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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Feb 12 2009 1:04am
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Let me tell you, it feels good to breathe. The week after the PE, my boss was out so I was pulling double duty. Then I got sick, knocking me out of commission for another five days. And all the while, Lee Sharpe (aka, the man) had answered my prayers and sent me every list from the February 1st Premier Event.

Did I mentioned that Lee Sharpe is the man?

So I have all this information, and have been chomping at the bit to get it out you all you eager readers...but the questioned remained how to get it all out. I could do a aggregate deck list of all the Sliver decks or focus on the top 8, the top 32, or every last list.

No, not today. Today I'm going to take a look at the highest finishing deck of every major archetype and take a look at those innovations that really caught my eye.

Let's start at the top:

Mono Black Control
1st Place-SlashRus
4 Chittering Rats
4 Crypt Rats
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
4 Phyrexian Rager
4 Twisted Abomination
4 Warren Pilferers
22 cards

Other Spells
4 Corrupt
4 Diabolic Edict
3 Distress
3 Tendrils of Corruption
10 cards
24 Swamp
24 cards

Crypt Rats

SlashRus has been playing MBC in the PDC events for quite a while, and it does not surprise me that he took home first place with the deck. Although I tend to favor Duress over Distress in the maindeck, I cannot argue with his decision considering the amount of Slivers seen during the day. The ability to disrupt their combo is key. Slash also lowered the true removal count to seven, and kept the Crypt Rats count at the maximum- again, something that likely helped him facing off against the Sliver masses. The sideboard is interesting, and seemingly geared towards mirror matches, with Death Denied as a late game breaker and a third Okiba-Gang Shinobi as a total wrecking ball for the control decks of the day. If I were going to build an MBC deck for the future, I would base my list off of this elegant and direct build.

I will not be highlighting the Mostly Black Control decks since I feel they are so similar in principle to this build. The inclusion of Mulldrifter in these decks mostly goes to the the tendency of MBC to run out of gas in the late game. Zargazag found an interesting solution to this problem by including Mind Stone in his MBC. I like this for a number of reasons. In addition to cycling late, the Stone helps you to get to your game breaker mana one turn quicker in the mirror, which can be huge if you are planning on facing MBC all day.

StiLLiRise's Teachings control is similar to a number of builds that had been circulating on PDCmagic.com in the weeks prior to the event. Once Slivers rose to prominence, the controlling Paupers started finding ways to introduce removal into the Blue control builds. That is not to say Teachings was a new concept in Pauper, rather it just was not as desirable as MUC until the rise of Slivers, where the added flexibility of removal and the quality advantage of Teachings became increasingly important. That said, there is still some debate as to which color goes best with Blue- Black or Red. Some lists choose not to decide and run both. To me, it comes down to whether you think Ghastly Demise, and a more consistent mana base is better than Skred. Personally, I have no clue, but that should be one of the informing decision behind your construction of the deck.

All that being said, I am wary of the running only four win conditions and no way to get them back from the dead. I personally like some cards to help me regrow threats when I'm running Black in a control deck, and would have tried to squeeze in one Grim Harvest for insurance.


Dimir Madness
3rd Place- Pedro_Alves
4 Gathan Raiders
2 Grave Scrabbler
4 Looter il-Kor
4 Merfolk Looter
4 Mulldrifter
18 cards

Other Spells
4 Agony Warp
4 Dark Withering
4 Ichor Slick
4 Ostracize
4 Psychotic Episode
20 cards
4 Dimir Aqueduct
7 Island
7 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
22 cards

4 Annul
3 Echoing Decay
4 Hydroblast
4 Negate
15 cards
Dark Withering


Pedro_Alves' deck is an oddity. Dimir Madness has long been a dream of many Paupers, but many were just unable to make it work. Pedro did, going undefeated in the swiss rounds. While some decisions seem odd-Gathan Raiders alongside Mulldrifter- the inclusion of Ostracize seems inspired in the wake of Slivers, but I would not run them myself.

This deck looks interesting, but vulnerable to all sorts of strategies common in the Pauper metagame. It came up in conversation during the event that Pedro is something of a ringer in Premier Events and a solid player on top of that, so I am not surprised that he succeeded with such a deck.



Petkos ran a fairly stock Slivers build to a fifth place finish. I am not a big fan of this lsit, however, since it severely presideboards against Storm. Holy Light and Prismatic Strands, would have been fine inclusions in a field with more Storm, but I could easily see cutting the Lights in the current environment and cutting back on the Strands. Note the (Cenn's Elistment), helping to provide some semblance of a late game.



In 8th place, the old standby Orzhov Blink. Ivan's build is interesting in that he eschewed a ton of maindeck removal in favor of slow, overwhelming Momentary Blink advantage. Even with the sideboard, there were only seven true removal spells. Given the number of Sliver decks, I would have run at least two more main. However, his sheer creature count and disruptive elements helped him against the Black based control decks, and the life gain without a doubt helped against Burn (which had ten decks present on the day).


Cloak Zoo
4 Armadillo Cloak
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 River Boa
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Wild Nacatl
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Firebolt
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
12 cards
8 Forest
5 Mountain
3 Plains
4 Terramorphic Expanse
20 cards

Armadillo Cloak


In 9th we see an evolution of Red Green aggro and old three color Cloak decks into something resembling a Cloak Zoo. The burn and Armadillo Cloak sare well suited to fighting Slivers and Burn all day. However, these decks still lack a strong game plan against Black control and suffer because of that hole.

However, considering a predicted meta that featured Blue control In greater numbers, ELPACIFISMO made some great calls, including River Boa main and 12 aggressive one drops. Again, a fantastic base for three color Zoo.



Tenth place, and we see our first combo deck. Chas' version of Goblin-Storm goes with the Invasion Sac Land engine but instead of the traditional Grapeshot kill, goes for a lethal Goblin War Strike off of Empty the Warrens. This is perhaps the strongest plan currently, as it is not as easily hosed as the Grapeshot version. Note the interesting inclusions of Ponder, a card many cast aside in GSK and the ubiquitous Blue flying fish. Seriously, he shows up everywhere.


White Weenie
20th Place- Giraffe
4 Akrasan Squire
2 Benalish Cavalry
3 Icatian Javelineers
2 Knight of Sursi
4 Order of Leitbur
4 Razor Golem
4 Shade of Trokair
23 cards

Other Spells
3 Mana Tithe
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Renewed Faith
4 Soltari Trooper
4 Unmake
11 cards
22 Plains
22 cards

Razor Golem


Ten more places and we see Giraffe (hi Sam!) piloting an updated White Weenie list. Everything between here and Storm was either MBC or Slivers, with one Teachings thrown in for good measure. Sam and I had talked at length about the viability of White Weenie on the day, and I advocated my land light build. That being said, the inclusion of Renewed Faith was a smart call, although I find it hard to get behind only three Mana Tithes. The sideboard seems strong, if a tad overprepared for Affinity, which while showing up, failed to make an impact at the top tables.

For what its worth, I expect this archetype to get a severe shot in the arm with the release of Conflux, and an eight counter version with Lapse of Certainty and Tithe.


Red Deck Wins
22nd Place- Dolbert
4 Gathan Raiders
4 Intimidator Initiate
4 Keldon Marauders
12 cards

Other Spells
2 Bonesplitter
2 Fireblast
2 Firebolt
2 Fireslinger
2 Flame Jab
4 Incinerate
4 Orcish Cannonade
4 Rift Bolt
4 Seal of Fire
24 cards
4 Forgotten Cave
18 Mountain
22 cards

Orcish Cannonade


In 22nd place, we have our first Red deck, but it is like nothing we have seen before. Somewhere between Sligh and Burn, we have Dolbert's sixty. This deck certainly has mor reach and was better suited for a field featuring blockers, but some of the choices still strike me as odd, including Orcish Cannonade. However, this is coming from the guy who was running Hematite Golem in his own Red decks, so that that as you well.



Coming in at 24 we have our first UWR Blink build, or Cogs and Stripes. Frankly, I feel this deck is better suited to Extended Pauper.



25 decks in and we finally come across out first Affinity deck, and it is, well, different. Going for a combo kill with Disciple of the Vault is nothing new, and the main deck Krark-Clan Shaman seems inspired with all the Slivers running around. Reaping the Graves is some savage tech, as the same turn you bin your board you are likely to cast at least two spells, so you can just recoup some of your losses if need be. Some of the other numbers seem awkward, and the (Scarscale Rituals) seem odd (but you can always cast it on a Shaman and in response blow up the world), and the lone Shimmering Grotto seems inspired and inane at the same time.



26, and we come to the deck I thought was perfectly suited to win the tournament. Yes, I know- I am not a fan of Parlor Tricks, but given the field of MBC and Slivers, I thought a deck that could win the long game attrition war and still keep the board clean early would have had the best chance to win on the day. If not for a terrible beat, I'm sure Anthony would have made a stronger run towards the top 8. I am not sure, however, if Grixis Teachings supplants this deck in the meta.


27th Place- m0x
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Martyr of Ashes
4 Mogg Fanatic
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Fireblast
4 Firebolt
4 Fireslinger
4 Incinerate
4 Lava Dart
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Needle Drop
4 Rift Bolt
32 cards
16 Mountain
16 cards

4 Pyroblast
3 Rain of Embers
4 Tremor
4 Vulshok Sorcerer
15 cards


In 27th we find our first true burn deck. Note the Martyr of Ashes main; someone was expecting Slivers.

I went over my 29th place list last week. For what it's worth, I think the deck is a solid choice for the queues as of now. And after that, well, it's all repeats and awkward lists, including the highest placing Grapeshot Kill deck in the low 40s and my woefully performing Rock list in 120th place.

So what does this tell us? First, that Slivers and MBC (including Mostly Black) made up nearly a third of the field. However, looking at the Top 8, there were only two true aggro decks-both Slivers-three black based control decks, one Teachings deck, one rogue Aggro and one creature based midrange control. Expanding to the top 32, nearly half the decks were MBC or Slivers, although the trend in the queues has seen a decline in Slivers and rise in Teachings control.

Why did these decks do well? Slivers, well, Slivers is aggro and combo , and can attack you on those two metrics. Slivers had nearly a third of the top 33 decks (all of those with 15 points), so it was able to dodge the hate and just win, as combo is wont to do. In the wake of this event, however, people seem more prepared.

Mono Black, on the other hand, is always a good choice. It is the Swiss Army Knife of Pauper and in the hands of a skilled pilot can be as delicate as a surgeon's scalpel. It has a strong matchup against three of the four most played decks (Burn, Affinity, and Slivers) and the fourth deck was the mirror. In fact, examining the entire meta, only Blue based control was a poor matchup that featured more than one competitor, but those decks were too busy getting stomped by Slivers.

I am excited to see what the next six weeks bring. The release on Conflux should introduce some new cards to the format and give rise to some old decks with new toys. It will also be interesting to see what direction Teachings control will take now that is has a top finish.

It's going to be a wild ride, and we just got on the highway.

A huge thanks to Lee Sharpe, Mike Gills, and the entire PDCMagic.com community!

Keep slingin' commons-




Nice work by royalknight (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 02:54
royalknight's picture

Great coverage Alex! I like it.

A note on the andrewtiu's Affinity deck. He's a friend of mine and have tested with his deck dozen times.

Krark-Clan Shaman is the key card here in winning most of his match, maybe it would have been better if he went with 4. There were matches which he lost cause the Shaman was at the bottom part of his library. His main reason in putting Scarscale Ritual is for the card draw which is badly needed in his deck because of the inconsistency issue with Affinity decks.

Scarscale by AluminiumMastermind (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 08:07
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You can't actually respond to the counters being put on because it's an additional cost to play the spell. The shaman would die once it hits the stack, but that's not to say you couldn't cast it on some frogmite that's going to get blown away anyway.

Scarscale by royalknight (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 09:45
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Yes you are right, the -1/-1 is part of the casting cost. Scarscale is usually targeted at the Arcbound, Myr or Frogmite

Great work! by Giraffe at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 10:46
Giraffe's picture

Nice writeup, Alex. Excellent way to utilize the massive decklist information. I was surprised you made it all the way to my 20th place White Weenie deck. Woo!

WW seems amazingly underplayed. I've played nearly 200 rated matches now and have only faced it once.

Madness by dell_marc (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 11:59
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So I am dying to know exactly what matchups the madness deck has problems with. I DO understand that the burn deck(who's best finish was what, 22nd if you give it some leeway) can be a problem, but outside of that...it beats MBC(eventually their discard is negated, and you can deal with every one of their threats) it beats slivers(just too much removal for them to really handle)...I mean, I can defend that deck against any matchup except for burn, which seems to be fading in the face of the MBC deck that burn can NOT beat.

Madness vs. The Field by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 12:25
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While Madness can negate the discard aspect of MBC, it has a hard time dealing with both the sweepers, removal, and endgame of Corrupt. While Slivers is probably a fair matchup, I can see Madness taking a long time to set up, and wouldn't put it at any better than 50/50 pre-board. For what it is worth, there were two other people running the Madness list and neither did very well in the event (but this is the problem with being results oriented).
Do I think UB Madness has potential? Absolutely, but I also feel that the deck was enhanced by the pilot.


Madness by dell_marc (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 13:50
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See, I disagree with your assessment of the matchup vs. MBC. I believe that with your inherent card advantage, you can simply play more threats than they have removal...as far as crypt rats, you simply make that a must-kill, and don't set yourself up to be 3-1'd when they top deck it. Corrupt off the top IS an issue, but I still think with all aspects considered, this has to be in Madness's favor. In regards to slivers, I originally had NO idea why he was running the Agony Warps...until I played the deck...that card is so good early game. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree....until we get more of a sample size, I don't think it is possible to get a good answer on whether madness is a real option, or not.

Thanks for the reply by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 14:02
SpikeBoyM's picture

I agree- one deck in the top 8 is far too small of a sample size.
As I said, I believe MBC to be a true Swiss army knife, able to adapt to almost any meta (Lost Hours seems good against this deck). I do see your points, but just believe these matchups to be closer than came across.
As I said, the deck has true potential, as Agony Warp is an underplayed card currently, and the synergy is enticing.
My main issue is the win condition- I would like a healthier top end (Dirty Wererat anyone?) to help fill the Springing Tiger slot.


Madness is ok by walkerdog at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 14:12
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But I'm always happy as the MBC player to play it. Removal, drop dudes, more removal... the only cards that are BAD against them are Rats, and that's only when they leave mana open... which is fine with me. Please play UB madness in the queues more.

wow by Amonchakai (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 16:10
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Hi men!
Congrats for the article and thanks for all the info
one question:
where did you found the decklists?in Wizards?Where?

3, 6,7th by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 19:00
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Can you list 3,6,7 and 11-16th places please? Just the archetype will be fine, but any additional info you want to list is great too.

Lists by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 02/12/2009 - 19:18
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The lists can be found here:


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