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By: JustSin, Dave
Mar 29 2012 8:54am
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A Last Look at Three

Welcome back all!  So this week I wanted to take one last look at three colored decks in Pauper as promised.  This week will be a bit less of my opinion on whether or not Pauper decks can go beyond three colors and more of a focus on getting some face time in with three fun decks!  That's right we're sticking to the three theme and I present you with three fun decks for casual Pauper.  Before we get into that let's get the competitive business out of the way first as we take a look at the previous week's meta in our Competitive Corner!

The Competitive Corner

After last week, where MonoBlue Control (MUC) had posted significantly more wins in daily than any other deck, things settled back down a bit.  This was very surprising to me as we had a Daily Event where every winning deck was MUC.  After seeing that I felt reassured in my assessment of competitive Pauper, but as the rest of the week progressed MUC slowed down and we ended with a relatively balanced showing from the usual top three decks: MUC, IzzetPost, and Storm.  This week we're covering the week of March 12th through March 18th.  Here's the Daily Event lists from this past week...

As always the names in red are the decks that went 4 - 0 in their events.  Here's the past week's meta in chart form...

In an interesting move we saw a large increase in the "rogue" decks as a few regulars didn't make the showings to hold down their own.  Another thing I found interesting was the continued increase of MonoWhite Aggro showings, which is a deck type I personally felt had lost steam thanks to the introduction of other strong aggro such as MonoGreen.  There is a lot that I feel can be said about the playing environment for Pauper, but I'm going to be saving that for another article in order to cut down and not bore you all to death.  There are a lot of good things that I think can be said for the format based on the fact that so many different deck types have made a showing.  The playing environment is pretty well balanced and the rock-paper-scissors balance is pretty even.  This week we had 12 total decks end up in the "rogue" category, with the number 1 (DimirTrinket) deck almost making that 5 wins mark.  Here's the individual break down...

1.  DimirTrinket - 4
2. GW Tokens - 2
3. Hexproof Aggro - 1
4. IzzetAggro - 1
5. RebelPost - 1
6. Rakdos Deck Wins - 1
7. RG Aggro/Burn - 1
8. Elves - 1

Well now that we have that out of the way let's get back to the topic at hand.  Last week I waxed poetic about whether or not three colors could work in a Pauper deck and what we needed in order to pull it all together.  We even took a look at a deck that has remained popular in many different formats, Jund.  Now, there are a lot of ways that you can go with Jund and perhaps there was a better way for me to have gone about it, but the point was still made.  Now when writing last week's article I had a number of three colored decks that I wanted to show off for the casual Pauper player.  I decided, however, that it made more sense to break it down in order to keep from overwhelming everyone with the information I was throwing out there, but today we finish this trip!  I have for you three remaining decks in three color!

BUG Aggro

First up on the list is a deck that is admittedly not my own.  This is an older list that I came across somewhere (I want to say it was provided by PureMTGO's own Lord Erman, but it's been like a year so I apologize I don't know who to credit it too) and have had a lot of fun playing with in casual.  Now this deck sticks to some of the same principles that I was working towards in my Jund deck, namely the use of green creatures as land fetch.  The deck brings in Civic Wayfinder and Coiling Oracle to help ramp up lands without worrying too much about non-basics.

The deck also uses Raven's Crime as an outlet for ditching extra lands in the mid-to-late game.  To continue the hand control the deck brings in Ravenous Rats.  Another thing this deck loves that I used myself, was the inclusion of Wickerbough Elders, which are fantastic for dealing with those pesky affinity decks.  Creature kill comes in the form of Doom Blades and another two colored favorite of mine, Agony Warp.  Maybe it's easier to just show you the deck...


Now I ask you... what is not to love about this deck??  It has creature control, hand control, artifact/enchantment control, card draw, mana ramp, and grave recursion!  Maybe this is a bit of a bias, but I have always thought BUG made for a really strong deck and personally used to run it in 100CS and even Commander.  You get access to the best card draw, creature control, land fetch, and fatties.

Now when I was getting ready to talk about this deck for this article I sat down and considered what could be done to update this list to include modern additions with newer sets.  I had some considerations, but nothing seemed to really do anything to improve the deck.  The deck really has everything I would want in a list, even evasion through the Mulldrifters.  I just feel this list is solid even if it doesn't include anything newer, but feel free to disagree with me because that's how some of the best idea are formed.  Any changes that I would make to the deck would be in the sideboard because I feel it is a bit off if intended for competing against the top decks of the day.

Example Game
Opponent's Deck: UB Husk Aggro
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
MulldrifterCivic WayfinderDoom BladeRaven's CrimeCoiling OraclePhyrexian RagerMulldrifter
Mulligan to 6:
Civic WayfinderWarren PilferersCoiling OracleRaven's CrimeWickerbough ElderSwamp

So I make a stupid move and keep a one land hand on the play, thinking that I can luck into the mana I need for Civic Wayfinder.  I do hit my second land on turn 2, but am out of color for hitting Coiling Oracle on that turn.  Thankfully my opponent is stuck with a bunch of "comes into play tapped" lands, which keeps me from getting too far behind.  I finally get my third land on turn 6 and have a choice between Civic Wayfinder and Phyrexian Rager.  I decide to play the Civic Wayfinder in order to keep myself from missing any more land drops.  I attack next turn, trading my Civic Wayfinder for a Gutless Ghoul and have to trade Coiling Oracle for Black Cat the following turn.  I do my best to keep my hand big thanks to Mulldrifter, but Soulless Revival allows my opponent to have three Black Cats sitting across from me.  I finally clear them off with Warren Pilferers, but at the cost of three cards from my hand.  My opponent follows up with two Deathspore Thallids and I start rebuilding my hand with a Phyrexian Rager.  Finally the key piece comes down as my opponent plays a Nantuko Husk and a reanimated Black Cat.  It takes a few turns, but I get two Agony Warps, which I use to slowly remove all my opponent's possible sacrificial creatures for Nantuko Husk.  Eventually the evasion provided by Mulldrifter is too much for my opponent to stop and I take the game.

Esper Control

For deck number two I wanted to take the opportunity to avoid Green all together.  There are a lot of ideas that I had for three color decks, most of which included some combination of Naya colors and spells, but that was too easy.  Last week we talked about how the best way to make these decks work was to use Green for all of its mana ramp spells.  I wanted to see if we could make a deck work without the fetch and perhaps along the lines of my favorite three color "clan"; esper.  Maybe it's just me, but I feel I haven't had enough of my control fix recently!  As much as I love UB control I have to say I love Esper control even more since my days in BYOS.

There are a lot of great options in Pauper within these colors and some greatly underplayed cards such as Shrieking Grotesque.  With the addition of black friendly cards like this and Castigate to a Dimir base including favorites like Agony Warp and Mystical Teachings you can have a lot of fun.  I brought in other control favorites including Delver of Secrets and Soul Manipulation.  Between Counterspell control and some extra discard with our old friend Ravenous Rats we had a nice little package.

Esper Control
A Deck By: JustSin
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Mulldrifter
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Shrieking Grotesque
14 cards

Other Spells
3 Agony Warp
4 Brainstorm
3 Castigate
3 Diabolic Edict
4 Mana Leak
2 Mystical Teachings
3 Soul Manipulation
2 Undying Evil
24 cards
4 Evolving Wilds
8 Island
4 Plains
6 Swamp
22 cards
Shrieking Grotesque


One thing I still question is my addition of Mulldrifter in order to try and bring up the draw in the deck.  In addition we brought in Undying Evil, which is a fantastic play with the evoke ability.  The addition of Brainstorm is almost a necessary evil when it comes to Delver of Secrets and a few Diabolic Edicts to deal with the number of hexproof decks that I seem to keep facing these days.

Example Game
Opponent's Deck: Delver/Fiend Control
Video Link: Click Here!

Opening Hand:
CastigateSwampDiabolic EdictShrieking GrotesqueSwampEvolving WildsDelver of Secrets

While it was a nice opening hand, it would have been that much better if only I had an Island.  On my first draw I hit into a second Delver of Secrets so I have to use my Evolving Wilds to grab an Island.  My opponent's first play is a Kiln Fiend on turn 2, but I choose to hit it with Diabolic Edict right away instead of playing a Delver of Secrets.  My opponent follows up with his own Delver as I play my first.  At this point I'm sitting without white mana or a second Island, which is frustrating.  My opponent immediately hits his turn with a Lightning Bolt, but doesn't kill my Delver right away.  I hit into Mulldrifter so my Delver doesn't flip, but I put the second into play, holding Agony Warp to deal with my opponent's delver later.  A second Kiln Fiend comes into play and now I have a new target for Agony Warp.  Finally I hit on a Mana Leak, which flips both Delvers.  My opponent casts an Unsummon to deal with a Delver with enough mana open to avoid the counter and then plays a Mogg Fanatic.  On the attack I use Agony Warp to put his Delver to 0 and kill the Kiln Fiend, but since that was my only blue mana source, Lightning Bolt is free to take out my last Delver.  I finally draw into a Plains and put out Mulldrifter.  My opponent has no hand, but I put out Shrieking Grotesque to block the Delver and then put my other Delver back into play.  As expected my opponent uses the Mogg Fanatic to deal with the Shrieking Grotesque leaving it open for me to use Brainstorm to transform my Delver.  After the flip I put another Delver into play and a Ravenous Rats to take away the only card in my opponent's hand, which is an Unsummon that returned my Delver once again.  Thankfully I used the Brainstorm to set up two instants so my Delvers flip once again.  My opponent has me to 4 life, but my attack brings him to 6.  Now on the defensive my opponent leaves his Delver back, but Agony Warp seals the deal.

Tilling Thunder

This last deck is one of my favorite casual Pauper decks and I had thought about putting it in its own article, but figured this was a great place for it as well.  Though I apologize for any other fans of the deck because a short insert doesn't do this deck justice.  It is far from the most powerful deck out there, but it is incredibly fun.  The deck I'm referring to is Tilling Thunder (at least as I've come to know it).  Back in my previous Magic life there was talk about a Kodama's Thunder deck, which used a lot of mana ramp in order to eventually use the cycling ability of Resounding Thunder.  Perhaps this is a great time to add a deck list.  Since we're talking about the struggles of three colored decks this one will make you wonder even more since it runs four colors...


As you can see there was plenty of ramp and card draw in order to be able to reach that goal of 8 mana for the cycling of Resounding Thunder.  Now what Tilling Thunder did different was to bring in more cycling cards and the great synergy between throwing lands to the graveyard and bringing them back.  The main way of doing this was through Tilling Treefolk and Cartographer, which would create an awesome draw engine just using cycling lands.

There were other important interactions and ways to bring lands into your graveyard such as Fireblast and Harrow.  As long as you were getting those Harrows then you'd be able to ramp up your mana into the same goal of a cycled Resounding Thunder.  This version used less space for mana fetch spells and instead relies on the card draw through cycling in order to avoid missing land drops.

New Tilling Thunder
A Deck By: JustSin
4 Cartographer
2 Harvest Wurm
4 Tilling Treefolk
4 Viscera Dragger
14 cards

Other Spells
3 Fireblast
4 Firebolt
3 Grim Discovery
3 Harrow
1 Raven's Crime
4 Resounding Thunder
3 Swirling Sandstorm
21 cards
5 Forest
4 Forgotten Cave
5 Mountain
3 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Tranquil Thicket
25 cards
Tilling Treefolk


As you can see there are other goodies to be had in this deck such as Harvest Wurm, which is an easy play thanks to Harrow, Fireblast, and Raven's Crime.  I will say that the Raven's Crime is an odd choice that I'm still questioning myself and might remove along with a Harrow in favor of two copies of Edge of Autumn, which is not only mana-ramp, but a good way to throw lands in the grave thanks to its cycling ability.  Another old-school addition to this deck, that I love, is Swirling Sandstorm.  I mean common, how can you not love a spell that does nothing unless you have threshold?!  With all the card pitching you do with this deck its usually easy to reach threshold and use this spell to wipe the board.  There are very few spells in Pauper that will wipe the board and those that do are often hitting only at a power of 2 or require a significant mana investment.  Swirling Sandstorm hits for five, with the only drawback being that it doesn't hit fliers.

Now a recent addition to this deck has been Grim Discovery, which is fantastic since it is two spells in one.  Not only does this spell help with the draw engine, but it helps out in an environment that tends to be very heavy on the creature control.  Another thing that I have seen used in this deck is Faithless Looting, which is artificial card draw.  This can work great in the deck as a way to pitch lands and draw card, but not necessarily important thanks to the numerous cycling lands.

Example Game
Opponent's Deck Type: UB Enchantment Control
Video Link: ERROR!

Opening Hand:
HarrowHarvest WurmTerramorphic ExpanseForestSwampTilling TreefolkMountain

This was a fantastic opening hand with a way to pitch an early basic land and get it back.  I start with Terramorphic Expanse to thin out lands and my opponent's first play is to play Contaminated Ground on my Mountain, making it an easy choice for Harrow on the following turn.  The best part of Harrow is being able to play Harvest Wurm right after.  On my next turn my opponent bounces my Harvest Wurm, but I use a second Harrow to replay it with enough mana left for a Firebolt.  My opponent starts locking down my creatures with Slow Motions, but after hitting two Harrows I have plenty of mana to pay while at the same time still cycling.  I get to use Cartographer and Tilling Treefolk in order to keep those cycling lands coming, even after Harvest Wurm and Cartographer get bounced.  A Power Sink prevents the replaying of one Tilling Treefolk, but I'm ramped to 9 mana and cycling at least one land per turn.  My opponent plays his first creature in Mana Skimmer, but I held onto a Firebolt for such an occasion.  I get stuck for a while being unable to play Harvest Wurm until I finally draw my third Harrow.  Even though Harrow gets hit with Mana Leak, the land is still sacrificed as part of the casting cost so I have the opportunity to play Harvest Wurm the following turn.  I recast the Harvest Wurm and use a Firebolt to bring my opponent down to 4 life and after cycling a land I finally hit into Resounding Thunder, which I'll use on my next turn to kill him if he had not conceded.

So unfortunately I could not find the replay I recorded for this game!  So after I wrote the game up I had to play another for the video.  I really recommend checking it out because it hits on almost every interaction with the deck, really a great game....

Bonus Content!!!

In this week's edition of Bonus Content I bring you a deck that rocks out with not three... not four... but all five colors!  During my usual browsing through weekly events I stumbled across this deck in the results of TNMO Pauper.  I have to say that I have no idea how this guy did it, but the deck was taken to a 3 - 1 record.  The deck is basically a draw-go style control deck, which can be a great idea for the current meta we find ourselves in.  The more unusual part of it all is the fact that the win condition for the deck comes down to two cards and I can't imagine how the deck hopes to win once they are taken away (which would be easily done).  Either way it was more than fitting for our on-going discussion of multi-colored Pauper decks and I just had to show it off!

Well there you have it, a final look at how three (or more) colored decks stand up in Pauper.  As you can see there is actually a place for three color decks in Pauper, even if they don't bring the speed and power of decks with fewer colors.  I do recommend that if you ever play around with a deck, make that deck the Tilling Thunder deck in some form.  It really is one of my favorites for its old school feel and off-the-wall draw engine.  Join me again next week as we look at yet another week of Pauper goodness!

- JustSin


Good stuff - that Bug list by deluxeicoff at Thu, 03/29/2012 - 12:51
deluxeicoff's picture

Good stuff - that Bug list looks consistant, but the sideboard is awful. QUAG SICKNESS? This reeks of one of those choices someone makes 'just to be different' - there are over 30 better options.

haha it's very true, if you by JustSin at Thu, 03/29/2012 - 13:29
JustSin's picture

haha it's very true, if you watch the videos I did mention I kept the original sideboard from the deck, which I saw probably over a year ago and couldn't even describe the sideboard choices lol just about every card in it is in those same "just to be different" lines

In the BUG list, you are by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 03/29/2012 - 16:21
Kumagoro42's picture

In the BUG list, you are confident enough with the blue sources to run 12 blue cards maindeck. At this point, why not go all in and put even Sea Gate Oracle in place of Phyrexian Rager? (With some further adjustement in the mana base, of course).
Also, is Warren Pilferers so better than Gravedigger to justify the higher casting cost? At cc=5 the deck hopes to play a 2/2 flyer anyway. For the same reason, I'd cut something for a couple equipments. Maybe even just Sylvok Lifestaff, which is a pain in the ass for aggro decks (and this is casual, so you'd expect to face aggro a lot). For a deck with limited control elements, you need a clock a bit faster than 2 evasive damage, no?

Very good article and musings by FastHippy at Thu, 03/29/2012 - 17:42
FastHippy's picture

First of all, excellent article and videos. Now on to musings. Do you think the BUG deck has some advantages over a traditional pauper mono black deck as both decks rely on the power of two for ones (the BUG deck is nearly all two for ones).

Secondly on you comment about life gain. I feel there is a lot of untapped potential of a pauper life gainish deck (martyr, squadron hawks, soul wardens and if you are feeling really mean grim harvest) but I am unsure of how to win a game outside of rage quits (after you cast grim harvest for the 10th time). What are you thoughts of a decent win condition for such a deck.

Lastly, about tilling thunder. I have been playing a similar deck for a few weeks but more of a loam build (I wasn't aware of this decklist). 30ish lands lots of retrace and looting but I have found it hard to win. My only real win condition is cenn's enlistment. Maybe with you suggestion I could aggro up my deck a bit, we will see.

Thanks again for your insight

You know I have to say that by JustSin at Thu, 03/29/2012 - 20:49
JustSin's picture

You know I have to say that when I started this article and included that BUG deck it never crossed my mind about trying to update it, but it seems to have peeked the most interest... perhaps I should have!

@ Kuma - Oracle probably would be a good add, but again I didn't update the deck and the list is pre-oracle, the deck can stack crits pretty well as is hitting a creature drop each turn, but I do see where the deck could use a bit more of an edge, maybe I'll attempt a revamp for a later article

@Fast - I think perhaps an updated version of the BUG deck could get an edge on MBC since it has an expanse of elements beyond MBC where the focus is only Discard/Kill.. what I liked most about the deck is that it has draw/ramp/evasion/kill/discard

Perhaps you're right, I really do think there is a lot of power behind life gain in Pauper, just look at the impact Glimmerpost has alone.. if you look at the Orz deck with Pest that's been showing here and there it has that element I was talking about in a life focus, running 4 crossroads + riftwatchers + renewed faith... we also see it with the emergence of the deck I call DimirTrinket which uses the lifestaff.. also there was the GW token deck that brings in the Midnight Pressence combo and the sisters, but with so many Warden triggers it times you out.. you nailed the problem though in finding the wincon, but the answer would probably come in a form of white aggro or the better option being the OrzDW deck, which uses the pest and guardian of the guildpact for the win

With regards to tilling thunder I do feel I've played you using that deck since I've only seen the Looting use once and I think its a great idea.. with the retrace you'd have an extra wincon in the flame jab... I have seen others playing this deck where the only creature base is a full set of cartographer and the treefolk, but against a deck with enough kill these creatures won't be enough to bring out the aggro.. grim discovery has been a great add to solve this issue, but most games you still need to hit the burn spells to pull off the win... and further going back to our discussion on life gain that will wreck this deck into milling itself... as I mentioned in the video tilling thunder is an incredibly fun deck.. it brings in epic wins, but at the same time it has the potential to lose in epic fashion as well

I've won quite a bit recently by deluxeicoff at Fri, 03/30/2012 - 00:51
deluxeicoff's picture

I've won quite a bit recently with WG Tokens, it's true, there isn't a card in Paupers vast pool that reads, "Do something nasty to someone gaining life." Flaring Pain is about it for prevention, but if you can gain crazy life...lots of times you win, or you time the person out. I won last weeks DE vs. affinity and I had 203 life!

Re: Updates to "BUG DECK"
personally, I'd go with these changes...

2x wicker main (freeing up 1 spot) - 'doomblade' is probably the trump card vs. this affinity, and having 4 main is PLENTY for an average skilled player to win vs. any build of affinity.
2x warren (really a 5cc...you DO NOT want to see this in your first 12 cards) (Freeing up 2 spots)
Agony Warp is cute, but with so much storm, (present company guilty ;) I'd swap all 4 of these with 4x ech.decay...2/3rds of magic is sideboarding, and if you don't need em'...you just got a huge opening.

I'd add 2x Soul Manipulation main and 1 more raven's crime.


4x duress
4x snuff out (infect)
4x festercreep (additional insurance vs. storm)
3x Sylvok Lifestaff (need only see 'Signal's' Goblin build to understand how powerful this card is mid-late game.

you really would up raven's by JustSin at Fri, 03/30/2012 - 08:17
JustSin's picture

you really would up raven's crime to 3? Every time I've run it I never passed 2, it just felt unnecessary to go beyond since once you hit one you can recast it over and over

I'm totally for Sylvok by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 03/30/2012 - 10:11
Kumagoro42's picture

I'm totally for Sylvok Lifestaff (this links to the consideration on lifegaining too). It's really really powerful in pauper, and it's something only the standard pauper crowd really realized so far.