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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Nov 13 2017 12:00pm
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 Pauper's Finest Five

#1 White: Kor Skyfisher  


Kor Skyfisher 


What Kor Skyfisher does better than anything other creature is that it is a cheap, flexible, value creature. Undercosted at 1W, one would expect a drawback on its 2/3 flier body. But with a bare minimum of deck construction parameters, it's ETB requirement to bounce one of your own permanents is a huge asset. Miss a land drop? You can bounce a land and replay it for an extra mana. Bounce a card with an ETB trigger, like Prophetic Prism and you can play it twice. You can even bounce one of your own guys who has been locked down by aura removal. Or bounce a Journey to Nowhere that missed and reuse it. Flexibility is the name of the game. And on a easy to cast, efficient body, Kor Skyfisher finds its home in nearly every single aggro or midrange deck running white.

The best home: Boris Monarch. The quintessential value creature for the value deck. Thraben Inspector is its new best friend.

Honorable Mention: Tireless Tribe  

Here's the story of the fastest Pauper game I ever lost:


Opponent: Plains, Tireless Tribe. Go.

Me: Land. Pass.

Opponent: Island, Gitaxian Probe,Casts Inside Out. Discards remaining 5 cards in hand. Swing for 21.

Me: ….



#2 Blue: Delver of Secrets

Delver of Secrets


Pauper is Legacy 2.0. So what is more fitting as the best blue creature than the quintessential build around creature, Delver of Secrets. With all of the cantrips legal in Pauper that are legal in Legacy, not only is blue gifted at card selection, but it is trivially easy to flip a Delver. Ponder, Preordain, and Brainstorm all do their part. Blue Delver decks have been the baseline strategy of Pauper since Day 1.


The Best Home: Delver! They come in many varieties. Mono-Blue Delver is the classic, but Izzet Delver had a spectacular year this past 2017 thanks to new technology like Ash Barrens to convert Gush plus Brainstorm into Ancestral Recall. The red splash lets the classic tempo deck play hard removal, sideboard for the mirror, and play the underappreciated sweeper Swirling Sandstorm. Other Delver builds include Dimir Delver, utilizing cards like Thought Scour and Gurmag Angler, and it even makes a guest appearance in Kiln Fiend decks due to its high spell count.

Honorable Mention: Mulldrifter In terms of pure value, Mulldrifter is the best creature in Pauper. But at five mana, the set up cost to run it is so high that few decks can reliably reach its mana cost, even with the fail safe of running it on turn three as a Divination. Currently, with Tron on the rise, Mulldrifter is making a huge resurgence and is the #1 most played creature in Pauper. We'll see what happens when the metagame catches up.



#3 Green: Burning-Tree Emissary 


Burning-Tree Emissary

This was the card that put Stompy over the top. There is no catching up to a turn-two Burning-Tree Emissary chained into one of two more threats on turn two. This was the card that pushed Tron decks away from real, fair removal towards Moment's Peace and Pulse of Murasa because there was no hope in keeping pace by trying to use removal to stabilize the board. A staple in any green or red aggro deck. 


The Best Home: Stompy. While Stompy has always been a contender, BTE made Stompy the default Tier 1 aggro deck. The tools were always there: Nettle Sentinel, Quirion Ranger, Skarrgan Pit-Skulk, and of course, Rancor. But the card that pushed Stompy to #1 was Burning-Tree Emissary.


Honorable Mention: Silhana Ledgewalker. This threat plays double duty. It's Plan A in the Hexproof Bogles deck and Plan B in Stompy. But whether its preferred "pants" are the three +1/+1 counters from a Hunger of the Howlpack or the +X/+x and first strike granted by an Ethereal Armor, Silhana Ledgewalker is the double evasive threat any green deck needs to close the game in short order.


4. Red: Atog


Smiley is not only the best threat in the strongest Aggro deck in Pauper. She also enables the deck to have an out of nowhere combo win with either Fling or Temur Battle Rage

The Best Home: Affinity. The only reason Affinity doesn't overrun Pauper is that it has the best dedicated hate cards to beat it. Gleeful Sabotage, Ancient Grudge, Dust to Dust, Smash to Smithereens and Natural State are all serviceable, but the real dog for the deck is Gorilla Shaman. Artifact hate is so strong that it keeps Affinity from dominating the weekly challenges since no one wants to play a deck whose success hinges on if the opponent drew their hate. 

Honorable Mention: Kiln Fiend. Red gets not one but two untap-and-I-win two-mana threats. While Atog may be more resilient to removal, Kiln Fiend promises the quickest kills that red can offer. Best played in a dedicated Blue/Red spells deck, the tools are all their to check if the coast is clear via Gitaxian Probe, to become unblockable via Shadow Rift, to counter their removal via Dispel or Spell Pierce or just to muscle through with Temur Battle Rage.




#5 Black: Gurmag Angler

Gurmag Angler

The Big Fish made its mark on Pauper almost immediately after its printing. It's versatile enough to fit in any number of black midrange or tempo decks as the big finisher and big enough to outclass nearly every creature out there. It's only downside? It trades down with all the commonly played two-mana removal.


The Best home: Dimir. There are three different Dimir decks right now that are all running Gurmag Angler as their finisher. They are: Dimir Delver, a tempo deck that tries to stick an early threat and clear the way with cheap counterspells and removal; Dimir Alchemy, a value deck that uses the graveyard as double resource both for card advantage and to power out Gurmag Anglers; and Dimir Reanimator, a combo deck that pairs the Big Fish with its new pal Striped Riverwinder and occasional guest star Ulamog's Crusher to cheat the largest threats possible into play via Exhume.

Honorable Mention: Chittering Rats. I used to think that since they lacked flying and were worse that a Scathe Zombies against an empty hand that Chittering Rats was worse that Liliana's Specter. Boy was I wrong! Chittering Rats is the best card ever at punishing a slow start since it can randomly Time Walk an opponent attached to its 2/2 body. Add the combo potential of Ghostly Flicker and Archaeomancer and you can hard lock out your opponent from the game forever.



Special Bonus!

#6 Colorless: Ulamog's Crusher

Ulamog's Crusher


The biggest baddie in all of Pauper. I know technically we now have a vanilla 9/9 dino for 8 in Green, but what makes Ulamog's Crusher so great is that: 1. It can be cast with colorless mana via the UrzaTron; 2. It promises decimating value on its attack trigger, even if its chump blocked, and 3. Its an all-star reanimation target.

The Best home: Tron. In a fast metagame, the Crusher is almost unplayable. In a midrange metagame, Ulamog's Crusher is the over-the-top threat that bests the best any other deck can boast, especially when its backed with recursion via cards like Pulse of Murasa.


Honorable Mention: Myr Enforcer. A zero mana 4/4. Fair card.


What super threats did I miss?


Keep having fun out there,