This has been a deck I’ve been working on for a while, and one of the main issues I had with it was that the mana-base was iffy, and not entirely consistent. Gatecrash helps this a lot with Simic Guildgate, which ties things together very well. It plays pretty similar to RUG Delver in legacy, but different in many ways. (No mana-denial route).
Here's the deck list!
The first thing you should notice is that there are a whopping 25 spells that can flip delver. That is pretty insane. Assuming you drew your seven, played a land and a delver and had 3 spells and 2 lands left in your hand, you'd have a huge 43% chance to flip your delver. An inherently high chance to flip delver is one of the first things you want in a delver deck that doesn't necessarily have the tools to play ponder and brainstorm (Like delver does in legacy, thanks to fetchlands making them much, much better than they are in pauper.) Let's go over them:
While this may look out of place, it plays a big role in the deck for turning on werebear (Or as I like to call him, baby tarmogoyf). Binning 3 cards initially, and then 2 more when you flash it back makes it pretty easy to do. I played with the numbers a bit, trying at first 4, and then 3, and then 2, and then ultimately I realized that 1 was the right number. If you wanted to play more, I might suggest that you move more into a UGR Madness type of deck.
Another 1-hit wonder. while another is available in the sideboard, it feels like anything more than 1 is just too much in matchups where it doesn't absolutely shine. Although the matchups in where it shines, it generally runs away with singlehandedly.
This card is great, it basically just says "Play 1-4 less cards in your deck". But it's so much more than that, as well. It gives invaluable information against every matchup. While this card can often be cut while sideboarding, I've never drawn it and thought "Gee, I wish this was ~ instead."
Burst lightning is a sadly overlooked card in pauper. It does everything you could ever want it to. It kills spire golems in mono blue, Myr Enforcer's in affinity, Carapace forger (also in affinity), and pretty much everything else pauper decks can throw at you. (Other than perhaps, ulamogs crusher.) It goes without saying that EOT burst you for 4 can shorten your clock quite a bit.
Lightning bolt. I'm not sure what else needs to be said? Well, I guess if you were looking for things to say, you could say that lightning bolt is one of the singularly most powerful spells printed in magic. Every time it has been legal in any format, it is played. That says a lot for a card that has seen so many printings. This card is great as removal, or simply as reach.
Vapor Snag made quite a splash in standard, and for good reason. Its ugly cousin unsummon has even proven to be playable in standard. This card is the perfect card that tempo decks want to play, it does it all, nibbles at their life, often time walks them, and can mess up combat math like nobodies business. Its perhaps most powerful use is that it can read "U: Counter target rancor"
Edge of autumn, I suppose while we are on the subject of overlooked cards, we could shift our gaze over to this bad boy. It really is perfect for a 3 color deck in pauper, where mana-fixing is minimal. The fact that it can cycle for "free" (Since we benefit greatly from adding more cards to the graveyard anyway) is even better. This card makes 'baby tarmogoyf' very happy indeed.
Daze is a more recent addition to the deck. It's mainly been added to stop opponents turn 1 glistener elves or delvers, but I've found more and more that it's perfect in a deck that wants to be playing guildgates out during the early turns while maintaining control of the board. This could definitely be a four of, depending on your preferences.
I guess this is shaping up to be a hipster deck, with all these cards that never see play. But when you take a look at jilt, it's a wonder that it doesn't see even more play. 1U for a bounce is pretty steep, but the fact that for 2 more mana you can kill a creature as well? This card is so powerful for getting a delver through, whether it be killing mulldrifters, random faeries, or bouncing spire golems to be later countered, this card is the real deal.
Originally when I was building this deck, I was playing counterspell. It quickly became apparent to me that this was not possible in a three color deck. So why not play mana leak? Mana leak is basically just a hard-counter the majority of the time, and even if you don't have one, once your opponent sees it, they will try to play around it. So basically, simply having this card in your deck will slow down a lot of opponents. Sign me up for two please.
Time walk is a great card, so tacking on a green mana and changing the words on the card should be good too, right? Because this is what temporal spring is. It's time walk for three mana. Let's say our opponent is empty-handed, playing land after land. What does temporal spring do? It says go ahead and do last turn again. This card is unreal. Originally I was playing three, then I cut it to two, and perhaps it was even right to stay at two, but I ultimately went down to one copy of it. This is an insanely powerful effect, though. Since it's a sorcery, drawing multiples can be a little clunky (Especially if we're time walking them just to draw a card and tap out). If it were an instant, it'd definitely be a four-of, though.
I hear counter-spells are pretty good, and I hear cantrips are pretty good as well. Why not just jam both of them onto the same card and call it a day?
The next thing you should notice are the creatures:
I suppose we wouldn't be a very good delver deck if we didn't run four delver of secrets, huh? This card is an absolute house though, a turn two flipped delver that goes unanswered is a six turn clock. That's insane. That's faster than most two-drops even. Seriously, one mana for a 3/2 flyer? This card probably shouldn't have been printed, because it feels real unfair when you have an active delver.
A 0/1 Flyer for 1 doesn't look that good. But then there's this whole evolve mechanic. This card gets real big, real fast. A delver played while this is in play will net you a 1/2. Then you evoke a mulldrifter? Poof, you've got a 2/3 flyer. Oh you drew a frostburn weird off your mulldrifter? Boom! Now your one-drop is a 3/4 flyer. Oh look, you've got threshold and have played a werebear. KAZAAM! You've got a 4/5 flyer for one mana. This card could end up rivaling delver in strength.
I'd play this card only for its oracle text. The fact that it turns into a giant 4/4 monster for two mana is just an added bonus, in my opinion. Think about what creatures will outclass this. There is only one, ulamogs crusher. The thing is, ulamogs crusher costs four times as much mana to play, and your opponent will often times be dead before they even get to that point.
We wouldn't really be playing blue in pauper if we weren't playing at least one mulldrifter. Mulldrifter is a fantastic card, a divination when you're in a tight spot, a 2/2 attacker which replaces itself +1 when you're not. You know a card is good when even its "weaker" mode is still netting you cards.
Ah, we've been transported to RTR limited. It turns out this card is making quite a splash in pauper, showing up in UR decks and even mono blue decks! And why not? It's a 1/4 blocker in aggro matchups, where it quickly dominates the board, and it can be as large as a 4/1 attack in the slower matchups. If there's anything pauper decks often need, it's a mana sink. This card is so much more though, in my opinion, it ties the whole deck together, often you can bluff counterspells just by not activating this card, or activating it enough to make it appear as though you want to keep up spells.
Now then, let's take a look at the manabase, as I'm sure you know, a 3-color manabase is usually pretty farfetched in pauper.
You might think it's a bit of a liability to play Karoo type lands in pauper, and I have to say I agree, but it's a necessary evil if we want to pull off 3 colors. An added bonus, though, is that the Karoo lands will often fuel your flame jabs and faithless lootings with cards to discard.
The guildgates are a little slow, sure, but they just make so much possible. They enable us to play a three color mana-base with less than 20 lands, they enable us to bluff multiple spells at once, and they enable us to easily have the proper mana at the proper time. These cards alone make it fully possible to support a three color manabase in pauper.
Well, we wouldn't be much of a rug deck without mountains, islands, or forests. The terramorphic expanses are a little slow, but they contribute to consistency, which last time I checked, was a huge part of competitive decks. They also build up towards threshold, which is never a bad thing. It should be noted that we play many more islands than mountains or forests, since we want to be able to better support daze.
There can be an argument made for consolidating the two ancient grudge and two annuls for 4 nature's claim, but in response to that argument, I would point out how brutal it is to destroy two lands with one card against affinity. This card is just absolutely broken in the affinity matchup, and will often leave your opponent needing a change of pants. It also has other applications, destroying prophetic prisms, razor golems, spire golems, serrated arrows, and public enemy number one, bonesplitter. It's possible that more than two would be good, but with our next card, two seems right.
Annul is a great card. Countering enchantments is very strong against the bogle deck, and countering myr enforcers is also very strong. Not much can be said about the card, though, it's pretty apparent what it does.
Sometimes two excludes just isn't enough, and you want to have a third. Matchups where you want the third exclude would be the very creature heavy decks, like goblins or stompy, since countering a crucial silhana ledgewalker or goblin bushwalker can end the game on the spot.
Sometimes you just want more flame jab, and you're willing to risk drawing multiples. This card is simply amazing against mono-blue faeries/delver decks, as you can pick off their threats a piece at a time.
Well, we need something to beat the flyer heavy version of white-weenie, don't we? Hidden spider is just the card. Even if they suit up their flyer with a bonesplitter, it's pretty often the case that they still can't attack through this card.
Hydroblast is just a great card. It's removal, it's a counterspell, it's everything you could desire from a 1 mana instant.
If Hydroblast is a great card, than pyroblast is an amazing card. It is the best possible dispel you can have against mono-blue, and also the best possible removal spell. (Ignoring spire golem, which is often taken care of by burst lightning) It seems silly not to play four of these, since so many of the powerful decks in the format are blue. With the storm bannings, this card is now more powerful than ever, with how popular izzet post and faeries are now. Another application which comes up surprisingly often is forcing through lethal damage by pyroblasting a random target, giving your werebear threshold.
I've got a few matches recorded, but just one would take over 110 hours to upload on my fantastic internet, so I'll be working on getting these videos uploaded elsewhere and I'll be back to post them!
While I've always enjoyed playing mono-blue in pauper, I have to say this deck is just much more resilient, and perhaps even more powerful. It also has the added benefit of being much more fun to pilot. It has very few poor matchups, and quite a few favorable matchups against the most popular decks in the format. If you're willing to give it a try, I think you'll surprise yourself just how strong a deck such as this can be with a little patience.
Per usual, here's a sample hand generated in modo:
(I've got a few matches recorded, but just one would take over 110 hours to upload on my fantastic internet, so I'll be working on getting these videos uploaded elsewhere, so be sure to look out for the exciting conclusion to this article!)