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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Apr 12 2007 3:45pm
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 PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online.  It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards.  Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards.  For more information please visit paupermagic.com.

I am out of it. On top of being a full time graduate student and having what amounts to a near-full time job, I had to attend a professional development conference for the past week. Granted I enjoyed myself, and the conference was in Orlando (much nicer than my current home of Buffalo), but the days were long and packed tightly, leaving me thoroughly drained. On top of that, coming from Orlando to my apartment, where it is currently freezing and snowy, has left me with a cold. And to cap it all off, I've barely had a chance to play PDC the past week. So, why, you may be asking, am I writing?
April 1st, 2007 marks the two year anniversary of my first PDC tournament and first PDC win. This led me to think about all that has happened in the past two years in the common based community. Specifically, I was thinking about the decks that people have been playing. In two years, PDC has gone from a loose affiliation of decks into a slightly coalesced metagame. It used to be the case that only the elimination rounds would feature the established decks, but now you can routinely find so called netdecks out the outside looking in. This strain of thought combined with my total lack of ability to play for the past week led me to this article. Well, what is this article? The most important decks in the history of PDC (that I have been around from).
These decks are not only good, but they altered the way PDC was played. They helped to create a solid metagame and were also shocks to their individual metas. These are decks that had to be dealt with at the time and resulted in significant sideboard hate. Why are these decks important? Because they have long lasting impact even to this day. Classic PDC does not rotate and rarely has cards removed from the format. These decks are important not only because of their impact, but because they have lasted until this day. I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane; it should be a fun ride. In cases where I can not find an original list, I will be providing one of my own.

Here is my current testing build of Affinity
3 Arcbound Worker
1 Choking Tethers
1 Dragon Wings
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
2 Neurok Stealthsuit
4 Phyrexian Walker
3 Pyrite Spellbomb
3 Quicksilver Behemoth
2 Rush of Knowledge
4 Somber Hoverguard
4 Thoughtcast
3 Tooth of Chiss-Goria
3 Welding Jar
2 Chromatic Star
1 Ancient Den
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Great Furnace
7 Island
3 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Mountain
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Tree of Tales
1 Vault of Whispers

Cranial Plating

Even without this card, Affinity is a beating

Now when this deck first burst on to the scene, things were different. Artifact lands were not restricted and neither was Cranial Plating. This made the deck extremely explosive and nigh-invulnerable. Quickly, bannings and restrictions were put into place to neuter the deck. When season 3 worlds rolled around, Affinity was mostly hated out of the format (thanks in large part to the next deck). But then zahori, Affinity player extraordinaire came to event with quite a few innovations that survive into the current builds. First was the advent of Neurok Stealthsuit. This Artifact allowed the controller to have a recurring counterspell and mana source. Since there was so much hate abound, this gave the Affinity player numerous places to gain virtual card advantage. Another zahori innovation is the inclusion of Choking Tethers. This was a subtle but valuable addition. It allowed the holder to break stalemates in the late game but also cycle for an extra card early. In the above build, Dragon Wings serves a similar function. The innovations here helped to change what had been an all out aggressive deck into one that could play a slightly more control game. These additions allowed Affinity to play for the late game with a protected Myr Enforcer fueling a Rush of Knowledge followed by an attack for quite a bit. The zahori innovations allowed Affinity to play through the hate, albeit with slightly less overall power. Most successful Affinity decks today take something from zahori's season 3 championship build, sacrificing some power for greater resiliency.

Choking Tethers

Innovation Pat Chapin could appreciate

Top Deck Red

4 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Oxidda Golem
4 Frostling
4 Goblin Cohort
3 Goblin Sledder
4 Ronin Houndmaster
4 Sparksmith
3 Vulshok Berserker
4 Barbed Lightning
4 Firebolt
3 Volcanic Hammer
18 Mountain
1 Forgotten Cave

This was my first success. Up until this point (PDC 3.1), Affinity and anti-Affinity decks had dominated. Red decks were mostly based around Goblins, and the meta at the time was based around big end games based around cards like Corrupt. TDR, as it came to be known, changed all that. This was the first PDC deck successfully designed around a tight curve. As I wrote in the initial report, every card that was not land was either removal or damage. It was called the fastest deck since Affinity and went on to win many PDC events that season. The deck got its name from the fact that many times the deck would win on a top deck after the majority of damage had been done. Where as Affinity tried to overwhelm with power, TDR tried to win on consistency. Everything attacked or dealt damage and simply put the opponent on the constant back foot. Although later in the season numerous protection effects made this deck a less than stellar choice, this deck became one the second deck to totally warp a metagame, even if people caught on with their Circle of Protection: Reds. Even today, decks are still constructed around curves (just look at Cloak Stompy from last week) and the modern Burn Range decks can trace their origins to this little beauty. Sadly, with cards such as Faith's Fetters and Aven Riftwatcher running around, I am not sure if my baby can win at the same clip.

Barbed Lightning

Where have you gone 6 damage for 5 mana?

4 Aether Spellbomb
4 Conjurer's Bauble
1 Viridian Longbow
4 Spire Golem
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
1 Scrivener
4 Trinket Mage
4 Aether Burst
4 Counterspell
4 Exclude
3 Remove Soul
1 Repulse
3 Spy Network
1 Seat of the Synod
21 Island

Spy Network

No, seriously, this was in a top deck

Who hates playing against Mono-Blue Control? I know I do. This was the first truly successful MUC deck. Piloted by Ancien to multiple wins and high finishes, this was one of the first decks that made you want to rip your hair out. Some card choices never made sense to me, such as Spy Network, and I have no clue where the name Pioneer came from. However, through smart bouncing and careful play, Ancien was able to frustrate opponents and slowly win with either a Longbow or with Golems. Ancien's deck was revolutionary because it provided a strong template for future MUC decks, but also because it force the PDC players to play smarter. The population had to learn how to play against counterspells and invisible threats. This has proved important because there have been more counterspells in PDC, and we still do not have a Split Second card. This was also one of the first decks to employ a good Trinket Mage package. The deck may have died an early death in its time due to Ancien's attitude around it. He touted Spire Golem as the most powerful card in the format and claimed a high win percentage against most decks. This led to a backlash against the deck, meaning few people picked it up. Still, most modern counter heavy decks owe their lineage to this oddly named monster. I still wish I knew where the name Pioneer came from.
RG Aggro

3 Basking Rootwalla
4 Firebolt
2 Granger Guildmage
2 Horned Kavu
4 Incinerate
2 Kaervek's Torch
3 Llanowar Elves
2 Nantuko Vigilante
4 River Boa
4 Scab-Clan Mauler
3 Skirk Marauder
4 Wild Mongrel
2 Gruul Turf
10 Snow-Covered Forest
9 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Forgotten Cave

This is my build, but the deck has been around forever. It was one of the first decks that could really handle Affinity and also go toe-to-toe with MUC. On top of that, it was able to handle the quick assault of TDR thanks to the big butt of Horned Kavu. The leading proponent of this deck is Tom, better known as GloinOin. This deck has become the premier aggressive deck in the format, and has been for quite some time. It combines some of the best creatures with some of the best burn spells and puts it into a nice tight curve. Additionally, the deck is highly adaptable, able to play differently against different decks with little loss of power. There is not much to say about this deck except that it defines aggro in the format. If your deck does not have a plan against RG, then you might want to reconsider the deck. The outlook for this deck is only positive, as the deck can pick and choose the choicest cards from new sets while losing very little of the inherent power. Currently, I am excited by the prospect of Brute Force, but that is just me.

Wild Mongrel

He tends to show up alot in my articles, doesn't he?

Freed Combo

4 Dawn's Reflection
4 Drift of Phantasms
4 Freed from the Real
4 Lifespark Spellbomb
4 Power Sink
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Train of Thought
4 Trinket Mage
1 Viridian Longbow
1 Flamewave Invoker
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Tree of Tales
2 Lonely Sandbar
4 Izzet Boilerworks
5 Forest
8 Island

This is not the best build of Freed, but I wanted to showcase of of White_Djinn's wins with the deck. Djinn has put more time into this deck than anyone possibly should, and the results paid off. This is a combo deck that won but animating a land that could produce more than one mana with a Lifespark Spellbomb, enchanting that land with (Free From the Real), and then creating an arbitrarily large amount of mana to either Flamewave Invoker the opponent out or generate enough mana to untap a Longbowed creature enough times to win. Often, the deck would draw most of its cards thanks to the engine and Train of Thought. This deck is fragile-although it does feature Gigadrowse out of the board or sometimes main- and Snapback also has hurt the combo, but this deck is important for one reason: it was the first highly successful combo deck in the format. With limited tutors and poor endgame cards, PDC lacks the tools for a good combo deck. White_Djinn did not care, he muscled through the limited card pool and crafted a good deck. This deck has made combo a force to constantly be considered in PDC.

Freed from the Real

The first combo engine in PDC

Orzhov Blink
4 Blind Hunter
4 Castigate
2 Deep Analysis
4 Faith's Fetters
1 Island
4 Phyrexian Rager
4 Pillory of the Sleepless
7 Plains
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Shrieking Grotesque
3 Guardian of the Guildpact
4 Momentary Blink
8 Swamp
1 Azorius Chancery

1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Orzhov Basilica
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Momentary Blink

Quite possibly the most hated card in PDC

This is the newest deck on the list. This particular deck is courtesy of Lost but Seeking, one of the finest deck pilots PDC has seen. The deck is decidedly slow with a tricksy game plan. It is a card advantage machine, generating extra spells though Blinking creatures with comes-into-play abilities. These generate extra spells without taking up slots, making life hard on the opponent. Blink also acts as a pseudo-counterspell, negating removal or taking away damage. This deck also ushered in the era of slow decks that could grind out the opponents threats and win through an attrition war. Orzhov Blink is a prime example of a successful Greed deck. This deck showed how slow strategies could be winning ones as well and opened the door for all manner of slow, attrition based decks (such as Parlor Tricks). This deck has also caused a significant shift in the current meta, back to aggressive decks and has also led to land destruction being main decked. Orzhov Blink has changed the tempo of PDC in a direction that is a complete 180 from the tempo of the Affinity and TDR era. This deck is also important because it was at the time of this deck that the meta finally coalesced into something recognizable.These are only six decks, but they are the most important ones out there. Most decks in PDC today are either descendants of or reactions to these decks. The successful Green/White Armadillo Cloak decks began as a reaction TDR's ability to win on burn. SnowRos evolved as a deck that could beat MUC on LD and go head on against RG on creatures and burn. Cloak Stompy was designed to have game on all of these decks. And these are only the decks that I've worked on. Burn Range and Lul's MUC are just two decks that are direct descendants (that I know of). Every format has its own decks that create stories and decks of legend. The first time a Pauper beats a MUC deck, it is something special; the same can be said for RG and Blink. These are just some of the decks I believe to be worthy of that tag, legendary, in Pauper. Sadly, a lot of the original builds were lost to time, and many other decks were simply left out. I would love to hear about some of the decks you all feel are worthy of being remembered as one of the all time greats.
Keep slingin' commons,


P.S. This past week was actually the second time I had been to Florida. The first was my Freshman year of high school for the JSS open. I have many great stories from that event (where I had no idea what I was doing) playing Hatred Black. One of my favorite stories comes from my one and only feature match. Alex Shvartsman selected me (partially because he recognized me from Neutral Ground) and I was going up against a Sligh Deck, a terrible matchup. I win easily and am beaming a smile. The Grand Prix king comes to me and says there is no way that is going up for coverage. Why? In the final game, I failed to block a Mogg Fanatic with my Black Knight, for fear of losing the knight since I had the turn three Hatred kill in hand. The game ended with me at 1, and the Fanatic on the board.Yeah, that one did not deserve to be on the website.


Re: Giant Growth by SpikeBoyM at Sun, 04/15/2007 - 07:36
SpikeBoyM's picture

You're right. Except that RG has problems with color balance- the creatures are all green, the spells all red (and yes, some creatures are red as well). Running Brute Force over a burn spell retains color balance, whereas running Giant Growth could lead to worse mana and therefore worse draws. I also should have been more explicit in saying that I don't think that Brute Force could only work in the current RG mode, but also in a new, more creature (less burn) oriented RG deck featuring the most efficient creatures (high power to cost ratio) and both Giant Growth and Brute Force.

Brute by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 04/14/2007 - 21:13
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Brute Force has been legal for RG for a long, long time now, ever since it was called Giant Growth.

Re: thejitte by SpikeBoyM at Sat, 04/14/2007 - 18:18
SpikeBoyM's picture

I used my builds where the originals were missing due to the fact the boards were archived not too long ago. In fact, the only list up there that is 100% mine is TDR. As far as Brute Force, I think that RG can be build differently so that it can incorporate the pump spell. Lots of cards go a long while before breaking through. I believe that Skargan Pit-Skulk was out for a good 3 months before anyone put it to use in Classic.

Blink by SpikeBoyM at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 08:59
SpikeBoyM's picture

Blink was really a community deck. Orzhov was, for a long time, a top deck. When Momentary Blink was spoiled/became visible, people began talking about it all over the PDC room. Because of this, I am hesitant to credit any one individual with creating the deck. I picked LBS because she, as I said, is one of the better deck pilots out there today.

Good overview... by Hollow0n3 at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 11:19
Hollow0n3's picture

... but there is one deck that I am wondering why it is not on there. Where is the MBC deck?
It's not as recent as the blink.dec and about as old as the TDR, so.. uhm.. why is it not there?
Otherwise a real good and informative article.

MBC by SpikeBoyM at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 14:06
SpikeBoyM's picture

Don't get me wrong, I love MBC. However, it never really warped the format around it. Rather, MBC rose to fame as a reaction to other decks. MBC's main selling points was that it could handle RG aggro and MUC through creature control and discard elements. MBC never really burst on to the metagame and proclaimed "Here I am" to the point that these other decks have. MBC is part of the reaction, similar to decks like UW Control Cogs which was a reaction to RG due to hard to answer answers and ability to generate massive card advantage. Other Reaction style decks include Pez/Fortify WW, which arose as a way to simply be faster than many of the decks out there.

by thejitte at Sat, 04/14/2007 - 10:06
thejitte's picture

Strange that your examples are either "your build" or ancient version of old decks. The sense of time is awkward and clunky.

Currently, I am excited by the prospect of Brute Force, but that is just me.

It's been out for a while now... Whats to get excited about?

Love IT! by Lythand at Thu, 04/12/2007 - 17:47
Lythand's picture

I have to say next to Multiplayer PDC is my next favorite format. I just wish the two would become sanctioned by Wizards. Awesome article by the way. To bad I didnt know you were here in Orlando where I live. We could of hooked up for some PDC beatdowns. Oh well catch me on the flip side.

Orzhov Blink by Dreager_Ex at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 00:09
Dreager_Ex's picture

I thought Lunchbox Superhero was the first to successfully pilot BLink deck... I mean I don't care either way I just wanted to know who was actually the first with it... In my experience Lunchbox and Geoffrey were the first people I had ever seen use it and Geoffrey gave credit to Lunch... Like I said, I really don't care who you give credit to I'm just curious...

Anyway Great article as always.

Great! by dragonmage65 at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 00:20
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Nice article, especially since it gives a nice summary of the different metas you can't find much place else.

I'm currently tweaking my own version of Orzhov Blink - it's fared pretty average, though.

Orzhov Blink by Evu at Fri, 04/13/2007 - 08:45
Evu's picture

I don't think any one person can take credit for the Orzhov deck. After Guildpact came out, several people (myself included) simultaneously and independently developed some very similar Black/White decks that were based on re-using creatures with CIP effects. With the release of Time Spiral, splashing Blue for Momentary Blink was a pretty obvious idea. Everybody's version has their own quirks or innovations, but even if we could identify the first person ever to play it, I don't think it would be fair to say that the archetype in general was "their" idea. // Spike: I liked the article; good historical review of the format's most influential and enduring archetypes.