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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Nov 27 2018 1:00pm
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Hello and thanks for stopping by the site today. With the changes to the MOCS and qualifying formats for the Pro Tour, my interest in not only Magic: The Gathering has gone up, but the formats that MTGO has to offer as well!  While Standard for me, will continue to be played on Arena, the other formats, Legacy, Modern, Pauper and Vintage are going to be as important to me. I’ve started to rebuild my MTGO account, slowly adding Pauper decks and cheap Modern decks to it, with the goal of working up to a nicely stocked account with multiple play options.  Heck, I even have a few Vintage decks on the format after taking advantage of the cheap power nine on the client.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love blowing up lands. From casting Star of Extinction in Standard, Stone Rain in Modern, to Choking Sands in Pauper. I will cast land destruction spells whenever I possibly can. There's just something about playing the style of Magic that really is in enjoyable to me. I fully understand why land destruction spells don't cost 3 mana anymore, the team behind research and development at Wizards of the Coast has noticed that players want to actually cast their spells and with land destruction costing 3 mana it's really hard for players to cast their big spells and creatures. However in non-rotating formats like Pauper we get a chance to play with cards that aren't designed with modern magic in mind. Cards like Choking Sands would clearly cost 4 mana today, I mean look at Poison the Well and more recently, Spreading Rot, which costs five. Befoul at 4 is a little more reasonable but I don't think it would make it in a Standard set today.  It would probably be closer to something like Vandalize over something like Wrecking Ball.  


Seeing that we can now qualify for the MOCS off the back of Pauper, We are going to look at mono black land destruction in the proper format. With 14 targeted land destruction spells this deck looks to feast upon the big mana decks of the format, and win in a grinding fashion. Let's go ahead and take a look at the list, I’ll break it down and from there we'll see what makes the deck tick. 

I've played three leagues with this deck each time finishing no better than 2-3.  I have learned a few things while playing in the friendliest of leagues, and perhaps the most important lesson is that this deck just absolutely destroys anything that plays an Urza's land.  The second lesson is that this deck is nearly an auto win for anything that packs Delver of Secrets and even the smallest amount of permission spells.  It's really hard to destroy lands when Counterspell is in the format.  I imagine that with the addition of Foil it will be even harder to do.  Another thing I learned is that Red decks pose a remarkably different challenge to this deck that the Delver decks don't.  Against Elves you have the hopes of Rancid Earth clearing the board, but against a deck that features multiple 2/2 creatures for one mana, all Rancid Earth is going to be is a speed bump in that path of them gnawing your face off.  The last thing I learned is that multiple decks in the Pauper format don't rely on having a ton of lands in play.  Inside Out combo needs a small amount, as does Stompy and Izzet Blitz.  If you give the decks any amount of breathing room to catch back up, they will punish you. 

At least it beats the brakes off of Tron though. 

Enough lessons, let's break the deck down. 


There are 11 creatures in the deck, which isn't a huge amount but enough to get the job done.  Dusk Legion Zealot is a 1/1 for 1B that draws a card at the cost of a life when it comes in to play.  You're not going to win the game off the back of this creature, but you are going to smooth your draws and find the mana you need for a third turn land destruction spell with it.  Thorn of the Black Rose however is the kind of creature that will win you the game. I have cast this card enough times on turn 2 and rode the card advantage engine that is Monarch to enough easy wins to know this for sure.   Monarch is a great mechanic for this, a deck that features eight cards that trades life for cards.  Not having to trade life to draw is a good thing!  The final creature in the deck is probably the best black creature in all the format, and can come out relatively quickly to take advantage your opponent suddenly being mana screwed.  Gurmag Angler comes down quickly and can finish the game just as fast! 

Playing the deck, Dusk Legion Zealot often feels like the worst card in the deck, and while the card draw ability is nice, I feel like there can be a better card to have in that slot.  Taking a cue from Mono Black Control Cuombajj Witches seems like a better creature in the deck.  It kills so many cards in the format that present problems to the deck, and blocks incredibly well against Stompy and Mono Red.  Chittering Rats seems tailor made for the deck, as it delays a land draw from an opponent that should be hungry for lands.  However, it costs three mana, and we already have a ton of three drops in the deck.  Phyrexian Rager is just a bigger Dusk Legion Zealot, still costs three and should probably be ignored if we're looking to replace the Zealot, which I firmly believe we are looking to do.  Finally, Crypt Rats is another card I would consider, but again in a deck that features so many other three casting cost spells, this Rat may not do enough.  While it can provide an out to the aggro decks in the format, it may be better off in the sideboard.  With that said, I will for sure be testing Witches and Chittering Rats (even with the three mana concern) in the Zealot spot. 


While the deck is a land destruction deck, what really makes this deck hum is Dark Ritual.  Dark Ritual allows you to start disrupting your opponent as soon as turn 1 and can power out your Thorn of the Black Rose out to start churning through your deck.  It also allows to cast multiple spells a turn, which can break through a wall of countermagic.  To me, this is the most important spell in the deck, and it's not even close.  It may be more accurate to call this a Dark Ritual deck instead of a Land Destruction deck.  We need spells that kill things in the deck, to take advantage of Black's strength.  Looking to keep mana costs down, we have Victim of Night as a two drop targeted removal spell and Chainer's Edict as the spell that gets around stuff with Hexproof.  In the late game we can cast it again, so we're actually looking at 12 removal spells in the deck when you add in Befoul and it's ability to kill a land or a nonblack creature.  Sign in Blood is another draw spell for the deck, helping find land and putting more fuel in the land in the mid to late game. 

We're finally to the best part of the deck!  That's right, it's time to blow up some lands, and make note, each one of these spells does something besides blow up a land.  That to me, is one of the better things of the deck. You're not going to kill your opponent unless they are at a low life total, but think of these land destruction spells as burn spells as well.  Sometimes they will deal some damage, sometimes not. 

We'll start off with Choking Sands  Make sure to note that you have to target non-Swamp lands with it. Against Mono Black you're siding this out, because hitting a Bojuka Bog is not exactly good enough.  If you destroy a nonbasic land with it, it deals two damage to the controller.  Nice little bonus. 

Moving on to Icequake.  If you destroy a snow-covered land with it, it deals one damage to the controller.  This is sometimes relevant against decks that are packing Skred

Next we have Rancid Earth.  While it doesn't do anything without threshold, it's an important spell against Elves, as with seven cards in your graveyard, it deals 1 damage to all creatures in play, and all opponents.  Be very careful when casting this, as I have for sure shamed myself while casting this at one life.  I didn't lose because I had four cards in the graveyard, but I very easily could have.

Finally, we have Befoul.  This sweet common can kill a land or destroy a nonblack creature.  Unlike Choking Sands, this one, I think is worth keeping in against Mono Black decks.  At the very least you can still kill a land with it! 


Not to get to deep here, but I did want to talk about Peat Bog and Barren Moor.  These two cards are your best one drops in the deck.  We want to lead off with Peat Bog, as it coupled with a Swamp does at least start to kill things on turn two, even if you hamper your own development by relying on it.  Ideally you play it first, then remove a counter to kill a land on turn two or draw some cards, and remove the second counter on turn three to kill another land. You should be ahead of the mana development at that point to where you're not super bummed about losing a land.  It also fuels threshold and Angler.  I know you really want to cycle Barren Moor, but there is nothing wrong with using it as your land drop.  It's fine. You have to be able to cast your spells after all!  The Radiant Fountain is do a nothing and should be either another Swamp, Barren Moor of Bojuka Bog.  It doesn't hamper your ability to cast spells except for the early game, but the small life gain is not really worth it.


As always you want to make your sideboard fit what you think the field is going to look like.  If I had them on my account Pestilence would be in, probably over the Addle.  We've got Duress for hand disruption, Shrivel to act as crowd control, more copies of Victim of Night to kill things and Shrivel to deal with Hexproof, Elves, and Fairies, though it doesn't really do a lot against the latter.  (I mean it gets countered, because everything gets countered).  Tendrils of Corruption can kill a thing and gain some life, while Cartouche of Ambition not only kills a thing but improves your own creature with +1 bonus and Lifelink.  A lot of the cards that I suggested (Crypt Rats, Witches, and Chittering Rats) may be better in the main while you sideboard in your land destruction. 


I feel like the deck has promise. I also feel like Foil may make it impossible to play anything but a blue deck while Gush is legal in the format.  It's a lot of fun if you're in to blowing up lands though, and it really does that part well!  I've talked to other Pauper players about the deck, and I think the conclusion a lot of us came to is unless the field is heavy Tron, why would you play this over Mono Black Control? 

Honestly, I can't counter that line of thinking with anything other than, well, I get to blow up lands!  If you have time and tickets to burn though, I would strongly recommend the deck to play, it's a blast, but don't expect to win a lot, while it has a couple of 5-0s under its belt, I feel like it's a huge work in progress and should be treated as something that is in development instead of an established deck! 


The Russian spam bots seem to by MichelleWong at Thu, 11/29/2018 - 06:21
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one of the bot families is by JXClaytor at Thu, 11/29/2018 - 11:46
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one of the bot families is apparently a well known forum spam bot from Belarus.