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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Feb 01 2018 1:00pm
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Getting your feet wet in a new format can be tricky. How do you find a deck that suits your style of play?

While many of us wish we could succeed with any strategy of deck, most of us do better when we know how to play from a certain role.

Are you an aggro player? Then you probably feel most comfortable with a deck where the correct play every turn is to turn 'em sideways.

Are you a control player? Then you probably prefer a deck where you're default play pattern is something like: "Island. Go." Pauper has plenty of decks that tend to play their cards at instant speed on their opponent's turn.

Are you a Reid Duke style Fatal Push and Thoughtseize player? Pauper also features great ways to tear your opponent's hand and strategy apart.

What I want to feature for you today is a series of decks that play a similar strategy to popular favorites. Some of them are color-shifted. Some have equivalent strategies you might have never thought of. But I love it when we get new players excited for Pauper to try out their new favorite deck.

Deck Match # 1 : Merfolk = Slivers

Lord of Atlantis Master of the Pearl Trident Phantasmal Image

Predatory Sliver Sinew Sliver Muscle Sliver 

Both Merfolk and Slivers are aggro tempo decks that succeed by assembling a synergistic mass of same creature types. Both decks also run as many as 30 total creatures, feature 12+ "lords" and can trump other creature based aggro-decks with a 2 + 2 = 6 level of geometric snowball growth.

Even though the colors of the two decks vary, your play pattern is very similar, particularly the glut of two-mana creature cards. You are often playing creatures pre-combat to disable blocks, racing, and are in general reluctant to trade your creatures since each one has half its value as a Glorious Anthem. In both decks, you have a weakness to removal heavy decks, but Pauper Slivers benefits from the lack of a true sweeper in the format.

Some more Sliver perks, for future Sliver enthusiasts: 

1. A positive matchup against Delver decks. While you do need to watch out for Spellstutter Sprite, especially if there is already one Faerie Miscreant on board, you generally have the ability to add power to the board faster than your Delver opponent can disrupt you.

2. Relevant One-Drops. While Merfolk only gets Cursecatcher, Aether Vial or maybe now Mist-Cloaked Herald, Slivers regularly plays twelve one-drop Slivers including Virulent Sliver, Plated Sliver and Sidewinder Sliver

3. Access to Excellent GW sideboard cards: Two colors means trickier mana than a deck full of islands but twice as many relevant sideboard options. Some of the best ones are Standard Bearer, Scattershot Archer, Young Wolf, and Gleeful Sabotage. I also recommend Hallow as a way to both protect your creatures as well as recover life in a race.


Deck Match #2: Draw-Go = Snow-Go

Counterspell Dismiss Rainbow Efreet

Exclude Rewind Battlefield Scrounger

When Draw-Go was included as part of the Standard Flashback decks, it was dominant. Being able to play an on-curve answer at instant speed at every part of the curve, while also gaining card advantage is just too much for other decks to keep pace. Also being able to dedicate such few slots in your deck for win conditions that you always have an answer gives the deck a merciless level of inevitability. Most of the time your greatest foe is the clock. Beat the clock and you win the match. Just be sure to play fast enough to give yourself a chance to win, even if its on Turn 25.

Snow-Go is a really enjoyable deck that thrives in a midrange metagame. While it can take a few turns to set-up, like Draw-Go, you always have the answer. If they don't play a spell, just use your mana to refill your hand. Don't be surprised if at times you end up discarding to hand size!

Your win conditions are scant: a pair of Sprout Swarms and a Battlefield Scrounger, the latter of which can ensure you don't mill yourself out en route to slogging your way to tortoise speed glory. 

As for play pattern, you're almost always playing reactively. Counter opponent's spells, Skred their creatures, and if the coast is clear, maybe make an end step Saproling or two. And be very, very, very patient.


Deck Match # 3: Ponza = Mono-Black Land Destruction

Birds of Paradise Stone Rain Inferno Titan

Peat Bog Rancid Earth Gurmag Angler

I know you want to blow up some lands. It's an awesome feeling. And remember: they can't cast spells if they don't have any lands!

Ponza is a really sweet deck, albeit one that rarely matches up well with the metagame. The place where it does gain an edge though is that both in Modern and especially in Pauper, folks tend to skimp a little bit on lands. So while it can be challenging to take advantage of the tempo gained from nixing a land drop, especially in Pauper, often its your opponent's deck construction that does the work for you.

My friend, Mr. Deluxeicoff, recently brewed up this super sweet Mono Black Land Destruction deck. Where this deck succeeds is that it does take advantage of setting the opponent back on lands by playing haymakers like Chittering Rats and Gurmag Angler. Other versions of the deck have also included the notorious Thorn of the Black Rose.

Take a look:

Mono Black Land Destruction by Deluxeicoff
- 75 Cards Total
4 Chittering Rats
4 Gurmag Angler
8 cards

4 Dark Ritual
4 Snuff Out
8 cards
4 Befoul
4 Choking Sands
4 Icequake
4 Night's Whisper
4 Rancid Earth
4 Sign in Blood
1 Syphon Life
25 cards
4 Peat Bog
4 Radiant Fountain
11 Swamp
8 cards

3 Chainer's Edict
4 Crypt Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Doom Blade
15 cards

I hope you enjoyed this jaunt through some of Pauper's less known deck builds. Whatever your play style, there is a Pauper deck out there for you.

And I hope to see you cruising through the Pauper leagues on Magic Online, at a Sunday Challenge, or even in person at a Grand Prix Pauper event.

Keep having fun out there,