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By: JustSin, Dave
Jul 05 2012 7:26am
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A Bit of Soul

As you sit down and read this I will be sitting out on the beach, beer in hand, and enjoying a bit of vacation time after two months of being crazy busy, but I didn't want to leave you without some competition information and a fun deck for the week.  I figured, if I'm having fun then definitely everyone else should too!  As promised I am going to be jumping into a bit of the AVR cardpool.  There were a number of fun cards that became available to us in AVR, very... very few of which have actually made it into competitive play.  But before we get into that let's take a look at our Competitive Corner.

**As a late edit note here... frequent readers of mine might have noticed a lack of article last week... I'm guessing this was due to the fact that I submitted the article later than usual.  For this I do apologize.  I'm not 100% sure of when this will be up, but needless to say I will be on top of this for keeping the Competitive Corner, etc. in order.**

The Competitive Corner

We're only one week into our new "every other week" Competitive Corner and I think it's going to work out well.  The numbers are going to be just slightly more inflated since they are coming from two weeks' worth of data, but that only really concerns the middle.  In other words, decks that sit in the middle and would be in the teens will now be a bit higher and the rogue numbers may even shrink a bit.  This shift is minor, however, and I'm pretty happy with how it matches up to the pre-shrink numbers in comparison to what it would look like if things were staying on the weekly basis.  Now because there was a bit of a discrepancy in when this article will actually go up this is going to be the results for the period of June 11th through June 24th.

Daily Event Results 6/11 - 6/24

Well I think at this point in time we are seriously embedded into the age of Storm because it has officially taken the place of Delver for the permanent #1 slot.  It's not even worth talking about the deck (although one interesting thing was the showing of a RG Storm deck) so instead we're going to just look at the rest.  DelverBlue seems to be holding itself at a strong showing with another week of 47 showings.  IzzetPost and MonoWhite Aggro switched places this week, but the rest mostly stayed the same.  Goblins did start climbing a bit, but the cooler part of this list is the showing of EnchantStorm finally returning to the non-rogue list.

So before I say anything here, a big thanks goes out to reader Psychobabble for fixing my issues with this graph!  If you've been following my articles I ran into a problem when the number of Pauper Daily Events offered changed.  This chart had included both the short weeks I covered as well as the double weeks... it was a mess and more importantly it did not provide any data worth looking at.  So this new and improved chart takes what used to be the number of showings over six weeks and changes it all into the percentage for the decks each week.  This is why I love to open my articles up (especially this section) to reader input since I would rather give you quality, useful content then just what I feel is important.  I can't say enough how much better this is as the numbers really balance out better than they did even before the DE change.  We can now better see the spike Delver had before Storm came in and completely dominated.  The interesting part is that this chart starts at the highest point for DelverBlue (25%) and ends with Storm at the same percentage.  The most important note regarding storm is the steady increase that we've seen over the past six weeks.  Not once did the deck decline let alone stay at the same level... its always been increasing.  So from here out this is going to be how this chart is built instead of my previous method.

Here's the 4 - 0 showings...

As usual most of the showings stayed the same, but we had one.  Awesome.  Occurrence.... RDW HAD A 4 - 0 SHOWING!!  Congrats to yoichi0600 who was the first person, in the over two months I've been doing this, to go undefeated with this deck.  Finally that poor little red line finally gets a hint of blue!  The average undefeated showings for MUC also increased slightly moving it up two spots over Slivers and Tortured Reanimator.  Delver continues to hold the top spot as the deck with the most average 4 - 0 showings, but Storm has been creeping up closer and closer on a daily basis for average overall showings.

Here's our rogue decks from the past weeks...

1. DimirTrinket - 3
2. RDW - 3
3. Tortured Reanimator - 2
4. FissureStorm - 2
5. WeeFiend Aggro - 1
6. Elves - 1
7. EnchantAggro - 1
8. GreenPost - 1
9. RG Zoo - 1
10. Teachings Control - 1
11. JunkPost - 1
12. RebelPost - 1
13. Naya Aggro - 1
14. UW Blink - 1

Finally this is what I had expected to see when it came to rogue decks for doubled listings... a long list.  We had a lot of the usual suspects making single showings, but there were a few new names on the list as well.  The first deck was one that I've entitled as EnchantAggro was a cool GW deck that featured the beast that can be in Aura Gnarlid and several land enchantments, which enable to deck to bring its mana base up enough to even cast Totem-Guide Hartebeest (when only running 17 lands), which is often ignored for its 4W cost.  Next up would be a deck I called Naya Aggro and featured several of the usual suspects from the old Boros landfall deck and added green for things like Qasali Pridemage.  The third new deck on the list is one that I titled UW Blink and, after testing it, is crazy fun to play.  The deck features creatures like Kor Skyfisher and Dream Stalker alongside the removal enchantments of Journey to Nowhere and Oblivion Ring.  When combined this allows for permanent removal of creatures or nonland permanents.  It's expensive to do, it's completely janky.... but it's fun.  Our JunkPost deck this week was a SimicPost build by zpikduM that held to a pretty standard blue base and then used green for extra mana (Overgrown Battlement) and land destruction control.  Having built and played within the "post building rules" a lot myself I have great appreciation for this deck as he kept to the standards of construction and built a great deck.

Now I would be remised if I decided to end it there and not make mention at all of the Pauper Spotlight.  While I did not personally get an opportunity to join in, I heard that there was quite the showing for the event.  Big congratulations go out to E.Hustle who topped them all and won the event running the BR Tortured Reanimator deck that he made famous.  The deck requires quite a bit of skill and knowledge to play, but can really dominate when in the hands of an experienced player.  Here's a look at the top 8...

1. Tortured Reanimator - E.Hustle
2. MonoWhite Aggro - Wizardjason0414
3. DelverBlue - GvS
4. MonoBlack Control - DGame
5. Affinity - figazin
6. IzzetPost - im2tired
7. Elves - sayusayu
8. Storm - JdPhoenix

Now looking at that top 8 is awesome.  There is not a single repeated deck type in there.  In my personal opinion this says great things about the balance within this format, even if the showings from Daily Events suggests otherwise.  Another great thing about the top 8 is that there are two decks (Tortured Reanimator and Elves) that are not decks that are considered as "top tier" decks.  These two decks are decks that we don't see everyone playing, but despite their lack of "popularity" they have proven that they are strong decks nonetheless.  For those who are too lazy to click the link above and check out the results here's how the decks broke down in the top 32...

While it hasn't really been all that long since AVR was released I feel like it has been around forever.  There have been plenty of competitive events that have fired for Pauper since the set's introduction online and yet there are very few cards that have seen play at that level.  In fact (at the time of writing this) there are only two that I have seen...

Wingcrafter Wandering Wolf

As I'm sure you can probably guess, these cards have found their spots in DelverBlue and Stompy respectively.  There has been the occasional appearance in rogue decks by AVR cards, but nothing has really stuck.  I find it to be a real shame because there are a lot potential in the set for (at the very least) some great casual play...

Seraph of DawnElgaud ShieldmateMist RavenGhostly FlickerOutwitPeel from RealityDriver of the DeadEssence HarvestDeath WindMad ProphetDangerous WagerAbundant Growth

So I sat down and filtered the client in order to get a full look at what the commons of AVR had to offer.  In the set there are 101 cards with a common rarity (not including basic lands).  These cards are evenly divided out by color with each color having 19 commons.  When it comes to colorless commons in AVR there are five artifacts and a single non-basic land (Seraph Sanctuary).  As expected the majority of these cards work basically as filler, being so underwhelming that they really won't be seeing play in any format.

If you're the type of player who continues to find themselves playing in Limited formats (especially drafting) then you are all too familiar with the power of commons.  In every set there are a few key commons that have the potential to be drafted well above some uncommons or even rares.  When building a deck that has a core focus on a specific set the first thing you want to do is to focus on these cards.  Rule of thumb states that a card that was a good draft pick in Limited formats would be equally strong in a deck that is focused on commons.  Take a look at the commons that are available in AVR, for example.  There are many unplayable cards, but a small percentage of those 101 commons is a virtual gold mine.  This can then be applied to commons on a greater level as well.  If you were to take the full total of all common rarity cards in Magic than there would still be a large percentage of cards that are unplayable or at the very least less powerful.  I know it sounds like common sense, but when you focus on quality cards you get quality decks.

So I took a look at the commons in AVR and started to think about what I had drafted.  Now I'm far from the greatest drafter, but I'm still able to pull out wins here and there.  The decks I had success with in AVR drafting were often based on the new mechanic, soulbond.  Now I don't want to beat you all over the head with the details on how this mechanic works.  Since it was an incredibly recent thing, there are a number of articles that were released on the Magic website (and many other places across the internet) talking about how soulbond works and they can do a much better job of detailing it out for you since that's their main focus.  Here's a few to check out if you're interested...

Avacyn Restored Preview: Soulbond - By: Dave Humpherys
The Name's Bond, Soulbond - By: Mark Rosewater

So the next step was to continue to sort through the cards of AVR and narrow it down to look at only those creatures that had soulbond.  There were only eleven cards total and here's how they broke down...

Based upon that breakdown there was only one way to go when it comes down to color choices; Blue & Green.  Now there is your fair share of junk within these nine cards (yeah I'm looking at you Diregraf Escort), but there are plenty of card available to build a deck around.

Elgaud ShieldmatePathbreaker WurmTrusted ForcemageWingcrafter

Looking at these options you'll see that there is one potential problem with these soulbond creatures.... mana cost.  The cheapest available is going to be Wingcrafter and its ability is good, but not great.  Other great creatures such as the Elgaud Shieldmate and Pathbreaker Wurm are very strong cards, but require a casting cost that is often time considered as high by Pauper standards.  Now there are some great ways that I thought of for working with these, such as relying on our old friends the posts to run a full set of Pathbreaker Wurms alongside some of the other epic fatties from GreenPost, but what a deck really needs is just some form of mana acceleration to make things work.  Luckily for me, blue and green have one of my favorites...

Coiling Oracle

I can already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth as I say that.  I do realize there are mana dorks that are much more effective at building up a mana base, but I wanted more out of my potential mana ramp.  What I wanted was something like Coiling Oracle that has more options available to it other than getting lands into play.  Throwing down Coiling Oracle is one of those 50/50 gambles that I love to take.  Now these creatures are good in themselves, but there were two more options that I felt were must adds for a deck focusing on soulbond.

Flowering Lumberknot Joint Assault

Flowering Lumberknot is a tough creature for most Pauper decks to deal with since it comes in at a power and toughness that is beyond that magical #4 barrier.  The downside to this creature is the fact that without something to bond to it does nothing.  Literally.  This can be a tricky thing to deal with in Pauper because, as I already stated, the mana costs are often at the 4 or higher range.  For example, if my only choice for bonding is an Elgaud Shieldmate in hand next to my Flowering Lumberknot then when turn 4 comes I'm going to have to choose the best way to go about playing them.  If I had something like Wingcrafter or Trusted Forcemage then it can give me a faster opportunity to at least use Flowering Lumberknot as a blocker on turn 4.  Joint Assault is a great spell and definitely a four-of for a soulbond deck.  This card works as card advantage and allows you the opportunity to pump two creatures for the cost of one... very cheap... spell.  Imagine attacking with your Flowering Lumberknot and Trusted Forcemage and getting to pump them up for a total of 11 damage off of the two creatures.

To round out the deck I wanted to bring in a bit of card draw as well as the only option that these colors really has available for control... bounce and counter magic.  Here's what it looked like...

UG Soul
A Deck By: JustSin
4 Coiling Oracle
3 Elgaud Shieldmate
4 Flowering Lumberknot
2 Nightshade Peddler
4 Trusted Forcemage
3 Wingcrafter
30 cards

Other Spells
4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 AEther Tradewinds
4 Joint Assault
4 Mana Leak
2 Prohibit
7 cards
3 Evolving Wilds
9 Forest
11 Island
23 cards
Joint Assault

I kept the Counterspells to a minimum in order to keep the deck more focused on aggro.  I also picked Counterspells that had the option for colorless mana so that they played nicer with a second color of mana.  The tradewinds was brought in as an experiment for my creature bouncing options.  The idea was that this card would not only allow me to return one of my opponent's creatures, but I could also use it to rearrange soulbonds as needed.

Feel free to check out the DeckTech video to see my thoughts on the deck...

Example Game 1
Playing Against: RDW
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
IslandTerramorphic ExpanseIslandFlowering LumberknotMana LeakElgaud ShieldmateMana Leak

This was a great starting hand thanks to the Terramorphic Expanse getting the much needed Forest and having all the pieces need to get Flowering Lumberknot going as soon as possible.  My opponent starts with a Goblin Arsonist so I was under the assumption it was a form of RDW, which works great with my Elgaud Shieldmate's ability to give my creatures hexproof.  With plenty of mana available to counter Curse of the Pierced Heart I make the fatal error of skipping past the opportunity to counter so I'm going to have to take quite a bit of damage.  I get things started by hitting my turn four Flowering Lumberknot, which allows me to attack with it on turn 5 with the use of the Elgaud Shieldmate.  My opponent taps out on his following turn, which gives me an opportunity to safely cast the Elgaud Shieldmate without having to worry about it dying to something like Lightning Bolt.  My opponent makes a minor misplay in attacking into my Flowering Lumberknot and then hits me with Brimstone Volley.  After drawing into a Joint Assault I swing into my opponent's Blood Ogre and sneak the kill when he blocks.  Seeing then end he decides to concede.

Example Game 2
Playing Against: RG Hexproof-ish
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
Mana LeakWingcrafterIslandCoiling OracleEvolving WildsIslandFlowering Lumberknot

This was a strong opening hand with the ability to get both colors as well as a chance at early ramp from Coiling Oracle followed by that turn 4 Flowering Lumberknot.  When I play my Coiling Oracle on turn two it doesn't hit that much desired land, but I do draw into Trusted Forcemage, which is going to allow my useless 1/1 into something useful.  My opponent starts with a troublesome Dwarven Berserker, which is only powerful when you actually block him, and follows that up with a Sacred Wolf, which is also easy to handle.  I attempt to try and kill my Coiling Oracle, unsuccessfully, but even though he lives I don't hesitate to putting Flowering Lumberknot into play, which I bond with a second Trusted Forcemage to create quite a creature.  We dance around combat until a point where my opponent enchants the Dwarven Berserker with Furor of the Bitten, making it more troublesome to block, and then oddly concedes while at 8 life.  *shrugs*

Example Game 3
Playing Against: UB Control
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
Trusted ForcemageForestJoint AssaultEvolving WildsForestAEther TradewindsForest

This is a hand that has potential, but is too land heavy to be a "great start".  My opponent starts with Ravenous Rats and I throw away the tradewinds after a bit of indecision over whether that or a land goes.  Final choice was to hold the land and ensure that I have four if the opportunity arises for Flowering Lumberknot to come into play on turn 4.  My turn three Trusted Forcemage is met with a Dead Weight and I know I'm in for a long game unless I can find an Elgaud Shieldmate.  We trade weenie blows with Ravenous Rats and Coiling Oracle until I use my new tradewinds to bounce one of my opponent's two lands and my Coiling Oracle after I counter an Augur of Skulls.  My replayed Coiling Oracle hits a Trusted Forcemage with enough land to play it on the same turn (even though it's hit with Agony Warp).  I re-bond the Coiling Oracle with an Elgaud Shieldmate that I then wished I had saved for the Flowering Lumberknot I drew.  My opponent then sneaks in Ninja of the Deep Hours and gets some draw, but despite hitting a Terramorphic Expanse he decides to concede since he's very behind on mana.

Now there are lots of things that you can change with this deck if you're looking for something different from what I had built.  Bringing in a fourth copy of Elgaud Shieldmate could be a great thing to do if you often find yourself playing against decks that are heavier on creature control and other types of targeted spells.  The thing to remember is that the shieldmate is sitting at that tricky, four mana cost slot so you may need to increase your ability to draw/play lands.  Coiling Oracle is a great choice, but I know it fits my playing preference more than that of others.  Some people may rather using a more standard means of ramping up their mana.  This can include basic mana dorks such as Llanowar Elves or spells like Rampant Growth.  If you like my idea of being able to have a card that can draw and play lands, but don't think Coiling Oracle is the answer, then I recommend giving Explore a try.  Explore is another card that will not always get you more land, but when it does it can help you get out your bombs like Flowering Lumberknot faster.

The next thing that has the potential to be traded out would be the Accumulated Knowledges.  This is a great card for being able to draw into a large number of cards, but it can feel a bit slow if you're not drawing into further copies of Accumulated Knowledge.  Another reason you may not want to run this card is the fact that it is often running near $3 each on the secondary market.  This isn't terribly expensive, but for a format that is based on just commons, that can be a bit steep.  I think the best, #2 option for this slot is going to be Think Twice.  As a total, this card draws only eight cards while Accumulated Knowledge has the potential to draw ten, but missing two cards is comparable to the price and the draw can come at a faster rate.

The last thing I wanted to mention was the use of AEther Tradewinds.  After playing this deck several times for testing I find that I really don't know how I feel about this card.  Part of me wanted to run Ghostly Flicker instead, but the downside is that it only targets cards that you own whereas the tradewinds allows you to play a bit defensively when needed.  If you're focusing on the rearranging of soulbonds then Ghostly Flicker would be a better choice.  Imagine a situation where your opponent targeted one of your important creatures with something like Doom Blade.  In response you can use Ghostly Flicker to not only protect it and keep it in play, but you have a chance to be more creative and give that creature hexproof after blinking an Elgaud Shieldmate.  When it comes to bouncing creatures that your opponent controls you do get some other options such as Vapor Snare, which is playable for cheap and deals damage to your opponent as well.  You can also bring in Peel from Reality, which does the almost the same thing as the tradewinds, but for cheaper.  The only difference between the two is that Peel from Reality targets only creatures.  This is why I went for the tradewinds instead because it gives you an option to deal with other permanents such as artifacts and enchantments that we see more often during casual play.

You can feel free to make changes to the Counterspell package as well if you don't own the cards, but my only recommendation would be to keep in mind that a double blue casting cost is a bit heavy in a deck that is close to 50% on both colors.  There is a lot of room for using these spots as other things if you desire like additional bounce or creatures.  One suggestion made to me was the use of another new card from AVR, Mist Raven, to help the tempo and I think that's a great idea.  It would add to the creature base as well as creating evasion and control.

Bonus Content!!!

This week's bonus content has a focus on Ghostly Flicker.  Let me start actually by apologizing, this game was one that did not save to replays and would disappear, but I did not have my mic so it had to be recorded with no sound.  Anyone who has been following my YouTube series called "Building Posts" knows how unhappy I was with the results from my attempt to make my UWPost deck into a deck focused on Level-Up.  With that over my head I built a new UWPost deck that stuck to a more traditional control route, but had a focus on the use of Ghostly Flicker, which I think is being underplayed in 8-post decks.  This replay goes a bit fast, but is a great showing of the combo between Ghostly Flicker and Mnemonic Wall.  Personally, I find Ghostly Flicker to be my favorite common out of AVR and see many uses for it.  Feel free to leave feedback (here or on YouTube) and let me know if you want me to throw up the deck list if you're interested.

**EDIT: As I was finishing this there were several requests for the deck list so I have put it up as a bonus on my YouTube channel so check it out if you're interested.**

Next week's article is going to be another reader's request week.  It'll be an off week for our Competitive Corner so I'm going to fill up all that extra space with a look at decks within my favorite color.... black.  We'll talk about the competitive version as well as some fun casual options.  So until then!

- JustSin


Pauper is a lot healthier by Raskolnikov at Thu, 07/05/2012 - 12:54
Raskolnikov's picture

Pauper is a lot healthier format than many think it is. It has plenty of decks that can do well, and there's still room to brew.

I really like your articles as pauper is one of my favorite formats to play!

Thanks, glad you're enjoying by JustSin at Thu, 07/05/2012 - 13:18
JustSin's picture

Thanks, glad you're enjoying :)

Glad you took my % suggestion by Psychobabble at Thu, 07/05/2012 - 19:33
Psychobabble's picture

Glad you took my % suggestion on board, that graph's really informative now :)

I can't understand the week after week dominance of storm. There is just SO much people can use to hate on it isn't there? I think every colour has good SB options for it so I can't see why people aren't packing the hate more effectively. It doesn't seem silly to use 4-6 slots for a deck that's so dominant and so hate-able.

Re soulbond deck, it seems like too many of the really bomb-y bond creatures are uncommon. druids familiar, nearheath pilgrim, hanaweir lancer, stonewright, tandem lookout... at least some of them could make a splash I think, not sure that the ones available cut it. Shieldmate is pretty good, but the deck you most need hexproof against (MBC) runs plenty of verdicts so I doubt it'll be effective (just as silhana looks technically great for stompy vs MBC but actually just seems to die instantly every time she hits the table - the only mechanics that works against black removal are undying and persist). And geist trappers is pretty awesome in limited but at 5cmc it's too slow for pauper and probably doesn't do that much anyway by the time it hits. Guess it might work vs delver if you can stay alive for 5 turns.

regarding storm - can't agree by JustSin at Thu, 07/05/2012 - 19:35
JustSin's picture

regarding storm - can't agree more

regarding soulbond - you pretty much nailed it, it isn't something I can see being a constant competitor, but definitely makes for casual fun

thanks again :)

Soul is an active or by Xiaowei Ye at Thu, 07/12/2012 - 06:03
Xiaowei Ye's picture

Soul is an active or essential part of human beings. It's the part of us that arouses emotions and sentiments.

office furniture west palm beach

Great Work by TheBizzar at Thu, 07/12/2012 - 15:51
TheBizzar's picture

I love the article. Huge amounts of data to work with. You are right in that pauper is very healthy. I think MTGO players that really want their moneys worth should be playing pauper. I have the cards on my account for a good mono blue, I just have not tossed my hat in the ring with it (or any other format) for awhile. Since Legacy does not fire, Pauper is the way I will go when looking for a quick pick up game of magic online.

Thanks again and keep putting out the reports... you are obviously good!