Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jun 18 2018 11:00am
Login or register to post comments

Welcome to part 2 of my discussion of the combo decks of Pauper. This time around we are gonna talk about some of the lesser played archetypes, but they are still fun and quite powerful They have been around a long time, but have gone through quite a number of changes in recent years.

The first archetype we are going to look at is one that has been around for a long time, but has gone through quite a few different alterations. Get ready for Esper Familiars.



The way that this archetype wins is by playing a bunch of Sunscape Familiars to make your blue spells cost less, then you play a Sage's Row Denizen, and use Snap to constantly return your Mnemonic Wall back to your hand, gaining infinite blue mana in the process and finally you use Ghostly Flicker targeting Mnemonic Wall and another blue creature to mill your opponent out and eventually deck them for the win. It's very slow, but also very effective at the end of the day as well.


Your early creatures are made up of Sea Gate Oracle, which not only is a good blocker but can also help you draw a ton of cards as well and then you have a new edition to the archetype, God-Pharaoh's Faithful, which is a great blocker for only 1 mana, and it also will gain you tons of life over time since you will be casting so many blue spells in a turn. I love this inclusion because from personal experience, you can sometimes lose games to aggro decks when you only need one or maybe 2 more turns, this creature solves that problem and I look forward to more innovations from 420dragon as time goes on. You of course have Sunscape Familiar, but you never want to risk this creature in combat at any point because it will be almost impossible to go off without it. Your big combo creatures are Mnemonic Wall to recur any spell you may need or to combo off, you have Mulldrifter to draw tons of cards and you have Sage's Row Denizen as your win condition. Last but not least you have a copy of Stonehorn Dignitary to keep aggro decks from being able to attack you and with Ghostly Flicker and Mnemonic Wall you can do it endlessly.


Your spells consist of Ghostly Flicker as your combo piece, Snap not only can bounce an opponents creature, but it does some very spicy things in this archetype such as bouncing back your Mulldrifter to net extra mana and dig very deep through your deck, it can bounce Mnemonic Wall to get infinite mana once you reduce all of your blue spells mana cost enough and have 2 Ravnica bounce lands in play. Almost every creature in your deck can abuse Snap, which makes it one of the most powerful spells you have. Brainstorm and Preordain are your cheap draw spells of choice because they can push dead cards back into your deck or on the bottom and that is huge because you can't afford dead draws in this archetype, much like any other combo deck. The argument of Brainstorm against Ponder is that Brainstorm actually draws you 3 cards and you get the choice of what to put back and shuffle away, as where Ponder only lets you look at 3 cards and doesn't give you as much selection. You also have Compulsive Research to dig deeper as drawing 3 cards for 3 mana or less is right on curve for what you want to be doing and then finally you have Serrated Arrows to help against Delver archetypes, Elves or any aggro deck that will give you a huge headache.


The manabase is very important here as well. To combo off you need Ravnica bounce lands in the form of Azorious Chancery and Dimir Aqudect because over time they produce all the extra mana you need to filter into casting your spells. However, you only play 21 lands in total, so you want to maximize your chances of seeing the bounce lands, but not having them be the only lands in your opening hand, which is why you only play 6 instead of the full 8. You have a single copy of Mortuary Mire to return whatever creature you may need to the top of your deck and thanks to Ghostly Flicker and Mnemonic Wall, you can do it multiple times as well. The rest of the mana base is straightforward fetchlands and basics, not much to discuss there.


The sideboard has a few extra copies of more anti aggro cards such as more Stonehorn Dignitary and God-Pharaoh's Faithful. You have Hydroblast to help protect your creatures against removal such as Lightning Bolt and Dispel for additional help against all around problems like Counterspells or non red removal. Reaping the Graves is a very powerful card because of the ability Storm, which means when you are playing multiple Snaps and draw spells like Preordain in a turn, you can put multiple copies of the card onto the stack and return any amount of creatures from your graveyard back, the best part is your opponent has to deal with each one individually. I personally like playing this in the main deck as from personal experience being able to recur your creatures is huge against any archetype. Lone Missionary is another great way of gaining a lot of life and also is a decent blocker with 2 power. Capsize can be another way to win the game when you are generating infinite blue mana, you bounce back all of your opponents permanents and then go ham with your dorks. Finally Stormbound Geist which is a great blocker against Delver archetypes or a decent attacker against any control archetype. This isn't the end all though, you have plenty of other good sideboard options as well such as Duress or even Prismatic Strands, just depends on what you expect to see that day.


The next archetype we will talk about is Infect. Infect used to be one of the real boogeymen of Pauper, but it fell from grace when Invigorate got the axe and received the ban hammer. You can still see it pop up from time to time and it can easily put up results. First we will look at the Mono Green Build.



If you have never played Infect before, the plan is extremely simple. Hit your opponent for 10 points of Poison and you win the game. To do this, you play cheap creatures with Infect and a ton of pump spells to finish the game as quickly as possible.


For your creatures you have your 1 drop creature in the form of Glistener Elf. Then for your 2 drop creatures you have Blight Mamba, which is a very good creature because it has the ability to Regenerate, which not only is great for surviving removal, but more importantly, you don't need to use a pump spell to save it from a Lightning Bolt type of effect. You then have Ichorclaw Myr which is a nightmare to face in combat because it gets a +2/+2 bonus when it becomes blocked, making it very hard for your opponent to do any kind of combat math and it also combos great with cards like Rancor because you give it Trample. Finally you have a copy of Corpse Cur which is expensive to cast for a deck like this, but you get to return a creature from your graveyard back to your hand and that is huge in this archetype because you have so little creatures to work with in the first place.


For the pump spells you have a plethora of them to use. Vines of Vastwood is one of your best because not only does it give +4 power when kicked, it also can counter a removal spell because it gives a sort of Hexproof to your creature as well. Mutagenic Growth is always good because it is free to cast for the cost of 2 life, which makes a huge difference because you don't have a lot of mana to work with and will tap out a lot. Groundswell is a hit or miss spell for me because it is great with landfall, but it is a worse Giant Growth without it, however the pros well out-way the cons of playing Groundswell over Giant Growth. Seal of Strength is better than Giant Growth here because you can play it once and let it sit in play until you need to use it, which saves you mana in the long run for casting a bunch of spells in 1 turn. Predator's Strike is a bit expensive at costing 2 mana, but it gives Trample and that is extremely important for this archetype because every few points matter even more when you only need to count to 10 instead of 20 and then finally we have Rancor, which shines here just as much as it does in Mono Green Stompy and not only is it great with Ichorclaw Myr, it is also great with Blight Mamba because of it being to Regenerate.


The other spells you have are Apostle's Blessing which acts as both a counter spell to removal and can make your creature unblockable, it is just an all around great spell for this deck. Gitaxian Probe can let you see what your opponent is working with and give you somewhat perfect information, which is extremely important for this archetype because it allows you to sequence your spells correctly and play around your opponents answers to make their life harder. The mana base is nothing special, just Forests and that is all you need. You don't want any come into play tapped lands because you don't want to be slow at any point.


The sideboard is a little interesting. You have Young Wolf to play around Edict effects such as Chainer's Edict. You have Gut Shot to help play against Elves, Delver archetypes and it is just an all around good card in my opinion. Pulse of Murasa is good here because not only does it get you a dead creature back at instant speed, you also get to gain 6 life, which can help a lot against archetypes such as Burn or Red Deck Wins. Serene Heart can help beat Bogles and you have an extra Corpse Cur for removal heavy decks where games might go a few turns longer than you want them to. Finally you have Rot Wolf, who is a great card in any aggro matchup because now you can attack into your opponents board and when they block you can trade a pump spell for their creature and replace it with another draw, which is great for grinding out those few extra turns you need to run your opponent out of gas.


We all know that Infect splashes blue in every format and it isn't any different here either. Here is the UG version of Infect for your pleasure.



In this build you have the same creature suite, however you now have Blighted Agent as one of your creatures of choice and it is a great win condition considering it can't be blocked. Also this time around you add Distortion Strike to your arsenal of spells and it is quite the game changer because not only does it make your creature unblockable, but it has Rebound which means you get to do it again the next turn, making it easy to win in 2 quick turns if uncontested.


The mana base as you will notice has duel lands added now so that you are to cast your blue spells. While they come into play tapped and Island can't cast your green spells, which can make you a much slower deck, you get the extra power added to the deck with Blighted Agent and Distortion Strike so that you can either win quicker or have more live draws if the game goes a few turns longer than you would like. The sideboard isn't much different, you get the added bonus of Hydroblast, but there is a good chance it should be Dispel so that you can't counter non red removal or fighter a counter war as well.


Other than that the UG build and the Mono Green version of Infect aren't much different and play just about the same way.


Conclusion and Verdict

I personally find all 3 of these archetypes very fun to play and enjoy playing them when I do. 420Dragon has done a ton of innovation on Esper Familiars and continues to put up good results when he has the time to play. The Infect archetype may not be as strong as it once was, but it can still hold its own in the meta today.


So what deck would I play? If I was going to take one of these decks into the leagues, I would play Esper Familiars as I think it is the strongest of the 3. I believe its overall game plan is stronger and more resilient to removal and can fight a longer game if need be. The black and white cards you get to play such as Duress and Prismatic Strands can also pay a lot of dividends in the format we have today when the Pauper removal is powerful and cheap as well. However I will say, you are going to have to learn how to click fast and practice because timing out with Esper Familiars is a very common occurrence.


I like the Infect decks, but I think Infect could really show some weakness in the long run. For one thing, your creatures are very small and easy to remove, while you also have no way of drawing cards, so you are going to live off of the top of your deck a lot and you have to hope it is very kind to you.


What Infect lacks in power, it makes up for in speed as you can win as fast as turn 2 if you get the right god draw, but with that being said, these decks also do not mulligan well and you will need to keep a lot of risky hands if you are going to do well. I would choose the Mono Green version of the 2 because I personally would rather be a consistent mono colored deck and be as fast as possible, instead of possibly losing because of your mana being very slow. Let me know what you guys think in the comments! I look forward to them.


Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to 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 and I will see you next time!