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By: Doctor Anime, Tomer Abramovici
Feb 17 2010 3:12am
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Welcome, friends, to another edition of Pauper Times. This article is dedicated to my favorite color in Magic, Blue. Take a quick glance over this page, I'll wait. That's a lot of blue, isn't it? This article is oozing with the color. In fact, I'm bold enough to say I bet anyone 50 Sage Owls to find me another Pauper Times article written by me that has more blue. You can't! See what I mean? 

I'm going to start off by exploring the wonderful world of counterspells. I'll be comparing my favorite blue counters by bunching them in groups: 1cc, 2cc, +3cc, and finally Xcc. But first, a few words about these pesky blue spells.

Why Are Counters Good?

I know some of you folks out there avoid counters like the plague. Some people think they are only good when you make decks that center around them, like mono-blue control (MUC). Other people have terrible memories of counter-heavy decks beating them like a redheaded stepchild over and over, ruining their day and scarring their very souls, causing them to burn all cardboard-counter advocates at the stakes while screaming obscenities. While I cannot help the latter (I am currently hiding from them myself), I'd like to dispel the "all-or-none" myth.

As I mentioned in my first article, the vast majority of best pauper cards are those that offer card advantage. When a mono-black control player kills off your biggest creature with Tendrils of Corruption, he's not just killing a creature, he's gaining a significant amount of life that will probably let him live an extra turn. When an opponent drops a Mulldrifter on the board, even if you use a removal to kill the annoying 2/2 flyer, he still drew 2 cards from it. The best way to deny your opponent this vicious card advantage is by countering the spell, forcing a 1for1, except your answer is usually a lot cheaper than his threat. That's the true beauty of counters. In a format saturated by comes-into-play creatures like Chittering Rats, it seems silly not to have at least a couple counters in your blue deck to help put those cards in their place.

Another nice thing about counters is that they can protect you from multiple deck archetypes. Prohibit cast as 2cc can stop every spell Goblins throws at you, but also every spell Storm plays as well. The only removal spell that can boast something close to that is Echoing Decay and it's still dead weight if storm kills you with Grapeshot. Versatile answers are always a good thing to have.

The one obvious problem with counters is that you must cast them in response to other spells, meaning you need untapped mana. This is where people dismiss counters fitting in specific blue decks. "Not in my aggro deck," they say, "I'll be using my mana to cast my creatures, not wait for my opponent to do something!" This is true to an extent. It would probably be counterproductive(!) to fill your aggro deck to the brim with counters, since doing so would probably slow your deck down to the point that it's no longer aggro -- that is, of course, if you're not playing one of the best blue aggro decks, Faeries (dun dun duuuun!). But I digress. In most blue aggro decks, a lot of counters would probably be bad... but a couple could certainly work very well! If you toss in 4x Prohibit into your aggro deck, it wouldn't be mandatory to hold back casting spells to have mana for your few counters. Instead, you could play your deck normally and as the game progresses, you'll naturally have the untapped mana to use those counters. That's when you use them. Trust me, try it out. You'll be happy you did!

Alright, business time:

Blue Counters:

1cc:

AbjureAnnulDispelDisruptEnvelopForce SpikeHydroblastSpell Pierce

Abjure: Ever since I was introduced to pauper, this card was on the top of my "must break" list. A true Counterspell for half the cost is amazing. Unfortunately, sacrificing a blue permanent isn't fun at all.

What Abjure really needs in order to be playable is a strong cast of blue permanents that want to be sacrificed, like super enthusiastic masochists or something. Basically permanents that do nice things when they hit the graveyard. Unfortunately, such support in pauper doesn't really exist. Type in "graveyard from the battlefield" in your deck editor filtering blue permanents and you'll only find 8 pauper cards that match this description, and none of them are very good.

If Abjure has any hope of entering any current deck archetype, I think it would be faeries. With most lists running eight 1cc vanilla 1/1 flyers, I don't think it would be too bad sac'ing one to get a powerful counter in. It's still a 2for1 though. Abjure is a card I'll keep an eye on, hoping some day we get those happy-to-die blue permanents somewhere down the line.

Annul: This card has a very specific niche in pauper, and that's 3-4 sideboard slots in MUC when affinity is a contender in the metagame. That's about it. Annul is too specific to really do anything else. Other blue-something decks don't run this card against affinity because removal is a better, more versatile option.

Dispel: I've been noticing in the bombardment of Worldwake reviews that this card has been getting overlooked. In my opinion, this is one of the best 1cc counters available. I see it as a half-cost Negate against many decks, which in my opinion is huge. Instants are highly relevant in the pauper setting. Nearly all of the popular removal spells in the format are instants, from MBC's staple Diabolic Edict and Tendrils of Corruption to Teaching's toolbox of removal like Agony Warp. It's pretty obvious how strong this card will be against counter-heavy decks as well, like MUC. Dispel is also sound card against Storm. While it won't be able to stop their sorcery-speed card draw, disrupting their red mana fixing usually is just as brutal against them in the effort to fizzle their combo out. I've had many situations where I was sitting with three or more counters in hand, a mix of Counterspell and Negate, but my land count wouldn't let me cast them all in the turn that combo went off, usually turn 3-4. Disrupting a red mana spell with Dispel and then following up with a Hydroblast on their second mana fixing attempt usually means game over for the combo player, and is much more affordable when lands are restricting you.

The 1cc cost will be most significant against land-tight aggro decks, where you'll end up having many scenarios with one untapped land but not two. This is where Dispel will shine the most, letting you play your creature spells while still protecting them against removal. Keep in mind, however, that it's dead weight against most of the popular aggro decks, like Goblins and WW. I think this card is good enough that you'll be seeing it in the sideboard in place of negate for decks that have lower land counts.

Disrupt: I absolutely love cantrips, and I tried this card out, but always to subpar results. Pauper is dominated by creatures, and in the early game when the opponent is most likely tapping out and this card is most useful, he's usually tapping to put a critter on the board. If we had a cantrip like this that countered creature spells instead of instant / sorceries I'd be all over it, but this one just doesn't cut it.

Envelop: Sorceries aren't close to the most played type of spell, so currently this card is junk.

10Force Spike: Ah, the good old spike. As a seasoned MUC player, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this card. For MUC, this card is a must, simply because it's a turn 1 answer to aggro. It's also very good game one against control decks like MBCu since you can bet they're going to cast their turn 3 chittering rats right into it, and if you're on the draw it's your only way of stopping a turn 2 ravenous rats too.

In the early game, it's going to serve its purpose well against nearly any deck. As the game progresses, however, it quickly becomes an almost dead card. Nothing sucks more than drawing a turn 10 Force Spike. Also, good pilots that know you're running a force spike can always play around it. These people are a rare bunch, but when it happens, it hurts. It will slow down their deck a wee bit, but in my opinion it's always worth it. Some decks, most notably control, might not even lose anything if they play around it.

In a meta dominated by aggro and control decks that run 4x Ravenous Rats, I think Force Spike is a solid option. Against anything else it quickly degenerates into an aggravating waste of space.

 

Hydroblast: Blue's best answer to red spells, period. 1cc counterspell or destruction is insane. I'm sure you all know how great this card is. If you expect to play against red decks like Burn and Goblins, run this card in your sideboard.

Spell Pierce: Another card I think is a bit underrated. As I mentioned with Disrupt, my biggest gripe is that a creature-counter version of this card would be way better, but I think this is good enough protection against removal spells for aggro decks. Its usefulness lasts longer than Force Spike, which is great, and makes it tougher for control decks like MBC to stabilize against your attack. Since it does get worse in the late game however, I'd recommend Dispel over this. Like Dispel, it's weak against decks that run primarily creatures, like WW and Goblins.

2cc:

ConfoundCounterspellDazeEssence ScatterMana LeakMemory LapseMuddle the MixtureNegateProhibitRune SnagHindering Light

Confound: This card functions much like Dispel, since it's most likely to counter instant-speed removal, except you pay one more for the cantrip. Confound can also stop enchantments like (Edge of Divinity) and Armadillo Cloak, but those type of decks are rarely played. On the flip side, this card has no game against storm, while Dispel does. I'd pick Dispel over this card.

Counterspell: The best counter in pauper, no contest. This card is so good that WOTC keeps throwing it's ugly substitute, Cancel, in all the new expansions instead of reprinting the king. Being able to flatly say "no" to any spell your opponent can throw at you for the cool price of 2cc is simply unmatched versatility. If you ever have enough blue to run this card, then run it. No questions required.

Daze: Probably the most controversial counter we have access to, and a card I'm still on the fence about. While it's a 2cc force spike, the alternative (aka FREE) casting cost is what really makes Daze stand out. Many people will quickly dismiss it as tempo loss and move on, but I think there may be more to it.

I can tell you with full confidence that in most decks, Daze isn't worth it. Like Force Spike, Daze is best used early in the game, but becomes terrible late game. The price of casting it for free is the equivalent of missing a land drop. So the simple question is: do you like missing a land drop early in the game? Most decks don't. However, the one deck where I really think about Daze is in Faeries. I know, I'm bringing them up again, but hear me out. The great thing about Faeries is that the deck is quite comfortable sitting at 2 lands early in the game. After all, their game plan is to drop a couple evasive beats on the board and stall you with counters long enough for them to whittle away your life total. They don't have a whole bunch of expensive bombs -- most Faerie lists have 3cc as their most expensive spells. They also have the luxury of staying untapped for counters and then plopping flash creatures at their opponent's EOT, when the only spells can be cast are instant, and then they untap their lands to repeat the process. My point is that you don't need many lands for this.

So where does Daze come in to benefit Faeries? The answer is my favorite McSneakyPants, Ninja of the Deep Hours. You already know which decks I like him in and which ones I don't. Well, this is the deck where I like him. NotDP is online turn 2 off a turn 1 Zephyr Sprite or Cloud Sprite and there's not much your opponent can do about it. The problem with this is if you pull him out turn 2, you're tapped out. If the control deck you're facing is at all tuned for the meta, he's very likely going to kill it with cheap removal immediately. That's where Daze comes in. Daze has the potential of countering that removal spell or blocker for the crucial turn that you're untapped and seemingly helpless. With the opponent's answer to the ninja trumped, you get to untap, place that second island back into play, and you can resume countering your opponents answers as your 2/2 card-drawing bear does his thing unmolested. Pretty neat, no? That's the theory at least. Eventually I'll get a playset of that stupidly overpriced card and post some results. I know it won't always work if the opponent is holding something like 2 Disfigures in hand, but if it works often enough then it may be worth it. 


Essence Scatter: As I've said before, pauper is a format dominated by creatures. Aggro decks win on the backs of cheap, mana-efficient creatures. Midrange and control decks generally are successful by playing more expensive card advantage creatures that are resilient to removal. Essence Scatter is good against both of these. It's the cheaper non-cantrip version of Exclude, which makes it a stronger choice when the meta is shifted towards aggro. Remember that it's dead weight against creatureless decks like storm though.

Mana Leak: The next step up from Force Spike and is significantly better. Mana Leak generally acts as a less blue-intensive Counterspell against aggro decks for most of the match while taking a lot longer than the Spike to become irrelevant against midrange and control decks. Also unless Storm is literally swimming in excess mana, paying that 3 is usually unpleasant for them.

Memory Lapse: I would only run this card in aggro decks that seek to win by stalling long enough for their creatures to do their thing (*cough cough* faeries *cough wheeze*). It's very good for that role. In any other deck though, you should probably pass on this and stick with the counters that actually get rid of the problem entirely.

Muddle the Mixture: Since enchantments are few and far between currently in pauper, Muddle usually acts as a Negate that has the added bonus of fetching a different card according to the situation. In mono-blue decks this could mean fetching card draw like Fathom Seer or Train of Thought, but the doors really open up once you've splashed for a different color. For example, in the UR Steam Machine deck I posted in my second article, Muddle can pick also up a board sweep in Seismic Shudder and a finisher in Rolling Thunder. Very good, versatile card. The downsides is that it's blue-intensive and doesn't help much against aggro decks (though you can use it to just fetch a better counter too).

Negate: The opposite side of Essence Scatter, this card stops non-creature spells. Because most blue decks are control and are more worried about the opponent's creatures than removal, Negate often finds itself in the sideboard instead of maindecked, usually as a response to creatureless decks like Burn and Combo. However, in the rare chance that the blue pilot cares more about protecting his creatures from removal, this makes sense MD too (though I like Dispel more).

Prohibit: This is one of my favorite counters, but is very meta-dependant. Prohibit is a sweet catch-all counter like Counterspell and Mana Leak, but is less blue-intensive than the counter king and never loses its potency like mana leak. Prohibit stops every single spell Goblins and Combo throws at you for its 2cc version, and every spell but Fireblast and Rift Bolt against Burn. Most removal and counters are also stopped by the cheaper cost, and most cards aggro runs in general will fall to it as well. The kicked version is pretty underwhelming, since you're paying as much, if not more, to counter the threat sent at you. If you're playing control and have a good land count then the kicker cost is much less of a problem, however. The bottom line of this card is it can stop anything under 4cc, and that covers mostly everything. It won't stop some cards that control uses like Mulldrifter and Corrupt, but that's about it. I wouldn't run this in aggro, but it's a fine candidate for control decks.

Rune Snag: Very similar to Mana Leak, Snag starts off a bit weaker but stays more relevant as the game progresses if you keep casting the card. I think First Strike's opinion on this card nails it best: "I personally think that leak is better in a deck that splashes counters. If an aggro deck needed only a couple early counters to protect an early win, then leak is the way to go." - First Strike

Hindering Light: Not a pure blue counter, but it's a strong enough card that I wanted to point it out. Hindering Light has a very specific niche, and that's protecting you and your creatures against nasty stuff. In most cases for UW, this isn't a good counter to run if you're playing CIP creatures like Mulldrifter and Aven Riftwatcher, because Momentary Blink also "protects" your creatures but is ten times better. However, if you're not running a UW deck that abuses CIP creatures (weird!) and you're looking for ways to protect them, this is the card for you. Hindering Light will stop all targeted removal spells thrown at your creatures or Corrupts to the dome and then draw you a card. Sweet deal! Unfortunately with Storm being prevalent in the meta, I can't recommend this card over Negate because it doesn't help you in that matchup. However, if combo ever goes down in popularity while removal-heavy control goes up, this card gets a thumbs-up from me.

 

 

 

+3cc:

ExcludeFaerie TrickerySoul Manipulation

Exclude: One of my favorite counters. This is Essence Scatter + cantrip. Essence Scatter is better against aggro, but Exclude is better against midrange / control.

Faerie Trickery: Nice when the meta is populated by graveyard manipulation tactics. Trickery stops Mystical Teachings and Grim Harvest dead in its tracks and is a nice answer to dredge creatures like Stinkweed Imp, even pesky Retrace cards like Raven's Crime. But if these type of cards aren't around, this is just an overpriced counter. Trickery sure does make Cancel look pathetic though, doesn't it?

Soul Manipulation: I know it's not a pure blue spell, but it's good enough that I have to mention it. If you're in UB and you're running a good amount of creatures (like MBCu with Chittering + Ravenous + Mulldrifter), Soul Manipulation is better than Exclude. A better Exclude is, well, awesome. I'm surprised as to how few MBCu decks with 16ish creatures don't run this card. I would choose this over Phyrexian Rager any day. Though the Rager can usually trade with a creature and nets you a card, Manipulation trades a creature and usually guarantees you "draw" a card that you really want.

Xcc:

Condescend: This counter is a force spike / mana leak that you pay 1cc more to get the Scry 2 effect. I don't think paying extra for the scry effect is worth it, but what's nice about condescend is it scales as the game progresses, making it more reliable than its cousins in the late game. It's also a good candidate for decks that generate tons of mana, like cloudpost decks.

Phew, that was a lot of counters! There's even more to cover, but I think these are enough for one article.

 

And Then I Blue It Up S'more:

I became intrigued with Armadillo Cloak decks a while back and wanted to play one. These midrange decks GW decks played creatures that were difficult to answer with removal, like River Boa, Silhana Ledgewalker, Guardian of the Guildpact, and then slap the powerful enchantment on one of the creatures to put the opponent on a tight clock while keeping the pilot's life total nice and comfortable. Cloak's lifegain and tough creatures made them a strong choice against the vast majority of aggro decks and against control that couldn't deal with their creatures. Unfortunately, GWcloak had big troubles with control decks tuned to beat them, as even eight maindecked pro black bears can do nothing against black control's playset of Innocent Blood and Diabolic Edict, or blue's answer of stopping the creatures before they hit the battlefield by countering. The biggest problem however is Storm, which Cloak really can't consistently beat unless you devote most, if not all, of your sideboard to combat it.

For me though, GWCloak looked like a nice change of pace from my usual control decks. I mean, with all the bad rap creature enchantments get -- 2for1's are never appealing -- I never got around to actually playing some them. I wasn't about to cough up the money for the playset, so instead I started searching for alternatives. I didn't have to look long until I found a card that was very comparable to the Cloak while being a fraction of the cost; Steel of the Godhead. At maximum strength, Steel is actually strong than the Cloak, but to get this effect you need to put it on UW creatures. As luck would have it, we have two great creature candidates for this, Bant Sureblade and Esper Stormblade. I built the deck around these two mana-efficient beaters and the results were pretty promising. I've picked up the list again recently and this is the list I'll be testing when I get Dispel, which I think will really shine here:

 

This midrange deck locks down the board in a hurry with 2cc creatures that are hard to attack into, then goes on the offensive from the ground if the opponent doesn't have many creatures to block with, or through the air with Esper Stormblade, or just with a Steel slapped on to one of the blades for a 4-turn lifegaining clock.

Obviously this deck has many similarities to the GWcloak archetype, but some significant differences. Unlike GW, this deck's creatures do not have the built-in removal protection that River / Mire Boa, Silhanna Ledgewalker, and Guardian of the Guildpact have, nor does it have access to tricks like Thrill of the Hunt and (Sigil's Blessing) to go for faster kills. Instead the addition of blue makes it a little slower, trading creature pump for card draw and counters. Looter and Research are excellent card draws in this deck, letting you discard excess lands for more threats and answers. Also keep in mind that while GW's selection of creatures can dodge most removal without worrying about protection, the most popular control decks these days, UB, have access to many forms of removal that defeat them -- Nausea and Disfigure to defeat Mire Boa, Agony Warp to beat Guardian of the Guildpact, and Diabolic Edict / Innocent Blood to get the rest. When the metagame is running those cards, answers like Dispel become much more appealing.

This list has been going through many transformations since I first made it. Initially I tried making it aggro with more aggressive 1drops but it felt clunky, then I tried an exalted theme but didn't like it, and finally started working on this. I may drop the land count from 22 to 20 since I usually have excess land, but the looter / research is a nice land discard outlet.

Though I haven't practiced with it a lot, I've been having success with it in tournament practice. Goblins is an auto-win basically with so many creatures that are hard to attack into, but the red menace is fading into the background. Storm is very winnable too, with a good amount of counters and the enchantment basically reads "Storm goes off next turn and wins/loses." UBcontrol feels 50/50 right now, since you have a good amount of ways to protect your creatures from removal but you're slow enough that they can still stabilize sometimes if they start fetching answers with teachings. UWblink and WW need testing.

Is the deck tier 1 material? I'm not sure, but I'm skeptical since it defies my own fundamental rules of good decks / cards. The deck is midrange yet its creatures are mana efficient and not card advantage, and it runs creature enchantments which is a target for 2for1's. It's also a UW deck that doesn't run Momentary Blink, which is the biggest blasphemy of all. Still, it's been doing well so far so I feel it has some potential. I can't wait to get my hands on Dispel and get more practice in!

 

Meta Evolution:

Since the summer, Goblins have been on the rise. When Zendikar came out and Goblins gained the mighty Goblin Bushwhacker, they flat out dominated the meta with all other decks going into catch-up mode. Over time the red menace went on the decline as dedicated anti-aggro decks like WW and UWblink started showing up, and now Goblins haven't been showing up in the top8. 

The meta is shifting back to control. Most control decks were struggling with the little green men, MBC and it's cousins being no exceptions. With anti-aggro decks hating them out of the meta, the lategame kings are seeping back into the top spots again. All sorts of black + blue control decks are rising in popularity again, and this means even more meta shifting to come.

With UB on the rise once more, decks that struggle in this matchup are going to go back on the decline again too. Storm was rising in popularity due to the rock paper scissors aspect of Magic: when rock (aggro) is beating scissors (control), paper (combo) enters the limelight for some easy victories until people start properly preparing for it. Now that control is back in town, combo might as well fold up into an origami crane and migrate for the control winter.

White decks will need to retune themselves more aggressively or face some troubles as well. Aven Riftwatchers just don't cut it against UBcontrol. Instead I'd advocate a sligh-like curve with a large supply of 1drops, which WW has a strong selection of. I was always a big fan of Akrasan Squire here, but why aren't people running Knight of Sursi? It's something relevant to do on the first turn and it can attack into all the played flyers in the format, Kor Skyfisher, Aven Riftwatcher, Mulldrifter, really anything except for the MIA (Errant Emepheron). That strikes me as very good! Speaking of underrated cards, check out Goldmeadow Harrier. Another 1drop potential, this critter can lock down the biggest threat on the board or still attack when you don't need "removal." I think that it's a better card than Unmake against control decks. In the end though, I expect WW's numbers to decline without Goblins around to leech easy victories from.

As decks go on the decline, others will have their chances to shine. Counter-heavy decks like traditional Teachings have the potential of beating out the other control decks that focus more on removal spells. I think the most interesting new contender could be the Cloudpost decks, like Izzetpost, that generate tons of mana later in the game and put it to use to fuel finishers like Rolling Thunder. These decks don't have a hope against fast aggro, but if the meta lets them take their time getting those cloudposts in play then it will be tough stopping them. I was going to write a deck spotlight on Izzetpost actually, but this article is getting long enough so I'll leave it for another time.

All this assumes that Goblins will stay down for a while. I think this will be the case, at least until the number of WW / UWblink / Storm decks go down in numbers. Then it's fair game for the little green men to dominate the field once more. Be patient, aggro lovers! It will only take a few more weeks until you can mow down the competition again.

 

Dead Dog Update:

I've still been tinkering with my Dead Dog list because it seems like a good choice for the current meta. This is an aggro deck that chews up control decks, which is good news for me. I made some changes to reflect the changing metagame. Basically, goblins is going down while midrange / control is going up. Unfortunately I still haven't been able to take this deck myself into PEs because I cannot devote an entire Saturday to playing Magic. However, you can expect some more 2man queue reports in the future.

I've been testing Crypt Rats instead of Festercreep and the results are very promising. It's much stronger against a variety of decks --  It can kill the problematic X/2 creatures in Elves!, deal with annoying flyers like Mulldrifter and Kor Skyfisher, and I've even sealed some games by using it as reach. But with WW apparently on the rise, I feel the creep must continue to stay in, just for those 4 annoying copies of Order of Leitbur. I'm not sure if this is justified yet, and I highly recommend you test out 2x Crypt Rats maindecked instead of the creep and judge for yourself.

I put in a full playset of Brain Gorgers. The more I played it, the more I fell in love with this card. It's basically a Diabolic Edict that pumps your discard outlet creatures at the same time. The opponent will want to trade a creature with it asap, and woe to the control player who cannot do so, since 4/2 is nothing to scoff at when it's swinging at your face. I've also moved a copy of the Brownscale to the sideboard. With the decline of Goblins and Burn, I'm not too worried about other decks racing me.

I also added Cloak of Confusion instead of the Okiba-Gang Shinobi on deluxeicoff's suggestion. Like the cloak, the okibas were there just for the storm matchup and nothing more. They're unquestionably better than the cloak when they land, but you might not always get four mana against storm, so the cloak might be better. I haven't tested it yet though, so I'm not sure about the inclusion yet.

Here's the updated list:

Dead Dog
 
Creatures
2 Festercreep 
2 Gorgon Recluse
Brain Gorgers
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Grave Scrabbler
3 Gathan Raiders
4 Putrid Leech
4 Basking Rootwalla
3 Golgari Brownscale
4 Vampire Hounds
34 cards

Other Spells
Tortured Existence
4 cards
Lands
2 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Terramorphic Expanse
7 Forest
9 Swamp
22 cards

1 Festercreep
4 Duress
3 Cloak of Confusion
15 cards
Vampire Hounds

 

Should Crypt Rats take the place of Festercreep? Was cutting the Rancor a bad choice? Only playtesting will tell.

 

You Make The Play (Answer):

There ended up being a problem with the puzzle and it was unsolvable. To answer the puzzle I posted in the comments section to change the ability of Benevolent Bodyguard: "Sacrifice Benevolent Bodyguard: Target creature gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn."

Play Journey to Nowhere targeting the opponent's Chittering Rats. The opponent can activate the Crypt Rats here to kill the Chittering, so in response sacrifice a Bodyguard to give the Chittering Rats protection from black. When the Journey resolves, cast Momentary Blink on your Kor Skyfisher and return the Journey back to your hand, bringing the opponent's Chittering back into play and forcing you to put a card from your hand, and choose anything but Mulldrifter. Now you can cast Mulldrifter for its evoke cost to draw the Deep Analysis without decking yourself. Cast the Deep Analysis targeting your opponent, then pay the flashback cost of Momentary Blink targeting your Kor Skyfisher again to bounce a Kabira Crossroads back to your hand. Play the Crossroads to bring your life total to 5 (or 4 if the opponent used crypt rats), which is enough to let you play the flashback cost of Deep Analysis targeting the opponent again, decking him. You win!

Initially the puzzle didn't have the buzzard, the bodyguards, or the deft duelist, but I wanted to add more distractions to make people think they can win by alpha striking. I chose the opponent's life total to be 1 more than the max damage you could do for that reason. I quickly added those distractions in, but in my haste neglected that the bodyguard couldn't target the opponent's creatures. It really sucks because I loved this puzzle, but oh well.

 

Special thanks to First Strike for editing this article. You wouldn't believe the insane amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes this article had until he corrected it. He also makes sure I don't end up saying stupid things, like recommending Dispersal Shield as a counter for Affinity decks.

Next article I'll be rolling up my sleeves and try to show how to use fundamental rules of Magic to quickly build a competitive deck with minimal trial and error! Give the middle finger to "experience" and take the shortcut to competitive decks without even glancing at what the pros are doing! Will it work? Tune in next time to find out!

21 Comments

lol next article sounds by ShardFenix at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 03:28
ShardFenix's picture

lol next article sounds amazing

Knight of Sursi by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 05:14
Anonymous's picture

Most people don't play Knight of Sursi because it's a bad card in WW. It's utterly useless against Storm, too slow for Control, and mostly irrelevant in the mirror.

Your logic on Goldmeadow Harrier is pretty questionable too.

Excellent article, Doctor. by MrMoto (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 07:27
MrMoto's picture

Excellent article, Doctor. Keep them coming. With you, Spikeboy and other Pauper writers we are in heaven :)

I like the cloak of by Baldr7 at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 09:13
Baldr7's picture

I like the cloak of confusion. I disagree that okiba only came in for storm, i bring it in against control, but it is pretty marginal. see my article today about the search for removal. i'll be switching cloack into my sideboard now, though perhaps cutting an Augur for 3.

Kudos for getting someone to by Paul Leicht at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 11:16
Paul Leicht's picture
5

Kudos for getting someone to proof your article. First Strike did a fine job.

Arcane Denial by Rory (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 12:44
Rory's picture

I understand that it is card disadvantage but why doesn't anyone play Arcane Denial. It's a hard counter for 1U.

Giving your opponent 2 cards by Paul Leicht at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 12:52
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Giving your opponent 2 cards is usually a bad idea unless you are absolutely desperate or have a rocksolid plan for stopping the cards they drop. If you have such a plan you probably don't need the counter.

I'm like you in that I love by deluxeicoff at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 13:45
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I'm like you in that I love looking at established "must haves" and going the other way! I like not seeing blink in U/W. I think force spike is a bit underplayed/rated, true about playing around it - but so many folks are chompin at the bit to play their answer/creature the nanosecond they draw it, that it feels good even mid-late for me anyways:) I'm not going to be able to play this Friday, but I hope to see you all next weekend~

I won TPDC season 12 Champs by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 14:14
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I won TPDC season 12 Champs with WW running 4 Knight of Sursi maindeck. I beat Teachings 3 times, Parlor Tricks, and Storm. So tell me why Knight is bad again?

Logic Knot is also a viable by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 15:15
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Logic Knot is also a viable counter, early game its an expensive powersink, but late game when your graveyard is full of used counters it becomes just as good as everybody's favorite, "the king" Counterspell

Wow, what? by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 16:29
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cloak of confusion? it seems like a terrible idea, why? why not augur's you can bring back and reuse, it makes no sense to me, please enlighten.

Must be a bad joke. by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 17:31
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Must be a bad joke.

@anon#1 - How is the Knight by Doctor Anime at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 18:08
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@fenix - Hehe, okay I might have hyped the next one up a bit much, but I'm nearly done writing it and the results look good. It's not making brand new competitive decks but showing a quick way at finding the strongest archetypes.

@anon#1 - How is the Knight slow? It's a 1drop, and later in the game you can just hardcast it. How is Amrou Scout or Aven Riftwatcher, the cards it would be competing with, any faster? Not only that, it can attack into any flyer your opponent would usually block you with.

Goldmeadow Harrier isn't strictly better than Unmake, but it too is a 1drop (speed), helps protect your other threats from Edict / Blood, and pings for 1 when you don't need to use its ability. I'd say that's better when you want to face control.

@Baldr - If the control deck is counter-heavy then Okiba makes sense, but if its removal heavy then the okiba's 2 toughness is just a liability and setting you up for tempo loss if it's immediately dealt with. On the other hand, if it connects you're in a very good position to win. It's a risk I'm usually not willing to take.

@ Paul - Thanks, he really did a huge overhaul. Almost every paragraph had multiple corrections. Grammar isn't my forte! I need to read more books.

@deluxeicoff - I think everyone will walk into the first force spike, you'll always have that surprise factor since it's not a popular card at the moment. After that, it depends if the opponent is smart or not. It's not a bad card as I said, but removal keeps its use throughout the match. Spike is really nice for stopping turn 2 ravenous rats when you're on the draw with only one land.

@anon#2 - That's true, it could be good in the late game. I just wouldn't want to see it early. It might be an interesting 1of in a Teachings deck.

@anon#3 - Augur / Duress are better cards, but if you want to consistently beat Storm you need more than that. That's why the Cloak is there, or Thrull Surgeon. Remember Storm likes going off turns 3-4 so you need a lot of early disruption to stop them.

sad fenix is sad....i though by ShardFenix at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 18:12
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sad fenix is sad....i though it would be a super deckbuilding extravaganza.

Oh, it will be. It's gonna be by Doctor Anime at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 19:19
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Oh, it will be. It's gonna be huge. It's gonna be in your face. It'll be like a Monster Truck commercials supercharged with Powerthirst. I'll be busting out decks with power levels so high it'll make yo eyez bleedz! Over 9000? More like OVER INFINITY!!!

Bonus Stats Analysis: Pros/Cons of popping your Terramorphic Expanse at your EOT in response to your opponents popping their own Terramorphic Expanse, then taking over a minute to choose a basic land. I call it the "Piss You Off" factor.

"@anon#1 - How is the Knight by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 02/17/2010 - 19:36
Anonymous's picture

"@anon#1 - How is the Knight slow? It's a 1drop, and later in the game you can just hardcast it. How is Amrou Scout or Aven Riftwatcher, the cards it would be competing with, any faster? Not only that, it can attack into any flyer your opponent would usually block you with."

It's a one drop that doesn't attack or block until turn 4. How is that not slow? Not to mention it's your least desirable one drop, so if you have multiple plays on turn one he's going to get bumped to turn 2, or have to be hard cast. Much better options exist at 1cc and 4cc.

It's also not really competing with Amrou Scout and Aven Riftwatcher. Both of those were simply meta cards for goblins/burn, and were an instrumental part of pushing them out of the format. Now that they're gone I don't see why people are still playing them. Considering the meta before the last PE was Teachings heavy people really had no business playing them at all.

WW is near and dear to my heart, but it's a deck that plays roles. White is a deep color that can adapt to different metas easily. During meta shifts each card in the deck should be heavily scrutinized. Everything card in it should be improving your matchups against the main decks, and Knight of Sursi improves none of them right now.

I think the recent success of WW has more to do with the fact it's an aggro-ish deck that's not goblins more so than WW actually being a good deck. The Naya Cloak list from the PE pretty much backs me up on this. Any decent aggro deck has a good chance of winning until WW switches back to a slower, more aggro stopping list of cards. Once that happens it will give control some breathing room again. Then we get to start the whole cycle over unless some new tech makes a huge splash.

I personally like running by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 02/18/2010 - 06:10
Anonymous's picture

I personally like running snow lands and whiteout any time I'm using Wild Mongrel.
Even as a singleton it lets you 'tog your lands for the kill when the chance comes up.
Or it can serve as an answer to pesky fliers.

Wow. That is actually very by First_Strike at Thu, 02/18/2010 - 14:55
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Wow. That is actually very interesting.

Nice. by sanhedrin at Thu, 02/18/2010 - 15:01
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Nice.

@anon#5 - How is it your by Doctor Anime at Thu, 02/18/2010 - 15:52
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@anon#5 - How is it your least desirable one drop? It's a 2/2 with evasion and requires a double block of two other flyers, one of them at least having 3 toughness. That's pretty good. Name me another 1drop that will be doing that much consistent damage in the game. Akrasan Squire comes to mind, and yes he starts swinging turn 2 instead of turn 4, but you can bet he'll be pushing out less damage overall because he'll soon be chump blocked or you'll have more than one creature that you want to attack with. You could argue that it buys the control player two more turns of no damage to draw an answer and you'd be right, but if you don't have a horrible hand then you should be dropping other threats that would gain his attention anyway. The creature itself is much stronger than most other 1cc choices.

I disagree that there are much better options at 1cc. And I stress 1cc because you want speed to beat control. Also, yes, it is in fact competing with amrou scout and the riftwatcher. You're correct that they are merely meta tools and have no reason to be played currently. That's exactly why I cite the harrier and knight as replacements. If there are much better options could you suggest some? I was looking at the 1cc spot and the only other cards that come to mind are Gelid Shackles, Soul Warden, Mosquito Guard, and Soltari Foot-Soldier, and I'm stretching it. Honestly if I didn't like the Knight or Harrier I'd probably pick up the 2/2 flanker for 2cc, Benalish Cavalry.

I agree that white is a deep and flexible color, but I respectfully disagree with your analysis on the Knight until you suggest an alternative. And for the record, the Naya Cloak list got extremely lucky to do as well as it did and I doubt that success will be replicated in the future unless they keep dodging UBcontrol.

@anon#6 - That suggestion sounds awesome. I'll have to try it out, probably 2of in the maindeck. Thanks for the advice, this might really boost the deck's power.

REGEGE by Anonymous (not verified) at Sat, 02/20/2010 - 09:10
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