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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jun 28 2010 12:51am
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I. Introduction

As I mentioned in my previous articles, the goal of this series 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 PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EDT in the /join MPDC room. We're about halfway through the current season at this point, but there's still plenty of opportunity to earn enough Season Points to qualify for the MPDC Season 9 Worlds, which offers the best prizes of the season (over $30 total - which, while still pocket-change, isn't bad for a FREE event).

This week, we depart from the recent success of 5 color build to return to what was a perennial favorite in Standard Pauper, particularly while Lorwyn Block was still part of Standard: Stars and Bars, an archetype named for the three colors common in several national flags, . Stars and Bars typically combined a full suite of potent burn spells, a small contingent of counterspells, and a mix of advantageous critters to achieve victory. Arguably, it was what is arguably one of the greatest creatures of all time in Pauper, Mulldrifter, that made this deck so great, and not surprisingly this particular archetype waned in popularity once it rotated out of Standard.

Nevertheless, while Mulldrifter has yet to return, the overall strategy that made the Stars and Bars archetype such a viable decklist is still available, and on occasion a player will continue to find success with just such a build. Such is the deck that I want to discuss this week, nicknamed Bay Bridge by its creator and pilot, a relative newcomer to the Standard Pauper scene named Mafioso. Here's what the deck contains:

II. The Decklist


While clearly the specific cards have changed since this archetype dominated the Standard Pauper metagame, the parallels between them are clear (for reference, check out this list, which won MPDC Worlds during Season 5). First and foremost, like any successful Standard Pauper deck, Bay Bridge boasts a large number of removal spells, including both burn spells such as Burst Lightning and Staggershock and enchantment-based removal in Oblivion Ring, which doubles as a silver-bullet against almost any relevant threat. Second, while this list lacks any counterspells maindeck, both Dispel and Hindering Light can be brought in from the Sideboard, should specific threats need to be dealt with proactively. Third, this decklist has a strong card-advantage theme, thanks to a full playset of Divination as well as the extra value from the 'enters the Battlefield' effects of Sea Gate Oracle, Lone Missionary, and Mnemonic Wall, each of which can be used multiple times thanks to the presence of what has become the go-to creature for Standard Pauper, Kor Skyfisher. With the presence of strong Graveyard-hate in the metagame by means of Bojuka Bog and Relic of Progenitus, the Skyfisher provides similar recursion-effects without the liability of depending on the Graveyard. Deft Duelist also provides a strong offensive or defensive presence, sidestepping almost any attempt to remove it save for its weakness against Seismic Shudder or Shrivel.

The manabase is well constructed, with enough Fetchlands in Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds to typically find a missing mana source. Speaking of which, there is not a clear order of preference on selecting which color(s) to ensure you have access to early; while access to early burn spells from Red are important for a Control-archetype such as this, the deck is equally dependent on White for its excellent creatures and Blue for card advantage. And, as you will see below, the inability to find a 3rd land-drop can prove crippling to your chances for victory.

The Sideboard is fairly diverse, with a range of viable options to tweak the deck to shore up weaknesses and/or take advantage of those of an opponent. In my opinion, even pre-Sideboard this list has good to decent matchups against any of the leading decks in the current metagame, and thus Sideboarding is certainly more of a tweak than a major change. More often that not, Oblivion Ring often proves to be suboptimal against an opponent post-board, and this Sideboard provides ample replacements for Game Two and Three. Kor Sanctifiers is an obvious choice, dealing with Enchantments and Artifacts and proving to be an able-bodied defender at the same time. As previously mentioned Relic of Progenitus helps defeat Graveyard-recursion; Seismic Shudder helps deal with hordes of Goblins, Eldrazi Spawn, or even a misplayed Calcite Snapper; and AEther Tradewinds can be used to provide an additional source of recursion, protect a key creature, gain a significant tempo-swing, or even seriously hinder an Aura Gnarlid deck.

III. The Match

 Keeping my opening seven, with only two Land on the play, was perhaps a bit greedy, and I definitely paid a price for it early on. Fortunately I was able to draw my way out of it fairly quickly. The Aura Gnarlid strategy can be strong, but it's very dependent on its ability to protect its key creature. Here, I had enough removal that I was never really in any danger of things getting too out of control. The fact that my multiple Kor Skyfishers essentially blanked all of his Pacifism effects also proved pretty decisive.

 Honestly, once I got stabilized the Battlefield and developed significant card advantage by means of the filtering and card draw provided by Sea Gate Oracle, there was very little my opponent could have done to disrupt my plan. The fact that his deck also lacked any means of dealing with Flying creatures other than the Pacifism and similar effects was also a sizable advantage for me. All in all, I would say this is an excellent matchup for this deck, although as always in Pauper it is quite draw-dependent.

 After getting somewhat lucky that I was able to draw out of my 2 Land on the play opener in the previous game, the Shuffler took its revenge on me with a vengence, punishing a much more reasonable 2 Land keep on the draw by preventing me from drawing a 3rd land until well into the game. Worse, my opponent was able to leverage enough pressure early that every defender I could summon was at a premium, leading to some awkward decisions. Honestly here, I had serious doubts that this game was winnable at this point.

 Typically, I think it is a mistake to play out Kor Sanctifiers early on without a target for its anti-Enchantment or Artifact ability. Here, my opponent should have suspected I still had viable targets for them and at least held one of them back. On the other hand, his early pressure all-but finished me off, leaving me clinging to a single life point in desperation. Honestly, even after I began to estalish control, I definitely considered conceding so as to leave myself enough time for Game 3.

If nothing else, this last segment shows just how detrimental Kor Sanctifiers can be against White decklists relying upon Oblivion Ring or Journey to Nowhere for removal. Back in the days of Lorwyn, I remember how painful it could be to trap a Mulldrifter with an 'O-Ring,' only to have it return to the Battlefield and gift my opponent with additional cards. Nowadays, Kor Skyfisher presents a similar threat, as he effectively doubles the advantage of the Sanctifiers. I probably could have kept more of the burn spells that my Sea Gate Oracles offered up and perhaps won the game more quickly, but once again the amount of card advantage I was able to leverage pretty much guaranteed a win barring some quite unusual set of plays.

IV. Conclusion

And with that, I conclude another edition of Standard Pauper Deck Tech. Just a reminder, if you would like a sneak peak at my content before it goes live here at PureMTGO.com, you can always browse over to YouTube.com, search for "gwyned42," select one of my video-casts, and click the Subscribe button. I hope these articles continue to be a pleasure to read and give you a nice introduction to these great decklists, and as always I value your feedback and comments. See you next time!

V. Bonus Content

As my more astute readers have surely noticed, I was unable to submit an article last week, leaving moromete's excellent Full English Breakfast decklist from MPDC 9.04 to go rancid. While his list is fairly similar to Gonchan's Prismatic Rioters covered in my previous article, I would have enjoyed the chance to take it for a spin in a Deck Tech. But for now, you'll just have to content yourself with his decklist. Enjoy!