Well this certainly took long enough. It’s been over a year since I first introduced an article segment called The Arena! Following the release of that segment, its basic premise was emulated by other Pauper contributors but didn’t get revisited by me…
Until today! 2011 Community Cup participant ChrisKool has been gracious enough to step into The Arena and do battle. If all goes well, it won’t be the last time Chris and I face off!
So how does The Arena work? Each installment will showcase a Pauper matchup, first with a written analysis of the respective decks, and then with recorded matches. A written conclusion will summarize what the matches have taught us.
The matchup for today’s article is a strange one. I’ll be piloting Azorius Kitty, a deck popularized by David Shaffer (aka shaffawaffa5), and Chris will be at the helm of Nylea’s Domain! Don’t know much about these decks? Don’t worry, we’re going to take a closer look right now.
Here is the Azorius Kitty list I’ll be piloting.
Azorius Kitty by shaffawaffa5
Azorius Kitty is a highly synergistic deck that can play a frustrating attrition game and take several different lines of play. At the heart of it all are the bounce effects Azorius Chancery, Dream Stalker, Kor Skyfisher and Momentary Blink. These make it possible for the deck to repeatedly gain life, draw cards, blow up permanents, and put -1/-1 counters on things.
The deck is slow and late-game-oriented, which means it will often assume the control role in a given matchup. I’m not expecting today to be any different, since the opponent’s deck features a higher number of aggressive starts and high-damage threats.
Speaking of the opponent’s deck, let’s have a look at it!
Nylea’s Domain by ChrisKool
Domain is also a deck based on synergy, in this case employing Evolving Wilds, Nylea’s Presence and Terramorphic Expanse to power up Matca Rioters, Tribal Flames, and Wild Nacatl. Additional synergy comes by way of Brainstorm and the aforementioned fetches (other versions of Domain also incorporate Squadron Hawk, which make for added Brainstorm interactivity).
This deck likes to beat down thanks to the superior size of its creatures. In this way it reminds me of Affinity, and also because it plays a lot of colors, has absurd reach, and a propensity for getting up on cards. Chris’s list is prepared for removal, and has a number of ways to refill including Compulsive Research, Pit Keeper and Unearth.
Azorius Kitty vs. Nylea’s Domain: Predictions
Chris’s deck scares me! I think many of the games will involve us constantly trying to answer what he’s doing, and hoping that he doesn’t have a powerful response to our lines of play.
The cards in Domain that most concern me are:
Domain’s bigger creatures don’t concern me in and of themselves, but the fact that Chris can bring them back is likely going to be a headache. Pridemage is problematic because it can attack into most of our creatures profitably, and it breaks our Journey to Nowheres, Serrated Arrows, and Spreading Seas.
Tribal Flames can do a lot of damage to us, and along with Skred can burn Dream Stalkers out of the way. Lastly, Unearth adds value to his Pridemages, and requires us to have a second answer for a double-blocked creature or one destroyed by Reality Acid.
The cards on our side with high-impact potential are:
Stalker can block all but three of his creatures, and I predict it will be attracting a lot of burn. Arrows makes most of his smaller creatures die to ours, which I think will be relevant. Reality Acid pairs with Spreading Seas to potentially color-screw the opponent, kill off lands and enchantments, and remove creatures.
I’m expecting Game 1s to involve clunky mana on both sides, as well as tricky mulligan decisions. I think some games could likely be stolen simply by us color-screwing him long enough to pull too far ahead, and other games lost due to his overwhelming pressure.
Initial Sideboarding Plan:
Things would likely be much different if Chris were playing Squadron Hawk. As it stands, Piracy Charm is not doing much (unless we want to work really hard to kill a creature) and Sea Gate Oracle doesn’t actually block anything.
With that being said, I think there may be a legitimate chance to screw his deck off of domain by busting up lands and Nylea’s Presence. While I wouldn’t consider that a “Plan A,” I think it’s an avenue that should be pursued if the opportunity presents itself.
Expected Domain Plan:
X could be anything from zero to the full three, depending on how good Chris feels Standard Bearer might be (I think it has potential, since it eats a Journey to Nowhere or keeps us from casting Acid on a land). Pyroblast does much of what Skred does, but also counters things. I could see Chris bringing in Lone Missionary if he simply wants more threats or an Ancient Grudge is he doesn’t feel that Pridemage is enough when it comes to killing Arrows.
I think that’s enough gabbing. Let’s move onto the deck tech, matches, and conclusion video!
Here are a few thoughts from Chris, including how he actually boarded against me.
My motivation for these swaps was to respond at instant speed to Momentary Blinks on Mulldrifters or your Reality Acid combo creatures. Also, I wanted to be able to kill my own guys with acid on them if it seemed like I had no other way to interact with it. I believe that the matchup devolves to Mulldrifters + Reality Acids versus my flyers and large Matca Rioters/Aura Gnarlid, so my aim was to stop as many of (what I identified as) your key cards.
I apologize that we only got through two matches, but if you’d like The Arena to return I’ll be happy to generally do more! Please share any thoughts you may have on the matchup and content.
As always, thanks for reading, and please comment!