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By: Motu, Aaron Kahler
Jun 02 2009 1:38am
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I started playing Pauper (commons only Magic) because it was cheap and the format seemed interesting.  I'm still playing Pauper because the format has much to be explored and continues to hold my interest.  I started with an Affinity list with the premise that not many commons have seen the banned and restricted list and cards that good must be insane in a format limited to rarity: common.  I remembered the brokeness of Disciple of the Vault as well as Seat of the Synod and company but soon after I started to think about other decks I should experiment with and tried to think of other commons on the B&R list and the first that came to mind was...

Ah, the innocuous pay 5 to draw 2.  With Rush of Knowledge in Affinity you're paying 5 to draw 7.  Clearly Gush isn't broken due to its converted mana cost, rather it saw the B&R list due to it's alternate casting cost: return two Islands you control to their owner's hand.  "That seems terrible" you might think to yourself.  It destroys your mana development and puts you back two turns.  However would you play this:

In the right deck, this is effectively how Gush plays.  Tap two islands, play Gush and return the lands, now you have a land to play for the turn and can tap it for an additional mana and you've drawn two cards for your trouble.  Rather than making you want to run more lands, Gush pushes the land count in a given deck down since it can generate mana and provide lands to play on subsequent turns.  It gets even further out of hand if you can use the returned lands for profit like GAT which could finish with a monstrous Psychatog.  Gush is really powerful and I've found that card drawing is particularly strong in Pauper so I had my mission -- exploit Gush!


The Natural Pairing

If I was going to play Gush the most natural pairing seemed to be Wild Mongrel who, while not quite Psychatog, would give me an outlet for all the cards that would wind up in my hand.  Wild Mongrel has long been Islands best friend until that meddling Tarmogoyf came around and history once again provided a backdrop from which to procede in my Pauper endeavor.  While I wouldn't be able to play some of the better madness, flasback, and threshold spells: Arrogant Wurm, Circular Logic, Roar of the Wurm, Grizzly Fate, Nimble Mongoose, or Wonder.  I did have access to quality beaters in Basking Rootwalla and Werebear as well as the card advantage behemoth Deep Analysis.  Casting both ends of a Deep Analysis often spelled the end for MBC in constructed of old and I saw no reason it wouldn't do the same in Pauper.  If I was going to play Werebear I'd need a way to achieve threshold and so Careful Study and Mental Note got the nod with the former having synergy with Basking Rootwalla and the latter with Deep Analysis.

I had dudes: Wild Mongrel, Basking Rootwalla, and Werebear

I had card drawing/filtering: Deep Analysis, Careful Study, Mental Note, and Gush

The only thing left was a way to cement the tempo advantage and protect my dudes as they smashed for the win...

Enter Daze.  Gush's Jace vs. Chandra counterpart and all-star from U/G madness of extended circa 2005.  Together Gush and Daze make the deck's price tag a bit expensive for 60 commons but we're here to explore the format right?  Counterspell does a great job alongside Daze (Aside: isn't the JvC Counterspell art amazing? and that puts me at thirty-six spells and I want to run twenty-two land which only leaves me with two additional slots.  Repulse, Exclude, and Memory Lapse all seem good in the final two spots and I've even been tempted to rock Defy Gravity.  But for the time being I've settled on Memory Lapse.


4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Werebear
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Careful Study
4 Mental Note
4 Gush
4 Deep Analysis
4 Daze
4 Counterspell
2 Memory Lapse
18 cards
12 Island
6 Forest
4 Terramorphic Expanse
22 cards

Wild Mongrel


Affinity gave me the most trouble when I was only packing Naturalize in the sideboard.  I've since changed to a full set of Gleeful Sabotage with Naturalize backup since Daze is pretty terrible against them and I can then cut one Deep Analysis and two Memory Lapse.  You want to use your artifact destruction early and often against their lands if able and then mop up any Myr Enforcers that happen to make it through.

Relic of Progenitus comes in against Tortured Existence and Hydroblast does double duty against aggressive red decks and Storm combo.

Remaining Questions 

The Terramorphic Expanse generally fetch a Forest and it may be better to cut them for three or four Forest and have lands that do something the turn they see play.  Terramorphic Expanse does contribute to threshold and can fetch whatever land you need but I'm still not convinced that's enough to warrant the slots.

Resolved creatures can be troublesome.  While Wild Mongrel is a house, in matchups like Slivers and Affinity once a Muscle Sliver or Somber Hoverguard resolves they can make life rather difficult.  Repulse and Snakeform both might warrant either the Memory Lapse slot in the main deck or an appearance in the sideboard.

Mental Note is underwhelming.  If Terramorphic Expanse stays in the deck perhaps Brainstorm is just better. You lose two cards towards threshold but you are able to hide cards from Duress and Distress as well as generate library manipulation.

What do you think?  Chime in via the comment thread below and help push this "not so budget" Pauper deck towards its optimal configuration.


What do I think? I think you by JMason (not verified) at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 06:27
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What do I think? I think you didn't tell us very much. You didn't give any win/lose percentages. You didn't say if it was better or worse than the usual deep dog deck without Daze/Gush. Is this a tier 1 deck or not? Should I rush out and buy Daze/Gush now? Give us the facts.

UG by SpikeBoyM at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 10:22
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I think you provided us with a deck that has little testing under its belt and is really part one of a much longer article. As someone who was run UG Deep Dog more than most other people in PDC/Pauper, I feel you are missing some key cards, notably Springing Tiger and Aether Burst, both of which address problems you seem to have: dealing with creatures and fighting Affinity. Seriously, Burst is a house.
While I have come around on Daze in this deck, Gush is still, well, pretty bad. You rarely, if ever, want to pick up lands as you are trying to out tempo your opponent and trading two turns for two cards and potentially 4 damage is just, well, too little for the cost. Basically, without Mongrel, Gush is pretty bad in this deck. More than that, Gush has no real interaction with anything else in your deck- if you wanted to build a Gush deck, cards like Okina Nightwatch seem better.
You have a ton of card draw, which falls in line with your idea that drawing cards is incredibly powerful in Pauper. And here is where I am going to get some hate mail, but drawing cards, unless you're doing something broken, is not as good as we all think in Pauper. Mulldrifter is probably the best draw spell right now because you also get a 2/2 Flying Beatstick. Rush of Knowledge is good because you are playing it to draw 7. Storm draw spells help to feed counts and grow lethal spells. Outside of these cards, there are no real great incentives to draw cards, and this is because the power level of Pauper is relatively flat, so drawing more of the same is not as swingy as, say, drawing a Cryptic Command. In fact, the deck that wants card draw the most is MBC simply because it has more bombs to draw into. Exactly what are you drawing into this deck? A Mongrel? Don't get me wrong, I love Mongrel more than most, but running all that draw to get a 2/2 is just a big investment for no payoff.

With regards to Gush/Daze- buy the latter, not the former. Gush shines in formats like Vintage where free spells matter a ton. If we had a card that was basically Maro, then Gush would be so much better. If we had a card that said "whenever you draw a card, X gets +1/+1 until end of turn" Gush would be better. If we had dual lands that would fuel our combo decks, Gush would be better. As it stands, taking the tempo hit in certain matchups can be fatal. Daze, on the other hand, is much stronger as you can hard cast it for a very similar value to its alternative cost and that alt. cost is not nearly as severe (2 is greater than 1 after all). Daze also has wider applications, as it is easier to have one Island in play than two.


Funny by Effovex at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 18:12
Effovex's picture

The meat of the article is in this comment.

I was thinking of trying gush/daze in a UB madness deck, but I think I'll save myself the expense. Still seems like it'd be better in UB than UG though.

Motu's picture

See response below.

1) The deck isn't trying to be "Deep Dog" nor has the PDC "Deep Dog" thread discussed the implementation of Gush.

2) Drawing a bunch of cards makes Wild Mongrel quite good.

3) See: Psychatog.

-4 Careful Study +4 Looter by speks at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 12:08
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-4 Careful Study
+4 Looter il-Kor

SpikeBoy said more then I by AluminiumMastermind at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 12:46
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SpikeBoy said more then I could of thought of to say. A few friends of mine have tried decks with the Saviors hand mechanic without much success.

Clearly the only true no-budget Pauper deck is that full foil, Unhinged lands and all!

I liked the deck but.. by whiffy at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 15:00
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I really enjoyed the deck and the fact that you tried to incorporate gush, but the other replys are right about leaving us too little when all is said and done. A little bit of match ups ie games would have probably quwelled these responses

Article Submission by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 17:02
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No offense but some of these articles seem more appropriate for a forum post. "Yo guys here's muh sealed deck, how could I have made it better?" "hey help me tweak my pauper deck?"

This is more directed at whoever approves articles and not the author, since I do appreciate the effort.

whoa by dude (not verified) at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 18:36
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i forgot you pay to look at this site like some of those lame sites that make you go premium... oh wait you don't pay at all so shut up and don't read if you don't want to.

honesty by JXClaytor at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 19:40
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I do not pay attention to pauper anymore. When I saw this article, I saw a deck that to my mind looked new and exciting.

Am I wrong? More than likely yes. Madness and to a more certain point, Deep Dog were heavily played when I still played the format. I enjoyed the article a lot.

What's new about this deck? by andrefm (not verified) at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 17:28
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What's new about this deck? Agree with all of the other posters, but I just don't think there's anything new or exciting here, nothing that others haven't tried before.

In a nutshell, if you posted this in a forum, you would get people replying with links to a UG deep dog thread and telling you to read it before posting something like that.

U/Gush vs. Deep Dog by Motu at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 00:17
Motu's picture

So for all the haters -- Do a search for "Gush" on PDC forums and see what you come up with. Then look inside the "Deep Dog" thread that gets a hit on "Gush" and guess what you find the hit for?

Kehm wrote:
How much is Daze going for? If I could get a playset, I'd work on the deck.

8 tix, if you look for it, but the going price is 9.5.

Although if you want to try your luck, buying two of the duel decks ($40) and dumping everything at bots can net you most of it back in tix. Not sure if many bots are still buying JvC now tho'. That's how I got my playset (+Gush) at least.

That's right, my article "offers nothing new" because it is "Deep Dog"... well except for the fact that the article focuses on Gush -- is seeking to break Gush -- a card which hasn't even been discussed in the "Deep Dog" forum thread.

The truth is the deck "overlooks some key cards" like Springing Tiger because that "key card" requires you tap 4 mana in your main phase something this deck isn't such a huge fan of. The deck is looking to stick a Mongrel and draw so many cards that he's never "Just a 2/2".

Take a timeout.

Think about your statement: that drawing "a bunch of cards" to play Wild Mongrel who is then "Just a 2/2"

I mean who would want to play a deck that draws a bunch of cards for no real pay-off other than, oh say a 1/2. Something like:

4x Counterspell
4x Circular Logic
4x Fact or Fiction
3x Cunning Wish
4x Force Spike
4x Mana Leak
4x Mental Note
3x Thirst for Knowledge

4x Psychatog

Wild Mongrel just a 2/2 you heard it here first folks. Come back next week for Psychatog just a 1/2.

Okay by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 08:12
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First of all, when you write and people critique you, you shouldn't call them haters- it makes you look petty. As someone who has written quite a bit about Pauper, you have to prepare to be criticized. I am not saying that you aren't, but calling people "haters" is not an endearing quality.
Now, for the Deep Dog discussion: While you may be right the Gush got very little play time in the deep Dog thread (did you ever think that was because people tried it and hated it?), there were other threads (buried now so I can't find them easily) that discussed the applications of both Gush and Daze in Pauper. Please bear in mind that any UG aggro-control deck is going to get arguments abut deep Dog since that is still the exemplar for all Pauper UG Aggro-Control decks. The fact that this deck shares numerous common elements with the aforementioned Deep Dog makes it easy (and correct) for people top compare the two.
You rattle off a number of cards that helped to make Wild Mongrel Playable in standard, Block and Extended. Wild Mongrel did not make this cards good...rather these cards made Wild Mongrel playable. Mongrel is an engine disguised as a beater. If it were not for cards like Circular Logic (really, all others are just gravy), Mongrel probably would not have seen as much play as an engine (even in the RG decks of the day, it helped to turn on Fiery Temper and Violent Eruption). In Pauper, the card you engine out is mostly Basking Rootwalla...which is not as a scary as say, a 4/4 Trampler on turn 3. Again, let me be clear: Wild Mongrel is an engine that helps Madness and Threshold decks function- it has rarely been the kill card. Without fantastic support cards like Arrogant Wurm, Roar of the Wurm, and others, Mongrel is closer to just a 2/2 than a Psychatog.
Now, in this deck, you are drawing a ton of cards to make Mongrel good. Great, I get that. However, you have absolutely no way to take care of anything once it hits the board besides taking it out in combat. So, what happens if they get a Guardian of the Guildpact down? What happens if you're playing against Affinity and they drop their hand on turn 2? Okay, you have a Counterspell for one of their dudes, but that is really about it. You have absolutely no way to affect the resolved board (battlefield?) besides combat (pre-board). In Pauper, this is a recipe for failure.
You make numerous references to Dr. Teeth in your article, and provide a sample list. Please search this link for Antoine Ruel's PT winning decklist from PT LA, 2005:

While not the most recent list, it is a stellar example of a deck. Notice the number of cards that can interact with your opponent's permanents and again, the presence of Circular Logic, a card that is the fuel for the Psychatog engine. Oh, and here's another thing about Tog- It won game sin one swing thanks to the second line of text- the one that talks about removing excess cards from the yard in order to deal even more damage. These two factors- cheap counters and the second deadly ability, helped to make Tog the Best Creature, for quite a while. And you are right, Gush + Teeth = +6 damage (possibly even +7 if you had another card in your graveyard), meaning you could swing for more than a third of their life total. Combine this with bounce and removal (a.k.a., ways to interact) and you could get in there. PT LA Extended was also a far faster, and more powerful format than Pauper (hell, any Extended is) and so the Metagames were drastically different. Your logic seems to come down to "well, 'Tog was awesome with Gush in other formats, so Gush must be awesome with Mongrel here."

Now, as for the deck you posted, I am almost certain that one of the cards the Cunning Wish would fetch would be something to make 'Tog unblockable (something you vaguely refer to in deft Gravity). Again, a deck like that could succeed because it was A) drawing significantly more (and better) cards than its opponents thanks to EOTFOFYL, and backing it up with strong (and sometimes surprise) counter magic. Each draw spell also helped to fuel the second ability on 'Tog.

I am sorry you felt that people have been attacking you, but you presented a relatively short piece with a smattering of support for your points, and a scarce amount of deck play options. I understand the desire to try new things, but if you are going to present them you should be prepared to back them up with evidence from the format you are writing about.

-Alex, Hater #1

Again by Motu at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 10:30
Motu's picture

Alex, your main critique was that the article brought nothing new to the table. Again I encourage you, go to PDC and search "Gush" -- I did, and guess what there are 0 threads that have any discussion involving the applications of Gush in U/G.

So once again I can't understand how people are upset that I've discussed "nothing new". I'm still waiting for someone to point me to the giant article archive or forum thread detailing the merits of Gush in pauper U/G that I've missed but everyone else has apparently read. I just know it's not on PDC.

"If Guardian of Guildpact hits the table..." Ok, if Guardian of the Guildpact hits the table what is any "Deep Dog" list going to do about it? They all do the same thing, scoop or swing around it. Aside from something like Snakeform the deck just doesn't have access to "removal" for a Guardian. This is why I don't want to be tapping 4 mana for Springing Tiger in my main phase.

Is Gush+Psychatog better than Gush+Mongrel certainly! But we're playing Pauper. I mean we're discussing Guardian of the Guildpact. The article is exploring the applications of a broken card, Gush, by pairing it with its most natural partner in the format, Wild Mongrel.

My reply by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:07
SpikeBoyM's picture

I never once said your article brought nothing new to the table. In fact, as I reread my comments, here are my main points:
"I think you provided us with a deck that has little testing under its belt and is really part one of a much longer article."
And my second post was a rebuttal to your article and assertions and also a critique of your stance and posting style.
As far as Deep Dog against Guardian, DD runs Looter il-Kor for evasive damage.
As far as threads discussing Gush, here's a pretty big one (that discusses application and legality issues):

You are right, it is not in the Deep Dog thread.

Here you make an assertion that Gush is broken. Hardly, at least in Pauper. Again, we do not have the means in this format to abuse free spells like they can in Vintage, or the same engine that made Gush potent in Extended. Gush is powerful in Vintage thanks to a combination of free countermagic to protect a Tog, Goyf, Dryad, or Coatl (or combo of the 4)and the presence of dual lands (allowing your Islands to tap for Green) AND the presence of cheap artifact mana to help reduce the tempo loss of bouncing two lands- these elements, along with Fastbond (part of the Gush-Bond engine) do not exist in Pauper. These pieces help make Gush broken, as the card itself is just a draw spell.
In Extended, during its heyday, Gush was broken again, thanks to cards like Quirion Dryad and Tropical Island which would allow you to again, protect your beater and make it bigger for free (permanently). Gush was broken in Extended thanks to the cards that surrounded it- cards that do not exist in Pauper. Gush may be broken in these formats, but not here.

A question: Gush and Wild Mongrel were legal in Extended at the same time for a significant period of time. Were they ever played alongside each other to success in that format?


Ha ha, this guy is funny. by enkogneto at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:44
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Ha ha, this guy is funny. Dude, if you can't handle a bunch of crap talkers on the net, you shouldn't write. And I'm not trying to bash you at all. It looks to me, and I'm not trying to offend you here, that this is your first article (or one of the first). It's ok if you don't get it perfect the first time. Just don't take the crap talking too personal, listen to guys like Alex becuase he's been writing for a long time and he knows what he is talking about, and just keep at it. And as for trying to incorperate something new in the format, you get an A for effort but don't you think that the first place new Pauper players look towards when looking to break cards is the banned/restricted list?

I mean, come on.... your typical Magic player may be a lot of different things but stupid is usually not one of them. If you're looking to truly "break" cards, Pauper is not the best place to do it. And if you're going to do it, maybe try looking someplace nobody else has looked. Go back through all those old commons and try to find some hidden gem... not the banned/restricted list.

So seriously, don't take offense to anyone, really listen to people's "trash-talking" because you might become a better writer if you do, and good job on trying man. We need as many Pauper players as we can get and as many creative minds working on new decks as we can. Storm/Affinity/MBC/Burn/Deep Dog get old.

Wild Mongrel + Gush by Motu at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 12:27
Motu's picture

See GP Sendai, for example Mike Long:\550t8decks

Surprisingly Gush + Mongrel is even good enough in T1 -- where Doug Linn, JP Meyer, and Co. used it to win in a fully powered metagame with props to Wild Mongrel for "randomly winning games".

Again I'm not suggesting that Gush + Wild Mongrel is as good as Gush + Tog or Gush + Orb, but it doesn't have to be.

Also a look through the thread you linked from PDC shows discussion of legality of Gush/Daze and a few mentions of Gush/Daze in MUC but I once again find nothing with regard to U/G.

Gush...again by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 14:00
SpikeBoyM's picture

With regards to Mike Long's list:
So Gush and Mongrel are there together...but so is Winter Orb. Gush there helps by allowing you to "untap" multiple lands per turn. Also, the deck has the aforementioned Dryad to grow from Gush and Waterfront Bouncer, a great way to deal with the board position of another player and use the returned lands from Gush. I know you've acknowledged this, but I feel it should be reiterated.
As for the Vintage Article, Doug Linn tried it on a lark and posted a 3-2 record with one Gush (and was targeting a very specific metagame). And just because a card can randomly win games does not mean it is good. In the most recent PE, Vithian Stinger randomly won me a match but looking back having it was the wrong call.
My biggest issue, when it gets right down to it, is that you are seeking to exploit Gush and you settled on Mongrel, which is fine. However, this barely exploits Gush and in fact is just a nice interaction.
You mention only two decks for matchups, providing very little instruction about how to play them (Against Affinity, do this...against TE, do that) and make no mention of four top decks: Cloak, Storm, MBC, Slivers. You are standing by Gush as a broken card when in fact, it is simply not good in the format currently.
I am sorry that I misremembered the discussion about Deep Dog and Gush- the took place on my testing e-mail list.
Gush is a fine card, and yes, with Mongrel, does some great things, but those things are simply not good enough in competitive Pauper. In a format where the top aggro deck can kill on turn three and combo can win as early as turn two, waiting until at least turn 3 to swing for seven damage on one creature seems sub par.


Forget that guy.He doesnt by bruttiber (not verified) at Fri, 06/05/2009 - 17:07
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Forget that guy.He doesnt have a clue about how the format works.Basically tak ethe top 5 dex.affinity mbc Cloaker dex WW? Ans muc whether teachings or not.If ur deck doesnt beat at least 3 outta 5,give it up.and im saying this after buying many ug cards,like gush and daze,and losing to just more consistent dex

my build of the deck that by BobaJames (not verified) at Tue, 06/02/2009 - 23:42
BobaJames's picture

my build of the deck that i've been working on for sometime now is this:

4x Basking Rootwalla
4x Llanowar Elves
3x Mulldrifter
3x Ninja of the Deep
3x Sakura-Tribe Elder
4x Wild Mongrel

4x Counterspell
3x Daze
3x Deep Analysis
3x Gush
3x Mana Leak
2x Moment's Peace
3x Think Twice

10x Islands
8x Forest

i've won a lot of the 2-man ques. but never felt that it could do well in a PE, as it feels like it's missing that one thing to push it over the top so to say.

I'm sorry, but gush and daze by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 13:21
Anonymous's picture

I'm sorry, but gush and daze are far from broken in pauper and I find it hilarious when noobs choose to run them thinking that just b/c they are expensive that they must be awesome...

Alex's Analysis of Pauper by mattlewis at Wed, 06/03/2009 - 16:44
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Here's the most relevant point I think to the discussion surrounding the power of Gush in Pauper, quoted from SpikeyBoyM's first reply,

" the power level of Pauper is relatively flat, so drawing more of the same is not as swingy as, say, drawing a Cryptic Command."

I fully endorse this comment, but what does it mean? It means there is not a huge difference in the abstract power level of one card compared to another. For this reason, the best decks in the format all have strong synergies between the cards in the deck, and that is where the power of any particular deck comes from. Mono black is good because of the cards in the deck, but more importantly how they all fit together. They use black mana and swamps to produce powerful effects (think Crypt Rats, Tendrils and Corrupt). That's why you won't find Corrupt in an Affinity deck and also why you won't find Myr Enforcer in a mono black deck. The synergies are just not there.

Now, what does this tell us about Gush and Wild Mongrel? There are synergies there, but they pale in comparison to the rest of the format. Wild Mongrel is a good man in a supporting role, but the rest of the cast is missing, and so U/G is underpowered compared to the top decks of Pauper.