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By: gwyned, gwyned
Oct 20 2011 12:46am
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I. Introduction

As always in my articles, let me remind you that the goal for each of my articles is to highlight relevant information about the Standard Pauper format from the results of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, commonly referred to as MPDC. MPDC is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 6:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room. With the upcoming release of Innistrad, a brand new season will soon be underway, which would be a perfect opportunity for newcomers to get their first taste of Standard Pauper.

Today I want to feature the results from MPDC Season 14 Worlds. As I mentioned last time, MPDC Worlds is an invitation-only event at the end of every season where the top 32 players of that particular season of MPDC compete in a special event that features a Double-Elimination format as well as double the normal prize payout. For this particular event, one's ranking within that 32 can be important, as the Double-Elimination format awards byes based upon one's ranking within that list. And since all that matters is whether or not you've lost two matches yet, getting the opportunity to sit out during a round or two is, of course, quite advantageous.

Sadly, my own experience for this event was decidedly lackluster. I chose to run the American Blood decklist, quite similar to this list piloted by FabioS to a Top 8 finish. After a first round bye thanks to my overall ranking, I lost to the eventual 2nd place finisher. Although our first two games within the match were close, I mana-screwed out in the third game. Then, the very next round, I completely scrubbed out against my opponent with mana-flood in the first game and mulled to oblivion in the second game due to mana-screw. I think my Twitter post well summarizes my response to these events:

But enough about that. Let's fast-forward to the real action for the event - the matchup between our two finalists for MPDC Season 14 Worlds!

II. The Decklists
A. Boros Landfall


This particular list is one of the most classic Standard Pauper decks since the release of Zendikar. Indeed, this exact 60 card combination has placed within Top 8 at least 10 times, with other variants bringing that total up much higher. It is extremely aggressive and surprisingly fast, thanks to the power of multiple fetch-lands fueling up successive Landfall triggers and a fiery barrage of Red removal. Plated Geopede and Steppe Lynx are the stars of the show, especially when their own Landfall abilities are augmented by an equipped Adventuring Gear. Interestingly enough, this same mechanic can even be used defensively, saving up multiple fetchland triggers to boost their Toughness beyond the reach of Lightning Bolt or Incinerate. The Landfall mechanic also allows the list to make full use of Searing Blaze, which can at times be cumbersome in more typical Aggro decks due to their tendency to be much lighter on Lands. Add to this powerful mechanic two of the most effective White Common creatures printed in recent memory - Kor Skyfisher and Squadron Hawk - and top off with the extra damage ping from Blisterstick Shaman, and you have quite a powerful combination!

This particular Sideboard is well adapted to the expected metagame, including Burn the Impure to deal with Infect, Seismic Shudder to counter other aggressive decks (and also useful against Infect), Nihil Spellbomb to deal with Graveyard recursion, and Kor Sanctifiers to lessen the impact of rival Enchantments and Artifacts. Ruthless Invasion and Apostle's Blessing are obvious late-comers to the list, but certainly deserve a spot at the virtual table. Apostle's Blessing gives the deck additional means to protect its precious Landfall creatures, while Ruthless Invasion gives the deck a way to break any board stalls should the game go long against Control decks.

B. Infect

Infect
played by FlxEx
Creatures
4 Blighted Agent
4 Cystbearer
4 Glistener Elf
3 Blight Mamba
15 cards

Other Spells
4 Apostle's Blessing
4 Distortion Strike
4 Giant Growth
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Vines of Vastwood
3 Preordain
23 cards
 
Lands
10 Forest
7 Island
3 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Evolving Wilds
22 cards

Sideboard
4 Dispel
3 Rot Wolf
3 Nature's Claim
3 Fog
2 Corpse Cur
15 cards
 
Cystbearer


Thanks to the evil genius of Mark Rosewater, Infect made quite the impact on the Pauper format, especially after the release of Mirrodin Beseiged. While various builds were tested in Standard Pauper, it wasn't until this particular variant was crafted that it became a viable contender. Unlike every other decklist in the metagame, Infect is a Combo deck, relying on assembling four distinct elements to achieve victory: the Infect creature, the ability to grant evasion, the ability to pump the Power of the creature, and the ability to protect the creature from removal. Here's how this particular list assembles these pieces. First, you have four different Infect creatures, each with its own advantage: Blighted Agent, who is already unblockable; Blight Mamba, who can be Regenerated; Glistener Elf, who is cheap enough to cast in the first turn or to allow you to resolve several other spells; and Cystbearer, who can actually go toe-to-toe against other creatures. Second, Apostle's Blessing and Distortion Strike serve to make the creature in question unblockable. Third, Giant Growth and Mutagenic Growth give the desired Power boost, the latter of which is particularly useful thanks to its potential free cost. And fourth, Apostle's Blessing, Vines of Vastwood, and Dispel out of the Sideboard provide the relevant protection against removal. Given this combination, typically all one needs  for victory is one or two early Poison Counters plus one Alpha Strike within the next few turns. One need only buy the time to assemble the needed cards (aided by Preordain), and there is little an opponent can do.

This Sideboard allows the deck to flex into a more creature centered strategy with Rot Wolf and Corpse Cur. Fog can also provide some breathing room against aggressive decks, nullifying lethal damage and allowing one to counter strike for the win. Finally, Nature's Claim is nearly free Artifact and Enchantment hate, given that an opponent's Life total is all but meaningless in the Infect gameplan.

Despite the relative simplicity of this strategy, the devil is certainly in the details. Like any Combo deck, the secret is knowing how to survive long enough to assemble the pieces and in what order to play them out. While certainly capable of some wins out of sheer luck, it must be admitted that long-term success with Infect requires a solid understanding of the deck's mechanics and a good deal of experience in piloting the deck.

III. The Matches

The first match between these two opponents took place in Round 5. This was a crucial round for both players, as the victor would win out in the upper bracket and thus guarantee a spot in the Finals. While I was unable to record this particular match live, I did manage to capture the replay. Also, as it turns out, FlxEx actually mulliganned twice in Game One, and at that point went ahead and conceded the game. Rather than capturing fairly pointless video, I went ahead and skipped to Game Two. Here's how the rest of the first match played out:

 

Despite his loss to FlxEx, Shifting Shadows fought skillfully through the next three rounds, making his way through the lower bracket until becoming the only other player left standing. And thus these two opponents met in a rematch of Round 5 that would decide who would earn the coveted title of MPDC Season 14 Champion. Here's how it played out:

 

And thus FlxEx became the MPDC Season 14 Champion! Congratulations!

IV. Conclusion

And with that, I conclude this look at MPDC Season 14 Worlds. Just a reminder, if you would like a sneak peak at my content before it goes live here at PureMTGO.com, you can always browse over to YouTube.com, search for "gwyned42," select one of my video-casts, and click the Subscribe button. You can also now follow me on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Let me also extend a special thanks to all my fellow Standard Pauper players for another great season of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge. I can't wait to see what surprises Innistrad has in store for the format. See you next time!