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By: CZML, Cassie Mulholland-London
Dec 26 2016 1:00pm
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Today I'm going to talk about what is probably the most unusual deck I've ever seen and certainly the most unusual deck I've ever played. And that says a lot given that a deck exists in Pauper that is built entirely around playing and bouncing the card Reality Acid. Even this deck's name is weird: Bugs and Pigs. It isn't an exaggeration to say that the deck feels like it doesn't deserve to ever win a single game of Magic, but somehow, it executes its game plan surprisingly reliably. You will often be left wondering how you got into a winning position without doing anything tremendously impressive or powerful. Tl;dr, it's my kind of deck.

Here's the decklist. If you don't get it right away, I'll explain everything soon. If you think it looks like a pile and you don't understand why anyone would ever play the deck, you might be right.



First, the name. I'm not entirely certain why the deck is named Bugs and Pigs, but I suspect it's because original iterations of the deck included Brindle Boar, so Fume Spitter was the bug and Brindle Boar was the pig. Don't quote me on that, though.

As far as the actual deck goes, this deck is trying to make the game last as long as possible and then lock the opponent out of doing anything relevant. There are two primary synergies, both revolving around creatures with sacrifice abilities. The first, and primary, synergy of the deck is sacrifice creatures combined with Grim Harvest. With six mana, you can loop Fume Spitter once a turn with Grim Harvest. Seven mana loops Sakura-Tribe Elder, which is usually the primary loop to aim for, as the deck generally kills with two Crypt Rats activations after searching out all its basic lands. Eight mana loops Mulldrifter on Evoke if you need the cards, though you probably won't need to do that more than twice, as Grim Harvest on its own is an excellent source of attrition.

The other synergy of the deck, and one which can be combined with the first synergy, is Sylvok Lifestaff. If you have a Lifestaff in play, you can add one mana to either of the first two loops above to gain three life per iteration, which adds up very quickly. Lifestaff is easy to find with Trinket Mage, which can also fix your mana by getting either of the deck's artifact lands (there's no Seat of the Synod because if you're casting Trinket Mage you already have blue mana). Lifestaff also works just fine when you don't have a Grim Harvest, as simply equipping it to sacrifice creatures a few turns in a row can buy a lot of time against aggressive decks. Nest Invader has a lot of synergy with Lifestaff, as you can equip the staff to the Scion, sacrifice it for a mana and three life, and use the mana to equip the staff to another creature.

Rounding out the deck are a few removal options, one of which doubles as the deck's primary win condition, as well as Krosan Tusker. Tusker isn't a fantastic card, but it's a pretty solid cycler, and it can function as a finisher if you need to apply pressure quickly or if your life total is too low to effectively use Crypt Rats. 6/5 is quite large for Pauper, and the card is often worth spending seven mana on if you have the time.

As far as the removal suite is concerned, Tragic Slip is fantastic because the deck has so many ways to turn on Morbid. It can also come as a surprise to inexperience or unprepared opponents because Bugs and Pigs is such an unknown quantity. Chainer's Edict is a great way to get a bit more incidental card advantage as the game goes long, and it is reasonably potent in this deck because Fume Spitter takes care of the opponent's small creatures with ease. Speaking of Fume Spitter, it can be used to generate additional Wickerbough Elder activations if you need them.

The final piece of the puzzle is Crypt Rats. Crypt Rats is a removal spell, a sacrifice creature, and a win condition all rolled into one. The reason we only play two copies is that we only ever need to draw one. It can serve multiple functions depending on the matchup, including wiping the board (I've used it to kill multiple 5/5s once or twice, but it usually kills tokens or X/2s out of aggro decks), sacrificing itself while holding a Lifestaff (activating for one with a staff equipped nets you two life), or just letting you turn each black mana you have into a point of damage to the opponent. Because of Lifestaff loops, you should have more life than your opponent in the late game, so the symmetry of Crypt Rats's effect doesn't really matter. Against most opponents, it shouldn't take more than three activations to close the game out, especially if you get a few attacks in with other creatures first.

When using Sakura-Tribe Elder and Evolving Wilds, it's important to prioritize black sources. After you get your second green source and first blue source, you basically never need any others, so you should always search out Swamps. Crypt Rats, Fume Spitter, Grim Harvest, and Tragic Slip all use a lot of black mana.

Most of the sideboard cards are pretty obvious. Duress is for decks with lots of noncreature spells. Hydroblast is for decks with lots of red spells.Pulse of Murasa is for when you need the recursion, the lifegain, or both. Doom Blade is for nonblack creatures. Shrivel is for decks with lots of of X/1s. Aerial Volley is for decks with lots of fliers. Spore Frog is for decks that try to create big attack steps, and it serves as a loop with Grim Harvest that can lock decks without instant-speed removal out of damaging you entirely. Nihil Spellbomb is a Trinket Mage-able answer for graveyard-based decks.

I generally side out Krosan Tusker and shave on the Mulldrifters versus fast decks. I also usually shave on Grim Harvest except when I'm trying to loop Spore Frog. Chainer's Edict is bad against decks with lots of random creatures like Goblins or Delver. Against decks without X/1s, Fume Spitter isn't worth it. I usually trim a Lifestaff against more controlling decks, as well as a Trinket Mage if I'm not bringing in Spellbomb. Most of the rest of the sideboarding is straightforward.

The best matchups are ones that are slow but rely on creatures to end the game. This includes Mono-Black Control, Kuldotha, and the more midrange-slanted versions of UB Control. Tron would be a good matchup except for Rolling Thunder, but it isn't worth dedicating sideboard slots to land destruction. Burn is a reasonably good matchup if you can play it well, because Lifestaff is fantastic and you have quite a few sideboard cards that come in. Don't expose your Lifestaffs to Smash to Smithereens if you can help it. Aggressive decks are usually quite solid matchups as well, seeing as Lifestaff and Fume Spitter do a lot of work. Mono-Blue Delver feels moderately unfavored, but I haven't done much testing with Aerial Volley yet. The worst matchups are Tron and UB Teachings control, and I'm convinced these are close to unwinnable. Fortunately, they aren't tremendously popular decks.

I'm not going to pretend that this deck is good, but it definitely isn't awful, especially once you get used to managing Grim Harvest. It's also pretty cheap to build, especially because the Hydroblasts aren't that necessary, and it's a blast to play if you like doing weird things and taking unimpeachable control of the game. I would highly recommend taking it for a spin.

Thanks for reading! I will be getting a new headset sometime before the New Year, so expect a fair bit of video content as well as a return to streaming on Twitch. I'm also hoping to get into Standard, which will let me give you content for multiple formats.

Happy holidays, everyone!