Dime a Dozen #29: Introducing Doctor Pauper

Hi everyone! I’d like to welcome you to the very first installment of our new segment, “Doctor Pauper.” I’m hoping this segment will become somewhat regular, but that will depend on how many of you are enjoying it, and how many of you (yes, you!) are willing to participate.

So what is Doctor Pauper exactly?

Doctor Pauper is an interactive exercise in both deckbuilding and deck tuning. Here we’ll be looking at decks submitted by you, the readers, and searching for ways to “fix” or adjust (and hopefully optimize) them. Additionally, readers will have a chance to make suggestions in the comments section at the end of each article.

If you are interested in submitting a list of your own for future installments, great! I highly encourage everyone to participate. Information on how to do so will be available at the end of this article. For now, let’s get down to business, shall we?

The doctor will see you now!

…Okay so I lied. Before we really begin, I think we should get a few things out of the way (don’t worry, it won’t be anything too serious, I promise!).

A Few Disclaimers

It’s probably clear that I am by no means a master deckbuilder, nor am I an infallible authority on Pauper deck construction. I am, however, capable of examining lists with a critical eye, not to mention tapping into my knowledge of the Pauper metagame and card pool for the purpose of cultivating ideas and tweaking 75s. In other words, don’t expect pro-level advice here, but do expect solid feedback and a thorough helping of constructive criticism.

Today we’ll be taking a look at a Pauper Orzhov deck, as well as a Grixis LD/Discard strategy. I’ve chosen to leave the creator of these submissions anonymous, as I’m not sure whether or not they’d like to be named publicly.

In the future I will be requesting that submissions include a clearly stated design goal that is most important to the deck’s creator (note that I didn’t say your goal needs to be “reasonable” or boring, so by all means reach for the stars!).

For today’s submissions, however, I will be offering suggestions for a multitude of possible goals. I’m hoping that things don’t end up too scattered or confusing, so please just bear with me.

Today’s Submission: Pauper Orzhov

The Orzhov color combination is downright unpopular in today’s Classic Pauper format. Nevertheless, there are some brave brewers out there who’d like to change that. Let’s take a look at our first Doctor Pauper submission: Pauper Orzhov!

Allow me to extend a big thanks to Pauper Orzhov’s designer for the submission! Here are a few of their notes, which should explain a bit of the deck’s card choices and overall capability.

Your ideal sequence of plays is a Turn 1 Nip Gwyllion followed up by a Nightsky Mimic Turn 2. Turn 3 Edge of Divinity makes the Mimic a 7/7 flyer which beats pretty quick. I’ve tried to keep as many spells as possible both black and white for max Mimic triggers, hence Castigate over Duress.

At its core, this is a Nightsky Mimic deck. Mimic is a classic “build around me” card, in the same sense that Ethereal Armor, Ghostly Flicker and Nivix Cylcops are build-around-me cards. For that reason, I’m going to assume that the deck‘s designer intended for the Nightsky Mimic and Edge of the Divinity synergies to remain intact at all costs.

I’m also going to assume that this deck is not expected to 4-0 very often or rank amongst the Pauper archetypal elites. I say this because Pauper Orzhov is looking to make 4/4s (or bigger) and beat down with them, and Affinity already does that better (since Affinity requires only colorless artifacts to be in play, and can follow up with a combo kill). It’s also looking to buff its creatures with aura support, but Hexproof already does that better (since Hexproof’s creatures are significantly harder to remove).

There are still a few possible goals left on the table: experimentation (to find out how competitive an Orzhov Mimic deck can become), casual interest in a “pet” card (to have fun with an interaction we like), and deck-sniping (to give ourselves a good, perhaps great, matchup against a couple of popular decks). While other goals are certainly viable, I am going to stick with these for the purpose of today’s article.

Pauper Orzhov: Experimentation

To figure out how competitive we can make Pauper Orzhov, we need to scrutinize every aspect of the deck in order to find superior design implementations. We are going to start by looking at this deck’s mana. Why? Because we should always start there, and because I wrote about manabases in my last article.

The existing manabase of 9 Plains and 11 Swamps is (with all due respect) eligible for an entry-level position at Poopy Mana Incorporated. This is because 11 sources of black mana is not enough for us to consistently draw black within the first three turns of the game. Drawing white will be even less common, and this deck wants to draw both in order to cast spells like Castigate and Kingpin’s Pet.

Our poopy mana is mitigated by the fact that Edge of the Divinity, Mourning Thrull, Nightsky Mimic and Nip Gwyllion each have a flexible hybrid casting cost. This presents an interesting dichotomy within this deck: some of the spells are ridiculously easy to cast, while others are painfully difficult.

There are two things we can immediately do to improve this deck’s mana: play Evolving Wilds, Orzhov Guildgate and Terramorphic Expanse, and cut any cards with BB or WW in their casting cost. Both of these changes come with a minimal downside, as I will attempt to demonstrate.

Pauper Orzhov currently has only 4 copies of a Turn 1 play (more if you count Turn 1 Crippling Blight, but that requires black mana and a removal-worthy threat from our opponent), leaving many of our starts devoid of action. By supplementing our deck with Orzhov Guildgate, we have additional productive things to do on Turn 1, while at the same time we are able to fix our mana.

Removing any spells in the deck that cost BB is very reasonable in my eyes. Black and white already possess a wealth of splashable removal that perform admirably, and playing double-black spells on top of the existing black-white spells just seems very greedy.

For the purpose of satisfying the experimentation goal, we are going to add some number of color-fixing lands, and we are going to remove all copies of Geth’s Verdict, Sign in Blood and Victim of Night.

Now that brings us to this deck’s removal suite. Determining how much removal to play has a lot to do with a deck’s primary gameplan, as well as its likely opposition within a metagame. Some decks (Hexproof, for instance) can get by with little-to-no removal, and instead bank on their own proactive plan to trump whatever creature strategy is being utilized by the enemy. Pauper Orzhov, on the other hand, will probably need some amount of creature removal (I say this because our own game plan of buffing up naturally small creatures can be disrupted with cheap removal and/or bounce fairly easily, so we’ll need creature-kill to catch up in race situations).

The number of removal spells in the current list is, in my opinion, too high. 12 creature-kill options is more than even most control decks would sleeve up (and don’t forget that our targeted discard can also hit creatures). Moreover, slots spent on excess removal can be put to use elsewhere.

I also take slight issue with the effectiveness of our current removal. Crippling Blight can only truly kill so much, and does little to protect us from devastating Atogs, Kiln Fiends and Ninja of the Deep Hours. Disfigure has a similar shortcoming in that it only stops small creatures, and even then can fail against temporary pump spells. So what should we do?

As a general method for crafting removal suites, I like to account for three different creature types (though this can be adjusted based on whatever metagame you find yourself in the midst of). Those types are early-game creatures (small, and in need a cheap answer), late-game creatures (large, and not in need of a cheap answer) and creatures that can’t be targeted (typically small, and in need of an edict or sweeper). By using my method, we help avoid redundancy against one type of creature, and also prevent our inability to answer the other types.

Without arduously going over all of the possible options across the format, I will say that I like Unmake for its ability to synergize with Nightsky Mimic, its versatility and its ability to get around undying, dredge, etc. I also like Journey to Nowhere (and possibly Dead Weight) for its cheap cost, and Diabolic Edict for its usefulness against creatures that can’t be targeted.

As far as creatures go, the only creatures I would consider adding are Blind Hunter (for its built-in evasion, reach and value) and Auramancer (if we opt for a more dedicated aura-centric plan). Additionally, I think Bonesplitter would go a long way towards making Mourning Thrull, Nip Gywllion and Tithe Drinker into more efficient racers. It’s also generally nice to get in for 4 in the air with Kingpin’s Pet when needed.

The existing sideboard is packed with removal in an already removal-heavy deck. I can definitely see cutting some of that (as well as the BB costing Sign in Bloods) to give us some answers for Cloudpost and Stompy decks. I also would prefer Apostle’s Blessing over Stave Off, since it has no “official” color requirement, can give protection from artifacts, and we’ll be gaining plenty of life through both our lifelink guys and our extort guys to temper it.

I would begin the experimentation process with this list:

Pauper Orzhov: Casual “Pet” Deck

We like Nightsky Mimic a lot, and we really like Edge of the Divinity, so let’s go ahead and build a dedicated voltron deck! Who cares that all of our guys die to Doom Blade? Who cares that auras net our opponents two-for-ones left and right? Ladies and germs, I present to you: Orzhov Auras!

This is definitely a more casual design, as it is an admittedly worse version of GW Hexproof. It does seem pretty fun, though! I wouldn’t mind giving it a spin.

Pauper Orzhov: Deck Sniper

Since Pauper Orzhov is already loaded up on lifelink creatures, it won’t be hard to cater it towards beating a few key players in the field. With a bit more pointed interaction and some “pre-boarded” hate, I can see this deck being a decent sniper for the Burn, Hexproof, Izzet Fiend, and Stompy decks in the format.

So I think we’ve given ourselves a pretty strong Game 1 against Hexproof and Stompy particularly, as Standard Bearer has very few answers before sideboard. Izzet Fiend may also struggle against the combination of Bearers, lifelink, removal and Prismatic Strands. Burn will be forced to try and remove most of our creatures, so I think we can outfight them in any reasonably long game (once we stick a threat and connect with it a couple of times).

Submission for Next Time: Grixis LD/Discard

Here is a decklist we’ll be assessing for next time:

Please share your thoughts on this deck in the comments section, and look forward to hearing more about it in the next article!

End Step

Well that wraps up our very first Doctor Pauper! I’d eventually like to port this over to a more video-centric segment, but please let me know if you have any objections to that idea.

If you’d like to submit a decklist for future installments of Doctor Pauper, please send the list to JasonMoore228@gmail.com (don’t forget to include whatever primary goal for the deck you have in mind, and whether or not you’d like to remain anonymous).

As always, thanks for reading, and please comment!

You can find Jason
hosting the Pauper’s Cage podcast
on MTGO as BambooRush
on Twitter @dimecollectorsc
and on Youtube at youtube.com/dimecollectorsc

  1. Actually, none of the guys in the auras deck (except the auramancers) die to Doom Blade!

  2. videos, videos, videos.

    I’d watch ALL the videos.

    Oh, and nice write-up. Can you put it in a video though?

  3. The grixis deck looks pretty sick, but what are you going to be doing the first 2 turns? There’s a distinct lack of 1 and 2 drops in a format that can flood the field by turn 3. More early removal? More early deathtouch? Tidehollow strix, typhoid rats?

  4. Tom the Scud — LOL good point!

    yessir — I’d like to. What would you like to see in the videos? Glad you shared some input on the Grixis deck.

    Greystone — Okay, what do you want to see in the videos? I appreciate the comment!

  5. Jason- Play with the decks you’re reviewing. It doesn’t have to be ALL of them. But if they look promising, or at least fun, run them through a few rounds against the field. And just talk about what you would change about the decks after playing them, or if you would never be caught playing the chosen deck again.

  6. yessir – Gotcha. That sounds pretty good! The only problem I could see arising is my having to constantly buy new decks. We’ll see how it goes!

  7. You could set a date and time to stream the testing sessions, and I’m sure people would be willing to loan you cards to test with… This segment seems like a lot of fun, great idear dude!

  8. First off: Great read, keep it up!

    The LD/discard deck doesn’t make much sense to me when I look at it. I understand that it might be preying on post or land light hands from any deck, but it seems ridiculously soft to aggro of any sort. This can be stopped with a few cards like the full four of echoing decay, or some edicts so that change should probably be made.

    I would also look for some tough high damage creatures like firecats (the 4/1 vanilla from M14) to clean up the game after the opponent is stumbling. LD only works while the opponent is off their game, that can’t last indefinitely.

    The major issue of course is that if you don’t succeed in your plan of keeping your opponent in the stone age (mana wise) you are hosed.

  9. Awesome article Jason! Sorry about the anonymity thing, I was sure I had emailed you back! Excellent to see two of my pet brews getting some attention off the doctor!

    The comments are also great. I’ve been playing the LD/Discard for about 2 weeks now and I’ve came to the same conclusion as some of the commenters here. It’s very weak to aggro and it lacks the creatures to finish off the game once the opp is stumbling. I’ve been toying with a version which doesn’t run any blue, thus making the mana a little easier to manage and I’ve increased the mainboard removal. Still looking for the end game threat to fit in as well, I’ve found that I just don’t have pressure to keep on my opponent once I’ve wrecked a few lands.

    Also, Happy to lend you the cards for a few nights if it’s for an article. As I’m sure most contributors would be!

    Thanks, Doc!

  10. Mattador – Your input is very much appreciated!

    Calum – Glad you could share your findings! The submissions were very cool, and I’m looking forward to trying the decks out.

  11. Hello there!
    I don’t play online, but sometimes I think about the online metagame when building with paper cards. Following is the last list I’ve assembled. It seems promising IRL, and maybe you could give it a shot, since mtgo is the best way to test new brews:

    4 Molten Rain
    4 Stone Rain
    4 Roiling Terrain
    2 Earth Rift
    4 Flame Slash
    4 Lightning Bolt
    4 Firebolt
    4 Searing Blaze
    2 Staggershock
    2 Serrated Arrows
    3 Expedition Map
    1 Rolling Thunder

    3 Forgotten Cave
    4 Cloudpost
    4 Glimmerpost
    12 Mountain

    4 Electrickery
    4 Pyroblast
    2 Red Elemental Blast
    4 Gorilla Shaman
    1 Shattering Pulse

    I call it “No dudes”. It’s got 61 cards MD and I like it that way. But perhaps you might help me select something out. The idea is to get as much card advantage as its possible for red by playing flashbacks and burning down the opponent as we remove their creatures. Also serrated fucking arrows.

    Let me know if you end up playing it. The downside is it probably is a quitting machine


  12. Gustavo – I appreciate the submission! I’m still figuring out which deck(s) to showcase next time, but this one just might fit the bill.

  13. Now now Deluxeicoff. Should we ask, “Are you seriously going to comment on an article you didn’t read?” Jason defines his “Doctor Pauper” title near the start of the article. “Doctor Pauper is an interactive exercise in both deckbuilding and deck tuning. Here we’ll be looking at decks submitted by you, the readers, and searching for ways to “fix” or adjust (and hopefully optimize) them.”

    I do agree that experience in a format helps when tendering advice. These articles are not likely to be of great service to strong pauper competitors (such as delixiecoff). Jason has demonstrated, however, his ability to offer some reasonable Magic theory/advice/ideas to less experienced, less serious players. Plus he’s trying to make this an interactive exercise rather than just a guru telling us how it’s done.

  14. I share the confusion of deluxeicoff to what this article is about. The introductory passage cited by rpitcher is not helpful. Jason do you want to get a deck to be at the brink of competitiveness in a Daily Event? Or just tinker around and collect some ideas? Because for the second direction, a forum is a much better place!
    Both notions can be found in the article and even three decklists of varying degree of Spike-ness. Consider partitioning the article in two sections maybe. Or drop one of the routes of developing, because I can’t really start discussing a deck if I’m not clear on where you want to go here.

    If you want to go competitive, please think about the correct meta game. Suggesting a sniper deck that snipes “Burn, Hexproof, Izzet Fiend, and Stompy” in the current meta is irrelevant and misleading.

    Aaand: videos are cool :)

  15. I stand corrected – your observation rpitcher is 98% correct.

    For the record…I’ll take 10 Jason Moores vs. one toxic/ (my clan fears reprisal/angering our overlord…lol) E.Hustle any day. Bottom line, Jason angers grinders…(me included) boo hoo/who cares?!…yet he also inspires new pauper blood which is of paramount importance… – Jason, do you want to change this persona? If so, the answer is INCREDIBLY SIMPLE… put up and show up…take it from someone who’s been on rogue for 8 MONTHS…it’s fun!