DimeCollectoR's picture
By: DimeCollectoR, Jason Moore
Aug 28 2017 12:00pm
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Hi folks!

A quick word on God-Pharaoh's Faithful.


I'm finding that in post-board games she can be an absolute beating. Many aggressive decks can't easily kill her, so I've had Pharaohs sit on the table all game long and do their thing (be annoying). Also, an 0/4 body for W blocks a decent amount out of fast beatdown decks. Obviously she can be very antagonistic to Burn.


I know all of this because I've been playing and writing about UW Control in Pauper that features two copies of her in its sideboard.


To be blunt, the deck wasn't very good.


However, I believe I've made adjustments beneficial enough to get this deck into a solid position. The changes may seem minor at a glance, but today I'm hoping to use them as examples of how minor tweaks can have a major impact.


There were two immediate changes that I felt needed to be made after my initial week or two with the original list. The first change was a drop from 24 lands to 23. This came about as a result of regularly flooding in matches, even with Oona's Grace and numerous draw spells in place to mitigate being glutted on lands.


This is actually a lesson I had to learn twice, because apparently the revelation didn't stick the first time around.


UW typically does not make stellar use of high land counts in the late game. It doesn't spend 6 mana for the bottom half of Mystical Teachings, nor does it spend 7 mana on Chainer's Edict or Forbidden Alchemy. There is no Evincar's Justice with buyback. My early games with the previous list only reinforced this assertion.


I opted to cut one white source, since I'm still adamant about having 18 blue around for early Counterspell.


I didn't want to cut the valuable Mortuary Mire, nor did I want Radiant Fountain to leave the deck. Mire is the backbone of our endgame/inevitability along with Oona's Grace. Fountain has proven to be a solid Deprive partner, and won't disappoint us if Azorius Chancery or Kor Skyfisher have nothing else to bounce.


This leaves us with 13 white sources, which have been reasonable considering our ability to Preordain and Think Twice into more early. The only scenario in which 13 sources might bite us is against early protected creatures where we need to resolve Celestial Flare in Stage One. More on that card later!


I believe we've made the right cut when it comes to our manabase.



The second alteration was an add rather than a cut: the additional copy of Tragic Lesson! It became clear to me fairly early on that two copies could only help the deck.


The HOU instant has performed well. Early Lessons tend to pitch Think Twice or excess lands, while later ones pick up Mortuary Mire or Radiant Fountain. Sure, an opening hand with two Lessons isn't a good one, but that fortunately hasn't happened to me yet.


I'm not in any rush to go to three copies, though I feel like the card is proving itself as a value-generating role player in this strategy.


To speak briefly on a broader concept, it's important to stuff this kind of deck with heaps of card draw.


Again, we don't have an advantage engine like Ghostly Flicker, Mystical Teachings or Pieces of the Puzzle to help pile up our resources. To compensate we're using at least 16 components that allow us to see more cards, where other control decks might only require 12 or more.


(pic=Stormbound Geist)


Our next adjustment pertains to our creature suite. Too often I found myself getting run out of threats, namely by cards like Chainer's Edict. The black sorcery is by no means easily thwarted by counters.


Geist offers us a bit of insurance against Chainer's, and performs well as a defensive body against fliers. In addition, I haven't missed the second Errant Ephemeron, nor do I feel like the deck prospers greatly from having it.


Upgrading” one of our Geist slots from the sideboard to the main deck also freed up some room in our supplementary 15.


(pic=Celestial Flare)


There have been a few modifications to our collection of removal as well. I can't believe I forgot about the existence of Celestial Flare! This came up in one of my recent articles, when a commenter rightfully called me out on my memory lapse.


The white edict seems like an absolutely workable addition, particularly against large or protected creatures that get around the replaced Gideon's Reproach. Threats like Atog, Gearseeker Serpent and 4/4s equipped with Flayer Husk in Affinity. Threats pumped by Vines of Vastwood in Stompy. The list goes on.


If fortune happens to be on our side, Flare is also a bit of Game 1 insurance against Hexproof.


Serrated Arrows is another newbie here, and makes our deck for a couple of reasons. UW lacks strong two-for-one removal options like Chainer's Edict and Echoing Decay in black, Electrickery and Firebolt in red, etc. Arrows shores up this deficiency slightly, and can be bounced and reused thanks to Kor Skyfisher.


As far as sideboard removal is concerned, Crystallization has replaced Curse of Chains, and I think this is a good move. Kor Skyfisher can still get around the aura by bouncing the enchanted creature, but not many other Pauper staples punish us for running the gold spell.


We also have a second Celestial Flare in the board, to make use of our freed up Stormbound Geist slot. This slot could possibly be something else, but I think Flare is worth testing, especially with big bodies like Gurmag Angler making their presence felt in a number of strategies.


Striped Riverwinder is occasionally getting Exhumed these days as well, so having Celestial Flares around makes sense.



Days of the Tweak


Now I'd like to move on to the general idea of making minor changes to existing deck lists.


I hesitate to even use the word “minor” when talking about card swaps and shifts in thinking, because it makes these kinds of adjustments seem like they aren't worth our time. If messing around with this deck has taught me anything, it's that simple adjustments to a list can take us very far.


The reason I'm even bringing this up is because sometimes I feel like the opinions surrounding a given deck or archetype are far too rigid. It's easy for some to assume that an archetype simply can't be improved. That if it isn't good enough now, we can't possibly hope to make it good enough later.


Allow me to preface what comes next. I by no means am saying that I've made this deck into a Pauper League smasher by switching around a handful of cards. That being said, I hope this last bit makes sense to you.


Sometimes it's useful to make generalizations, but often it isn't. If I had stopped at the big picture statement “UW Control decks in Pauper don't work,” I'd never have been able to improve this list by seeking out abstract cards, or developing my ability to examine decks more thoroughly.


Think of all the well-known Pauper decks that started out with one or two rogue creators. Many of those decks needed tons of adjustments in order to even run well. Those creators needed to tune their decks in addition to inventing them.


And small alterations should usually be their first course of action.


Try to look at where in games the deck is failing. Stage One? Two? Three? It's time to reassess the cards being used in those phases, and the overall plan the deck wants to execute during them.


Try to look at how the deck is failing. Getting run over before it can set up its victory condition? Not supplying enough pressure in the face of removal? Problems of this nature can often be addressed.


I may end up writing an article on overall deck evaluation, with a number of templates and defaults that anyone can use to see where their deck needs work. If this sounds interesting to you, let me know!


Dime's Up


Notice anything that this UW deck could use? Feel free to comment!


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


Bye for now!