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By: JustSin, Dave
Aug 07 2012 9:25am
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Soldier On

As I sit here starting to write this article I find myself coming off of a very disappointing run at some events with M13 sealed.  Nothing like seeing your cardpool and having four of your six rares being lands... yeah... so not happy.  But I digress!  This week we're going to be putting aside these anti-M13 feelings and looking at a possible change in Pauper as a result of M13 finally coming online.  While I didn't want to spend anytime going through what I did or did not think would work for Pauper in this set, but there was one thing I was very sure of... whatever it was... it was going to be white.

The Competitive Corner

This week's Competitive Corner is going be quite influenced by the recent release of M13.  Of all the possible set releases I always feel that the core sets have the most to offer fans of Pauper.  Speculation has been made and now the cards have been tested, but the most important impact of M13's release?  New prize payout!  There is usually a cycle of interest that we see as a core set has been out for many months and the cards within hold little value, but once a new core set comes out many players see Pauper as an easy way to quickly obtain a lot of boosters (11 for an undefeated showing and 6 for 3-1).  Just take a look at how the number of "winning" decks looked over the past two weeks where we had both days with and without the M13 payout...

As you can see there was a definite spike that started with event number 4150756, which had a total of 24 individuals who ended up "winning".  This was not only a weekly high, but this mark was the most people in the over two months that I've been tracking the meta.  The second most was five behind with only 19 players in a single event ending up "winning".  Hopefully, this new found popularity will last a bit longer, but I imagine it might slow down slightly as release events finish and more M13 packs start flooding the market.  So with that in mind we know we've got a lot of decks to look at this week so let's jump right in...

Daily Events for 7/23 - 8/5

This week IzzetPost was back in force, taking down our number one spot, but a relatively slim margin over Storm.  I found the most interesting part of this to be the fact that IzzetPost held a sizable lead over any other deck for the week going into August, but when the player spike hit a lot of players opted for one of the strongest, fastest decks in the format to even up that score.  DelverBlue rounds out our top three, but is a decent ways away from IzzetPost with an almost ten showing gap between the two.  MonoWhite had a rather big fall into fourth place after its big number one showing last time around.  This was a little surprising as we've seen a new variation of the deck with the use of some of the M13 cards that I'll talk about later on.  Our fad of the week is WeeFiend Aggro, which managed to climb off of the rogue list.  The deck is fun, fast, and has great potential, however it does have some significant weaknesses if you can manage to lock down the right creatures.  We also saw Tortured and DimirPost manage to narrowly escape our rogue list and have potential to stay off if our meta stays slanted towards aggro.

Here's a look at how the trends are looking...

We can see the upswing of IzzetPost, which has managed to keep flip-flopping between highs and lows.  It would seem that we don't yet know where IzzetPost is going to be leveling off at.  We also see the results of MonoWhite Aggro's recent dip in popularity although I don't imagine it will stay that way for very long.  Stompy has been attempting to climb back up in the ratings while things like Affinity, Goblins, and Infect remain relatively steady across the boards.  MUC has continued to drop and I'm considering dropping it off our ratings entirely due to continued poor performance.  The original idea was that it would be on there, despite low showing weeks, due to the fact that it is a deck type you're almost guaranteed to see every week and having it on here would give an idea as to the odds of you encountering it during the upcoming week.  However, if it's continuing to show up as a rogue deck then its inclusion seems silly.  Now with the thought in mind of the purpose of this chart I've come up with a small, new addition to this section where I'm going to offer a forecast as to what you can expect to be playing during the upcoming week (it'll be formatted better next week).  Then each Competitive Corner afterwards will look at how well my forecasting worked out.  Think meteorologist, but hopefully more accurate!

DelverBlue - Decline (-1%)
Storm - Stable (0%)
IzzetPost - Decline (-2%)
MonoWhite Aggro - Increase (+2%)
Affinity - Increase (+1%)
Stompy - Decline (-1%)
Infect - Stable (0%)
Goblins - Decline (-1%)
MUC - Increase (+0.5%)

Here's how the undefeated standings look...

This week Stompy stepped up one spot to tie with MWA for third place for decks that have the best chance of going for an undefeated showing.  Teachings control jumped up two spots now sitting with four out of every seventeen going undefeated.  With an increase in the number of aggro decks in the meta, the increase in control decks like Teachings is obvious.

Here's our rogue decks for the week...

1. MUC - 4 (1)
2. JunkPost - 4
3. GreenPost - 4 (1)
4. Hexproof - 3
5. Slivers - 2 (1)
6. FissureStorm - 2 (1)
7. EnchantAggro - 2
8. Elves - 1
9. RDW - 1
10. DimirTrinket - 1 (1)
11. GW Tokens - 1
12. BorosTokens - 1

We saw a few old favorites coming back including GW Tokens, RDW, FissureStorm, and DimirTrinket.  At the top of our list was MUC and GreenPost, which were just short of making it off our rogue list.  The increase in GreenPost decks was interesting, especially as umeboshijiisan managed to take the deck through a Daily Event without dropping a single game.  The JunkPost deck of the week is a new mashup that we've seen that takes DimirPost as well as IzzetPost and meshes them together to form a new Ubr control version of the 8post deck.  All four JunkPost showings were similar lists, which leads me to think that if this type of deck sees continued play then perhaps it would be better served with a separate name.  The term "JunkPost" was initiated by me in order to be a catch-all for the variety of homebrewed 8post decks that we've seen in the past months and have never really taken off.  The deck brings in some great options for the Mystical Teachings toolbox including RB cards such as Terminate and Wrecking Ball.  We'll just wait and see how next week's results look and if it continues to make similar showings then we'll give it its own category.

Until proven otherwise I am going to be a firm believer in the fact that, for Pauper, white is the strongest color in M13.

I feel like these two cards have a great chance of fitting easily into an already strong MonoWhite Aggro (MWA) list.  What MWA deck won't want to find room for a 2/2 for 2... that has lifelink?!  There are so many great two drop creatures that are available for MWA and the real problem will come down to whether or not you can find room for it.  It has to compete against other favorites like Kor Skyfisher, Squadron Hawk, and Loyal Cathar, which are also regulars to the MWA deck.  The card really has the potential to step up against things like RDW (yes I know it's very fringe), Goblins, and maybe even Storm (if they're on a bad draw...).

War Falcon has an even better chance of making the MWA list since it acts as a Savannah Lions with evasion!  The "drawback" on this card is that you cannot attack without a Knight or Soldier on the field and for MWA this isn't a problem at all...

Icatian JavelineersDoomed TravelerKor SkyfisherLoyal CatharLeonin Skyhunter

As you can see there are a number of different Knights/Soldiers that MWA runs and the majority of those cards I just listed are used as a full set of four.  However, even if you don't have a Knight or Soldier on the battlefield currently, the fact that this 2/1 has flying means that you have a lot of opportunities to still block your opponent's flying creatures.  As a one drop this can get into play on turn 1 and be able to avoid Counterspells from DelverBlue, while at the same time being able to trade for a flipped Delver of Secrets.

While these two creatures are going to be great for MWA there is another deck and another two cards that I want to focus on this week...

Now I want to start off by talking about Captain's Call.  I want to make it clear that I have this card here not because of its power, but for the idea that it stands for.  I think we're all aware of better alternatives for creating Soldier tokens like Raise the Alarm, which gives us two tokens for the cost of two instead of three tokens for the cost of four.  Raise the Alarm ends up being stronger than Captain's Call in most ways since it also works at instant speed and can be played two turns earlier.  If you were going to look for a token creation spell at the cost of four mana, then I would probably opt for Cenn's Enlistment instead, which produces one less token, but has the ability to be replayed over and over with its retrace ability.  This would allow you to turn excess land into Soldier tokens and create that implied card advantage.

The stronger of these two cards is easily the Attended Knight.  If you were to have a creature that was a 2/2 with first strike that only cost three mana you would be pretty happy with having just that, however the Attended Knight also creates card advantage thanks to the fact that it puts a 1/1 Soldier token into play.  Many of the cards that we do have available to us in Pauper for token generation doesn't bring about the same type of power within the original card.  While this may not be a go-to card for MonoWhite Aggro there might be another place for it...

Not too long ago we saw a wild increase in the number of showings from MonoWhite Aggro.  While this has settled down a bit in recent weeks it is still one of the strongest aggro decks that we have seen in Pauper (or at least the most well known I'm guessing).  If we keep heading back in time, towards the point where MonoWhite Aggro was just starting to climb the ladder, there was a small fraction of players who splintered off from playing MWA.  These people were now playing that spin-off rogue deck known as Soldiers....

The deck sticks to the basic principles of MWA by bringing in a number of white creatures that are small in size and also cheap to play, however there was something that creatures in this deck had in common.  I'm sure you can easily guess this... they were all Soldiers.  This concept brought mass appeal to the Tribal player in me, but being Pauper you often lose out on key Tribal elements such as Lords.  This missing element was partially fixed thanks to core sets that brought us Veteran Armorsmith and Veteran Swordsmith, which act as two parts to one whole lord.  The deck then adds in Veteran Armorer and what you get is the ability to make your small, cheap creatures into bigger, cheap creatures.  This is the whole concept behind the Slivers deck and we know how well that works.

The deck gets a bit more Tribal flavor thanks to the series of Gempalm creatures that were printed in Legions.  Oddly enough only the Gempalm Avenger (Soldiers) and Gempalm Polluter (Zombies) were printed at the common rarity, while the remaining three (those for Goblins, Elves, and Wizards) were printed at uncommon.  The cycling ability off of Gempalm Avenger not only allows us to pump up our creatures, but more importantly it adds that first strike ability, which helps you keep your own creatures alive while finishing off any blockers your opponent may have had.

There are a lot of great elements to this deck... Deftblade Elite is a great card to help your bigger creatures get through to your opponent's life total in order to finish the job.  While it isn't as good, the Deftblade Elite works in a similar fashion to how Shinen of Life's Roar works as utility for Stompy.  Taking away key blockers or, at the very least, forcing blocking from unwilling participants.  Other control aspects include Gideon's Lawkeeper and Icatian Javelineers, which give you a small element of creature control beyond blockers.  As you look at this list there are only eight non-creature spells in the deck and five of those just create more creatures.  This means that all of your creature control has to be done in combat and you have to be smart about using Deftblade Elite's provoke ability and the pump ability of Gempalm Avenger as well as Fortify.

Hopefully as I sit here and describe to you how the deck works and how the particular cards interact with one another you're getting an idea of what the upcoming issue is... This deck is actually pretty well tuned.  Each card has a very specific purpose and it is hard to find room to move cards during sideboarding let alone finding room for the addition of an entirely new creature.  There are small opportunities to move a card around here and there, but you'll have to make bigger sacrifices than that since what you want from Attended Knight is not just one or two copies, but I'd say a minimum of three.

After much debate I decided that the best way to find room for our new Soldier was to sit down and test out how the original deck worked out in order to get an idea of what the deck could do without.  So instead of my usual series of accompanying videos I decided I'd simply put up two.  This first video is going to start with a recap of the original deck and then has three example games.  The second video will be me summarizing my thoughts on switch choices and playing through three more games to see how it went!

Going into this I had a few ideas in my head as to what could possibly be switched out.  The first cards that crossed my mind was the Veteran Armorer and Veteran Armorsmith.  Since these two creatures were functionally similar I figured that there would be room for one of them to go.  The assumption was that this type of move would make the deck a bit more aggressive as it would switch a defensive strategy for a more aggressive creature.

Next on the list was the Gideon's Lawkeepers.  While these creatures are the best option available for the deck as far as control goes they have a few key flaws.  The first is that, in a deck that is only running 20 lands, you often have better things to do with your land then leaving it open for keeping an opponent's creature tapped out.  Many times you can run into a situation where you only have enough mana available to cast a pump spell or you may find that you just want that extra body swinging towards your opponent.

The final area of consideration was our token generators.  While Raise the Alarm is the best option available to us for creating Soldier tokens, the use of Attended Knight would act as a replacement.  With Raise the Alarm you would be paying two mana for two 1/1 creatures... with the Attended Knight you'd be paying only 1 additional mana and you'd be getting a 1/1 and a 2/2 with first strike.  The creature total would be the same either way and you could get a much stronger creature out of it.  The other option was removing the singleton copy of Cenn's Enlistment, which rarely shows up since it is 1 card in 60.  While the idea behind Cenn's Enlistment is something I can definitely appreciate, if you don't draw it then you can't get the reap the benefits.

After playing through with the unaltered deck I found a few issues with the addition of Attended Knight.  The first was a minor issue, Attended Knight isn't actually a Soldier.  This means that it won't get any bigger from the lord combination of Veteran Armorsmith and Veteran Swordsmith or Gempalm Avenger, however the additional creature token it produces will receive those benefits.  The second issue was a bit more concerning... at a converted mana cost of three there are several other plays that you want to be making.  At the three converted mana cost point you will be looking to cast Fortify, Veteran Swordsmith, or cycling Gempalm Avenger.  With a fast enough start you can be coming up on the win on turn 4 with the help of your pump spells, which all cost three mana.  This means that in order to put an Attended Knight into play you would need to give up the chance to make your creatures bigger.

What this told me was that I wasn't going to add in more than three copies of Attended Knight and that meant I'd be taking the cheap way around my issue of what to remove as well.  Instead of removing a card entirely from the deck I was going to instead simply take out a card here or there in order to make room.  To do this, I ultimately went back to my initial list of potential substitutes and adjusted the deck accordingly.  Here's how it looked...

If you want to watch and see how it went you can check the video below... if you don't, well I wish you would, but I'm going to sum it up here any ways...

So in the three example games I played I did not come across Attended Knight a single time.  It becomes increasingly frustrating to sit down with a deck, trying to determine if a newly added card will make an impact, and not draw a single copy of it.  However, that does actually answer our question.  Does the addition of Attended Knight have a significant impact on making the deck stronger?  Well that answer would have to be not necessarily.  The impact of Attended Knight can really be evaluated as none... without drawing the Attended Knight the deck continued to work the same way it did before they were added.  The Attended Knight doesn't actually become a bomb card that you're dying to draw into.  I did keep playing (without recording) after not running into the Attended Knights in order to see how it worked out.  It took two more games before they showed up, but it was a strong creature.  My opponent often forgot the first strike ability on it and it cost him a few key creatures.  That being said, while it was troublesome it wasn't a creature that makes or breaks the match.  I did most of my damage with other creatures that received the additional power from Veteran Swordsmith while the Attended Knight sat back as a blocker.

Final verdict on Attended Knight for this deck?  Take it or leave it.

Well there we have it folks another weekly bombshell divulged!  Now I've been working hard and as long as nothing goes crazy wrong next week you should be able to see from me my introductory look at competitive Pauper!  Also have been working and recording the next Building Posts videos so that should be up soon as well!  So until then!


You should drop MUC and add by Raskolnikov at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 17:47
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You should drop MUC and add MBC and Teachings to the graph. Those are played way more than MUC. At the very least, add those two. It won't look too cluttered.

great point, it probably is by JustSin at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 17:56
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great point, it probably is about time I re-evaluate the decks on there beyond just removing

I like the idea of the by Psychobabble at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 18:15
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I like the idea of the forecast :). Will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Definitely agree with removing MUC, even the control blue decks (ie the ones without faeries, like NewPlan/Paul Denton) play delver now just because it's a perfectly viable win-con and doesn't hurt the deck. iirc, you defined MUC as the non-delver blue decks and they are being increasingly marginalised.

Not surprised to see stompy pickup there. I've been on an absolute tear with it my last 3 dailies, with a match record of 11-1! It matches up well against the top 3 decks there, with good sideboard options for all 3 matches. It doesn't particularly want to see WW, but apart from that basically has an even or better matchup against the field provided MBC doesn't have a resurgance. Interestingly, I'm not sure how common it is, but I ran into a storm player who comboed out on his turn 3 with a bunch of tokens and mogg raider - no bushwhacker though. he had probed to see a sandstorm in my hand, and that seemed like pretty good tech against it (and a lot of the other SB hate like seismic and holy light). Luckily I was able to kill him the following turn with a pumped pit skulk!

you know I went back to read by JustSin at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 18:40
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you know I went back to read past articles and found I actually had criteria for this chart...

"In order to appear on this chart decks must maintain an average of at least 14 showings."

guess I need to fix this! and I guess the criteria will have to be altered now that I changed it to percentages?

You can still evaluate this by Raskolnikov at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 18:49
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You can still evaluate this with the data you have. In the showings spread sheet, the total can be the basis for the 14 showing criteria.

To be honest Delver Blue kind of is MUC now. The traditional build doesn't place enough to warrant inclusion, while MBC (which is a very consistent deck and is something you see a lot of in dailies) and teachings (another deck that has been fluctuating recently) need some representation.

Just my two cents.

2cents is greatly by JustSin at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 18:56
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2cents is greatly appreciated, the point of the meta section was to be open to changes and suggestions from other players in order to provide the most useful competitive Pauper information possible

so despite the fact the chart shows trends on a percent base you'd use showings as inclusion requirement? I was going to amend it to about 5%, even if we kept it as 14, MBC doesn't meet that req... while it might have a decent number of participants playing it this data is focused on showings, of which MBC is averaging only 11 over the past 10 weeks

I'd definitely use % as the by Psychobabble at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 20:40
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I'd definitely use % as the measure, not # placings. 5% average over a sustained period of time seems reasonable.

I feel like it'd be nice to have "rogue" on the chart too, just to see if there's any interesting trends in the meta becoming more or less streamlined at times.

on point with the ideas today by JustSin at Tue, 08/07/2012 - 20:52
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on point with the ideas today man appreciate it! lol