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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jul 20 2010 1:40am
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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 for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EDT in the /join MPDC room. Only two more weeks remain before our Season 9 Worlds Championship, so if you're hoping to make the cut to the Top 32 players of the Season, endeavor to be present for the next two events. And since, as of yet, neither a single decklist or pilot has earned the top spot more than once, there's still plenty of opportunity for innovation and skill to put even an unknown decklist into the winner's circle.

For this week, I am delighted to be reviewing a list that evolved out of the Worlds Champion list from last season, piloted by the same player who achieved that rare distinction, arcbounddaylabor. One of the stronger lists from Season 8 was Borosfall, a list that made multiple Top 8 appearances and was the Champion decklist of MPDC 8.02. This same list, with some minor tweaks, was an unexpected choice for Season 8 Worlds, and when the dust settled this list and pilot had been awarded the champion's mantle. Let's take a closer look at how it has evolved since then:

II. The Decklist

First, let's look at how things have changed:

1. The creature count has been reduced dramatically. Cerodon Yearling, Kor Hookmaster, and Crusher Zendikon have all been removed from the deck, and not a single creature has been put in to replace them, unless of course you count Zektar Shrine Expedition, which I'll say more about in a moment. Of all the creatures in the original list, these three contributed very little to the themes of the deck, which revolved around burn spells and quick creatures augmented by Landfall abilities. The Hookmaster was useful in that it could clear the way for others, and the Zendikon at times was a nice surprise with its virtual Haste ability, but on the whole these were not central to the deck as a whole.

2. A third color, , has been added to the mix. While only a splash, this does allow the deck access to two of the most powerful Black cards in Standard Pauper - Blightning and Gravedigger. Clearly, giving this deck both card-advantage and some recursion (the latter of which is supplemented also with Grim Discovery seems to be a good idea, provided it can be done without weakening the synergy and consistency of the deck as a whole.

3. Two, and only two, cards from Rise of the Eldrazi were added - Staggershock main-deck and Lone Missionary in the Sideboard. Staggershock is a clear and obvious choice, giving the deck yet another powerful Burn spell. Lone Missionary is a bit less obvious, but, as this season had proved, this little monk has the ability to single-handedly derail opposing Aggro strategies, and thus plays a vital role against such decks.

4. Zektar Shrine Expedition has returned to the list after a significant hiatus. Personally, I had run this card in my own Boros build, but had been less than pleased with it. It is a terrible late game top-deck, does absolutely nothing without Landfall, and its over-sized Elemental creature rarely crossed over the virtual Battlefield without meeting a premature fate at the hands of even the most innocuous burn spell. Nonetheless, it does have solid synergy with the rest of the deck, and with careful play can actually be an important deterrent against your opponent's destruction spells.

So, after all those changes, how does this decklist measure up?

The short answer is that it measures up quite well. Given the ideal combination of cards, this deck is even capable of pulling out a Turn 4 win, although this result is certainly not typical. Unlike most other decks featuring Kor Skyfisher, this White Soldier gets very little value in bouncing creatures back into your hand, at least before Lone Missionary and Gravedigger come in from the Sideboard. Instead, since the other two creatures are so dependent on Landfall, one simply bounces the Land to keep the damage coming. Game One, Ugly essentially plays like an Aggro deck, flinging creatures and burn at your opponent; while there certainly is a good bit of skill involved in properly utilizing the depth of burn at your disposal between opposing creatures and your opponent's Life Total, in the end one typically wants to do as much damage as possible as quickly as possible. Searing Blaze and Staggershock are key pieces of removal, accomplishing both of these tasks simultaneously. Getting full value out of the Zektar Shrine Expedition requires drawing it early, hence the main reason for including a full playset of what can otherwise be a lackluster draw. As mentioned early, just the threat of being able to sacrifice the Expedition and bring the 7/1 Elemental token into play at any moment forces your opponent into tight game play decisions, often where neither decision is advantageous. And it goes without saying that Blightning is great. Just the presence of a single copy in your opener makes it worth prioritizing fetching the lone Swamp, even if it delays access to White or to the double Red needed for Searing Blaze.

Post-board, one has several options, some of which can actually extend the deck's versatility against Control or Mid-range style decks. The three Gravediggers are typically an unexpected presence Game Two, and unless your opponent plays Graveyard-hate main-deck (such as Bojuka Bog, which continues to be a popular choice), it is unlikely that your opponent will be able to compensate for the powerful Recursion this simple card generates, especially in combination with Kor Skyfisher. The other Sideboard choices are fairly commonplace, including Kor Sanctifiers for Artifact/Enchantment hate, Lone Missionary to combat early aggression, and Relic of Progenitus to deal with Graveyard Recursion. Seismic Shudder, at first glance, seems an oddity, as more than likely it is as least as damaging to your own creatures as your opponents. However, I believe this choice reflects the dominance of Token-style decks in the metagame right now, as this is the one matchup where this card is particularly back-breaking for your opponent. And, of course, proper timing of 'cracking' Fetchlands can avoid the 'friendly fire' effect, at least for the Plated Geopede and Steppe Lynx. Finally, Grim Discovery is another helpful Recursion choice, as the extra Land that it returns to hand, which is typically a Fetch-land, can enable all sorts of late Landfall tricks that can lead to victory.

I have a couple other pointers to successfully running this list:

1. There is a nice trick with Kor Skyfisher to wring an additional mana out of your Lands. When summoning the Skyfisher, tap an extra Land to produce a desired mana color, then bounce that Land back into your hand with the 'enters the Battlefield' effect. Assuming one has not played a Land that turn, one can then immediately place the Land back into play and tap it for an additional mana. This little trick can be a lifesaver when, as the Zendikar theme goes, Land actually matters.

2. Think carefully about when to pop Fetchlands. Proper timing can allow either the Steppe Lynx or the Plated Geopede to avoid destruction by way of an unkicked Burst Lightning or Staggershock, potentially blanking your opponent's removal. Similarly, since Searing Blaze requires a Land to come into play to get full value, often holding back a Fetchland will maximize the chances of your being able to use it at the most advantageous moment.

III. The Match

 My opponent definitely misplayed in using the Lightning Bolt to take out the pumped Plated Geopede, given that I had two counters on the Zektar Shrine Expedition and a Fetch-land on the table. Of course, had he held back, I probably would not have popped the Elemental out; this is a great example of how the mere presence of the Zektar Shrine can make for difficult game play decisions for your opponent. Also, after using the Elemental token, I probably should have summoned the Kor Skyfisher and bounced the token, rather than simply passing the turn. But considering that my opponent was so short on mana, this was a pretty easy win.

 Watching the replay, I'm still not sure of the merits of bouncing a Land to play Blightning versus bouncing the Gravedigger back into my hand with Kor Skyfisher. Blightning is just so powerful that my general preference in this deck is to run it out as quickly as possible, particularly if there's a chance my opponent might empty his hand out within another turn or two. And then, soon afterwards, my opponent trades my Kor Skyfisher and Plated Geopede for a Shrivel, Goblin Bushwhacker, and a Burst Lightning, which, as a 3-for-2, didn't seem like the best line of play. In any case, I was fairly fortunate to keep drawing creatures, and my opponent, once again, was a bit short on Lands.

 As I've mentioned before, the combination of two Gravediggers and a Kor Skyfisher is just so brutal, allowing you to almost infinitely recycle your creatures over and over again and creating an important card-advantage margin over your opponent. There are not a lot of games you can win having been Blightninged twice, but the Gravediggers had given me such a tremendous advantage that it no longer mattered.

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, you can always browse over to, search for "gwyned42," select one of my video-casts, and click the Subscribe button. I apologize for the lack of an article last week; my work schedule, coupled with some difficulties with the winning list, proved to be too much of an obstacle to overcome. In case you are interested, you can view the previous week's winning deck here. In any case, thanks for reading and watching, and I'll see you next time.

V. Bonus Content

At one point this article was almost called "The Quitters Ball," as I faced several opponents who quit at some point in the middle of the matches I was recording, forcing me to throw out quite a bit of video-casting on my part. Below I've included a middle game of one such match. Game One, both my opponent and I had very awkward openers, and my opponent conceded pretty quickly, sending us to Sideboarding for Game Two, which is where this video-cast picks up. This was a pretty close game, so I thought it would be of interest.

 As you will see below, I end up losing this game by a very small margin. I am convinced that had my game play been a little tighter, I might have been able to pull out a win here. If you see any mistakes that cost me this game, please let me know in the comments.


sweet decklist by YrdBrd420 at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 10:22
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The decklist made me literally drool. Ive been trying to get a Borosfall deck to work for a while now and I really like this one. I have a question. If you were to port this over to classic for TPDC (I have no idea if it would be viable but it looks fun as hell), do you think a couple karoos would work better than the Panoramas? Some combination of Boros Garrison, Orzhov Basilica, and/or Rakdos Carnarium.

While the karoolands have by ShardFenix at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:16
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While the karoolands have their uses I think the ability of dropping, saccing and getting a new land in play all on one turn thus getting 2 landfall triggers is too powerful to not use. Also with the panorama ou hav the option of saccing during the opponents turn to power Searing Blaze.

Yeah I would not recommend by gwyned at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:48
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Yeah I would not recommend any Karoo lands. A good part of the deck's synergy is around Landfall, and a Fetchland is the most powerful way to make use of that synergy. Particularly, you need the ability to 1) get two lands into play in a single turn 2) bring a land into play when it's not your turn, typically to protect a Lynx/Geopede but possibly to power up a Searing Blaze.

I'm not well versed in the Classic Pauper scene, but unlike a lot of Standard Pauper decks, I think this has the power to be decent.

I think you need to by ianferrel at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:02
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I think you need to Staggershock his second stinger immediately. It slows his clock down considerably, and it (sort-of) turns on your creatures when/if you draw them. It at least forces him to unearth and use a nonrenewable resource to kill them, and if you have fetches sitting around, one unearth won't do it.

I also think you're a little too quick to drop out lands when you haven't got landfall triggers to work with. It didn't affect you this game (never drew the guys), but it would in many games.

Staggershock by lackhand at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:23
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It seems like you used Staggershock and Burst Lightning in reverse order. While they can both go 4 to the dome, Staggershock takes an extra turn to do it. Using Burst Lightning early is often correct, but in this case using the Staggershock would have killed the guy and still domed your opponent, leaving the Burst Lightning in your hand at the end of the game. The extra 2 damage early plus having the Burst Lightning for 4 instead of Staggershock would have won the game.

It's hard to know early in the game though, and I'm sure recording commentary live while playing makes it harder. Thanks for sharing, I really like this deck.

I had a feeling at the end of by gwyned at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:49
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I had a feeling at the end of that bonus game that using the burn spells in the other order would have been correct and would have won me the game. Thanks for confirming that for me.

Karoos by YrdBrd420 at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:52
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I see your point about the karoos vs. Panoramas. I guess you have to take into account consistency vs. explosiveness. The karoos add some consistency to your landfall triggers by returning a land for use next turn. The Panoramas on the other hand, offer the explosiveness of multiple landfall triggers in a single turn. As far as turning on Searing Blaze on your opponents turn, Ill admit I never really factor that in. Im so used to basically using it as a sorcery. But the point remains that it is an instant and Panoramas help it.

Early game I also have by ShardFenix at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 16:25
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Early game I also have problems casting searing blaze as an instant just because I like laying at least one threat down and getting in for early damage so having the extra fetches to power it normally doesnt happen til turn 4-6. Which reinforces me seeing the blaze as only a sorcery as well.

In the bonus match, imo, you by lenney at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 16:02
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In the bonus match, imo, you just boarded wrong. -4 Staggershock, -4 Zektar, +4 Missionary, +2 Grim, +2 Digger would have been far more efficient against UR, although, to your credit, it sounded like you didn't even see that he was in red until game 2.

The Bonus Game by MechtaK at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 17:44
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Bah, nevermind, someone already covered my comment. Gotta learn to read better. :P

Well, I took the list into by YrdBrd420 at Wed, 07/21/2010 - 08:20
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Well, I took the list into battle in TPDC last night. The only changes I made were -4 Burst Lightning +4 Firebolt main, and updated the sideboard for what I thought I might encounter in classic (MUC Fae, Affinity, Goblins, Stompy, Storm, and U/B control) 4 Martyr of Ashes 4 Pyroblast 4 Benevolent Unicorn 3 Doom Blade. I finished the night 3-1, dropping after round 4 due to it being after midnight est. I took down U/B control and 2 storm decks, losing to MBCu.

The best answer for MUC is by deluxeicoff at Wed, 07/21/2010 - 12:34
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The best answer for MUC is Vulshok Sorcerer and/or Thunderbolt(s)

good job YrdBrd420 by arcbounddaylabor at Wed, 07/21/2010 - 14:07
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I watched part of one of your storm games last night before I hit the bar, I'm impressed that the deck did that well in classic with a few mods.
I salute you.

TPDC by YrdBrd420 at Wed, 07/21/2010 - 15:30
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I was happily suprised with a 3-1 record and 2 of those wins vs. Storm. However, I dont think that 1 event is really representative of how the deck fairs in the metagame. I plan to do some testing against the other big players (Goblins, MUC, B/x control). I will say that I really missed the Gravediggers and Grim Discoveries in the original board when I was battling U/B control and MBCu. I think having Digger and perhaps Unearth (since all the creatures are 3cc or less) could really help the matchup. Also, Obsidian Acolyte could really help since it fights what is the bane of any deck sporting significant burn, Tendrils of Corruption. I must say, I was a little less than impressed with the Expedition. Against Storm, its pretty good since they have no blockers and you take out a 1/3 of their life when it hits. Against pretty much anything, that being decks sporting some form of removal, it kinda sucks. Im thinking Keldon Marauders may be a better fit in classic. It always gets there for at least 2, can trade with a lot of stuff, and only gets better with each Skyfisher you draw.

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