kalandine's picture
By: kalandine, Mike Mullins
Aug 04 2010 1:26am
Login or register to post comments

I have decided to make a number of changes to the Pauper Recap.  Per comments in the last edition, the descriptions for the archetypes are now hidden, but easily accessible with links that will show the text.  Also, I am going to stop including decklists in the article, instead links will be provided to the pages with the decklists for all of the events covered in the Recap.

More importantly, I have decided to go bi-weekly.  Between this article and Doctor Anime's Event Analysis, the PE analysis is probably being beaten to death.  Also, the charts just don't change much with a single week's results added.  Finally, I find that I have little time to write articles other than the Pauper Recap and there are some non-Tournament Report topics I would like to address.  However, I think even with the Event Analysis article, the Pauper Recap serves a distinct role given its coverage of the PDCs as well as the PE.

Since the last Recap, Mono-Blue Control has continued its dominance, Blue/Black control continues its consistent showing in the top 8, and surprise finalists have included Red Deck Wins and Parlor Tricks, which pulled off the tournament victory.  Rounding out the top 8 in the two weeks of PEs were Blue/Black Control, Goblins, Affinity, Storm, and Stompy.  The big news out of the last two Premier Event (PE) is that one of the two Storm decks is a completely different take on that archetype, featuring only a single red spell.

Read on for more details and insights into the current Pauper metagame.

A sideboard can be used to serve four purposes - addressing a deck's weak matchup, ensuring a good matchup remains solid after the first duel, changing the dynamic of a matchup, and finding a means to outperform the opponent in a mirror match.  Even a good matchup typically runs only a 60% win rate given the difference in play skill among tournament players and the proverbially bad draw that can change the outcome of any duel, no matter what decks are being piloted.  This week I am going to examine each of these concepts in terms of a sideboard card used in the August 1 PE.

Three of the four following options I witnessed having a major impact in at least one match during the Pauper PE.  If nothing else, this will illustrate the innovations that are driving the success of decks in Pauper and maybe provide ideas for your own decks.

Changing the Dynamic of the Matchup

In the first game of a match between  Storm and Stompy, the duel is a race between the Stompy deck's ability to inflict damage quickly with inexpensive creatures and reusable pumps such as Rancor and Bonesplitter and the Storm deck's ability to get setup for its explosive turn.  Since the main decks of these two decks have no true means of interacting with one another, the duel is basically a race more linked to the luck of the draw than the skill of the opponents.

Post sideboarding, the Twiddle Storm player may pad his deck with Moment's Peace in order to alter the conditions of the race.  The Stompy player, however, can turn to Thermokarst to produce the means by which to completely stymie the Storm's player to go off.  A Simic Growth Chamber with an Overgrowth and Fertile Ground attached makes a tempting target for land destruction, and the loss of that land may impact the Storm player's ability to produce mana sufficient to cycle through the deck and produce a sufficient storm count.


Ensuring a Good Matchup Remains in Your Favor

With the trample provided by Rancor and the ridiculous count of low-cost, high power creatures in Stompy, Stompy has a solid likelihood of achieving victory over a Mono-Blue Control deck in the first game.  With the need for blockers in order to stop the damage coming through, MUC-Fae can have difficulty setting up its hand for counterspells and it may run low on Fae to allow Spellstutter Sprite to counter the few 2-cost options in Stompy.

With so many 1-toughness creatures in Stompy (e.g., Jungle Lion, Basking Rootwalla, etc.), MUC-Fae can use Serrated Arrows to great effect to stall the Stompy quick assault.  Stompy, on the other hand, can pull out Hidden Spider and play it on the first turn.  Then, once a spell is countered with Spellstutter Sprite, Hidden Spider produces a 3/5 creature with reach.  This spider is sufficiently large to survive being blocked by a Spire Golem or a Ninja of the Deep Hours.

Turning a Bad Pairing into a Good Matchup

For weeks Stompy has been dominating its matches with Mono-Blue Control decks.  In a semifinals match in the August 1 PE, Mono-Blue Control was facing a Stompy deck and dropped Halimar Wavewatch and shortly thereafter leveled the Merfolk one time.  As a 0/6, Halimar Wavewatch becomes a significant challenge for the Stompy player.  While the Stompy deck can still attack every turn, this defensive option allows the MUC player to block the largest attacker turn after turn. 

For instance, a Rogue Elephant with a Rancor attached still has only five power and the Halimar Wavewatch can block that every turn.  Using its arsenal of flyers, the Mono-Blue Control player can balance out trading creature for creature with the Stompy player and attacking uncontested in the air.  Absorbing two to five points of damage every turn provides the Mono-Blue Control player the time needed to draw more creatures and counterspells to turn the tide against Stompy.


Winning the Mirror Match

One of the most challenging tasks players face in a tournament is facing and defeating an opponent running the same deck.  When two decks of the same archetype face one another, play skill and luck play significant roles in the outcome as there is no advantage to either player based on the archetypal matchups.  Sideboard decisions, however, can go a long way in changing the balance between two specific examples of an archetype and sometimes those decisions can impact the overall out come of a game.

Sandstorm provides the option for a Stompy deck to eliminate quite a few attackers and alter the race between two Stompy decks.  Unleashing even a single copy of Sandstorm and taking our a couple of opposing creatures can shift the game heavily in one players favor.

Developing a sideboard is a complicated process that involves deciding which matchups can be addressed in a sideboard and how many slots of the sideboard can be allocated to a particular matchup solution.  In reality a sideboard is relevant even when selecting what deck to bring to a tournament.  The next installment of Pauper Recap should include a discussion of deck selection give the current metagame. 

Rather than focus on one of my casual decks this, this Deck Spotlight will address the new entry to the top 8 brought by brettwjayne.  Although the deck wins through a storm count, it is completely different than the other storm entries.  The typical storm deck operates using a plethora of draw (e.g., Sign in Blood, Ideas Unbound, Ponder), mana producing cards (e.g., Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Seething Song), and cards that both cantrip and alter the type mana in your mana pool (e.g., Manamorphose, Chromatic Sphere, Chromatic Star).  After a sequence of spells and abilities which draws a majority of the deck and produces a large pool of mana, the player can cast one or more Grapeshot and/or Empty the Warrens for the win. 

The deck can be complicated to run in both terms of knowing when to start the process and how to manage the growing mana pool.  The deck typically runs only twelve lands, and sacrifices those lands for two mana, so a failure to win the game the turn the combo is attempted can result in an inability to reestablish a sufficient battlefield presence to try again before your life is reduced to 0.

The version that placed in eighth place in this week's Pauper PE uses only one red card, a single copy of Grapeshot.  That single card is the only win condition in the entire deck, but the deck does run one copy of Reclaim to retrieve it from the graveyard.  Instead of the cantrip aspect to fuel hand and mana pool growth, this version of storm uses enchanted lands to produce a plethora of mana and a handful of cards to continually untap those lands.  Fertile Ground and Overgrowth can be used to enchant lands, particularly lands that produce two mana such as Izzet Boilerworks and Simic Growth Chamber.

Once the enchantments build up on a land, Cloud of Faeries and Snap may be cast by a single land, often a land that produces more mana than their cost, and untap two lands.  This allows for the deck's pilot to build a mana pool to very significant levels.  The extraneous mana is then used to cast draw spells such as Ponder, Deep Analysis, and Compulsive Research.  Slowly the mana pool grows and the number of spells cast in the turn increments to levels that allow the single copy of Grapeshot to inflict lethal damage.

Consider a situation where a player controls a Simic Growth Chamber enchanted by a Fertile Ground and a Island enchanted with an Overgrowth.  The player taps both for mana: (the extra is from Fertile Ground) and then casts Cloud of Faeries.  Both lands untap with remaining in the mana pool.  The remaining mana is used to cast Ideas Unbound and Fertile Ground on the Simic Growth Chamber.  With three more cards in hand, the two lands are tapped for mana adding to the mana pool.  Snap is cast bouncing the Cloud of Faeries back to hand leaving five mana in the pool and untapping the two lands.  From this point, the caster can continue the cycle of untapping lands and growing the mana pool, enchanting the lands with more auras to increase mana production, and drawing more cards.

This version has both strengths and weaknesses compared to the Red/Black/Blue Storm deck.  In addition, the game flow between the two versions works very differently.  The version relies on hand refill through cantrips while the version can cast much more costly draw spells and replenish in numbers, rather than one card at a time. 

Since lands are not sacrificed, an early countered spell does not have nearly the same negative repercussions to the Blue/Green version, which can simply try again next turn.  While Reclaim can recover the Grapeshot that is discarded by a Duress, the deck simply folds if that Grapeshot is eliminated by a Castigate.  To me, the biggest disadvantage of the version is that it relies on a creature, Cloud of Faeries, in an environment that includes substantial anti-creature cards in virtually every deck.  Whether Exclude, Lightning Bolt, or Agony Warp, most of the top decks include cards that will disrupt the play of Snap by killing the Cloud of Faeries which can significantly impede the progress of the deck in building a storm count sufficient to end the game.

Some of these disadvantages are helped through the sideboard's inclusion of a second Grapeshot and a second ReclaimMoment's Peace will be extremely effective at buying a few turns against aggressive creature decks such as Goblins and Stompy (but obviously not full-proof given brettwjayne's loss to Goblins in the quarterfinals).  Muddle the Mixture is included in the main deck as a means to search for Cloud of Faeries, Snap, and Grapeshot.  Three additional copies in the sideboard should help when facing discard decks and will improve reliability when necessary.

The last sideboard card to discuss is Early Frost.  This spell can set things up very nicely to ensure that the opponent has few (Snuff Out and Fireblast, for example) to zero options to disrupt the Storm player's finale.  However, Early Frost is subject to an easy counter by a MUC deck via Disrupt.  As such, since the deck can build substantial mana resources, a more difficult spell to work around such as Gigadrowse may work better.  In addition, this deck has a good chance of catching an opponent off guard in the first game, but the subsequent games will be more difficult, and if the deck graduates from a rogue deck to a tournament regular, Gigadrowse or Early Frost may need to be promoted from the sideboard to the main deck.

In addition, the deck is susceptible to one of the most common sideboard options that is used to combat the typical storm deck: Benevolent Unicorn.  The sideboard includes Echoing Truth to deal with this hoser, but a spell such as Kaervek's Torch could use the tremendous amount of mana built up through the storm-count escalation for a lethal shot.

 Blue/Green Storm by brettwjayne

Lands (20)
   3 Forest
   7 Island
   2 Izzet Boilerworks
   4 Simic Growth Chamber
   4 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (4)
   4 Cloud of Faeries

Non-Creatures (36)
   4 Compulsive Research
   4 Deep Analysis
   4 Fertile Ground
   4 Frantic Search
   1 Grapeshot
   4 Ideas Unbound
   1 Muddle the Mixture
   1 Oona's Grace
   4 Overgrowth
   4 Ponder
   1 Reclaim
   4 Snap

 Sideboard (15)
   4 Early Frost
   1 Echoing Truth
   1 Flaring Pain
   1 Grapeshot
   4 Moment's Peace
   3 Muddle the Mixture
   1 Reclaim


Pauper is a straightforward environment.  It allows for deck construction using only cards that have been printed as common on MTGO (note that this means that some cards printed as common in paper Magic are not legal in Pauper and that some cards have been printed as common Online, but never in paper, and these are legal).  The banned list for Classic Pauper is very manageable and consists of exactly one card:

Each week there are three regular Classic Pauper events.  Wizards of the Coast hosts a weekly Pauper Challenge Premier Event.  The Pauper Challenge is currently paying prizes in Magic 2011 booster packs:
Place Prizes QPs
1st 30 Magic 2011 booster packs 3
2nd 20 Magic 2011 booster packs 3
3rd - 4th 12 Magic 2011 booster packs 3
5th - 8th 6 Magic 2011 booster packs 3
9th - 16th 3 Magic 2011 booster packs 0

The next Pauper Challenge Premier Event will be held:

  • Saturday August 7, 2010 at 5PM EDT
  • Saturday August 14, 2010 at 11AM EDT

In addition to the Pauper Challenge, there are currently two player run events using the Classic Pauper format.  The first is the Tuesday Pauper Deck Challenge (or TPDC), which is held on Tuesdays with open registration beginning at 7:30 PM EST and matches starting approximately a half-hour later.  The second is the European Pauper Deck Challenge (or EPDC), which is held on Thursdays with registration at 1:00 PM EST and the first round starting 30 minutes later.

The following table provides an overview of each event showing the number of players for each event and the deck archetypes that reached each round of the finals of these events.


The following pie chart illustrates the overall performance of the archetypes to reach the finals of each tournament.


Five tournaments with winners from five different archetypes.  While only six archetypes are represented in the top 2 of these five tournaments, fourteen different deck varieties reach the finals of these tournaments with styles including control, aggro-control, pure aggro, and combo.

Before getting into a discussion of the metagame, here is a breakdown to the deck archetypes found in Classic Pauper.  While some archetypes are perennial top performers in these tournaments, other archetypes are more sporadic in the performance.  The list below identifies the most common archetypes in Pauper Classic.  This list will be updated as new archetypes enter the collective consciousness of Pauper Classic.  While many players will have a slightly different perspectives on why a deck fits into an archetype or not, these definitions will be used to breakdown the metagame for each week's tournaments.

The graphs provided indicate the number of decks of the archetype that reached the Top 8 of the week's Pauper Challenge PE.

To read a description of an archetype, click the archetype's link and the description will drop down between the title and graph.


Black/White Control


Blue/Black Control


Blue/Red Aggro-Control

Blue/White Blink


Esper Control


Izzet Post

Mono-Black Control


Mono-Blue Control

Parlor Tricks

Red Deck Wins




Team America


Tortured Existence

White Weenie


As more archetypes reach the top 8 of the Premier Event or show sufficient prominence in the Player Run Events, they will be added to this list.  As new sets are released, the contents of specific archetypes are likely to evolve over time, and as such, descriptions will be reviewed and updated periodically.  As an eternal format, the historical performance of archetypes is an indication of the robustness of certain strategies, but does not necessarily indicate future performance as new cards enter the card pool.


Please use these links to review the decklists from each of these events:

The art used in Pauper Recap comes from:

Good luck navigating the currents of Pauper Classic and I hope this provides a useful resource for the overall environment.



the echoing truth is for the by BrettwJayne at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 05:43
BrettwJayne's picture

the echoing truth is for the storm matchup. snap is surprisingly good against the unicorn for some reason

First - congratulations on by kalandine at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 14:11
kalandine's picture

First - congratulations on your success with the deck.

I know snap can be good against Beneveloent Unicorn, but I suspect that having to use a Snap on a Unicorn can be disruptive to the overall engine behind Twiddle storm in producing the mana required to build the storm count. In addition, if a deck can get multiple Unicorns in play, Echoing Truth would be more efficient at removing them than Snap.

I know that Echoing Truth (like Echoing Decay) is very effective against a resolved Empty the Warrens. I just never see Storm win by Goblins in the replays I have watched. Usually they manage to get off two copies of Grapeshot. While the RBU Storm has trouble hitting the 20 spell storm count, they seem very decent at developing sufficient mana and card draw to reliably drawing and casting two Grapeshot with at least ten spells already resolved in the turn. Maybe my random viewings of matchups simply has not been reflective of the true performance of Storm.

while going off theres no by BrettwJayne at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 14:24
BrettwJayne's picture

while going off theres no rush to bounce the unicorn and for the most part you never need the full 4 snaps to finish going off. and with the clock that this deck has winning t 4-5 consistently the storm decks dont usually have the luxury of waiting to the point where theyll be able to double grape shot, making them settle for etw

As someone that's been by Reclusive3000 at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:52
Reclusive3000's picture

As someone that's been thinking of trying the player-run tournaments your article is very useful.

But mostly I'd just like to say that the graphical presentation of the article is very, very good. The chapter titles, the archetypes' graphs, etc. Great work!

I'm glad you were forthright by ghweiss at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 13:03
ghweiss's picture

I'm glad you were forthright about witnessing only 3 of the 4 principles/examples given here, because the 4th one is quite imaginary. Sandstorm doesn't do anything in the Stompy mirror. Even if you find an opponent with terrible cards like Jungle Lion/Scryb Sprite/Ledgewalker, he can just pump his guys in response to your Sandstorm (which is his plan in the first place, not something he needs to try very hard to set up). Quirion Ranger rarely attacks, and Basking Rootwalla should be sided out in some quantity (as should Jungle Lion, if somehow that is in the maindeck).

Sandstorm is strictly for Empty the Warrens, and it is a desperate/ineffective answer at that (I chose not to play any copies).

The single most effective sb card for the Stompy mirror is Fog (or whichever equivalent).

I will agree that For or by kalandine at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 14:05
kalandine's picture

I will agree that For or Moment's Peace is a better option for the Stompy mirror, but I have watched quite a few stompy decks, and almost none of them ever use pump to save their creatures. Looking at your deck list, as while as Stompy lists from aclog and specks (sp?), there simply isn't enough pump to plan on it being available in response to direct damage. Also, while I haven't seen Sandstorm resolved in the mirror, I have seen Seismic Shudder devastate a Stompy deck taking out three 1 toughness attackers. I don't see why Sandstorm could not be as effective, though it would not be nearly as good against your versions of Stompy (the more versions of 1 toughness creatures being run, the more effective these 1 damage sweepers can be, obviously).

Very good read, I really by Cl3m at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 14:46
Cl3m's picture

Very good read, I really enjoyed the part about sideboarding.

Keep up the good work !

Look, if you are going to by ghweiss at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 15:26
ghweiss's picture

Look, if you are going to report on the whole format and analyze tournament results, you'd do yourself and your readers a favor by taking some hints from the people who actually won with the decks. You might even consider doing that before writing these articles.

I don't mean to speak for BrettwJayne, but the way you are telling him how to build and play his own deck (after 2 great finishes in a row) is just embarrassing. Susceptible to Benevolent Unicorn? Please.

And re: Stompy, "there simply isn't enough pump to plan on it being available in response to direct damage"? According to whom? People who just throw away their pump spells by casting them mainphase as Lava Spikes? Trust me (if you can handle giving up the reigns), the only deck that overloads Stompy's pump spells is a dedicated burn deck. In the Stompy mirror, both players have pump spells in hand a majority of the time - unless they are playing poorly. It is also the case that rarely more than 2 creatures attack together, and VERY rarely do ANY of them have a toughness of 1. Seismic Shudder is a different story, because it also kills non-attackers like Quirions, Plant tokens, and Rootwallas that you want to discard to Mongrel in response.

Sorry for the tone of this post, but I already tried the carrot :/

I have always taken by kalandine at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 20:14
kalandine's picture

I have always taken constructive criticism with any article I have written, and just like anyone I can get things wrong. I do look at the pdcmagic forums to see different thoughts on decks being played and, to what extent possible, I am watching as much of a variety of the matches in the PE that I can. This means that I am seeing good plays, bad plays, and lucky plays - all of which are valid components of the metagame.

I continue to try to educate myself not just on what one player is doing with a deck, but how a deck is being played across a tournament. I would be more than happy to take information from players who perform well with a deck, but basically have not had a desire to intrude. In the future, I will IM the players when we are both online and hopefully this will improve the article.

Overall, I stand by the fact that relying on a creature to generate storm count in an environment with substantial creature kill at instant speed (burn, goblins, blue/black control, serrated arrows in a variety of sideboards, etc.) is risky. I have seen others worry about the Benevolent Unicorn's impact and I knew Snap could handle the Unicorn, but my witnessing different pilots failing to go off properly made me weary that wasting a Snap on the Unicorn was really an easy solution for the deck. This is not based on a deck list, but observation of games played. For a more skilled pilot, timing and resource utilization probably changes the viability of using a key engine part to deal with an opposing hosure card.

The seismic shudder incident was seen during an attack. While I agree that it has reprecussions to non-attackers that one incident showed that during an attack it could be devastating. I expanded that witnessed event to cover Sandstorm. From the sounds of it, this was an extrapolation of an uncharacteristic event for Stompy. I bow my head to you on the point.

Last - it was never my intent to tell brettjwayne how to build his deck. Just like anyone in a discussion, I provided insight into my thoughts on the deck. I think he has a great deck or I wouldn't have about it to begin with.

I do not nearly have the hubris to tell anyone how to play any deck. I am willing to share my insights and preferences on a deck and allow readers to take what they want from the discussion. Maybe I spark an idea for someone else to build on, maybe I get something wrong and relevant and interesting dialogue takes place - either way a win for anyone visiting this site. I would prefer to not be flat out wrong, but even a difference of opinion isn't a bad building block.

I agree with gwheiss, and by lenney at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 17:14
lenney's picture

I agree with gwheiss, and brett. You should really start listening to the pro's on this one. Sandstorm does little to nothing. It was a good try, but it's about just not as effective against Storm or Mirror as Fog. Which brings me to my question.. What about Choking Vines as an alternative to Fog?
Oh, and Echoing Truth is simply not needed. This deck did not lose to Storm on Sunday. It lost to Goblins. Which again I ask... Choking Vines?

First, I fully acknowledge by kalandine at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 20:34
kalandine's picture

First, I fully acknowledge the skill and knowledge held by brett and gwheiss and other top players, and if anything I have said has seemed negative towards them, that was never my intent. If I didn't care about the format and the innovations being developed in an eternal format and put on display in the PE, I wouldn't spend the effort putting these together.

In the finals, at least, Twiddle Storm lost to MUC on Aug 1 and Goblins, as you said, on July 25.

I assume you are talking about Twiddle Storm in regards to Choking Vines as it would be too mana costly for Stompy. I think between the number of Goblins that have 2 Toughness plus Goblin Sledder/Mogg Raider, Choking Sands would be risky against goblins. Moment's Peace seems a better option as one copy buys the Storm player two turns. Both brettwkjayne and MakingSmartPlays ran Moment's Peace in their sideboard and I saw it used effectively in a couple of matches in the past PE.

First of all, every week you by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 21:07
Paul Leicht's picture

First of all, every week you do this and do a good job of it so kudos. Second, everyone who reads articles on pure should take things said here with some salt as these all primarily opinion articles not factual pro writings by top pros. As it is this is a service. Even if the opinions are in people's opinions incorrect or some of the facts stated are inaccurate a modicum of respect is due the writers. Particular those who put real effort and talent into their work when it is not necessary to do so. That is MY opinion of course. Keep doing what you are doing Kal and don't let the negativity get you down. There will be those who feel the need to knock you for any variety of reasons. Imho that means you are doing something right.

As far as the specific things go that people are quibbling about good on you for owning your mistakes. Nothing says adulthood like owning what you do wrong. Keep them coming!

I wasn't trying to be by lenney at Wed, 08/04/2010 - 21:12
lenney's picture

I wasn't trying to be negative, or positive... Keep writing. At the very least, it opens a dialogue. I also forgot to mention how good Choking Vines is against Fae. :)

Mike: Thanks for the replies by ghweiss at Thu, 08/05/2010 - 07:41
ghweiss's picture

Mike: Thanks for the replies and civility. I look forward to your next article. If you have any Stompy questions, feel free to ask me on modo or pdc or wherever.

Paul Emerson Leicht: Next time you can just write "Haters gonna hate." It is less words, but everyone will understand what you mean.

Lol, Yeah but that's so by Paul Leicht at Thu, 08/05/2010 - 11:11
Paul Leicht's picture

Lol, Yeah but that's so cliche :p Anyway I don't think that really covers what I feel. I know verbosity is frowned upon in a society where conciseness and cool laconic attitudes are the hallmark of the hero. But I am how I am. Also you weren't really hatin'. Just being a bit too harsh imho.