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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Oct 17 2022 10:29am
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Years ago in Standard, some of the Pro Tour players created an archetype in called Caw-Blade and literally broke the format for quite some time. It had the best cards in the format at the time and was by far and away the best deck we had seen it quite some time for Standard. In fact, the archetype was so good, that it helped cause Jace, The Mind Sculptor to reach $100 dollars a copy. Something that we thought only Tarmogoyf was capable of. It took some time, but eventually the archetype was so powerful, that wizards decided it was time to finally have a ban list updated for Standard and it saw Jace, as well as Stoneforge Mystic get the hammer. 

One of the main reasons the deck was so good was Sword of Feast and Famine being equipped to one of our favorite creatures in Pauper, Squadron Hawk. Squadron Hawk might not look like much, but being able to thin your deck and give you 4 creatures to clog up the board with, can be quite hard for an opponent to deal with. Especially if you have ways to pump the Hawks. Today that is what we are talking about.

The list we are going to look at today got 3rd place in the Pauper Challenge that took place on 10/9/2022 and was piloted by the player Amplumnox. The archetype also took 2 spots in the top 8 the day before. Alright, it is time to rally the troops and storm the gates of Pauper!


Squadron Hawk – This is the main win condition of the deck. I wish you could play 5.

Sacred Cat – This is a great creature for a deck like this. It has the ability to come back thanks to Embalm and it has Lifelink which is just fantastic with the Gate mechanic of the deck.

Guardian of the Guildpact – Another great win condition with the gate mechanic. It isn’t fool proof as people are aware of this archetype, but against certain builds of the meta, Guardian can win the game in a few short turns by itself.

Court Hussar – A great blocker that gives you a bit of card selection. It also has Vigilance which makes it a great attacker with the Gate mechanics of the deck. I am surprised there isn’t 2 copies, but you need to make room for other things.

The Modern Age – We have seen this card pop up before and for good reason. For 2 mana you get 2 free looting effects and you get a flying creature with good stats once it flips. I am happy to see this make an appearance here. You could argue for Mulldrifter, Modern Age is a 2 drop and still helps you see 2 cards deep while also being a flying creature with 3 toughness as opposed to 2. That can make a difference in many matchups.

Counterspell – You are a control deck and can support UU very easily. Having 4 of these is just a given.

Force Spike – A good catch all against opponents who are caught off guard. I like Spike here honestly because it only costs 1 mana. You could make it Dispel or Spell Pierce depending on the meta you expect to see.

Brainstorm and Preordain – Here are your cantrips for the deck. Brainstorm is amazing with Squadron Hawk because of the shuffle effect and because Hawk can find more Hawks. Preordain is great because you are also a grindy deck and (Preordain is great at helping fight into the late game.

Behold the Multiverse – I like this card a lot and wish more decks would play it. It draws 2 cards at instant speed and it allows you to Scry 2 before hand. This gives you a lot of card selection and advantage to work with. I know 4 mana is expensive to pay for a card but it does have Foretell and you should be able to find a point in time to cast it without too much worry.

Celestial Flare – Edict effects are a good thing to have access to. This one can be very useful because it makes your opponent sacrifice an attacking creature. This means against a deck like Hexproof they would possibly have to throw away a creature in combat to play around Flare.

Journey to Nowhere – One of the best removal spells in Pauper period.

Prismatic Strands – One of the strongest spells in Pauper history. It can be a counter spell to damage, it can be a Fog and it can help be a 1 sided board wipe with the correct combat. The best part is that it can be used twice because it has Flashback. It just isn’t a surprise to see this here.

Suffocating Fumes – A board wipe is always a good thing to have access to and possibly catch your opponent by surprise with.

The Manabase

Citadel Gate and Sea Gate – Here are some of the dual lands for your deck and they are very important. While yes the lands from Jumpstart are basically the same, these lands are far more useful because they are Gate lands.

Heap Gate – This one is pretty good and while I am not surprised there is only 1, I kind of wish there was 2 because it can make treasure tokens and ramp you up in a way.

Basilisk Gate – Here is your main condition for the deck. This is what turns your Hawks into monsters and ends the game very quickly. Never play less than 4 of these in my opinion.

Ash Barrens and Azorius Chancery – While Barrens is here for the usual mana fixing and Brainstorm synergy, Chancery is here so you have a chance to keep more 7 card hands. I like having 1 copy of Chancery because you need room for all the gates.

The rest of the manabase are basic lands. I think this manabase is perfect and should not change. The only thing I think you could change is adding another copy of Heap Gate, but that could complicate the manabase and no one wants to lose to their own manabase.

The Sideboard

Arms of Hadar – Although it is expensive to cast, it can be cast at instant speed.

Blue Elemental Blast and Red Elemental Blast = For their color matchups respectively. Another reason this deck is so good is that it has access to all 5 colors if it needs.

Dust to Dust and Gorilla Shaman – What do we say to the robot gods of death? Go back to the factory from which you were made!

Standard Bearer – Hey Hexproof? Wouldn’t it be a shame if all your enchantments belonged to me?

Verdict and Conclusion

By now I think this archetype has proven itself to be a damn good archetype and I personally love it. I love how much card advantage you have, I love how you resilient this deck is to creature removal and I also love how Basilisk Gate makes it so you only need 1 threat to win the game.

One of the biggest strengths of this archetype is how much card advantage it has. Brainstorm is extremely powerful in this deck with Squadron Hawk, you have The Modern Age which lets you loot twice and gives you a good creature to work with afterwards and you have access to powerful spells such as Counterspell and Prismatic Strands.

Lets not forget that because you have access to the Gate dual lands, you also get to play whatever sideboard cards you want which makes this deck extremely flexible to whatever meta you expect to face.

This archetype isn’t perfect however, as sometimes you can draw the wrong cards for the wrong situation and without a copy of Basilisk Gate, it will take you quite some time to win the game which means your opponent will possibly have time to draw what they need. Land Destruction can be a decent answer to this archetype. Then again, you have access to whatever you need so it is just a matter of having the right build at the right time.

Do I think you should play this deck? For both Leagues and Challenges yes I do. Not only do I think this deck is very good, but I also think it is a lot of fun to play. It has many different angles to attack from and will definitely teach you how to play control well if you are new to control decks. This archetype will not be easy to pilot however, so make sure you practice a lot. This list we looked at today isn’t the be all end all, but it is without a doubt where I would start.

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to Gatherling.com on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!