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By: Doctor Anime, Tomer Abramovici
Jul 01 2010 2:09am
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Basic Information:

There is a weekly Pauper Premier Event that generally falls on Friday or Saturday. To find out when the next PE is held, check out the calender.

PDCMagic is one of the best sites out there for your Pauper needs. The community has active forums where you can find all the information you want about decks in all the formats. It’s also where you can find out all information about upcoming free admission player-run events (PREs).

TPDC is a Classic Pauper PRE held every Tuesday with registration at 7:30pm EST and the tournament begins at 8:00pm EST. Event coordination is done in /join tpdc and you may register by typing “reg” in /join tpdccom. Admission is free and the event is sponsored by MTGO Traders.

EPDC is a Classic Pauper PRE held every Thursday with registration at 2:30pm EST and the tournament begins at 3:00pm EST. Event coordination is done in /join epdc and you may register by typing “reg” in /join epdccom. Admission is free and the event is sponsored by MTGO Academy.

Go to PDCMagic for even more PREs and if you want more excellent information on the PEs and PREs, check out kalandine's articles covering these event.

Archetypes:

Deck Current Representation Past Representation Movement
MUC/Faeries

17

13

+

Affinity

12

3

+

Goblins

8

7

+

Stompy

5

1

+

UR/URW Control

5

7

-

Storm

4

6

-

Teachings

3

3

=

WW

3

1

+

Pestilence

3

3

=

UW Blink

2

1

+

Burn

2

0

+

MBC/MBCu

1

5

-

Cloak

1

1

=

Rogue

8

 5  

MUC continues to be on the rise! The metagame hasn't been on such a tilt in years. Affinity has shot up dramatically as well, undoubtedly as a response to the blue threat. Storm and control decks in general continue their slow decline, likely due to their poor match against countermagic. Goblins continues to post strong numbers, while Stompy surges up from obscurity to follow right behind its aggro brethren.

I wonder how long it takes until ban-happy players direct their ire at Spire Golem?

Top 8:

  Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 OMC11 (Goblins)   OMC11 (Goblins), 2-1        
8 eXistenZ (Storm)    OMC11 (Goblins), 2-1
       
4 Shalomas (MUC)   Shalomas (MUC), 2-0   wimpus (MUC), 2-1
5 kered (Storm)    
       
2 wimpus (MUC)
  wimpus (MUC),  2-0
7 new_magic_world (RUW)   wimpus (MUC),  2-0
       
3 Rankor (MUC)   MommaBear Pestilence,  2-0
6 MommaBear Pestilence    

Top 8 deck lists can be viewed here.

I'd need confirmation, but I'm pretty sure MommaBear disconnected against wimpus and no games were played between them.

This is the third time in a row that MUC has dominated the top 8, which is quite the feat. Not only that, but wimpus beat Goblins for first place, not exactly the easiest matchup for sure. Do note that as far as representation goes, Affinity was the second most represented deck yet not a single list made the cut, while two of the five Storm decks did.

Matchups:

Unfortunately, the table still needs to be modified further in order to fit into the article without causing horizontal scrolling, but you guys really should check out the latest update of middleman's magnificent work here. With an ever-increasing amount of data, the information there is becoming more and more accurate.

Off to the PEs:

Aware of the previous PE's deck representation and top 8 results -- I write these articles after all -- I figured that I'd be up against a MUC-heavy meta, with a healthy dosage of Goblins and Storm. Affinity would likely rise a bit in numbers, but I was expecting maybe six decks total, not a whopping twelve of them.

Overall I was expecting in a seven round tournament to run into at least one or two MUC decks, a Goblin deck, a Storm deck and a couple random midrange control decks. With this in mind, I chose to play this Affinity list:


After steamrolling through a bunch of queues and a couple PRE's, I felt confident with the list above. Its maindeck handled the decks that I expected very well, with the sideboard helping to bolster that advantage.

Affinity's blistering speed helps it slip through threats against MUC, especially against these new Faerie lists. Not only does the new MUC have less counters in general, but half of them are rather poor against Affinity. Spellstutter Sprite is particularly weak here, since it can only counter something small like a chromatic cantrip while being useless against all the deck's. Condescend also loses its power fast against Affinity as soon as the robots are being churned out without having to tap any lands at all.

MUC Faeries thrives on beating opponents with superior tempo, but Affinity just trumps blue draw-go here. It's too fast and most decent hands can throw down a bunch of fat threats that put MUC on a tight clock and force them to tap out in order to deal with what's on the board. When that happens, an unanswered Rush of Knowledge seals the game. Post-sb a set of Duress helps protect the mighty Rush while Reaping the Graves replenishes your hand with threats and usually prompts a concession.

Storm was a matchup that I wasn't sure of until recently when I got some playtesting down against the deck in the 2man queues. I'd say that this list has a highly favorable matchup against combo. Affinity is incredibly fast and can race Storm with good hands, especially if you finish with a Disciple + Shaman combo to burst down a surprised opponent. If that fails, at least three maindecked Shamans mean that you at least have an answer to Empty the Warrens.

Post-sb is where I pull out all the stops. A set of Benevolent Unicorn shuts off Grapeshot, Duress plucks away their key cards, another Shaman raises the chances that you'll have an answer to Warrens and Hydroblasts can cause a combo tight on red mana to fizzle out.

Finally there's Goblins. I've played against this deck extensively in queues and tournaments with very favorable results. A perfect Goblin hand going for a turn 4 double bushwhacker kill is nearly impossible to beat and Affinity is no exception, but barring this rare situation things look very good. Affinity can get blockers out quick which is very important and some blockers are very difficult for Goblins to deal with, such as the 4/4 Enforcer and 4/5 Behemoth. All Affinity needs to do is stall the board with blockers or wipe with Shaman, cast Rush and that's game.

The sideboard arms Affinity with a set of Hydroblast and the fourth Shaman, while Goblins picks up Gorilla Shaman. Now I know what many of you are thinking, "OMG Goblins get Gorilla Shaman and auto-wins right?!" Nope. Sure, a first turn Gorilla can be devastating and can quickly end the game after munching on all your artifact lands, but that's the worst case scenario. Keep in mind that my list is running a set of Hydroblast and Krark-Clan Shaman too. Not only that, but Affinity has tons of card draw, while Goblins has none. My point is that yes, an unanswered Gorilla can spell defeat, but it's actually much more likely that it will be met with a removal or counter before it has a chance to inflict much if any damage.

There are some concerns though. Running only sixteen lands means that you'll sometimes only see one land in your openers. The deck can't do an awful lot off just one land. Two lands is the magic number to bust out threats ahead of the curve. Sometimes I'll be popping chromatic cantrips just to try and draw a land so I don't miss a crucial drop in the first few turns of the game. I'd say about one in every ten games I run into problematic mana screw. Low land count and a desire to have two lands early to abuse Affinity's potential for extreme speed means that this deck requires more mulliganing than your average 24 land control deck too.

The more serious issue is the lack of blue mana available. The deck runs what, fifteen blue cards? There's only four artifact lands available to us that produce blue mana. Yes, there's also fourteen extra ways to get that blue mana, but still it can be an issue. Affinity slows down if it's suffering from a mild case of blue balls, but extreme cases will cause you to flat out lose the game. I'd say that I have less blue mana than I'd like once every six games.


An innocent hand like this on the draw...

In short, Affinity's greatest asset, its overwhelming speed, comes at the price of consistency. You want two lands in the first two turns to bust out 4/4's and 4/5's onto the board absurdly early, but you don't want to clog the deck with too many mana sources or else it will lose too much threat density and while you may build up a high affinity count fast, you won't have many affinity creatures to actually cast. When the deck works, it's borderline broken with its blistering fast speed, insane goldfishes, a seven card draw bomb, one of the best board wipes in the format and the game-ending Disciple + Shaman combo -- but sometimes it trips over itself. This is a problem with all decks to an extent, since Magic always has a degree of luck due to the shuffler, but Affinity's manabase is just a little more frail than normal. 


...can turn into this on turn 2. Imagine if those Behemoths were Somber Hoverguard or Myr Enforcer!

So I'm pretty confident going into this event. As long as there isn't huge amounts of Affinity hate and tons of MUC Faerie decks to get easy wins off, the tournament should be smooth sailing. I prepare my goat sacrifices to appease the shuffling gods and then queue up.

Round 1: UW Blink

Game 1:

Very good hand. Two of the most relevant lands plus a bunch of relevant plays that will likely let me churn out some fat threats as soon as I draw them. My opponent keeps his seven too.

Things unraveled normally. I quickly go on the offensive after drawing into threats, keeping firm control of the game while my opponent scrambles to defend himself with his limited amount of mana in the early-middle part of the game. A couple Rushes later and he's overwhelmed.

 

Sideboard:
-2 Disciple of the Vault
+2 Reaping the Graves

Disciples get weaker when the opponent is playing so much lifegain. Though all my opponent's removal are exiling effects, I lost enough creatures in the first game through combat to justify running Reaping.

Game 2:

Not a fast start, but a solid keeper. We both hold onto our 7s.

I'm off to a slow start, but my opponent is even slower. He doesn't play a single card and misses his fourth land. I assume he kept a hand filled with blue drops and hoped to draw into a blue mana source but no such luck for him. By turn 5 he concedes.

 

Round 2: MUC Faeries

Game 1:
 

A great hand, especially against MUC. I'll quickly build up a high affinity count, hopefully draw a couple more threats, then unload so fast that those flamboyant faeries won't know what hit 'em. We both keep.

And that's exactly what happens. On turn 3 I bait a counter with a hoverguard, which lets both my enforcers slip through and my opponent concedes.

 

Sideboard:
-3 Krark-Clan Shaman
-3 Disciple of the Vault
+4 Duress
+2 Reaping the Graves

Shaman can't kill flyers so out it goes. Reaping is probably even better than Rush in this match because it's nigh-uncounterable and often picks up 3+ threats from the graveyard that are immediately plopped into play. While Disciple is pretty good here, I decide to put in Duress instead. Duress actually isn't as good as you'd think against MUC because these new lists run so many creatures and so few counters, but it goes a long way towards helping my game-ending Rush go unanswered.

Game 2:
 

Not bad. I can play something on turn 1 without repercussion since MUCFae don't run Force Spike. Whatever I play on turn 2 has a chance to be hit with Spellstutter Sprite or Condescend, which means that I'm going to start off with Duress. I can also bait a Sprite with Lotus Petal. We both keep.

I'm off to a decent start, but the shuffling gods have blessed my opponent and he draws just the right amount of lands, counters, and creatures to hold down my assault. A crucial Rush is foiled by a topdecked Counterspell, but I have one more trick up my sleeve. I send in my Myr Enforcer to trade with a Spire Golem and follow up with Reaping the Graves, dropping two more Enforcers and a Quicksilver Behemoth down that turn. My opponent has nothing left and concedes.

 

Round 3: Stompy

Stompy is a deck that I see many people struggling against, unsure of how to handle this uncommon breed of aggro. Here's my advice: play it like how you'd play against Burn.

Burn wants to kill you fast. If you let Burn do its thing unhindered, you're going to die in a race. There's two ways to slow down Burn so that you can win. The first way is to waste their cards with either hand discard, or more reliably, countermagic. The second way is to make liberal use of lifegain. Both methods forces the Burn player to use more spells to kill you, but with no access to card draw they will end up running out of steam and you're suddenly in a very good position to win.

Stompy is Green Burn. It uses creatures as a means to burn off your face. Instead of Lightning Bolts, Stompy uses cards like Groundswell. Stompy does more damage than Burn, but channels these burn cards through a vulnerable Achilles' heel in the deck -- the creatures. Green Burn relies on its creatures to do damage, so you must deal with those creatures to win.

Everything that works against normal Burn also works against Green Burn, but the best way to handle them is to disrupt their creatures. Stompy loves tapping out on their turn to shovel in as much damage as possible when they attack unblocked. Use your removal spells on your own turn to take those creatures out. Even if they have a pump spell to counter it, that's one less pump spell that would've been aimed at your face.

The other way to disrupt their creatures is to block, block, block. Use your creatures to soak up Stompy's damage that they want to direct at your face. Stompy's creatures are weaklings without pump spells, so they'll need to use pumps on their creatures to make them survive blocks. That's one less card they have to win the game. Also note that the only Trample that Stompy usually runs is a set of Rancor, which makes blocking even better.

Once Stompy is out of steam, like Burn, you pretty much won. Keep that in mind next time you're up against them.

Game 1:
 

This could work out, but I only have one definite play and I need some mana fixing to do anything else. I really hate mulling with Affinity because the deck doesn't mull well, but I can't risk not hitting a mana fixer in time against a fast deck like Stompy.

 

Jeez.. This is bad. I mean, it's not terrible since if I hit a creature I should flat-out win after casting Rush, but it's risky. Still, I really don't want to mull down to 5 with this deck and Greg is shipping away hands too, so I keep it and hope to draw a fat creature. Greg mulls to three. I can't lose, right?

Wrong. My opponent goes into a perfect topdeck mode, "heart of the cards" if you will, while I draw lands and useless Disciples. Woo!

 

Sideboard:
-4 Disciple of the Vault
-1 Rush of Knowledge
+1 Krark-Clan Shaman
+4 Duress

Here I'm more concerned about surviving Stompy's opening hand than worrying too much about the lategame -- just like Burn. I also like board wipes here. (Silhanna Ledgewalker) ain't a flyer!

Game 2:
 

A good hand, but I desperately need a second land for the gears to start turning. Double Duress lengthens my life expectancy considerably and a Shaman in my hand is a comfort against a mass of creatures. We both keep our 7s.

Alas, again my hand goes nowhere. I don't see a second land until turn 4, and I popped my chromatic cantrip in desperation just to find it, but the damage has been done. By turn 5 we have this lovely scenerio:

 

Round 4: MUC

Game 1:
 

We both keep our 7s.

I go off quite nicely, happy to see a turn 2 Errant Ephemeron getting suspended by my opponent. That's one more turn that I can play things for free and I don't expect the creature to see play before I win.

Unfortunately things don't pan out that way for me. I'm hampered by an early Spire Golem, two Quicksands, and two Excludes. Exclude is one of the best counters in the format but the "new" MUCFae lists don't like running it for some strange reason, so this caught me by surprise. The 4/4 Illusion enters play and Villain decides to swing with it... Not a good sign! This is what I'm looking at, and I know I'm in for trouble:

 

What did he have? Double Pestermite to make for a once in a lifetime perfect combat situation.

 

I draw two more cards, Frogmite and a land, before conceding. Strange game!

Sideboard:
-3 Krark-Clan Shaman
-3 Disciple of the Vault
+4 Duress
+2 Reaping the Graves

Game 2:

 

Good. This hand says "build up a big affinity count then unload all at once." Villain mulls to 6.

As usual, I unload, Villain plays damage control with a Spire Golem and Serrated Arrows, plays a fancy game of untapping Arrows with Pestermite and other shenanigans... But doing so causes him to tap out, which causes me to play Rush safely, which causes me to win the game.

 

Game 3:
 

Ye verily, 'tis a fine hand indeed. I keep while my opponent goes down to 6.

Remember when I talked about the blue mana issue? Well, here it is. The only blue mana sources for me this game are two chromatic cantrips. That's it. My ballsy opponent was tapping out for Mulldrifter on turn 5 when I had five lands out and a Rush in hand. If I had drawn one of my sixteen(!!!) remaining blue mana sources, I'd have easily won the match no question. But I didn't draw a single one.

 

At this point I'm 2-2 and feeling a little bitter at losing to MUC for the first time, well, ever with this deck. Four hours have gone by and there's three more to go until the top 8. I doubt that 5-2 would be enough to make the cut, so I drop to do other things with my day. In hindsight, I probably should've stuck around and attempted to go 5-2, as at least two players that went 5-2 ended up in the top 8. Oh well.

I like to seriously analyze the results of my tournament games, be they PEs, PREs, or 2man queues. It's only in these types of environments where you can find more competitive players with better tuned decks and better tuned brains. Tournament Practice can indicate that your deck is decent but won't seperate the good decks from the great ones.

When studying this particular PE, it really hammered into my brain the consistency issues of the deck. Yes, all decks can draw poorly, and yes, I caught myself making a few slight errors in a game or two. But it's all too apparrent that Affinity wants a little more blue mana somehow.

So how do we attempt to fix this problem without breaking an already good thing? Minor changes are needed. What are our options to get more consistent blue mana? Here's some that I thought of:

1) Island: Well, duh. It's a land that produces blue mana. The biggest issue is that it's not an artifact and thus doesn't help ramp up the affinity count, inevitably slowing the deck down in the early stages, which is the biggest draw of the deck in the first place.

2) Lonely Sandbar: It's an Island that is even worse early on, but you can cycle it when you don't need it.

3) Darksteel Citadel: It's another artifact land, which will help with land screw and up the affinity count, but it can't produce blue mana.

4) Prismatic Lens: Fixes the mana, or gives me colorless mana. Not bad.

5) Prophetic Prism: It's like the chromatic cantrips, except it costs double and fixes your mana indefinitely. The difference between 1cc and 2cc artifacts is huge early on and I can't recommend the prism over the chromatic cantrips, but adding a couple of these on top of the rest could work nicely.

6) Springleaf Drum: This was intially my preferred choice of fixing the blue mana issue, by adding a fourth drum to the list. Unfortunately with only 16 creatures it felt like a full playset was pushing it. Having more Drums than creatures is never a good position, same goes with having a Drum out but no creature to tap so you can get the mana that you need.

6) Nim Shrieker: Okay, this isn't a mana fixer, but I saw an "Affinity" pilot in a PE use this guy in his deck for dubious results (read: bad) and even saw puremtgo posters mentioning that this imp might be a good choice! I gagged a bit. This card is terrible and so is Glaze Fiend for that matter. These dudes die to every played removal in the format, not to mention every flyer too or even a stiff breeze, so how do you expect them to accomplish anything?

After considering my options, I opt to put in an Island to bring my land count to 17 and put in three Prophetic Prisms. I've taken out the Lotus Petals and a Krark-Clan Shaman to make room for them. Taking out a shaman was pretty easy, as two is still good enough maindeck, but removing the Petals will be a definite hit to the overall speed of the deck. Sacrificing some speed for consistency looks like a smart idea though.

So now my list looks like this (now way cheaper too without Lotus Petal):


Much playtesting has convinced me that my loss to MUC was a fluke and my list has an overwhelmingly favorable match there. However, if I reeeeally wanted to lay the smackdown on some faeries, I'd switch out the set of Duress for Pyroblast. You gain a bigger edge against MUC but you lose some power against Storm, but with Storm dwindling ever lower in numbers maybe that's not a big deal.

Will I try again with Affinity? Likely, but it depends how the metagame shifts. Affinity is on the rise (for good reason), but eventually the heightened popularity will be met with artifact hate. It's important to know when to hop on board a strong meta deck and when to jump ship. Also for personal reasons I may avoid this deck for now. I'm a bit of a rogue Spike; I play to win, but try and do so with decks outside of the current limelight. It's sometimes a conflict of interests but it's one of the reasons why I enjoy playing.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

5 Comments

I noticed your inclusion of by Spicynumber1 at Thu, 07/01/2010 - 07:57
Spicynumber1's picture

I noticed your inclusion of prophetic prism, while it is ok. I do prefer to play prismatic lens as be able to play rush of knowledge on turn 3 is just disgusting. Prismatic lens is unique in that it accelerates and gives mana fixing which is exactly what the deck needs. I also played in the premier event but I got unlucky and played 2 of the storm decks that made top 8 in my first 2 matches and trust me its not an easy match up. I lost both my first and second and round then got a bye the 3rd round, so i decided to drop :/. My decklist is very similar but I find having leonin squire and trinket mage with the 3 good spells bombs helps ALOT against almost all the matchups. I also run reaping the graves in the main which is a 2nd rush of knowledge that is often better and impossible to counter. Good article and I'm glad to see someone else playing affinity and writing about it.

I do like the ramp ability of by First_Strike at Thu, 07/01/2010 - 13:08
First_Strike's picture

I do like the ramp ability of prismatic lens into rush, but it can also be cast early into quick starts. The prophetic prism, while it replaces itself, it slows your game down much.

I really like Lotus Petal in the deck. DA, if I was going to make changes based on your tournament conclusions, I would remove a rush and a petal for two prismatic lens or an island and a lens, then test.

This was my decklist, feel by Spicynumber1 at Thu, 07/01/2010 - 08:52
Spicynumber1's picture

This was my decklist, feel free to make comments or constructive critism:

Lands: (16)
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Den
4 Darksteel Citadel (good against artifact destruction: gorilla shaman/ancient grudge/qasali pridemage)
2 Great Furnace
2 Vault of Whispers

Creatures: (17)
3 Trinket Mage (searches for that 1 CC artifact you need)
3 Leonin Squire (returns that 1 CC artifact you need)
3 Quicksilver Behemoth (note that he helps with reaping the graves to return even more)
4 Myr Enforcer (auto include)
4 Frogmite (auto include)

Spells: (27)
4 Springleaf Drum (need 4 with so much mana required)
4 Pyrite Spellbomb (much need spot removal or burn to the dome)
4 Chromatic Star
4 Thoughtcast
4 Prismatic Lens (need 4 with so much mana required)
3 Rush of Knowledge
2 Reaping the Graves (extremely good, ok against graveyard removal as long as you can just time it right)
1 Æther Spellbomb (searchable and if not needed just cycle, helps alot against certain matchups)
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb (searchable and if not needed just cycle, helps alot against certain matchups)

Sideboard
3 Krark-Clan Shaman (if you need a board sweeper on the ground)
3 Benevolent Unicorn (against storm or mono R burn)
1 Reaping the Graves (against MUC control or against board sweepers)
2 Ancient Grudge (mirror match or picks off spire golem)
4 Snow-Covered Islands (not sure about this one but I run into gorilla shaman way to often and this helps ALOT)
2 Ray of Revelation (against pestilence mostly but also good against annoying enchantments, rancor, armadillo etc)

Very interesting list. You by Doctor Anime at Thu, 07/01/2010 - 15:29
Doctor Anime's picture

Very interesting list. You drop Hoverguard, the Disciple + Shaman combo and half the chromatics for the trinket package essentially. Honestly I'd have to test it myself, but I when I tested this sort of thing long ago I felt it was just too slow, but I took it a little further with Blink and Sanctum Gargoyle. It does look more consistent, but I've never been a fan of the spellbombs. There hasn't been many matches where I say to myself, "Gee, I wish I had Pyrite Spellbomb over a Somber Hoverguard."

I can comment on the Storm match though. Our differing lists are the reason for such opposite results. My list is faster and more likely to race, with far fewer cards that are "dead weight" in the matchup. Reaping the Graves and all those spellbombs don't do anything productive in that match. Post-sb I have 4x Duress, 4x Hydroblast, 3x Shaman, 4x Unicorn all ready to go on top of that speed. I think that makes up the difference. For this reason I see Reaping as a sideboard card and not maindeck in this meta. It's great when you need lategame steam, but useless if you're up against a deck that wants to race you.

Prismatic Lens does look like a nice middle ground between speed and consistency. I was just fiddling with Prophetic Prism because I'm a sucker for cantrips. I'll try out the Prismatic Lens instead.

Thanks for the feedback and I'll try your list out.

One option to resolve the by kalandine at Thu, 07/01/2010 - 08:25
kalandine's picture
4

One option to resolve the blue mana issue is Trinket Mage. While it does take a blue mana to cast him, that mana can come from a temporary source such as a Chromatic Sphere or Lotus Petal and then the little mage can power the Springleaf Drum and/or search for a Seat of Synod.

Good walk through of the tournament.