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By: Tom Scud, Tom Scudder
Jun 15 2015 12:00pm
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Welcome to another edition of Pauper Observed, where we will again take a close look at Thursday's Pauper daily event. If anyone wants to spoil themselves, the full listing of results is here on my Facebook page and the winning decks' decklists can be found here.

The King is Dead; Long Live - who, exactly?

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The Pauper metagame has been dominated first by MBC, then increasingly by Burn over the past few weeks, but if it's at all representative, Thursday's event shows that this is changing fast. The most popular decks were still Burn (with 9 decks) and MBC (with 8) - a total of nearly 24 percent of the metagame. However, those 17 decks managed to produce only one deck with a winning record.

On the other hand, there wasn't really any single deck that stepped into the gap. Esper Fae Combo has been doing extremely well lately, but on the day only 1 of the 5 decks entered went 3-1 or better. UB Control also fared poorly, with only 1 winner out of 5 decks. Doing better were Affinity, which saw 7 decks entered and 4 record a winning record, and Delver, which was represented by 6 decks, including 3 winners. Less heavily played decks that fared well included Hexproof, with 2 winners out of 3 decks, and Turbofog, which also saw 2 of 3 decks finish 3-1 or better.

The Turbofog deck, in particular, has been doing very well lately, with a number of placings in recent daily events despite only being run by 4 players. The deck included a Bant variant (championed by streamer pierakor) and a straight blue-green variant most heavily played by residentzombie. The deck's current success is a bit of a meta bank shot - preying upon the fast creature decks that came out to prey upon the Burn decks that previously defined the meta. Anyone relying heavily on creature damage, such as Stompy players, needs to at least have a plan if they run into this deck.

The Winner's Circle

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Cspickle took a Goblins deck to 3-0 by defeating MBC 2-0, Burn 2-0, and Esper Fae Combo 2-0. The pairing for 4-0 was with a 2-1 Delver deck piloted by dubleve; cspickle took the match 2-1.

The other 8 3-0 players were paired against each other for the 4-0 finish:

420dragon, playing Esper Fae Combo, faced dout, playing Affinity. Dout defeated MBC 2-1, Burn 2-1, and UR Fiend 2-0; 420dragon defeated UR Control 2-1, Elves 2-1, and MBC 2-1. In the games for 4-0, the Esper deck won fairly handily 2-0, as the Affinity deck failed to put enough pressure on the table to keep the Esper deck from comboing out at its leisure.

Warmarco, playing Delver, faced off against Jacksad, also playing Delver. (Warmarco has apparently set aside the Bant list I spotlighted last week). Warmarco's road to 3-0 went through Burn (2-1), Hexproof (2-1), and a mirror match against Delver (2-0). Jacksad had a more rogue-heavy road to the finals, with wins over Boros Kitty's bad three-color variant, Jeskai Kitty, 2-1, a UG turbofog deck 2-0, and Goblins 2-1. Jacksad prevailed in the mirror match 2-0.

Zogok, playing Hexproof, played against TKC55, playing a UR Tron Fae Combo deck. Zogok defeated UB Control 2-1, Esper Fae Combo 2-1, and UB Control (again) 2-0. TKC55 beat Affinity 2-1, MBC 2-0, and MBC again 2-0. I considered using this matchup as my featured matchup for the day, as TKC's deck is one of those single-pilot decks that seem to put up results every time it is run out, but the games between two non-interactive decks were pretty awful. In game 1, the Hexproof deck had a lethal Gladecover Scout decked out in Ethereal Armor and an Armadillo Cloak ready to swing in, but the UR deck managed to get the Urzatron online and combo out extremely slowly - because Ghostly Flicker only returns a "profit" of 1 colorless mana when used with a Cloud of Faeries to untap an island and an Urza's Tower, TKC55 took 17 minutes off of the clock while finding enough cantrips to draw into a lethal Kaervek's Torch. In game 2, the Hexproof deck was one turn faster and the combo deck assembled Tron but didn't do anything with it and died. Game 3 was super-awkward, as the Hexproof deck found an early Scattershot Archer to keep any Cloud of Faeries off the board, and drew several 1/1 hexproof guys, but failed to draw any white mana or any auras that could be cast with green mana. A single Sea Gate Oracle successfully stared down the Bogles while the Tron deck attacked a couple times with a Mulldrifter, built up a ton of mana, and Torched for lethal with no combo involved.

In any case, here's TKC55's deck:

 

Similarly to the Esper Fae Combo deck, this deck's endgame is to use a Ghostly Flicker on Cloud of Faeries and Mnemonic Wall, untapping enough lands to net positive mana while returning the flicker to the pilot's hand over and over again; the infinite mana is used to repeatedly flicker Mulldrifter or Sea Gate Oracle in order to find the single Kaervek's Torch for the win. The deck can also sometimes win just by deploying 8-10 dudes and attacking with them.

The Growth Chamber supports the Moment's Peace in the sideboard. In general, the Firebolts let the deck be somewhat more interactive than the Esper Fae Combo deck, but the Urza lands are a bit harder to put together than the Karoo lands plus familiars approach the Esper deck takes. In a burn-heavy meta the Esper deck definitely seems superior to me, thanks to the tons of hate White provides, but TKC has definitely been successful for many months with this build.

The last match-up between two 3-0 decks pitted Stompy, piloted by Greengadget, against UB Control, piloted by Leazes11, and will be our Featured Match.

Featured Match: Stompy vs. UB Control

 

Stompy is stompy - efficient beats, pump, and a few guys who bring two bodies for the price of one. Of note here is the main-deck Vault Skirge pushing the Scattershot Archers to the sideboard; the use of Epic Confrontation as the sideboard removal spell (a necessity to not just lose to an early Standard Bearer) in place of Hornet Sting, Prey Upon, or Gut Shot; and the inclusion of a Viridian Longbow and a Relic of Progenitus in the sideboard, which I think is a concession to the turbo-fog decks.

Greengadget beat UB Control 2-0, Bant Turbofog (usually a hard Stompy match) 2-1, and RW tokens 2-0 to reach 3-0.

This match-up is a mismatch - the UB deck is set up well to fight against control mirrors but game 1 is a near-auto-loss versus an aggressive creature deck - zero 1-mana removal spells and only 8 two-mana removal spells versus stompy's 26 creatures is a big problem. Evincar's Justice cast with buyback is a nearly impossible thing for Stompy to beat, but good luck getting to 7 mana with enough life to cast it. Post sideboard things get a little better with the extra Evincar's, the 3 Chainer's Edicts and the extra Pristine Talisman but not by much. Frankly, I think pedrochristiano's UB Control deck with its 4 Innocent Blood, 4 Wretched Banquet, and 1 Ghastly Demise is much better set up for the metagame as a whole (and certainly for this matchup), even if it might come up short in a direct match between the two decks due to the lack of the Mystical Teachings draw engine.

Leazes11 defeated UR Tron 2-0, a WB brew based around two-color creatures and Edge of the Divinity 2-0, and Affinity 2-0 - all decks that don't punish the lack of 1-mana removal.

Game 1

Leazes11 chose to play, laid an island, and passed. Greengadget responded with a forest into Nettle Sentinel. The UB deck's only turn two play was to put down a Dimir Aqueduct, essentially passing for a second turn. Greengadget took full advantage, swinging in and deploying two bloodthirsty Skarrgan Pit-Skulks. Leazes11 tried to stanch the bleeding with a Sea Gate Oracle, but Greengadget threw a single Hunger of the Howlpack token on the Sentinel after blocks to clear the board again, then dropped a second Sentinel. The UB deck was already at 14 life.

Leazes11 then either drew or used his one-of Echoing Decay to clear the two skulks but didn't have a fourth land drop. The green deck swung in for another 5, bringing Leazes11 to 9 life, and deployed a Garruk's Companion. The blue-black deck again missed a land drop and passed, holding UUB up; when the green deck swung in, the control deck tried to get a pseudo two-for-one with Agony Warp by fogging the companion and killing the 3/3 sentinel. A kicked (Vines of the Vastwood) prevented the removal half of the spell and forced through a lethal 9 damage.

Game 2

The game started with good news for the blue-black deck, as greengadget mulled to 6 cards. Leazes11 started with an Evolving Wilds, which he would crack for a swamp during greengadget's turn. Greengadget deployed the ever-popular first-turn Nettle Sentinel, but Leazes11 actually had an untapped land for the second land drop this time and was able to respond with a Chainer's Edict. A second Chainer's was able to wipe out Greengadget's second-turn Companion, and after the green deck deployed a skirge and a Quirion Ranger on turn 3, the blue black deck got a bit lucky - an Evincar's Justice was met with a Mutagenic Growth and a Groundswell, but greengadget misclicked and threw both pumps on the Vault Skirge. When Greengadget didn't have another creature to deploy the following turn, simply using a Groundswell to force in some damage, that meant that Leazes11's follow-on Diabolic Edict cleared the board, and the Gurmag Angler that the blue-black deck cast entered an empty field. The blue-black deck also kept hitting its land drops and was able to back the Angler with a series of Chainer's Edict flashbacks to finish the game.

Game 3

With Stompy on the play, the blue-black deck really felt its lack of one-drop removal. Greengadget opened with a 1/1 Pit-Skulk, to which Leazes11 responded with an Evolving Wilds. A Rancor landed on the Skulk and a Young Wolf came out to play, and from there the blue-black deck couldn't get off of its back foot - Diabolic Edict turned the Wolf into a 2/2, a River Boa was not adequately answered by a super-awkward Sea Gate Oracle, and the fourth land drop was missed, leaving the deck with no colored mana after casting a Pristine Talisman. Death came rushing in on various paws, feet, scales, et cetera as follows:

See you next week, when hopefully we will have a somewhat more competitive final round to discuss.