the cards and know how to play with [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] and the like.

4) [c]Scapeshift[/c]: Similar to [c]Splinter Twin[/c], its critical turn is a bit later than Delver’s was, and similar to Twin, the ways to interact with it are unreliable. [c]Scapeshift[/c]-centered decks may emerge as the third big contender in Pod’s place.

5) [c]Karn Liberated[/c]: Tron was a solid choice in a meta with a lot of [c]Birthing Pod[/c] and [c]Splinter Twin[/c]. Similarly, it will be a force in a meta that simply replaces Pod with Junk.

So what gains as a result of these gains?

I think you all know me by now well enough to say that rather than picking up the next best thing during changes like this, I’m curious to know what is really good against the next best thing. I think many of you are right there with me. It is obvious that players are scrambling for cards immune to [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]; here are some of the price spikes today:

  • [c]Sower of Temptation[/c]
  • [c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c]
  • [c]Phyrexian Obliterator[/c]
  • [c]Sword of Feast and Famine[/c]
  • [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c]
  • [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c]

This prices come from http://www.mtggoldfish.com/movers/online/modern.

Each of the creatures in the above list cost 4 or more and are very effective finishers (or thieves of finishers) for a variety of decks. The Sword provides protection to decay, even if it does not protect itself, and it creates a beater that cannot be blocked by [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and [c]Siege Rhino[/c].

Brew #1

While brewing for the upcoming Modern, I ask myself a few questions: What isn’t going to get crushed by either ability of [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]? What doesn’t die to [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]? What can disrupt [c]Splinter Twin[/c] and keep Affinity in check? My gut reaction is Orzhov Tokens.

Just like Lily’s +1 ability, Tokens’ suite of discard spells were mocked by [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. While [c]Zealous Persecution[/c] was a solid answer to [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], in general the deck traded one removal spell for each of the opponent’s threats one at a time, so [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] hurt Tokens’ ability to stop the opponent from winning.

Now, though, Tokens has all the answers. [c]Zealous Persecution[/c] can wreck Affinity’s board, [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c] and [c]Thoughtseize[/c] easily disrupt the turn 4 combo decks, and the deck can keep up with Junk and Jund while flying over the top of them for the win.

What I’m most excited about with Tokens, though, is the inclusion of [c]Monastery Mentor[/c]. Can there be a more apt home for the new [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] than a deck that is composed primarily of non-creature spells that produce creatures and pump tokens?

Here is my draft for post-Ban, post-Fate Reforged Orzhov Tokens.

[d title=”Drinkard Tokens (Modern)”]
4 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
4 Marsh Flats
6 Plains
2 Vault of the Archangel
3 Windbrisk Heights
2 Windswept Heath

3 Monastery Mentor

Other Spells
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
1 Murderous Cut
4 Path to Exile
1 Phyrexian Arena
4 Raise the Alarm
2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
3 Spectral Procession
2 Thoughtseize
3 Zealous Persecution

1 Disenchant
2 Kor Firewalker
3 Mirran Crusader
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stain the Mind
2 Stony Silence
1 Sundering Growth
1 Utter End
1 Zealous Persecution[/d]

This deck has the burden of proof placed upon it that it can answer what the opponent does, since cards like [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] and [c]Raise the Alarm[/c] are a bit underwhelming alone. Still, when its pieces come together, the pace of its disruption, removal, and overpowering swarm are forces impossible to answer.

Brew #2

I keep making the argument that [c]Become Immense[/c] was better than [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in Burn decks. In Burn, [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] can be huge and draw three Bolts. It also can draw two lands and a [c]Goblin Guide[/c] well after your creatures have become irrelevant. It can draw [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] when your opponent’s hand is empty. Your opponent could have a [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] in play. I have enjoyed playing Burn with the best [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] around ([c]Wild Nacatl[/c]) and the superior [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in Burn decks.

Now that [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] is banned, other delve cards are getting an honest look, and I am tempted to shoe-horn [c]Become Immense[/c] into a U/R Delver deck. Besides the success I’ve had with [c]Become Immense[/c], I think that the evasion from [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and the sheer numbers of attackers with [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] and the surprise [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] attack-you-for-8 play makes Delver a natural home for the new and improved [c]Revenge of the Hunted[/c]. Here is my first crack at the concept:

[d title=”Drinkard RUG Delver (Modern)”]
2 Breeding Pool
3 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
3 Polluted Delta
2 Steam Vents
3 Wooded Foothills

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Young Pyromancer

Other Spells
3 Become Immense
1 Burst Lightning
2 Forked Bolt
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Izzet Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Mutagenic Growth
4 Serum Visions
3 Spell Pierce
3 Thought Scour
3 Vapor Snag

2 Blood Moon
1 Dismember
1 Dispel
2 Flash Freeze
1 Forked Bolt
2 Hibernation
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Mutagenic Growth
1 Negate
2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Spell Pierce[/d]

This deck is a lot more geared around the strategy of playing stuff on your turn. I wonder if [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] even belongs in here, to help beat the Tron decks you will face. Do I think [c]Become Immense[/c] is as solid here as it is in Naya or as [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] once was? Certainly not, but I do think you will get some free wins from it often enough.

There will be a lot of contention for the third spot at the head of the Modern metagame. Who knows, maybe even Affinity or Twin will get pushed out in all of the commotion. Personally, I think everyone’s testing should include Junk, Tron, Twin, Scapeshift, Bogles, Burn, and Affinity before entering into a Daily Event. It wouldn’t hurt to be sure you have game against [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Lord of Atlantis[/c], and [c]Through The Breach[/c], either.

Hope you’re all equipped, that you’ve got some good luck, and that you’re having fun.


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,


Faithless Looting #8: A Wedge of One’s Own

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

So the Khans prerelease happened (in paper Magic) and I went on Saturday to play in a 6-round Sealed event. It was a really great set for Limited, and I really liked the choices I had to make while putting my list together. I had chosen Abzan, but opened a ton of really great Temur cards, including [c]Trap Essence[/c], [c]Bear’s Companion[/c], and [c]Surrak Dragonclaw[/c] himself. I also opened a lot of fixing, as I think we will in this set.

In the end, though, I also had a good Abzan pool, and I went for the consistency of three-color (it’s funny to say that) instead of trying to put together five-color bombs. It’s hard to say what might have worked better, but I’m happy with the choice I made because it meant that I had the opportunity, more often than not, to play my deck the way it was meant to be played. In six rounds, I only got mana-screwed once and color-screwed once. Both times sucked, and were in the matches I lost (I went 4-2 on the day), but considering the nature of variance, I really can’t be too upset. I feel like if I had gone five-color, I would have lost to my own deck more than twice.

Did you attend any paper Khans events? How did it go? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear!

For now, let’s get on to some looting.

Faithless Contest #7: Winner!

The contest last week was to build around an artist, and comments came in that it was a challenging one. While some constraints are good when it comes to encouraging creativity, too much constraint can have the opposite effect. This was probably one of the latter.

In the end, I had three entries. A Stoneblade deck from Aught3 featuring the art of Chippy, a mono-blue Delver deck from Archivold featuring the art of Dan Scott, and a Legacy Restore Balance deck from Yugular featuring the art of Mark Poole.

Thanks to everyone for their submissions!

In the end, I only played one deck. Archivold’s list had plenty of Dan Scott cards, but it looked almost exactly like the Delver Blue we all know and … love. Yugular’s list just barely hit the three-card-by-an-artist brief, and since two of the three were land, I felt like it didn’t deserve to win this particular contest, though it looks like a fun and interesting deck.

Aught3’s Stoneblade list, on the other hand, includes 7 cards by Chippy. And yes, three of those are land, but we also get [c]Ostracize?printing=2436[/c] and [c]Doom Blade[/c] and [c]Windwright Mage[/c] and [c]Faith’s Fetters[/c], so we are appeased. And did I mention that I love the play on words in the name? I really, really do. And so I am happy to declare Aught3 the winner of Faithless Contest #7!

It’s Aught3’s second win, making him the front-runner in Faithless Contests and, now, the one to beat. So get to it.

Here is the winning decklist:

[d title=”Chipped Stoneblade, by Aught3 (Pauper)”]
4 Island
7 Plains
5 Swamp
3 Ostracize
4 Doom Blade
2 Windwright Mage
1 Faith’s Fetters

4 Court Homunculus
4 Esper Stormblade
4 Glaze Fiend
4 Vault Skirge
4 Porcelain Legionnaire
2 Ethersworn Shieldmage

3 Bonesplitter
4 Fieldmist Borderpost
4 Mistvein Borderpost

1 Thoughtcast

3 Hydroblast
3 Pyroblast
3 Chainer’s Edict
2 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Standard Bearer
1 Faith’s Fetters [/d]

And because it was an artist challenge, here is the Chippy gallery of cards used in this list:








And of course I played the list as well:


Thanks again to everyone who submitted decks! Here are the rules for next week, contest #8.

Faithless Contest #8: Rules

1. In honor of Khans, our contest this week is to build a fun, innovative, or powerful budget list in wedge colors.

2. Post it in the comments below. Don’t forget to mention the wedge and the format.

3. Submissions due before Monday, September 29.


  • Decks should be “budget”, but otherwise may be for any format.
  • Decks should be three colors. No more, no less. You may use any of the wedges, not just the ones from KTK.
  • 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.

I have a horrible time remembering the names of color combinations in Magic, so I like this tool to help me remember.

Faithless Decks #8: Leaving a Legacy

I want to highlight some of the great work other authors on the site have been doing. In particular I want to pick on Peyton, who has been consistently writing about Legacy since the site launched and whose articles, to my overwhelming joy, need little to no editing. That last part doesn’t matter much to you guys, but it certainly makes my life easier.

Legacy is a format I know almost nothing about, but it is one that I am starting to learn about, thanks to Peyton’s articles, and many of his lists are available on the cheap; amazingly cheap when you consider the format. Check out some lists and don’t forget to read his articles as they come out every Monday.

Here is the most recent, budget combo list, Cephalid Breakfast.

[d title=”Mono-Blue Cephalid Breakfast (Legacy)”]
4 Cephalid Illusionist
4 Vedalken AEthermage
3 Narcomoeba
2 Trinket Mage
1 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
1 Angel of Glory’s Rise
1 Laboratory Maniac

4 Shuko

4 Brainstorm
4 Dispel
4 Daze
1 Spell Pierce

4 Careful Study
1 Dread Return

22 Island [/d]

And a budget rogue list (no, literally, rogue tribal).

[d title=”Budget Rogues (Legacy)]
3 Frogtosser Banneret
3 Inkfathom Infiltrator
4 Nightshade Stinger
4 Oona’s Blackguard
4 Oona’s Prowler
4 Prickly Boggart
4 Stinkdrinker Bandit

1 Go for the Throat
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Spell Pierce
2 Snuff Out
2 Smother

4 Darkslick Shores
4 Island
10 Swamp
4 Underground River

3 Duress
4 Mana Leak
3 Cold-Eyed Selkie
2 Earwig Squad
1 Go for the Throat
2 Faerie Macabre [/d]

And his favorite High Tide variant, Spring Tide.

[d title=”Spring Tide (Legacy)”]
4 Cloud of Faeries

4 Brainstorm
3 Cunning Wish
4 High Tide
4 Ideas Unbound
3 Meditate
4 Merchant Scroll
4 Ponder
3 Snap
4 Spell Pierce
3 Turnabout
4 Preordain

16 Island

1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
2 Brain Freeze
1 Capsize
1 Chain of Vapor
4 Disrupt
1 Meditate
1 Pact of Negation
1 Rebuild
1 Snap
1 Turnabout
1 Wipe Away [/d]

And finally cheap fun, ANT Style!

[d title=”Dirt-Cheap ANT (Legacy)”]
3 Tendrils of Agony
4 Ad Nauseam
4 Dark Ritual

Storm Builders
4 Claws of Gix
4 Ornithopter
4 Everflowing Chalice
4 Shield Sphere
3 Spellbook
4 Memnite

26 Swamp [/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:




Deck Testing: Ninja Bear Delver

Hello there! This is the first installment in what is going to be, if no problems arise, a monthly series: deck testing. Is it a primer? not exactly, even though I am going to try and explain briefly the reasons behind each card. I will simply explain how the deck felt, and how good I think it is right now.

But, before we begin, let me give a shout out to my friends at Industria 61, a Magic: The Gathering store near Sagrada Familia in Barcelona where I play weekly. The store owners have been kind enough to let me borrow the cards I needed to play some tournaments with the deck. Were it not for them, I would not have been able to write this. Totally recommended store, very nice people and a great place to play. Mondays and Thursdays are for Modern, with an average of 20 people showing up regularly.

Let’s start then.

Travis Woo started a small storm, which Luis Scott Vargas stoked, when he wrote this article in which he talked about a tempo deck that used [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Phantasmal Bear[/c] and [c]Ninja of the Deep hours[/c] combined with [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c], [c]Cryptic Command[/c] and [c]Disrupting Shoal[/c] to do very cool things in the right hands. The deck featured full playsets of every card, and had a consistent plan. It was a bit difficult to believe at first, but it started showing results occasionally, and became a bit of a phenomenon. Then it all died down in the wake of the unbans that made [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] legal again.

I was very curious about the deck though. I love mono coloured decks over anything else, and this promised to be a fun deck to play with, with some of the best cards in Modern together and in whole playsets. So I put the deck together and started trying it out.

What this deck is about

The deck felt a lot, and I mean a lot, like one of the best Pauper decks available: Mono Blue Delver. The two decks share some cards and the general game plan: cheap threats, card draw, disruption, delaying the opponent.

18 Island
2 Mutavault

4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Serum Visions
4 Vapor Snag
4 Remand
4 Cryptic Command
4 Disrupting Shoal

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours

35Mono blue means no fetchlands and no shocklands. This makes the mana base essentially free, save for those two [c]mutavault[/c]s. This also makes your opponents start the game easily six life below you, which is good for your game plan. This six lives are going to come in handy, as you are going to play [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] often to obtain information. This deck needs the information, because it doesn’t play big cards that warp the game: this is no ‘goodstuff’ deck where we have threats that win us games. We have to play tight, play well, and use our mana and our cards as efficiently as possible. Mono blue also makes one card shine: [c]Disrupting Shoal[/c] is a real blast to play. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition [c]Disrupting Shoal[/c]. It was just bananas at times. Finally, mono blue means we are going to find [c]Cryptic Command[/c] easily castable, and we want to be able to cast it, because it is an amazing card.

38This is not a cheap deck by any means: [c]Cryptic Command[/c] is crazy expensive right now, [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] is very expensive too and [c]Remand[/c] and [c]Mutavault[/c] are not cheap, even though the former has stabilised as an affordable staple and the latter is going down in price as we speak. Nevertheless, all the expensive cards here are used in other decks, so they are good cards to have, and the rest of the cards are very cheap to acquire. This means this deck does not feel expensive. From an economic point of view then, this is not a bad way to start playing Modern. Would I recommend it to a new player though? One word: never.

Ninja Bear Delver is really, really unforgiving and difficult to play and how well the deck performs depends a lot on how good the pilot is. That is why Luis Scott Vargas and Travis Woo sliced through other decks like nobody’s business, and that is also why I did not. Not even remotely. This deck showed me how mediocre I still am when playing Modern.

There is no removal in this deck. There is countermagic, but countermagic requires more skill and knowledge of the opponent’s deck. Plus, open mana at exactly the right time. Of course, [c]Cryptic Command[/c] buys you whole turns, but you can only cast so many [c]Cryptic Commands[/c]. I felt like I couldn’t recover when the opponent was ahead, and that it was too easy for the opponent to overwhelm me. Be it Merfolk, GW hatebears or BGx, they all had ways to just render me unable to catch up. I felt powerless.

4 Hibernation
4 Vedalken Shackles
3 Vendilion Clique
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Echoing Truth[/deck]

vedalkenshackles2When using the sideboard, some matchups felt a lot better. [c]Vedalken Shackles[/c] was able to steal some key creatures, [c]Hibernation[/c] meant a one sided board reset in some games, and [c]Hurkyl’s Recall[/c] bought me a lot of time. Shackles, in particular, was very good. Like, mainboard good. It doesn’t fit the initial game plan though, so it is out of the question.

The verdict

Ninja Bear Delver is a fun, though demanding, deck. It is consistent, and there are some very powerful plays (Ninjutsuing [c]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/c] to an unblocked [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] felt a bit like cheating). Do not start playing modern with this deck, by any means. If you have an experience already though, you really should try it. It’s a very nice experience and tempo is not something that is played a lot in Modern, so it’s a welcome change. I think it could be somewhat competitive in the right hands, but it still lacks a bit of something. By the way, a red splash would necessarily result in another deck entirely, there is no middle ground: you’ll end up in either Hoogland’s or Del Moral’s deck.

I must say I was frustrated though. Maybe a couple of weeks of playtesting isn’t enough, but I felt like I couldn’t play Magic at all. This deck is hard.

Threat Evaluation, Part 1: Island, Go

If you are anything like me, then you probably can’t think of February 12, 2014 without a pit forming in your stomach. Most of you that have followed this site know exactly what happened on this date. For those of you that don’t know, this is the day that Pauper Daily Events were discontinued on MTGO.

Pauper was a format with a huge card pool, plenty of room for brewing, minimal cost of entry, and minimal risk of loss. Naturally, this is a brewer’s dream. So your Sunscape Familiar, Thunderscape Familiar, Nettle Sentinel, Goblin Electromancer, Sprout Swarm brew didn’t go infinite enough? Fine. Spend another ticket, and brew another deck.

Then February 12 happened, and a lot of us had no idea what to do. Awkwardly some tried to continue playing 8-mans, but it appears that most have moved on to another format with a broken power-level, non-rotating cardpool, and low financial threshold: Modern.

Being cheap to buy in did not mean that the barrier of entry was low, though. Like wanderers out of exile, players often had to ask themselves what they were up against exactly. Sadly, whenever I saw cards like [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], I would just say I played against “B/G Goodstuff,” when in reality my notes don’t reflect that the matches were against Jund, Pod, Junk, Rock, and myriad other options. Because of my experience with Pauper, whenever I saw a Forest, I ignorantly thought “Stompy.”

This article series hopes to identify the more popular and successful decks, and even some brews, by typical early plays and cards that set them apart from other lists. Here we will start with Island. Again, my naivety led me to think “Ok, Delver.” Actually, I could have been playing any one of the following lists.

The Usual Suspects

If your opponent leads “Island, Go” then you are most likely facing one of these.

Splinter Twin

Not only are you most likely playing this when you see an Island, but also historically you are most likely playing against this in Modern, period. It is often the most common money-maker in Modern Events. This deck aims to resolve a [c]Pestermite[/c] or [c]Deceiver Exarch[/c] turn 3 followed by a [c]Splinter Twin[/c] on turn 4. Each copy of the creature untaps the original, allowing it to create infinite copies and kill you. Unfortunately, all along the way, their burn and soft counters delay you from winning or disrupting.

Tell-tale signs: If you see one of these two creatures, it is most likely too late to identify the deck and construct a counter strategy. I think [c]Peek[/c] is the card that sets this list apart from anything else with Steam Vents.

Variations on Splinter Twin – If you see [c]Breeding Pool[/c] or [c]Stomping Ground[/c], then you may be playing Tarmo-Twin, which combines the combo kill with [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and has [c]Ancient Grudge[/c] in the sideboard.

If your opponent’s mana-base looks crazy and has things like [c]Razorverge Thicket[/c] followed by [c]Cascade Bluffs[/c], then you are probably playing Kiki-Pod, which will be discussed in another article. The win condition is similar.


Now, very rarely will your Affinity opponent leave you any question about what you’re playing against. Just for the sake of completeness, though, some Affinity lists run 1 Island (which I’ve never seen played turn 1) and 2 [c]Galvanic Blast[/c]s as opposed to 1 Mountain and 4 Galvanic Blasts. The 1 basic is there because of [c]Ghost Quarter[/c], [c]Path to Exile[/c], and [c]Blood Moon[/c].


Ah, the 1-card combo. Scapeshift ramps its mana and rifles through its deck until it has 7 lands in play, and then it targets you with enough [c]Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle[/c] triggers for the win. And 99% of the time they reach 7 lands, they have the [c]Scapeshift[/c]. You thought all along that they spent all their time just digging for lands, but somehow they acquired it as well.

Tell-tale signs: The cards that set it easily apart from Twin variants are [c]Search for Tomorrow[/c], [c]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/c], and [c]Peer Through Depths[/c].


U/R Delver is a cheap grindy deck that rewards tight play, much like its Pauper equivalent. It has a few points of attack, including [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] + Burn spells, [c]Young Pyromancer[/c]’s countless triggers, and [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] himself.

Tell-tale signs: It is easy to recognize, as other color configurations with Delver are extremely rare. In case you have any question, though, you can also identify it by its [c]Pillar of Flame[/c]s. No other list plays this.

UWR Control

Utilizing hard removal like [c]Path to Exile[/c] and hard counters such as [c]Cryptic Command[/c] as well as soft removal and counters in the form of burn and [c]Remand[/c], this deck is built to go for the long game.

Tell-tale signs: It is easily recognized in the early game by its kill condition: [c]Celestial Colonnade[/c]. When you see this plus a source of red mana, then you know. [c]Lightning Helix[/c] is also played in very few other lists.

Variations on UWR control – You may see a midrange list associated with [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c], and many players are now opting to play [c]Restoration Angel[/c] and [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c] for the Twin-like kill.

U/R Storm

Prepare to press F6 and sit back or catch up on your snacks, reading, watching Breaking Bad episodes, whatever. For non-MTGO users, F6 tells the game you have no response but don’t want to concede. The critical turn for a Storm player is the one where they play [c]Pyromancer Ascension[/c], Ritual, Ritual, [c]Manamorphose[/c], copy Manamorphose, [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c], copy Gitaxian Probe, [c]Past in Flames[/c], copy Past in Flames, twelve more rituals, their copies, and [c]Grapeshot[/c] for the win.

Tell-tale signs: You know you’re playing Storm, and further, that you had better do something fast, when you see [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c]. Other sure signs are [c]Desperate Ravings[/c] and [c]Thought Scour[/c], as this deck uniquely plays them. [c]Shivan Reef[/c] may be played in U/R Delver, but most likely if you see it, you’re against Storm.

After Careful Consideration

These decks aren’t quite as often played as the former list, but with such an open format, these are quite possible.

Mono-U Tron, “The Well-Oiled Machine”

Whether they have you in a [c]Mindslaver[/c] lock, put you out of the game with [c]Sundering Titan[/c], or resolve a [c]Platinum Angel[/c] that you can’t deal with, the blue-centric Tron deck is a tough one to beat once it gets going.

Tell-tale signs: Whenever you see Islands and Tron pieces, know that you are most likely playing this. What sets this apart from UW Tron is [c]Talisman of Dominance[/c], [c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c], and [c]Spell Burst[/c]. [c]Cyclonic Rift[/c] is featured in the mono-U variant, but often it’s such a blowout that this identification cannot be helpful.


The most appropriately named deck in the bunch, the deck’s creatures are all its namesake. Although this is a blue deck, the disruption is minimal but very effective and serves multiple purposes. [c]Spreading Seas[/c] messes with your lands while filtering cards and making their creatures unblockable. [c]Cursecatcher[/c] messes with your math as you try to race against 5 4/4 creatures you can’t do anything about.

Tell-tale signs: These include Island/[c]Mutavault[/c], [c]Aether Vial[/c], go or turn 1 Cursecatcher. [c]Silvergill Adept[/c] on turn 2 is not unlikely in the event they kept a weaker opener.

UW Control

Since so many powerful cards were added to this archetype in Standard-legal sets, these decks pop up occasionally. Omitting the bolts from UWR control, they max out on sweepers and [c]Sphinx’s Revelation[/c] instead. Kill conditions often include [c]Kitchen Finks[/c] and [c]Sun Titan[/c] (value!), but sometimes creatures are passed by altogether.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Detention Sphere[/c] tells you that your opponent is not just a mana-screwed UWR player, and an early [c]Mystic Gate[/c] is a good sign as well.

Blue Moon

Popularized at Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia, this part blue devotion, part counter-burn, part-2 of everything else that’s useful mess can be quite tricky to play against, provided it draws the right cards for the right match-ups (and at the right time). The mana-base is very basic Island-heavy with enough red to resolve [c]Blood Moon[/c] and a handful of bolts. Its disruption includes counters and Control Magic effects: [c]Vedalken Shackles[/c] and [c]Threads of Disloyalty[/c]. Finally, 2 [c]Batterskull[/c]s function as the [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]s of the deck.

Tell-tale signs: When you see a red mana source and [c]Spreading Seas[/c], you know you’re against Blue Moon, but another hint is the preponderance of what seem to be sideboard cards in the main: [c]Blood Moon[/c], Vedalken Shackles, Threads of Disloyalty, et al.


This deck was supposed to be good. [c]Bitterblossom[/c] was banned for no reason to prevent it from dominating. Still, upon the Faerie enchantment’s un-banning, the deck has failed to take off. Perhaps it is in a state of infancy because most of the lists look like their standard counterparts. Once the engine is revved up, though, a Sword equipped on a Faerie Rogue is quite difficult to beat. Beyond that, there are so many tricks with [c]Mistbind Clique[/c], [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c], and [c]Cryptic Command[/c] for value. That same Sprite can counter four cards before all is said and done.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Bitterblossom[/c] plus a blue source, [c]Secluded Glen[/c], and often [c]River of Tears[/c] signal Faeries.

Cruel Control

Perhaps the deck most filled with powerful spells in this list, here you have roughly 50% lands and a lot of 1-for-1 until the namesake [c]Cruel Ultimatum[/c] resolves. Most people should just concede at this point, but if you’re into being on the receiving end of [c]Creeping Tar Pit[/c] beats, then play it out.

Tell-tale signs: This is the only Grixis list in Modern, so watch their mana-base for UBR capability.

UW Tron

This deck is not to be considered so much as a Mono-U Tron variant, as the two play rather differently. Like Cruel Control, a lot of powerful things are happening here, and the most powerful of them all is [c]Gifts Ungiven[/c]. Whether it is ramped out with an [c]Azorius Signet[/c] on turn 3, or simply played after the land drops allow, its caster often fails to find two cards, placing [c]Unburial Rites[/c] and either [c]Iona, Shield of Emeria[/c] or [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c] into its graveyard to come out and play on the next turn. Barring this plan, the deck has [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]s and a trusty [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] for long games.

Tell-tale signs: The combination of [c]Celestial Colonnade[/c] and a Tron piece or [c]Azorius Signet[/c] are the indicating pieces of the deck.

4-Color Gifts

While the deck looks wildly different from UW Tron, it is helpful to think of them as similar. The four colors are Blue, White, Green, and Black, and in place of Azorius Signet, you have [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c]. The controlling pieces in place of UW Tron’s sweepers are muchc stronger: [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c], [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], [c]Slaughter Pact[/c], and targeted discard.

Tell-tale signs: What a mess of a deck. The Sylvan Caryatid is a sure sign, and so are things like [c]Life From The Loam[/c], [c]Raven’s Crime[/c], and [c]Maelstrom Pulse[/c] while seeing blue or white.

Ad Nauseam Combo

This deck has three objectives: 1) Ramp to BBW3. 2) Resolve [c]Angel’s Grace[/c]. 3) Resolve [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]. The rest is academic. [c]Simian Spirit Guide[/c]s will generate the mana required to resolve a [c]Lightning Storm[/c] with enough copies to kill you. Unfortunately, [c]Pact of Negation[/c] and [c]Slaughter Pact[/c] make it difficult to win first or interact. Angel’s Grace combines with both of these as well on the kill turn.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Pentad Prism[/c] is the surest sign, but the Theros temples in Esper colors are solid as well. Finally, this is one of the few decks to play [c]Lotus Bloom[/c].

Once In A Blue Moon

These are existing combos that occasionally re-emerge as someone is trying the format out, or newly brewed decks that probably won’t last long enough to be archetypes but could be encountered on MTGO.

[c]Pili-Pala[/c] + [c]Grand Architect[/c]

These two cards together generate infinite mana for a [c]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/c] or simply [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c].


Keeping an eye on Travis Woo’s stream, Facebook, or articles will give you a good ear to the ground whenever you encounter most strange decks on MTGO. This one is no exception. “Island, Aether Vial, Go” may look like Merfolk, but watch for a [c]Voidmage Prodigy[/c] coming down instead. A [c]Sky Hussar[/c] activation tells you this is what you’re playing against too. Some variants even throw in Theros block’s [c]Disciple of Deceit[/c] with Sky Hussar to tutor up, yep, [c]Pili-Pala[/c] and [c]Grand Architect[/c].


This deck is much easier to recognize than it is to beat sometimes, but once you learn some simple tricks like not searching your library for [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] and [c]Path To Exile[/c], it should be cakewalk.

Tell-tale signs: Any card besides [c]Thought Scour[/c] with the milling effect.

Takin’ Turns/The Time Warp

Depending on how their leader, Farfishere, has directed his followers, this can be quick and easy or excruciatingly slow for both players. The quick and easy version ramps into an [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] with [c]Extraplanar Lens[/c]. The painful method is to take approximately 48 turns in a row and milling your opponent with Jace’s ultimate.

Tell-tale signs: Any card that operates like a [c]Howling Mine[/c] played early. Any time you see something that reads, “Take an additional turn,” it’s likely too late. The exception is a turn 3 lucky miracle.

Ironworks/Open The Vaults

It seems that many lists in this article are available for the players that want their opponents to want to quit not only the match but also the game of Magic altogether. Eggs has never been an exception. The deck hopes to ramp to a [c]Krark-Clan Ironworks[/c] with [c]Mox Opal[/c], [c]Etherium Sculptor[/c], [c]Mind Stone[/c], or assembling Tron, and then generate tons of mana for [c]Emrakul, the Aeons torn[/c] or [c]Banefire[/c], creating loops with [c]Faith’s Reward[/c] and [c]Open the Vaults[/c] for more mana and cards.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Ichor Wellspring[/c], [c]Elsewhere Flask[/c], any durdling activities.

[c]Possibility Storm[/c]

Yes, another combo list, but at least this one has the decency to kill you with panache. After resolving its namesake Return to Ravnica block enchantment, a [c]Tolaria West[/c] or [c]Fabricate[/c] will fetch an [c]Ornithopter[/c], allowing the player to cast [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] (yes, cast, and thus get the extra turn trigger).

Tell-tale signs: A UWR mana-base with combo-like activities: [c]Serum Visions[/c], [c]Sleight of Hand[/c], [c]Peer through Depths[/c]. [c]Idyllic Tutor[/c] or [c]Tolaria West[/c] may come out in the early game also.

UB Tezzeret

This is a blue black control deck that combines the better elements of Cruel Control with the title Planeswalker and a host of artifacts that do not let your opponent play Magic: [c]Chalice of the Void[/c], [c]Ensnaring Bridge[/c], even [c]Trading Post[/c]!

Tell-tale signs: In Modern, seeing a [c]Trinket Mage[/c] is pretty rare. It is safe to assume you’re up against Tez when you do. Also [c]Darksteel Citadel[/c] takes you off a suspicion of Faeries, since a lot of the other lands are the same. Artifacts like [c]Engineered Explosives[/c], [c]Executioner’s Capsule[/c], and [c]Chalice of the Void[/c] are good indicators.

End Step

I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this article. There are some fascinating things going on with Modern prices now because of people buying in to Legacy and Vintage, but Modern is an interesting format with a lot of room for creativity despite its myriad lists. Consider, all of the above lists are just the ones with blue! Four more articles will come in this series. In the meantime, thanks for reading and commenting.

[email protected]
drinkard on MTGO

My Life of Magic: An Introduction

Hello ladies and gentlenerds!

This is Sam, aka Vaultboyhunter, and this week I am going to do kind of an introduction article. Why? Well I am just getting in the swing of things at writing articles, but I also want to introduce myself a little. I’ve made a handful of videos for the YouTube channel and one of them I made was kind of a video diary of my favorite decks of all time. I like looking back at a players favorite decks as they have worked through learning the game, and the years after. So join me in a look back through time and space to some of my favorite decks of all time.

Here is the video of me rambling for an hour about my decks!

I thought I would give the deck lists, the time frame I would have played them, and why I liked the deck so much!

[d title=”WURG Zoo”]
4 Erhnam Djinn
4 Serendib Efreet
4 Kird Ape
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Savannah Lions
4 Counterspell
4 Force of Will
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Sol Ring
4 Lotus Petal
1 Wheel of Fortune
4 Savannah
4 Tropical Island
4 Plateau
4 Volcanic Island
4 Tundra

I played this WURG Zoo deck during 1997. The deck it was designed to beat was a Necro Deck being piloted expertly by the owner of my then local game shop. To get around the power that was Necro in its prime I played fast effective creatures and all the low casting cost spells I could. I crammed the deck full of the best instant spells I could find, including [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c], [c]Counterspell[/c], [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], and [c]Force of Will[/c]. I love Zoo to this day, and this is by far my favorite build of it. A fun play was to drop land, [c]Sol Ring[/c], [c]Lotus Petal[/c], and then [c]Wheel of Fortune[/c] all in my first turn. Refill my hand, and assist my opponent in taking a mulligan.

[d title=”Red Green Strip Vise”]
4 Orcish Lumberjack
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sudden Impact
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Incinerate
4 Lotus Petal
1 Sol Ring
4 Black Vise
4 Stone Rain
4 Thermokarst
4 Pillage
1 Wheel of Fortune
4 Taiga
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Forest

This deck was all about evil things. Kill all the lands. Drop a [c]Black Vise[/c]. Win. Lots of cheap ramp spells to fuel the evil things. Wizards actually killed this deck when they restricted [c]Strip Mine[/c]. Which was just mean. But necessary. This would have been during 1997, after Tempest was released.

[d title=”Flagpole Sitter”]
4 Wall of Blossoms
4 Tradewind Rider
4 Man-o’-War
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Counterspell
3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Whispers of the Muse
4 Force of Will
3 Dismiss
2 Capsize
3 Armageddon
4 Lotus Petal
4 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Tundra
4 Tropical Island
4 Savannah

So this deck was also during 1997. Wow, I played a lot of different decks this year. This deck is all about the hard lock between [c]Tradewind Rider[/c] and [c]Armageddon[/c]. This was about the time I started to understand the joy and beauty of card advantage, and Tempest Block was full of great card advantage cards like [c]Wall of Blossoms[/c], or as I called it, Wall of Awesome. This deck was a thing of beauty, and it was named after a song by the one-hit wonders Harvey Danger.

[d title=”Nether Go”]
3 Nether Spirit
4 Counterspell
4 Absorb
4 Undermine
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Recoil
3 Dromar’s Charm
2 Cremate
4 Vindicate
3 Wrath of God
4 Underground River
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Adarkar Wastes
3 Plains
4 Island
3 Swamp

First off you may notice a big gap in the time frame of the last two decks. I had quit playing during the broken mess of Urza’s Block. It was a total mess. Maro himself described Urza’s block as being early-game shuffling, mid-game drawing, and end-game turn one. No thank you, sir. My break was a short one though. I got back into Magic near the end of Masques Block, and right before Invasion. Invasion block is to this day my favorite Magic block. It really hit on all notes for me. ‘Nether Go’ is probably my all time favorite control deck. Mostly rares, lots of counters, kill, bounce, and board wipes, and [c]Nether Spirit[/c] is so hard to get rid of. To this day Wizards hasn’t printed such an easy-to-get-back creature, and I bet they never will. This deck includes my two favorite card drawing engines: [c]Accumulated Knowledge[/c] and [c]Fact or Fiction[/c]. I met my then-girlfriend / now-wife while playing this deck in October of 2001, and sold all my cards to buy her a bulldog.

Never buy a bulldog.

[d title=”Dromar Control”]
2 Dromar, the Banisher
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Meddling Mage
3 Vodalian Zombie
3 Galina’s Knight
4 Counterspell
4 Absorb
4 Undermine
4 Fact Or Fiction
4 Vindicate
4 Underground River
6 Island
3 Plains
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Adarkar Wastes
3 Swamp

A portion of the cards I sold to get the mistake that was Fergie the Bulldog included this deck. Masques Block rotated out, and Odds Block rotated in. This deck kept my love alive for my three favorite colors, Blue, White, and Black. [c]Shadowmage Infiltrator[/c] is a great card to this day, and the protection creatures were great at just getting there. The Invasion support spells are an amazing set of spells, powering both ‘Nether Go’, and ‘Dromar Control.’

[d title=”Pre Ban Affinity”]
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Ornithopter
4 Atog
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Disciple of the Vault
4 Shrapnel Blast
4 Thoughtcast
4 Cranial Plating
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Great Furnace
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Ancient Den
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod

The Ban Hammer fell on this over-powered, crazy deck, and it fell hard. This is the only deck I have ever played that lost so many cards at once. 28 cards. Dead from one day to the next. But before the Ban Hammer this deck was so stupid fast it could just kill and kill and kill. It would have destroyed the game much faster then Urza’s block ever could. Thankfully, [c]Cranial Plating[/c] is banned in Pauper. As it is, Affinity is still a super strong deck. This deck proves I can be the King of Spikes when I have an unlimited budget for Magic cards.

[d title=”Solar Flare”]
3 Angel of Despair
4 Thought Courier
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
3 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
3 Nekrataal
4 Compulsive Research
4 Zombify
3 Dimir Signet
3 Orzhov Signet
3 Azorius Signet
2 Debtors’ Knell
5 Island
4 Watery Grave
3 Plains
4 Swamp
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Godless Shrine

I clearly remember playing this build of Solar Flare during 2006 as a tribal deck. I had just started playing MTGO (as opposed to just paper Magic), and I loved the freedom that being able to play and draft at any hour of the day or night gave me. I am pretty sure I am 4 humans short in the list, and I have looked through Gatherer to find the 4, but I am just not sure what they could be. I love Reanimator decks, and look, Esper is back! Not that it ever really left me.

[d title=”Eminent Domain”]
3 Yosei, the Morning Star
3 Kokusho, the Evening Star
4 Remand
4 Wildfire
4 Icy Manipulator
2 Izzet Signet
2 Rakdos Signet
4 Spectral Searchlight
4 Annex
4 Dream Leash
2 Copy Enchantment
3 Watery Grave
3 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Blood Crypt
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
3 Izzet Boilerworks
3 Godless Shrine

Adrian Sullivan designed this deck during the Ravnica / Kamigawa Standard season. It was the most rough of all rogue decks. Steal lands with [c]Annex[/c] and [c]Dream Leash[/c] and ramp with the [c]Izzet Signet[/c] and [c]Rakdos Signet[/c] and [c]Spectral Searchlight[/c] then drop a Legendary Dragon into play and blow up the world with [c]Wildfire[/c]. [c]Spectral Searchlight[/c] was also a sneaky win condition, as you could give your opponent a mana of a color they can’t use, and just watch them choke on the burn. Oh mana burn, how I miss you.

For all you foreign peoples out there here is a link about what the term Eminent Domain means in the USA.


[d title=”Pauper Delver”]
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Spire Golem
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Counterspell
4 Gush
4 Daze
4 Preordain
4 Ponder
4 Gitaxian Probe
16 Island

When Time Spiral hit, I quit Magic. I hated the set. I also just wanted to focus on other things in life. I was gone for a long time this time and I missed 6 blocks. I became a big video gamer and comic book nerd. I watched a lot of Let’s Plays on YouTube, and one day on a whim I YouTube searched for Magic, and found a lot of nerds putting up videos. I found Mikey K and Pauper and fell back in love. With Innistrad came Delver, and a deep love was born. I love that Insect Aberration so much. This is the deck that brought me back to Magic, and to one of my favorite formats of all time, Pauper! Thanks for the videos, Mikey, without you I may have never came back to Magic!

[d title=”Silverblack RUG Tron”]
4 Artisan of Kozilek
4 Mulldrifter
4 Brutalizer Exarch
3 Acidic Slime
2 Eternal Witness
3 Reap and Sow
3 Sylvan Scrying
4 Firespout
4 Chromatic Star
4 Prophetic Prism
2 Gruul Signet
1 Crystal Shard
4 Forest
4 Urza’s Power Plant
1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Urza’s Factory
4 Urza’s Tower
2 Vivid Crag
2 Vivid Creek
4 Urza’s Mine

One of the coolest things that happened during my long break was Wizards started to support Player Run Events. I tried a ton of the different PRE events out there and Silverblack became just one of my all time favorite all time formats ever. If you ever come back, Niabock, know that I will be the first guy to get people back to Silverblack on Wednesday nights. I love Tron. So much, and this is a Tron deck with so much value. It drips value like a coffee maker drips Folgers. Am I going to play this in the League? Is it going to be super shiny foiled out? Maybe!

[d title=”Boros Kitty”]
4 Kor Skyfisher
4 Glint Hawk
3 Sanctum Gargoyle
3 Kor Sanctifiers
4 Perilous Myr
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Kuldotha Rebirth
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Ichor Wellspring
3 Journey to Nowhere
5 Mountain
3 Plains
4 Kabira Crossroads
4 Great Furnace
4 Ancient Den

Oh, Boros Kitty. I love you so much I am going to defend you forever. Your ability to be the aggro deck against control. The slow grind control against aggro. You have game against so many decks. I am your champion for the Pauper Gauntlet: Season Two, and I promise you that we can make it to the end together. Dan can get us there, and we can claim the championship two years in a row, Boros Kitty. I know we can.

This is a build I have been playing around with. It’s not the build I am submitting to the Gauntlet. But that leads us to the end of this article and a segue to my next article. Next week is going to be all about the Boros Kitty. We are really going to get inside the deck, and the sideboard, and talk about what 75 we are going to see Dan running this year.

Thank you all for joining me for this fun trip down memory lane, I would love to hear about all of your favorite decks in the comments or on MTGO.

Until next week may your land ratio be right, and may you never have the flood or the screw

Sam Olliso
Vaultboyhunter on MTGO

Next level Delver – Mezzel Delver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant links:

An interview with Mezzel


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


This is a link to the Walkthrough video itself: