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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
May 12 2021 12:00pm
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When you see pure control decks in Pauper, you usually see something like Gurmag Angler as the win condition or you see a build of Urza Tron. Sometimes you see Prismatic Talisman and Evincar’s Justice in Dimir Teachings, but have you ever considered Underworld Rage-Hound?

The list we will be looking at today was part of the 5-0 dump from 4/14/2021 and was piloted by Fuz65. It is an Izzet control deck with Underworld Rage-Hound as the win condition. Curious what the list looks like? Let’s not waste any more time.

 

Augur of Bolas – This deck only has 8 creatures and 22 lands, that leaves 30 spells to get off of Augur. As much as I loathe this card, it is pretty good in this archetype.

Underworld Rage-Hound – Rage-Hound isn’t a very big creature, as it only has 3 power and it can be dealt with by using something as little as a Lava Dart because it only has 1 toughness. However, it does have the Escape ability and when it comes back using Escape, it becomes a 4/2 creature. I am not exactly sure this is the best win condition you could be using, but it does come back over and over again, forcing your opponent to have multiple removal spells over time, which definitely counts for something.

Counterspell – You are a blue control deck, so of course you have to have Counterspell as a 4 of.

Mana Leak – This is basically the 5th copy of Counterspell and it gets the job done when it needs to.

Dispel – Always good to have a copy or 2 of Dispel in the main deck so you can fight a counter war or cast multiple spells in a turn. 1 mana is quite huge because it allows you to cast other things in the same turn or use your mana better in general.

Exclude – Creatures are a big part of Pauper (or magic in general these days), so being able to counter a creature and draw a card is really helpful when fighting for the long game.

Preordain – This deck wants the game to go long and wants to grind. Preordain pushing bad cards to the bottom so you can smooth out your draws is very crucial and I think it is better than Ponder.

Think TwiceThink Twice used to be a huge part of Pauper years ago, but over time and as the format has changed, you don’t see it much because it just doesn’t really do enough. In this archetype, it isn’t too bad since it can combo well with Rain of Revelation and it is instant speed.

Rain of Revelation – This is an interesting one. When playing a control deck like this, you need plenty of card draw to refill your hand to keep the ball rolling down hill. In this spot, we have seen Pieces of the Puzzle, however that is a sorcery and this deck wants to play like the old UB Faeries archetype with Bitterblossom. What I mean by that is, once you cast your win condition, you may never have to cast another spell on your opponents turn, making it extremely hard for them to play the game. This is where Rain comes in and shines. I also like how it works very well with Think Twice and Underworld Rage-Hound.

Lighting Bolt – Probably the best red card in Pauper, not surprising to see it make an appearance here.

Flame Slash – Since you play a lot of dual lands, you probably won’t have enough Snow lands out on the battlefield quickly enough to make playing Skred worth it. Although it is a sorcery, Flame Slash is your next best option.

Abrade – I love Abrade, but it has its limits, which is why there is only 1 copy in the main deck.

Harvest Pyre – You need a way to deal with creatures such as Gurmag Angler and this is a great way of doing that. The best part is that it is an instant. Harvest Pyre wont work all the time, but it does its job well. This basically replaces the second and third copy of Abrade in the main deck.

The Manabase

The deck is actually quite color intensive on both blue and red. To help with this, you have 6 dual lands in the form of 4 copies of Swiftwater Cliffs and 2 copies of Izzet Guildgate. You then have 3 copies of Izzet Boilerworks to help fix your mana and to also allow you to keep hands that are a bit lighter in lands. However, this deck does need a lot of mana to work, so make sure you don’t force keep hands that have little amounts of land.

We see a couple copies of Ash Barrens as well and then finally the rest of the lands are made up of basics. I am unsure if Ash Barrens is actually needed here, but I suppose being able to thin the deck and having a few extra ways to fix mana always helps.

The Sideboard

Abrade – As I said, love this card, but it does have its limits. I don’t think you ever want or will need more than a couple of copies, unless the meta is very specific.

Blue Elemental Blast – Need something for those pesky red cards.

Cleansing Wildfire – Tron is a problem for any blue control deck because as the game goes on, Tron is setting up to have more mana than you, cast bigger things than you and just cast more stuff than you can in a single turn in general. However, I am not sure how much having land destruction will help you in an archetype like this because, no matter what, the game is likely to go long and eventually Tron will find their 3 Urza lands with plenty of time to spare. Trying to beat Tron this way for this archetype is possibly a lost cause.

Fiery Cannonade – Having access to a board wipe is always a good thing. I like this over Swirling Sandstorm because it also hits flying creatures and is instant speed, which fits well into this archetype.

Red Elemental Blast – For all those pesky blue spells you will come across.

Relic of Progenitus – Graveyard hate is almost a must these days for most archetypes. Relic is always good because it replaces itself.

Spell Pierce – While I understand the flexibility this has over playing another Dispel, I don’t personally think Pierce is good enough. I would rather have a different card altogether or just another copy of Dispel.

Spellstutter Sprite – Sprite can be very good against most of the aggro decks in the format, as well as the Burn archetype. Having a creature to block with, that also counters something can be quite a blow out against some archetypes.

Tormod's Crypt – This helps if you need to tap out in the same turn you also need to resolve some graveyard hate. However, I don’t think that will happen often enough to warrant playing a Crypt over a second copy of Relic of Progenitus.

Verdict and Conclusion

I am going to be blunt. I am not all that convinced this archetype is better than other established archetypes or that this archetype is all that good in general. However, I am also willing to believe there is some potential here.

My main issue with this deck is that it doesn’t seem to have enough to make matchup feel, “comfortable”. What I mean, is that this archetype seems like it will always be an uphill battle against anything.

Tron will go over the top and so will the Cascade decks. Affinity will play more spells than you can counter, the Faerie archetypes will be beating you down while they counter your spells at the same time and some of the popular aggro decks will overwhelm you quickly. While you can build this archetype to have a good amount against one type of deck, you then are still in for an uphill battle and personally for me, that is not very fun. Again, that is just me.

Another issue I have is that, while it is low on win conditions and that is not necessarily a bad thing for control decks, it is the type of win condition that it is relying on. Back in the day, UR Puzzle control decks would play Flurry of Horns as the win condition. This wasn’t the best, but it gave you 2 separate creatures to work with, making it a little hard for your opponent to deal with. Rage-Hound is, in my opinion, a better option because, unless it is exiled, it keeps coming back and it being 1 mana cheaper is also a thing of note. However, it is easily dealt with, but that is the point of this archetype, to grind your opponent out for as long as possible until you stabilize.

Do I think you should play this deck? If you like slow and really grindy control decks, I think you will find a fun challenge with this archetype. However, I personally don’t think it will get you far in the long run in either the Leagues or Challenges.

I am not saying this deck can’t win and I am not saying it is a bad deck either. What I am saying, is that while you might do well here and there, it will likely have diminishing returns as time goes on. I would suggest something like UB Teachings over an archetype like this, but that is my personal feelings on the matter.

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!