Anything But: Pauper Independence

I think there are few guarantees in this game. We’re constantly seeing the printing of new sets and occasionally experiencing a small rules, legality, or interaction change here and there. All that aside, I feel that no matter the format, the one thing you can count on in Magic is for things to get a bit stale at some point in time. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but even writers for a format that is as slowly changing as Pauper run into trouble deciding on how to produce content and have to keep revisiting decks from time to time. As I mentioned in last week’s article, our format is getting a bit dry. The top decks are well established, the same decks continue to see heavy play, and there hasn’t been a big shake up since the anti-Storm-and-Infect bannings. Just take a look at this week’s Competitive Corner if you don’t believe me…

As uneventful as things may or may not be in the current Pauper metagame, there was at least one oddity that I want to point out for those of you keeping score at home. For reasons unknown, we were treated to the listing of double standings on the 19th, something that hasn’t occurred since it was decided that the results should be limited. After seeing this, I was momentarily excited that we’d be cheating the system even if just slightly, at least until I later found that no results were posted for the 23rd. I guess the good news is that we’re breaking even on the week, but the inconsistency is something I think is disappointing to say the least.

Daily Event Results 6/13 – 6/26


As I keep saying, things are really slowing down. Perhaps some would argue that it is a good thing that so much stability exists, but what we see this week are the same top four from last week. Even beyond this top four, what little movement we’ve seen has been slight at best. Eye Candy did manage to move up a spot, but not so much because of an increase in its showings as a decrease in the showings of IzzetPost. We’ve also seen a slowdown in Goblins as it drops two spots, but even the remaining decks — MBC and Burn — had decreased showings. The good news is that some of this metagame population that has slipped down has moved into the rogue section.

Here’s this week’s rogues…

1. DimirTrinket – 6
2. UB Control – 5
3. MWA – 5
4. Hexproof – 3
5. Infect – 2
6. Reality Acid – 2
7. Stinkweed Zombies – 2
8. RebelPost – 2
9. EnchantStorm – 1
10. Cyborgs – 1
11. OrzExtort – 1
12. Teachings – 1
13. AZTrinket – 1
14. OrzAggro – 1

I find this list at least mildly inspiring. After last week’s 10% showing, this week we see it take a slightly larger portion at 12% in a continued strong week-to-week population. To me this says that people have the desire to be playing something different, but maybe they just aren’t exactly sure what their options are. We are also starting to see not only some old decks come back after hiatus, but a good variety from week to week as well. For a second week our list is topped by DimirTrinket, which falls just short of my requirements. We’ve also seen resurgence from MWA, a deck that had fallen off the map for a bit, but continues to be championed by the likes of MTGO Academy’s own Jason Moore. I also want to point out that our single Teachings deck for the week was a five-color version, which is awesome in uncountable ways.

Here’s how the undefeated odds are looking…

There have been no significant changes in how decks have been performing. After falling off the list for a week, MBC continues to solidify its spot on the list with another decent week’s showing. That being said, FamiliarStorm, despite its solid undefeated numbers, is on the verge of falling off as it decreases in popularity in comparison to its newer cousin, FissurePost. What we did see in comparison to last week is a slight increase in the total showings of Affinity as well as a slight decrease in the ability of Eye Candy to put up 4-0 showings. The number of showings for the deck seems to be stabilized at this point so we can probably expect the deck to sit around the same level for awhile now.

Unfortunately, due to a last-minute issue with work and the length of this article even before this section, we’re going to have to skip ahead from our Daily Event breakdown and get right into the deck spotlight. Sorry about any inconvenience, but guaranteed, we’ll have it back here next time!

RebelPost

For this week’s deck spotlight, I wanted to take a minute to talk about a very interesting approach to the 8-Post concept. The deck is not new by any standard, but I think too often people think of 8-Post as being strictly a control option. Things like IzzetPost and DimirPost have been strong competitors in the past and still show up in some capacity. Even the ever dominant FissurePost deck runs that line between combo and control. However, RebelPost isn’t the first aggro version of 8-Post to set foot on the Pauper scene. One of the oldest 8-Post decks is known as GreenPost and is perhaps one of the oldest 8-Post decks out there. That particular deck takes advantage of the heavy mana production to rush out big creatures like Aurochs Heard and Ulamog’s Crusher. In a similar way the RebelPost deck takes advantage of the heavy mana in order to create creature advantage.

During Mercadian Masques, we were introduced to a set of rebel and mercenary creatures that had a similar mechanic that allowed one creature to search out another for a small cost. When you look at these rebels, creatures like Amrou Scout, they aren’t that impressive, and the cost paid to find an additional rebel doesn’t seem worth it. The trick is that, with the big mana generated by Cloudpost, you can activate the abilities with more frequency and ideally overwhelm an opponent in a format that doesn’t have a reliable board sweep spell. Not only do these abilities allow you to put the rebel that you search for right onto the battlefield, but there are a number of utility rebels that can provide you with answers for whatever situation you find yourself in. Consider it like a Mystical Teachings deck where you have a toolbox of options for beating an opponent, except in this particular instance you’re searching for creatures instead of instants. This rogue deck has been seen before; however, until this past week, it had been quite awhile since we had seen it. So what brings it back now? Well, let’s take a look at what the most recent deck looks like…

When we take a look at the utility that you can search out of your deck, we find creatures like Aven Riftwatcher for life gain or Thermal Glider for protection from a specific color. There has been some decent utility when it comes to rebel creatures in Pauper, but one could argue that the options are pretty weak in comparison to, say, a toolbox deck like Teachings. However, with the release of Modern Masters, the deck got a big boost. During Time Spiral Block we were introduced to a lot of fun interactions and mechanics based on past sets, and the rebels interactions were one of those. This meant there were quite a few new rebels to play, and in Future Sight we were given a preview to the idea of tribe-specific, non-creature spells (something we’d see plenty of in Lorwyn Block). The preview we’re focusing on here is Bound in Silence, which was originally printed at uncommon. This spell was one of 16 different cards from Modern Masters that had been moved from uncommon to common in the set. While this may seem like a more expensive Pacifism, it gains great strength for this particular deck simply because it is a tribal enchantment. Now instead of simply searching up a creature with your rebels you have the option to tutor up removal. The ability to search up creatures and control is something that cannot be underestimated and something Mystical Teachings can’t do as well. By making Bound in Silence a Pauper-legal card, this deck has been given a second wind and is something that should definitely be tried!

If I may, for a second, and without boring everyone with a long history lesson, my fellow Americans and I find ourselves in the midst of Independence Day celebrations. It’s a great time for us to spend some time with family and take a minute to appreciate our country in the best way we know how… blowing things up. For my regular readers, you’ve heard my moaning and groaning over my traveling for work, but this week I’ve been sent off cross country at the very last minute and will be on the road for Independence Day. This means that I’ve had to find my own way to celebrate. For us, this day is all about a time when Americans were tired of the way things were and set forth actions that would render themselves independent from the British Empire. Americans at that time were unhappy with the way things were, so they did something about it and thus I find myself likewise inspired. I find myself unhappy with the current metagame in Pauper so I’m endeavoring on a journey to offer you, my dear reader, some thoughts on what other options you might dare to play your next Daily Event.

We’re currently in a situation where there are only four decks seeing the majority of the play. There is very little movement throughout this top four, and ultimately FissurePost has been the top deck for weeks. With my continued look at specific Daily Events in the weekly Spotlight, I’ve also come to notice that in a majority of Daily Events, the most heavily played deck is Affinity. While it does not necessarily win the most games, it would seem that it is at least the most popular deck at this time. The remaining two decks, which continue to move back and forth among the top four, include DelverBlue and Stompy, two old favorites. So let me give you a quick breakdown of what we’re going to do here. We’re going to take a very brief look at these four decks, I’ll offer you a deck that has a proven good match against it, and finally I’ll offer you a similar yet less popular deck you could try instead. Okay, let’s get down to it!

Quick Note: I like to give builder credit when I can, but it is not necessarily possible for me to know exactly who the original deckbuilder was. All names associated with the following decks are based on who was running the list that I’ve provided.

At this point in time, most people who follow Pauper closely should be familiar with FissurePost variants. This is actually only one of three approaches that you can take when playing FissurePost. The deck really came into its own after the anti-Storm/Infect bannings in a Simic variant using the power of Crop Rotation to make it easy to find Cloudposts. This blue-only version came about very shortly after that and has actually come from behind to be the most played variant of the deck. Finally there has also been a Blue-White version that has made its way into our hearts as it uses the Sunscape Familiars to aid the Cloudposts in allowing players to spend significant amounts of mana. The idea behind most versions of FissurePost do not rely on the Temporal Fissure storm to win the game, but instead use it to create a lock on an opponent thanks to Archaeomancer and Ghostly Flicker. The finisher from there will then come from what damage a Mulldrifter can provide or it may branch into small quantities of other powerful finishers such as Ulamog’s Crusher and/or Kaervek’s Torch.

While it may seem that splashing white can bring the deck a bit of added flavor you’re still experiencing the same lock down, same finish, and simply a different approach. It’s been sitting on top of the metagame for almost the entirety of the new meta. It has to be getting stale to some people. What fun is it to be playing solitaire in 95%+ of your games??

Beat it!

Needless to say, despite the best efforts by myself and other Pauper advocates, it’ll see a lot of play by others who do find that type of oppressive deck to be favorable. I don’t blame them. Can you really blame the shark for eating a human? I mean, sharks gotta eat too, right?! So let me offer you a suggestion for a deck that has a great match against FissurePost. Now I’ve looked back on the match tables that I have put together over the past several months and what I’ve come up with is that the deck with the best record against FissurePost is going to be Goblins, which managed to pull in a match record of 8-1 against the deck. By winning almost 89% of its matches against FissurePost, Goblins would be a strong option if you’re looking to take the deck down. So what gives the deck that edge? Well, let’s start by taking a look at what one of the most recent Goblins decks looks like…

Goblins, like most aggro decks, runs a very creature-heavy list and looks to get those weenies down to beat an opponent before they have a chance to even stabilize. This is a critical note against a deck like FissurePost or any control list that really needs a certain amount of mana available to balance its board state and start controlling tempo. When I’ve talked about FissurePost in the past I’ve made a key observation that still holds true, and every competitive player should be aware of it. When playing against FissurePost, it is important to be able to finish off an opponent and rebuild your board state off of only one or two lands.

If you’ve never found yourself playing against the deck let me explain the situation. You’re playing a deck and your opponent is doing little to stop your creatures. You’re doing a decent amount of damage and despite some life gained off of Glimmerpost, you’ve got him down low! However, this is where it’ll stay. He’s digging for more life gain, maybe he has a Mnemonic Wall in your way, but you’re so close to winning you can taste it! Then it’s too late– your opponent has now managed to stabilize, and he’s gotten his mana together to the point where he’s storming every turn. What you’ll need in order to do that final bit of damage could come down to a 1-drop that will get a single chance to attack through or even a Lightning Bolt to just get that last bit of damage. These are both things that Goblins has access too. Added value can even be found in the smallest places such as in Death Spark, which you at least get back once you’ve been forced to discard cards from your hand. It’s a similar way that you expect Affinity to be able to quickly rebuild its board state and get back into the game. The difference between the two is that Goblins can be faster and rebuild off of one land, whereas Affinity would find that one land still means you’re paying 5 for that Myr Enforcer

Try Instead!

Now let’s say you’re on the other end of things. You like FissurePost and the strategy it brings to the table, but you’ve heard my cries for justice! You’ve sat down and read my article and a tear was brought to your eye. Realizing this great harm that you’ve been bringing down, the fuel you’ve been adding to the fire, you realized that you should do the right thing and change it up! Okay, maybe that is a bit over dramatic, but here’s an alternative deck for you any ways…

Now some of you might look at this and go, “Dude, this is a bit of a copout,” and I can see what you’re saying, but hear me out at least! Now, yes, this deck is very much similar in that it looks to use Temporal Fissure in order to control board tempo and lock down a game while winning on the back of creatures like Mulldrifter and Nightscape Familiar to eventually whittle away your opponent’s life. That being said, when you’re looking for a combo alternative in the format, there are very few directions to go in. Eye Candy is a thing, but is a very different approach to winning, and Infect still lives, but it has been gimped by recent bannings. To me that left two alternative options in the land enchantment-based version or the familiar version.

While the deck follows the same oppressive idea as FissurePost I think you really should consider the numbers for a second. The number of times the deck shows up from week to week has been in decline and the past week was higher than it’s been in about a month’s time. That being said, when the deck does show up in Daily Events, it has a great undefeated showing percentage. In the past month, the deck has gone undefeated in 50% of its showings including undefeated percentages of 100% last week and 60% at the beginning of the month. I think that even if FissurePost players decided to move away for just a change of pace, it is important for them to realize that they can take the same approach and perhaps have even better success.

Affinity, much like FissurePost, can come in a number of different versions. I think one of the things that makes the deck most attractive to players is the fact that there are so many different ways you can take it. The deck can run all five colors easily and is often seen with creatures like Disciple of the Vault and/or Auriok Sunchaser, both of which aren’t in the version I’m showing here. As I said earlier I’m only going to give a brief discussion on each of these decks, but there have been plenty of articles by my fellow writers in the community on the deck you can check out. Affinity usually relies on the power of both the Affinity and Metalcraft mechanics, which can make seemingly meek creatures into something scary. A free 4/4 is always a plus, especially when it comes out alongside another 4/4 that only cost you 1G. There are few creatures out there that can get that type of power for that low of a cost! What the deck looks to do is to provide the player with a number of creatures on the very early turns and win games off of their aggression. Pair these big, yet cheap creatures alongside the combo-ish interactions of Atog and Disciple of the Vault and/or Fling and you’ve got trouble. It’s so hard to try and put into a single paragraph all that the deck is capable of when you can’t narrow it down to a single version. It definitely says something about the deck that it can see so many variations, all of which have that potential to win.

Beat it!

Affinity is usually a deck that is one of three interchangeable decks that account for the remainder of the top three beyond FissurePost. The reason it deserves mention over the rest is the fact that in the Daily Events that I’ve been tracking, the deck is not only the most heavily played deck in each of these events, but usually by a significant amount. That alone should be enough reason for players to consider playing something that is strong against the deck. Now this one hurts me a bit on the inside. I’m going to recommend playing a deck that I can’t stand. I don’t care for this deck, and I think it’s flawed despite its current popularity. That being said, I have to be honest, and the deck with the best record against Affinity has been Eye Candy, which had a match record of 11-4.

I talked about this deck in great detail in this article where I showcased my issues with the deck and did my best to explain what problems I had with the deck. But what is the secret to its success against Affinity? What about the deck gives the deck a 73% win rate in the match? I think what this really comes down to are two things… the deck’s potential speed and the deck’s evasion. One of the things you’ll often find in playing against Affinity is that it is very hard to get around the big bodies of Myr Enforcer and Carapace Forger, which fall in that range of 4 toughness making them hard to remove. This provides a great tool against aggro decks because when you find yourself against that creature wall, it becomes hard to break through that defense until an Atog comes down and solves that problem for you. In most versions of the deck, you’ll see upwards of three different spells used to give creatures some form of unblockable attack in order to help ensure the now bigger Kiln Fiend or Nivix Cyclops makes it through for lethal damage.

The speed of the deck is somewhat intertwined by these unblockable abilities as they often provide the final piece of the puzzle that is needed to make a win happen. Pumping a creature up to 20 for the win is great, but if I’m able to chump block that, then you’ve wasted all those spells and gotten nowhere. This is especially dangerous when using a creature like Kiln Fiend that is fragile having only 2 toughness. When all the pieces are in place and the deck can make its way through the opposition, then it can pull in wins as early as Turn 3 on the back of Kiln Fiend. Despite how early Affinity can get those artifacts on the field I personally have never seen the deck win as early as Turn 3, and the added use of Nivix Cyclops’ big body can keep some of that early damage from getting through.

Try Instead!

I think Affinity is just a tough nut to crack in so many ways. It’s tough for me to get behind the deck in one way or another because I can never seem to decide what the deck should or should not have in it. I find it hard to offer people my suggestion on what to play against the deck because it is a deck that I don’t care for. Then it comes down to offering an alternative. When I decided I was going to write this article, I had this all very well in mind, but I didn’t contemplate how difficult it would be to offer alternatives. I’m a man of the numbers, so finding the best deck to play against something comes easy thanks to many hours spent tracking wins and following the data, but this is more subjective. Keep that in mind when I offer you this suggestion…

Looking at this, you might think I’ve lost it or am just throwing things out there without thought. On its own, Affinity is very much an aggro deck that works its way through its opponent’s defenses on the backs of decently sized creatures that come in for cheap. It is quite interesting because when you classify a deck as “weenie,” you get really cheap creatures for a decent size. Affinity does manage to cheat the system and get these big creatures cheap, but the costs behind them are big without the added reduction benefits. Beyond this creature base, the deck can still have a slightly combo-base when you again take a look at the interactions of Atog and Disciple of the Vault or Fling. This can lead to some fast plays of its own and has a lot of similar features to the way that urn is going to be approaching the game.

I think there can be great similarities in the approach that Burn has. While Affinity can be heavy aggro with a side of something else, Burn works as heavy something else with a side of aggro. Despite having only 12 creatures, the deck can swing big on the back of Kiln Fiend and get some early game wins. Before the bans Burn was a deck that was a bottom of the barrel rogue, but it has really managed to come into its own these days. With recent refining, the deck now runs a solid 12-creature base that allows the deck the ability to devote “constant” damage on the back of Goblin Fireslinger to try and compensate for some of the card advantage issues the deck can have. I still remember a time (and I really should track down the Tweet) where there was a well-respected grinder urging people not to ever play the deck because it was something that couldn’t win and was just terrible. Well, I’m sure they’d be eating their words these days, as we see the deck continue to be a great thing for people to get into. I think what really gives the deck appeal is that it can provide a really good step for the player who is maybe new to the format and act as a stepping stone into, not only the format, but competitive play as well.

DelverBlue, like several of the decks on this list, can be said to be a pillar of the format. Even before the metagame shift we saw the deck provide solid numbers against the old strongholds in Storm and Infect. It is hard to argue with such a simple concept — evasion and countermagic — and the numbers back it up. Since it has been around for what may be over a year now, there is again very little that can be said, and I know even myself has been on that bandwagon and I’ve talked about DelverBlue in at least two different articles. There are always slight changes to the deck when a new set is printed and a new, cheap flier can be added in, but the concept is really the same. The deck can get away with a really small mana base thanks to its weenie base and has a significant number of creatures in comparison to what one may usually consider for a countermagic-based deck. What creatures it does run usually provide some sort of additional benefit like card draw or additional countermagic and a large majority has the evasion necessary to get through to an opponent’s life total. The one thing I like to keep in mind when playing DelverBlue is that a traditional list will run approximately 11 pieces of countermagic. This can obviously vary from deck to deck, but with all the coverage I’ve done of the deck, it is the one thing that tends to stick out. It is also safe to keep in mind that, like most mono-blue countermagic decks, DelverBlue can have trouble interacting with something once it actually hits the battlefield. In some cases Snap has aided this, but it can also work as Counterspells 12-15 when paired with Spellstutter Sprite.

Beat it!

Before the bans, DelverBlue was sitting where FissurePost sits now. The deck was like a plague on the format, and you had no choice but to dislike it. Though how can you not love something that has such an identity crisis and is a solid list in most of the possible matchups? Being the deck that you love to hate, many people, myself included, would go to great lengths to find something to stop the deck from spreading any further than it had. This deck would seem to have been built with this very thing in mind. When you see something come along that is heavily based on a land destruction strategy, you know without question that it is looking to take advantage of an 8-Post heavy metagame. So when you see something so focused on forced discard, you can see where that would work to balance out DelverBlue.

I’m sure there has been at least one person who has read through my articles and wondered what was behind a deck with such a long name whenever I mentioned Stinkweed Zombies. While the deck has never been a non-rogue in the metagame, against DelverBlue the deck has a match record of 10-2. So what’s the secret behind the deck’s 83% win rate in this match? Take a look at what the list looks like…

This particular deck is running a non-creature selection that is slightly different from what I would consider a traditional list, but it is the most recent showing, so I wanted to make sure it was as relevant as possible. Things you may see more of when it comes to the main for Stinkweed Zombies can include Unearth and even a limitation to only five total non-creature spells, but the structure is what you should expect, having a heavy creature base and very few non-creature spells. The backbone of the non-creature base is the Cry of Contritions, which can be forced into activation as desired thanks to Carrion Feeder.

As you can see, there are several pieces that can work to combat DelverBlue’s different strategic approaches. While the deck does manage to draw a significant number of cards off of Ninja of the Deep Hours and Preordain, you can still find ways to lock their hand down. Control decks like to have not only available mana, but a reasonable hand size as well. With few to no cards in hand, the DelverBlue player will find himself trying to get beyond top decking hoping to find some draw. No cards in hand means no chance you’ll see countermagic coming out against your plays. Another feature that the deck finds beneficial in this matchup is the handful of creatures with unearth. This mechanic allows you an opportunity to make plays from your graveyard in a similar way that flashback would give you added card advantage. This means not only can you replay after something falls off the field, but more importantly it will help you get around countermagic. If you’re attempting to play Rotting Rats, an opponent is in a hard spot because if they decide to waste countermagic on the initial play, the rats can still come back on the next turn. Even better when you play a creature off of unearth, it triggers on the stack and is something that cannot be countered. The final advantage is in all the control the deck can obtain from its creature base as things like Fume Spitter and Cuombajj Witches, which can take out Delver of Secrets before it flips or lower the number of faeries on the battlefield to weaken Spellstutter Sprite. Do I even need to go on??

Try Instead!

Do you have a favorite snack? For me it’s Swedish Fish. These little red bits of love have caused me to do such unhealthy things as eat an entire 2 lb. bag in a weekend. I’m not sure how far the franchise stretches, but there is a great water ice place called Rita’s, which started offering a Swedish Fish flavor not too long ago. I don’t know how they did it, but the damn thing actually tastes like Swedish Fish! When I was enlightened by this new gift of the gods, I ate it all the time. I would eat it in large quantities until a point in time where I sat down and ate an entire pint of the stuff. That was it. My once beloved snack was now my worst enemy. I had eaten so much of the stuff that I could no longer stand the taste! Why am I telling you all this, you may ask? To me this is the same situation I think many people have with Delver. The deck has been successful without a doubt, but I’m sure there are players out there who find themselves with a DelverBlue hangover. People who have played the deck over and over to the point where the sight of an Island makes them audibly sigh. Well here’s my offering for a control alternative.

The thing with control in Magic is that it has several different faces. Control can come in the form of countermagic, discard, land destruction, or board state control. What DelverBlue has always done well with is the fact that it can maintain a solid aggro base while still dictating tempo with a variety of countermagic spells. If you want to simply play countermagic control in Pauper the options basically begin and end with DelverBlue. Sure there have been a few successful MonoBlue Control variants that we’ve seen here and there, but nothing substantial and in my opinion you might as well just play DelverBlue if you’re going that route. To change things up you really need to bring in a deck that can take control in a bit of a different direction. The first instinct would probably be to take an approach that had a balance between countermagic and creature control, which would probably be a UB version of Teachings Control. I’m going a different route, however, because Teachings has met some struggles against other decks in the meta including FissurePost, which is currently the deck’s top format.

DimirTrinket is a deck that I think is underloved. For the past few weeks we’ve seen the deck sit just below the rogue line as it struggles to really make a name for itself. What this deck brings to the control table is several similar elements to what you’d be used to in DelverBlue. DelverBlue looks to create card advantage through the reuse of certain creatures and heavy draw through sneaking in Ninja of the Deep Hours. While DimirTrinket doesn’t use these specific strategies, it has its own set of tricks for creating card advantage. Trinket Mage is one of the few tutors that we have in the format, and it allows you to hunt down control options in the same way Mystical Teachings would, but on a creature’s body. Straight card advantage can be created off of Mulldrifter including the use of the combo trick using Undying Evil to get a 3/3 Mulldrifter that draws you four cards.

These are just some of the tricks the deck relies on to create card advantage. With the addition of blue, what you are really getting out of DimirTrinket is a creature and hand-centric control base, similar to that in Mono-Black Control, but with added card advantage. The heavy black mana base gives you access to heavy use of Crypt Rats, which is the best Wrath of God ability that we have in the format. You also have access to the discard combo of Augur of Skulls and Undying Evil, which can destroy the hand of many decks that need every card. The deck doesn’t get the same attention as other control variants, but it has shown that it has the teeth to overcome several matchups, and while it is underestimated, it could provide the DelverBlue player with a new approach to control.

With roots going back as early as 2010, Stompy has had great staying power and only got stronger during Innistrad Block when Young Wolf and Hunger of the Howlpack were introduced. While the deck already had the pieces in place to be successful, these two cards worked to solidify the deck against any type of creature control. Before these cards were printed, Mono-Black Control (MBC) was one of the deck’s hardest matches since the deck traditionally is packed with as many creature kill spells as creatures. Imagine finally getting the spell you needed to kill off a creature that has been pumped and was causing trouble only to now find that simple creature next to it that you had ignored now gets a permanent +3/+3 thanks to Hunger of the Howlpack. See where the problem lies? The deck is your quintessential aggro deck. When starting out in Magic, most of us built that same green deck that had big creatures that swung for damage and did little else. This takes that concept and runs with it, adding in a utility through creature enhances. Versions usually look to put down weenie creatures and use a variety of these enchantment spells in order to get through whatever blockers an opponent may have, even if that means a Shinen of Life’s Roar to do so.

Beat it!

When trying to tie down the worst match for Stompy, I ran into a bit of an issue. Through all the Daily Events that I had been tracking, there was no one clear matchup for Stompy that was terrible. As I said, before Innistrad Block, the biggest opponent for the deck was MBC and beyond that the deck could also struggle against Mono-White Aggro (MWA) and Infect. These decks were no longer as troublesome to the Stompy player because Infect got banned down and MWA struggles in its matches against several of the other top decks in the new metagame. When it came down to matches, the best record seemed to be DelverBlue, which had a match record of 16-10 against Stompy. While this does break down to approximately a 61% win rate, the problem is that (1) DelverBlue is a deck I’ve been trying to talk you out of playing, and (2) there was still the issue of MWA. As I said, the deck has incredibly declined because it struggles in other matches, but where it did show up, the deck still showed it had something to prove against Stompy as it went 4-0 in the matchup. Obviously this breaks down to a 100% win rate, but I’m a man of the numbers, and having such a small pool of data to pull from makes the result less reliable. That being said, between the two I’m still going to suggest taking MWA.

I think it is only fair to shout out this deck with an example from my fellow Pauper writer here on MTGO Academy, Jason Moore, who has been perhaps one would say a champion of the deck despite others continuing to put it down. After a significant period of time where there were zero showings by Mono-White Aggro, Jason took this list into a Daily Event and walked away at 3-1, showing that the deck still had some legs to stand on. At its core MWA is a deck that works in a very similar way to Stompy. The deck packs a heavy number of creatures alongside several enhancement spells such as Bonesplitter. So where does the difference come in? Why does MWA get the edge in this match?

There are two things I want to specifically point to. The first thing that MWA has over Stompy is going to be its evasion. Most MWA aggro decks are going to be running a base of fliers at a minimum of 12. While Stompy can balance this out some after Game 1, a win in the first game still means you are one game closer to winning the match. Having all these fliers gives the deck the ability to overcome the aggro vs. aggro stalemate that can occur between two decks of non-fliers. Another thing that Stompy tends to rely upon is the ability of Silhana Ledgewalkers to sneak past creature walls in a similar way. The benefit of being only blockable by creatures with flying only goes so far against a deck that is filled with… well, fliers.

Another small advantage that MWA gains over Stompy refers us back to the glory that is the Magic color wheel. In Magic green is best known for creature size, mana acceleration, and control of artifacts/enchantments. The missing key to this difference is where control elements lie on the wheel. In most cases a Magic player’s options for destroying creatures in some fashion are going to be in black, white, or red. As you can see in this list, that means that you have additional options for turning the board state in your favor through things like Icatian Javelineers, Journey to Nowhere, or even Standard Bearer which controls things differently. While you have these removal options, what Standard Bearer provides you is the ability to essentially lock down an opponent’s ability to play creature enhancement spells in this match. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, these differences should not be overlooked.

Try Instead!

I never expected these alternatives to be so difficult! Stompy was another deck that I felt had several great choices. As I mentioned before, the deck is a standard aggro deck at its core. Things like Goblins or MWA could be considered decent swaps because they work in a similar way with a heavy creature base and a small collection of non-creature spells to back them up. There were also fringe options like WatchRites, which takes a more combo-based approach to the same type of strategy. That being said, I took it in a little bit of a different direction…

For the most part Elves offers a similar yet different approach to the aggro strategy. Okay, that probably sounds like a self-contradictory statement, but consider the two decks for a minute. Stompy runs a heavy creature base with a handful of non-creature enhancement spells that can make its creatures harder to deal with. With Elves the deck centers around a fast swarming creature base that tends to run like lemmings to their death in order to achieve victory. What the deck is trading in the sense of the ability to give creatures added size, it is making up in sheer numbers. It is almost a quantity vs. quality type of argument between the two decks. Even then the deck isn’t entirely without creature enhancement spells as decks such as this version tend to work in copies of Spidersilk Armor.

What the deck also gains in place of creature enhancement spells is some other fun card choices. One thing that aggro decks can struggle with is card advantage. There is a tendency for aggro decks to want to drop creatures as fast as possible, but if the opponent can stabilize early enough, then that fast aggression can turn against you as you try to restabilize yourself in top deck mode. Elves is almost more guilty than most at being able to dump its hand fast thanks to the fact that many of them are producing extra mana, but it easily makes up for this flaw thanks to Distant Melody. When left unchecked the deck can quickly draw itself to even the point of self-mill. If you’re playing the deck for the first time, one trick you may want to keep in mind is that if you’re on the verge of self-milling then you might consider naming something such as Warrior or Druid instead of Elf. The deck also finds use in an alternate win condition in Mob Justice, which gives it that opportunity to break through the creature stalemate. I think the different approach to aggro might be just what the doctor ordered for the bored Stompy player.

So now I open up discussion to you! Feel free to leave comments bellow offering your own decks to Beat It or Try Instead! Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MTGOJustSin for more access and discussion!

 
  1. I really like the concept behind this article, as well as its execution, especially listing the decks that can be piloted to take down the big baddies out of near-spite. :)

  2. While I agree with you in almost everything, I see a positive thing in the Pauper’s metagame nowadays. I’m seeing a significant number of rogue decks, very weird decks, making 3-1 and 4-0 in the Dailies. I’ve never seen that number of rogue appearing and making results, like nowadays is happening.

  3. Hey, JustSin. Unfortunate that this week’s article isn’t a meatier one, but I still liked it.

    I’m not sure if you do ‘requests’ and such, but I have a deck idea that I’d like to at least see happen once: UB Pauper Reanimator with Walker of the Grove from Modern Masters. Even if they Snap it back to your hand or exile it somehow, you still get a 4/4 out of it, just like Thragtusk.

    I had a few other ideas for ‘tech’ as well; the Dragon Breath/Fangs/Scales/Shadow/Wings auras that attach themselves to big creatures for free from the graveyard; running Careful Study as discard and playing Brainstorm/Ponder into Mental Note/Thought Scour to put the relevant cards into the graveyard; playing Momentary Blink to be discarded/milled and flashed back; and finally maindecking between two and three Bojuka Bog to make Exhume one-sided.

    Does Reanimator stand a chance in Pauper, or are we still a decent fatty short of being able to run it?

  4. Thanks for the comments guys!

    @endbringer: I couldn’t agree more, said so myself each of the past few weeks that rogues are getting more and more, but its a slow process and beyond rogues it seems to be just four decks

    @haza: thanks for the support! Without sounding too defensive I’d just like to say that while I wish I could devote more time on each breakdown this took quite a while to put together in itself, there’s also great places to find deck breakdowns already and I didn’t want to focus too much on that instead of showcasing options

    w/ regards to reanimator – there is one decent deck out there in Exhume that usually looks to use Crusher, beyond that reanimator really hasn’t seen play because we get poor choices for doing so outside of Unearth and Grim Harvest, the abusive things seen in even casual classic are outside of common, that being said I have been thinking about finding a way to abuse walker, maybe in an 8post list, but nothing solid just yet

  5. Great article. Solid analysis and a nice change of pace from focusing on one particular deck. I’ve long considered Anything But must reading for pauper and am glad you can keep things fresh even in a pretty stable metagame.

  6. Glad you enjoyed it, I try my best to keep trying to do something different, but is often easier said then done :)

  7. Great job like all your previous articles and analysis! I wish one day there would be a single webpage/source with the content of all the best writers and analysts of the pauper format like you, jason moore, alex ullman, dan horning, deluxeicoff, etc. You guys provide us all the tools and the knowledge needed to play into this format and grow our magic passion alongside with your hard work. Your productions are getting over, day by day, the fragility and the inconsistence of all the forums who lost their role of leading and guiding the pauper community. You guys are the pillars of the metagame and I’m looking forward every week to read about your fresh new analysis ;)

    Thanks a lot for all your efforts! Keep up the good job!

  8. Hi there. I started running my own stats for 1 week and something and just thought I’d share what I found here.

    I’m mostly interested on the whole field and not just the decks that make prizes. What I’ve seen is that for a given daily you’ll usually find about 15% affinity, stompy, UR Fiend and some form of MUC (with affinity dropping significantly this last few days). Those are clearly the most popular decks atm.

    As far as results go I found that of these most popular decks the most viables are MUC (32% of analyzed decks 3-1d and 6% 4-0d) and Stompy (26%; 11%). So MUC makes prizes more often but Stompy 4-0s more often.

    Affinity kinda underperformed (22%; 1%) and UR Fiend was a disaster (15%; 1%).

    Of the least popular decks U Post seems really strong (36%; 13%) and MBC surprisingly aswell (48%; 7%) with UR post not lagging much behind. However the count for these decks is significantly lower so take these with a grain of salt.

  9. Your articles just keep getting better and better. I look forward to the next one.

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