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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Nov 06 2017 12:00pm
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Ten years ago I was introduced to a person that would eventually become not only a great friend, but a super influence and incredible community member for Magic. That person, Alex Ullman, cared so much about the Pauper format and has continued to be a voice for the formats community. He's been selected to the Community Cup and has written for a couple of websites, but he's been the same magical person as far as I am concerned, and his work in the Pauper field should be recognized and applauded.

The point of this article is not to just heap praise upon a friend though, but ten years ago, things for me were considerably different. Magically speaking I was a huge Spike. I wanted to win, and win big, and be more than a local scene PTQ End Boss. I cared about Standard, Extended, Block Constructed, and Limited. That was it. If it was not one of those formats, it was not a thing I cared about. Taking over a community site changed that. While I still cared about those formats, I met new people who like Alex, were passionate about their formats. Tribal Wars, 100 Card Singleton, multiplayer formats and more were topics that writers wrote about, and after understanding the community and audience more, were formats that took over the bulk of the content. It was a culture shock for me to be sure, but Alex made Pauper a very inviting option thanks to the plethora of player run events on the the online client.

While Pauper does have a thriving PRE scene, it is now a supported tournament format online, and that has been the case for years now. There is a lot of strategy in the format, and for someone that wants to play competitive Magic, but does not have the bankroll to pick up the hot new Standard deck, Pauper is a wonderful avenue in which to play!

It is not a format for everyone though, and for myself it's one that I play when I am struggling with Standard or Modern. It's almost nostalgic for me, I grew up on a steady diet of cheap card draw and countermagic, while friends played super fast efficient green creatures. It's Magic almost like a I remember it as a teen, just without the expensive rares and mythics.

Uncommons too, those are not allowed in this all common format.

When I'm looking to take a break from the other formats, Pauper is my go to. I typically stick to something in a glass cannon style, something like Bogles or Izzet Blitz, but both of those decks were outside of my very small budget, and I had to make due with something else. Ten dollars was all I had to work with, and that still gave me a couple of options. As a player that dislikes creature strategies, I decided to go with a control deck, and after browsing a couple of lists, I found a nice spicy one that fit what I was wanting to do.

Let's take a look at the list!

UB Control
- 75 Cards Total
3 Mulldrifter
4 (Augur of Bolos)
4 Gurmag Angler
7 cards

4 Counterspell
2 Prohibit
1 Mystical Teachings
4 Disfigure
2 Doom Blade
3 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Echoing Decay
18 cards
3 Chainer's Edict
4 Preordain
2 Probe
9 cards
4 Dismal Backwater
3 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Evolving Wilds
7 Island
7 Swamp
22 cards

2 Devour Flesh
2 Shrivel
1 Hydroblast
2 Negate
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Stormbound Geist
2 Vodalian Zombie
2 Duress
15 cards

Oh gosh, this list is like a greatest hits of cards I loved to cast in my early twenties! Chainer's Edict was widely played in Torment Standard in Black Control. Prohibit was in the main deck of the block constructed deck I made my first Grand Prix day two with. Counterspell and Probe were mainstays in old Nether Go lists that I built as a young, terrible deckbuilder.

Let me briefly talk about the card choices that make this deck!

The creature base is really sweet here. We have seven creatures that replace themselves, and Augur of Bolas is really strong in the deck. With twenty seven spells in the deck there are really good chances that we are going to hit something great, and it has the added bonus of being able to come down early enough in the game to soak up an attack or two from the aggressive decks of the format. Mulldrifter is one of the best creatures in the game, and at common can be an early game source of card draw, and in the late, becomes a small threat in the skies while also drawing two cards to keep the clamp down on your opponent. Gurmag Angler plays the part of the finisher here, while it can come out quick, it's typically a play that you make when the board is stabilized, trading cards you've already cast for a fresh huge body. There is nothing more demoralizing from the opponents side then watching their board get dealt with and suddenly a giant fish swimming in to play.

The spells are really where this deck shines at though, and can be put into a few categories. We have out countermagic, with the ever reliable Counterspell, which gets nearly everything in the format for the low cost of two mana. Prohibit is a sweet conditional counterspell that counters nearly all the important spells for 1U, or for 3U can counter slightly more expensive spells.

The next category is card filtering, or card selection. Preordain is banned in Modern, and a very strong play in the Pauper format. I honestly think that this is one of the cards that is stronger then the format should allow, but others disagree with me. Early on it smooths your draws and gets your mana fixed. In the late game it finds answers or a threat. Forbidden Alchemy is a super sweet instant with flashback that can get rid of dead cards while also filling your yard for the Angler. Having an instant speed way to find an answer to a problem is an advantage for the deck. Probe, one of my favorite cards in the deck can filter your hand, but with the kicker paid can also provide a devastating discard effect for your opponent. Mystical Teachings is almost like cheating in the format. It's basically a hard tutor for whatever question your opponent may be asking. Need removal? Get it! Need a counterspell? They need to try again next time!

The final category is removal, and in this format, the amount of removal feels just about right! There is a ton, featuring the Cadillac of memes, Doom Blade. Nearly everything dies to it! Chainer's Edict deals with the untargetable creatures, and Disfigure and Echoing Decay deal with the smaller dorks of the format.

We of course have our mana, and we have the best karoo lands and gain lands that the color combination have to offer. Rounding out the main is an Evolving Wilds and some basic lands. Well, you need lands to cast the spells after all.

Unless you're manaless Dredge, which isn't even a Pauper deck.

The sideboard is next up, and it adds some more removal in Devour Flesh, which is an instant speed edict that can also gain you life in a pinch. Shrivel deals with a ton of tiny creatures and is incredibly important against Bogles. Duress is a bit of disruption, and Nihil Spellbomb also disrupts, but graveyard based strategies. (Vodalian Zombies) comes in against the green decks, and is almost a moat against Stompy and Bogles, while (Stormbound Giest) helps out against Delver. Negate is great against the tron decks, and the only questionable card is Hydroblast, but it has it's moments of greatness of course against the red decks of the format.

If you're looking to play some competitive Magic, and not wanting to break the bank, this deck does come in under 10 dollars, is very good against the Pauper field and can serve as an excellent introduction to the control elements of the format. I would recommend giving this deck a play!



Dimir Alchemy by SteveJeltz at Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:36
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I like seeing you get into the Pauper spirit, Josh! Dimir is a funny color combination in Pauper because there are about 4 different Dimir decks that are on various places of the Midrange / Control scale: Dimir Flicker, Dimir Alchemy, Dimir Teachings, and now Dimir Reanimator. Find the one that suits you best!

Pauper is weird to me, by JXClaytor at Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:52
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Pauper is weird to me, because I go from enjoying it to avoiding it like the plague at the drop of a hat.

Yeah, UB comes in many by stsung at Tue, 11/07/2017 - 05:05
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Yeah, UB comes in many flavors and I never felt that any of these flavors satisfied me so I was tinkering with Grixis because I had the same problems with UR as well. That can also go from blitz to control.
This deck doesn't feature Prohibit because that's too expensive for my liking but it's a fun deck. It just needed some mox monkeys (too expensive).

4 Augur of Bolas
2 Brainstorm
1 Capsize
4 Counterspell
1 Crypt Incursion
2 Curse of the Bloody Tome
2 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Dismal Backwater
1 Dispel
1 Electrickery
2 Essence Scatter
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Flame Slash
3 Ghastly Demise
3 Island
4 Izzet Boilerworks
3 Lightning Bolt
1 Mountain
3 Mystical Teachings
1 Swamp
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
3 Terminate
2 Think Twice
1 Whispers of the Muse

1 Curse of the Bloody Tome
1 Dispel
3 Duress
1 Electrickery
3 Gurmag Angler
2 Hydroblast
4 Pyroblast

Oh I like your list! by JXClaytor at Tue, 11/07/2017 - 21:46
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Oh I like your list!

Dinrova changes UB decks by SirFabius at Tue, 11/07/2017 - 12:22
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Hello there!

Allow me to say one or two words about UB decks in Pauper.

My first pauper deck was a UB Teachings. I love this deck but with the actual metagame is a little bit hard to play a creatureless control deck.

However, at the moment Dinrova Horror was downshifted to common I start to see many players using it in a UB deck and getting some results. The combination of Dinrova + Ghostly Flicker + Archaeomancer is fatal!

What do you think about it?

I honestly do not play enough by JXClaytor at Tue, 11/07/2017 - 21:46
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I honestly do not play enough pauper to actually have an opinion on Dinrova Horror. I think I would play it in the Familiars deck, but other than that, I'm very comfortable maneuvering my way around a creature heavy format with a creature light control deck.

Hi stsung, regarding your by MichelleWong at Wed, 11/08/2017 - 07:25
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Hi stsung, regarding your list (a nice one by the way), what were your 3 worst matchups you feared? And your 3 best matchups?

My guess would be (from most scary to 3rd-most scary):


1. Bogles
2. "I become the Monarch" Decks
3. Burn


1. Mono Black Control (I don't see how MBC could possibly win against you except in cases of extreme mana troubles or extreme luck-sacking with multiple and timely discard spells in a row)
2. Midnight Guard Combo (this includes all similar fragile glass cannon combo decks that rely on creatures for their combo)
3. Turbo Fog

Were my guesses accurate? Interested to hear.

grixis control by stsung at Wed, 11/08/2017 - 08:39
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This deck was built to beat Delver decks. Mono Black Control is another favorable matchup followed by Elves/Stompy and Tron. The worst matchup is Burn since if you can't hit Curse of something you will eventually die to it. You need Gurmag Angler and win the game before you die to burn spells and this enchantment I don't know the name of.
Bogles is a nightmare but I used to run edicts before and I never ran into Bogles so I didn't really care that much about that deck. Electrickery does the trick though. The matchup is not actually bad, it's more of a 50/50 matchup. You just terribly die, or win which doesn't make it enjoyable much. The 'assemble a 20 power creature' decks don't have a good matchup with this either.