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By: JustSin, Dave
Jul 24 2012 7:50am
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The Rogue You're Not Playing

Is it possible to have too many ideas?  If so then I am guilty.  There is a lot going on in the world of Magic for me and this is just one example of the many things running through my head.  So what craziness am I up to this time?  Welcome to my series within a series.  As I find myself currently in a lull for a casual deck that gets me motivated, I realized that I didn't want to just throw together some janky list just to get an article done.  So instead of a casual creation, this week you're going to get something completely different!  But first... the Competitive Corner...

Do people still even get this reference?

The Competitive Corner

There was quite the turnout for Pauper Daily Events this past two weeks as I assume most players came back from their summer vacations.  There were several events that ended up with 10 or more players winning prizes, which means there were plenty of people out playing in these events.  This has led to a great number of rogue decks and a few new ideas yet again.  Before we get into things here are the Daily Event lists...

Daily Events 7/9 - 7/22

This week MonoWhite Aggro continued to climb and pushed its way all the way to the top with a number one showing.  This is the first time that we've seen MonoWhite Aggro this high on our list and it becomes only the second deck to reach the top of the charts.  IzzetPost also made a decent showing after a few weeks where it was steadily dropping.  This increase is expected based upon the recent increase we've seen in aggro decks in competitive Pauper.  DelverBlue fought hard to remain in our top three, being only two wins behind IzzetPost.  The list keeps with our typical names, but we also manage to see Teachings Control make another big week where it comes in with more wins than we've seen from it thus far.  Other old favorites showed up again such as Goblins and DimirPost, which is probably a direct result of the increase in number of players who are participating in Daily Events for Pauper.

Here's how the deck trends are shaping up...

This week showed very little in the way of surprising changes as Storm continued to fall and MonoWhite continued to rise.  Goblins did get a nice upswing after a few weeks where it was unable to move up from the rogue list.  Oddly enough we saw another slight drop from DelverBlue despite still remaining on our top three list.  This week's upswing for IzzetPost simply enabled it to level off after its slight dip last week.

And the undefeated showings...

While there weren't many major changes that can easily be seen on this graph we did see a significant increase in the numbers for Teachings Control after a monster week from a former rogue deck.  We also saw minor decreases in format staples like Storm and DelverBlue.  The biggest change on the graph itself was a major jump by MBC, which managed to move up four spots thanks to its newly found life as granted by the upswing in aggro decks.  Another interesting that that cannot be seen on this graph is the huge week that MonoWhite Aggro had.  Not only did the deck manage to take the number one spot with 41 showings, but it also went undefeated in 12 of those 41 wins (29.27%).

Finally, our rogue decks for the week...

1. BorosTokens - 2
2. WeeFiend Aggro - 2
3. Elves - 2
4. RebelPost - 1
5. Slivers - 1
6. Turbo Fog - 1
7. RDW - 1
8. UB Control - 1
9. InfectStomp - 1
10. Midnight Presence - 1
11. Esper Control - 1
12. BorosArtifacts - 1

A decent amount of different rogue decks showed up this week, but we had none that managed to go undefeated in their showing.  As always we get glancing appearances from some old-time favorites like RDW, Slivers, and RebelPost, however we had a few new faces to the list as well.  The award for my favorite deck of the week goes to Mithranin who showed up with a deck I've titled as BorosArtifacts.  The deck uses the synergy of artifacts and things like Glint Hawk and Kuldotha Rebirth in order to get an unexpectedly fast aggro strategy going.  Just a few events later qwertpl showed up with a deck that looked similar at first, but is actually a fast BorosToken deck.  The Midnight Pressence deck made a showing once again as it somehow managed to compromise on Midnight Guard + Presence of Gond for infinite tokens.  The last new deck we saw was an Esper Control deck as ran by blindmalkavian, which gains life while finding the necessary control options the deck needs in order to win the game.

Competitive Magic.

It is something many of us have a love-hate relationship with and it often seems that the number one complaint has to do with the meta.  We're all too familiar with formats where there are two or three decks that are so successful, that they create a stranglehold on the format's competitive environment.  This leaves very little room for other rogue decks to make a winning appearance and things become quite stale.  Every other week, in our Competitive Corner, the word rogue appears followed by a list of deck names, but what is a rogue deck?

The term rogue has been adopted by Magic players as a way to describe a particular deck that does not currently follow the trends of a particular playing environment.  With the addition of the internet as a factor in competitive Magic play, now players can copy decklists card for card.  This leads to formats becoming flooded with only a few decks, which are rightfully the most powerful in the format (often referred to as Tier 1).  Rogue decks are often considered to be inferior to the typical, Tier 1, decks and often simply considered as "bad".  The basic concept behind rogue deck creation is to put together a list that is completely focused on taking down a specific deck, usually the one that is the most played in a particular format.

One of my favorite things about Pauper is the fact that each week we see a number of rogue and homebrew creations that end up winning games and winning prizes.  It seems that my list of random decks that win prizes grows ever larger from week to week.  Here's what I decided to do... whenever I find myself at a lack of fun casual things to play or otherwise uninspired for a week's article I'm going to bring out this new sub-series I'm calling "The Rogue You're Not Playing" (and perhaps really shouldn't be) where I'm going to feature an interesting rogue deck for Pauper and see how it holds up against some of the current Pauper Juggernauts.  This does mean that there is a chance a deck could be looked at that fails miserably, which just makes this that much more interesting in my opinion!  So without further ado, here's our rogue deck for the week...

For those of you who may have been around the block more than a few times when it comes to Pauper this list might look moderately familiar.  A similar version of this deck was mildly popular as a competitive contender in Standard Pauper and several variations of it would show up from time to time.  What I find most endearing about this particular deck is the timelessness that the list provides.  While some changes can (and have) been made, the basic structure is solid.  Many of the cards in this deck don't require "updating" for the deck to remain strong with the only exception being the choices for the sideboard.

The reason this deck has come into focus for me is the fact that we're currently seeing an upswing in the number of aggro and creature heavy decks in the current meta.  This usually prompts the upswing of decks that are heavy on creature control and we should be seeing more MonoBlack Control, DimirPost, and Teachings decks that are winning in Daily Events.  This is a pretty standard cycling throughout all formats of Magic, but maybe a visual will help...

Now this particular deck brings in a large number of options in order to deal with creatures, most of which will double as direct burn that can help to finish off an opponent fast.  This becomes a necessity since most creatures are going to simply be swinging for only 1 damage per attack.  This deck looks to win more from controlling the tempo of the game and drawing a bunch of cards instead of coming out of the gate with a big nasty creature strategy.  You can also gain added bonus from the evasion you get off of the Squadron Hawks, Mulldrifters, and Kor Skyfishers.

The one thing that really holds this deck back is the fact that it is running four colors.  Awhile back I wrote a bit talking about whether a Pauper deck could be successful if it ran more than two colors.  What I concluded is that a Pauper deck could be successful at three colors, but as it approached four and five it would not be.  This deck is in direct violation of that very conclusion, but there is one key element that makes it work and this is the fact that none of the spells require a double colored casting cost.  This means that we can skate by as long as we manage to obtain a single opportunity for producing each of the required colors.  This is the foremost item on your "to do" list for playing the deck.  After you've gotten to the point where you can produce at least one of each color, then you're probably better off fetching a second red source in order to guarantee that you can capitalize on any opportunity that might arise where you may need to cast multiple burn spells.

If you want a few more details about the deck, check out the video below...

So the plan was solid.  I was going to be running a deck with a heavy focus on creature control in order to capitalize on an aggro heavy playing environment, but how did it turn out?  Well I played through many games with the deck until I had reached the point where I had played against each of the nine decks that are featured in my "trending" chart of the Competitive Corner (the only exception being MUC).  These decks represent the major decks in the format that you're guaranteed to see every week.  Due to time constraints, however, I didn't record all of these as videos and instead you'll just get a breakdown on how it went as well as how I think the decks matchup.  Finally we'll take a look at my ultimate conclusion on whether or not I think the deck has legs to stand on and whether or not it can achieve the intended goal... so you'll just have to read on!


Check out the video!!!

One's first instinct with regards to this match might lean towards "oh god no", but you'd probably be surprised what the 4cc deck has to offer in this match.  The thing about DelverBlue, as opposed to MUC, is that it is a bit heavier on creatures and creature control is our specialty.  One of the biggest additions for this match is Fume Spitter, which gives us an opportunity to remove Delver of Secrets before it flips and to get it set up on turn one before they have a chance to counter.  The other important thing to know about playing against DelverBlue is that if you can keep the bombs coming then they'll struggle to decide what to counter.  The deck only runs around 10 Counterspells and they'll want to stop many of your spells from the draw of Compulsive Research to the discard of Blightning.  You also find added bonus with Gravedigger since it gives you a chance to get back an important creature that your opponent decided to Counterspell.  If you play smart and know how to work around Counterspells then you can get ahead of the game.

Result: Slightly Favorable


I feel that there is little to say here.  Storm can be an incredibly fast deck and we have almost no answers in our maindeck for this match.  Add into that the fact that the 4cc deck is slower deck that looks to win in the mid-to-late game and you have a recipe for disaster.  I would even go as far as to say that using this deck you're going to lose game one 10 out of 10 times to an experienced storm player.  Things can get a little better after sideboarding since you can bring in a full set of Echoing Decays, which will be your best answer.  You can also use Negates in order to try and disrupt your opponent's ability to combo-off, but those too aren't going to come in until game 2.

Result: Unfavorable


Check out the video!!!

IzzetPost is a match that can vary based upon what variety of spells your opponent is running, but there is a similar overall theme.  You can always expect IzzetPost to be running a small number of Counterspells with a lot of burn for your creatures.  The strategy of IzzetPost will always be stalling until a point in time when they draw into their big finish, which leaves you plenty of time to build up creatures and whittle down life.  I do emphasize the whittle part of things since they'll be gaining a significant amount of life off of the Glimmerposts.  The sideboard is a bit lacking when it comes to dealing with this match since it does not offer us any options for land destruction.  Some added benefit can be gained off of a well timed Negate on a Rolling Thunder, but even the discard we have in the deck is lacking to this match.  Discard is all well and good, but IzzetPost excels at drawing cards and has flashback or simply Mnemonic Wall in order to get back anything that was lost to Blightning.  I found that this deck could get a decent start in game one since your opponent may not be 100% certain of what to use Flame Slashes on, but after that a smart player will look to target down things like the Kor Skyfisher.  The matches often came down to what kind of draw your opponent got and what variety of spells you were facing.

Result: Even

MonoWhite Aggro

The recent rise in MonoWhite Aggro decks was the entire reason why I even considered a deck like this could win in the current competitive environment.  I had even considered working in some Terminates over some of the burn spells in order to continue the advantage the deck has on MWA since it is the only option for dealing with the Guardian of the Guildpacts.  You're big advantage here is the ability to kill creatures off fast, but you should watch out for the Bonesplitters, which will become big trouble in the mid-to-late game when your opponent will have enough mana to play a creature and equip the Bonesplitter.  After playing this match I realized I made a pretty significant error.  The one thing I talked about as being an issue in the Stompy match was the undying ability of Young Wolf, but these days even MWA has an undying creature.  While you do have quite a bit of kill available there often tends to be more creatures than you have kill spells and you can't always get your own creatures moving fast enough to counter.

Result: Slightly Unfavorable


At first glance you might assume that Affinity is simply another aggro deck, but they can pull off some tickey plays thanks to Atog.  While my initial thought was that this was a favorable match since Affinity doesn't run many creatures, I found myself to be quite wrong on this.  You do get a lot of easy opportunities to keep creatures under control, but what causes the most issues is things like Myr Enforcer and Carapace Forger, which sit out of range of Lightning Bolts.  This means that in order to take down these creatures you'll need to trade two for one, whether that means creatures or burn spells.  The sideboard does offer us a small opportunity to add answers for artifacts with the Kor Sanctifiers, but you need to remember that they are in there and that you'll need a second white mana source in order to pay the kicker cost for the artifact destruction.  The last thing to keep in mind is that Affinity does have the ability to get a fast start with the right draw, which is another thing the 4cc deck can struggle to keep up with.

Result: Slightly Unfavorable


From the start this deck was intended to be strong against aggro decks.  However, Stompy provides a bit of a problem for the 4cc deck.  One of the biggest problems is the use of Young Wolf, which has the undying ability and requires two kill spells in order to remove the creature permanently.  The deck becomes even more troublesome thanks to the array of pump spells especially Hunger of the Howlpack, which is constantly getting fueled by our own spells.  In order to win against this deck it is necessary to be incredibly smart about using your creature kill and perhaps a little lucky in order to avoid too many Young Wolfs.  Once those creatures get pumped they will be easily beyond the reach of your Lightning Bolt kills and even bringing in Echoing Decays won't save you.  If anything I feel that the strongest card out of the sideboard for this match is going to be Negate, which gives you a chance to avoid those inopportune pump spells.

Result: Unfavorable


One card really defines this deck... Glistener Elf.  In order for Infect to win the game on turn 2 it must get the Glistener Elf out on turn 1.  This can be a lot of trouble for decks in the format because that means that you need to be able to answer that Glistener Elf on your turn 1 with only 1 mana available.  The 4cc deck has a lot of chances to do this thanks to not only Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning, but also thanks to Fume Spitter, but the real troublesome part is the mana base.  We have great odds of having an answer to that early Glistener Elf and to keep the infect player's creatures at bay, but you need to be able to cast those spells in the early game meaning you'll need an early Swamp or Mountain in order to get that untapped, fast mana.  This means be careful what you keep and don't be afraid to mulligan if you have to.

Result: Slightly Favorable


The goblin match can be tricky based upon what version your opponent is running and how his draw goes.  The majority of goblin decks run a very heavy creature base alongside a small handful of creature control in the form of burn spells.  If this control package includes Death Spark then your life gets that much more difficult since your opponent will have a lot of opportunities to kill off creatures after drawing only one spell.  Killing goblins will only serve to help your opponent continue to get Death Spark back.  This becomes tricky because you have every opportunity to keep your opponent's goblins under control, but he will also have every opportunity to keep your small creature base under control as well.  Experience tells me these games can be painful and drawn out as you'll have to take every opportunity to try and get a slow deck to perform at a fast pace.

Result: Slightly Unfavorable

Now as a bit of a bonus I wanted to add one more video to the mix.  This was the match I played against the BR Tortured Reanimator deck...

I realize that the Tortured deck is going to remain a rogue for a long time, but I wanted to add the video any ways since it provides a few interesting points.  The first would be the importance of even a small amount of graveyard control in the format.  The second reason I wanted to turn this match into a video was the fact that it emphasizes how difficult it can be to run the Tortured list correctly.

After playing so many games with this deck I think I can humbly admit how very wrong I may have been.  If you've spent any time in school you probably had to take a science class at some point.  One of the key things about science is coming up with a theory and testing over and over again until you determine whether or not the theory can become fact.  In the case of this deck... that theory fell through.  The main idea behind the deck was to beat up one things like MWA and Stompy, but once I actually played the games I realized there were some serious holes in my logic.  I think the biggest issue was surprisingly undying, which basically doubled the set of creatures.

The aggro decks that are available in Pauper aren't just top decks because they get lucky, these decks are fast.  With the additions of pump spells and equipment these small creatures become trouble fast.  The four-color control deck really had more success if it could get to a mid-game where it could capitalize on a stable mana and decent draw engine then you can find your rhythm and capitalize on opportunities.

Well there you have it, the first time around with our look at the rogue you're not playing and I hope you enjoyed it.  Next week we are going to be without a competitive report, but you'll get yet another opportunity to check out something different from me.  Every once and awhile a little bit of change is a good thing!  I promise!


+1 for spelling rogue by JMason at Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:03
JMason's picture

+1 for spelling rogue correctly :P

sarcasim? o.O I tried my by JustSin at Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:50
JustSin's picture

sarcasim? o.O I tried my damnedest to spell check it, which is my biggest failing lol

Not Sarcasm by Rerepete at Tue, 07/24/2012 - 13:39
Rerepete's picture

Many times the word rogue is wrongly typed as rouge. The spell checker would not catch this as rouge is also a word (make-up for adding a rosy color to the cheeks)

Not sarcasm. Just like by JMason at Tue, 07/24/2012 - 16:12
JMason's picture

Not sarcasm. Just like rerepete said, most mtg players cannot spell rogue (doubly funny if their rogue deck is boros)