Posting Up In Pauper

If you want to play a control deck in Pauper, Alex recommends Izzet Post. He explains the deck’s game plan and provides a matchup guide to get you started.

It must be entertaining to people unfamiliar with Pauper that a format of all commons is allowed access to more powerful cards than a format like Modern. This is not an apples to apples comparison, seeing as how Wizards is closely monitoring Modern to craft the format. This is not the case with Pauper. So while Modern has to make do with Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand, Pauper gets the big guns of Ponder and Preordain. While Modern has the Urzatron, Pauper gets Cloudpost and the Locus Engine.

Cloudpost is currently the best end game in Pauper. This is due in large part to Mystical Teachings. Teachings requires a significant amount of mana to take over a game, which Cloudpost provides easily. While these two cards have existed in Pauper for years, it was not until the release of Glimmerpost that the strategy really caught on. Glimmerpost provides the necessary defense against aggressive decks, allowing the control player to undo attacks for the investment of a land drop. Since control decks like playing land, this is a win-win scenario. This is key in helping Izzet Post to survive long enough to allow its other tools to come online.

All Izzet Post decks can be broken down into these key elements: mana, defense, card draw, and end game. With that in mind, here is my current list:


It should be apparent that all Post decks run the full suite of Loci. Beyond that, there is no consensus. I am in favor of 24 land, as I never want to miss a land drop. While other decks tend to run 23, I have opted for an additional land, which in this case is an Izzet Boilerworks. I like Boilerworks because it gives me access to an additional mana out of my lands while also letting me reuse a Glimmerpost.

Izzet Guildgate is vital. In a fast format, you never want to be wanting for one of your colors. Some other pilots use more Guildgates in their deck and have heavier mana requirements (running cards such as Counterspell). I do not like losing to my land draws, and even with access to Prophetic Prism, I do not want to have to rely on having UU open.


I am light on counterspells since so few spells actually matter against this deck. The only matchups where counters matter are against Delver Blue and control mirrors. Since the dominant control deck in the format is based on Cloudpost, I have decided to fight those decks on the mana metric rather than counter wars.

While Counterspell is the best, I am a fan of the combination of Prohibit and Condescend. Prohibit counters a huge swath of spells in Pauper. Casting it with kicker is not a problem in this deck. Condescend is incredibly powerful. Not only are you able to cast it at nearly any time (it scales very well with you mana engine), but scrying away excess lands or unwanted end game spells is huge. Condescend might be my favorite spell in the deck because it does almost everything. While it can be a liability against other big mana decks, it still has utility in the early game.

Flame Slash is one of the best one-mana removal spells available. While it is a sorcery, it kills just about everything in the format. Four is the magic number for toughness thanks to Spire Golem and Razor Golem, so it makes sense that Burst Lighting is one of my Tutor targets. Magma Spray is in this list as an option for taking out pesky Rats (or Stinkweed Imp) for good. Electrickery is rarely a dead card and is so vital to fight swarm decks that it is worth it to have dead slots against control decks in game 1.

Serrated Arrows is perfect in Izzet Post. It is usually a three-for-one, and in conjunction with Ghostly Flicker or Capsize, it can take out a whole army. It is possible that as swarm decks die down, you will want a second set of Arrows main. If this is the case, move one Electrickery to the sideboard.

Card Draw

Mulldrifter is one of the best creatures in the format. Unlike Delver, Izzet Post can expect to cast the flying fish. Like Serrated Arrows, the inclusion of Ghostly Flicker and Capsize make Mulldrifter more attractive. The other form of pure card draw in this list is Deep Analysis. Some people prefer Mysteries of the Deep, but that requires quite a bit of set up. Since I have reduced the number of counterspells, I favor Deep Analysis since it will net three cards at best and trades for two spells at its worst. Sea Gate Oracle is a fine blocker that also helps to improve the quality of your draw, similar to Condescend.

The big divergence in the list above from many others is Ponder over Preordain. I started by running Preordain, as I was more interested in sculpting my draws. However, after discussing the deck with Mitch Foley, he convinced me to try Ponder. I was not disappointed. Preordain is a great card that lets you set up your draws. However, Izzet Post does already does that with Condescend. This deck wants to see as many cards as possible, and Ponder will let you see a maximum of four cards. If I were running a different counterspell instead of Condescend, I could see myself going with Preordain to fill the filter role.

Mystical Teachings is not draw, but the Tutor helps hold the deck together. Teachings helps to fetch key cards for answers or for the end game. While some decks have gone down to two copies, I prefer three to chain more Teachings into my graveyard. Graveyard hate is sporadic at best in Pauper, so loading up your yard with Teachings is a fine way to keep some cards in your back pocket.

End Game

Games with Izzet Post end in one of three ways: Capsize lock, Mulldrifter beats, or a lethal Rolling Thunder. Many decks run an Ulamog’s Crusher, but that is a win more card. Izzet Post has the tools to fight every other deck in the format, and Crusher does nothing except accelerate a win. At the point in the game where you can cast your one Eldrazi, Izzet Post should be so far ahead on cards and options that the game is already locked up.

Mnemonic Wall and Ghostly Flicker are a fantastic way to reach the end game. With Wall on the battlefield, Ghostly Flicker allows you to gain an arbitrarily large about of life with Glimmerpost or draw numerous cards with a Mulldrifter. An argument can be made for two Flickers, but with three copies of Mystical Teachings, I am comfortable with one.

As far as Capsize goes, locking an opponent with one is probably the least fun way to win a game of Magic, but it is quite effective. You never want to attempt to lock until you can easily bounce two permanents per turn (and still are able to defend with a counter). If you are ever able to return three permanents a turn, you have already won. Just make sure to have a threat on board so you don’t get timed out.

Even though Rolling Thunder is a kill card, do not be afraid to use it early to clear out some creatures. As the game goes long, you will draw a Mnemonic Wall to get it back. It is possible to win without Thunder, but it is not possible to win without any life.

Playing Izzet Post requires patience. I am naturally biased towards playing aggressive decks, so the first few games I played with the above list were a challenge. I was killing threats on sight and trying to stitch together enough spells in the midgame to help me survive until I could win. This was a recipe for failure. Once I started holding my removal and counters for the spells that actually mattered, I my wins increased.

The key is to rely on Glimmerpost. Against beatdown, the Scars of Mirrodin land does so much work in undoing attacks. Holding Glimmerpost to gain three (or more) life helped me turn the tide in those matchups. Similarly, playing Glimmerpost before Cloudpost helped me gain an edge against control (by giving a mana advantage). If something is not going to kill you, let it survive until it does. Save your counters for the spells you have to stop and Izzet Post can win any late game.

Be aware of the clock! If there is one defense of Ulamog’s Crusher, it is that it can end games quickly. The Capsize lock can be a click intensive way to win, so learn how to cycle through the motions at a clean and rapid pace so you are able to win with either Mulldrifter or Rolling Thunder.

Being a control deck means that Izzet Post needs to have answers to the decks in the format. As such, the list has to evolve with the meta. Here is a matchup guide for the above list and the current expected metagame.

Delver Blue

Izzet Post has a slight edge in the first game. Delver can get an aggressive start with Phantasmal Bear and Delver of Secrets, but your creatures are able to block and trade. Spellstutter Sprite cannot counter most of your spells, but it can take care of Flame Slash, which is your main answer to Spire Golem and Frostburn Weird. Once you get to the late game and have exhausted their counterspells, you can overwhelm them with Mystical Teachings, Capsize, and Rolling Thunder.

-1 Magma Spray, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Mystical Teachings, -2 Electrickery, -1 Ponder

+4 Pyroblast, +2 Serrated Arrows

In sideboarded games, you need to be wary of Curse of the Bloody Tome, as that can win the long game rather easily. Serrated Arrows helps keep their threats off the table, and Pyroblast gives you more fuel for counter wars.

Temporal Storm

This deck has a similar game plan to you (trying to cast a version of Cyclonic Rift). Like with previous Storm decks, it is key to find the choke point. This deck requires an Archaeomancer or Mnemonic Wall to combo off, so use your counters and burn to keep them off the board.

-2 Electrickery, -1 Serrated Arrows, -1 Magma Spray, -2 Flame Slash, -1 Prophetic Prism

+4 Pyroblast, +2 Nihil Spellbomb, +1 Negate

If they are using Overgrowth and Fertile Ground to generate mana, side out Deep Analysis, a second Prism, and Negate for three copies of Earth Rift

Games 2 and 3 are about denying them any chance to start the combo. Pyroblast pulls double duty, countering their defensive spells and killing key combo pieces.


If they play out their hand early, you are in trouble. Your goal in game 1 is to do whatever you can to keep Frogmite and Myr Enforcer off the board. These are key cards in chaining together big turns. Use Prohibit on a Spring-Leaf Drum if at all possible because taking away that option can stall their development. Do what you can to stay above eight life since double Galvanic Blast for the kill is a real option. If they are playing Atog, do not be afraid to use removal spells to take it out, and play around Fling.

-2 Electrickery

+1 Ancient Grudge, +1 Serrated Arrows

Sideboarded games are similar to game 1. If you saw Galvanic Blast or Atog, you could side in Pyroblast for some copies of Condescend, as that spell is largely useful against Affinity in the long game (which is yours to dominate anyway).


One of your better matchups. Glimmerpost does great work in keeping your life total out of range of the little red men. Block early to keep your life total high enough before you start taking out their army.

-1 Electrickery, -1 Prophetic Prism

+2 Serrated Arrows

Serrated Arrows is your best card against Goblins, helping to neutralize Mogg Raider and Goblin Sledder and also taking out various other creatures. Hydroblast is an option but is not required. Their main counter for your spells is Pyroblast, which does not hit any of your business cards in this matchup.


Similar to Goblins, you want to keep your life total high; block early and often. Unlike Goblins, Stompy does not have burn, so it is easier to stabilize at a lower life total. Flame Slash is slightly worse in this matchup thanks to Rancor (but is still very good).

-2 Electrickery

+2 Serrated Arrows

Serrated Arrows helps to neutralize the effectiveness of pump spells. Sticking one is usually enough to swing the tide in your favor; the second makes it nearly impossible for them to win.


They like to play the attrition game, but Deep Analysis and Mystical Teachings do not mind being discarded. They can overwhelm you with a sequential Rat draw, but if you survive the midgame, your mana and Tutoring help you take over.

-2 Electrickery

+2 Serrated Arrows

Serrated Arrows is key in keeping their army manageable. Do not use the artifact to kill ground creatures; just keep them at one toughness for Sea Gate Oracle. Mystical Teachings and Deep Analysis do a ton of work in games 2 and 3 as well, helping to recoup card advantage from their extra discard. Unlike other matchups, it is okay to hold Prophetic Prism here as Rat food.

White Weenie

This deck is largely creatures designed to do well against other creatures. Unfortunately for them, their creatures are not as good against your lands and spells. Electrickery handles most of the threats, and Flame Slash takes care of the rest. Many of these decks pack Prismatic Strands main, so avoid casting a game ending Rolling Thunder if they have ability to cast the Fog.

-1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Mystical Teachings

+2 Serrated Arrows

You want to do everything to kill their creatures, and Arrows is quite good at that.

Aura Aggro

A new addition to the Pauper metagame (predating Modern and Standard by a few days), Aura Aggro operates on a similar principle to its powered format cousins: stick auras on a hexproof creature and go to town. This is a tough matchup. The deck’s entire game plan is to sidestep your removal and overwhelm you before you can establish an end game. Your goal is to block and survive until your big spells take over.

-1 Deep Analysis, -1 Mystical Teachings

+2 Serrated Arrows

Cloudpost Mirror

These games come down to mana superiority. You absolutely want to stick the first Cloudpost and have access to the mana engine first. These games come down to who Blinks first. Deep Analysis is key because it allows you to split your card advantage over two turns. Being able to get the Capsize lock first is huge, allowing you to set your opponent back significantly. If they hit Capsize first, do not worry. One trick is to use Ghostly Flicker to fizzle their Capsize on your land.

-2 Electrickery, -1 Magma Spray, -1 Burst Lightning, -3 Flame Slash, -1 Serrated Arrows, -1 Prophetic Prism

+3 Earth Rift, +2 Hydroblast, +1 Negate, +3 Pyroblast

Games 2 and 3 are about maintaining a mana advantage. Earth Rift is your best weapon (and Hydroblast is great for fighting their land destruction). Being on the play is incredibly important. Protect your mana at all costs—it is the key to victory. Save your counters for their counters or Stone Rain effects. If you are against the Dimir version, you should be advantaged since they lack the land destruction needed to dominate the mirror. The Izzet Mirror comes down to who loses more Cloudposts.

Cloudpost is the defining card for control decks in Pauper. The mana provided by this land helps power insane end game plays. If sitting on spells and making your opponent sweat and wonder "do they have it?" before cautiously tapping lands appeals at all to you, then Izzet Post is likely the stack of commons you want to be playing with. Because if they ask that question, the answer with Izzet Post is always, "Yes."

Keep slingin’ commons-


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An Introduction to Pauper

The Complete Pauper Pricelist

The Colors of Pauper: