Pureblade – A Primer

Puresteel Paladin is not a deck to be underestimated, having put both Nate Pease and Caleb Durward consistently into the top of the standings. Nate provides a matchup guide and decklist.

In Cincinnati, Caleb Durward shipped me a list for a brand new format. On paper the deck looks more like a slightly advanced draft deck, but I would beg to differ. I might even go as far as saying it’s one of the best decks in the format—if not the best. I’ve been playing ‘Pureblade’ since StarCityGames.com Open: Cincinnati, and I sleeved my Flayer Husks once again for a PTQ last weekend, to a heartbreaking 4th-place finish. I’ve had a higher success rate with this deck in sanctioned matches, 23-3-1, than any other deck I can remember.

In Cincinnati, Caleb, Joe Bernal, and I played close to a similar 75. I came in 12th, Caleb drew pretty poorly in the semis and came in fourth—and well… Joe played pretty badly. The list:

I love this deck because it plays at so many angles and has so many lines of play. The deck is kind of hard to play correctly but rewards a skilled pilot. Mortarpod is one of the most important cards in the deck, falling second only to the namesake—Puresteel Paladin. It effectively attacks a lot of different decks through their creature base—pinging Birds of Paradise, Squadron Hawks, Inkmoth Nexus, Lotus Cobra, and every creature in Tempered Steel. Combined with a Basilisk Collar, a Germ token can take any creature in the format.

A lot of people just instantly dismiss a deck playing Flayer Husk, but the cheap equipment holds its own. Quite often you find that combining a 1/1 token with any sword is a major threat and puts you far ahead. I can’t tell you how good it feels when your opponent pays four life and discards a card to kill your ‘0/0′ Germ token—especially if it cantripped. Sometimes against slow, controlling decks like U/B, casting a Trinket Mage and finding a Flayer Husk puts enough pressure on your opponent without overextending. With an active Puresteel Paladin, even a Flayer Husk or Mortarpod token can become a major threat when combined with swords and Basilisk Collar, especially for free.

It’s really hard to lose a game when your Paladin goes active. You gain so much mana, tempo, and card advantage at the same time, improving your board state. Be aware though that Puresteel Paladin has a huge target floating over its head, and keeping a shaky hand with the only action in your hand being a Paladin can often lead to a loss.

Etched Champion is a beating. A metalcrafted Champion equipped with a Sword of any sort should be lethal in a matter of turns—all while dodging removal and blockers. Dispatch is also fantastic in this deck, taking opponents by surprise. Even without metalcraft (which is unlikely), you can sometimes take games by tapping down a blocker and connecting with a sword.

Trinket Mage is an all-around team player. There are times where casting a Trinket Mage gives you two creatures, draws you a card, or simply finds the singleton Basilisk Collar or the Sylvok Lifestaff. Trinket Mage can also accel you with Mox Opal or turn on your metalcraft. Combined with a Paladin and a full board, Trinket Mage can fetch a Flayer Husk, cantrip it, equip it to a Mortarpod, and take out a creature and possibly gain you life with Lifestaff or Collar. That’s like a 5 for 1!


U/R Splinter Twin

This matchup is really good. Game one, you have pressure along with Dispatch, Spellskite, and Basilisk Collar/Mortarpod to fight their combo. Post-board, you have even more removal spells combined with countermagic. You literally just keep mana up and attack them to death with a Puresteel Paladin or an Etched Champion. Over a quarter of your deck are trump cards that each one-ups their combo.

-1 Kor Firewalker, -1 Sylvok Lifestaff,-2 Sword of War and Peace, -1 Sword of Body and Mind, -3 Trinket Mage, -2 Mortarpod

+ 3 Negate, +4 Dismember, +3 Flashfreeze

You don’t want to tap out past turn three against open mana. You side into the control deck. With eight removal spells, Spellskites, and countermagic—so stick a threat and ride it to victory.


Another good matchup. The deck relies on creatures that provide card advantage that just so happen to have one toughness. Your Mortarpods tear their creatures apart, and your swords make each creature you play a huge threat. The only card that they bring to the table is Gideon Jura. Without a Sword of War and Peace, an unanswered Gideon can give them the time and advantage to catch you from behind. Play around Day of Judgment and use discretion with casting your Paladins.

-1 Sylvok Lifestaff, -1 Kor Firewalker, -1 Sword of Body and Mind, -1 Dispatch

+ 3 Negate, + 1 Sword of War and Peace (Bring in Dismembers if they have Hero of Bladehold.)

You outdraw them with Puresteel Paladin, so make it stick when they’re tapped out. Negates are for their Day of Judgment and Gideon Jura—the only two relevant cards they have.

Mono Red

This matchup is slightly favorable. Spellskite, Sylvok Lifestaff, Sword of War and Peace, and the miser Kor Firewalker are really hard to beat for the red mage; however they can quickly just burn you out of the game if you have a slow draw. They have to waste their burn spells on your Paladins, and Mortarpod, Dispatch, and Flayer Husk buy you time and slow them down a lot. Mortarpod is essentially a time walk if played after a Grim Lavamancer, Goblin Bushwacker, or a Goblin Arsonist. Post-board you have access to another Sword of War and Peace and two more Kor Firewalkers. If they have Koth, you can bring in either Flashfreeze or Negate; Negate hits Shrine of Burning Rage and Dismember, but Flashfreeze takes out creatures. Negate allows Firewalker to stick around, so it’s usually my choice.

-2 Sword of Feast and Famine, -1 Sword of Body and Mind,

+ 2 Kor Firewalker, +1 Sword of War and Peace


Game one is hard to win without a ‘green’ Sword; they don’t really interact with you and just get a slew lands together in a rage and point them at your dome. The versions with Lotus Cobra are better for us, seeing that we can just blow them out with Mortarpod. Games two and three however are quite a breeze. Post-board you max out on Sword of Feast and Famine and sit back on your countermagic, while chipping away at their hand and their life total.

-1 Sylvok Lifestaff, -2 Sword of War and Peace, -2 Etched Champion, -2 Dispatch, -1 Trinket Mage

+2 Sword of Feast and Famine, +3 Flashfreeze, +3 Negate (You can bring in Dismember if they have Lotus Cobras.)


This matchup is pretty bad. They have a million removal spells, and their threats are recurring and fast. Mortarpod hits only Pulse Tracker effectively, and they even have Manic Vandal and Shatter effects for your swords. A Sword of Feast and Famine is your best bet to beating Vampires, but it’s a lot easier said than done against a deck with close to 20 ‘removal’ spells.

-1 Sword of Body and Mind, -1 Kor Firewalker

+2 Sword of Feast and Famine

I will be playing this deck for the next few weeks and hopefully in Pittsburgh, at Nationals, and in Chicago. I recommend this deck to anyone that wants to surprise their opponents with a deck that is under the radar. I think it might surprise you too…

Good luck, guys!