Right now is a great time to be playing Pauper. The Daily Events routinely have over 25 players with 3-1 or 4-0 records, helping to provide a clear image of the metagame. These decks largely adhere to the known, coloring well within established lines. This makes sense since a large number of people playing in these Daily Events are doing so to earn Qualifying Points (for Magic Online Championship Qualifiers) and to grind out packs to sell to fuel their digital habit.
Going with a known and proven quantity is the logical decision, especially since there is no benefit to "breaking Pauper" since Daily Events are currently the largest events. There is no Open Series to test for, just four measly rounds. Staying within the comfort zone is, from a value perspective, the right call.
There are some intrepid players out there who are looking to discover what Wizards has seeded in their commons. Players who are driven to win on their own terms, believing that they have found something better. Sometimes these decks catch on for a week or two, like the stray marks in a grade schooler's coloring book. But who wants to be beholden to lines? Let's venture outside.
This deck was very popular at the end of May. Featuring one of my favorite cards in Faithless Looting, this deck goes about accruing card advantage in a roundabout way. Rather than just drawing cards, it uses Kor Skyfisher, Glint Hawk, and Sanctum Gargoyle to constantly reuse cantrip-style artifacts. Kuldotha Rebirth is here to help with the death trigger on Ichor Wellspring, turning an artifact into three tokens. The deck also has a plan to buy time, using Kabira Crossroads and Kor Skyfisher to gain life in Shock sized chunks. Remember the Fallen will almost always retrieve two and often can get two creatures, targeting a Sanctum Gargoyle with the artifact half of the card.
For a deck with many gears and cogs, Boros Trinkets does not actually move towards anything. There is no way to abuse the tokens from Kuldotha Rebirth and no way to benefit from the permanents changing zones. While drawing cards is fun, Boros Trinkets only has so many ways to end the game, and quite a few of those are also needed to deal with opposing threats. If I was going work on this deck, I would see what could be done with one or two Goblin Bushwhackers, if for no other reason than that they play nice with all your tokens birthed from dead machines. When combined with Kor Skyfisher, one Bushwhacker can also represent an absolute ton of damage.
If moving pieces are that desirable, this deck might be better served by abandoning the artifact engine and instead focusing on other enters-the-battlefield effects. Perhaps an update of a deck discussed way back during Gatecrash previews:
- 4 Battlegate Mimic
- 2 Cerodon Yearling
- 4 Goblin Legionnaire
- 3 Kor Skyfisher
- 4 Skyknight Legionnaire
- 4 Steppe Lynx
- 4 Viashino Firstblade
- 4 Wojek Halberdiers
While this deck may not have the ability to draw cards at the same clip as Trinkets, it has a better aggressive game plan: triggering a four-power first-striking blob. The other creatures are no slouches, and Steppe Lynx works well when there the only thing there is to bounce is a land. Alternatively, this deck could stick with the Glint Hawk theme and load up on artifact lands and landfall creatures. Imagine a core of Skyfisher, Hawk, Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede, and twelve artifact lands. While not as impressive as some other creatures, 2/3s and 3/3s are better than the other aggressive decks can muster.
Pauper players sure do love their Rube Goldbergs. Unlike Boros Trinket, this deck actually puts the rescue effects of its cards to good use. Reality Acid has a leaves-play trigger, so putting it on anything and following up with a Kor Skyfisher, or a Dream Prowler, or even a Drake Familiar can effectively be a Vindicate plus. That is pretty good.
The rest of the deck is designed around similar interactions. Auramancer will get back a used Acid (mayhaps exploded by a Kor Sanctifiers) and be Momentary Blinked back to get another one. Faith's Fetters and Hobble both serve similar purposes in shutting down a creature, but one gains almost a turn's worth of life and the other draws a card. If there is one qualm I have with the deck, it is that it could not find a way to fit in a third Mulldrifter. This deck can reuse the flying fish like few others in the format, and while I can understand not wanting to draw them all early, three seems to be the sweet spot between "can't cast this" and "draw all the cards."
Moving forward, I would want to see this deck shore up the combo matchup. A turn 4 Stone Rain may not be fast enough against decks that can go "Upheaval you" thanks to Temporal Fissure. This might be accomplished by considering Boomerang for additional land disruption or maybe accelerating with Wayfarer's Bauble and Azorius Signet. Until the combo angle can be addressed, I do not see Acid Trip going anywhere.
I heard about this deck when another Pauper writer asked via Twitter what it should be called. After a quick scan, can it be called anything else besides Tokens? This deck plays into the swarm strategy of just making more critters than your opponent and then casting Overrun for the win. There are lots of tools included to buy time, and the payoff is casting a huge Keep Watch to fuel an almost as huge Rites of Initiation. While effective, this is slow and fairly easily disrupted. Other aggressive decks can win with greater speed, and the control decks can pick off the X/1s with great ease. That does not mean this deck should be scrapped.
With the depth of the Pauper card pool, it is feasible to make this deck in one color. While lacking the mass draw of Keep Watch, supplementing Elvish Visionary with Multani's Acolyte can keep the cards flowing. Another Urza's Block staple, Yavimaya Elder, can be used to "draw" three cards, helping to fuel Sprout Swarms all the same. Strength in Numbers and Might of the Masses can pack quite the punch. Additionally, this deck could make use of Rancor—I'm pretty sure you get bonus points for beating someone to death with a Plant token.
Yeah. Totally a thing.
Going in a slightly different direction, the token strategy could draw on Standard Pauper of days gone by. One of the most dominant decks ever in Standard Pauper was Selesnya Saprolings, which used Pallid Mycoderm as an at-will Overrun. With better mana available today, maybe it is time for the deck to make a comeback attempt.
While untested, this deck can vomit up quite a few tokens. It is quite likely the deck wants to borrow some technology from Surfkatt's deck, with Essence Wardens and Sylvan Rangers helping to gain life (perhaps Soul Wardens and Soul's Attendants as well), but for a first pass I would rather try going all-in on the fun guys.
- 4 Court Homunculus
- 3 Immolating Souleater
- 4 Porcelain Legionnaire
- 4 Vault Skirge
- 4 Ardent Recruit
- 4 Auriok Sunchaser
- 3 Loyal Cathar
- 2 Veteran Armorer
When looking at this list, the name Cyborgs just came to mind since it's half humans, half machines. I picked up this list as is and played through quite a few games. The deck certainly has some play to it, and the Immolating Souleater + Double Cleave combo, while it never won me a game, was a nice trick to have up my sleeve. The best use of Double Cleave I found was on defense; when facing down a clogged board, I knew that if my opponent attacked they would be wrecked. Veteran Armorer plays very well in this deck, keeping your relatively fragile army alive.
The single biggest hole in this deck is the inability to recoup any sort of card advantage. There is nary a cantrip to be found, which can prove problematic if the game goes longer than turn five (which isn't likely to happen in this format). The only solution I have come up with is running some number of Drifting Meadows (over Secluded Steppe since Darksteel Citadel produces colorless) and perhaps a Remember the Fallen or two. Another option is to try to include more "win now" cards. Perhaps Slash Panther can find a home over an Immolating Souleater. Out of the decks presented thus far, this one seems to have the most going for it but needs that little push over the edge.
The final list for today's look down recent memory lane actually recalls Pauper from about a year ago. While never a huge player, this deck did experience some success. With the recent downgrade of Bound in Silence to common in Modern Masters, it was only a matter of time before this deck reemerged.
- 2 Amrou Scout
- 2 Amrou Seekers
- 4 Aven Riftwatcher
- 3 Defiant Falcon
- 1 Nightwind Glider
- 4 Ramosian Lieutenant
- 4 Ramosian Sergeant
- 1 Thermal Glider
- 2 Zealot il-Vec
Rebels are probably the best version of white card advantage ever. This deck needs a single one-drop to get going. Better kill that Ramosian Sergeant right away, lest it becomes something far more dangerous. The Rebel chain is aided immeasurably with the presence of the Cloudpost engine, allowing the deck to cast spells and search up an army without costing a meaninful amount of tempo.
Bound in Silence is a sick inclusion as well since thanks to a rules interaction of it being put on to the battlefield via Rebel search and not cast, it can be placed onto a creature with shroud or hexproof. Pretty slick. Zealot il-Vec helps pick off annoying one-toughness creatures (of which there are so many) while also providing a glacially slow clock in the later game (or slightly faster if augmented by Bonesplitter).
The other cards are bullets and answers. The Gliders fight their respective monocolor enemies. Prismatic Strands is the Fog to end all Fogs, and Aven Riftwatcher is almost a Corrupt for four if it attacks for a Tendrils of Corruption if it trades. And if this deck needs to go over the top, it can slam down the elbow of Ulamog's Crusher. I mean, that is just cold.
If anything gives me pause, it is the game plan of winning slowly with small creatures. While there will always be more Rebels (until there is not), I would like to see the inclusion of a mass pump effect. Some older versions of this deck ran one or two Marshalling Crys, which provides a decent (if unimpressive) boost but has the benefit of cycling and flashback.
Or, if all else fails, just Crusher them.
These are just a smattering of the rogue decks present in Pauper. They have the benefit of a winning record (or two), but there are a bevy of half-developed lists based on good ideas toiling in the X-2 and X-3 brackets of Daily Events. Like the lists here, maybe all they need is the right nudge.
Keep slingin' commons-
SpikeBoyM on Magic Online
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