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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jul 08 2010 2:29am
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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. M11 will be shaking up the metagame soon enough, but there are still a few more weeks before the end of the season when the best and brightest in our community face off for the title of Season 9 Worlds Champion!

After several weeks of domination by Control decks, this week's winning deck is somewhat of a surprise. It boasts 29 creatures, 8 pump spells, only 2 colors, and not a single piece of removal main-deck, all of which might seem like the recipe for failure. Yet its aggressive strategy, backed by hordes of critters and a smattering of card-advantage, catapulted it to the winner's circle in MPDC 9.06, going undefeated in seven matches in a row against a tough field that included Allies, Esper-Control, three different 3 Color Control builds, and a Domain deck. And so, after claiming 2 events in the previous season of MPDC's sister event SPDC (where the "S" is for Standard, not sister), Trample Toes returns. Let's take a closer look at its contents:

II. The Decklist


As was mentioned earlier, it isn't too difficult to see the overall strength of the deck: a horde of creatures, backed up by some powerful pump and minimal protection, coupled with some nice options for card-advantage. Elvish Visionary, Kor Skyfisher, and Rhox Meditant each provide the card-advantage, either replacing themselves immediately or allowing one to recast a returned creature from the Battlefield. In the case of the Skyfisher, it also provides Evasion via Flying along with its partners Knight of Cliffhaven and Apex Hawks, both of which also function as a nice late-game mana sink. Flying and Reach have not had a strong metagame presence as of late, and as a result this form of Evasion can prove decisive providing such creatures can avoid the long fall from the large quantities of Removal that are so common in Standard Pauper currently. Its creature base also includes a return of the Exalted mechanic by way of Rhox Bodyguard and Qasali Pridemage, the latter of which does double-duty as Artifact and Enchantment hate. While typically Exalted has not proved to be very versatile in Standard Pauper, in combination with even a single flyer it can provide quite a bit of damage, and is especially helpful when trying to push your flyers past your opponent's own Skyfishers. Finally, Knight of the Skyward Eye rounds out the army. This knight has always been a bit curious, as its pump spell is expensive enough that its strength is less in dealing damage or sending other creatures to the Graveyard and more about the threat of doing so; a threat that is often unrealized due to its extreme cost.
 

Given that the deck doesn't include any removal, at least Main-deck, making best use out of the pump effects provided by Vines of Vastwood and Sigil Blessing can be tricky. Often, the Vines end up being used simply as a counterspell of sorts to your opponent's Removal, which if nothing else at least forces your opponent to double-up with Removal on your most troublesome creature. Ideally, one wants to use these pump effects as pseudo-Removal to take out troublesome creatures on the other side of the virtual Battlefield, but finding the ideal time to do so is not straightforward. Nothing can take the air out of your sails faster than when an aptly-timed Lightning Bolt is cast in response to your pump-effect, penalizing you with both the loss of the creature and card disadvantage. On the other hand, Sigil Blessing can be a powerful finisher, providing a major boost to an unblocked creature while simultaneously altering the math of your blocked creatures into your favor. Timing is everything, of course, and sometimes you simply have to seize the opportunity despite the potential loss and hope for the best.

Since the deck requires only , the manabase is fairly simple, with a slight preference going to the Forests. The Wildfield Borderposts might seem out of place, until one remembers that the card-advantage effect of the Rhox Meditant requires a green permanent in play; without the Borderposts, this can sometimes be difficult to achieve. Additionally, Kabira Crossroads more than makes up for entering the Battlefield tapped by the precious Lifegain it provides, which has proven to be the key to survival in the current metagame.

The Sideboard is relatively straightforward, with some nice tools to counter some important decks in the metagame. Lone Missionary provides the aforementioned Lifegain; Kor Sanctifiers is the Artifact/Enchantment hate par-excellance; and Relic of Progenitus is the best answer to strategies that rely upon Graveyard recursion. Finally, Puncturing Light gives the deck the possibility of some White removal without the weakness inherent in Enchantment-based removal like Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere, Pacifism, or Crystallization or the mana-expense of Divine Verdict or Iona's Judgment. Since most creatures in Pauper have a Power of 3 or less, and almost all rely upon attacking to be effective, Puncturing Light's own restrictions are not as painful as they can be in other formats.

III. The Match

 Was definitely disheartened when I found out my opponent was playing Allies, as typically this is not a good matchup for this deck. The lack of Removal makes it hard to combat the synergy of Allies. Worse, even after Sideboarding in the Puncturing Light, there is virtually nothing one can do against the almost infinite Lifegain possible from Ondu Cleric. And then my opponent found an Akoum Battlesinger, and I knew I was in some serious trouble. Fortunately for me, my opponent didn't seem to bring enough Allies to the table to really finish me off.

 I think I was a little too reluctant to play my Sigil Blessings, considering that I had three in hand. I believe my thought process was that I wanted to save them for an Alpha Strike or to protect a key creature against burn. The Divine Verdict was another surprise - given his build, I totally was not expecting it. While I am always hesitant to use multiple pump spells due to the potential card disadvantage, there was no reason to leave my opponent at a single point of Life. Even if he already had Safe Passage in hand, it still would have been the right play. Ah well. It took a little longer, but a win is a win.

 Double Akoum Battlesinger is about as good as an Ally deck can hope for, but once again the fact that he was unable to leverage a critical mass of Allies proved to be decisive in my favor. A Puncturing Light would have been fantastic; instead, I had to settle for my full playset of Elvish Visionarys. Still, I managed to put up enough of a presence of the Battlefield that I felt like this game was well in hand.

 Highland Berserker was probably even better than another Battlesinger to open up this segment with, and my estimate of the situation dropped from positive to marginal as best. Then, when my opponent swings in with the whole team, the card I was unable to come up with was Join the Ranks, which would have proven absolutely devastating. When my opponent tapped the four mana, I even typed "gg" and almost conceded; imagine my surprise when instead he merely played Divine Verdict! No idea why my opponent made that attack, but it certainly swung the game back fully into my favor, and from that point on there was little doubt that I would triumph.

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 also apologize that this article is so late getting up; hopefully I will be a bit faster this week, although with my recent work schedule I wouldn't be surprised if my next article is a bit late as well. In any case, thanks for reading, and see you next time!

V. Bonus Content

I had one additional match that I recorded in my testing for this article. But I did not think it was adequate for this article, and almost ended up just trashing it, particularly since my opponent rage-quit during Game 2 by dropping connection mid-battle. Still, I thought it might be interesting to watch, so I've included both games below. I cut the last video slightly - you miss that my opponent played a Call to Heel on his Kor Skyfisher, and that I cast Vines of Vastwood on it in response; he then dropped connection.