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By: JustSin, Dave
May 23 2012 9:56am
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Deja Vu

This week I was poking around in my bag of tricks and trying to decide what I wanted to write about within my typically busy schedule.  I went through my list of cards that I think should see more play and found one that I always come back to for casual Pauper.  After a bit of work and several scrapped ideas I think I've finally found a home for this card!  To me it's crazy exciting to finally find a place for that one card that you've always wanted to play.  What is this card that I've fallen for?  What was the strategy I finally found for it?  Well you'll just have to keep reading if you want to know won't you?!

The Competitive Corner

This week's Daily Event listings.

This week we had a stupid-crazy-amazing-unbelievable-wow week in competitive Pauper... so wow that I'm not even going to waste time talking before showing you why I'm so shocked...

It's true... For the first time in the twelve weeks that I've tracked the data for Pauper Daily events we finally have seen a deck win more than DelverBlue/MUC!!!!!!!!!!  We had IzzetPost come to play in BIG form this week as they not only won more than DelverBlue, but did so with a decent margin as well.  This upset can be partially accredited to the fact that MUC had a decent showing this week with 10, which would have brought put the deck ahead prior to my splitting it into two categories.  When I first made the split I swore there would be no difference in the standings, but this week proved me wrong.  We also had a big move out of the EnchantStorm deck, which moved out of rogue status with 6 total showings this week.  The only other thing of note would probably be the continued weak showings of Infect.  This surprises me because the power level of the deck hasn't changed and the sideboard choices in other decks remain pretty much the same as well.  Let's see how the decks are trending...

As I said before, Infect continues its decline after a truly dominating week.  The other big name here is going to be MonoWhite Aggro, which has rebounded now that players have stopped trying the Soldiers version and stick to a strong sense of old fashion beats.  Going back to our declining decks we've seen Affinity continue to drop, however at a much steadier pace.  Slight variance aside, Storm has remained mostly stable as well as Stompy.  We've seen rebounds with Goblins and a big upswing from IzzetPost, which is to be expected after seeing it beat out DelverBlue for showings.  This is the third week of no Delver so we're halfway to an altered chart, which will include several different things, especially if EnchantStorm continues its climb out of rogue territory!  Here's how the 4 - 0 averages are looking...

We finally have seen EnchantStorm working its way out of rogue territory with its 6 showings this week.  Since this chart is done off of averages this does qualify it for addition onto this chart.  Though I will say that I will be making a slight alteration to this chart next week since I've realized that it does not include DelverBlue.... not sure how that happened since it was on the chart last week and I only changed the values and not the categories.  So I'm going to correct this issue and readjust MUC to its appropriate number based on the split between the two decks.  There have still been no changes in the order as far as most undefeated showings.

Here are the rogue decks from this week...

1. DimirTrinket - 3
2. GreenPost - 3 (1)
3. RG Zoo - 3 (1)
4. FissureStorm - 2
5. Teachings Control - 2 (1)
6. RDW - 2
7. GW Tokens - 2
8. Rak Deck Wins - 1
9. EsperAggro - 1

This week's rogues actually managed to bring in three undefeated showings with a GreenPost, RG Zoo, and Teachings Control deck wins.  RG Zoo is what I'm classifying a deck that is heavily RG aggro, but uses white for the added bonus on Wild Nacatl.  I have to admit that the odd resurgence of GreenPost caught me by surprise, but it not only showed three times, but managed to pull out that one undefeated finish as well.  The only other thing I feel is worth note here is the sad fact that after so many strong weeks of play, the DimirTrinket deck has continued its decline all the way down to only three showings.  I believe this is perhaps the result of the fact that the deck doesn't have many champions and if they don't show up and play then it can't make it off this list!

So I'm hoping that by this point I've properly built up the suspense for this card!

Ethersworn Shieldmage

Wasn't that terribly exciting?.......

Ethersworn Shieldmage is a fantastic creature that can be played at flash speed and has the ability to give all artifact creatures a damage prevention shield.  This ability allows for so many different possible interactions and tricks.  My favorite ability of this creature is the simple fact that you could find it with a Mystical Teachings and yet it isn't the way I'm going to go with this!  What this ability said to me was that it needed to be played in a more aggressive way, something that a Mystical Teachings deck wouldn't provide.

I had previously tried working this card into other artifact focused decks that made use of such creatures as Arsenal Thresher and Glassdust Hulk, which interacted upon other artifacts.  The thing that held back these decks was the fact that they really require a solid draw engine to continue feeding their abilities.  Even things like Thoughtcast weren't enough to keep my hand full enough to really make these big creatures the bombs that they have the potential to be (part of it I think is the fact that no matter the deck I can never seem to draw Thoughtcasts!!!!).  What I really needed was a new angle.

This is a deck that I have basically built and rebuilt as I tried to find a focus for Ethersworn Shieldmage, but things were just not quite clicking into place.  What really got me thinking was the "new" mechanic in AVR titled as flicker (formerly known as blink!).  I came to realize that the best part about Ethersworn Shieldmage was drawing it!  Now I know this sounds like a common sense notion, but the real idea is that the more we get to play Ethersworn Shieldmage the better off the deck is.  This was also co-inspired by the idea of continuous playing of Glimmerposts... the more times I activate the Ethersworn Shieldmage's ability the more I have control over the battlefield.

The first way I'm going to be able to activate this ability is through the classic Momentary Blink.  The use of Momentary Blink creates not only extra copies of Ethersworn Shieldmage, but the flashback ability gives us that two-for-one card advantage.  By running a full set of Ethersworn Shieldmages in addition to a set of Momentary Blinks, we've already brought up our count from four activations to eight!

Momentary Blink

There are quite a few new ways to "flicker" permanents in AVR, but since it hasn't yet been released there needs to be other ways to keep reusing the ability of the Ethersworn Shieldmage.  Without increasing the number of Momentary Blinks in the deck there is still one great way that we can get the Shieldmage back into our hand.  A great aggro option has always been Glint Hawk, which is one of those creatures that you get to play for a low mana cost, but it has a drawback to balance that out.  Kor Skyfisher has a similar drawback with the fact that it requires you to return a permanent to hand and we're all aware of the great things we can do with this "drawback".  Using Glint Hawk we're going to be able to add another four additional uses of Ethersworn Shieldmage.

While we don't yet have access to further blink effects I don't think I would increase the number used in this deck.  There is a fine line in deck building where you take a concept and focus every card on simply that concept to excess.  This can lead to a deck finding troubles in specific counters or if you lose access to the Ethersworn Shieldmages then you're in trouble.  I find it's better to keep the deck a bit more varied and yet find other "enters the battlefield" effects to play around with.  Keeping with an artifact creature theme I brought in two cards that had great come into play effects as well in Sanctum Gargoyle and Faerie Mechanist.  These allow us to make several important plays such as tutoring and creating a slight recursion loop.

I knew that with all these bouncing artifacts there were two other cards that would find nice interactions... Glint Hawk Idol and Golem Foundry.  Now I will admit that I had put the Golem Foundry into the deck with a misunderstanding of the card.  Golem Foundry reads that whenever you cast an artifact spell you add a counter, unlike the Glint Hawk Idol where the ability is activated whenever an artifact simply enters the battlefield.  While this decreases the strength of Golem Foundry in the deck I felt that it still had a great ability to it within this deck.

The remaining blanks in the deck are filled with Mana Leak and Oblivion Rings for control as well as Esper Stormblades for their ability to swing hard and here's how it looked...

I had added the Origin Spellbombs as a cheap artifact for triggers on Golem Foundry, but the card draw and 1/1 token sure don't hurt either.  The remaining draw engine is fueled by Accumulated Knowledge, which I felt was a good fit.  I wanted a draw spell that worked at instant speed and could be played cheap so we could leave mana open for things like the Momentary Blinks and Mana Leaks.  While it starts off as a slower draw engine it gets significantly more fun as you add more copies to your graveyard.

As always feel free to check out the DechTech video before checking the example games (though due to time restraints it's perhaps faster than my usual ones!)...

Example Game 1
Deck Type: GB Undying/Morbid
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
PlainsEsper StormbladeAccumulated KnowledgeEvolving WildsGlint Hawk IdolOrigin SpellbombEvolving Wilds

The opening hand hints at a slow start because of two Evolving Wilds, but I still manage to start off with my turn 2 Glint Hawk Idol, which will get triggered when I play an artifact next turn.  My opponent gets a pretty good start with a Young Wolf and Sylvok Lifestaff on turn 2, which tips his hand towards a undying/morbid type of deck.  On turn three I draw into my first Ethersworn Shieldmage and get Esper Stormblade onto the field, which opens up for several tricks the following turn.  When my opponent attacks two turns later I play an Ethersworn Shieldmage to kill off two Young Wolfs (yes I know the grammar isn't right there).  Despite morbid, undying, and lifegain shenanigans I've got a second Ethersworn Shieldmage in hand and draw into a Momentary Blink as well so I find it easy to deal with a 5/5 Young Wolf.  A few turns later, with a Momentary Blink in the graveyard I draw into a third Ethersworn Shieldmage and no matter what creatures my opponent throws down I can survive the attack.

Example Game 2
Deck Type: MBC
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
Sanctum GargoyleOrigin SpellbombPlainsAncient DenGolem FoundrySanctum GargoyleAccumulated Knowledge

This was a hand with a lot of potential.  I get a fast start with Origin Spellbomb, but misclick my mana on turn two so I fail to draw a card when activating it.  My opponent gets a fast start on the draw with a turn two Sign in Blood and turn three Phyrexian Rager.  I get a Golem Foundry in on three and start building up counters.  I make another misplay the following turn by tapping out both white mana sources when playing Glint Hawk Idol thinking I had land available for Accumulated Knowledge when my fourth land was an Evolving Wilds.  I put down Sanctum Gargoyle to grab the Origin Spellbomb back in order to kill it for my second Sanctum Gargoyle.  With my first golem token on the field I finally get my first Ethersworn Shieldmage.  With the game finally swinging back in my favor my opponent drops a Corrupt, which puts me to 6 and bumps him back up to 20.  At this point I have to play on doing as much damage as possible and as fast as possible before he tops into a new Corrupt.  Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for that to happen...

Example Game 3
Deck Type: UR Bounce Control
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
IslandPlainsEsper StormbladeMomentary BlinkSeat of the SynodPlainsPlains

Usually this hand is too land heavy to keep, but I figured with Esper Stormblade and a way to protect it, I could cheat and keep this bad hand.  I get lucky and on turn two I draw into a second Esper Stormblade, which means on turn three I can swing for the added power.  When I do, however, it gets hit with a Boomerang and I have to wait one more turn to get this action going.  When I replay it again I now have enough mana open to cast Momentary Blink in protection of a second bounce spell, which does come in the form of AEther Adept.  On the next turn I get to play a Faerie Mechanist, which finds me a third Esper Stormblade.  My opponent manages to bounce my creatures once again, but at this point I have enough mana to play both Esper Stormblades in a single turn and still have mana open for Accumulated Knowledge.  With no blockers for my flying creatures my opponent is forced to concede.

Now it is at this point in time I must apologize a bit.  I will admit to having complained before about a lack of time in my schedule and this week is no different.  It turns out that May and June are just awful for my schedule.  This month alone I've been on the road for three weeks!  That being said, this is where you'd usually find my suggestions on what possible changes you could make to this deck in quite a bit of detail.  Unfortunately this week I'll have to give you the abridged version!  Putting aside AVR cards, you can look to replace the Origin Spellbombs with a different spellbomb.  I do think a low costed artifact is necessary to allow for some cheap plays when it comes to activating Glint Hawk Idol and Golem Foundry.  For a more defensive look you can bring in Ethercaste Knights, which are awesome for their cost.  I think any changes to the deck really need to keep a focus on creatures being artifacts and playing at a relatively low curve.  This does mean you don't have a lot of options for control, but if you play smart you can control the board with the use of those Ethersworn Shieldmages.

Now again I will say I've been swamped and as such I'm honestly not sure what the state of an article next week is to be like.  If there is one it may be sans-videos so if you're looking for something to watch go check out my YouTube channel since I've put up the first week of my PauperPost series!

- JustSin


Hmm…Ian has a valid point by youaremyavatar at Mon, 11/04/2013 - 20:10
youaremyavatar's picture

Hmm…Ian has a valid point there. Good job Ian. - Kelley D. Hamilton Bonaventure