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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
May 12 2009 12:05pm
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The most recent Pauper PE is in the books and it did not disappoint. While I do not have all the numbers at the time of this writing, rest assured I will be doing my regular recap once the decklists are made available. In the meanwhile, however, I figured I might as well give you all a tournament report.

Leading up to the event, a funny thing happened. You see, I had totally forgotten that it was happening on May 9th. Because of this, I was fooling around with potential decks, none of which were all that good, until the Tuesday before hand. Thinking I had significantly more time, I began investigating ways to beat MBC without giving up ground to the field and MUC, one of MBC's worst matchups. At the same time, I had been tearing up Tournament Practice with a Rakdos flavored Blightning list that featured numerous Unearth creatures. This was an evolution of the deck I played to a 29th place finish in the first Pauper PE. It had a similar amount of staying power but far better reach thanks to burn and Gathan Raiders. Also, Blightning is just sick. This deck, while potent and consistent, seemed to lack a certain level of brokeness I have been convinced a deck like this needs. Blightning

Let me back track a little bit, all the way back to the second Pauper PE. Sitting just outside the top 16 was a Wee Dragonauts/Clout of the Dominus deck that I had commented upon. A few weeks later, I started a game against that very same person, testing a Mulch deck. He was testing Tortured Existence. He won. He's also Greg Weiss, a name I had recognized from Pro Tour coverage of yesteryear where he made day two with Elemental Bidding...think (Flamekin Zealot) + Patriarch's Bidding + Silvos, Rogue Elemental. We began conversing about the format and he opened my eyes to holes in my game and my decks in general. I had been trying to play fair and not do anything inherently...broken. At the same time, my decks lacked a certain level of focus from my days in PDC where deck design was far looser. Needless to say, he, along with Boin, helped me prepare for this event and contributed to my final list.

About the list- I had been searching for a way to combat MBC and dove back into the PDC history books. I came across a deck that called out to me- Black Red Husk. This, to me, was a natural extension of the Unearth decks I had been running as Nantuko Husk loves eating creatures, no matter where they are headed at the end of turn. Initially, my build was loose, featuring too many long game elements and Dregscape Zombies that, while nice, put me on a theme rather than a winning path. I just feel bad that it took Greg and Will (aka Boin) so long to convince me. Here is the list I ended up playing:

The sideboard is totally Greg. Death Denied is a card that I have been slow to accept, but when you draw it late it can be an absolute blowout. The Seal of Fires are in there as a way to combat the GW Hate decks I had feared would appear. They provided an extra few ways for me to keep a Shield of the Oversoul off of a Safehold Elite. The (Vithian Stingers) are cards I stubbornly stood by, and even though they won me an important match, I am no longer sure of their spot in the deck. They are best at picking off utility creatures and providing persistent damage or a six point burst of damage with Husk. They are more than likely to be on the last cards cut list in future builds.

The deck, as built, is basically a Red deck with a significant disruption package. Every card represents a certain amount of damage and the presence of Carrion Feeder and Husk mean that every dying creature will yield more damage after it hits the bin. Mesmeric Fiend plays the role of a baby Blightning in this deck, often dealing two extra damage and nabbing an important piece of their puzzle. Mogg War Marshal is fantastic, and drawing one late usually means you are able to take out nearly half of a starting life total in one swing.

Your goal is to get out a sacrifice outlet early and then lay down creatures that are not long for this world. You want to avoid paying Echo when profitable and developing your board to get in more damage. Rarely comes the situation where you want to play out a Fiend without a way to stack the triggers so you can Castigate their best card, however, it is often the right move to gain information, especially since you can often rebuy the Fiend later with the Harvest for a soft lock where you are taking their best card every turn.

A few things when playing this deck: know your math. There have been multiple occasions where I lost simply because I did not do my math properly. I have let my opponents live far too often with lethal on the table. Thankfully, it only came back to bite me a few times, and only once did it cost me a match in the PE.

Your burn is there to help clear the path. Firebolt does a fantastic job as it picks off the majority of creatures in the format and comes back for more. Incinerate is tempting, but in the end, you get more damage and utility out of the F.Bolt, so it gets the nod here.

Time for some matchups!

Mono-Black is just about a joke. Their best removal spell, Tendrils Of Corruption, is useless against you. Diabolic Edict is just about as bad as you will often have a Marshal to stop it from really mattering. Crypt Rats can be scary, but you can put yourself in situation where it simply does not matter. Often times they will have to activate the Rats multiple times to clear off your largest threat (Husk or Feeder), and if you have two of the eaters out, well, it is bad times for them. Your discard is persistent and aggressive, putting MBC on the defensive early and makes it difficult for them to Corrupt from a position of dominance. Sure, they might get off one against you, but you can easily deal 30 damage with this deck, so one big bad Black spell is not so dangerous.

MUC is rougher, but your threats just sneak in under their counters. Once again, Husk and Feeder make it difficult for them to make good blocks and your late game recursive elements help keep you supplied with threats to force through those last points of damage. Often, the game will come down to them on three or fewer life with Blue unable to attack. At this point, the game simply becomes about drawing enough burn to end the game. Here, Stinger shines just a bit as it can force through those last points as Unearth cannot be countered.

Affinity is scary. You will lose to their nut draw. However, if you can get a 4/4 Feeder on the board, it becomes significantly harder for them to win as you get to go on the offensive. Firebolt is tailor made to take out Disciple of the Vault, Krark-Clan Shaman, Frogmite, and Somber Hoverguard. War Marshal does a great job of being a pesky blocker. However, if they manage to get a Rush of Knowledge off, you are in trouble. Post-sideboard, Ingot Chewer does a great job of nuking a turn one land and growing an eater. Early in the game you want to take out their developing board to help stunt their growth while advancing your own. Late, however, he does a fine job of taking out an Enforcer and attacking, fearlessly, into Frogmites.

Cloak is all about the early game. You want to attack, attack, attack, and force them to use their aura defensively. Again, you can deal a significant amount of damage very quickly which can put the game within reach. If they put Cloak on a non-Guardian creature, well, you want to amass enough blockers to take the pants-wearer out and then feed an eater to not only negate the life gain, but give you a significant threat. Not realizing this cost me a spot in the top eight.

Combo is a joke. Just like Affinity, they can win with a nut draw, but your disruption and pressure can put them on the back foot and force them to go off a turn to quickly. Here, however, winning quickly is most important as every extra turn gives combo more and more options, which is just dangerous.

With all that out of the way, I think it is time for a tournament report. Leading up to the event, I was 7-2 with different versions of this deck in the 2-man Pauper Queues. I had gotten my rating up to a high point of 1701 before the event. I got a good night's sleep before and made sure my computer had some time to rest up. I woke up ready to game and sat down to wade through 92 players and seven rounds. So of course, first up is...

Round 1 vs. LulThyme, Freed Combo, Starting rating: 1701

Really? LulThyme? My nemesis from the days of PDC and veteran of numerous message board arguments running the original PDC combo deck. This struck me as an odd choice, but I could not be too concerned in game one as I had to mulligan to five into a hand with decent aggressive options, but no disruption. He assembles the combo is ample time to kill me, and I learn that he is running the Pyromatics kill.

Game two I bring in Duress and Pyroblast, taking out Firebolt, Seals, and Stingers. I should have also tried to find room for Chewer. This game comes down to, of all things, math. I pull a Fiend trick early and write down his hand. I catch him with only two mana available on a Moment's Peace in his yard. I look at my notes and recall the game state and am convinced I have perfect knowledge of his hand. I cast a Marshal and feed it quickly to a Husk and swing for eight to put him at two...only to find out my knowledge of his hand was far from perfect as he was holding another Peace. I am never able to recover and he eventually shows me a Circle of Protection: Black that he did not need to show me. It did not help that I also managed to draw five consecutive lands. I tuck away the Circle information in case we meet in the elimination rounds.


After this inauspicious start, I am livid. I curse up a storm recounting my round to Weiss (who also lost to combo) and resolve to win out.

Round 2 vs. Tyrjuk, BW Hybrid Aggro, Starting rating: 1681

Once I recognize what he is playing I am far more confident. Of course, he manages to assemble enough beaters and Blind Hunters to put me in an 0-1 hole.

Game two I find myself on the ropes and rather upset at the prospect of going 0-2. I am facing down a 7/7 Nip Gwyllion and just continue blocking with tokens to feed my Feeder. At some point I simply amass more men then he is able to handle and he scoops.

Game three he refuses to block with his double Nightsky Mimic and I take him down in short order.

So, after nearly hurling my computer through a window, I am back in the driver's seat and ready to take control of my day. I tell myself I know the deck and can play it well and settle in for round two.

As an aside, for Premier Events I far prefer aggressive decks as they provide me more time in between rounds to take care of things like going to the bathroom and eating. The amount of time I saved this event by going aggro gave me time to calm my nerves between rough matches and reflect on improving my mental game in the future. It also afforded me time to talk to hot chyx (JFR, we miss you!).

Round 3 vs. Stussy, JVL Puppet Storm, Starting rating 1693

Stussy is a relative newcomer to the PDCmagic.com boards and had great insight. In game one I make a mistake in tapping my mana to run out a naked Fiend, leaving a Keldon Marauders in my hand for one extra turn. If I had played that turn optimally, the Marauders would have died a turn earlier. As it stood, he goes off at one life and kills me.

I side the same way as I did for round one.

In game two I am in a strong position and make a mistake, trying to be cute and show off my decks capabilities rather than winning outright. I kick myself mentally for making such a childish error and am grateful that it does not cost me this game.

Game three he's holding a Puppetry while I have a kill on the board and he decides not to waste it to tap down my Husk. I know he does not have a Peace in hand or yard and swing in, unmolested. He dies immediately.

Round 4 vs. nordahl, Martyr Harvest, Starting rating 1705

Back above 1700, but I am facing an absolutely horrid pairing. My deck wins through attacking and his deck wins be stalling out the game and making attacks ineffective. Game one is painful as I flood miserably and he overwhelms me with Shrieking Grotesques. I side out my Seals and two Lightning Bolts for Duress, smelling Circles. I leave in Stingers because here they can take out his lock pieces at the end of his turn, leaving me able to attack without fear of Kami of False Hope activations.

I win game two off of the power of strong tricks and aggressive beatings. He is never able to establish a lock and succumbs to big Zombies. Stinger proves his worth in this game.

Game three he manages to assemble his combo, but I draw both Stingers and am able to force him to sacrifice his combo creatures at the end of his turn. At the point where I can demonstrate that I can recur a Fiend every turn with Grim Harvest, he gives in.

After round four, I am elated. Now with a vague sense of the field, I feel I am very well positioned to make a strong Top 8 run.

Round 5 vs. StillIRise, Parlor Tricks, Starting rating 1719, 22nd place

At this point I start tracking my standings. Still is another veteran Pauper running a deck that I am familiar with. This match is fairly academic as he cannot keep up game one with my assault. Game two I come out blazing fast but eventually lose my army with him at a measly two life. At this point, I have a roughly 25% chance of drawing an out and do so, cycling a Forgotten Cave into a Lightning Bolt for the win two turns after he reloads his hand with Death Denied. I sided out Seals and Stingers for Duress in this match.

Round 6 vs. Jernhoeg, MBC, Starting rating 1734, 14th place

My climb up the standings continues as I square off against exactly what I was prepared for. Game one goes according to plan. His Tendrils are useless and I win in relatively short order as my Firebolts keep him from holding up a defense. I win through a Corrupt in this game.

I side out Stinger and Seal for Duress, once more.

Game two I sputter on my start and make a small misplay by not casting a Feeder precombat to make sure any dying creatures are put to good use. He is able to establish a dominating board position with two Pilferers and I cannot really come back.

Game three, well, is academic. For some reason he leaves Innocent Blood in against me and he is never able to win through two War Marshals.

Round 7 vs. PojotheChicken, Naya Cloak, Starting rating 1753, 10th place

I know I have to win here to lock up a slot in the elimination rounds. My round one loss absolutely murdered my tiebreakers. In game one he stutters on mana and cannot deal with Husk and tokens. I side out some amount of discard for my Martyrs and we are on to game two.

Here, I make my biggest mistake of the day. His offense is limited to one Wild Mongrel wearing an Armadillo Cloak. Instead of playing smart, I keep throwing one token in the way of the Savage [D]astard for no real gain. All this does is keep me in a slightly better life total but does not deal with his threat. What I should have done was amass enough creatures to block the dog to take it out, negating the life gain with Feeder. I do not realize this until after the tournament ends and I am out driving to dinner. Eventually he sticks a second Cloak and goes the distance.

Game three is enticingly close as I come out blazing fast. I have total gas but he makes smart blocks and picks off my threats. I get him down toward single digits and a Marshal off the top would allow me to snatch victory from his tapped out army, but it is not to be and he swings in with a Guardian and a Ledgewalker for the win, securing his spot in the Top 8.

I want anxiously in the tiny hope that the breakers fall just the right way to put me in my first Sanctioned Constructed Top 8 and as the final standings go up I see...

Final Standing: 10th Place, Final Rating: 1735

I lose out to 8th place on .0204% tiebreaker points. The breaks, I suppose.

However, I consider the day a win. Overall, the deck has gone an impressive 12-4 in sanctioned matches and shows there is significant room for innovation beyond the accepted big decks in the format. The deck proved it is more powerful than I initially gave it credit for and was quite capable of making the elimination rounds in the hands of a more skilled pilot. That being said, the Top 8 would have been rough, as it was made up of the following decks: 2 Naya Cloak, 1 Affinity, 1 Slivers, 1 MUC, 1 Mono-Blue Aggro, 1 Storm, 1 White Weenie. Out of those, The Blue decks and Storm were good, with Slivers, WW being relatively poor; Affinity would have not been favorable and I have no honest idea about the Fish style deck.

Still, 10th is pretty nice, and a good launching point for the next event.

Keep slingin' commons-




Lee Sharpe, as always

Greg and Will for convincing me to play good cards in this deck instead of Pit Keeper

Trish, for pretending to understand what I'm talking about

and Lanny...mad props.


Allow me to start with a by Soulwind (not verified) at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 13:09
Soulwind's picture

Allow me to start with a caveat of: I'm not a very good player; as my 75-card, I don't even have a sideboard, casual piles can attest to.

However, you seem to be siding out the stingers and seals for 4 duress in nearly 3/4 of your matches.

Would it not make more sense then to have the 4 duress main and side in the stingers/seals for those few
matches where you wouldn't of sided them out?

Like I said, I'm not a strong player and maybe there's a good reason to start with them in the sideboard
instead of main...

Thanks for all the writeups you've been doing...they've certainly helped me, and eventually I might even
graduate out of the noob category :)

Sideboarding by SpikeBoyM at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 13:19
SpikeBoyM's picture

Excellent question.
I was expecting a far more aggressive meta, with more GW Hate style decks. Against these, Duress is far worse than Seal and Stinger. Looking toward the Top 8, I would have wanted Duress in only two of the matchups (Storm and MUC). So, while the decks I played in the Swiss would have been better targeted with Duress main, my deck would have been more apt a facing the elimination rounds.


Have you considered trying by Lenney (not verified) at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 15:45
Lenney's picture

Have you considered trying Sadistic Glee?

Another card I think I would by Lenney (not verified) at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 15:54
Lenney's picture

Another card I think I would have to have would be Fling

Me again :) Thanks for the by Soulwind (not verified) at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 16:04
Soulwind's picture

Me again :) Thanks for the info.

So, if you don't mind, what is the sideboarding for the deck (and I guess targets for the sideboarded cards)?

Duress -
MBC - Take out thier Corrupts? Seems like the corrupts would be the primary thing to worry about with mono-black. Assuming you're keeping a sac outlet open to nullify tendrils.

MUC - Try to snag thier few creatures before they get cast, I guess?

Pyroblast -
Blue decks obviously here.

Ingot Chewer -
Artifacts obviously. Is this pretty much strictly for Affinity? I haven't seen a lot of equipment or other nasty artifacts in most of the other pauper decks I've been looking at. Should the chewers be focused on thier enforcers or the lands? (I know the answer is probably, it depends on the gamestate, but in general..)

Martyr -
I'm assuming this is mostly for Gobbo-Storm, RDW, and Weenie decks in general.

So does this deck pretty much roll over and die to anything packing CoPs, or does it try for the overwhelm with tokens in those situations?

Duress doesn't allow you to by spg at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 19:07
spg's picture

Duress doesn't allow you to grab a creature.

Good article, Spike by cRUMMYdUMMY at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 16:12
cRUMMYdUMMY's picture

Nice article and congratulations on your place. The list looks much more refined than the last.

Why Stinger over Viscera Dragger or Dragon Fodder? Dragger nets you +1 card and +3 damage (if unblocked). It even costs one mana less than Stinger. The only downside is that he can't be sacrificed twice. Fodder would be Marshalls 5-6.

Why Rakdos Carnarium? Your deck is filled with two drops. If you start with one land and a Carnarium. You've already slowed your deck by an entire turn.

Did the turn one Seal of Fire play really save you that much mana? With only two in the deck and several comes into play tapped lands, it doesn't seem better than something like Shock.

What Alara Reborn cards are you considering?

Believe it or not, I think by Lenney (not verified) at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 17:00
Lenney's picture

Believe it or not, I think Blightning is the only card that's sort of "out of place", but it's obvious why you'd want it in. 3cc for 3 damage and 2 cards? umm.. ya

A few things by SpikeBoyM at Tue, 05/12/2009 - 21:34
SpikeBoyM's picture

Sadistic Glee: My creatures all want to go to the graveyard, and Glee would ask me to keep at least one around. This is a mistake.
Fling/Soul's Fire: Win more cards- you do not need them.
COPs: For COPs to be truly effective, they need one Red and one Black. If you have gotten to a point in the game where they have both COP Red and Black and the mana to use it effectively, chances are you have already lost.
Viscera Dragger: I had him in a different slot, but was never impressed. Stinger has to potential to eat life totals AND be a six damage boost in the mid-game thanks to ping-sac-Unearth-ping-sac.
Carnarium is there for turns three and on. Often, when you are playing it on turn two that's just fine because you are setting up Feeder-Fiend for turn three.
Seal of Fire was not there to save mana, but to counteract Shield of the Oversoul. In testing, this proved to be useful but did not come up during the PE.
As far as Reborn, there is not much. I have thought about Kathari Bomber, but chances are that's more of a cute on theme card than one that actually fits the deck.


wheres the 92 player by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 05/13/2009 - 07:16
Anonymous's picture

wheres the 92 player decklist? pretty pls?

Decklists by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 05/13/2009 - 07:43
SpikeBoyM's picture

They are forthcoming, I promise.


sideboard by quetzilla at Wed, 05/13/2009 - 09:46
quetzilla's picture

Can you give examples of which cards to take out when bringing in cards from the sideboard for the various matches?

my first impressions of pauper by bruttiber (not verified) at Wed, 05/13/2009 - 14:43
bruttiber's picture

Not a direct comment on ur deck,just a general thought on pauper.i made top 8 with mu aggro,and in 8 rounds never played against a similiar deck!plus i told myself even if i had no chance of top 8ing id still play out all my matches,which is saying something bcuz in the standard champs i was so put off by all the dex i went 1-1 drop,bak to bed lol.Just goes to show the environment is very interesting,and as this top 8 showed,mbc isnt wrecking it as far as i can see.

Great point about aggro in by blandestk at Wed, 05/13/2009 - 18:48
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Great point about aggro in long tourneys.

Congrats on the success!

Gratz by Me5794 (not verified) at Thu, 05/14/2009 - 14:38
Me5794's picture

Grats on the placement.

BR Husk was always a favorite of mine. I ran it a lot in TPDC 7.x. It was definately a deck that you have to know your math with.

Hopefully your next run will be more successful.

Cascade for 0/ after thought hemmorage by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 05/19/2009 - 14:04
Anonymous's picture

What happens if someone thought hemmorages your hypergenesis and you cascade with no hypergeneses in your deck? Do you lose by decking yourself? I thought this up when thinking of ornithopter + maelstrom nexus. Also, maybe scourglass/time sieve in a version with artifacts?

I dont think you can deck by bad luck chuck at Tue, 05/19/2009 - 19:27
bad luck chuck's picture

I dont think you can deck yourself with cascade. You just wont find a card, so everything will be shuffled back in.