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By: jcf, Jose Freitas
Jun 09 2020 12:00pm
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Hello folks! Last article I highlighted my top 10 coolest cards from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths for Pauper brewing.

 

Among those cards, we had Of One Mind. It is a fine card and so easy to fit even in mono blue decks. Both Delver of Secrets and Ninja of the Deep Hours are human and we have the excellent Spellstutter Sprite and Augur of Bolas as non-human creatures, among others. 

So, I should probably try the easy path and have a blast playing mono blue decks full of counterspells and cheap draw but... well... you know... I am a little crazy sometimes. What's the point of purely playing MTGO if you are not trying something strange and degenerate once in while, right ?

So, today we are trying to make Of One Mind work, together with Thoughtcast and Shared Discovery to create an absurd stream of card draw. Yup, let's draw the whole deck or die trying! Probably the second option by the way. 

Shared Discovery

But first, let me suggest this cool video by streamer Caleb Gannon, where he tries to use as many cheap draw spells as possible in an Affinity shell.

I loved to watch it and I am basically trying to do almost the same thing: many many cheap draw spells, but I decided to go a slightly different direction on that endeavor.

The main diversion is that I am trying to build a deck mostly based on just two colors, even if it has some splash cards. This puts less pressure on the mana base, opening slots for more creatures, draw spells and combo pieces.

I have been trying a couple lists lately, most based around Azorius.

While the kill condition can be tricky, Azorius was compelling to me at first because there are some very fitting humans at white. As you know, we need some humans to enable Of One Mind's cost reduction, even better if they cost just one mana. Another interesting option is Izzet, but right now I am focusing on Azorius builds.

Let's take a look at some candidates:

Thraben Inspector: The best white human for the job, for only one mana we get a 1/2 human and also an artifact to enable affinity spells! Auto-include in every version.

Ardent Recruit: Another interesting option. A great size for a one drop, the best option if you are trying a more aggressive approach.

Ardent Recruit

Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant: This deck outrageously draws cards (when it works) and casts creatures as there is no tomorrow. The famous Soul Sisters could gain a ton of life, helping to keep you alive while looking for those juicy combo pieces.

Seeker of the Way: While costing the absurd of two whole mana, our honorable warrior can both gain some life if left untouched and put some pressure on opponent's life total. Something to consider in a deck casting a good bunch of non-creature spells.

Tireless Tribe: We are already Azorius and already drawing a bunch of cards, maybe Tireless Tribe is a viable fit.

What about the non-humans ?

There are tons of options, we could go for tokens with cards like Raise the Alarm, spell grabbers like Augur of Bolas or milling combo cards like Halimar Excavator together with a couple other allies.

I chose the path of "free lunch" with eight zero power zero mana artifact creatures in Ornithopter and Phyrexian Walker and some good old free Affinity bodies in Frogmite and Myr Enforcer. I decided to leave Shield Sphere out of this one since I am also running Keep Watch and I wanted to be able to maximize the card draw it could provide with our army in play.

So, tons of card drawing plus zero casting cost creatures inspired the name of this deck: Azorius Draw & Drop.

Let's take a look at the current list:

Note: for this league I decided to try two copies of Rally the Peasants. I moved out one Keep Watch and one Harsh Sustenance to make room. Looking back I think that was a mistake, overall I guess the list works better with the original cards. 

League Report:

I am trying a slightly different approach this time. I will not extend too much on the league report. Instead of covering every detail I can about each game, I will give a more generic report sometimes, focusing on the insights and impressions each match brings me.

There are a few games or moments I might highlight more if they bring exciting or interesting gameplay.

If you are really interested in a more detailed gameplay, I am providing YouTube videos for each match!

Pauper League: Azorius Combo vs Affinity. Match 1:

Pauper League: Azorius Combo vs Black Burn. Match 2:

Pauper League: Azorius Combo vs MBC. Match 3:

Pauper League: Azorius Combo vs Boros Bully. Match 4:

Pauper League: Azorius Combo vs Burn.  Match 5:


Match 1: Azorius Draw & Drop vs Affinity: 0-2.

We got crushed... twice. There is no other way to put it. Both times our worst nightmare had the same name: Atog. If there is a king in the world of artifact lands it must be it.

Game one we started with a reasonable hand: Frogmite and Ornithopter. By turn three we were casting our first Of One Mind for just one mana with the aid of Thraben Inspector. Sounds good, right? Well my opponent started with turn one Disciple of the Vault turn two Atog. Turn four I made a terrible mistake leaving just Ornithopter to block, they killed it with Galvanic Blast and Atog had the open path for lethal.

Galvanic Blast making opponent's day...
Galvanic Blast
, killing Thopter and opening path for lethal Atog. Maybe I should leave more blockers next time...

Game two we did last a little longer, but again we just got beaten all over the way to death. Our starting hand was solid with Thraben Inspector plus Frogmite and a couple Blue Elemental Blast from the sideboard. Opponent casts their own Frogmite and a Myr Enforcer as early as turn two. We don't really have a good way to deal with Enforcer for a while and it reduces twelve points of our life by its own. By the time we manage to start casting those Shared Discovery that were stuck at our hand, our life total is already at five, imagine that and a Disciple of the Vault on the other side. We manage to counter Atog with the one Blue Elemental Blast we had left, but next Galvanic Blast passed thru and Disciple of the Vault finished the job. 

So we died on turns four and five respectively, at least it looks like we are improving!

Now seriously, while in both games we didn't find Soul Warden and that might help. It became clear Affinity is a really hard matchup for this deck. If the game went long I bet we could overcome it but it feels like we don't have enough to hold their early game. Both games opponent had solid draws but I honestly can't call those insane Affinity draws. They were pretty standard. If we want this deck to have a reasonable chance against Affinity, something must change in the maindeck. What could it be ? I have no idea... yet.


Match 2: Azorius Draw & Drop vs Mono Black Burn: 2-1.

I am calling it Mono Black although it had a red splash. Mono Black is an interesting deck, not very common to see in the Leagues as far as I know. It combines fast evasive creatures with a couple black life reducing spells, my favorite is Morsel Theft, not so hard to enable the prowl cost if we run a couple Changeling Outcast and Nightshade Stinger

Game one we had a lot of details going on for us. First we opened with Soul Warden and nothing less than four artifact creatures by turn one! So we started the game with 24 life against a burn deck. Also, their evasive creature had fear, meaning our little zero mana walls could block it.  Turn four we cast Keep Watch drawing four cards and by turn five we had it all: twenty life, Myr Enforcer, after we cast our second Soul Warden they just scooped.

Game two: we've been cursed. Sometimes a single card feels like worded "Win Target Game" on it. Opponent had one of that as early as turn two. It is called Trespasser's Curse and... no, we didn't get Soul Warden this time, so basically our life total dropped really fast. Opponent didn't have a hard time finishing us with black burn.

Game three: Although I did side in some Leave No Trace, opponent didn't find Trespasser's Curse early enough this game. Things were a bit slow paced early turns considering both decks. They kept making us sacrifice our dorks and that did slow down our game plan sticking our hand with two copies of Shared Discovery. But we also killed their only soldier with Harsh Sustenance while gaining some life. By turn six we managed to drop our fourth creature in play enabling Shared Discovery. They manage to get us down to six life on their tun six, but turn seven Soul Warden helps us to get back at ten life. They cast Crypt Rats on their turn eight, but that is not enough, at that point we have a couple Myr Enforcers to follow up the massacre.

Overall I feel this deck can be effective against burn strategies, as long as we manage to gain some life early with both Soul Warden and Harsh Sustenance

In both matches, it would be interesting to have more Soul Sisters in the maindeck, adding Soul's Attendant is certainly something to consider.


Match 3: Azorius Draw & Drop vs Mono Black Control: 2-1.

Game one: We had a bit of a slow start, with two Tranquil Coves followed by one Seat of the Synod turn three. I didn't want to drop our dorks early so I waited until turn four. Them I dropped them all at once, finishing with Of One Mind and two Myr Enforcers. We keep drawing cards like no tomorrow and by turn six we cast Keep Watch for six cards. Turn seven we have twelve creatures in play plus Harsh Sustenance and Rally the Peasants in hand. If you want to see our little list really working, that is the game to watch.

Game two: We had actually a solid starting hand. By turn three we had Thraben Inspector plus Frogmite enabling Of On Mind for just one blue mana. That same turn we managed to cast two Myr Enforcers for free. Quite a board presence so early if you ask me. Sadly they cast Crypt Rats on their following turn, and we had no Harsh Sustenance to answer. So they untap blew the Rat on my turn five attack phase. I did refill the table with some dorks but, guess what ? They recur Crypt Rats with Unearth and blew the whole world again, leaving me with one zero powered creature and zero cards in hand. Their next move was to drop good old Thorn of The Black Rose solidifying their position. At this point I see no hope and concede.

Game three: This game was quite long and had an interesting finale. I started with two Soul Warden and they blew them with Crypt Rats. Then I follow with two Myr Enforcers and they blow it again with Rats again. At this point they are at ten life. I draw some cards, they cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel, I manage to kill some of their creatures with Rally the Peasants, games goes on and on.

Later in the game, I have three small creatures in play and they have exactly one Liliana's Specter dealing two damage every turn, and one Crypt Rats sitting there waiting. They are at ten life. I feel my chances of winning are very low at that point but I see an out depending on opponent's moves. While they were hitting me for two damage every turn with the evasive Specter, I drew my second copy of Harsh Sustenance. Turn thirteen, they managed to put my life down to eight tapping eight mana and leaving two mana open. I respond casting Harsh Sustenance on them, draining three life. That puts me up to eleven and them down to eight life. The Crypt Rats becomes a traitor.

The only possible out
Surprise!
Harsh Sustenance responds to Crypt Rats, turning things around...

Now that I am writing this article and looking back at the game, I can see they actually had an out to my out. I had one Thraben Inspector and two Phyrexian Walkers in play. They could activate the rat for two more, killing my inspector before Harsh Sustenance resolves. If they had done that, the result would be a tie, Rats would end up killing us both at the same time!

I honestly didn't see that line during that game. Can't say I would if I were on the other side. It is the kind of intricate situation that makes this game interesting. 


Match 4: Azorius Draw & Drop vs Boros Bully: 0-2.

This match was very frustrating. Game two we lost to our worst nightmare: Gorilla Shaman.

I have mixed feelings about this card. I recognize Affinity does need some hate in the metagame to outweigh it, because there is a risk it becomes "to good" if left alone. 

On the other hand, Gorilla Shaman does feel a bit over-powered in that role. It is after all a one mana card that reads "win target game" quite often. Affinity is strong, but does it deserve that level of hate ? There are plenty of decks capable of beating Affinity that don't need Gorilla to do it. 

If it were up to me, I would have Gorilla banned and have a slightly weaker version released to compensate. Maybe a similar card but costing a bit more mana cast and activate. That would feel more balanced to me.

After a mulligan to a risky hand, with only one Darksteel Citadel to produce mana. Game one smoothed out, turn two we topdecked Seat of the Synod, allowing to draw some extra cards with Thoughtcast. Soon we had a considerable board presence, with Myr Enforcer being cast turn four. Sadly, Boros Bully doesn't lack removal and they sent my Enforcer to a Journey to Nowhere. After that they started to bash with a Seeker of the Way that somehow became a 5/5 turn after turn. After a couple chumps I decided to put all my little dorks in front of it, trying to have it killed in combat. It was a disaster: a couple surgical Lightning Bolts during combat resulted in all my dorks dying while their Seeker of the Way survived. Next turn I draw exactly Shared Discovery that I can no longer cast with my lone Phyrexian Walker.

I felt I didn't play very well this game, I fell for every one of opponent's trap. At some point they attacked with two Squadron Hawks which I blocked with my two Ornithopters. They cast Electrickery killing both my Thopters and Soul Warden. I didn't even know Boros Bully ran Electrickery these days, but I recognize it is a powerful silver bullet in many matchups. 

Game two felt even more frustrating, we had a good sequence, drawing tons of cards. Opponent had monarchy but we were outdrawing them heavily. By turn seven we had 40 cards left in our library, meaning we drew thirteen extra cards at that point. But also, we had only two lands in play at that point. The combination of a land light draw and an unanswered Gorilla Shaman on their turn seven meant a disaster for us. I never managed to keep three mana in play that whole game, keeping us from ever casting our key spells.

Bloody Gorilla...
Gorilla Shaman:
 crushing our mana and our dreams to combo out.

Regardless of my sloppy moves here and there, Boros Bully feels like a very hard match for this deck. Even if I played a perfect game, it doesn't feel like I had a favorable chance to come out as winners on this one.


Match 5: Azorius Draw & Drop vs Burn: 2-0.

Game one we were absurdly lucky.  They had a slow draw for burn. We had to mulligan, but got a very fast hand, dropping one Myr Enforcer as early as turn two and a second one turn three. Turn four we topdecked perfectly again, drawing Harsh Sustenance enabling us to deal exactly the four damage we needed to finish them off.

Racing Burn...
Topdecking Harsh Sustenance allows us to deal exactly twelve damage closing the game turn four.

Game two did take longer but we got very lucky again. They stumbled at one mana for a couple turns while we got to draw cards and develop our position. By turn four, when they got their second land, we were way ahead on board. They did manage to put us down to eight life, but turn five we draw Soul Warden recouping some life. They see no outs and concede.


Verdict:

I think the deck is reasonably solid and it can be absurdly fun to play when things fall into place. That said, it is a very complicated machine to ride, there are one billion things that can go wrong and I am pretty sure this build is not optimal... yet.

The main concern I have right now is that it is vulnerable to a lot of hate people use against popular decks in the format. Mass removal and artifact hate like Gorilla Shaman is a nightmare for this deck, and we are not as explosive as Affinity most of the time, giving the opponent more turns to find them.

To make things worse, since it is a combo deck, there aren't a lot of slots available to fill with anti-hate cards after sideboard, unless we change the core plan of the deck to make some room.

Do I think this deck is worth playing ? Yes I do! But I feel it is not a deck for beginners. If you want simplicity, stay away.

But sometimes the most complicated things are the most interesting, and the deck does feel almost unbeatable when things goes smoothly. Maybe with the right tuning it can become a killing machine!

If you ever find a way to improve it, let me know!

See you next time! Brew and Battle!