Hello boys and girls! Before we get off and running today, I’d like to thank those of you who have been supportive of the Doctor Pauper segment concept. First attempts are rarely 100% comfortable for me as a writer, and my last article introducing Doctor Pauper was no exception.
While there definitely are still a number of kinks to work out, many of you have been both patient and positive when providing feedback and making suggestions. I hope that you will continue to provide such great encouragement as we move forward.
Before we begin today’s session, I’d like to apologize in advance for not having any video content for you this time around. I say this because some of you requested that I test Doctor Pauper deck submissions against the format’s high profile opposition “on camera.”
Having Doctor Pauper gravitate more towards the video content side of things is an exciting prospect for me, and I’m actually kind of bummed that I wasn’t able to make it happen for Dime a Dozen’s 30th installment.
The truth is that I haven’t had a lot of time to make videos over these past two weeks, and the segment as a whole still has some issues to address (in terms of both identity and direction). In fact, I think it would be best for us to address those issues right now.
Some of the comments from last article expressed a degree of reader confusion, most of which stemmed from not “getting” what Doctor Pauper was really trying to accomplish. Let’s take a look at one such comment for the sake of elaboration.
“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?”
I want to help the deck’s submitter get closer to achieving whatever goal they have in mind for their deck. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that I failed to communicate this accurately before (since just about every deck submission I’ve received since has come without an accompanying submitter goal).
So if you’re going to submit a deck to be showcased on Doctor Pauper (or if you already have submitted one), I’d like you to also include (in other words write out) a description of what you are hoping to achieve with the deck. If you have multiple goals, please decide which one among them means the most to you. One deck, one goal.
I suppose another way of answering the original question is, I want what you want. Even if you think your goal is ridiculous or unattainable, submit it anyway! I’d rather have us fail miserably and laugh about it than not even try in the first place.
And that goes for the entire Doctor Pauper idea, too. If it starts to get stale, or just never finds its footing to begin with, then we’ll shrug it off and move on to something else.
Alright, enough yapping. The doctor will see you now!
Today’s Submission: Grixis LD/Discard
To refresh everyone’s memory, here is the Grixis LD/Discard list that was previewed last time:
Grixis LD/Discard by Calum Williams
A big thanks goes out to Calum Williams for submitting the deck, and for leaving comments on the previous article. Here is some of his commentary on the list itself:
“I put this together with Cloudpost and Delver as the targets…The Goblin Electromancers make it so that you can burn two lands on Turn 4 with the ideal draw…This, hopefully, brings out a lot of counters because the mana is such a crucial resource to Delver and Cloudpost. Following this up with Rats and Specter should hopefully leave the opponents’ hand pretty weak. There’s also a little bit of removal in the main deck to make it a bit more resilient.”
Grixis LD/Discard: Your Thoughts
I think it’s really fantastic that a number of you contributed to the discussion last time by commenting. Your feedback was awesome! In fact, it was so awesome that I’d like to share a bit of it with everyone. Below are some of the observations you made regarding this deck:
“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…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.” — Mattador
“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.” – Calum Williams
Let me say that you guys have hit a lot of valid points here. I will be going over many aspects of this deck, but I’ll try to expand on these comments as best as I can without being too redundant. Thanks again for the great contributions!
Grixis LD/Discard: My Thoughts
Calum, the deck’s pilot, cited both Cloudpost decks and Delver decks as being the objects of his aggression when coming up with this brew. For that reason, I am going to assume that his primary goal is “deck sniping” (one of the goals referenced in Dime a Dozen #29). To put it in simpler terms, we want to have killer Delver and Post matchups at all costs!
Usually when analyzing preexisting lists, I like to start by looking at a deck’s mana base. I do this because it is not uncommon to find obvious “fixes” or improvements from the very beginning (not enough sources of a given color, too many lands, suboptimal land choices, etc.), and because (in my humble opinion) not enough emphasis is placed on understanding the dynamics of a powerful mana base.
Nevertheless, I am not going to start by looking at this deck’s mana base. Why not? Because there are a couple basic issues (dealing with fundamental design and conceptual strategy) to look at before we even get to the mana. The first of these issues I’m going to call the “hand death/land death nombo.”
The Hand Death/Land Death Nombo
You guys have made some strong points about this deck’s inability to close out games, even when its game plan is progressing smoothly. I am going to do my best to elaborate on that input, and make a few points that weren’t already touched upon.
There are two primary flaws with the premise of a deck like this (in other words, a deck that’s based primarily around hand disruption and land destruction). The first flaw is that both hand disruption and land destruction are “subordinate plans” (I will talk about the difference between “urgent” and subordinate plans in just a moment). The second flaw is that hand disruption and land destruction are a bit of a “nombo,” or non-combo.
However, this is not to say that an LD/Discard deck is impossible to build, or that I’m going to try and change the submitted deck’s plan of attack. It just means that the current plan of attack is not necessarily a great choice.
There are (at least) two types of plans a deck can have. The first type of plan is what I like to call an urgent plan. This type of plan is something that will literally win the game when it’s well-executed and inadequately repelled.
Think of an aggro deck’s plan. An aggro plan will literally win the game if left unchecked, because the opponent will be beaten down to 0 life or to 10 poison counters. Combo plans are the same way. If a player makes infinite creatures with Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond or generates infinite mana to cast Kaervek’s Torch, then that player is in a game-winning position.
You’ll notice that most decks adopt urgent plans as their first (and sometimes only) means of winning the game. By being highly focused on this robust type of plan, the aggro deck can more consistently deal damage and the combo deck can more consistently “combo off”.
On the other side of the coin we have subordinate plans. These are used to reasonable effect in games of Magic, but require supplemental aid in order to score a win. Mana ramp is an example of a subordinate plan (since it requires something to actually ramp into), and so are hand disruption and land destruction (they require a way to capitalize on the opponent’s deprivation of resources).
By mashing together two subordinate plans, we find (as many of you have commented) that this deck doesn’t actively win, even if things are going well for it! This is why a card like Acidic Slime has historically been considered a viable means of land destruction in other formats. It is versatile enough to help win a game (since it is able to attack), and is capable of hitting nonland targets if need be. If we can find robust, flexible cards that disrupt the opponent and progress some sort of urgent plan, I think we’ll be in better shape here.
Finally, hand disruption and land destruction are what I would consider a “nombo” when used in conjunction. This is just another way of saying that they don’t synergize well together, and actually interact with each other negatively much of the time.
Just think about what happens if one of our plans is working well. For instance, if we’ve managed to wreck our opponent’s hand with discard, then it doesn’t actually matter how many lands they have in play (because they’ve got nothing to do with the lands). Similarly, if we’ve wrecked our opponent’s mana with Stone Rains, it doesn’t matter how many cards they have in their hand (because they’ve got too few lands to make use of those cards).
These plans don’t really supplement each other, and we’ll end up with “dead” cards in hand rather than substantial win conditions to resolve.
Grixis LD/Discard: Possible Solutions
This is the “doctored” list I would start tinkering with if I were you:
Dimir Disruption by Jason Moore
While Calum ultimately decided to cut blue from the original Grixis shell, I personally opted to cut red. I did this because I feel blue offers relevant win conditions and has ways of making sure those win conditions both resolve and stay alive.
Calcite Snapper cannot be killed outside of combat or an extremely well-timed Electrickery. Errant Ephemeron smashes through any potential blockers, but sucks against Flame Slash and Snap. Prohibit conveniently combats both of those, and works against any Delver countermagic that isn’t Exclude.
The primary change in philosophy here is the addition of creatures that double as attackers and disruptors. Augur of Skulls, and more importantly Okiba-Gang Shinobi, can beat down and/or get cards out of the opponent’s hand. Just a couple hits from Shinobi while the opponent is down can be enough to seal the deal.
I reduced the amount of land destruction in the deck, because I feel it is the weaker of the two subordinate plans. Contaminated Ground has come in to replace some of the other options because it at least does something against Delver (though that something isn’t exciting), and furthers the deck’s urgent plan of attacking life totals.
Here is the sideboarding plan for our target matchups:
There aren’t any early guys for us to kill with Dead Weight, so additional land disruption seems like the play. Seas doesn’t “color screw” them, but it cycles and hits the most relevant land (Cloudpost) just fine. Boarding in the Nihil Spellbomb for Mnemonic Wall targets can also be useful.
Land destruction in my opinion is not great against them, especially when we can focus our deck more to support our urgent plan. Contaminated Ground can still punish their low land count, Quicksands and Spire Golems. Extra removal, particularly the powerful creature trump Serrated Arrows will come in handy, and Dispel fights through any counter that isn’t Spellstutter Sprite.
I know this may seem like a drastic change, but the original intention of the deck is still intact. We’re still attacking Cloudpost and Delver by utilizing hand disruption and land destruction. I have a feeling that Post decks may still be able to claw their way back against us, but some test matches will be needed to know for sure.
Which brings us to my proposal for the next installment of Dime a Dozen: I’d like to jam some matches with this Dimir Disruption deck against Delver and variants of Cloudpost! Video content in the form of multiple matches with some written supplementation thrown in. Please let me know if that is something you guys would like to see!
If you have any additional questions about my Dimir Disruption list, or about Doctor Pauper in general, feel free to leave a comment below.
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!