Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Feb 27 2023 1:38pm

UW Familiars isn’t so much of a combo deck as it is also a great control deck. From what I personally see, it isn’t exactly popular or widely played and I think the main reason for that is how much clicking you have to do with it on magic online. However, there is a loyal player base for the archetype. This archetype can play a good control game against aggro, out-draw control decks and has a few different ways of winning the game. It can attack on different levels, making it quite the hard deck to tackle.

The list we will be looking at today got 5th place in the Pauper challenge that took place on 2/11/2023 and was piloted by the player Kampo. Alright it is time to click our hearts out on the way to Victory Road! Let’s Rock this!

God-Pharaoh’s Faithful – This card is simply backbreaking for any aggro or Burn matchup you come across. With 4 toughness it will be a little hard to get ride of and its ability to help you gain life can snowball quickly.

A couple of issues you will run into is that it has no power, so it can’t actually kill a creature in combat. This means with Kuldotha Red, they can still go around it, but the amount of life you can gain in 1 turn should be enough to offset damage. The other issue is if you block a creature, a simple Lightning Bolt will finish the Faithful off. Faithful is more suited to be a “sit there” type of creature in my opinion.

Sunscape Familiar – Here is the creature that accelerates your deck and what helps you combo out. Sunscape Familiar might not seem like the best creature ever, but it is actually the leader of the deck and public enemy number 1 for removal.

Sage’s Row Denizen – Here is your win condition when you are going for your combo. Despite it being here, Familiars isn’t a combo deck these days, it is a Tempo/Grind Control deck. Something to keep in mind.

Sea Gate Oracle – A fantastic blocker and gives you card advantage. I love this card.

Archaeomancer – We see Archaeomancer here over Mnemonic Wall for 2 reasons. The first reason is that the difference between costing 4 mana and 5 mana matters quite a bit. The second reason is because Archaeomancer can actually deal damage and sometimes attacking is how this deck wins.

Mulldrifter – You are a blue flicker deck, of course there will be 4 copies of the best blue creature to ever grace the Pauper format.

The Modern Age – This one is a little interesting. It doesn’t look like much, but it lets you draw a loot twice (looting means you draw a card and discard a card. It comes from the card Merfolk Looter) and then gives you a flying creature with very good stats. As I said, this deck will most of the time attack your opponent to death.

Ephemerate and Ghostly Flicker – Here are your flicker effects for the deck. Ephemerate is more for card advantage as you can’t really go infinite with it in the same turn. Ghostly Flicker however is your infinite combo as well as huge card advantage. With 2 Familiars and Denizen in play, you can flicker an Island and an Archaeomancer to mill your opponent out as the Island will come back untapped and Flicker only costs 1 mana to use. Just be warned, it takes a ton of clicking.

Prohibit – You can also play the control route with Prohibit. We sometimes see Counterspell here, but double blue can be a little tough as where Prohibit will counter almost all the same spells you would with Counterspell while being easier to cast.

Snap – A fantastic bounce spell. This can generate you extra mana or sometimes infinite mana with a Familiar in play. Again, be warned it takes a lot of clicking. This can also bounce all of your opponents creatures to clear the way for your own.

Preordain – You are a grindy deck and so being able to push extra cards to the bottom to smooth out your draws helps a lot.

Deep Analysis – This can draw a good amount of cards. It also can save you clicking later in the game as it can target your opponent. Theoretically, you could use Deep Analysis to draw your opponent out, but it is a tiny bit more risky as they actually draw the cards, it also takes a ton more clicking.

Prismatic Strands – Although you only have 1, you get 2 uses out of it and this is still one of the best cards in Pauper history.

The Manabase

Ash Barrens – This helps with mana fixing and you can return it later to your hand off of a bounce land if you needed to play it for mana.

Azorius Chancery – Here is your bounce land for the deck. With a Familiar out, this can help you cast a ton of spells in 1 turn and you can generate infinite mana faster with Snap.

Mortuary Mire – A great way to get creatures back from the graveyard that is reusable.

Evolving Wilds – Some more mana fixing.

Tranquil Cove – Not only is this a good dual land, but it also gains a life when it enters the battlefield. This means you could generate infinite life off of this land.

The rest of the manabase are made up of 8 Island and 2 Plains for a total of 21 lands. I like this manabase personally. If you wanted you could maybe change the Evolving Wilds for something else in my opinion, but why ruin a good thing that is proven to work?

The Sideboard

Dust to Dust and Revoke Existence – This is a warning Affinity! We will not lose to you! Not today!

Honorable Scout – Another way to gain tons of life and give Kuldotha Red a huge headache.

Hydroblast – Say no to red decks today!

I want to say, this list is from the Saturday Challenge and the meta you might expect on Sunday could be vastly different. Familiars won the Sunday challenge (the day after this challenge) and was piloted by RegitehT. Their sideboard was a bit more spread out and somewhat different from Kampo’s.

Kampo’s sideboard is very straightforward and to the point. In my opinion, Familiars doesn’t necessarily have any bad matchups. This is an advantage Kampo took as we see his entire sideboard is mainly dedicated to beating Affinity and Kuldotha Red.

Verdict and Conclusion

I still think Familiars is a great deck. It can do anything it wants and is a very well oiled machine. The only issue with the deck is that it takes a ton of clicking which will turn a lot of players off.

This is why I like that it plays more like a control deck than a combo deck. Sure you have the Denizen combo in it, but mainly you want to control the board, out draw your opponent and attack your opponent to death. It takes less clicking, but it is still a difficult deck to play.

I think while clicking a ton is the main reason we don’t see it on Mtgo. It can also be an extremely hard deck to pilot correctly. I am sure many players probably think, “Why play Familiars when I can play Affinity”. A lot of you would be right, Affinity will take much less clicking to do and has the potential to give you very good results. However I would argue that if you become good at playing Familiars on Mtgo, you will be happy the results.

With saying all of this, I am not saying Familiars is the answer everyone has been looking for. Affinity can still do its thing and be a huge headache for Familiars. Kuldotha red can easily go wide and produce too much damage faster than Familiars can keep up. Tron can also go over the top of you while also being able to combo you out, Faeries can counter almost anything you throw at them while giving you a fast clock and a heavy removal deck will give Familiars a headache as you are a creature based deck that takes time to win. I want you to keep these things in mind.

Should you play Familiars? I would say yes but be cautious if on Magic Online. In Paper, the deck will be a lot easier to pilot as you don’t have to worry about clicking. On MTGO however, clicking will be the main thing that you will have to worry about as a new player. At the end of the day though, that is why we practice!

I don’t think Familiars has any “bad” matchups necessarily, but I don’t think it is unbeatable either. Removal is a pain for the deck to deal with and you could easily go under the deck with aggro or Faeries. To be honest I am surprised it isn’t more popular, but I have my theories as to why besides the clicking part of it.

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 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!