Paupers and Kings, Ep. 5: Soul Sisters

soul sisters

Hi everyone, and welcome to the fifth episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget.

How do you feel about gaining life in Magic? Sure, it’s handy against Burn, but most people who know about these things will tell you that gaining life doesn’t advance the game and it is, in general, a bad strategy. So how is it that we have these lists where lifegain is a major priority?

The trick, of course, is that lifegain can only be a part of the plan.

This week we are looking at Soul Sisters lists in Modern and Pauper.

The sisters in the spotlight are [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c]. Ignoring the fact that Attendant is a hopeless fraud of a healer (read her flavor text), these two lovely humans fit in nicely with a number of strategies that utilize lifegain to do broken things. Maybe not broken things, but pretty powerful things.

Let’s take a look, first, at our Modern list for the week.

Wary Soul Sisters

There are more “standard” mono-colored Soul Sisters lists in Modern, but meh. You’ve seen ’em, and I wanted to do something a little different and more fun. So instead of those we’re playing with a Boros build that abuses [c]Norin the Wary[/c] and [c]Champion of the Parish[/c], along with a bunch of lifegain, to make giant face-beaters and win the game. Here is the list we’re using, adapted from this list from Uota on Goldfish.

[d title=”Wary Soul Sisters by Uota (Modern)”]
9 Plains
4 Mountain
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Clifftop Retreat

4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Champion of the Parish
2 Mentor of the Meek
3 Norin the Wary
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Soul Warden
3 Soul’s Attendant
1 Legion Loyalist

4 Genesis Chamber

2 Return to the Ranks
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Path to Exile

1 Aven Mindcensor
2 Electrickery
2 Mark of Asylum
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Suppression Field
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Sowing Salt
2 Wear/Tear [/d]

The interactions are pretty straight-forward and hinge around getting Norin onto the board. Once he hits, he is bouncing in and out on all of your turns and usually on your opponents’ turns as well. This lets you:

  • Gain life with the soul sisters.
  • Grow your Champions (and Pridemates if you’re gaining life).
  • Create Myr tokens, duplicating any other benefits you may be receiving (except Champions).
  • Kill your opponent with Purphoros triggers.

Mentor of the Meek helps make sure you don’t run out of gas, while Legion Loyalist is tutorable via Ranger of Eos and enables you to swing in effectively once your army has gotten big and tough enough. Return to the Ranks provides some resilience to sweepers, while Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile clear out annoying threats across the table.

Wary Soul Sisters on a Budget

I sprung for some more expensive cards than I might, normally, because they are land and sideboard staples. [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] is, namely, a great card for most tribal lists, so I picked up a playset. It has the major added benefit of working around Chalice, which is otherwise a very strong piece of SB hate against all our one-drops. Still, the best place to start budgetizing lists is usually in the mana base. It has an impact, for sure, but you can still get the right lands and play your game without a hitch plenty of the time.

Ranger of Eos and Purphoros are both strong components of the list, but it kind of works without them, so you could save some money there. You will be missing out on tutors and wincons, though, so consider alternatives. More Mentors could come in to replace Ranger, and you could consider [c]Harsh Sustenance[/c] as a cheap wincon if you found a way to splash black.

[c]Condemn[/c] is my favorite budget alternative to Path and will do in a pinch.

Even as it stands the list is less than 150 tix. For the price, you’re not getting something as powerful as the U Tron list we looked at last week, but it can still blow out games and does quite well in certain match-ups. It is also very fun to play.

Now let’s check out our Pauper list this week.

Midnight Presence

If you watch videos on our YouTube channel at all, you will recognize this list from the Pauper Gauntlet, submitted by mad brewer, Aught3. While it packs the Midnight Guard / Presence of Gond combo in the list, it is more of a midrange list that stalls your opponent with lifegain, grows an army of saprolings, and then swings in for a massive alpha strike. Here is the list.

[d title=”Midnight Presence by Aught3 (Pauper)”]
4 Khalni Garden
3 Forest
4 Blossoming Sands
7 Plains
4 Selesnya Sanctuary

4 Midnight Guard
4 Pallid Mycoderm
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Veteran Armorer

4 Presence of Gond
3 Scatter the Seeds
4 Sprout Swarm
3 Spidersilk Armor

3 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Standard Bearer
3 Sunlance
1 Prismatic Strands [/d]

Along with stalling out via lifegain, the main Spidersilk Armors allow your creatures to get big and, along with the Veteran Armorers, give you good blocks to shut down your opponent’s offense. After that, it is just a matter of growing your army much, much, much larger than theirs, and then smashing in with a Pallid Mycoderm activation (or 2 or 3 or 4) to make your saproling tokens mean business.

You win with the combo from time to time as well, but Presence of Gond does good work on any creature you cast it on, while the Guard does a good job blocking things like Spire Golem that your 1/1s have an issue handling.

If you want to try something different in Pauper, I recommend taking this list for a spin. It is surprisingly strong against a lot of lists, but it does have some very bad matchups. MBC lists with edicts and discard aren’t too bad; MBC lists with direct removal and Pestilence / Crypt Rats are much harder. UR Control is a challenge. We probably just lose to Familiars. For competitive play, this deck does exactly what you don’t want to do in the current meta, it tries to be fair and play its own game. It gets punished for its efforts.

All the same, it’s a great deck for the practice room, and wins as much as it loses.

Here are the videos for this week’s lists.


I took Midnight Presence for a spin in a Pauper Daily Event. Those videos will be up on our YouTube channel soonish, so keep an eye out.

Next week on Paupers and Kings

I’m abusing combo elves for next week’s article, and it should be a ton of fun. As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that crossover formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your Norins ever be wary.


Faithless Looting #7: A Blessing of Leeches

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

I love collective nouns. Last weekend, at the beach, I saw a murmuration of starlings, which, if you’ve never seen one, is quite breathtaking. Other favorites include a parliament of owls, a murder of crows, and escargatoire of snails. There are lots of them.

Leeches, sadly, don’t seem to travel in packs, and have therefore never been collectively nouned. And so I like to think that this Magic card, [c]Blessing of Leeches[/c], with beautiful art by Rebecca Guay, is not just because one has been blessed but because, just maybe, a group of leeches could be called “a blessing.”

But more on all that in a bit. We have loot to give away, first!

Faithless Contest #6: Winner!

The contest last week was to find a good home for Heliod’s Pilgrim. I don’t know if we “broke” her, but there were definitely some innovative lists. I played a lot of them – four to be exact – and liked the direction each one had. I was looking at power level, at fun factor, and at how strong the Pilgrim felt in the overall game plan. Two decks had [c]Midnight Guard[/c] and [c]Presence of Gond[/c]. I played one and it did quite well, but that wasn’t the direction I really wanted to go. To me, Pilgrim wants a toolbox strategy more than a combo.

Heliod’s Curse, a Legacy (?) deck from berniematt, was very interesting, but I got a pretty bad match-up and felt like I didn’t have any outs with it, in the end.

Aught3 gave me UW Hexproof; an idea that I loved, but when my opponent played a [c]Standard Bearer[/c], I was unbelievably stymied.

It was BrocoLee’s deck that felt powerful and consistent; it acted like an aggro deck at the beginning and it had reach in the end, and my match-up was against UB Teachings, of all things, a deck that has been haunting me of late. It is for this reason that I am happy to declare BrocoLee the winner of Faithless Contest #5. Congratulations! You will receive two items, randomly selected, from my current Loot Crate stash.

Here is the winning decklist:

[d title=”Galvanic, by BrocoLee (Pauper)”]
4 Boros Guildgate
8 Plains
9 Mountain

4 Generator Servant
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Heliod’s Pilgrim
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Kor Skyfisher
3 Whitemane Lion

1 Bloodfire Infusion
1 Bravado
2 Dragon Mantle
1 Fire Whip
3 Galvanic Arc
1 Immolation
1 Ethereal Armor

4 Lightning Bolt
2 Apostle’s Blessing

1 Dizzying Gaze
2 Fire Whip
2 Boros Fury-Shield
1 Mask of Law and Grace
1 Shield of Duty and Reason
2 Latulla’s Orders
1 Guardian of the Guildpact
3 Obsidian Acolyte
2 Circle of Protection: Red [/d]

And videos of each deck I played:





Thanks to everyone who submitted decks! I loved playing four lists this week and will try and keep playing as many as I can (as time allows). Here are the rules for next week, contest #7.

Faithless Contest #7: Rules

1. Let’s call this week, Artist Wars. Pick an artist and play at least three of their cards in a budget list, any format.

2. Post it in the comments below. Tell me which artist you are highlighting and which format the deck is in.

3. Submissions due before Monday, September 22.


  • Decks should be “budget”, but otherwise may be for any format and as few or as many colors as you want.
  • The artist’s cards should be three different cards and should feature in the main-board of the deck. You can have as many copies as you want, but you get a bonus for multiples.
  • 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.

Bonus Contest!

blessing of leeches.crop

Deluxeicoff issued a challenge on Facebook. He says:

Challenge – design a Pauper deck that uses 4x [c]Blessing of Leeches[/c] as a centerpiece … if a list stands out as truly original/inspiring, I’ll give the winner a [c]Daze[/c].

I’ll add to his prize; if he picks a winner, I’ll also give them 2x [c]Firebolt[/c]. Daze is worth over $20 in MTGO, so that’s a hefty prize!

Faithless Decks #7: Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Dan launched into the second season of the Pauper Gauntlet this week, and ended up with 70-or-so decks he will be playing. Holy &^$%, I say! You can check ALL the lists out over in this post at MTGOLibrary, and while you’re there, pick one you think might win and “claim” it in the comments. You could win fabulous prizes!

Hey, we’re all about fabulous prizes around here.

I claimed UB Teachings because I think that deck is REALLY strong right now, but the funnest thing about the Gauntlet is really getting to see all the rogue decks in action. So today I’m going to highlight a couple lists I think look fun.

[d title=”Croca JUND by sammydeluxe”]
2 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
2 Golgari Guildgate
1 Gruul Guildgate
3 Mountain
3 Rakdos Guildgate
3 Swamp

2 Blastoderm
2 Borderland Ranger
3 Crocanura
2 Keldon Marauders
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
3 Putrid Leech
4 Werebear
1 Zhur-Taa Swine

2 Blightning
4 Chainer’s Edict
3 Edge of Autumn
2 Faithless Looting
2 Flame Slash
1 Pillar of Flame
2 Unearth

2 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Terminate

2 Ancient Grudge
2 Devour Flesh
3 Duress
1 Evincar’s Justice
2 Nature’s Claim
3 Pyroblast
2 Raze [/d]

Word on the street is that [c]Crocanura[/c] is the ‘Goyf of Pauper. What do you guys think?

[d title=”Thunder Trees by samo1977″]
2 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
3 Forgotten Cave
2 Haunted Fengraf
3 Mountain
2 Quicksand
2 Swamp
3 Tranquil Thicket

2 Krosan Tusker
2 Nantuko Vigilante
4 Tilling Treefolk
2 Twisted Abomination

4 Crop Rotation
2 Grim Harvest
3 Harrow
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Resounding Thunder

4 Firebolt
1 Flame Jab
1 Raven’s Crime
2 Swirling Sandstorm

3 Ancient Grudge
1 Grim Harvest
4 Pyroblast
1 Raven’s Crime
2 Serene Heart
2 Swirling Sandstorm
2 Terminate [/d]

Get a lot of land and then cycle [c]Resounding Thunder[/c] until your opponent is lying among the roots. I can get behind that strategy!

[d title=”White Hot Hottie, by jphsnake”]
6 Plains
5 Mountain
1 Island
1 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Evolving Wilds
2 Boros Garrison
2 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Terramorphic Expanse

4 Mulldrifter
3 Mournwhelk
3 Kor Skyfisher
3 Auramancer
2 Walker of the Grove

4 Angelic Renewal
3 Seal of Fire
1 Rush of Knowledge
4 Journey to Nowhere
4 Flame Slash
3 Darksteel Ingot
3 Cloudshift

1 Rush of Knowledge
4 Ingot Chewer
1 Kor Sanctifiers
3 Lone Missionary
4 Pyroblast
2 Faultgrinder [/d]

This was the inspiration for my final Lady of the Mountain list, part of our 24 decks of Christmas video series. Here was my list, just for kicks:

[d title=”Icy Hot Rakdos, by bava”]
4 Rakdos Carnarium
10 Snow-Covered Mountain
8 Snow-Covered Swamp

4 Faultgrinder
4 Mournwhelk
4 Goretusk Firebeast
4 Cinderhaze Wretch
4 Smokebraider

4 Skred
4 Undying Evil
4 Grinning Ignus
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Befoul

4 Ingot Chewer
4 Pyroblast
2 Nihil Spellbomb
4 Martyr of Ashes [/d]

Oh wait, that’s the wrong one. So I guess I made numerous lists based off of how much I like hotties. Here is the one I was thinking of, from this video:

[d title=”White Hot Hottie, Lady of the Mountain Edition, by bava”]
8 Snow-Covered Plains
8 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Evolving Wilds

4 Auramancer
4 Walker of the Grove
4 Mulldrifter
4 Aven Riftwatcher

4 Angelic Renewal
4 Journey to Nowhere
4 Abundant Growth
2 Prismatic Lens
4 Cloudshift
4 Seal of Fire
2 Darksteel Ingot

3 Ingot Chewer
3 Faultgrinder
4 Pyroblast
3 Mournwhelk
2 Lone Missionary [/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. Sorry I keep forgetting to include them!

Until next time, keep the faith!


Loot Crates: