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By: Fragoel2, Fragoel2
Nov 07 2011 1:22pm
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Note: This article was originally published as a series of posts on

So, the most Magic I've playing lately is pauper on MTGO. I'm looking forward to Innistrad block constructed and I've been playing limited but, until block is available, I'm enjoying the all-commons format and I think I know the format well enough to talk about it. I'm a Spike at hearth, so I especially like the fact that I can try out all the decks in the format, looking for the best one, without having to sell a kidney to buy the cards.

So far the best deck I've found is definitely UR Cloudpost. The deck just slaughters the aggro decks, has an easy game against other control decks and it's okay against combo. By playing the deck for a couple months in daily events and two man queues I won about five hundred tickets. Not bad for a deck that can be bought for under thirty bucks...

To give credit where credit is due the original creator of this list is not me but another player that goes under the nickname of Nighthavk on MTGO. I just refined the list a little bit to adapt it more to my likings.

Here's my current list:

Some explanations about my card choices:

0 Compulsive Research, 4 Sea Gate Oracle: Initially I had the Research but I soon realized that the Oracle is much much better. Simply, you cannot tap out on turn three for Compulsive against every aggro deck, since that basically means time-walking yourself and taking a ton of damage. Oracle instead provides a few less dig but also a very good body for blocking, which might seem irrelevant but it really makes the difference against Goblins, Affinity or Infect .Even in the mirror and against combo, the 1/3 body is not irrelevant since the damage it can deal quickly adds up and becomes relevant when you have multiple Oracles and (Mulldrifters).

0 maindeck Ulamog's Crusher: the Crusher is just way too bad in many many matchups, it sits dead in your hand for way too many turns and comes down to finish the job when you already stabilized the board... but at that point I don't care if I have to win with a 8/8 annihilator 2 or just with 1/3s and 2/2s, both are fine, what I really need is cards that allow me to get to that point!

1 Sleight Of Hand: Preordain is the best spell in the deck, so good that I actually wanted to run a makeshift fifth one. Sleight is the card I've been running so far but I noticed that it really becomes a problem when you want to keep both top cards. I'm gonna try Serum Visions instead.

1 Negate, 0 Counterspell: There are a good number of draws where the deck provides plenty of colorless mana but few blue mana sources. In those scenarios keeping counterspell mana up is just too much of a toll, Negate is far more manageable.

0 Expedition Map, 0 Bojuka Bog, 0 Lonely Sandbar: Map and the rest of the package is only good in the mirror, terrible in any other matchup. I've found better ways to handle the mirror, so it's out. Also notice that it forces to run more comes into play tapped lands, and I really don't want to, I feel I'm already maxed out on those.

0 Izzet Boilerworks: Again, the manabase cannot handle more comes into play lands and the benefits of Boilerworks are minimal. Out.

Let's take a look at the sideboard:


The numbers may look odd but quantities are chosen in a way that I have exactly the right amount of cards to put in and to take out in (almost) all matchups.

The sideboard can be split in two parts: cards that are only useful in a specific matchup but have a high impact in that one and cards that are useful in more than one matchup. I tried to minimize the amount of cards that fall into the first category since Pauper has a wide metagame and people play many different decks. The cards that fit into the first category are:
Curfew: more of a necessity rather than a choice, Curfew is here for the Infect matchup. It gets the nod over other options since it does not target and therefore gets around Vines of Vastwood and Apostle's Blessing. If the opponent does not expect it can be a huge blowout, as you'll let the opponent play some pump spells before firing the trigger.
Ulamog's Crusher: Remember what I said in the first part about Ulamog's Crusher? It still holds true and I hate it in every matchup... except for the mirror match where it is actually amazing! Crusher simply ignores so many variables: no matter how much cards the opponent has drawn, no matter how much life he gained, no matter how many Cloudposts he has, a resolved Crusher will smash his face. They can only deal with it in a handful of ways:

  • Rolling Thunder: it's a one-of and requires plenty of mana, won't happen too often.
  • Capsize: it's a one-of and it's not a definitive solution. Also, I'd rather force my opponent to bounce Crusher rather than my lands.
  • Their own Ulamog's Crusher: you still get to swing first and get two permanents out of the deal, so you still got something out of the exchange.
  • Counterspells: play smart, bait em' with some must counters and try to read when it is safe to drop the Crusher.

As already stated all the other cards are useful against more than one specific deck, so it's better to explain the matchups more in detail than talk about the cards.

Let's start with the easy ones, the matchups against aggressive decks.

White Weenie

A very easy matchup, you really only care about Guardian of The Guildpact and Squadron Hawks, so, if you can, save your counters for those. if they manage to land a (Guardian of the Guldpact) then you have to set up the Capsize-Glimmerpost combination to stay alive, so play accordingly.

Sideboarding: -1 Negate, +1 Ancient grudge

Negate is almost dead, Grudge helps against Bonesplitter and Razor Golem.

Mono-Black Control

I consider this matchup easy, since I have been winning it far more than I've been losing, but with the right draws they are capable of stealing the match. Developing your manabase is the most important thing, since it allows you to cast (Mulldrifters), Oracles and other draw spells from the top of your deck if they manage to destroy your hand. Sea Gate Oracle is by far the best card for you to have in the early game, since not only it stops their attacks but also helps in getting back from their discard spells. Remember that they have Corrupt, depending on your life total it might either be a problem or a spell you really don't care about.

Sideboarding: usually none, if they are heavy on land destruction +1 Negate, -1 Prohibit.


Another favorable matchup but you still have to fear their broken starts . Flame Slash is extremely important to be able to deal with the infinite amount of 4/4s they can pop out so don't waste it on unimportant creatures. If you have the possibility it's often right to hold on countermagic on turn 2, to hit one 4/4 or an Atog.

Sideboarding: -2 Condescend, -1 Prohibit, -1 Capsize, -1 Negate, +3 Hydroblast, +2 Ancient Grudge.

After boarding the countermagic gets taken out, since it is far too unreliable in the early game as they can easily play the wrong threat for the counterspell you're holding.(.Mana Leak) is fine and you get to keep it. Capsize is far too slow to be useful. Hydroblast provides an answer to Atog, who is such a huge problem, and also hits Pyroblast or Raze from their sideboard. Grudge acts as Flame Slash 5-6, and it's far better than stuff like Gorilla Shaman or Shattering Pulse since it is much uch cheaper!


Goblins is favorable but again you have to watch out for broken starts on their part. it is extremely important to have cheap removal to play in the first couple turns, then you ideally want to want to play your creatures that will provide some card advantage while also advancing your board. If they have Goblin Sledder or Mogg Raider you should play your removal at sorcery speed.

Sideboarding: -1 Capsize, -1 Mana Leak, -2 Condescend, -1 Negate, +3 Hydroblast, +2 Seismic Shudder.

Again you get to take out counterspells and Capsize, since both are far too slow to be effective. Play around Pyroblast, it's often better to just play a red removal spell instead of tapping out for Mulldrifter when they could potentially have the blast since, if they do, the tempo swing is devastating!


Infect is instead a though matchup. You have to mull aggressively for a hand that contains some form of cheap removal. Play the removal at sorcery speed so if they have pump spells you do not take additional poison. Even better, try to play removal when they are tapped out, so they have to "waste" an Invigorate or lose the creature. After stabilizing ALWAYS keep counterspells up, they have very few creatures so countering one will probably buy you a lot of time.

Sideboarding: - 1 Rolling Thunder, -1 Negate, +2 Curfew

This time counterspells and Capsize stay in: Capsize is okay as a three mana bounce spell, the counters are better than the removal in this matchup. Rolling Thunder is terrible when aimed at a creature due to all the pump spells they play and it's not needed later, you can easily win with Mulldrifters after stabilizing. Negate gets the axe since you really want to counter their creatures and not their spells.

Time to delve into the other matchups! Let's start with the mirror match.

UR Cloudpost

So, obviously, in the mirror whoever draws more Cloudpost gets a huge advantage. Drawing cards is important but at the same time what really matters it's the quality of the cards you draw, since all the creatures and the removal spells are of little use in this matchup. The most effective way to win game one is to start bouncing the opponent lands with Capsize. This is easier said than done since the opponent will, of course, try to do the same. Therefore, do not blindly throw the Capsize out there as soon as you can but be careful, try to have one or more counterspells for protection and wait until the opponent taps most of it's land or until you're confident that you're gonna win the resulting counterwar anyway. Also, watch out for the clock, the match is gonna be a long one so keep in mind when to scoop to save time or when to keep playing to waste your opponent time.

Sideboarding: -3 Lightning Bolt, - 4 Flame Slash, -2 Steamcore Weird, +2 Ulamog's Crusher, + 2 Pyroblast, +3 Hydroblast, +2 Negate.

All the removal comes out, since those are really dead cards in this matchup: all the lifegain from Glimmerposts invalidates the damage done by creatures and you can usually block their creatures with your own. Besides, you really want to counter Mulldrifter anyway, killing it after it resolves is far less exciting.

After boarding your top priority is to protect your Cloudposts from the opponent land destruction spells. This, depending on your hand, goes as far as not playing the post on turn one, since if both players lead with it, then the opponent can play Stone Rain before you can have a counterspell up. After establishing a solid manabase your goal is to find and resolve one Ulamog's Crusher: as already stated the card is extremely powerful in this matchup and immune to most things, it will easily lead to a win in a few swings.

Mono Blue Control

Monoblue is one challenging deck to beat, and probably the matchup where pilots and experience matter the most. First, keep in mind that there are two versions of the deck out there. One is faster, plays more like a fish deck and it's primary goal is resolving a (Ninja of Deep Hours). It plays cards like Opt and Gitaxian Probe. The second one is slower, with stuff like Spire Golem and Think Twice.

The key to beating both is getting ahead of them on mana, once you have plenty of mana you can play more spells than they can counter in one turn. Aim at resolving Mulldrifters and Sea Gate Oracles, aside from the card advantage they provide, they are also great blockers for Ninja.

Deal with Ninjas in a smart way, an EOT Spellstutter probably means that a Ninja is coming so counter or kill the Spellstutter in the EOT if you can, it's less of a blowout but it's safer against counterspells.

Against the faster fish-like version play around Force Spike, the card soon becomes a dead one in their hand and therefore providing them an use for it is the worst thing you can do. Also keep in mind that this version only has four Counterspell and some Excludes as hard counters, so, sometimes you know that the coast is clear simply becouse they already played their four Counterspells.

Playing against the other version is easier, on the long run you'll get ahead on mana so your top priority is surviving the early game. Try to save your Flame Slashes for their Spire Golem, as the creature can become really problematic sometimes.

Sideboarding: -2 Steamcore Weird, -1 Rolling Thunder, -1 Flame Slash/Lightning Bolt, +2 Pyroblast, +2 Negate.

You get to take out all the clunky spells and, depending on depending on what version they are playing, one Bolt or Slash for extra counterspells. The sideboarding is not ideal, as you really want the third and fourth blast, but i decided to cut them for Crushers to have an additional edge in the mirror. Feel free to go back to four blasts if you deem it appropriate.

Storm (U/R and Ritual-Based)

This is one of the worst decks you can face. The gameplan is to counter their draw spells and hope that this way they fizzle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't Save your counters for Ideas Unbound, that is by far the best spell in their deck. Also, when you have enough mana to do so without tapping out, play your creatures. You have to put a clokc on them, otherwise they will sculpt an unbeatable hand in the long run.

Sideboarding: -3 Lightning Bolt, -4 Flame Slash, -2 Steamcore Weird, +3 Hydroblast, +2 Pyroblast, +2 Negate, +2 Seismic Shudder

After boarding you can play it differently against UR Storm: they only have Empty the Warrens/(Goblin Bushwacker )to kill you so Seismic Shudder really beats them. Of course you will have to resolve the Shudder past Dispel and Hydroblast so keep a lot of mana and a lot of counterspells up at all times.

Familiar Storm

By far the worst deck you can face, you really need the right mix of removal/counterspells/card draw to beat them AKA the god draw. Realistically, your best chance is the clock: if you get it to three games you could potentially time them out. If the game goes long, Capsize is the best way to seal it, by bouncing their bouncelands you seriously hamper their ability to combo out.

Sideboarding: -2 Steamcore Weird , -2 Condescend, +2 Pyroblast, +2 Negate

Hopefully you enjoyed the article, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the deck and on how I can improve as a writer.

Thanks for reading! 


I enjoyed the article. by GrandAdmiral at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 20:11
GrandAdmiral's picture

I liked the article, especially the reasoning about certain card choices (Oracle over Research and no maindeck Crusher). The sideboarding advice is very helpful too.

I started playing pauper for similar reasons - the decks are strong, the format is very competitive, and you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to play whatever deck you want. Personally I don't have a lot of time for deck building (and I'd rather use the time to play actual games), so I like being able to pick up interesting decks to try them out. I've had a lot of fun with Cloudposts, so I'll have to give these changes a spin. Thanks.