As the last season of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge (referred to as MPDC from here forward) came to a close, I found myself reflecting on what I might do to bring greater visibility to the format of Standard Pauper. With both weekly Standard Pauper PREs averaging attendance in the upper 20s to low 30s, this format seems to be increasing in popularity. And, the prevailing wisdom to the contrary, each new season of MPDC brings with it a rich and varied metagame, which slowly takes shape over the course of a few months. Given these realities, I decided it would be worthwhile to attempt to highlight the first place decklist from each week this season in a series of brief articles. My intention is to not only give a quick but detailed analysis of the components of the winning deck, but also include a video with audio commentary on a recent match played with the decklist. And so, with that introduction out of the way, I present the inaugural article of my Standard Pauper Deck Tech, featuring moromete's decklist aptly named TOKENS!.
During the initial week following the release of Rise of the Eldrazi, there were a whole host of different Standard Pauper decks floating around trying to take advantage of Eldrazi Spawn tokens to ramp into a big Eldrazi to win the game. Most relied upon the alternate casting cost of Hand of Emrakul, which under ideal conditions could be cast as early as Turn 3! The problem with this particular strategy is two-fold. First of all, unless you can get Hand of Emrakul down within the first three or four turns, its presence isn't all that devastating. Second, a single Doom Blade or equivalent spell could immediately end that threat, giving your opponent a devastating three- or four-for-one from which recovery is unlikely.
TOKENS! avoids these shortcomings in several key ways. First, it makes use of Ulamog's Crusher, which proves to be a much more dominating threat, thanks to the surprising difference in power between Annihilator 1 and 2. Second, the inclusion of Goblin Bushwhacker and Raid Bombardment both give the deck important alternate uses for all of those Eldrazi tokens, allowing you to sidestep the need to rely upon a single fattie to win the game. Finally, by splashing for , one can draw into more gas with a well-timed Mysteries of the Deep to recover from any major setbacks (like seeing your hordes of Spawn disappear to Shrivel or Seismic Shudder), or post-board prevent such tactics with Negate. Hissing Iguanar is also a great answer to Shrivel or Seismic Shudder and makes sacrificing Eldrazi Spawn quite effective; however, its value is such that it typically draws out removal fairly quickly.
TOKENS! is not, at least at first blush, a difficult deck to play. While it can be a bit slow to get going (thanks to the preponderance of 3, 4, and 5 drops), the suite of burn spells, coupled with the early chump-blockers provided by Khalni Garden, help keep an opponent from getting off to a quick start. And while the ensuing Spawn Tokens can be used for quick acceleration, Raid Bombardment creates such value for each token that you want to be somewhat judicious in how many you end up sacrificing. Once your board is developed enough to consistently add Kozilek's Predator or Emrakul's Hatcher to the Battlefield, you are getting excellent value for your mana, and can often put a lot of pressure on an opponent with these creatures, relying on your tokens to stop any counter-attack. One then merely needs to wait for the right opportunity to overwhelm your opponent with a horde of attacking tokens, taking advantage of the power-boost of a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker and the added damage of Raid Bombardment.
III. The Match
To help you get a better feel for the deck, I have also included a video-cast of one of the matches I played while testing out the deck. I will be the first to admit that this is a fairly new endeavor for me, and that there is certainly room for improvement in the quality of the videos I produced. But I hope that these give you better insight into how the deck plays out in the virtual battlefield. Enjoy!
As I mentioned, this deck can really swing in for a win almost out of nowhere. The combination of Raid Bombardment and Goblin Bushwhacker enables some pretty sweet turns, where one can very quickly reduce an opponent to almost no life. And unless he or she has a quick answer for the Raid Bombardment, or some way of instantly disposing of all the tokens, your next Attack Phase will probably be enough to finish the opponent off, even if it's otherwise not a profitable attack.
Shrivel or Seismic Shudder can definitely be a back-breaker, which makes the Negates a pretty important part of the Sideboard strategy against Red or Black. Granted, the deck has enough ways of producing Spawn tokens that it's not the end of the world, but in this case it certainly proved decisive, giving my opponent several more turns to find some solid creatures before I would be able to get the Ulamog's Crusher into the virtual battlefield.
I also apologize for the sounds of upset babies in the background. I've got one-year old twins, and despite the fact that they were on the other side of the house, the combination of their surprisingly loud volume and the sensitivity of my microphone makes it sound like they are much closer. I am also not sure what's causing that random, strange electronic interference noise; I'll have to chase that down this week before I make another of these videos.
I've heard a few people comment that they don't really understand how Rise of the Eldrazi fits into the 'Land Matters' theme of the Zendikar Block. And while it's true that Rise is technically separate from Zendikar and Worldwake in mechanics, the Land Matters theme is definitely present in Rise of the Eldrazi as well. But rather than being an important part of an ability like Landfall, Land simply matters because of how many are needed to bring the enormous Eldrazi into the Battlefield. This certainly proved to be the case in this game for me! This was a much closer game than the first, but thanks to a key misplay by my opponent (not that my play was perfect by any means!), I was able to come away with the win.
I hope you have enjoyed this analysis of moromete's TOKENS! deck. Please let me know in the comments what you think of this type of article, and how I might improve my presentation of the winning deck from each week's MPDC. And, as always, I encourage you to join us in the Anything Goes room in the channel /join MPDC each Monday for Monday Pauper Deck Challenge. Full details on the season ahead can be found here. Until next time!
V. Bonus Content
I actually played several games while practicing with TOKENS! and trying to get a feel for my recording tools. I didn't end up recording the match that the screenshot below is taken from, but in some ways I wish I had. It was an extremely difficult matchup for the deck, thanks to the combination of Soul Warden and Palace Guard, which makes it almost impossible to ever leverage enough damage with Eldrazi Spawn tokens to win. Unless, of course, one manages to swing in with 5 Eldrazi Spawn, a Plant token, and a Nest Invader with all 4 Raid Bombardments on the board. Like this...
Nothing like doing 28 damage simply by declaring attacks with a bunch of tokens...