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By: Guest Contributor, PureMTGO Contributors
May 08 2017 12:00pm
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About a year ago, in response to the Peregrine Drake menace, I started crafting a Red / Black Midrange deck built from the sideboard up. The goal was to maximize the best sideboard cards in Pauper, then around them to craft a versatile toolbox of threats and answers that had good matchups against the top few decks and an overall positive rating against the field. 

To review, here is what I believe to be the best Sideboard cards in Pauper: 

1.     Gorilla Shaman. It ain't cheap, but it is the silver bullet answer vs. Affinity. Actually, affinity pilots should be thankful for this card: without it I would imagine the deck would have been banned into obscurity a long time ago.

2.     Pyroblast: The best answer to the best color in Pauper. Red gets a clear color break in its suite of spells to hate out Delver of Secrets, Counterspell, Mulldrifter and the rest.

3.     Duress: The best anti-control card in Pauper. Not only does it force the control player to either trade down in mana to counter it lest you take the card you want, but it gives you information as well. Also does double duty vs Burn.

4.     Electrickery: A 2-mana non-targeted sweeper or a 1-mana Faerie / Delver killer? All at instant speed. This card is the best single answer to so many decks from Bogles to Tokens to Elves to Delver that other decks need Sideboard slots to beat it.

5.     Relic of Progenitus: Many control decks cheat resources by using their graveyard as a second hand, or by creating loops. Don't let them. Any deck can run this, but it's better if you build with it in mind. 

And here are last season’s best performing MTGO Pauper League decks:

1.     Stompy: 21%

2.     Izzet Delver: 10%

3.     Affinity: 10%

4.     Dimir Flicker: 9%

5.     Kuldotha Tokens: 6%

6.     Dinrova Tron: 4.5%

7.     Murasa Tron: 4.5%

8.     Red Deck Wins: 4%

9.     Delver: 3.5%

10.  Hexproof: 3% 

I'm going to cover RB Midrange’s  matchups vs these 10 decks plus 5 more decks that are historically popular in Pauper. Here's the additional 5 I'll cover:

1.     Burn

2.     Mono Black Control

3.     Izzet Blitz

4.     Azorius Kitty

5.     Infect 

The Top Ten: 

1.     Stompy [Even]: Of all the Tier 1 aggro decks, this is the toughest. If you can't interact with them on the first two turns, Mulligan. Their best cards against you are Young Wolf and Silhana Ledgewalker. Yours is Pillar of Flame to beat Wolf. Side in: 2x Electrickery, 1 Duress. Out: 2 Read the Bones, 1 Bojuka Bog 

2.     Izzet Delver [Favorable]: The key to this matchup is to keep the board clear and not let them not out tempo you. Be sure to kill those end step Spellstutter Sprite and to count on the possible 2nd Sprite in hand when killing any Faerie on board. Eventually you will outdraw them and they can’t keep up with your card advantage. In: 4 x Pyroblast, 2 x Electrickery. Out: 1 Bojuka Bog, 2 x Thorn of the Black Rose, 2x Thermo-Alchemist, 1 x Gurmag Angler

3.     Affinity [Very Favorable]: There are only 2 ways this decks beats you: a quick start backed by Galvanic Blasts to the face or the Atog / Fling combo. You can help stave off the later by reducing the number of cards in their hand. As a rule, kill the creatures first, but also try to use all your mana every turn where you can. Turns 4-6 are usually the turning point of the game. Games 2-3 you got the monkey on their back. In: 3 Gorilla Shaman. Out: 2 Pillar of Flame, 1 Chittering Rats. You can add Pyroblast too if you see Gearseeker Serpent, Perilous Research or some builds even now run Mulldrifter

4.     Dimir Flicker [Unfavorable]: Your first bad matchup. They are slower than you, their card advantage engine is better and they have a lock win condition that can be hard to stop. Your best avenue is to attack their resources. Keep their graveyard clean. Attack their hand to resolve your two-for-ones. If you can gain a tempo advantage it's possible to win, but in a grindy game with chained Mulldrifters it's tough. Plan B is Thorn plus Duress or Pyroblast. In: 4 Pyroblast, (4 Duress), 2 Relic of Progenitus. Out: 2 Flame Slash, 2 Firebolt, 3 Phyrexian Rager, 1 Radiant Fountain, 2 Terminate

5.     Kuldotha Tokens [Favorable]:  Currently this is the most successful Midrange deck in Pauper for similar reasons your deck succeeds: good matchups against the top 3 aggro decks. If their pilot is smart, they will save their burn for your face since that is how best to beat you. Keep the board clear of white creatures so that they can’t play and flashback Battle Screech in the same turn. Your best card is Thorn of the Black Rose. A surprising number of your Sideboard cards have utility so you can mix and match as you'd like of Electrickery, Relic of Progenitus, Gorilla Shaman or Duress. Take out (Chainer’s Edict). 

6.     Dinrova Tron and 7. Murasa Tron [Unfavorable]: Another serious uphill battle. These are the matchups you must play the aggro. Use every point of mana you can every turn. Assume that bolts go to their face, get that Thermo-Alchemist out early and try to punish them before they get their endless Tron resources online. Post-board, the best card to Duress away is (Prismatic Prism) because it cuts down the number of spells they can play per turn. In: Pyroblast, Duress, Relic of Progenitus. Out: Flame Slash, Pillar of Flame, Phyrexian Rager, (Chainer’s Edict) or if you see Hydroblast, Terminate

7.     See above. Even though their win condition varies, your plan is the same. The problem cards for you to watch out for are (Prismatic Prism), Condescend and Pulse of Murasa. You need to gamble a little and play a bit less conservatively than you usually might because time is not on your side. Assume that if the game reaches Turn 8, unless you are in great shape with a Thorn of the Black Rose and a fist full of hate cards, you’re likely not going to win after that point. 

8.     Red Deck Wins [Even]. Early interaction is key. Time is not on your side because even though Stompy gets more board presence early, RDW has reach. Use your sorcery speed removal first and you may be able to strand their Jackal Familiar. In: 2 Electrickery. Out: 2 Read The Bones or Thorn of the Black Rose

9.     Mono-Blue Delver. [Favorable]: Similar to Izzet Delver, except their mana is better, their removal is more limited and their Sideboard is worse. Once again, it is paramount to not let them get ahead on tempo. You will outdraw them if the game goes long enough. Pillar of Flame solves Stormbound Geist post-board. Sideboard: In : 4 Pyroblast, 2 Electrickery. Out: 1 Bojuka Bog, 1 (Raven’s Crime), 2 Thermo-Alchemist, 2 Thorn of the Black Rose

10.  Hexproof [Unfavorable]: Even though you are playing a well-rounded toolbox and your opponent a bit of a glass cannon, you are going to have a tough time, especially in Game 1 because of how many dead cards you have. Post-board trade your main deck spot removal for Electrickery and Duress and hope for a well-timed (Chainer’s Edict). It may be your only chance. 

Five Other Classic Pauper Decks 

11.  Burn [Unfavorable]: They are far too fast and redundant for you, and once again, you have too many dead cards in your main deck. In games 2 and three, Mulligan unless you have cards that matter, like Radiant Fountain plus Rakdos Carnarium, Chittering Rats or Duress. Side out all your Night's Whisper and Read the Bones. You're only aiding the enemy. If Burn becomes a real problem, there is a silver bullet card in Syphon Life, but you may wish to up your land count if you want to play it reliably. 

12.  Mono Black Control [Even]: Even though your removal suite is better than theirs, and your card draw better and your threats more flexible, MBC has better haymakers and lifegain, namely Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Corrupt. Be careful to watch your life total and close the game when you know you can. A top deck can ruin your day. In: 2 x Relic of Progenitus, Out: 2 x Thermo-Alchemist

13.  Izzet Blitz [Very Favorable]: I have lost this matchup maybe once, ever. You have so much removal, discard and interaction that they can't land a punch. In: Pyroblast, Duress. Out: Beetleback Chief, Read the Bones, Phyrexian Rager, Bojuka Bog

14.  Azorius Kitty [Favorable]: In Midrange matchups like this, there is one card that matters: Thorn of the Black Rose. Resolve her with Pyroblast backup and you should get there. I wonder why this deck has yet to adopt Palace Sentinels

15.  Infect [Favorable]: You must interact turns 1-4, if you do, you'll likely win. If you let them untap with a creature you can't answer, you usually lose. However, with 15 main deck removal spells backed by card draw, you should have no trouble answering their 12-14 main deck creatures. In: Electrickery, Duress. Out: Thorn of the Black Rose, Read the Bones, Beetleback Chief

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