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By: DimeCollectoR, Jason Moore
Aug 21 2017 12:00pm
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Hi folks!

Time's a wastin'.


Part One is here. Let's immediately pick up where we left off!




I'm going to banish any suspense and declare straight away that blue's pairing with black produces the most complete two-color unit when it comes to Pauper control decks.


Not categorically the best at all points in time. The most complete, meaning the most capable of dismantling a wide field, a wide range of scenarios, matchups and variables.


Again, if you're going to play a two-color control deck in Pauper, the most complete option, the one that can accomplish the most, the one that can answer the most, is blue and black.


This is more or less confirmed by what we see in the 5-0 list results. The popular UB decks, running either Forbidden Alchemy, Ghostly Flicker or Mystical Teachings, can largely be referred to as control strategies. And they all put up results.


Beginning with creature kill, black is genuinely the best removal color at 2 mana or higher, and the best color when it comes to removing large creatures. This is not to say that its 1 mana removal is bad, just limited.


It is truly impressive that black can deal with Pauper creatures of any size, and can do so at instant speed for 2 mana or less. This very much comes in handy against decks like Affinity and Izzet Fiend, who want to win games purely via the magnitude of their creatures.


Chainer's Edict, for one, quickly became a format all-star after its printing at common in Vintage Masters.


Evincar's Justice


While this is moderately debatable, it's my opinion that black possesses the most robust sweeper in the format: Evincar's Justice. While much of the time Justice is nothing more than slow Volcanic Fallout, that tends to be good enough in matchups where we need a timely wrath effect.


I wish I could illustrate the importance of a board wipe (on Justice's level) for control strategies in Pauper. In fact, the format's dearth of sweepers is what actually enables overextending swarm decks to be as prevalent as they are.


Generally speaking, tempo has to be equalized by the control mage somehow. The increasing efficiency and tempo generation of creatures in our format, exemplified by Burning-Tree Emissary, speaks to this. This means that sometimes Justice must be served!


Moving on, we see that black also brings viable win conditions to the control pilot's table. The aforementioned Justice is one, and often pairs with Pristine Talismans to place a semi-soft lock on the game.


Gurmag Angler


Gurmag Angler is another usable finisher, and boy does it finish people. The zombie fish can be cast fairly early on, which ends up being a factor against degenerate decks like Burn and Tron. Angler is the weapon that control mages often need to level the playing field. This is mostly because of its size relative to its pliable casting cost.


The 5/5 stalls most boards, or simply crashes through them. It's also impervious to a lot of the format's popular removal spells (Doom Blade, Epic Confrontation, Flame Slash, Galvanic Blast and Lightning Bolt come to mind).


Black also offers up a “lock condition” in Chittering Rats. Rats teams up with Ghostly Flicker and Archaeomancer (or any of her contemporaries) to repeatedly rob the opponent of their fresh draw.


On top of this there are cards in black that don't literally win the game, but go a long way towards setting up a devastating chain of resources. Particularly I'm thinking of Mystical Teachings and one of the last remaining cards with storm, Reaping the Graves.


Black is the best when it comes to obliterating graveyards. Bojuka Bog, Crypt Incursion, Faerie Macabre, Nihil Spellbomb, etc. all have their merits, though Macabre can be used by anyone. So can Relic of Progenitus, making black's graveyard suppression less pertinent.


When it comes to hand disruption, black also shines. Duress, Okiba-Gang Shinobi, and Wrench Mind are among the most common options, but there are many more. No one compels a foe to discard quite like the sultan of Swamps.


Next, black is surprisingly adept at removing lands. Choking Sands Icequake and Rancid Earth tend to see the most play, though the color as a whole trails behind red in this category.


Night's Whisper


One more thing about black before we move on. Black presents brewers with the best avenue for developing non-blue control decks. This stems largely from black's access to card advantage.


Black is the second best card-drawing color in the format, which matters when it comes to hitting land drops, winning prolonged resource battles, etc. Mono Black Control was previously very successful in Pauper for a very long time, and could come back at some point in the future.




Red shares the throne with black when it comes to removing creatures. What's more, red dominates the format in the 1 mana removal spell department. Flame Slash, Firebolt, Lightning Bolt, Magma Spray, Skred, Dual Shot and more have little to no analogs in the other colors.


While many contemporaries can thwart a board of x/1s (Holy Light, Nausea, Sandstorm), red can do it better than anyone thanks to Electrickery and Blazing Volley. These effects are not only efficiently priced, they're also one-sided!


Dynamic kill spells and sweepers make red one of the best choices for a U/x control deck. Red also happens to be my personal favorite supplemental color most of the time.


But the magmatic master of Mountains has quite a bit more to offer. When it comes to win conditions, red really knows how to speed up the control mage's clock.


Flurry of Horns


Flurry of Horns is perhaps the most obvious example, since it allows the control pilot to immediately generate attack power once a board has been stabilized. The card gets out of hand quickly and has very few antagonists that trade one-for-one. As a spell-based win condition, Flurry works incredibly well in decks playing Pieces of the Puzzle.


To reiterate, Horns gives control decks something they often lack: the ability to explode with offense from out of nowhere.


An alternate finishing method comes via red's burn suite. Cards that double as removal can go to the opponent's face, hastening the control deck's finishing speed. I find these spells highly effective when teamed with prowess creatures like Jeskai Sage and Whirlwind Adept. The burn spells are truly force multipliers in this regard, and moreover won't be dead in our hand later on the same way that Doom Blades might be.


Red is the best artifact removal color in Pauper. Green is good. White is good. Red is the best. In practical terms, this usually equates to sideboard Ancient Grudges or Gorilla Shamans against Affinity, either of which can be devastating. There is also pretty much any Shatter variant one could ever want. Burn likes Smash to Smithereens, but we might prefer Echoing Ruin, Ingot Chewer or Shattering Pulse.


They're called Stone Rains for a reason. Red knows how to bust up lands. Earth Rift, Molten Rain and Raze have all seen play in the past, and vs. Affinity Gorilla Shaman is the most brutal land killer on the planet.




I'd be foolish to overlook Pyroblast, one of the format's defining sideboard cards. It's a permission spell or a pseudo Vindicate at an excellent price. Can you imagine the format without this card? Things would be even more blue-leaning than they currently are!




The red-headed stepchild of the control archetype. Green usually only sees play in Tron decks, which to me qualify as control strategies for the most part.


Green is not very good at removing creatures. In fact, it's the worst. But green has ways of invalidating creatures, which can sometimes be just as beneficial.


Fangren Marauder and Pulse of Murasa are solid ways to regain life points, with (Marauder) being particularly potent against Affinity. Moment's Peace buys precious time by keeping swarm decks from dealing oodles of damage.


For Tron specifically, green can search up key lands with the 1 mana Ancient Stirrings or Crop Rotation. Green can also blow up lands with Reap and Sow, among other things.


Natural State


Artifacts and enchantments can be handled by green spells like Natural State. Mass destruction of enchantments is also available, with Serene Heart and Hush being two of the most popular options.


It can be observed that green is similar to white in a few categories, Naturalizes being one and life gain being another. However, green falls slightly short by comparison, and additionally lacks the creature removal that white possesses.


Green's finishers are better than white's, however. Aurochs Herd, Blastoderm, Fangren Marauder, Krosan Tusker and Maul Splicer can all bring the pain after hitting the table.


I wouldn't recommend playing Simic Control unless you have a synergy you really want to build around, or you just want to have fun and flex your brewing muscles. At the same time, Mono Blue Control was once competitive in the format, so I imagine Simic could somehow have legs.


Dime's Up


This concludes my look at the “X” colors of U/x control in Pauper. Thanks again to SteveJeltz for the suggestion!


If you think I missed something or would like to take the discussion further, feel free to comment below.


You can also follow me on Twitter (@DimecollectorSC) for MTG-related updates and info!


Bye for now!