There is always a weird lull for Pauper when a new set is released online. The spoiler hits and then the digital realm needs to dial up their patience
twice as long as those of matter. So while Journey into Nyx is slowly trickling into binary collections, the chances to test out some new toys are
still a few days off. At the same time, Pauper events are not firing at the same rate they were a month ago. This makes it a perfect time to try out some
new brews in the single-elimination or heads-up events. I just so happen to have a folder full of half-tested ideas that I can’t wait to try out and update
with some new cards.
Starting off, I have some new takes on my experiments from this article chronicling my poor take on the
breakout deck from Pro Tour: Gatecrash.
I have gone back to this deck rather often in the past year. While I don’t think I enjoy sacrificing a creature as much as Sam Black, it’s close. This
build was heavily influenced by Sam’s article on focused deckbuilding. Every so often I will strip this
deck down to its bare bones and rebuild it as mono-monsters.
The above list is surprisingly effective for being comprised entirely of creatures and lands. Viscera Dragger and Blind Hunter provide a decent amount of
reach while Kor Skyfisher and Safehold Elite give the deck an odd style of card advantage. Going maximum on Viscera Seer gives a much needed second free
sacrifice outlet. If I were to keep going with this list I would consider some actual removal – maybe Ghastly Demise or Tragic Slip.
Following the same principles found in “Sideboard Lightning Bolt,”
this deck really wants to exploit Cloudfin Raptor. Phyrexian Broodlings acts as a second Carrion Feeder, but the activation cost makes that a distant
second. The work I did on blue-black Tortured Existence leads me to believe
that this deck definitely wants Mulldrifter and Stinkweed Imp. At that point, though, it probably wants to just be a Tortured Existence deck.
As is, this deck could have problems punching through. As it’s lacking the Blind Hunters of its black and white cousin, adding Silent Departure or plain
old Unsummon makes sense. So do the same cheap removal spells of Ghastly Demise and Tragic Slip.
This deck evolved out of the blue-red control decks popular a few months ago. At that time I
became enamored with what I saw as a new leap in Pauper deck construction, the Guildgate and Compulsive Research combination. While the Guildgate would
represent a big tempo hit early, tapping out for Compulsive Research on turn three is one of the most powerful plays out there in the world of commons.
These decks would make up for this start with strong endgames and cheap removal spells (see Flame Slash).
Originally this deck started with the Ravnica standout and slowly incorporated different elements of the Trinket Mage/Squadron Hawks decks that
pop up from time to time. As I played the deck more and more it was obvious that Mulldrifter was a better option in this build, as it had utility at two
points on the curve. The rest of the deck is designed for a long game with Cenn’s Enlistment helping to overwhelm late defenses.
The long game proved awesome, but it made the early game tough. As Pauper is a format where games are won and lost in the first three turns, it became hard
to find a way to get this deck to survive to a point where it could find its footing. It might be only a few cards off and out of all of today’s brews it
is near the top of my list.
It could be saidthat I have a thing for big mana decks in Pauper. When
Cloudpost was removed the Urza Tron became the go to mana engine. The main issue with Tron is that it takes up four extra slots in a deck over the
Cloudpost engine, and this in turn makes colored commitments far more taxing. The current stripe of RUG Tron attempts to bypass this with Chromatic Star
and similar cards. My plan is to just find one color and see if it works. My first attempt was a mono-red list that tried to use Arc Lightning and Firebolt
as a way to recoup card economy. In lieu of drawing cards, Wayfarer’s Bauble gave the deck some extra speed towards an endgame. Ill-Tempered Cyclops is a
decent finisher that was easy on the mana requirements.
Sadly, this deck was too much “cool thing” and not enough “finely tuned weapon.” Swirling Sandstorm, arguably the reason to build the deck, was awesome
when it was cast for full value. Turning it on, though, was the problem.
- 2 Twisted Abomination
- 3 Phyrexian Rager
- 2 Mournwhelk
- 1 Bloodrite Invoker
- 1 Ulamog's Crusher
- 1 Basilica Screecher
A much better Tron deck (this one can actually draw cards), the mono-black build has way more play than its mountainous relative. With multiple cards that
had function on different points of the game, including Twisted Abomination, Mournwhelk, and Bloodrite Invoker, Black Tron is able to keep itself in the
game. The deck is incredibly good at destroying options. Mindstab is a potent weapon and in this deck it can either be suspended or hard cast; try stopping
it with Spellstutter Sprite and see what happens. Read the Bones shines in this deck, but it also makes Pristine Talisman a necessity.
Pristine Talisman is an underappreciated card. While it is rather poor at actual acceleration, it can help keep a control deck in the game by buoying a
life total while helping to deploy answers. When I am putting together slower decks that want more mana late in the game, I always try to find a spot for
two copies of Pristine Talisman and I am rarely disappointed. It may very well be better as a sideboard option in a field full of Delver decks, and in that
case it probably isn’t a high-enough impact card to warrant a slot.
The downfall with this deck is that it needs to run the perfect suite of answers. Unlike RUG Tron, which just powers out threats, this deck wants to
actually play the control game. The flexibile slots, the removal and discard, need to change with a dynamic metagame. As such, the core is solid, but the
outer layers need some serious attention. But man, I do love stabbing some minds.
The least tested list presented today, Simic Teachings tries to overcome the lack of a color friendly big mana engine. Without Cloudpost to help power it
out, Mystical Teachings has fallen by the wayside due to the rather hefty mana investment. The above list attempts to mitigate that with ramp. No, more
ramp than that.
Is that a Coiling Oracle?
This list is intentionally pushed towards providing a ton of mana and needs some serious attention. The best part of it, by far, is being able to tutor
elephants. Elephant Ambush is a surprisingly good threat if you can ever flash it back (something this deck is certainly capable of accomplishing). That
being said there is far too much ramp. I could see cutting the Search for Tomorrows or Coiling Oracles entirely. If that is the cast, adding Font of
Fertility might make sense. The list also wants a card like Cloaked Siren for an additional threat. However, the more creatures that get added the more
likely it is to want a copy of Grim Harvest. Like other control lists, the mix of answers needs to be tweaked regularly. I’m confident in the shell, but as
I said, it needs more practice battles.
Proposed Pauper Deck
Proposed Pauper Deck
Not too long ago, Domain Zoo was a popular tier two choice for
Pauper events. I really liked how powerful the combination of Nylea’s Presence and Tribal Flames felt and wanted to find another shell. I also felt that
Madcap Skills and the Hexproof creatures were made for each other. This deck is the unholy offspring of those ideas. While incredibly raw, this deck can
have some potent draws.
First off, leading with a Wild Nacatl into Nylea’s Presence is probably the best non-blue opening available. The ability to follow this up with a Madcap
Skills or additional threats can put some serious pressure on an opponent. Other one-two combinations include Gladecover Scout into Madcap Skills into
Nylea’s Presence and Wild Nacatl.
Aura Gnarlid ties everything together, growing with each aura. Lightning Bolt is simply a good card, as is Rancor. Tribal Flames, though, makes this deck
something special. With Nylea’s Presence active the heat is on whoever is playing defense. Five damage is a lot and getting an adversary to ten is not hard
with this build. Nylea’s Presence and Tribal Flames makes this deck worth pursuing further, it just needs to be more consistent.
Seven brews, one for each day of the week. Despite a relatively established metagame, there is still plenty of deck design space left to be explored in the
world of commons. Let me know which of these lists is your favorites and I’ll work harder to make it something real in the future.