JustSin's picture
By: JustSin, Dave
Sep 04 2012 12:24pm
Login to post comments

Token Madness

We live in a modern age.  These days people wouldn't be caught dead more than a few feet from their mobile phones or going more than two days without access to the internet.  Years ago people barely understood the online potential and would stock up on piles of free AOL CDs for their dial-up connections.  The idea of being modern is often associated with such things as sleek design and less work.  Magic has seen a similar upgrade!  These days we no longer rely on clunky creatures to do the work for us.  Take a look at a card like Tarmogoyf that requires us to do math and keep track of numbers or Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur who has a name that is impossible to pronounce without looking stupid.  How archaic!  The new, hip thing to do is eliminate the need for creatures and focus on tokens.  They are the definition of modern with their simple style, names, and sleek bodies without any messy abilities to worry about!  If it works for Standard then why can't it work for Pauper too??

The Competitive Corner

Once again we find ourselves buried under a pile of deck lists from yet another incredibly popular week of Pauper!  I have to admit that I honestly thought that I would see things calming down now that M13 has been out for a while (with cards I assumed would be less valuable then M12) or at the very least, if they weren't back to normal levels, we'd be seeing a decline in popularity.  If you remember from last week's article I had talked about how we had set a new record for most number of showings during my time writing this series, beating out the previous week where we had a top number there.  Well that continues again as we beat the max number of decks from last week passing our mark of 28 with a new mark of 33!  And again we had two days with an event in these numbers!  (Even worse a day after I wrote that line we had a DE with 35 showings!) Back when the number of Pauper events was reduced I had decided to make this a bi-weekly part of my articles since the total number of decks was going to be so low that it was going to alter numbers.  Well this recent increase in showings has now given me perhaps the same issue!  Though I will say don't expect me to go back to doing this on a weekly basis because I'm sure it'll balance out eventually.  In another past week's article I had shown a chart, which helped illustrate the increase in showings and I think it is time to take a look at it once again...

As you can see, with the exception of a few days here and there, we've continued to see a steady increase in the total numbers for each day's events.  I imagine that this trend has to plateau at some point, but for now the format should enjoy the popularity while it can!

Daily Event List from 8/20 - 9/2

In conjunction with the new high overall total for the week we now see four decks push over the triple digit mark and a fifth not that far behind.  Things settled out to what I consider to be the norm with DelverBlue, IzzetPost, and Storm making up our top three once again.  Delver even managed to pull ahead of IzzetPost by almost 15 spots.  Everything else seems to have balanced out a bit as well with Stompy and MWA coming down off of the high perches of the past weeks.  The biggest surprise is that not only did RDW manage to climb above the rogue mark, but had a respectable showing of 19 total.  The lists were mostly netdecked to the same list, but it is nice to at least see it find some type of basic structure that it can stick to.  Other big names managed to stay on the list including things like Teachings, DimirTrinket, and MUC, which have all seen time on the rogues list in the past.

Here's a look at deck trending...

Things are really starting to even out on the chart, which I feel is a big thanks to the idea that we have started looking at the numbers as a percentage as opposed to a total.  No new decks have managed their way onto the chart this week based upon our 5% rule, but you can still see some very steady trends forming.  Stompy has managed to continue its slow, but steady incline despite being so far behind the top numbers for deck totals.  We have also seen MWA continue its decline.  Other decks have remained relatively stable with only slight movements, but no real substantial changes.

Let's see how my predictions are working out...

So this week I'm starting to feel a little bit better about these predictions.  The first things I saw were instances like DelverBlue and Stompy where the difference between what I thought would happen and what actually happened was huge, but as the chart filled out I felt better about things.  As you can see my average degree of error increased from 2% to 4%, however I did manage to increase my number of 100% correct predictions from one to three.  If you recall from last week I also had only three decks that were correctly noted for trend if you put aside the percentage numbers (in other words I said it'd increase, which it did, however how much I said it would increase was wrong).  This time around that number increased to five out of nine, which I consider a great stride in the right direction.  Because my results so far are getting better I'm going to continue doing this for a bit, but again if it starts to get out of hand then we'll drop it for the sake of the quality of this section.

Here's a look at the standings for decks most likely to get a 4 - 0...

Are chart continues to grow this week as UB Control has finally found a spot at the bottom.  Towards the top of our list there aren't any really big changes.  We did see Infect climb one spot, just barely edging out Affinity in undefeated showings.  RDW also manage to climb quite a bit after a huge week of showings and hitting a total of five undefeated showings out of the 19 total.  Personally I feel that this number is going to edge off a bit as the average evens out.  RDW is a great deck that comes in for a cheap cost, but it never stands as a constant competitor.

Here's this week's rogues...

1. MonoBlack Aggro - 3 (1)
2. Slivers - 2 (1)
3. Elves - 2
4. WeeFiend Aggro - 1
5. Tortured Reanimator - 1
6. Rakdos Deck Wins - 1
7. Reality Acid - 1

Well as I expected the WeeFiend thrill is over and the deck has continued its recent decline all the way down to a point where it only managed one showing in a week where we had a total of 883 total people ending in the money, perhaps a record high for all the time I've been writing this series.  This works out to be only .1% of the overall meta.  On the other side of things we did see a new name added to our list with perhaps the weirdest Reality Acid deck I've ever seen.  This deck, as played by Shyft4, uses Reality Acid and bounce creatures/spells like Dream Stalker to allow you to replay Reality Acid over and over while killing off your opponent's permanents.  This is something I'm sure we've all seen show up in the casual room from time to time, but it would seem someone has finally used it in a winning effort.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about the deck is that it uses an entirely green mana base to run a deck that is based entirely around blue and white.  The three MBA showings were all the same deck, which packs in a bunch of black weenies alongside rats for a discard element and you can check out the list of course by clicking the link above.  The most interesting thing I feel is the heavy decrease we've seen in Tortured Reanimator decks.  The deck was successfully ran by two to three players in almost every daily event, which basically maintained its place as a non-rogue.  Without those players continuing to tout the deck, it has significantly dropped off.

It would seem to me that every time I turn around there is another variation of some token deck winning games in current formats like Standard or Block.  Wx Tokens is something I have seen on a number of article titles and descriptions thanks to recently printed cards such as Intangible Virtue.  And who can blame them?  Just look at that card!  This card was printed for no reason other than making token decks a thing.

If you think about it Pauper was ahead of the curve on this one thanks to the fact that it is an eternal format and therefore has access to Empty the Warrens.  You may not think too hard about the fact that at its basic form, Storm is a token generation deck.  You build yourself a lot of token creatures at a fast speed and use them to overwhelm your opponent.  However, there have been other token decks that have shown up in Pauper.  These have not gained as much success or popularity as something like Storm has, but they are there nonetheless.  During my time tracking Daily Event results we had a very rogue deck show up from time to time that I call GW Tokens.  This deck relies upon the creation of Saproling tokens and lifegain in order to stall for time and cash in on the "build up an overwhelming token force" strategy.  With the release of M13 and the attendance of Daily Events doubling, we've seen a number of decks that were formerly classified as rogues starting to gain momentum.  GW Tokens is one such example of this and has come from nowhere to end up in the money in several events.  For those who aren't familiar with the deck I'm referring to here's a recent list...

As you can see the deck abuses one drop sisters like Essence Warden to gain lots of life off of the token generation.  The one thing that is really holding this deck back from being a regular contender is the fact that it can be very draining on your clock.  If you've ever had to play against IzzetPost then you'll understand the frustration with playing a deck like this.  They gain a lot of life and stall for time throughout the whole game.  This leads to a long, drawn-out game that isn't very fun.  GW Tokens is even worse because if you're not familiar with the deck and good about setting up yields, then you're likely to cost yourself a game that you're winning because you've ran out of time.

This deck first came to my attention around the time of Dark Ascension's release and the printing of Midnight Guard.  In my article talking about the new set I talked about how we had finally been introduced to a card that allowed us to obtain the same infinite token combo that we see on a regular basis in Modern.  For those who may not be familiar with the combo, you can generate infinite tokens by enchanting Midnight Guard with Presence of Gond and then activating the ability.  When the token is generated the enchanted Midnight Guard is untapped and you can endlessly retap it in order to create more and more creature tokens.

I had made several mediocre attempts to combine the GW Tokens deck with the infinite tokens combo, but with little success.  While it seems to be the perfect place for the in-color combo, it simple requires you to take a significant number of cards out in order to make room for both the pieces.  Later on I came across a deck that eliminated this problem by focusing entirely on just the Midnight Presence combo.  At this point I have to apologize because I cannot credit this list to its maker as I cannot seem to find it's location, but here's the list...

As you can see this deck is entirely focused on the winning combination.  There really isn't any alternative win condition or secondary strategy, but instead every card is added in order to protect the Midnight Guard once it hits the field and stalling for time until you find the Presence of Gond for the win.  The fact that the deck is running full sets of both Ghostly Possession and Heart of Light should be enough to get this point across, but the deck goes beyond this and runs two copies of Sandskin in the sideboard as well.  While slightly different, these ten cards all work the same way by preventing all damage done to and by the enchanted creature.  This becomes a necessity for protecting your Midnight Guard from things like Lightning Bolt once it hits the field.  While the deck does manage some recursion for the Presence of Gond through Tragic Poet, it doesn't have any options for getting back a dead Midnight Guard.  The deck remedies this through running those damage prevention spells as well as the six bearers, which will each be able to eat a targeted kill spell (the key word there is "targeted" so MBC is a bad match-up thanks to edicts).

If you want to hear more about the cards in the deck check out the DechTech video below...

So this week I decided to do things a little differently.  Our first two games were recorded as I played and the third is a couple of replays.  I figured that by doing things this way I would be able to get the best of both worlds!

Allow me to add a quick disclaimer here.  If you follow me on YouTube I of course put videos up there before they become part of the articles.  It has been brought to my attention that I have made several mistakes in my comments on these videos and I am quite honestly disappointed in myself for the poor quality.  The two big errors are that Standard Bearer does not absorb all stormed copies of Grapeshot and then I talk about how the deck struggles against DelverBlue in my second video because it had no fliers, however Ghostly Possession does give the enchanted creature flying as well.  I'm not going to attempt to add any excuse to this and instead just apologize because I know you as well as myself expect better quality.  Hopefully going forward from here I can provide that.

Game 1

So the game went pretty much as expected.  I did get a little lucky and managed to get my combo together fast in both games.  If you are watching the video please stick around to the end because I do make a mistake.  I talked about it during the deck video that there was something I did in the past against Storm, which didn't work the way I thought.  What that was is Standard Bearer, which I feel like should take all the damage from a stormed Grapeshot, but unfortunately it does not (feel free to clarify for me in comments why because I still don't get it).  As it seems with most decks in Pauper it is easy to deal with Empty the Warrens, especially after sideboarding, but it is very difficult to deal with Grapeshot.

Game 2

Looking at this deck it is easy to see why the deck will have struggles against both MonoBlack Control.  What happens is the fact that they run such a significant number of kill spells including a bunch of edicts, which get around our flagbearers.  It is very hard to keep creatures on the field against MBC so you have to do your best to use creatures as bait to draw out those kill cards and even then MBC gets a significant amount of draw to replenish those.  Obviously Obsidian Acolyte is the best thing for this match as it gives you an opportunity to protect all of your creatures from kill spells beyond just the use of flagbearers.

Game 3

Ok so it's not really a single game... this is the set of replays!  Enjoy...

So my final judgment on the deck is that it is a lot of fun!  While there is a requirement to get a decent amount of mana in order to get off odd combos such as Palace Guard and Heart of Light you can still manage fast wins with a good draw.  A turn three Midnight Guard can essentially combo off on turn 4, which is very fun to say the least.  I can see why the deck hasn't become a top contender, however because it really struggles in certain situations with popular decks.  The cards in the deck are built to protect the combo piece, but they do very little else as far as keeping your opponent under control.

If you find yourself in a meta that is heavy on aggro this could be a fun alternative to your typical deck choices!  Ok well that is it for me again this week; hopefully the change up between replays and live videos is something people enjoyed.  If you'll notice articles may start getting a little less wordy from me because (and those who are in financial work will understand this feeling) we are approaching the end of quarter, which means that my workload has of course increased, leaving me much less time for Magic than I would like!  However, deal with me I'm going to do my best to keep bringing you quality content.


So this is interesting, by Psychobabble at Wed, 09/05/2012 - 18:18
Psychobabble's picture

So this is interesting, you're not the first pauper video maker to make the standard bearer/grapeshot mistake... this week! Cdavis made the error in match 2 game 1 vs a storm deck in this daily event:


He had been talking up standard bearer as a grapeshot answer through the decktech and got pwned when it didn't work in that game (though he still won it).

I don't know all the correct rules terminology, but the way grapeshot works is like this. All of the copies of grapeshot go onto the stack separately and UNTARGETED (the visuals in MTGO with all of the copies stacked under the first target don't really help here). Then as each resolves you choose the target. So what happens with standard bearer is that copy 1 is on the stack, resolves with standard bearer as the target, and then standard bearer dies. Then copy 2 is at the top of the stack untargeted with standard bearer in the graveyard, so you can then be targeted. This also means that grapeshot can kill both halves of an undying/persist creature (kill young wolf, undying goes on top of the stack and triggers, send the next two copies of grapeshot at the +1/+1 young wolf).

Also I think you're missing a pretty big story with green stompy in your meta wrapup. Yes, it's only the #4 most popular deck but it's very, very close to being as popular as the other three big decks. It's the first time that it's come within a couple of % of any of those 3 decks. It's also firmly established itself as the most popular aggro deck in the format, with a massive lead over WW, and it's basically grown steadily week on week since M13 was released. Yes, the cost of rancor has helped out here (but that's balanced by nettle sentinel and quirion ranger prices shooting up), but I think it's mainly that it's a deck that's really well positioned in a delver/post meta and it also has a reasonable game against storm. Anyway, keep it up, love these columns!

thanks for the explanation! by JustSin at Wed, 09/05/2012 - 19:33
JustSin's picture

thanks for the explanation! that is funny it worked out that way, but yea when it happened it was just like..... oh............

re: stompy


while it is closer % wise this week it is still a decent count behind, last week interestingly enough it tied with Delver for fourth and was closer (I believe) in count

I gotta be honest, I've seen by grapplingfarang at Wed, 09/05/2012 - 18:55
grapplingfarang's picture

I gotta be honest, I've seen atleast 50 people make the Standard Bearer/Grapeshot mistake, and I love the reaction every time.

Another comment on these by Psychobabble at Thu, 09/06/2012 - 07:06
Psychobabble's picture

Another comment on these really big daily events.... they DRAG on. Ugh. I'm in a 65 person one atm and of course there's some hideous post v post mirror matches where someone's trying to kill the other guy when their only threat left is a single seagate oracle or something and the other guys' gone up to a bajillion life with flickered glimmerposts. It's so annoying!

The mtgs primer on the deck says that "The post mirror is one of the most abominable match-ups in the history of Magic, and it will make you hate yourself, hate Magic, and hate your opponent." That's pretty much true ppl, can you please stop playing the deck already!! Storm's an abomination of magic, but at least you can F6 while they're, um, playing with themselves.

haha that can be so very by JustSin at Thu, 09/06/2012 - 14:13
JustSin's picture

haha that can be so very true, I've played it before tho and its not so terrible, maybe its because I'm personally a very fast player and likely to concede to buyback'd capsize >.>

I forgot to mention this week by JustSin at Thu, 09/06/2012 - 14:14
JustSin's picture

I forgot to mention this week that there won't be an article next week, I'm out of town for four days for a wedding/family reunion and I don't want to rush an article out and be in a situation where I talk about a deck with as many mistakes as I did here.. next time around will be a meta week and things will be back on track from there