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By: jcf, Jose Freitas
Sep 04 2018 12:00pm
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Ardent Recruit   +   Snubhorn Sentry      

The Inspiration:

A while ago I got obsessed with Ardent Recruit. Playing a potentially 3/3 for one mana, in a mono colored Pauper deck, had a lot of appeal to me. I tried a lot of lists but none worked the way I expected, so I abandoned the concept for a while.

A couple months later I decided to try it again, but this time I relied on a starting point. Looking for decks with Ardent Recruit on mtgtop8.com I found this one.

I built the maindeck and playtested it. It felt very close to what I had been trying to achieve. But there is one card I really wanted to include: Snubhorn Sentry

Since the days of drafting with Rivals of Ixalan, I've been wishing to make it work in Pauper. Well, if there is one deck that can accomplish that, this is it!

After some playtesting I ended up with this list:



About Some of the Card Choices:

3 Tooth of Chiss-Goria: When I tested the original deck I realized this card is much better in the list than it appears to be at first glance. Still, four copies felt exaggerated to me. Ideally you want to get one or two of those during a game, but not three or four copies. 

1 Springleaf Drum: I replaced one land with one copy of this card. Having one usually feels great. I had two, but it felt clunky sometimes. 

1 Glint Hawk: Something had to leave to make room for the new creatures. I ended up losing the flyers. Having evasion felt nice but having a ground full of fat creatures felt even nicer. One spot was left and I refilled it with one Glint Hawk. As multiples it can get clunky. One copy feels fine almost every time. 

4 Myr Enforcer: I discovered this deck doesn't have a lot of trouble casting Myr Enforcer. Once in a while you get to cast it for zero mana. Most of the time it costs three or two mana and that is find.

4 Flayer Husk: I replaced Bonesplitter for those. Mainly because they add an extra permanent in play to activate the City's Blessing. And also because, without the flyers, Bonesplitter isn't so effective in this deck.

1 Renegade Freighter: The original deck had two, but I reduced it because the mana base is tighter. Also, having two of those in the same game felt clunky sometimes.

2 Journey to Nowhere: This is a nice card in this deck, adding permanents for the City's Blessing and capable of dealing with almost any creature in the Pauper format. I am actually considering three copies instead of two maindeck.

What I Love About This Deck:

  • Easy and fun to play. Most games you play land, cast creatures, attack for the win. Make a couple decisions to optimize your damage or protect your creatures. Even when games go long you are not the one making a billion clicks and decisions per minute. Just keep attacking.
  • Proactive: no boring games.
  • For an aggressive deck, it is enduring. The deck is filled with relevant sized creatures. Even in longer games you don't run out of gas so quickly.
  • It is fairly resilient against removal. The combination of some tokens with a steady flow of robust creatures is hard to deal with.
  • Can win on one land. Sometimes you end up with a great board while having only one land in play. Quite rare, but so cool to see.
  • It topdecks well. Low land count. Many decent sized creatures for mid/late game.

What I Don't Love About It:

  • Not interactive, "glass cannon" decks like Tireless Tribe Combo, Kiln Fiend Combo or Infect can outrun us.
  • It doesn't have a plan against a billion Fogs or Ghostly Flicker strategies. I feel the sideboard should have something to deal with it. Flaring Pain would be ideal but splashing red might not be so easy.
  • It can have a hard time against massive life gain with cards like Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Wellwisher.
  • Depends a lot on the starting hand. Doesn't mulligan super well either.

League Report:

So, how did the deck go on a five match Friendly Pauper League ?

Well, if you want to find out, read the report below and check some videos!

Match 1: Against Naya Infinite Tokens.

This was an unique and interesting deck. Lots of untapping creatures like Nettle Sentinel, Thermo-Alchemist and Midnight Guard could add up to produce infinite tokens using Sprout Swarm.

Game 1: During this game opponent gained massive amounts of life with Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant. I didn't manage to deal enough damage and eventually got killed by triple Thermo-Alchemists. Defeat!

Sideboard: I felt the opposing deck had some key creatures, so I sided in all the removal spells available: Sunlance and Journey to Nowhere.

Game 2: Opponent had Soul's Attendant but I had a fast start with double Ardent Recruit. Opponent's life gain wasn't enough. Victory!

Game 3: Opponent had a slow start and I had a fast start with 2 Myr Enforcers turn 3. He/She did remove one with Oblivion Ring but that wasn't enough. Victory! 

Match 2: Against Simic Tron.

During this match I accidentally stopped recording, so it's broken in two videos.

Game 1: I had a terrible start with a mulligan to five but still managed to put some early pressure with 2 frogmites. By turn 4 opponent had it all, the three tron lands plus (Menmonic Wall) and Ghostly Flicker combo. I knew I had no chance of victory and was ready to concede. But I wanted to see more of opponent's deck to figure out how to sideboard. Did the deck use red ? What was the kill condition ?

I kept playing and applying pressure for a while. At some point I decided to survive as long as I could because I started to feel clock might become a factor. I am basically playing a simple "oversized bears" deck, not my fault the game got elongated.

After a long game I got crushed by, well, Ulamog's Crusher. Defeat!

Sideboard: I felt my best chances were early game anyway, so I kept the deck on aggressive mode, no changes.

Game 2: Had a good start with Myr Enforcer plus Snubhorn Sentry by turn 3. Opponent managed to destroy Myr Enforcer with Ancient Grudge but never had time to assemble the Tron lands. Victory!

Game 3: I had a decent start with Auriok Sunchaser and opponent stumbled to assemble Tron. By the time I was ready to kill him/her, a timely Tangle and subsequent Moment's Peace bought him/her some time. Opponent kept a long stream of Moment's Peace and I kept attacking and building up my side. I managed to Journey to Nowhere what seemed to be the only copy of Dinrova Horror opponent had that game. At some point, opponent managed to play Ulamog's Crusher but I had a huge line of chump blockers. All those clicks and search spells ended up being to heavy on opponent's clock. Victory!

Match 3: Against Izzet Skred Delver.

Game 1: I had a promising start, but a timely Lightning Bolt from our opponent killed my Court Homunculus and crushed my dreams of playing a turn 3 Myr Enforcer. Yet, Myr Enforcers resolved turn 4 and 5, against an opponent struggling for lands. Quick victory!

Sideboard: I switch both Journey to Nowhere with Sunlances and one Tooth of Chiss-Goria for the Scale of Chiss-Goria. Faster removal and some protection against red removal.

Game 2: Opponent started with Delver of Secrets but a timely Sunlance bought me some time. Opponent played a Gorilla Shaman but that didn't have much effect on the board state.

Opponent kept killing my 2/2 creatures but I was left with a couple tokens and Thraben Inspectors making some pressure.

Opponent made my life hell with (Spellsutter Sprite) and not one, but two Ninja of the Deep Hours, drawing extra cards and forcing me to hold my one mana spells in hand.

After that, opponent cast Swirling Sandstorm wiping my whole board while losing his own Ninja of the Deep Hours

Next turn I cast three creatures I had been holding in hand, losing the first to Spellstutter Sprite and resolving the next two.

I kept pressuring opponent forcing two chump blocks with Spellstutter Sprites. I then managed to rebuild the board and...

Opponent cast a second Swirling Sandstorm wiping my whole board again, while losing an unflipped Delver of Secrets.

Finally after all things said and done, opponent used his/her last Counterspell to deny my (Myr Enforer) and I was left with one resolved Snubhorn Sentry against one Faerie Miscreant on the other side. Very long, difficult game and: Victory by dinosaur! 

Match 4: Against Tireless Tribe Combo.

This is a bad matchup for our deck, they have a faster clock and we have almost no interaction. I think it is possible to make it at least a little better with some sideboard changes. Also, sometimes opponent doesn't have enough time to find the combo. Unfortunately for me that wasn't the case.

Game 1: Opponent quickly assembled his/her combo and there was not much I could do. Defeat!

Sideboard: All I had to side in were two extra copies of Journey to Nowhere hoping to exile Tireless Tribes

Game 2: Opponent got confused with Circular Logic's trigger and I managed to exile the first Tireless Tribe with a Journey to Nowhere. But that wasn't enough, opponent quickly found a second Tireless Tribe and did his/her thing. Defeat!

Match 5: Against Azorius Tron.

Game 1: I had a slow start with five lands and a couple of small threats, luckily I topdecked two decent threats in Ardent Recruit and Auriok Sunchaser while opponent struggled to assemble tron. Opponent did assemble it, but not fast enough. Victory!

Sideboard: While I didn't see many enchantments, I decided to side in two copies of Leave No Trace because of possible Rhystic Circles on the other side.

Game 2: On this one I have a bad start, mulligan to six and a slow hand. Opponent has plenty of time to assemble tron and dominates the board with a stream of Mulldrifters and (Custodi Squire)s. Defeat!

Game 3: I had a decent start leading with Court Homunculus (just imagine a Court Homunculus coming at you...). Opponent quickly managed to assemble tron and stabilized with Rhystic Circle.

I kept putting pressure, trying to slow opponent down. After a very long game I ended up drawing the Leave No Trace I needed to deal with the Rhystic Circle

For tactical reasons I played it at opponent's end of turn, taking one or two hits from Ulamog's Crusher. But actually, the gigantic alien monster somehow helped me a bit: I purposely made a really bad block inducing opponent to spend his/her last Prismatic Strands during his/her combat phase, opening a chance to strike for the win on my next turn. Hard achieved victory!

Final League Score: 4-1.    (Not bad at all!) =) 

Would I Play it Again ?

I surely would, it felt like a solid deck with some weak spots but also good against some of the best decks in the format. 

Fun to play because, most games, you have action since the start.

What Would I Change ?

Maybe one more Journey to Nowhere mainboard. I am not sure if the deck needs the full set of Cogworker's Puzzleknot.

Maybe some changes in the sideboard:

Relic of Progenitus: might help dealing with Ghostly Flicker decks.

Prismatic Strands: might help against Tireless Tribe and other "glass cannon" decks.

Standard Bearer: this one is in the original sideboard and for pretty good reasons.

How about you, any ideas to improve the deck ?

Hope you enjoyed this article, see you next time! =)