Dime a Dozen #52: Classic Pauper Resurgence

You’ve seen it before.

That scene in a dramatic film. The one that takes place in a hospital, with a beloved character in critical condition, hooked up to a heart-rate monitor. And then (gasp), the monitor flat lines. For a few moments, all is lost. And then…

Beep (OMG gasp again!). All is not lost! We’ve got a pulse. Cue the symphony. Get the Kleenex.

This is more or less what’s just happened to the Pauper format. You see, Pauper was a great kid. Lots of people liked him, he never hassled people for money or anything. Then WOTC ran over him with a truck, proceeded to back over his motionless body with said truck, and for the past several months he’s been on life support.

Until now. The Daily Events are back! I repeat: The Daily Events are back! This means so many things for the Pauper community. Viable sanctioned competition with decent EV! Better video content here at Dime a Dozen!

And decklists. Oh sweet mother of mercy, the decklists!

This list went 4-0 at the August 24th Daily (which you can take a closer look at here).

This showing exemplifies the notion of sticking to a deck that you’ve worked on a lot and understand very well. The above list is Obzen’s baby, and he’s been tweaking it for a very long time in addition to piloting it during Pauper Classic Tuesdays.

Dimir Teachings is a pure control deck, sporting 12 main deck counterspells, mass removal in the form of Crypt Rats and Wail of the Nim, and even life gain via the surprisingly effective Crypt Incursion. Mystical Teachings is the glue here, making Incursion easy to search for when the time is right.

I’ve also tried my hand at Dimir Teachings, and there is a lot I like about Obzen’s list. Firstly, he answers creature threats at the same cost they are presented at, if not cheaper. Disfigure, Ghastly Demise and Innocent Blood all put bullies in the ground for a single mana, allowing the Dimir mage to preserve his life total or leave lands untapped for card draw and permission.

The win conditions are also pretty sweet here. Grim Harvest grants inevitability, allowing Twisted Abomination to be cycled and Mulldrifter to be evoked without any worries. Harvest also enables repeatable Earthquakes thanks to Rats, which is a win condition all on its own. While I’m sure many of us take issue with Mulldrifter as a 1 one-of, there are no doubt testing and logic behind that decision.

I managed to spectate one of Obzen’s MTGO matches, and I was impressed by how soundly he dominated the Urza Tron matchup. One of his key cards there was Capsize out of the sideboard. What a great choice, and a logical one too! The Cloudpost mirrors of old often revolved around who could set their opponent back with Capsize. As it turns out, the Urza lands can be hosed by the blue instant just the same.

Another pet deck put up results on August 24th, this time by veteran Pauper brewer Newplan!

Newplan has been resolving Crop Rotation and Omenspeaker in his Tron decks for a while now, and it seems to be paying off for him. Rotation can provide an instant-speed blocker thanks to Khalni Garden, a pseudo-Grim Harvest by way of Haunted Fengraf, and a shuffle effect for his Brainstorms.

I have no idea how this list stacks up against more traditional Tron decks, but it looks quite interesting.

There’s no way I could let myself overlook the return of AndreyS, a player whom I followed quite a bit while first learning about the format. AndreyS was the resident champion of White Weenie in Classic Pauper for quite some time, and I’m glad he’s back (since it means I might not have to carry the archetype’s flag alone).

While I must express a bias towards my own recent take on White Weenie, AndreyS and I both agree on a number of things. Firstly, 3-of Guardian of the Guildpact and some number of Order of Leitbur main. The MBC matchup has shifted quite a bit due to Gray Merchant of Asphodel, so playing main deck hate that is also viable in non-MBC matchups makes a whole lot of sense.

We’ve both opted to move Prismatic Strands to the sideboard as well. With Grapeshot long since removed from the format and green aggro not quite as popular as it once was, this seems like a reasonable decision. The counterargument is that red still has a strong presence in Classic Pauper, and Strands should stay in the main deck as a result.

I’m certainly hoping to see more appearances from AndreyS on the 3-1 and 4-0 results pages, and I just might sleeve up White Weenie in an attempt to meet him there.

Let’s not overlook the elephant in the Pauper room. Delver is still the top dog until metagame trends somehow prove otherwise, and should never be underestimated or ignored. Here is a recent 4-0 list from August 23rd.

An identical maindeck also 4-0ed the same event, but I prefer the sideboard in this list above. Two components that might seem obvious, but are subtly powerful in this deck are Bonesplitter and the diverse suite of permission spells.

Bonesplitter is great at shortening the clock. It effectively gives Cloud of Faeries and Spellstutter Sprite the same damage output as Insectile Abberation, which makes the deck threatening even without Delver in its opening hand.

The countermagic here is just as pesky as the Faerie tribe itself. Trying to play around a counter, but not knowing which counter the opponent has is quite a chore. It ends up being nearly impossible to make the optimal play when you have to consider Counterspell, Exclude and Spellstutter Sprite resolving across the table. With some Delver pilots playing Daze and some not, things get even more complicated.

I don’t imagine we’ll see Delver losing much popularity anytime soon, especially not with the wins it continues to amass.

Lastly we have the Golgari deck, which won the very first of the August Daily Events. While a number of things puzzle me about this list, it’s definitely putting its own unique stamp on a familiar archetype.

Between Battlefield Scrounger, Putrid Leech and Werebear, this list seems like it can actually bring the beats pretty hard. It does leave me a bit confused, however.

While I can never fault the inclusion of Gnaw to the Bone (that card is sweet!), I have to wonder why the manabase is so skewed towards black. I count 21 black sources to 12 green sources, and yet much of the creature base and graveyard enabling comes from green.

Also, where is Grave Scrabbler? Traditionally one of the best value creatures in Tortured Existence, Scrabbler is simply missing here. It could be that this deck is more interested in dealing damage with Leeches and then blowing up Crypt Rats for the win, but if aggro is the plan why not utilize Wild Mongrel or something similar?

I’m probably just missing the finer details of this list, as it performed quite well and probably won’t be the last we see of the strategy.

Personally I don’t think I’ll be sleeving up Tortured Existence for a Daily, as it presents a lot of tricky decisions, requires an intense amount of tweaking and is generally one of the slower decks in the format. The cool factor is certainly there, so by all means stuff those graveyards if you feel so inclined.

End Step

I’m really interested in hearing what decks you guys want to see me play in upcoming Daily Events. If there’s something you think I’d do well with, or are just curious about, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Until next time, my fellow commoners!

  1. MBC placed in the meta more than Pauper, so it might be an even bigger elephant at the moment. If people are going to play in DEs they need to have a plan for Delver, MBC, and aggro decks (Goblins is big right now).

    If you’re going to play in some events on video, I’d love to see the WW Tokens deck in action!

  2. (Firstly, sorry for the non-perfect English :P)

    About the TE deck:

    In the first turns, one forest usually is enough… For Satyr, Commune or Leechs. You almost never play Brownscale, And on the other hand, you will need a lot of black always, for TE ability, or Crypt Rats; also for Barren Moor, etc. Maximizing the option to play TE on the first turn is also a reason. And some turns after, you won’t need more than GG or GGG almost ever.

    Grave Scrabbler, Wild Mongrel… They fit in a different deck, next to Arrogant Wurm and Basking Rotwalla. If you test the deck, you will understand :D (the main reason is that there are not enough discard abilities… If you add some, the deck will change too much).

    I think the deck doesn’t play mainly aggro, but sometimes, you can aggro with Leech or Werebears + dredging.

    The main plan is to find TE ASAP. So if you dont start with a copy of it, then you have Commune or cyclying cards for looking for it. When you find it, then you start moving cards to the graveyard with Satyrs and Communes, if you haven’t started already. So usually a dredger will have appeared, and then each turn u will dredge, and will start playing as many “2 mana 4/4s” as you can (Leeches and Werebears), while you can kill the 3 thoughness or less creatures at the same time, with the Rats. Tilling Treefolks and Tusker are essential here for continuing playing lands, so you can keep dredging turn after turn… And then you “change” the dredge card with any creature you want in the graveyard, depending on what you need. I still didn’t try the Nightstalkers… But probably they solve the problems we had against decks like Hexproof and Tron.

    A very very difficult deck to play; you have too many options each turn, and you will need to test a lot a lot and have hundreds of errors before start controlling it “decently”… But instead of hating this, I love this, because you have a very complex deck in a not-so-complex format… And I can tell you that at some point I started getting bored of Pauper, and when I found this deck, this changed totally for me :).

    By the way, a very good article with very good content; and you explained the dimir deck in a way that it encouraged me to play it, hehe. Keep with the great articles!! ;)

  3. They need a new name for these “Dailies.” This time last year we had 21 of these events each week. Now we have 3 – 1/7th the amount – and Europeans cannot play in them. Pauper is not back to where it was before. To use your analogy, WotC hit Pauper with a truck, let it linger on life support, and has just moved the all-common format to stable condition. Pauper is far from being that healthy great kid again. In my opinion, it hasn’t even left the hospital yet.

  4. Ahniwa – I appreciate the deck suggestion! Nice insights as well.

    Alejandro – Thanks for sharing! Solid info, and I’m glad you liked the article.

    HistorianJoe – Good points. I definitely like the analogy :P

  5. I agree, HistorianJoe. The events start at 2:30 am my time, which is probably the worst time possible. But I’m staying up super late anyway to play! I really want pauper to be a thing again. :)