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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jun 09 2010 2:31am
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I. Introduction

As I mentioned in my previous article, the goal of this series of articles is to highlight the winning decklist from each event in Monday Pauper Deck Challenge this season. MPDC is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EDT in the /join MPDC room. The metagame is surprisingly deep and varied, and there's still plenty of opportunity to craft together a powerful list that will place your name on the weekly virtual trophy.

This article is also a little late getting to the presses, thanks to a combination of technical glitches and my presence at a work conference for most of last week. I am still chasing down glitches with my video-casting setup, including a particularly nasty one that occasionally takes the audio output and records it at about three-times normal speed, making it sound like a chipmunk tripping on helium speaking faster than the speed of sound. But that aside, this has been an enjoyable experience for me, and I hope it will prove to be both enjoyable and informative for my readers.

This week, I will be highlighting a perennial favorite in Standard Pauper, that of BW Control. This deck has enjoyed tremendous success in Standard Pauper over the past few seasons, including capturing the Season Trophy for the other Standard Pauper PRE last season. With the advent of Rise of the Eldrazi, this favorite has returned with some new tricks up its sleeve. Let's check out the decklist.

II. The Decklist

For all its strength and resilience, BW Control relies upon two fairly simple techniques. First and foremost, the decklist is about recursion. With the exception of the Crypt Rippers, every creature in this deck features some sort of secondary "enters the battlefield" type effect. Between the Gravediggers, Cadaver Imps, and Kor Skyfishers, one has numerous ways of recycling creatures once they have hit the Graveyard, creating virtual card-advantage and overcoming the preponderance of removal that has become key in Standard Pauper. Two tricks in particular stand out: First, with one of the Gravediggers or Cadaver Imps on the board and another one in hand, and assuming your opponent has no means to either empty the Graveyard or counter Creature spells, one can simply absorb removal spells, trade off creatures, or even chump-block endlessly. Second, in a similar fashion, with either of the aforementioned creatures and a Kor Skyfisher either in hand or the Graveyard, one can cast the Gravedigger and follow it up with a Skyfisher, returning the Gravedigger back to your hand for future use.

Second, this decklist is about removal. With nineteen different forms of removal main, and another four in the Sideboard, it is also impossible for the opposing player to keep any creatures on his or her side of the virtual Battlefield. This serves to clear the way for one's own creatures, allowing you to slowly but surely whittle down your opponent's life while maintaining control of the board. With a wide variety of threats in Standard Pauper, it is also important to have some variety in the kind of removal. Doom Blade and Hideous End are arguably the best in the arsenal, but obviously are blanks against Black creatures. Journey to Nowhere is equally good and even overcomes the color shortcomings, but is quite vulnerable to all the Enchantment-hate now common in the metegame, especially from Qasali Pridemages and Kor Sanctifiers. Disfigure is a nice stop-gap, as 2 Toughness is quite prevalent in Pauper. But my personal favorite is Tendrils of Corruption, which not only serves as a powerful piece of removal, but has the added benefit of not-insignificant Lifegain in the process.

In fact, BW Control has a sub-theme of Lifegain as well, thanks to the presence of Kabira Crossroads, the aforementioned Tendrils of Corruption, and what proved to be the surprise-inclusion for me, Lone Missionary. Lone Missionary seems a surprisingly addition at first glance, as neither gaining 4 Life nor a 2/1 "bear" for 2 are strong contenders, even in Standard Pauper. The combination, however, is somehow stronger than the sum of its parts, particularly when one can recycle the Missionary a few times with Kor Skyfisher. In fact, all things being equal, that opening proved to be my favorite: a Turn 2 Missionary, swing in for 2 Turn 3, then bounce the Missionary back to hand with Kor Skyfisher. Quite strong!

The rest of the cards are fairly straight-forward. Sign in Blood is great card advantage, and the 2 Life is hardly a factor at all most of the time thanks to the abundant Lifegain. Shrivel in the maindeck is somewhat unusual, but given the prevalence of tokens from the previous week, it was probably a wise decision at the time; as a bonus, Shrivel also is useful against certain Exalted or 4 Color Control builds, creating opportunities for easy 2-for-1s. Kor Sanctifiers of course is a great for Artifact/Enchantment hate, and is a decent creature to boot. Crypt Ripper serves as the finisher, and its Shade ability (ie,  for +1/+1) allows it to go head-to-head with any creature in Standard Pauper. Bojuka Bog, along with Relic of Progenitus from the Sideboard, allows one to counter rival Graveyard-recursion strategies. Finally, Duress is a nice answer against decks sporting counter magic or a large burn/removal suite.

III. The Match

My match this week is against a 4 Color Control variant with an unusually large suite of removal, including Burst Lightning, Lightning Bolt and Terminate, and Doom Blade, the latter of which is assumed to be from the Sideboard. The match did not start well, and I was quite pressed for time at points, but overall I believe it's a great representation of what this decklist is capable of. Enjoy!

 Although I get off to a decent start, the lack of Land certainly hinders my development. In addition, I was quite surprised by the amount of removal that my opponent was able to bring to bear. This has the added disadvantage of causing me to bounce Lands with Kor Skyfisher rather than being able to reuse key creatures.

 After my slow start, I simply was unable to recover. 4 Color Control can do a great job of sidestepping removal since so many of its creatures draw a card when they come into play or otherwise give the player an additional effect. BW Control, like any control archetype, is dependent on its resources, and if you can't stabilize in time, there isn't a whole lot you can do.

 Even with my opponent experiencing a pretty land-heavy opening, this game didn't look promising at this point. My mistake in Duressing the Burst Lightning instead of the Lightning Bolt definitely was a factor here as well. However, I was fortunate enough to draw the Relic of Progenitus, and got pretty good value out of it.

 I think my opponent was a little quick to use his removal on my creatures, even when they weren't a substantial threat. Having to race the clock could have been very painful; fortunately for me, my opponent scoops quite early, giving me plenty of time for Game 3. Being able to recycle the Cadaver Imps over and over again is a strong combination, but I still think that the concession was a bit premature.

 Watching my replay, it seems that my delay in picking the Plains off the Terramorphic Expanse telegraphed that I had a Kor Sanctifiers in hand, and I believe that's why my opponent never played a Borderpost. Also, as I mentioned above, I love the combination of Missionary and Kor Skyfisher, and having two Missionaries in hand was definitely a plus. Unlike Game 2 where I felt pretty uncertain in the outcome, I was fairly confident that I had Game 3 well in hand.

Valeron Outlander is decent against BW Control, but the decklist sports enough White creatures that it isn't nearly the obstacle that it could be in other matchups. Of course, it does a great job holding back the Crypt Ripper! I should have been more aggressive in this game, but it ended up not being too much of a factor. It was nice to finish off my opponent simply by pushing creatures forward each turn, overwhelming his ability to deal with them. Also, I apologize for the way the video cut-off at the end.

IV. Conclusion

I appreciate all the great feedback I received since last week, some of which game in comments over at I certainly urge you to continue to suggest ways I might be able to improve this series of articles. In particular, if there is a way to embed the YouTube videos such that I could do two side-by-side for each Game (rather than a single column), that would be a great help. Or, if you have any idea of why the audio did that strange triple-speed glitch, that would be great to know as well. See you next time!

V. Bonus Content

Speaking of that glitch, here's exactly what I am talking about. Hope it's worth a laugh...


Love the videos. Aelopile by deluxeicoff at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:56
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Love the videos. Aelopile (sp?) is a valid sb card, for all the orders you may run into/pro black stuff :)

Aven Riftwatcher by robotsinmyhead at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 12:54
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Do you have any thoughts on using Aven Riftwatcher - comment redacted. Didn't see this was only standard, thanks.

Standard guys.. Standard by lenney at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 12:20
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Standard guys.. Standard

In the section where you say by JMason at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 14:46
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In the section where you say "The rest of the cards are fairly straight-forward" I think you may be underestimating some of the cards.

Sign in Blood is not just great card advantage, it's a way of delivering that final 2 points of damage to your opponent. Crypt Ripper is the finisher, but it's not just the ability to go head-to-head with any creature in Standard Pauper, it (like putrid leech) can dodge most forms of damage based removal making it a real problem to remove. In a deck that isn't over worried by tempo like this, Bojuka Bog is having a profound effect on the metagame, it pretty much allows you to negate the opponents graveyard strategy with hardly any effect on your own gameplan.

chipmunk by Drbenwayy at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 15:12
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Great videos. The bonus section with the chipmunk voice definitely made my son and I laugh.

In game one when you were by dimir626 at Wed, 06/09/2010 - 17:38
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In game one when you were stuck on three mana, there were multiple turns where you could have played a skyfisher, picked up a land, and played another two drop. Did this never cross your mind, or do value the skyfisher's ability to reuse ETB creatures more?

Besieged and SOM by Yanu at Fri, 02/11/2011 - 17:24
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Now that these two expansions have come out, would you consider changing Doom Blade for Grasp of Darkness and Disfigure for Fume Spitter?

Also, isn't Unmake>Hideous End?