Back to the drawing board: Kil'n Pauper
That´s right, the apostrophe was meant to be there, because Kiln Fiend is killing it in Pauper. The deck only has two weak matchups: Mono Blue and Mono Black. Unfortunately they are the most played archetypes in Pauper. Apart from that Kiln Fiend decks die to a lot of commonly used sideboard cards. Could we start Kil´n them again if we evolve our deck?
The answer is yes and surprisingly it doesn't require all that much effort. I was amazed that a similar "updated" list hasn't been produced yet. Maybe the deck has just been deemed good, but ineffective against the format and left alone. This deck gets bullied by everyone's sideboard because cards that are good against other decks also work against this deck. The list is enormous; from the sideboard Circle of Protection: Red, Hydroblast and Moment's Peace to the maindeck Geth's Verdict, Lightning Bolt, Snap and whatnot. It's just that every time I wanted to go rogue, this deck would wreck me. So for the past couple of months I've learned to fear and appreciate the Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops.
Let's take a look at the classic Kiln Fiend deck.
This deck will kill you fast unless you go out of your way to disrupt it. The base is quite linear as every spell in the deck is there to serve the creatures. My gut feeling says that this list got a bit lucky earning the 4-0. Aside from the Apostle's Blessing is see no protection for the creatures and a well-timed removal spell could leave you trying to draw gas for the next few turns.
Like I have said before, the weakest matchups for the deck are Mono Blue and Mono Black. Both have the innate ability to counter or remove at instant speed, making the matchup a "cat and mouse" game. Sadly their card advantage will eventually outweigh your dead buff cards and they will win unless you sneak past them. To start winning again, this deck needs some serious evolution from what it was, to what it should be.
Evolving the deck..
If we want this deck to win games, we'll obviously need Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops as well as some spells to buff them.
These cards are the bread and butter of the deck and your winning conditions. An Assault Strobe and two other spells give you a 10/* double strike creature.
Any "combo deck" needs tutors to set the game up for a win. It would be silly to play blue for the Nivix Cyclops and not play the best combo setup cards. A sharp eye will see Brainstorm missing here. With no means to shuffle your deck it feels like Brainstorm doesn't help your dig any further into your deck aside from the one card net gain, to me that just isn't enough, but I'm open to discussion on that.
Apostle's Blessing acts as a counterspell against removal or a way to give your creature protection and sneak it past creatures. Artful Dodge is a way to sneak damage past blockers and the flashback acts as a second spell often dealing an additional three damage. Artful Dodge's flashback protects it against discard so you'll always get at least one cast out of it. This is very important against Mono Black as you will see later on.
Sometimes you don't have all the cards in the first few turns and you'll need a way to survive. Lightning Bolt is excellent to slow down aggression and can clear the way for your creatures to attack or just deal three damage to the opponent. Either way gives you another +3/+0 trigger. Delver of Secrets is a decoy in this deck, but we all know how a delver can singlehandedly win a game. It's the only creature in the deck that can beat a Circle of protection: Red. Delver of Secrets can also serve as a nice wall against fae or take down larger attackers when buffed by Mutagenic Growth. Against Mono black it's an additional Geth's Verdict target, protecting your Kiln Fiend or Nivix Cyclops.
Aside from being "free" spells, these two cards have major roles in how a game plays out. There's nothing more liberating than looking at your opponent's hand with a Gitaxian Probe and finding out he can do nothing against your path to victory. Often you can puzzle out how to win and what to save your protection spells for. Mutagenic Growth has a different role, often protecting your creatures from low cost removal like Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, Echoing Decay, FireBolt, Perilous Myr, Crypt Rats, Cuombajj Witches and a few others. As an aggressive card Mutagenic Growth can swing combat your way or pump a Delver to double strike for the win.
Where's the tech? All of these cards were in the deck before.
Yes Daze, If we look at the turn progression against Mono Blue and Mono Black, Daze can be a huge surprise! It can counter a Geth's Verdict or force a Kiln Fiend through a Spellstutter Sprite. People usually remember what the deck used to be like and most of them aren't expecting Daze.
||If Mono Blue has Snap for your creature, they will use it, thinking they will have mana backup for the next spell. Against Mono Blue, Daze often ensures that your opponent's lands do not get untapped from Cloud of Faeries and Snap. Even if they Daze you back, there will be only one land left to untap, opening up casting for the next turn. If you have a Daze and an Apostle's Blessing, you can bait a Mono black player into playing removal precombat that Daze will catch, giving your creature protection from black (read unblockable) and adding +6/+0 to it. A typical case of " just add Assault Strobe".
Remember when I said that these matchups will become a "cat and mouse" game. Well, the first mouse takes the trap and the second mouse gets the cheese.
The second "cat and mouse" card we play is Gigadrowse. This card does a lot for the deck; It can tap down blockers, Time Walk by tapping an opponent's lands in their upkeep or just be played at end of turn to ensure uninterrupted casting for the next turn. The replicates all have to be countered separately, making it a solid tool against Mono Blue. Against Mono Black it's a way to run them out of mana when you can't run them out of removal (Read all about that HERE)
Here's my version of the deck
Last week, I wrote about the importance of sideboarding and how you should be "winning game three" if you have the better sideboard. This week, I'll go through the nightmare matchups step by step and explain my sideboard plans.
Mono Blue (Faeries)
Sideboard in: +2 Daze, +3 Dispel, +4 PyroBlast +2 Electrickery
Sideboard out: -4 Apostle's Blessing, -4 Nivix Cyclops, -1 Assault Strobe, -2 Artful dodge
This is the signature matchup and as you can see, you will change the fundamentals of how you win in this matchup. Your gameplan is to resolve a Kiln Fiend and attack with it or ride a Delver of Secrets to victory using your spells to protect it.
Turn one and two are keys in this matchup. Turn one on the play you'll definitely want an Island to either cast Delver of Secrets, Ponder or Preordain with Daze backup in hand. You have ten ways of dealing with an opposing Delver so don't use your Daze on it. Instead, that Daze will help you resolve a turn two Kiln Fiend and act as protection against opposing Daze / Snap. Do this right and you've earned the win.
Turn one on the draw is a little different. With Electrickery, Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt capable of dealing with an opponent's Delver of Secrets you should always cast a red spell on turn one if able. If they do Daze it, they will be behind on lands. If they don't daze your turn one red spell, then you'll have time to setup the following turns through Gigadrowse and Ponder effects.
* The Mono Blue deck has no removal outside of Snap, so Dispel is the protection card of choice instead of Apostle's Blessing. Dispel also deals with Hydroblast, Gush and Counterspell and doesn't cost any life to cast.
* Removing the Nivix Cyclops might seem weird, but the card will be too late to make a difference. You can never just cast it and have enough counter to win the war.
* All your counterspells cost one mana, while most of the opponent's counterspells cost two mana. Use this to your advantage. If they play a spell, you'll win the war. If they wait for you to cast spells, then you should wait until every mana represents a counterspell of some sort.
Mono Black (Merchant)
Sideboard in: +2 Daze, +3 Dispel, (+2 Mutagenic Growth)
Sideboard out: -2 Assault Strobe, -3 Lightning Bolt, (-1 Mountain, -1 Lightning Bolt)
This matchup is the tougher of the two, because you have to fight the removal while keeping up with the discard. They can go card for card and you need multiple cards to win. Daze is the all star in the matchup next to Dispel as they effectively fight higher CMC removal. All you need is to untap with a creature to win, so being able to protect your creature is the key to victory.
Mono Black doesn't have any relevant early plays. But you do: In the early turns you will spend your time pondering into Daze, Dispel, Apostle's Blessing and of course creatures. Daze is recommended to use against any discard that comes with a body, especially 2/1 Flying bodies. Other than that, keep it for Oubliette.
* Your Delver of Secrets is never going to deal 21 damage in this matchup, but it's a great decoy. Don't protect it unless you know their hand is removal light, so it can catch another removal spell.
* Mutagenic Growth is recommended against versions that run Disfigure and/or Echoing Decay.
* (Artful Dodge)'s flashback protects it against discard so you'll always get at least one cast out of it.
* Gigadrowse against removal filled hands - Let's say they leave their two mana open and you really need to cast a Kiln Fiend, a Gitaxian Probe revealed four two-mana costing removal spells. Next turn is your turn three, at the end of turn, you tap their two Swamps. Untap and voila, you can cast Kiln Fiend and leave a mana open for Dispel orApostle's Blessing. This way you can even sneak past two Geth's Verdict, an Oubliette or a pair of Victim of Night
I will not bore you with every other matchup, but just explain the not so obvious ones. Flaring Pain is a card you bring in against any deck that brings Circle of Protection: Red, Spore Frog, Moment's Peace or similar damage preventing cards. Mutagenic Growth comes in against every burn variant, UrzaTron and for example Tortured Existence using Perilous Myr.
I Hope you've had fun reading this. As always, show your appreciation with a like, comment in the section below and look for the next "Back to the drawing board"
Now go and beat those pesky pauper netdeckers.