Dime a Dozen #55: Preparing for Proper Pauper


That’s what I’m hoping has happened to the recent Pauper Daily bug by this article’s release. You may have seen my article for another site (in which I detailed the online aberration), and as I write this, the October 22nd updates to MTGO are reportedly set to wipe it out altogether. If all goes according to plan, the Daily Events will return to their standard functionality and I’ll be playing in one or two in order to bring Pauper video content back to the site.

Which leaves us with one central question: what am I going to play?

My attempt to cash out with Mono-White Tokens came to a screeching halt about six weeks ago, and now I’m pretty indecisive on what strategy to opt for. As usual I’d like to assume a proactive game plan, preferably with access to some unfair things (for more info on Pauper unfairness, check out my pseudo-treatise from earlier this year). Bonus points are allotted to decks that I have a reasonable degree of familiarity with, and/or are well-positioned at the moment.

Ordered alphabetically, the three decks I’ve been most successful (and unsurprisingly most comfortable) with are:

1. Mono-Red Goblins
2. RUG Affinity
3. White Weenie

While all of these decks have satisfactory matchup percentages against Delver (in my experience and in my humble opinion), they all have some inherent weaknesses vs. Mono-Black Control. Of the three, White Weenie’s MBC matchup can be shored up the most thanks to creatures like Order of Leitbur.

By no means am I limiting myself to the above deck choices. In fact, I’d like to begin my initial exploration with one of Pauper’s most ubiquitous decks, Mono-Blue Delver.

Playing a list similar to the one above (which went 4-0 in an October 19th Daily Event) not only satisfies my requirements for a proactive and at times unfair deck, it also allows me to play the format’s latest darling Treasure Cruise. This is a big plus, and hopefully there are a number of you who would like to see the Khans of Tarkir common in action.

From what I can tell, the above list is a somewhat budget variant of the well-known Delver archetype. I say this because Daze, Hydroblast and Snap are all absent from the 75. This would explain the strange and rarely seen mix of countermagic in the sideboard (Annul, Dispel and Outwit, accounting for 2/3 of the deck’s sideboard slots).

Despite being budget, the list managed to go undefeated in a bugged Daily (which means other players were packing “illegal” cards like Desert and Hymn to Tourach).

Here is an adjusted list I’m considering.

Personally I prefer some number of Gitaxian Probe in my Delver decks, because the knowledge of our opponent’s hand can be extremely useful. Probe now has the added benefit of feeding Treasure Cruise, which I’d like to test as a one-of in the main deck. I’ve got a second copy in the sideboard, which means I can experiment with playing two if I so choose. I’m not sure how well Gush and Treasure Cruise perform side-by-side, but I definitely wouldn’t mind spending some time to figure that out.

I made room in the sideboard for three copies of Hydroblast, as well as a singleton tokens-nuking Echoing Truth. With Mono-Black Control being so popular, I feel that a resilient creature like Stormbound Geist might be nothing short of necessary.

Please let me know if you’d like me to pilot Delver for the next video series, and what changes you would make to this prototype list!

While technically labeled as a control deck, Mono-Black Control does a number of proactive things. These range from disrupting the opponent’s hand, to building up a highly devoted board to draining a bunch of life with Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

Below is a “bugged” version of the deck, which will have to be changed moving forward.

Ouch! I can imagine facing this deck was a painful experience. While this list did 4-0 the October 20th Daily Event, it will need some considerable adjusting (since Desert and Hymn to Tourach are ostensibly no longer playable). While a card like Wrench Mind has similar functionality to Hymn, there seem to be a lot of artifact lands seeing play (thanks to Trinket Mage and Affinity decks). Chromatic Star also sees play in Tron, and Bonesplitter is featured in Delver and White Weenie.

I’ve never disliked Augur of Skulls, which seems to fit decently well in that now vacant Hymn position. The prospect of replacing Deserts and Swamps with the cycling lands is also something I’m interested in. Let’s see how all of that would look in a hypothetical 75.

Mostly I’ve changed up the removal suite and sideboard. This could all end up being incorrect, but I’d like to see how Dead Weight currently performs. One-mana removal is typically very important in Pauper, and Weight can sometimes add to devotion (making it somewhat of a cross between Disfigure and Oubliette).

The sideboard changes I’ve made primarily involved lessening the edict count. Six edicts and the pseudo-sweeper Shrivel should be enough for most hexproof or protection creature scenarios. Serrated Arrows can additionally get protection creatures even if a Veteran Armorer is in play. Furthermore, Nihil Spellbomb and Wrench Mind arguably have their place against a deck like Esper Familiars.

What do you think of my MBC list, and how should I change it?

Although I haven’t taken Mono-Green Stompy into a Daily Event before, I did enjoy invading an 8-man Queue with it. The deck overall has served me well, and can still make a splash in the format Dailies. Case in point:

This 4-0 list from October 18th has moved away from Silhana Ledgewalker in favor of a more value-based, removal-tanking style. Elephant Guide, River Boa, Safehold Elite and Young Wolf can all exchange favorably with spot removal spells.

In the case of the above Stompy list, I think I’d actually prefer not to suggest many specific changes, though I do think the sideboard is a bit flooded with 1-damage pinging effects (full suite of Hornet Stings, full suite of Scattershot Archers, and a Viridian Longbow). On top of that, if I’m going to play Stompy you better believe I’m going to try and shoehorn in Nettle Sentinel! I really like what that card brings to the table, and it does provide some buffering against edicts (which is a plus).

On a side note, you may be noticing a pattern here. Not sure? Look at every single mana base I’ve posted. Monocolored decks typically seem to be my preference, though I’m by no means opposed to two or more color options.

Is Mono-Green Stompy the optimal choice for me? It does fulfill a number of my aforementioned prerequisites, but it’s never been my favorite deck. I’m open to any and all suggestions you may have.

And this takes us back to my “big three.” Each deck has made Pauper Daily appearances in some capacity, though I still don’t know which one I would pick if I had to choose right now. The Esper Familiar matchup is not fantastic for any of them, but I imagine Goblins can outrace Familiars every so often.

There is also the (perhaps foolish) option of giving Mono-White Tokens a second chance. Here is a list that has chalked up multiple 4-0 records.

Good old BALKK here went 4-0 with the deck not only on October 19th, but also on the 20th. Is that enough of an endorsement for me to once again tempt fate? I can’t say. There are just so many cards that look bad on paper (mostly Selfless Cathar [card]Tireless Tribe). However, I know firsthand that this strategy is meant to be assessed in practice.

How sadistic are you guys? Do you want me to go screeching back into the Dailies? Let me know!

I hope that some of you can help cure me of my indecisiveness. If you decide to recommend a deck to me (note that it doesn’t have to be one that I wrote about), please make the most convincing argument possible!

Until next time, my fellow commoners!

  1. I’m assuming that the Polluted Delta listed in the MBC list should be Polluted Mire.

    Otherwise, I’m interested in checking out your lists. Great article.

  2. Considering that the pauper bug gives us an environment much more like that of paper pauper on MTGO, do you’ve any thoughts on how the that environment differs from the online metagame? Most metagames of paper pauper are rather specific to their location, so this gives a bit of a different view on it.

  3. The mono-green list looks pretty good.
    There is also mono-green walls (tinder wall, overgrown battlement) ramp which seem pretty well-positioned right now, with the penumbra spider as an allstar blocker. Shyft at CFB put up a variant of that some 6-12 months ago.

  4. Woah, there was a bug in MTGO that made it so illegal cards could be played? Nuts!

    One time at FNM I was stuck between two decks. I decided to roll a d6 and assigned all odd numbers to one deck and the evens to another. I rolled and for some reason went against what the dice said. I went 0-4 with an established archetype and didn’t have that good of a time.

    What I’m trying to say is sometimes when indecisiveness hits, a little bit of chance can spice things up. I say, perhaps erroneously, roll the dice!

  5. It sucks that players cheat – but hymn is no stronger than counterspell, mono blue, more like mono booooo. Maybe golemn foundry could be in the affinity sideboard for mono black. I like to have some recursion in mono black as the games can go long.

  6. El Conejo – Are you referring to the online metagame with or without the bug?

    Emisun – I’ll have to check that Walls deck out! Good find.

    ThankTheBear – I appreciate the suggestion. That’s actually a good idea for decisions outside of Magic as well!

    burt – I like the strong opinions. Foundry isn’t too slow in that matchup?

  7. I really like your Delver list. I have been playing a very similar list for quite a while now and I love it. I would only recommend playing 17 lands and would probably cut 1 golem for it. I never liked them as a 4-off and they might get even worse with only 16 lands I would imagine. I’m also not a big fan of Gitaxian Probe, I play 1 Exclude and 1 Bonesplitter instead and really like them. But that’s probably just a matter of personal play style. I would really like to watch u smashing some people with the deck in the next videos ;)
    As far as Treasure Cruise is concerned, I’m still not sure how many copies I should play in my 75 and whether I should play Gush in the same deck. For now I’m trying the same configuration as you but haven’t been playing much since Khans got released on MTGO. Would be great to hear your opinion about Treasure Cruise though, after you had the time to get in some games.

  8. It would be interesting to see someone run the straight aggro tokens deck – note the important difference with your version is that BALKK’s version is maindecking zero reactive/defensive cards, except for one drops that can do double duty (like the jav’s and the tappers) – just cast one dude turn one, two dudes turn two (or four dudes if you hit the screech/tribe wombo combo), three dudes turn three, and swing for lethal with the pledge on turn four.

    One change I would make to that deck is to put in Ramosian Rally (maybe 2 of?) to fight electrickery. You may also want benevolent bodyguard in the main deck in place of other one drops, because at some point people are going to start bringing echoing truth/decay to the fight.

    MBC is badly positioned at the moment – MBC deck were getting murdered by treasure cruise decks right and left over the last weekend.

  9. I think the irony here is that delver seemingly gets over run by the token deck :D At least the new version, not the one you ran through the daily in your article.