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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Apr 30 2010 4:12am
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Rise of the Eldrazi has dropped a pretty little two drop into my lap: Bloodthrone Vampire. Anyone who knows me knows of my love for the descendants of Phyrexian Ghoul. Such creatures represent explosive damage opportunities. This is due in no small part to a deck's ability to create tokens (another theme of RoE which I will get to later). In a Ghoul (or Husk) deck, every initial investment in a token turns itself into a potential Shock as the game progresses. This was of course a much stronger strategy when one could stack damage, meaning you could trade a Keldon Marauders with an actual creature while still growing Carrion Feeder- the main engine of such a deck.

Take, for example, this deck from just about one year ago:

 

Husk in Red
10th Place May 9th, 2009
Creatures
4 Nantuko Husk
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Mogg War Marshal
2 Vithian Stinger
22 cards

Other Spells
1 Death Denied
1 Grim Harvest
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Firebolt
2 Seal of Fire
4 Blightning
16 cards
Lands
2 Forgotten Cave
2 Barren Moor
2 Rakdos Carnarium
8 Swamp
8 Mountain
22 cards

Sideboard
4 Duress
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Pyroblast
3 Martyr of Ashes
15 cards
Nantuko Husk

 

This deck was well positioned at the time because it could dodge the defining card at the time: Tendrils of Corruption. Husk in Red could also pack a potent disruption angle, following up a expertly stacked Mesmeric Fiend and Carrion Feeder with a Blightning to rip three from the grip and deal five damage (casting the Fiend and the sacrificing it with its enter the battlefield trigger still on the stack will cause its leave the battlefield trigger to resolve first, resulting in a permanently exiled card). I still believe that was the best deck at the time and I was the one holding it back.

Times have changed however. In addition to losing the ability to stack damage (which only mattered with Marauders a significant amount of time), Tendrils is not the force it once was. Rather, the top decks appear to be a cycle of Storm-Goblins-Teachings-White Weenie (in no particular order). Storm is just the nuts, winning on absolute power, which is kept in check by Teachings' disruption, which is vulnerable to Goblins' attack. Teachings also falls to WW, which claims a good match with Goblins, but stinks it up against Storm. This is a simplification, but these four points represent the best decks of Pauper for the time being. Husk fell somewhere between Goblins and Teachings on this scale, able to pump out massive amounts of damage while being disruptive. The modern Goblins deck, with their four Goblin Sledder and four Mogg Raider operate on a similar model to Husk- they can convert previous investments into extra damage, albeit at a one-to-one ratio (rather than two-to-one).

Can Husk make it in this environment? This depends, in my mind, on item: how powerful is a turn two Mesmeric Fiend into Blightning? In a field loaded with Storm and Teachings, the ability to nab the best card and then some more, well, that is pretty enticing. But with the stack gone, what is the best way for the deck to operate? Quite likely, the answer falls to the a rather unfair little man: Goblin Bushwhacker.

Husk decks and Goblins share a key card: Mogg War Marshal. The ability to pump out three creatures for the price of one (and therefore more damage) helps to set up those turns where you just smile and turn your dudes sideways. Bushwhacker provides the ability to dump your hand in one turn and still crack in for everlasting gobstoppers of damage.

Take, for example, a core like this:

4 Carrion Feeder

4 Bloodthrone Vampire

4 Mesmeric Fiend

2 Phyrexian Ghoul

4 Blightning

4 Goblin Bushwhacker

4 Mogg War Marshal

 

You can just as easily be swinging for four on turn two as you could be casting Castigate plus Shock. The addition of Vampire allow the deck to reach a critical attack one turn earlier while providing redundancy early. Later in the game, using all the mana available to drop a hand and give everything Haste only to have the Bushwhacker do some extra good with the help of Ghoul (in the form of one total additional damage) is not insignificant. Testing a pre-Rise version of the deck has shown that Bushwhacker does add another layer to the deck, helping deal damage and sometimes yielding an “Oops, I win” turn.

Here is the version I am running until I get access to Rise:

 

Husk in Red
A proposed decklist
Creatures
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Mogg War Marshal
2 Vithian Stinger
3 Nantuko Husk
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Mesmeric Fiend
25 cards

Other Spells
1 Grim Harvest
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Blightning
4 Firebolt
13 cards
Lands
8 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
8 Mountain
2 Rakdos Carnarium
22 cards
 
Carrion Feeder

 

This deck plays a sightly different game than the one I advocated with stacking damage. That deck would build towards a turn and an inevitably large Feeder or Husk punching through for damage. There, these creatures helped to offset the massive amounts of lifegain running around thanks to Corrupt and Tendrils. In the old deck, Marauders acted as a pseudo-removal spell, often trading with their best creature while and then eaten by a Feeder for more punishment later. Without stacked damage, Marauders lose their value (although five damage for two mana is still exciting). The deck presented lacks some explosiveness, but makes up for it with a secondary plan of attack. With an additional land and more tokens, this deck can churn out a Bushwhacker turn and win from nowhere. Additionally, it loses nothing from the disruption package. If blocking becomes more important, it might be time to reduce the number of Feeders and increase the number of creatures that can block (stating the obvious here).

It makes sense to revisit token strategies now, considering the Eldrazi Spawn producers. These creatures and spells all pose incredibly interesting questions during deckbuilding, not the least of which is “what can I use this mana for?”

But that is getting ahead of myself. I am still talking tokens here. Spawners appear in Black, Red, and Green. Black and Red each get two (Red does get three, but Brood Birthing makes you jump through hoops), while Green gets three. Emrakul's Hatcher has been compared to Siege-Gang Commander due to its cost and the mini-army it brings along, but without an independent damage source, those tokens are going to sit around, and there simply are better burn spells than Spawning Breath running around. Aside from IzzetPost (which has enough mana already), no red deck wants what the Hatcher offers- there simply is no good use of the tokens. The best way to make them attack is with the aforementioned Bushwhacker, but are you going to want to do that on turn seven? Well, maybe- but the deck that does that does not strike me as one that will stay alive that long.

Black's “accelerators” cost five and six, and neither help with Black's big mana endgame spells as they all require a hefty commitment to Swamps. Dread Drone is more exciting, if only because it can help create an easier time to recur Grim Harvest, as you get a discount if you make your Spawn go pop. Is this enough to warrant a slot in Black-X token decks? I am not sure. 4/1 is awfully fragile and without any way to get around defenders, I have a feeling that this guy is going to be dying quite a bit.

Green's token producers are probably the best from a pure token point of view. The two creatures, Nest Invader and Kozilek's Predator have a cost that is on curve for their bodies, but also churn out chumps. When paired with Black, these two can really pump the damage output because of when they hit the table. Following up a turn one Carrion Feeder with a Nest Invader or a Predator can represent quite a bit of damage in a short span of time. Couple this with Green's theme of Saprolings, and there might be a deck there. Back in the days of PDC, there was a deck based around pumping out Saprolings and making a large Husk, or using Deathspore Thallid to clear the way. Taking out large defenders was rarely a problem if a Thallid stuck thanks to cards such as Scatter the Seeds and Fists of Ironwood. In modern Pauper, such a deck would likely want to abandon the Phyrexian Plaguelord plan main and just go all out. No one really wants to see a token eater wearing a Rancor on the opposite side of the Red Zone. This deck would lose some potency from the Red version- no Blightning and no (Burn), but Trample, in this world of Goblins, is not something to be ignored.

That does it for the tokens as permanents. These guys all have that all important ability to generate mana. Rise of the Eldrazi is a set designed to allow players to power out those gigantic namesake creatures. That is part of the reason why we see this acceleration on creatures that cost four and five mana. In Pauper, however, there is just no good way to use most of these tokens for their mana. What cards are so great at seven, eight, or nine that you are going to waste slots on mediocre creatures? The only spell that benefits from this is Aurochs Herd, which comes down a whole turn faster thanks to the cards in Green. Is this enough to make a card I have long maligned playable? I am not sure, but it is something to keep in mind.

The best of the bunch, not surprising, are the Green Spawners. Unlike before, here the spell shines. Growth Spasm is interesting because it gives you an immediate and permanent boost, and is not unlike Harrow, and of course, is drastically different. Both cost three on the face, but in actuality, Spasm costs 1G and Harrow costs G, since you are getting back some mana right away. Both spells put you up one land for good, and Spasm gives you a little extra prize just once, but Harrow lets you use the lands right way. Harrow can get you to three colors, whereas Spasm gets you to two. This point is mostly moot, however, since Harrow is not played consistently. Growth Spasm probably will not see play either.

The Eldrazi themselves are not exciting enough to build a deck around. While Ulamog's Crusher can be devastating once it hits the board, even in an ideal mana ramp situation, it will not come down until four, and by that time most of your opponents will have gone a long way to victory while you have mana. Hand of Emrakul is a trick. While it is possible to get it down on turn two thanks to Mothdust Changeling and Brood Birthing, such a deck goes all in on its opening hand, which can lead to many a sad panda.

Pauper is an Eternal format, it draws on the entire history of cards available on Magic Online. There is incredibly stiff competition for the cards that make it into the different top level decks. When a set is released, the theme is going to have to be pretty strong to impact Pauper in a meaningful way. The ones that do matter are almost always cheap and incredibly useful- I'm looking at you Kor Skyfisher, push a deck over the top or do something incredibly strong for its cost- hello Bushwhacker. Rise is based around being a “fatty boom boom” set, and Pauper is not the right environment. Therefore, most of the cards that help to power out this amazing creatures, well, just will not make the cut, at least in the mana production mode. This is not to say that RoE will not have cards for Pauper, as I think See Beyond, Vendetta, and Hyena Umbra are all playable and Staggershock is pretty absurd. But then again, those cards are pretty darn good.

Keep slingin' commons-

-Alex

 

13 Comments

Where did anonymous comments by JMason at Sat, 05/01/2010 - 15:28
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Where did anonymous comments go?

they got rid of them by ShardFenix at Sat, 05/01/2010 - 16:46
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they got rid of them thankfully

glad to see you cared so much by JustSin at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 00:00
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glad to see you cared so much about this article as to completely ignore anything he had to say in order to start a discussion on something completely irrelevant...

That being said, I'm not a big pauper player, but it's good to see that someone has their eye to the future with BR because I always thought with Blightning being a common it should be a much stronger color choice for pauper

i liked husk in red, but by ShardFenix at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 00:34
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i liked husk in red, but every time i ever tried it in pdc the meta was awful, or i was just a bad player

All the time I had to write by JMason at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 12:28
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All the time I had to write comments was consumed working out how to register. I'm really bad at those capcha things, always takes me about 10 goes. And I always left my name on my anonymous comments anyway. And have you noticed the volume of comments is way down?

I'm not much interested in the deck, as Alex says the power of husk was neutered when they took damage off the stack. As far as the article itself, well I think it stands as an example of good practice to anyone writing about magic. I used to think Alex came over a bit arrogant, but now he has grown into one of the most influential and interesting writers around. Good job.

Yes it is good they got rid by Cruel_Hellraiser at Sat, 05/01/2010 - 18:13
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Yes it is good they got rid of them, now if any douche bag wants to make a stupid comment they cant hide behind the anonymous alias.

Blightning is by far my by Cruel_Hellraiser at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 00:43
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Blightning is by far my favorite card in pauper.

Will Flame Slash have a place by Rerepete at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 12:35
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4

Will Flame Slash have a place in Pauper? Seems good in a non-Burn type of deck like this.

No, because Skred is better. by Doctor Anime at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 15:57
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No, because Skred is better.

Double post, sorry by SpikeBoyM at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 17:04
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Double post, sorry

Disagree by SpikeBoyM at Sun, 05/02/2010 - 17:03
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Skred is better in the abstract because it scales and is an instant.
However, if creatures continue to be pushed and we see larger creatures on the early turns, Flame Slash might see play.
Example: Flame Slash can kill a Putrid Leech on turn 2. Skred cannot.

-Alex

Wait until Putrid Leech by Doctor Anime at Mon, 05/03/2010 - 14:48
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Wait until Putrid Leech activates it's one-per-turn ability, then Skred it in response. Dead Leech on turn 2. Skred can't kill a turn1 Mogg Conscripts, but that's about it.

Leech by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 05/03/2010 - 15:37
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Unless they're a good Leech player and don't pump it into untapped Red.
I am not saying Flame Slash is the greatest card ever, just saying that it shouldn't be discounted.