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By: neckfire, Eddie Davenport
Jan 06 2020 1:00pm
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Pauper has always been one of my all-time favorite formats in Magic. I love playing it online and I have been blessed and had the opportunity to play it in paper.  Back in June Wizards of the Coast announced that they were going to merge the paper commons with the Magic Online commons. This change forever changed the pauper format. One of the hidden gems that came from this massive influx in cards was a land.


That’s right Desert. Before the printing of Desert decks that wanted to use land, based creature control had to rely on the card Quicksand. There are obvious issues with Quicksand namely being a one shot and not being able to hit flying creatures leaving the player vulnerable to Delver style decks. It took some time and some shakeups in the format for Desert to emerge but thanks to Magic Online player Raptor56 Desert finally put up a 5-0 finish. 

Raptor56 intentionally chooses to be mono blue and not play commonly played cards in Delver style decks of Skred and Lightning Bolt. This was not a budget decision. This deck can afford to not play a second color thanks to the power of Desert.

Let’s talk about what this deck has going on as there is a lot of hidden synergies. 

I’ve hyped it up enough so let’s go into why its so good. Desert allows this deck to execute its game plan of make land drops and hold up mana every turn while still putting up a defense. You start the game with 20 life and in this deck, you use your life total as a resource in killing opposing creatures. Most threats in pauper are 2 or 3 toughness. By having 1 or two Deserts in play you can completely blank opposing decks creatures. Important to remember when using this card on magic online is that you can only activate Desert's ability at the end of combat stage so make sure your stops are set correctly. 

Calling it, Mystic Sanctuary in my opinion is the strongest addition to Pauper this year. Allowing blue decks to continue to execute their game plan of making land drops and controlling the board AND going up on resources is critical in this style of deck.

This deck takes full advantage of Mystic Sanctuary with its spell selection. Specifically Deprive and Tragic Lesson. Both cards have the “return a land you control” clause when casting.

When your engine is going these cards guarantee that you won’t run out of resources.

In addition to Deprive this deck runs the full complement of Counterspell and Exclude. But there is one last counter spell that deserves to be talked about. 

Force Spike

People seem to have forgotten about Force Spike. Daze was always the surprise counter of choice in these styles of decks but when Daze found itself banned players play pattern changed. People just took it for granted that unless two mana was open then it was safe to cast their spells. Force Spike takes advantage of players laziness and acts as a surprise counter and defense for you when you are on the draw.

Sometimes though cards get past your counter wall and you are not ready to kill it with Desert

Enter the bounce spells.

Repulse Snap

Repulse is excellent in that it replaces itself when you cast but the 3 mana is sometimes awkward Snap helps in that regard while also untapping your lands.

Don’t forget when playing this deck that these bounce spells can be used to return your own creatures to either save them or in the case of Augur of Bolas help you find more resources.

This deck rounds itself out with a full complement of Accumulated Knowledge with the help of Tragic Lesson it ensures that the deck will not run out of resources. 

There are 8 main deck win cons the 4 Augur of Bolas and the 4 “free” Spire Golem. This deck is in no rush to win the game and can afford to only play these 8 creatures.

As far as the sideboard goes there are a few all stars that deserve to be talked about. The two Ninja of the Deep Hours. You bring these in versus Tron. Most Tron decks will take out what little removal they play verse us as we are so low on creatures. Knowing this Ninja of the Deep Hours has a realistic chance of going the distance verse Tron and generating huge amount of card advantage along the way.

On top of Ninja of the Deep Hours there is also Stormbound Geist. Most blue decks play Stormbound Geist and this one is no different. Being able to blank most Delver style decks as well as most removal makes this card an auto include. 

Finally, there is Gut Shot for Delver style decks and elves.

I played this version of the deck through a few leagues and had some moderate success, but the original version had some issues with it. But I was curious if there was anything I can do to improve some of the games that I had been struggling with. 

So, I decided to change some things up:


The main deck did not change much. But there is one very important change.

Think Twice

Accumulated Knowledge is a very powerful card. Drawing up to 4 cards for 2 mana at instant speed is incredibly powerful. It’s so powerful though that my opponents would often try and counter my Accumulated Knowledge. Unfortunately Accumulated Knowledge also fell prey to splash hate of graveyard hate. Almost every deck that you play against in pauper has some version of graveyard hate. So even though that Think Twice is not as powerful as Accumulated Knowledge in a vacuum it does not fall victim to the same hate.  Drawing 2 spells over the course of two turns is better than possibly drawing 3 or 4 cards at one time. 

The sideboard kept most of the old cards as they were great for what this deck but there are a few additions that deserve to be talked about. 

Ninja of the Deep Hours has already been spoken about and how powerful it is versus Tron style decks. Tron continues to be one of the most powerful decks so upping the number of Ninja of the Deep Hours to help beat them. 

Serrated Arrows replaces Gut Shot. Serrated Arrows works better with Desert and when you are using your life total as a resource paying two life to only deal one damage doesn’t work well with this deck. 

This deck plays great and is one of the reasons why I love Pauper. Playing a pure control deck rewards player who understand the format and can also play with patients. Always keep in mind when you are thinking about countering something if the card is truly a threat or are, they trying to bait you into countering so they can sneak a better card into play. 

I think this style of deck has a lot going for it and is powerful enough that it is worth considering over the UR Skred style decks. 

Thanks for reading

Eddie Davenport

Neckfire on modo