Long live Pauper!
Well this is awkward.
Pauper is in a bit of a weird place right now for both players and writers alike. I won’t explain the Magic Online Scheduled Events situation in too much detail because I’m sure the vast majority of you already know what’s up.
For those of you that don’t, however (maybe you’ve been away from Magic Online for the past few weeks or like me have your share of embarrassingly oblivious moments), allow me to provide you with a couple of links straight from the centaur’s mouth.
This turn of events is hitting the Pauper format particularly hard. Other formats (like Standard for instance) have a considerable amount of paper representation, including regularly scheduled high-profile tournaments, FNMs, etc. The same can’t be said for the little commons that could. Pauper is a predominantly digital format (so far at least), and its popularity has been defined at least in part by Daily Event participation.
Today I’d like to discuss the importance of Daily Events and the tournament experience as they pertain to the Pauper format. This will include its relevance to casual players, grinders, writers like myself, and people who are approaching the format for the very first time. Furthermore, I’ll be going over some of the decks that have proven very successful within the Daily Event framework as we eagerly anticipate the return of Magic Online Scheduled Events.
But first I need to express my gratitude for those of you who participated in the discussion regarding Pauper Predation & Bug Hunting. It felt a little risky venturing off into more abstract theory-based territory, but I’m glad that the response was generally positive. Thanks a bunch you guys!
I want to point out a few of the really thoughtful comments in particular and expand upon an oversight that I made.
Your Thoughts From Last Time
The question posed to you guys in our last installment had to do with gauging the strengths and vulnerabilities of two highly popular Pauper decks. Here’s what one of you had to say about what is possibly the highest profile deck in the format, Mono-Blue Delver:
"Delver is strong against decks that are soft to counterspells but is better than the more controlling version [of Mono-Blue] since it can play aggressive against the decks that can beat the counters. Therefore, Delver has no truly bad matchups and in the hands of a good pilot (like Mezzel) will always do well." – David Warshawsky
I think David is slightly exaggerating here (in my eyes Delver does have some unfavorable matchups, though not many) but is pretty much on point. It’s a powerful deck and will be receiving some more attention from me later on in the article (how’s that for foreshadowing?).
Another interesting, standout comment offered up a suggestion pertaining to this column’s future subject matter:
"I wonder if there could be an article series following the building and playing of a paper Pauper format. I’d love to see it work." – Dominic Lodovichetti
I’ve never considered doing something like this before and quite frankly I’m not entirely sure what it would entail, but I think it’s definitely worth mulling over. Having a prominent paper component to the format would make sense considering how much attention and participation the format receives online.
The disparity between online and paper legality would also come into play, as certain sets have yet to be "printed" in Magic Online. For this very reason, the paper metagame could very well end up being different in some ways than the online metagame.
If any of you guys have ideas for how I can potentially incorporate paper Pauper coverage into our column, feel free to share.
Another interesting comment popped up that had to do with playing Pauper decks in Legacy tournaments. Have a look:
"You can also bring a Pauper Burn deck to almost any Legacy event and not get laughed out the door." – Jesse Williams
This seems to be a valid statement considering the fact that there is a high degree of overlap between Pauper and Legacy Burn in terms of instants and sorceries (Chain Lightning, Fireblast, Lightning Bolt, Rift Bolt, etc.). I’m glad that this was brought to my attention because it (in some ways) validates Pauper as a format with a reputable power level. Are there any other Pauper decks that can be easily ported over to Legacy? Let us know if you happen to think of any!
We’ve got one more comment to take a look at, as it’s extremely pertinent to last article’s secondary topic of Magic Online bugs. Perhaps I didn’t devote enough time talking about the bugs because I forgot to include a rather significant piece of information. Here’s what I mean:
"If you lose to these bugs in a tournament, you could file for a reimbursement." – Luis Magisa
Yes! I totally left this detail out, and I apologize for doing so. To be fair, I’ve only heard of people getting reimbursed after a bug-related loss and don’t have any personal experience to go off of. Nevertheless, this is one avenue we have available to us if a Magic Online bug impacts the result of a game we paid to play.
I looked up how to request a reimbursement (since even I didn’t know how to do it), and I’m hoping it will inform some of you who may not know. Here are a couple of links I found that should help!
That pretty much wraps up my response to your comments. Thank you all once again, and please keep them coming! Interacting with you guys really does make this column a lot more interesting and dynamic for me!
The Daily Dose
Ugh. Guys. The Dailies are gone!
I know what you’re thinking: here we go, I bet Jason is just going to complain about there not being Dailies for the rest of this article. I’m actually going to do the opposite. Because after all, Thanksgiving and the holiday season are upon us, and that means it’s time to show some gratitude. Let’s explore just how integral the Daily Events have been in molding and maintaining this irrefutably awesome Pauper format!
The Magic Online Daily Events have been a critical (and I mean absolutely critical) component of Pauper’s coverage, evolution, and growth. As I mentioned earlier, Pauper exists primarily as an online format, and the Daily Events are the glue holding all of its pieces in place. Pauper’s key players, metagame, optimization, popularity, and (last but certainly not least) content contributors rely heavily on the existence of Dailies.
It hasn’t been merely the events themselves, but also the publishing of their results that has had a monumental impact on this format. From these results Pauper statisticians and content providers like JustSin have helped paint a picture of the metagame on a large scale. Pauper writers, both new and old, have constantly drawn from Daily Event results in order to create new and illuminating content.
Deck analysis and appraisal of Pauper’s "top tiers" have both been made possible thanks to the wealth of tournament results featured on this page, arguably one of the most visited and valuable Pauper resources in existence. If that wasn’t enough, grinders and a host of other Pauper regulars have based much of their reputation on their frequent Daily Event showings.
It is the Daily Event metric that has led to some criticism of writers like Alex Ullman and myself (since according to some we don’t play "enough" Daily Events to warrant being reputable sources of Pauper info). Perhaps this is a topic for another time however.
The bottom line is that the Daily Events are 100% awesome, and we can’t wait to have them back in our Pauper-playing lives! On that note, I’d like to reference the most recent (as of this writing) announcement concerning Magic Online events:
According to this, we may be seeing the return of (some number of) Pauper Dailies as early as December 11th. This is not set in stone, so we’ll simply have to wait and see how things pan out.
In the meantime, let’s have some fun looking at what may very well be the best (assuming there is a best) deck choice when it comes to competing in Daily Events. This will hopefully get you guys geared up for the Scheduled Event resurgence on Magic Online.
- 17 Island
I told you we’d be revisiting Delver in today’s article! While Delver isn’t the best strategy for every kind of player, its sheer amount of positive results (despite being on everyone’s radar/hit list) simply cannot be denied.
Though it may seem like a straightforward aggro-control deck, Delver is anything but fair. Just look at how many free spells it plays:
You can see how an opponent might find this annoying.
So why is Delver so good at putting up results? The answer (in my eyes) is flexibility and multitasking. By flexibility, I mean the potential for the deck to "be the beatdown" when needed (the evasive clock presented by Insectile Aberration and other fliers is no joke) in addition to its capacity to block, bounce, or counter whatever the enemy is trying to make use of. By multitasking, I mean the knack Delver has for doing many of these things simultaneously.
Bouncing a Spellstutter Sprite with Ninja of the Deep Hours while holding up two open mana can change the dynamics of a game in a huge way. The Delver player is now effectively getting ahead on cards, putting the opponent in a defensive position, and marginalizing whatever their next play may be.
On top of all that, Delver just about always has a chance in a match no matter who the opponent may be or what deck they happen to be playing. This is because some draws are just incredibly nasty (with turn 1 Delver typically being a component) and therefore considerably difficult to beat.
This facet of the deck follows a long line of high-profile highly dominant aggro-control strategies that have spanned across many eras and formats. From Faeries to Caw-Blade to Delver (in Standard), blue-based aggro-control has tended to thrive despite being widely targeted. Mono-Blue Delver is no different; however, it is not nearly as dominant as the aforementioned decks were in their prime. I believe this is a good thing, and I think most of you would agree with me.
One of the primary downsides to building Delver is its price tag since a number of its staple cards can end up being pretty expensive. For those of you that can afford it, however, I think you’ll find the deck to be formidable in the right hands and a staple of any competitive Pauper gauntlet.
For my next article, I’d like to incorporate even more interaction by featuring a Q&A segment. Since we will still be short of Daily Event action, I think now is as good a time as any for you to have your (Pauper-related or otherwise) questions answered! I will also be posting this invitation on my Twitter and YouTube pages, so I’m hoping to get a decent number of questions submitted.
Please don’t be shy in asking questions, as I’m fine answering most things (as long as they’re not disrespectful or of poor taste). As always, if you have any suggestions for future article topics, feel free to shoot them my way!
Until next time . . .