Pauper Daily Event Breakdown #2: September 27-28

We’re back! Thanks for the good feedback last week; I’m enjoying doing this series and I’m glad y’all are getting something out of it too. I’m also happy to fill in some content on Fridays as well (a slow day for Pauper writing, generally); but we could always use more authors. If that’s you, get in touch.

Alright, let’s check out the Pauper metagame last weekend!

 

And here is the breakdown by archetype:

pauper-de-analysis-sept-27-28

Links to the events on wizards.com: September 27 | September 28

Metagame Analysis

So the week before, Delver + MBC + Familiars equaled just under 50% of the metagame. Those three decks. This week it’s closer to 32%. What does that mean? Well, a slightly healthier, more balanced metagame, at least for the week, and more variety of decks for us to check out. It also means fewer Familiar Combo decks which is awesome because, honestly, fuck that deck.

White Weenie and Hexproof continue to be at the top of the stack and continue to be represented by very divergent lists.

For WW, AndreyS continues to be awesome. Running 4x [c]Order of Leitbur[/c] in the main is a big middle finger to MBC, and I love it. I ran this list against MBC in League and got demolished, though, so I think it is fair to say that pilot skill is a major factor. Skill and experience. If you want to win with any list, you need to practice, practice, practice. Then, when you’re done practicing, practice some more. It makes all the difference.

Naga_tsuki keeps doing well with WW Tokens, which is what I want to try next, if mostly because it has new, shiny Pauper tech ([c]Triplicate Spirits[/c] / [c]Battle Screech[/c]), and I love shiny. Also for WW, returning after a long hiatus, is former WW master, Torreth, who went 3-1 on Sunday, trampling over me and my Goblins in the process. Glad we could help.

For Hexproof, we’ve got three different pilots winning with three different lists. Meltiin went 3-1 again this weekend with his [c]Kor Skyfisher[/c] / card draw Hexproof engine, a list I really want to try out. Joannesp also continues to do well week after week with this list, which I call “all over the place” but which obviously has a method to its madness. [c]Rofellos’s Gift[/c] in the SB seems pretty awesome. Finally, Jikker_T went 3-1 on Saturday with what I would call the “traditional” Hexproof list.

Also this week, briefly, we saw more UR Delver / UR Control, more Tron, a Stompy list AND an Elves list (go green weenies!), and two neat rogue lists which I’ll cover more in a minute.

In my article last week, I suggested running decks that go under or over MBC; win early or outlast. I know it’s not my influence, but we did see an uptick in BorosKitty and Goblins lists this week, which I think it awesome. I love both those decks. PatrickJ wins with Boroskitty pretty much every weekend, and this time around we also saw Gui_BR win back-to-back events on Saturday and Sunday. Rockin’.

Rogues of the Week: Spy and Dredge

1-Land Spy never had its heydey, though it did garner some interest. Developed chiefly by David Shaffer (Shaffawaffa5) and obZen (with notable work by Tom the Scud and Oninaka, among others), it is a remarkable demonstration of community deck-building in practice. David talks about it more in depth in his article on MTGOStrat, JustSin highlighted it on MTGO Academy, and you can also pick up threads on Salvation and PDCMagic.

There is plenty to read about the deck, but it’s more fun to watch it go off on turn one:

 

Arnaud went 3-1 with the list on Saturday, making him my new, official, Magic hero this week.

Nice job, Arnaud!

[d title=”1-Land Spy, 3-1 by Arnaud (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Blood Celebrant
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Elvish Aberration
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Manaforge Cinder
1 Mnemonic Wall
2 Pit Keeper
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
3 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
2 Manamorphose
2 Morgue Theft
4 Songs of the Damned

Sideboard
4 Exhume
4 Faithless Looting
3 Scattershot Archer
4 Ulamog’s Crusher [/d]

Arnaud’s list is different than any of those listed, but seems to take inspiration from some of the discussion on Salvation, and includes a transformative Exhume + Crusher SB for, if not a t1 kill, probably a t1 Concession from the opponent if you go off.

I’m less familiar with the provenance of the other rogue list this week, something I called Gruul Dredge Aggro, but which probably has a snappier name. Here is the list which Sssight took to 3-1 on Saturday.

[d title=”Gruul Dredge Aggro, 3-1 by Sssight (Pauper)”]
Land
6 Forest
4 Gruul Guildgate
2 Khalni Garden
8 Mountain

Creatures
2 Ghitu Slinger
4 Golgari Brownscale
4 Granger Guildmage
2 Leafcrown Dryad
3 Nacatl Outlander
4 Nightshade Peddler
4 Tin Street Hooligan
3 Yavimaya Barbarian

Spells
4 Burst Lightning
2 Electrickery
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Moldervine Cloak

Sideboard
1 Electrickery
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Raze
3 Relic of Progenitus
1 Reverent Silence
2 Stone Rain [/d]

This is an interesting list. I want to call it weird, but that seems rude when, with a 3-1, it obviously has some merit. It looks like it is crafted against Delver, Familiar Storm, and all things Blue with its 6x pro-blue dudes, but I’m not entirely sure how it beats MBC. [c]Nightshade Peddler[/c] is awesome with [c]Granger Guildmage[/c] and even works with [c]Ghitu Slinger[/c], and it’s a card I haven’t seen used much since Po Dragons. If you have any further insight into this list, send it my way. I’d love to better understand what makes it tick.

Suggestions for this weekend

Going over or under decks like MBC is still a good suggestion. White Weenie is seeing success because it is good against MBC with [c]Order of Leitbur[/c] in the main, strong against other creature strategies, and also really annoys Delver. Try any of the lists above; WW Tokens seems especially fun and resilient against edict effects. Otherwise my suggestions remain more or less the same: Boroskitty, Goblins, Burn, or Teachings are all still strong. Results suggest that Hexproof might work as well, but I find it to be hit-or-miss. Of course, if you’re really brave, you’ll give Spy a shot. Who doesn’t want to win before their opponent even gets to take a turn?

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and I hope it was useful. Remember to leave comments if you have a minute, both on videos and articles; they are like the manna from which author’s draw sustenance.

Until next time, may you always remember to play around [c]Tendrils of Corruption[/c] by putting down your [c]Goblin Sledder[/c] first.

/bava

1-Land Spy Tournament Report and Deck Discussion

balustrade-spy

This last weekend I participated in an 8-man tournament put on by JustSin over at MTGOAcademy. I convinced my fellow brewer obZen to join too. We both played 1-land Spy. While ultimately we were both taken down by the same Delver pilot, we both prized and both had some pretty cool stories to tell. I will start with a little recap, and then delve deep into the inner workings of the deck.

While obZen brought a slightly different deck than me, this is roughly the list we both played:

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

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Anarchist
3 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Guardian

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
2 Destroy the Evidence
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Manamorphose
2 Morgue Theft
4 Songs of the Damned
3 Springleaf Drum
Sideboard
2 Basking Rootwalla
4 Duress
1 Flaring Pain
4 Fog
3 Ingot Chewer
1 Crypt Rats [/d]

Tournament Report

In round one, I played against Trinket Control. Trinket plays out a lot like playing against monoB, except they don’t have [c]Gray Merchant[c]/ so you don’t have to worry too much about opposing life gain. While they do run [c]Augur of Skulls[/c], their discard suite is not as difficult to deal with either. So game one I had a considerable amount of time, but could not find a [c]Land Grant[/c]. Eventually I realized that I could try to go off despite not having the land.

What you need to do when you don’t have the land is you have to spy yourself twice. Since my last article, obZen and I have adopted a lot of the Oninaka list that I posted in my last article. We are running 2x [c]Morgue Theft[/c], [c]Anarchist[/c], and [c]Songs of the Damned[/c]. At this particular time I had a Morgue Theft in the graveyard, and both a songs and a [c]Conjurer’s Bauble[/c] in hand. I figured if I could [c]Balustrade Spy[/c] myself into another Balustrade Spy I’d probably have enough creatures to songs for an additional 7 mana required to fight through the land.

I was successful.

(1-0)

Game two my opponent mulled to four and did very little besides get out an Island and a Swamp. Now unlike most decks, if my opponent mulls a bunch that could be very bad for me, because they may be mulling into countermagic. That’s exactly what happened here – I got Negated. But since I had won game 1, and Trinket usually doesn’t run [c]Negate[/c], I figured I’d make him show it to me before I brought in [c]Duress[/c].

(1-1)

At this point I realized that my opponent was on the mull to Negate plan, so I brought in all four Duress. My opponent again mulled, but this time I believe it was just once. I got a pretty quick start with [c]Springleaf Drum[/c], [c]Land Grant[/c], and two [c]Tinder Wall[/c]. After my opponent passed turn 3 without playing a land, and I had not drawn a Duress,I realized it was time to switch plans.

My opponent’s plan was to just sit on [c]Negate[/c]. But he only had two land. So I did what any sane 1-land combo player would do, and I started going into beat down mode. I cast Street Wraith, Simian Spirit Guide, and Balustrade Spy targeting my opponent. I even retained a Tinder Wall in order to play around edicts. My opponent was still on three lands by the time the team swung sideways for lethal.

(2-1)

obZen’s opponent was on turbofog, and while that is probably a bye for 1-land combo, it was a super bye, because obZen’s opponent apparently DCed into oblivion.

(4-1)

The next round I played against Delver, and there is not much to say there. It is hard to beat counter magic decks, but Delver is the most challenging because they also apply pressure. A couple of Delver flips later, and I’m out of the tournament.

(4-3)

But this is where obZen’s story gets cool. 1-land spy can go off quickly. I’ve even turn 1’ed before with the Songs of the Damned win. In round 2 obZen showed a Tron player the meaning of going off quickly. He was able to go off on turn two twice. Game one, the opposing Tron player got to play a tron piece and a trinket, before obZen killed him.

Game 2 his opponent was on the play, so he got to cast a few more things, but again obZen T-2ed. The Songs of the Damned win condition makes the list really robust, and I’ll go into it more below.

(6-3)

obZen almost had a T-1 against the Delver opponent. But this Delver player’s ability to flip a turn on Delver every game made it exceptionally difficult to win.

(6-5)

So overall we went just slightly better than .500. But we managed to string enough wins together to make 6 tickets between the two of us in this free tournament. We also got a lot of people excited about the list. Since [c]Empty the Warrens[/c], [c]Grapeshot[/c], and [c]Invigorate[/c] got banned turn two wins just don’t happen anymore. obZen did it twice.

Discussing the Deck

Community Involvement

So what is the Oninaka win? Why are we playing Anarchist, Songs of the Damned, and 2x Morgue Theft? When JustSin told me about Oninaka playing the list in a daily, I watched his videos and he would get up to 5 mana when his Forest was in play. Then he would cast Balustrade Spy, targeting himself, of course. With the last mana he would cast Songs of the Damned, making 25 mana, because all of his creatures are in the graveyard. Then he would Morgue Theft back, both Blood Celebrant, and Mnemonic Wall. Next he would cast Blood Celebrant, convert a black mana to a blue mana, and cast Mnemonic Wall targeting Haunting Misery, and Misery his opponent for the win. It was a bit convoluted, but resulted in fast wins.

After playing the deck a little bit I realized we could switch Mnemonic Wall out for Anarchist and add Manaforge Cinder over Blood Celebrant to save some life. But then after a couple of test runs, obZen informed me that we could just get back a Simian Spirit Guide with Morgue Theft. There was no longer a need for two new creatures for this combo.

I believe Oninaka and his friends took our list and improved upon it. We then took Oninaka’s list and further improved upon it. This process has taught me that the community brews better than any individual.

Other people have worked on this list too. As I mentioned in my last article, I started working on this list before spy even came out. It is a cool card, and this deck is a rough port of the Legacy deck “Ooops All Spells”, and “ManaLess Dredge” has run Spy in the past as well. People have come up with this idea independently of me, and I’m not surprised. I am pleased.

In the last article Tom The Scud pointed me in the direction of a PDCMagic page that details his work on the list. In the thread other people chime in with other ideas on how to tweak the deck as well. It is a real community experience, and a good read.

I encourage you to pick up the deck and try to figure out a solution to one of the remaining problems.

The Problems

As the tournament report suggests, countermagic is still difficult. obZen has been running 4x Pyroblast, and 4x Duress in his sideboard. I’m not sure we’ll ever get around this problem, but I encourage you to hit it head on. Maybe you can figure out some way to get around blue mages.

Another problem is life gain. My list runs 25 creatures. That means that if I go for the Oninaka Anarchist win, I will have to use at least one Simian Spirit Guide, one Balustrade Spy, and Anarchist.

These all subtract from our final Haunting Misery count. If we go this route our maximum damage is 22. I actually made a mistake earlier this week when I took this list to a daily. I had a few creatures stuck in my hand, and took out a creature for my 4x Duress. As a result, I could only zap my opponent for 19. This illustrates that 20 damage is hard enough sometimes, imagine if your opponent goes Kabira Crossroads into Lone Missionary.

obZen has tried to mitigate the impact of lifegain by adding a singleton copy of Crypt Rats to the sideboard. Assuming he can float a red mana somewhere, obZen can go for the Oninaka win but use a Morgue Theft on Crypt Rats. The Crypt Rats can use the remaining black mana to do additional damage, while wiping your board, and thereby increasing your final Misery Count.

While the Crypt Rats plan is nice, it doesn’t allow you to win via Conjurer’s Bauble. This is still a problem that hopefully one of you can figure out.

The third problem is still inconsistency. I’ve won on turn 1, obZen won back to back games on turn 2, but the deck is still inconsistent. We’ve tried Gitaxian Probe, Read the Bones, and Sign in Blood. But we’ve ditched all of these overtime. I need your help to figure out some form of increased consistency that doesn’t require life loss.

If you look at the comments on the link Tom the Scud posted you’ll see that user FlxEx said “I can’t imagine playing less than 4 Gitaxian Probe is correct.” Well the more I play this deck the more I am convinced FlxEx is totally wrong. While Gitaxian Probe costs no mana it is not free in our deck. It takes up two valuable resources.

  1. Our primary resource is life. We only have 20 of it, and so using 10% of your life to draw a card is not worth it, when your opponent is trying to kill you before you go off.
  2. It takes away from the creature count. This is why Street Wraith is still in the deck. This deck is 60 cards and 1 land, but sometimes it is hard to fit everything you need into the list. You need a lot of creatures to make this deck work, and if you play Gitaxian Probe you lose 4 potential creature slots.

In short, life loss in exchange for cards seems like a good idea on paper, but when you’re playing against burn you’d almost rather just say go than give them 2 damage so you can cycle.

The benefits

This deck has plenty of benefits. First, it is really fun to play. It is not every day that you play a deck with one land and feel like you can win. Second, you can beat any deck that doesn’t pack excessive lifegain or countermagic. This means with a bit of luck you can beat any aggressive strategy, Tron, mono-black, and Trinket Control. Third, it rewards people as blessed as Oninaka.

When I asked Oninaka why he was playing the deck he responded with three words. He wrote back “I’m very lucky.” If you’re more lucky than good, then maybe this deck is for you too.