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By: JustSin, Dave
May 14 2012 11:39am
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Can't Touch This!

Welcome back everyone to our weekly indulgence into the world of Pauper!  Last week we went above and beyond the call of duty with more Cloudpost decks than I ever cared to see along with a cool new endeavor that I'll be undertaking for my YouTube viewers!  This week I've decided to pull forward a topic that was requested a few weeks ago by a reader.  After playing all of those 8post decks I found myself relatively burnt out and wanted a deck that would not only be relaxing to play, but fast as well.  We'll take a look at that in a minute, but first....


The Competitive Corner

This was a crazy week for Pauper!  We're now into week two of our DelverBlue and MUC split and I think it is working out pretty well.  I have to say that responses to the changes made here seemed to be positive so the show will go on and I will continue to separate the daily event results to a GoogleDoc.  I'm always trying to make this section as helpful as possible so feedback is always welcome!  This week I have made a slight modification to my tracking of decks.  After my article last week where I talked about how Cloudpost can make any deck work, I've decided to start using the deck-type "JunkPost" to classify a number of random post decks that may or may not show up.  For example, the RedPost deck from last week's results would (from this point forward) be classified as JunkPost and I'll make a note regarding what type of deck it was.  I decided to add it this week because we had two such decks!

Looking at this graph here you can see why this was a big shake up week in the world of competitive Pauper.  We saw a significant drop in the number of DelverBlue decks this week.  I also checked out a number of the Daily Events themselves and saw that this wasn't just a reduction in winning DelverBlue decks, but in general there weren't many people playing them.  Even with the addition of the MUC decks, which had 8 showings, the showings are lower than we've seen in recent weeks.  Now, granted, the deck is still a ways ahead of the #2 deck, however this is a drastic change from the domination it usually has over the meta.  The remaining decks in the top five are sitting in the same positions that we've come to expect from them.  Affinity continues to drop and Tortured Reanimator decks have started to shine now that youhavenogame is running the list in addition to E. Hustle.  Let's take a look at the six week trend...

MonoWhite Aggro and Infect have leveled out after early spikes in weeks two and four respectively.  We've also seen Goblins, Stompy, and MBC take an upswing after drops in week five, but this has only leveled them out from where they were previously.  Affinity continues the downward slide that it took starting week three.  I personally believe this is due to the fact that it is very easy to bring in hate for artifacts so the successful versions tend to be a little more reliant on the metalcraft creatures and a well placed Fling.  This is also week two for DelverBlue so that means only four more weeks to go until it gets put onto this chart!  Here's the average showing results...

I guess the fact that DelverBlue and MUC end up with the most showings should make it easy to understand why these sit at the top of the list of undefeated showings as well.  In case you were not aware this chart is sorted so that it goes from decks with the most undefeated showings down to the least.  Finally, let's take a look at what this week's rogue decks consisted of...

1. DamnRats - 3
2. DimirPost - 3
3. Trinketstein - 3
4. EnchantStorm - 3
5. Slivers - 2
6. JunkPost - 2
7. FissureStorm - 1
8. Soldiers - 1
9. RG Aggro/Burn - 1
10. Elves - 1

EnchantStorm has picked up speed with a few more showings after its introduction last week.  Having checked out Daily Events recently I know there were several people playing it even though it only ended up in the money three times.  We also see the Trinketstein deck, as piloted by Taoh and discussed in my article here, showing three more times after its debut last week (this deck placed three times in three tries fyi).  It will be great to see these decks picking up steam as even DimirPost managed an spike up in its showings.  This week we had two JunkPost decks... The first was a UW deck with some interesting white removal and a Rolling Thunder finisher as seen in this Daily Event and ran by Viridia... The second was a version of IzzetPost that was more creature heavy and featured a Trinket Mage search.  Additionally, it runs heavier on burn spells and its only counter control is two Condescends.  I split this one from the typical IzzetPost list because you would have to approach it in a different fashion, the same way I split DelverBlue from MUC.  This deck can be seen in this Daily Event and was ran by DeadPixil.


So hexproof is a spell mechanic that was introduced to us recently in the world of Magic through the 2012 core set.  This new mechanic was basically a new approach to the former idea of having a creature with shroud or the ability to be untargetable.  The modification that was given to us with the idea of hexproof was that as the owner of that creature you were allowed to target it with spells, but an opponent could not.  This new idea became an instant success in the minds of players everywhere who wanted to play nasty pump-spells on a creature that an opponent could not kill in response.  While shroud is a great spell mechanic, and has had success in RG Aggro/Burn decks with Blastoderm and Jolrael's Centaur, the idea is improved when you are still allowed to use your various combat tricks on that creature.

Creatures with hexproof have made a major splash in the current playing environments of things like Standard and Modern since Wizards continued this into current sets.  Creatures like Geist of Saint Traft and Drogskol Captain have been the center component of several decks because of the fact that hexproof makes them so hard to deal with.  With that in mind it is important to consider that, well if these creatures are hard for decks in a format that has all rareties available to it then doesn't that mean it's even harder for decks in an all common format?  Well the answer here is yes and no.  These creatures are hard to deal with because the best options to deal with them will be in only black and run along the lines of Diabolic Edict and/or Geth's Verdict, which force an opponent to sacrifice a creature (though it is harder to remove specific hexproof creatures when there are multiples on the field since neither spell is targeted).  However, Pauper tends to be a format that is very creature heavy.  Even the most dominate control deck in the format, DelverBlue, is running 23 creatures!  This means there are going to be opportunities for an opponent to kill off your hexproof creatures during combat if you're not careful about how you attack.

Now I know, I know... you're sitting there thinking, "yeah... duh", but players do still tend to find themselves falling into that aggro trap.  Many new players often find themselves not really thinking through plays and attacks leading to a form of tunnel vision that may not allow them to see something like an opponent's untapped green mana for possibly an instant speed pump-spell.  So stop rolling your eyes!

In Pauper there are currently only five creatures with hexproof and they all fall within the colors of blue and green...

Gladecover Scout Sacred Wolf Aven Fleetwing
Silhana Ledgewalker Slippery Bogle

In addition to these five creatures there is only one other spell that has to do with hexproof and that is Ranger's GuileRanger's Guile is a great combat trick and has been used in a few Infect decks as an extra way to give creatures protection beyond Apostle's Blessing and Vines of Vastwood.  The one thing that keeps it from being a regular card in either that deck or the Stompy lists is the fact that it only adds +1/+1.

Hexproof is probably a deck that you have found yourself playing against at least once if you've ever played a game in the "Just for Fun" room.  The basic idea is to build a deck that features only hexproof creatures along with cheap and effective ways to make them stronger.  Some people do this through spells such as you'd see in Infect or with equipment spells, but the most effective way is through enchantments!  Anyone who read my articles a few years ago knows that I put together a whole series on decks that featured enchantments and this one would have been a great addition to that series (had hexproof been around).

As we saw earlier the hexproof creatures that we have available to use are all in blue and green, however you may find that decks are either replacing blue with white or running the deck as three colors.  The reason for this is simple... Armadillo CloakArmadillo Cloak is one of the most powerful enchantment spells that is available to us in Pauper and works great in a deck where we are pumping creatures permanently thanks to trample.  Additionally, we've seen that lifegain spells can be an important part of any Pauper deck.  Let's take a look at the list I run...


As usual I feel that most of the deck is pretty easy to understand, but let's take a look at a few cards any ways!  The best enchantment in this deck is actually Ancestral Mask, which allows a creature to just be way too big for comfort.  While the Armadillo Cloak is a very powerful option you get some amazing played off of Ancestral Mask.  Consider the following...

Turn 1: Forest, Gladecover Scout
Turn 2: Forest, Rancor, Rancor --- > Gladecover Scout attacks for 7
Turn 3: Forest, Ancestral Mask --- > Gladecover Scout attacks for 9

In a matter of only three turns you've been able to do 16 damage to an opponent, you're set for the win on turn 4, and in the mid to late game it just gets that much better.  For my own amusement I sat down to a solitaire game and decided to see just how big a creature could get with all the enchantments on it.  Here's the answer...


Awesome...

Briar Shield is a nice addition because it allows you the ability to sacrifice it in order to give the creature it was attached to an additional +2/+2 until end of turn.  This can be incredibly helpful when swinging for the win or trying to protect a creature, just don't F6 it!  Armor of Thorns is another great enchantment spell because it has the ability to be played as an "until end of turn" instant speed spell or a permanent enchantment.  These spells allow for a lot of flexibility when it comes to determining different combat tricks.  Treetop Bracers isn't the biggest pump spell available to you, however it allows you to give a hexproof creature the ability that Silhana Ledgewalker already has... "can't be blocked except by creatures with flying".  Because the Silhana Ledgewalker already has this ability you should avoid using this spell on him unless you absolutely need it for the current situation.

Now I did mention earlier that this deck is often times seen as a casual deck, but because the concept is similar to that of Stompy it tends to play games quite fast.  There was even one showing of this deck at 3-1 during a Daily Event when ran by Rygarrygar!

As always feel free to check out my video comments before we get into the example games...


Game 1
Against: Red Aggro/Burn
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
ForestForestPetrified PlatingForestForestPlainsSilhana Ledgewalker

Opp 1: Mountain
JS 1: Draw Slippery Bogle, Forest, suspend Petrified Plating

Opp 2: Mountain
JS 2: Draw Armadillo Cloak, Plains, Silhana Ledgewalker -- EoT Opp Incinerate (20-17)

Opp 3: Mountain, Erdwal Ripper swings for 2 (20-15)
JS 3: Petrified Plating comes into play on Silhana Ledgewalker, Draw Rancor, Forest, Armadillo Cloak on Silhana Ledgewalker (15-20)

Opp 4: Mountain, Crossway Vampire, attacking with Erdwal Ripper (15-17)
JS 4: Draw Treetop Bracers, Forest, Rancor and Treetop Bracers targeting Silhana Ledgewalker (7-25)

Opp 5: Mountain, Volt Charge - Concedes

Game 2
Against: UB Control?
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
Treetop BracersTreetop BracersSlippery BogleRancorBriar ShieldArmadillo CloakArmor of Thorns
Muligan to 6:
ForestArmor of ThornsEvolving WildsTreetop BracersRancorSilhana Ledgewalker

JS 1: Evolving Wilds fetching Plains
Opp 1: Island

JS 2: Draw Briar Shield, Forest, Silhana Ledgewalker
Opp 2: Island

JS 3: Draw Forest, Forest, Armor of Thorns and Rancor on Silhana Ledgewalker (15-20) -- Opp cycles Twisted Abomination
Opp 3: Swamp

JS 4: Draw Petrified Plating, suspended Petrified Plating, Briar Shield targeting Silhana Ledgewalker (9-20)
Opp 4: Island, Prophetic Prism

JS 5: Draw Armadillo Cloak, Treetop Bracers targeting Silhana Ledgewalker, use sacrifice ability of Briar Shield (0-20)
 

Game 3
Against: Boros Aggro
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
Terramorphic ExpanseTerramorphic ExpanseForestSlippery BogleArmadillo CloakSlippery BogleEvolving Wilds

I make a few misplays when searching out lands with my Terramorphic Expanses and so I can't get an Armadillo Cloak on Slippery Bogle until turn 4.  I use an early Slippery Bogle to trade with a Benevolent Bodyguard and soon find myself facing down a second along with a Cerodon Yearling.  After those two come into play my opponent also quickly gets three Bonesplitters attached to the Cerodon Yearling and it becomes a battle of the enhancements as I continue to pump my second Slippery Bogle.  The lifegain off of Armadillo Cloak keeps me well in the game and then Briar Shield and Ancestral Mask make sure my Slippery Bogle is big enough to compete with the triple equipped Cerodon Yearling.  Things get tight because of the second Benevolent Bodyguard and a Prismatic Strands, which works great with the vigilence on Cerodon Yearling.  After I manage to eat through these preventative spells we find ourselves at a point where I'm facing the Cerodon Yearling and two Squadron Hawks with my Slippery Bogle, which has 12 attack power thanks to an additional Rancor.  My opponent attacks through dropping me to 5, but it isn't enough as my Slippery Bogle swings for the win on following turn.

**Because these games are really short there are a few bonus example games I put up on my YouTube channel!**


When it comes to possible changes to the deck the first thing that has to be considered is going to be the addition of blue mana.  The best reason for doing so comes in the form of Aven Fleetwing, which not only has hexproof, but evasion as well in the form of flying.  When a creature has hexproof there are very few ways to deal with that creature outside of combat, but when you give that creature evasion then it's even harder to destroy since odds are that there aren't going to be fliers on the other side of the field.  This is why the Silhana Ledgewalker is such a strong creature in this deck even though it doesn't actually have flying the "cannot be blocked by" ability makes it hard to deal with.

When it comes to possible enchantments there are a lot of different blue auras available.  In most cases these enchantments are weaker than the green enchantments because they don't usually increase the power and toughness of the creature, instead giving it abilities such as drawing or flying.  Of the few blue enchantments that do increase a creature's size these six are probably the most likely to be used...

Eel UmbraSpectral FlightFavor of the OverbeingGhostly WingsInfiltrator's MagemarkViscerid Armor

Eel Umbra is one of the few Totem Armor spells that we were given and will allow you to sacrifice the enchantment instead of the creature, however it loses some of its appeal since the hexproof ability usually does enough to keep creatures alive.  The real power of this enchantment is the flash ability.  This allows you to play it during combat blocking in order to change the tide of damage or save your creature.  Spectral Flight has seen some recent play in other formats and is the biggest pump spell that you get in blue without a drawback like CunningFavor of the Overbeing is usable in this deck because of Slippery Bogle, but the drawback is that when it is put on any other creature it isn't going to be used at full strength.  In most cases it should be read as 1U/G to give creature +1/+1 and vigilance since most of the creatures will be green.  Infiltrator's Magemark is a great option since it can be put on the Silhana Ledgewalker and make it even more troublesome to block.  The trade off is the 2U cost is a bit janky for it only giving +1/+1 in return.  The last two, Ghostly Wings and Viscerid Armor, are small pump spells, but give you the ability to save the enchantment if the creature is going to die in any way.

There are a few other enchantments that do other fun things within blue as well.  Sigil of Sleep is a great spell to cause all kinds of trouble by bouncing creatures your opponent controls.  This would most likely work best on those hexproof creatures that had evasion so that you'd constantly be keeping creatures off the field.  Another choice could be Freed from the Real, which gives you the ability to untap creatures.  The main reason I'd avoid this is the fact that it will cost three to play and then additional mana to untap, which makes it too mana reliant to be efficient.

I mentioned earlier that I have seen this deck running in forms of GUw and I think this is doable.  When it comes down to it you'll only need 1-2 Plains max to the deck since you're running the fetches.  I may drop the Armadillo Cloaks down to three as well in order to find other important spells that fit better into the color balance.  Off the top of my head it might look something like this...

GUw
An Untested Deck By: JustSin
Creatures
3 Aven Fleetwing
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
3 Gladecover Scout
14 cards

Other Spells
3 Eel Umbra
2 Favor of the Overbeing
3 Spectral Flight
3 Armadillo Cloak
4 Ancestral Mask
4 Rancor
4 Briar Shield
1 Snake Umbra
5 Islands
24 cards
Lands
3 Evolving Wilds
2 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Plains
10 Forest
17 cards
 
Aven Fleetwing

 


So hopefully you now have a better understanding about the power of hexproof creatures within that Pauper format.  There are a lot of fun things to do with it since there are so many different enchantment options.  There has to be something said about a deck type that has so much customization available to it!  Hope y'all enjoyed it and I'll catch you next time!

- JustSin

3 Comments

SO glad you put in treetop by deluxeicoff at Wed, 05/16/2012 - 12:53
deluxeicoff's picture

SO glad you put in treetop bracers - such an undervalued card

yea I like it, but like I by JustSin at Wed, 05/16/2012 - 17:48
JustSin's picture

yea I like it, but like I said it starts to lose value if you play it on a ledgewalker

The chart is really an by evangeline at Thu, 12/12/2013 - 19:51
evangeline's picture

The chart is really an overview of what it is all about. They have to take a lot at it to be sure what they are getting. - Sandra Dyche