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By: arekdahl, Alex Rekdahl
Nov 23 2011 4:32am
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Pauper Report


Hello everyone, and welcome to the Pauper Report. This is a new article series that I hope to update weekly that will cover various Pauper decks in detail, as well as provide specific matchup and sideboarding tips. I'll start with a bit of an introduction to the format and my experiences with Pauper. I started playing Pauper about a year ago when I first got my MTGO account, and it helped me quite a bit to learn the basics of constructed play without having to break the bank. Eventually, I discovered Limited(and the subsequent addiction to Limited), so I took a lengthy Pauper Hiatus. Recently, I've been having the itch to play constructed, and Pauper offered a way to help fund the aforementioned Limited addiction. I found a deck that was very cheap to build, and surprisingly competitive against the metagame, and I found that I got great value with such a cheap deck. I've heard a lot of players talking at my local FNM about wanting to play MTGO, but not wanting to spend a lot of money, and looking for a way to start small and "grind" their way up. What follows is an opportunity to do just that -

The Deck

The basic premise behind the Mono-Black Control deck is to win the game based on card advantage. The deck features a lot of disruption in the form of discard effects, removal, and a good creature count (for a control deck) to provide a threat on the board. Anyway, on to the decklist!


Mono-Black Control
Pauper Deck
4 Phyrexian Rager
4 Chittering Rats
4 Ravenous Rats
3 Liliana's Specter
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
17 cards

Other Spells
4 Corrupt
4 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Sign in Blood
3 Victim of Night
2 Wrench Mind
2 Geth's Verdict
1 Duress
20 cards
23 Swamp
23 cards



Corrupt is your main win condition in this deck. Even casting it for the minimum of 6 will be a nice swing in life totals, and can turn around a sticky situation against an aggressive deck. The deck also packs Tendrils of Corruption, which cannot be used for lethal damage, but provides an excellent removal spell against aggressive decks, and the life gain is usually very important. The creature curve mainly focuses on the 3-drop slot, with Chittering Rats for a timewalk effect, Phyrexian Rager for card draw, and Liliana's Specter for discard on a 2/1 flyer. Nice! The creatures are rounded out by the always useful Ravenous Rats, and Okiba-Gang Shinobi, which can be brutal in a lot of situations. When you use the ninjitsu ability, you get a creature on the board that cannot be countered (great against control), and if your opponent doesn't have a bounce or removal spell, they are going to be chucking 2 cards into the bin. The removal suite also features the new card from Innistrad, Victim of Night, which is basically an unconditional removal spell in the format. Geth's Verdict is also there for answers to creatures that you normally wouldn't be able to target. This is mostly useful against the green infect deck which packs Vines of Vastwood, and the mono-white deck that has Guardian of the Guildpact. The deck is rounded out by an excellent discard spell in Wrench Mind, and a singular Duress. If you have a few extra tickets lying around, Unearth is a nice inclusion that can be a great tempo card, as well as a tool for whatever ETB effect may be useful at the time. I've tested the deck with and without this card, and while the results did improve with Unearth, it is not essential, as the deck can still be successful without it.


Rancid Earth - The Rancid Earth is primarily there to combat Cloudpost, which relies on the deck's namesake along with Glimmerpost to create huge amounts of mana, which is why the land destruction is important. You might also find this useful against 3-color rogue decks, and I've even seen it used in the mirror matchup.

Echoing Decay - The Echoing Decay is your main answer to the Familiar Storm combo deck, which casts a lot of card draw and filter spells, and cards with Dark Ritual-like effects to create a high storm count, and then play either Grapeshot for lethal damage, or Empty the Warrens along with Goblin Bushwhacker to attack with a horde of goblins (usually for lethal damage also). The Echoing Decay is great to destroy all the goblin tokens. Also can be useful against aggressive decks that run a lot of 4-of creatures, and any deck that makes tokens.

Duress - Duress is your silver bullet against the control matchup. A turn-1 Duress on the play can often be the difference between winning and losing against Mono-Blue Control, and is also big against Cloudpost. It even works well against Affinity to take some of the mana fixers like Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere, and Springleaf Drum. Any deck that doesn't run a lot of creatures is a good time to bring this card in.

Disfigure - This Zendikar common is your early-game removal of choice for aggressive creature decks. Against some decks, you can kill most, if not all, of the creatures in their deck with this card. Great against Mono-white and Goblins, and also good against some of the Mono-Blue variants that run more creatures than others.

Distress - This card can be used in a variety of ways. It provides a good answer to creatures like Guardian of the Guildpact that you just can't deal with normally. It also can be used as another Duress effect against control decks. If you can afford it, you might also try Crypt Rats in this slot. Traditionally, Crypt Rats was a 4-of in the main deck, but with the metagame shifting to more combo and control decks, it is no longer a mandatory inclusion. At about 3 tickets apiece, they are pretty expensive, and are only used against a few decks. For players with higher budgets, I would recommend it over Distress, as you board it in against mostly the same decks, and probably provides better results than Distress. However for newer players and players with a smaller budget, I would recommend staying with Distress; the cost of the Crypt Rats probably isn't worth the benefit if it is a significant portion of your budget.

Relic of Progenitus - This is probably the card in your sideboard that you will use the least. The main use is for decks that rely on a lot of effects from the graveyard. I have seen some Dredge variants, as well as a Zombie deck with a ton of recursion that this card was an MVP against, but don't expect to run into those cards very often. It can also be used against the storm combo deck sometimes, due to the fact that there will be a lot of dead cards in your deck, and the combo deck relies on the bonuses from some cards like Rite of Flame to produce more mana.

Metagame Overview

One of the nice things about this deck is that it performs consistently across the metagame. It doesn't have a lot of great matchups, but really doesn't have many terrible ones either. It has some aggressive aspects that can outrace control decks, removal and lifegain that can keep aggro decks at bay until you take over, and enough disruption to make it difficult on combo decks. The following is an overview of a good portion of the decks you will see in 2-man events and daily events -


The burn deck that is currently being played in Pauper is capable of some very quick wins, packing a ton of burn spells that are aimed right at your dome in order to deal 20 as fast as possible. In that lies the weakness against this deck. The deck is built around winning on turns 3-4, meaning that they use between 10-12 cards(including lands) to deal 20 damage. Our control deck packs enough disruption that you will usually find yourself with about 2 creatures on board, and at somewhere around 5 life, when the red deck stalls out. They are left to topdeck, and if you can land any sort of life gain, you usually send them to their scoop phase.


This white weenie deck is also another one of our better matchups. While not as good of a matchup as Burn, the deck also has a lot of success here. This white deck (like all white weenie decks) plays a lot of cheap creatures, and packs Bonesplitter as a cheap way to get a lot of damage through. The flyers like Kor Skyfisher and Leonin Skyhunter can be brutal with this equipment attached, and the Guardian of the Guildpact is just downright scary. Our success against this matchup lies within our lifegain. With our removal suite that we have in our deck (and sideboard), you can race the deck or keep it bay while you wait to (hopefully) draw into your Corrupt to win the game or your Tendrils of Corruption to stay in the race.

UR Cloudpost Control

This deck can be a backbreaker against us, and we are really only successful if we are able to strike early and keep the deck held down as much as we can. The deck relies on Cloudpost and Glimmerpost to create a lot of mana, and packs the classic blue counterspell suite, as well as a good amount of red removal. With Mystical Teachings, the deck performs like a toolbox, and can get what it needs at the right time. The deck eventually wins by using the massive amount of mana on things like Ulamog's Crusher, Capsize with buyback to bounce all of your permanents and kill any tempo you had, and a lethal burn spell like Rolling Thunder or Kaervek's Torch.

Mono-Blue Control

A classic blue control deck, this deck packs card draw and counterspells to make sure the game is always in their favor. A few creatures are awesome in this deck like Cloud of Faeries which can basically be casted for free, Spellstutter Sprite for a really good 2-for-1, and Mulldrifter for card draw and a win condition. Ninja of the Deep Hours can be really tough to deal with if it sticks, and can help them stay ahead in the card advantage war. This is probably a 50/50 matchup for our deck, and similar to Cloudpost, we need to strike early to be successful. Boarding in our duress effects is important, and if we are successful early with our discard and disruption assault, we can eventually take over the game.


Probably our toughest matchup among the aggressive decks, this deck backs a ton of cheap, aggressively costed creatures like Goblin Cohort that are almost always able to attack, due to the deck being almost all creatures. (Mogg-War Marshall) generates important tokens, and cards like (Mogg Familiar) are just insane in the deck. What makes this deck tough for us to beat is the Goblin Sledder and other creatures with the same effect. Our main strategy against aggressive decks is to keep them at bay with lifegain, and the sacrifice ability completely shuts down our life gain on Tendrils of Corruption. Sparksmith can also be tough if unanswered, letting them swing away every turn while it takes out any blockers you may lay down. This match is winnable if you're able to take out the Sledders and Sparksmiths and stay ahead on life, and eventually take over, but it takes a while to get there.


Technically an aggro deck, this deck plays more like a combo deck. The deck became possible with New Phyrexia's Glistener Elf, and packs other cheap infect creatures like Blight Mamba and Ichorclaw Myr. The goal of the deck is to kill on turn 2 or 3 with the huge suite of cheap (and free!) pump spells available. Invigorate(which is currently worth more than 10 tickets) is amazing in the deck, and along with Mutagenic Growth let the deck's pilot make their creatures huge out of nowhere. An unblocked Glistener Elf can become a lethal attacker all of a sudden with these cards. It also packs the classic Rancor, which just doesn't die, and Groundswell for another nice pump spell. As if that wasn't enough, it also has Vines of Vastwood, (and sometimes Apostle's Blessing) to make their creatures invincible to your removal. Geth's Verdict is great here, and the Duress suite is essential to prevent the deck from going off. It has more staying power than most combo-like decks, but if we can stop the initial assault, we can usually come out on top.

Storm Combo

A combo deck that has been wreaking havoc for quite some time, this deck relies on the possibly broken Storm mechanic to win games extremely early. The deck packs lands like Ancient Spring and Sulfur Vent that can sacrifice for multiple mana, as well as Lotus Petal as a free mana source. Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere are great, as they fix the mana for the player, as well as filter through the deck, all the while adding to the storm count. Ponder and Preordain are there to fix their library, and Gitaxian Probe is a free filter. Ideas Unbound is quite crazy being that they aim to kill you on the turn they cast it, and Manamorphose is a great filter also. The rest of the deck is packed with Dark Ritual-like effects, and after they have played somewhere around 20 spells on their turn they cast either Grapeshot for lethal damage, or Empty the Warrens for a horde of goblins. Some versions even run Goblin Bushwhacker to kill you even earlier. Our main goal in this matchup is to disrupt them as much as we can. Most of the time, we are able to disrupt them to they have to attempt their combo in a less-than ideal situation. They will still get there at times, but it will often times run out of gas, letting us coast in for a victory.


Hopefully after reading this article you have a better idea of how this deck works and how to play it against the current metagame. Obviously, I haven't covered every deck you will see, and with Magic constantly changing, some new deck could rise up and crush the metagame very soon. However, I think I have covered most of what is important currently, and players new to the format should be able to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. Part of what makes Magic fun(at least for me) is being able to adapt to many situations, and hopefully once you get a feel for playing the deck, you will be able to do just that. I hope that this information helps newer players who are wanting to get into pauper at a cheap price, and players who are looking for a cheap way to try to make some extra tickets. Join me next time when I will cover another control deck, UR Cloudpost Control! Until then, good luck in your games, and as always, comments and questions are appreciated!


MBC is always a contender. by deluxeicoff at Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:54
deluxeicoff's picture

MBC is always a contender. However, I think your MUC matchup is a bit biased. Muc always seems to trump MBC in my experience. Similarly, I find Tendrils to be a bit of a 'win more card' - against a very good player, it simply won't work due to sacrificing, interrupting the target etc.., and when it does work, your usually already in a winning position. As a fan of combo, I personally hate MBC, when I lose to it it is because of Wretch Mind - which I think you should be running 4x - until Fallen Empires goes online, it's the closest were gonna get to Hymn to Tourach! :)

Additionally, relic? MAYBE vs. T.existance decks, but seems kinda silly here.

Keep it up, solid work.

Thanks for the comment! You by arekdahl at Thu, 11/24/2011 - 04:13
arekdahl's picture

Thanks for the comment! You could be right on the MUC matchup. I've had decent success against MUC since I built the deck, but admittedly it is a small sample size. I packed the Relic because I saw it in a sideboard in a daily event decklist, and figured it would be useful, but I haven't found it useful all that much either. I like the 4x Wrench Mind idea. Seems to be a backbreaker at times.

So if I add the 4x Unearth by SMG420 at Sun, 06/17/2012 - 01:08
SMG420's picture

So if I add Unearth and 4x Wrench Mind what does the new deck list look like? Thanks in advance.

Edit: Or is this list to old for the current metagame?

necroing old articles ftl? by Paul Leicht at Sun, 06/17/2012 - 01:50
Paul Leicht's picture

necroing old articles ftl? lol.

ftl? by SMG420 at Sun, 06/17/2012 - 02:08
SMG420's picture


For the lose. It would be by Paul Leicht at Sun, 06/17/2012 - 02:11
Paul Leicht's picture

For the lose. It would be more helpful to you probably to track down the author online and ask them, your questions there. It is merely chance that I spotted your comment.

Yeah I did add him as well. I by SMG420 at Sun, 06/17/2012 - 02:18
SMG420's picture

Yeah I did add him as well. I thought maybe since he was the author it went to an inbox or something. Thanks