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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Aug 17 2021 12:00pm
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When you think of Mardu, you don’t think of a deck with a lot of high casting cost creatures with enter the battlefield effects. However, today I have a really cool list I found that I want to look at. It has a lot of cool creatures to work with and plays everyone's favorite card, Ephemerate.

The list we are going to be looking at today was part of the 5-0 dump from 7/14/2021 and was piloted by the player Heisen01. I won’t waste anymore of your time, let’s get right into the list before it blinks out of reality. That is the only joke I am going to make.


Thraben Inspector – Inspector is probably one of the best creatures in Pauper at this point. It is a great aggro card, great for midrange and good for control decks. With so many ways to keep triggering his enter the battlefield effect, he makes for the perfect 1 drop creature. Inspector is also decent in combat in the early game which is a bonus.

Stonehorn Dignitary – One of the best ways to fight aggro in the Pauper format. Doesn’t surprise me to see some number of Dignitary in this deck.

Bleak-Coven Vampires – I have always liked this card. It can be quite powerful for its enter the battlefield effect because not only does it drain your opponent for a whopping 4 life, but it also gains 4 life in the process! Sadly though, most of the time it can be a little too slow for the format. However, with the help of the artifact dual lands and Cleansing Wildfire combo, you should be able to have Metalcraft active early and be able to ramp into Vampires early. What is really cool is that with Ephemerate loops, you never have to attack to win. Again, remember if you trigger the ETB effect, you gain 4 life as well.

Revolutionist – Although this creature cost a lot to cast, it has a cheap Madness cost that you can use Faithless Looting to help with. You also have some mana ramp as well to help cast Revolutionist. This creature is extremely important as well because it is your way of looping Ephermate.

Soul of Migration – Another expensive creature. However, this one has Evoke for only 4 mana and it has the potential to create an army of Birds to attack with over time. Think of it as a version of Battle Screech, except instead of having Flashback, you have the potential to loop it constantly with Ephemerate and create a bigger army over time.

Mournwhelk – Ah yes, I remember this creature from Standard back when Makeshift Mannequin had just got printed. This is your answer to control decks. Although it is expensive to cast at 7 mana, it has an Evoke cost of only 4 and has the potential to Mind Rot your opponent over and over with Ephermate loops. Remember you can flicker this creature in your opponents draw step and so unless they draw instant spells, they are effectively locked out of the game.

Galvanic Blast – You should have Metalcraft turned on most of the time. What more could you ask for than a 1 mana instant that deals 4 damage to any target?

Faithless Looting – Not only is this card draw, but it helps you trigger the Madness effect of Revolutionist and puts your big creatures into the graveyard to be brought back at a later time. More on that later.

Cleansing Wildfire and Geomancer's Gambit – As I have said before, expect to see this type of strategy a lot as time goes on in Pauper. Without these cards, I don’t think a deck like this would be viable.

Night's Whisper – Extra card draw for a cheap amount of mana and a small amount of life to pay. I do wonder if Read the Bones would be better, but the difference between costing 2 and 3 might be pretty huge.

Ephemerate – Ah yes, the glue that holds this deck together. The reason not to play 4 of them is because you don’t want to draw too many and have nothing to do. Any turn you stumble with this deck could mean you lose the game quickly.

Prismatic Strands – I think by now everyone knows how good this card is and the reasons to play it. This is another reason why Thraben Inspector is such a good creature as well. It comes down early and can sit in play waiting to help cast Prismatic Strands again.

Late to Dinner – This is actually quite a good card for a deck like this. It is not only very good with Faithless Looting, but when you Evoke your big creatures, you get to bring them back and trigger their ETB effects again. Not to mention, this gives you a Food Token to help you against aggro decks. I really like this card.

The Manabase

You have 10 artifact dual lands to help you cast your spells and to ramp with Geomancer's Gambit and Cleansing Wildfire. You then have 3 copies of Ash Barrens to help fix your mana further and then the rest of the manabase are basic lands. You don’t need any fancy lands like Bojuka Bog or the Ravnica bounce lands because you ramp enough already, you have cheap spells and you don’t want anymore come into play tapped lands. This deck is slow already, lets not make it any slower.

The Sideboard

Mournwhelk – It is really good to have another copy against Storm and the slower control decks you will face.

Soul of Migration – Having a third copy of this against the slower control or midrange decks helps a lot when trying to fight a longer game.

Dust to Dust and Ingot Chewer – Here is your Affinity hate. Dust to Dust is the best hate for Affinity at the time of writing this article in my opinion. Ingot Chewer is actually quite good in the fact that is can be good against Tron as well to hit their Ornament’s and Prophetic Prisms to try and keep them off casting their powerful spells.

Fiery Cannonade – Every midrange deck can benefit from having access to a board wipe and this is quite good.

Lone Missionary – Since you are an Ephmerate deck and can loop it, this is a great card against Burn, as well as being good against aggro in general because it can gain you a lot of life and does a decent job of blocking in combat as well.

Pyroblast – For all those pesky blue mages running around.

Wispmare – While I love me a Wispmare and I think this is a cute card to have, enchantments aren’t among the most popular cards in Pauper outside of Bogles and Heroic. Against those 2 archetypes, this will be too slow and so I would consider replacing Wispmare with something like Leave No Trace in my opinion.

Verdict and Conclusion

It has been a long time since I have been so excited to play a deck in Pauper. I really like playing this deck and I see a lot of potential here as well. This deck packs a lot of card advantage, fun creatures and a good amount of removal or reach.

I would like to make some minor changes to the deck personally. I actually don’t think Night's Whisper is necessary as you generate a ton of card advantage already. I would like to have a 3rd copy of Revolutionist and add 2 copies of Bonder's Ornament to help ramp a little faster. I would also like to see some number of Duress in the sideboard, just not sure what to cut for them and how many. Other than that currently, I would play the deck as is for a little bit longer to see how everything works over time. More testing is needed.

Speaking of card advantage, one thing you don’t see here is the Monarch mechanic. The issue here is you have no real raw removal such as Terminate or Cast Down. You do have Stonehorn Dignitary, but that doesn’t work against every strategy and you don’t have counter spells like Tron does. You do have a couple copies of Prismatic Strands, but again, not enough to really feel safe about being able to keep the crown. Keeping the Monarch is going to be a little tough for this archetype unless you are already ahead in my opinion.

Do I think you should play this deck? Honestly, I am not sure. I think there is a lot of potential here and I want to say you should play it. But I also think this deck needs more refining and some different cards. It is fine to test in leagues with, but I can’t swear you will have good results over a long period of time. For the challenges, while I can see it being able to do well, I can see it falling very easily as well. This deck is built to beat a certain meta, if you are expecting decks such as White Weenie or Stompy, you may need to play some different cards altogether.

This deck can be slow, this is very true. But what this deck has going for it at the moment in my opinion is that it has a ton of card advantage and access to a lot of powerful cards to be able to beat Affinity, Storm and Tron (among other archetypes of course as well). It is just a matter of testing and getting the cards and/or numbers right. I definitely look forward to revisiting this archetype in the near future.

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!