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By: JustSin, Dave
May 01 2012 10:23am
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Considering MUC

Welcome back everyone!  After a week's break I am back at it within the Pauper world!  Maybe it's just me, but the week's break flew by as I found very little breathing room by not writing!  The breather was definitely worth it, but now it's time to get right back into some Pauper talk.  This week we're going to be discussing competitive Pauper as I wanted to talk about a suggestion that has been made to me by several readers with regards to my deck determination of MonoBlue Control.  As a head's up this article will not contain ranting and complaining with regards to the power of the deck and what should or should not be banned.  This is going to be an article, which puts all opinions aside and simply takes a look at the decks for what they are... a pile of interacting cards...  But first!  The Competitive Corner!

The Competitive Corner

Now this will be a bit crazy because I did take a week off, but I also promised that I would not miss a beat when it came to tracking the competitive decks and the Daily Events.  So this section is going to contain two week's worth of results from Daily Events.  I'm going to keep both week's separate from each other, but in order to make up for the extra space that is going to be used I'm going to be eliminating the long list of the individual Daily Event showings.  If anyone actually wants to see these results then I have copied them all into a Google Spreadsheet for you.

So let's get into things and take a look first at the missing week...

Again the trends continue, with MUC dominating the number one spot and Infect sliding up the charts even more.  We actually had Infect tied at third place with the same number of showings as Storm.  A few known decks have fallen down or off the rogue chart, but we do have quite an interesting showing with the Tortured Reanimator deck type.  This deck had its first showing in my last Pauper article, but really showed well with 6 showings over the week (and all by E. Hustle who I believe is the original creator of this RB list).  Here are the rogue decks for this week...

1. UB Control - 4
2. DimirPost - 2
3. RDW - 2
4. GW Aggro - 2
5. Rakados Deck Wins - 2
6. Fissure Storm - 1
7. Orzhov Deck Wins - 1
8. Rebel Post - 1
9. Damn Rats - 1

There was only one deck that just barely missed out on avoiding the rogue list and that was UB Control.  A couple of familiar names made a showing as rogues this week as well with Fissure Storm and DimirPost having very low showings this week.  Additionally we had a couple oldies, but goodies in RDW and Rebel Post getting a couple big wins.

And then here's last week...

So BIG things happening in this week!  The most important thing is that Infect had a huge surge in showings and moved from third place last week to second this week.  It has been a steady increase in showings from this deck and we may see odd changes such as the use of Coast Watcher in sideboards to deal with green creatures.  The other big thing is that MUC again had a significant lead over the second place deck.  In fact, MUC accounted for almost a quarter off the decks this week!  Storm got kicked back into fourth place in order to make room for the Infect deck, but it wasn't far out of third place.  We also see Tortured Reanimator staying on the list with exactly 5 showings, only one of which was not E. Hustle.  We also had quite a few decks land on our rogues list...

1. DimirPost - 4
2. Fissure Storm - 4
3. Slivers - 4
4. Soliders - 4
5. Orzhov Deck Wins - 2
6. RebelPost - 2
7. RDW - 1
8. Teachings Control - 1
9. UG Post - 1

This was a crazy week for Pauper because there were four decks that ended up as rogues that were only one showing away from making our main list.  The most interesting of which is perhaps the Soldiers deck, which is a sub-type of MonoWhite Aggro that uses a deck that is (I believe) tribal legal.  We also had RebelPost and RDW staying around as well as a single showing by Teachings Control (this version was a typical UB list).  My favorite however is as linked there, the UG Post deck, which was a slight variation of a deck I offered up to readers in my bonus content section!  I was very excited to see that.

One of the things I like to continue to point out is that I don't consider myself the end of the line when it comes to Pauper.  I think one of the best things about the game of Magic is that it gets us thinking and can invoke conversation and discussion with regards to different decks and formats.  What I try to do is bring together all the data from recent Daily Events in an attempt to help competitive players understand what they might be facing and/or give a newer player to the format the opportunity to avoid diving in completely uneducated.  I always encourage people to make suggestions with regards to naming/classification of a deck, but I do reserve the right to not take that suggestion because I feel that doing something will give a better picture of the format.

That all being said I have had several requests to break up some of the deck types into their sub-types.  The two decks that are often thrown into this request are usually MonoBlue Control and Storm.  Now I did break Storm down into Strom (which includes decks winning with Grapeshot and/or Empty the Warrens) and what I call Fissure Storm (which is also referred to as Familiar Storm).  While I understand that some Storm decks do end up being different in nature the end result is still going to be Grapeshot and/or Empty the Warrens.  Whether the player is obtaining a successful storm using certain colors or lands it really doesn't change how an opponent would deal with the deck.  In contrast, a player has to deal with Fissure Storm differently since the storm combo is control based thanks to Temporal Fissure.  This is why I keep these decks separate, but do not break Storm down any further.

This brings me to my writing an article on MonoBlue Control.  After giving it some thought I have decided that it is finally time to break down my classification of MUC!  I have had several players suggest this to me and I have constantly pushed it aside, but after a comment left by TheStein last week I gave it further consideration.  After this week's article (because as you can plainly see above I left the decks as MUC in the results from the last two weeks) you will now see MUC broken down into MUC and what I'm going to be calling Delver Blue.  While I'm still not entirely happy with this choice I would be hypocritical to not do so (see my Storm vs. Fissure Storm explanation above).  So this week I'm going to be taking a look at both these types in order to explain to you, my dear readers, what decks I am referring to when I use these designations.

Delver Blue

The first sub-type that I'm going to look at will be Delver Blue because MUC will mostly be composed of a couple different deck types since it is still mildly inclusive.  Now classifying Delver Blue is something that I hate to do because it really holds an equal balance between both aggro and control.  One of the biggest reasons that I fought to keep these two sides together at one is because that Delver Blue, while maintaining a heavy creature base, is a very strong control deck.  The deck manages to do this mostly through the addition of Spellstutter Sprite and, in a lesser role, Cloud of Faeries.  Let's start out by offering up a version of the deck so everyone has a basic idea of the pieces of the deck I'm referring to...

The one thing you'll notice about this deck is that it seems very light on Counterspells, but whenever you sit across from the deck it never feels that way.  This is where the Spellstutter Sprites come into play, acting as an additional 4 Counterspells.  These, in addition to the non-creature spells, account for a total of 11 Counterspells in this list.  Now there are many different changes that can be made to a list like this, which adds stuff like Mana Leak or additional Dazes.

The other element to these decks that make the Counterspells feel more oppressive are the array of cheap draw spells.  Several people have talked about the power of Gush in this format, but there are other draws as well.  I won't go into more details since I talked about it in an earlier article.  Things like Preordain, Think Twice, Accumulated Knowledge, and even Gitaxian Probe allow this deck to draw into a critical Counterspell.  When it comes to the creature base, a full set of Ninja of the Deep Hours is more than enough to keep this deck drawing at least one additional card each turn (not to mention allowing repeated use of Spellstutter Sprite).

Another great addition to the Spellstutter Sprites is the use of Snap, which has been a relatively important addition to the deck since it can up that Counterspell total up to 15.  Spells like Snap and Cloud of Faeries have really given this deck an edge when it comes to mana base as well.  In more formats and most tournament decks you'll find that 24 seems to be a magic number when it comes to creating a mana-base for a deck.  This deck is able to heavily cheat this by only running 17 on average.  This leaves room for seven additional cards that can be used to sure up the deck and since the mana curve is so low (the only spells at 4cc+ are ones that can be "cheated" into play for a cheaper cost) the deck really doesn't need more than 17 lands.

Spire Golem is another card that is overlooked and essentially works the same way as Snap since you're able to cast it without leaving mana tapped at the end of your turn.  The low mana curve even plays down to a number of strong 1 cost creatures that we've been introduced to in recent sets.  Delver of Secrets is the obvious front runner as it becomes a 3/2 with evasion and then Phantasmal Bears, while they have the typical phantom drawback, work as a 2/2 body for the one cost.  While this particular list doesn't show it, Stitched Drake is another great addition to this deck in small quantity.  Rarely do we get a drake that has a power and toughness on par with its mana cost, but this guy goes above and beyond for the simple cost of a creature from your grave.

The land base is pretty self-explanatory, usually composed of 98% Islands.  While this list provided uses Quicksand, usually the 1-of in this deck is going to be Halimar Depths, which works to help the Delver Blue player set up the deck exactly how they want.  When non-basic lands are added to the deck they are always done at a minimum, since the deck doesn't want to miss an opportunity to play that double blue costed Counterspell on turn 2.  Former choices for the deck included other Counterspells like Force Spike, but this one in particular can be easily played around.  Rune Snag has been used, but is often less favorable in comparison to Mana Leak since it's weaker when trying to get the first one cast.  Deprive is another Counterspell choice that sees a lot of use since it can help the Delver Blue player work around the small mana base.

What really pushed me to make the decision to separate this deck away from the remaining MUC decks was the fact that you do in fact deal with this deck in a different way than you would a version that is lighter on the creatures.  While there is a heavy counter-control base to this deck you'll need to be able to deal with the creatures with equal importance.  This may mean that you have to ensure that your deck has enough creature control, while still playing smart to work around possible Counterspells.  The biggest issue is going to be the several big fliers, whether that be a flipped Delver of Secrets or a Spire Golem.  This is one of the most troublesome parts of this deck, the fact that it can be both control and aggro effectively.

MonoBlue Control

When it comes to the remaining type of MonoBlue Control there are really only two that you'll find yourself playing against.  These include a deck I'm going to call Classic MUC and the other I'm calling BluePost.  These versions stick to a more traditional MUC build and are very creature light.  There have been other MUC decks that have made showings, but they are random and inconsistent.  One version uses Mystical Teachings, but comes off significantly gimped without the use of black mana for flashback.  When you see my referencing MUC from here out it will be compose of these two decks.

The first one I'm going to show you is the Classic MUC list...

I call this the classic list because most of the elements of this deck have remained the same, despite new additions to blue in other sets.  This list is definitely a more traditional MUC deck, running only nine creatures and a full set of Quicksands.  By taking a look at this list I hope you can understand how you have to approach a list like this different from the Delver Blue deck.  The biggest omission to this deck is the faeries, which leads the deck to a less powerful base in my opinion.  This deck does a lot better at drawing cards, but it is much easier to deal with than a deck that can be equal parts control and aggro.  Having played against both I can personally say that I found the greatest thing to be the lack of bounce in this deck.  Without the use of Snap or Ninja of the Deep Hours it makes things like Fume Spitter much more powerful since -1/-1 counters cannot be removed.

It is a common misconception that the Classic MUC deck has more Counterspells than Delver Blue.  When you do the math on Counterspells, Classic MUC still brings in 11 spells to the table, but this isn't as powerful in comparison to the options available to Delver Blue.  As I just mentioned the lack of Snap and Ninja of the Deep Hours there is no recursion on Spellstutter Sprites for those additional Counterspells.  One advantage that this deck does have over Delver Blue is the fact that it has many more options for dealing with creatures once they make it onto the battlefield thanks to Serrated Arrows.  However, it could be argued that Delver Blue doesn't need a spell like Serrated Arrows since it is so creature heavy, it deals with on-the-board creatures through combat damage.

This is an example list of what a Blue Post deck looks like, but honestly I've seen more variation in this list then in any of the other MUC decks.  The key here, like with most post decks, is to abuse the heavy mana generated through these locus lands in order to play powerful spells with big casting costs.  This of course means a heavy use of Condescend and more importantly Capsize.  Now, unlike the IzzetPost lists, this deck does not use Mystical Teachings so running two Capsize makes better sense in order to increase the odds of you finding it.  Another spell I have seen used in this list, either alongside or in replacement of Condescend, is Power Sink since it can hold a powerful advantage over other control decks.  The heavy mana generation also makes Serrated Arrows a more playable card, which increases the odds the deck has against aggro and any creatures that mana to make it beyond a Counterspell.

When it comes to the creature base in this deck I think my favorite versions are the ones running Errant Ephemeron, which was a favorite of mine back in Time Spiral.  This deck can also get away with running creatures like Mulldrifter and Ulamog's Crusher.  These creatures don't seem to be favorable at first since they come at a heavy cost and must be played at sorcery speed.  In most decks this would leave the control player tapped out and unable to play Counterspells, but with the extra mana generated on the locus lands this isn't as limiting.  When it comes to those Counterspells you can see that the deck also sticks to the basic rule of 11.

I think one of my favorite things about this version of MonoBlue control is actually found within its sideboard choices.  The deck is able to run multiple copies of Hindering Touch in order to sure up the match against Storm.  While Hindering Touch has always been an incredible answer to Storm the heavy mana cost of the spell has always kept it from being a deck choice in Pauper.  When it really comes down to it, running those post lands and getting that extra mana really makes all the difference.

Bonus Content!!!

I realize this article is getting a bit long, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to add a bit of bonus content for you!  Now if you're subscribed to me on YouTube you get a bit of a preview on what I may be talking about in upcoming weeks and every now and then I even put up some extra stuff for YouTube entertainment only.  So you'll have to pardon the introduction on this video as it is intended for anyone catching it on YouTube and not knowing the awesomeness that is PureMTGO, but after that quick intro I take these two MUC decks out for a run and see how they perform!

So hopefully now you have a basic understanding of the major types of MonoBlue Control.  The final decision did come down to my seeing a bit of hypocrisy in my own splitting up of decks.  So from here out we will be splitting MUC between Delver Blue and MUC.  I think what we'll see from this split will be no real change in the dominance of MUC as the #1 deck on our list week to week, but it will perhaps give a better understanding of how the meta splits between aggro/control/combo.  Next week I'll be getting back to casual so look for that!

- JustSin


@ Sam - not sure if you'll by JustSin at Wed, 05/02/2012 - 14:16
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@ Sam - not sure if you'll see this off of Facebook, but since I don't use it for comments I'll leave this response here! I will definitely add hexproof to the list, great idea! There are a couple ideas already in the works so I don't know when you'll see it, but I'll definitely cover it

Sweet! by SamuelKorsell at Wed, 05/02/2012 - 19:33
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Sweet! I will be waiting for that! :)

See I gave you an article to by TheStein at Wed, 05/02/2012 - 20:41
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See I gave you an article to write ;p

lol true I pushed back other by JustSin at Thu, 05/03/2012 - 07:54
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lol true I pushed back other plans after doing some thinking and deciding this was the right thing to do

Very glad that you're going by DimeCollectoR at Mon, 05/07/2012 - 15:42
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Very glad that you're going to split up the two archetypes. Thanks for the article!

I'm really looking to provide by JustSin at Mon, 05/07/2012 - 17:30
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I'm really looking to provide the best look at the meta I possibly can so I'm always open to suggestions to make improvements, I won't necessary make all suggested changes, but if I feel there has been good ones I will make changes (you'll see another this week, which is more of how I present the info)