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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jun 02 2010 4:56am
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I. Introduction

As the last season of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge (referred to as MPDC from here forward) came to a close, I found myself reflecting on what I might do to bring greater visibility to the format of Standard Pauper. With both weekly Standard Pauper PREs averaging attendance in the upper 20s to low 30s, this format seems to be increasing in popularity. And, the prevailing wisdom to the contrary, each new season of MPDC brings with it a rich and varied metagame, which slowly takes shape over the course of a few months. Given these realities, I decided it would be worthwhile to attempt to highlight the first place decklist from each week this season in a series of brief articles. My intention is to not only give a quick but detailed analysis of the components of the winning deck, but also include a video with audio commentary on a recent match played with the decklist. And so, with that introduction out of the way, I present the inaugural article of my Standard Pauper Deck Tech, featuring moromete's decklist aptly named TOKENS!.

II. The Decklist

During the initial week following the release of Rise of the Eldrazi, there were a whole host of different Standard Pauper decks floating around trying to take advantage of Eldrazi Spawn tokens to ramp into a big Eldrazi to win the game. Most relied upon the alternate casting cost of Hand of Emrakul, which under ideal conditions could be cast as early as Turn 3! The problem with this particular strategy is two-fold. First of all, unless you can get Hand of Emrakul down within the first three or four turns, its presence isn't all that devastating. Second, a single Doom Blade or equivalent spell could immediately end that threat, giving your opponent a devastating three- or four-for-one from which recovery is unlikely.

TOKENS! avoids these shortcomings in several key ways. First, it makes use of Ulamog's Crusher, which proves to be a much more dominating threat, thanks to the surprising difference in power between Annihilator 1 and 2. Second, the inclusion of Goblin Bushwhacker and Raid Bombardment both give the deck important alternate uses for all of those Eldrazi tokens, allowing you to sidestep the need to rely upon a single fattie to win the game. Finally, by splashing for , one can draw into more gas with a well-timed Mysteries of the Deep to recover from any major setbacks (like seeing your hordes of Spawn disappear to Shrivel or Seismic Shudder), or post-board prevent such tactics with Negate. Hissing Iguanar is also a great answer to Shrivel or Seismic Shudder and makes sacrificing Eldrazi Spawn quite effective; however, its value is such that it typically draws out removal fairly quickly.

TOKENS! is not, at least at first blush, a difficult deck to play. While it can be a bit slow to get going (thanks to the preponderance of 3, 4, and 5 drops), the suite of burn spells, coupled with the early chump-blockers provided by Khalni Garden, help keep an opponent from getting off to a quick start. And while the ensuing Spawn Tokens can be used for quick acceleration, Raid Bombardment creates such value for each token that you want to be somewhat judicious in how many you end up sacrificing. Once your board is developed enough to consistently add Kozilek's Predator or Emrakul's Hatcher to the Battlefield, you are getting excellent value for your mana, and can often put a lot of pressure on an opponent with these creatures, relying on your tokens to stop any counter-attack. One then merely needs to wait for the right opportunity to overwhelm your opponent with a horde of attacking tokens, taking advantage of the power-boost  of a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker and the added damage of Raid Bombardment.

III. The Match

To help you get a better feel for the deck, I have also included a video-cast of one of the matches I played while testing out the deck. I will be the first to admit that this is a fairly new endeavor for me, and that there is certainly room for improvement in the quality of the videos I produced. But I hope that these give you better insight into how the deck plays out in the virtual battlefield. Enjoy!

 As I mentioned, this deck can really swing in for a win almost out of nowhere. The combination of Raid Bombardment and Goblin Bushwhacker enables some pretty sweet turns, where one can very quickly reduce an opponent to almost no life. And unless he or she has a quick answer for the Raid Bombardment, or some way of instantly disposing of all the tokens, your next Attack Phase will probably be enough to finish the opponent off, even if it's otherwise not a profitable attack.

 Shrivel or Seismic Shudder can definitely be a back-breaker, which makes the Negates a pretty important part of the Sideboard strategy against Red or Black. Granted, the deck has enough ways of producing Spawn tokens that it's not the end of the world, but in this case it certainly proved decisive, giving my opponent several more turns to find some solid creatures before I would be able to get the Ulamog's Crusher into the virtual battlefield.

I also apologize for the sounds of upset babies in the background. I've got one-year old twins, and despite the fact that they were on the other side of the house, the combination of their surprisingly loud volume and the sensitivity of my microphone makes it sound like they are much closer. I am also not sure what's causing that random, strange electronic interference noise; I'll have to chase that down this week before I make another of these videos. 

I've heard a few people comment that they don't really understand how Rise of the Eldrazi fits into the 'Land Matters' theme of the Zendikar Block. And while it's true that Rise is technically separate from Zendikar and Worldwake in mechanics, the Land Matters theme is definitely present in Rise of the Eldrazi as well. But rather than being an important part of an ability like Landfall, Land simply matters because of how many are needed to bring the enormous Eldrazi into the Battlefield. This certainly proved to be the case in this game for me! This was a much closer game than the first, but thanks to a key misplay by my opponent (not that my play was perfect by any means!), I was able to come away with the win.

IV. Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this analysis of moromete's TOKENS! deck. Please let me know in the comments what you think of this type of article, and how I might improve my presentation of the winning deck from each week's MPDC. And, as always, I encourage you to join us in the Anything Goes room in the channel /join MPDC each Monday for Monday Pauper Deck Challenge. Full details on the season ahead can be found here. Until next time!

V. Bonus Content

I actually played several games while practicing with TOKENS! and trying to get a feel for my recording tools. I didn't end up recording the match that the screenshot below is taken from, but in some ways I wish I had. It was an extremely difficult matchup for the deck, thanks to the combination of Soul Warden and Palace Guard, which makes it almost impossible to ever leverage enough damage with Eldrazi Spawn tokens to win. Unless, of course, one manages to swing in with 5 Eldrazi Spawn, a Plant token, and a Nest Invader with all 4 Raid Bombardments on the board. Like this...

Nothing like doing 28 damage simply by declaring attacks with a bunch of tokens...


Great framing/video layout. by deluxeicoff at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 12:25
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Great framing/video layout. Really enjoyed this...I just can't get into the subsections/cultures of anything other than straight pauper. Just my bias I guess, but with Pauper being such a wide-open/ever changing seems strange to subcategorize it with Ext/Std versions...I always see one lone person waiting to play this format, and finally playing straight pauper after waiting 20 min :) that being said, good stuff.

hand of emrakul - turn 2 by caterpillar at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 16:24
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Hi... you say Hand of Emrakul can come in as early as turn 3... it can actually come in on turn 2:
Turn 1: Island, Mothdust Changeling
Turn 2: Mountain, Brood Birthing, sac Mothdust Changeling and all Eldrazi Spawn tokens to play Hand
No mana accelerators or crazy multiple Lotus Petal hands required.

Turn 2 Hand by gwyned at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 16:39
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I actually didn't think about that particular combo, but good to know it's out there. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you can make it any faster than turn 3 in Standard Pauper.

Still doenst work, where do by Appollus at Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:08
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Still doesnt work, where do you get the second red? also how do you sac mothdust changeling?

still doesn't work by caterpillar at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 11:50
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Sure it does... Mothdust Changeling is an "Eldrazi Spawn" among all other creature types (eg, "Spawn Drone", "Eldrazi Antelope", etc.). That's why you can sac it to pay the alternative cost on Hand of Emrakul. Brood Birthing also counts it as an "Eldrazi Spawn", so the "if you control an Eldrazi Spawn" condition succeeds and you get three 0/1 tokens.

I hadn't actually noticed that the original author was talking about standard, so while you can get a turn-2 Hand of Emrakul, you can't do it like this in standard because Mothdust Changeling isn't in the format any more.

My Thoughts by Lythand at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 16:28
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I built the deck, played the deck, and here is what I thought. It's missing something.

With the original build, I often found myself making guys and not being able to do anything because I never drew the Raid Bombardment or the Ulamog's Crusher in time. My opponant would establish his board and then take over.

I tried to take the deck into a different direction by adding Soul Wardens. The object was to build a buffer and then go for an all out slaughter. That didn't quite work out so well either.

My current version of the deck has me removing the Ulamog's Crusher and Growth Spasm and changing them out for 3 Violent Outburst and 3 Brood Birthing. This makes the deck more of an agro deck which I like better. I am even contemplating whether or not i want to take out the Mysteries of the Deep and add something like Sigil Blessing or Might of Masses.

Yeah I don't think adding by gwyned at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 16:42
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Yeah I don't think adding another color is the way to go; nor is Soul Warden a particular good way to abuse the numerous tokens. Violent Outburst does work pretty well; I've seen it in similar builds, and might be a good addition. I actually don't think Brood Birthing is all that great.

Like any deck I suppose, it's draw-dependent. You have to be quite aggressive. Burn away any opposing creatures, swing in with your creatures each turn, and look for an opportunity to Alpha Strike with the Goblin Bushwhacker. Mysteries does a great job of refilling your hand and giving you enough resources to finish your opponent off before he/she is able to stabilize.

Might of the Masses by robotsinmyhead at Tue, 06/08/2010 - 19:53
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My friend trounced me with a very similar (all RoE) version of this deck in Pauper, and Might of the Masses was the key. Once he had more Eldrazi tokens than I had blocks, he could swing in, let me declare blockers, then drop MotM on the unblocked (and seemingly harmless) token, ramping him up. It's a 3rd layer win condition that works in conjunction with the Raid Bombardment, and works very very well.

In game 2, the turn you by jorje at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 18:32
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In game 2, the turn you played Kozilek's predator, you could have instead played growth spasm, setting up the next turn where you could drop the predator and bushwhacker in the same turn. It seems like that would be a much better play, setting up more surprise damage.

Just three by Lythand at Thu, 06/03/2010 - 16:21
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I should of been more specific. When I added the Soul Wardens, I made it R/W/G rather then U/R/G

Why not Essence Warden by Fujigawa at Mon, 06/07/2010 - 20:41
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Why not Essence Warden virtually the same as soul warden, but green ^^

He probably means soul's by Appollus at Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:09
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Essence Warden is not currently standard

I made this deck and had the by Kulrath at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:13
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I made this deck and had the same problem as lythand. mysteries was good but then i tried shared discovery and never looked back... its insane, but it also means more tokens so plus brood birthing, and less fatties so no crushers. taking out the crushers leaves you with less win conditions so i added some hissing iguanars. i also cut the burst lightning for staggershock, basically because it two for ones. now I'm testing with MotM to see if thats a better win condition but my thinking is if you have that many tokens you should win anyways. I ended up cutting growth spasm completely to get more threats but i still dont know if the deck is better off that way.

oh and this build made the by Kulrath at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:15
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oh and this build made the mana change a lot, i took out forests for mountains and added one island since shared discovery can be played early and the sideboard has blue

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