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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jul 26 2010 1:29am
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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. We've only got one more week until the Season Championship, so if you're hoping to jump in and get your first experience in a Standard Pauper PRE, this will be your last chance until after the online release of Magic 2011.

This week I get an opportunity that I hoped for since my first experience with this series of articles - a chance to show off the winning decklist by bringing you my own list from the event and video-casting my way through the final match. As it so happens, this is also the first time in Season 9 of MPDC that a winning archetype makes a return appearance, as my entry for MPDC 9.09 was a tweaked version of the list that won MPDC 9.03 entitled Prismatic Rioters. If you wish to check my previous coverage of this decklist, you can find that right here. So, without further ado, here's the decklist for this week:

II. The Decklist


A. Building the Deck

Generally speaking, the overall strategy of the decklist has shifted towards the Aggressive side of the spectrum, moving from Control to more Mid-Range. The key to Mid-Range decks, to quote Patrick Chapin, "is to be able to play the bigger role against fast decks and the faster role versus big decks." In other words, one combats Control strategies by being more Aggro and Aggressive strategies by being more Control. While this strategy is important no matter what archetype your deck falls into, Mid-Range decks are those that are intentionally designed to straddle this fence. While this can seem a strength, the reality is that often by failing to focus on one end of the spectrum or the other, the deck fails to do either well. 

For whatever reason, I've noticed lately that most of my own creations tend to fall in the Mid-Range strategy. In this particular case, I think the various options afforded by access to all five colors makes it easier for this list to shift more towards one end of the spectrum or the other based upon the matchup. Either that, or I was just exceptionally lucky. In any case, what changes did I make to Gonchan's original list that makes the results more of a Mid-Range strategy?

1. I removed Sea Gate Oracle and Mnemonic Wall from the deck, and pushed Lone Missionary solely to the Sideboard. In their place, I added Wild Nacatl and Putrid Leech, both of which are solid Aggressive creatures. Wild Nacatl is particularly effective, since it is a one-drop that naturally gets more powerful as one searches out the other colored mana-sources, something which the deck is designed to do anyway.

2. I revamped the Remove suite, dropping the more controlling Flame Slash and Journey to Nowhere for Terminate, Burst Lightning, and Resounding Thunder. Terminate remains an important offensive weapon in Standard Pauper, as players are increasingly relying on creatures whose Toughness are 4 or greater, making them difficult to remove with typical Burn spells. Resounding Thunder, while three times the cost of Lightning Bolt for the same effect, makes for a fantastic finisher, albeit one that requires eight mana but includes both card draw and immunity to counterspells (the latter due to the fact that Cycle is not a spell and thus there is nothing for a counterspell to target). Resounding Thunder clearly has synergy with a Domain-style list, since the deck relies upon 1) amassing a high number of lands 2) having access to all five colors. 

3. A single Kor Skyfisher gave way to allow for two Deadshot Minotaurs, a card that is quite strong against decks running Kor Skyfishers of their own. Additionally, this Minotaur can be Cycled early and has the all-important 4 Toughness, making it difficult to deal with it. While other decks have been relying upon Branching Bolt to fill a similar role, I found that the relevance of a large creature was slightly stronger than the simple 2-for-1 offered by Branching Bolt, especially since that allows it to be played maindeck.

4. I also made a few other minor tweaks: First, while the loss of Sea Gate Oracle was hard to replace, I added an additional copy of Mysteries of the Deep to help compensate. Second, Blightning and Seismic Shudder were pushed completed out of the Main. And third, the 4th Prophetic Prism was converted into a Land.

5. The Sideboard was also tweaked, swapping out the more difficult Kor Sanctifiers for Solemn Offering, which while slightly inferior is much easier on the manabase; Rest for the Weary and the additional While removal were likewise dropped, leaving room for three copies each of Lone Missionary, Relic of Progenitus, Seismic Shudder, and Solemn Offering, as well as 2 copies of Blightning and an additional Terminate.

6. Finally, with all of these changes, the manabase clearly needed some major changes. Most noticeably, Green went from a minor splash to the deck's primary color, while White went from 2nd fiddle to 4th. With Black's added role, I was also able to squeeze in a copy of Bojuka Bog, giving the deck a 5th option against Graveyard recursion. Last, Rupture Spire took the place of the 4th Prophetic Prism, essentially increasing the number of each mana sources by one.

B. Playing the Deck

Generally speaking, the strategy of the deck is to be aggressive early, dropping as many early creatures as possible and attempting to put enough pressure on your opponent that he is unable to regain momentum. Wild Nacatl, Putrid Leech, and Kor Skyfisher are key to this approach, and Matca Rioters can very quickly end games once fully powered up through the Domain Keyword. One should also carefully preserve whatever Burn spells come to hand, as these spells often become finishers once your opponent's Life total dips into range. . However, should your opponent manage to stabilize, even pre-Sideboard one has the tools to match Control with Control, gaining some additional card advantage with Mysteries of the Deep or bouncing a Prophetic Prism. Gravedigger is particularly effective in this role as well, essentially negating your opponent's own removal and allowing you to press whatever advantage you've gained in tempo and momentum with early Aggression. Eventually, the potency of Matca Rioters and Resounding Thunder often prove enough to push through your opponent's defenses and end Game One in your favor.

As far as mana-sources are concerned, Green is clearly your primary color, followed by Red, Black, White, and Blue. In fact, one can often forgo the lone Island entirely unless you need the extra boost to Matca Rioters, since between the Rupture Spire and the Prophetic Prisms one should easily be able to produce the mana for the Mysteries of the Deep, which are the only Blue cards in the list. Probably the most difficult decision is whether to fetch Plains or Swamps third, since the Wild Nacatls rely on the former but Putrid Leech and Terminate rely on the latter. In corner cases, fetching the Swamp typically is the right decision.

Once Sideboading becomes a possibility, there are several different strategies one can pursue. Lone Missionary is great against opposing Aggro decks, while Relic of Progenitus is your primary weapon against Graveyard Recursion. Opposing Enchantments or Artifacts call for a suite of Solemn Offering, while Token or Weenie strategies demand the response of Seismic Shudder. Also, assuming your opponent isn't strictly Aggro, Blightning is excellent as always, gaining you both card advantage and reach. Deadshot Minotaur should come out against opponents lacking a strong flying presence (which is rare, given the overall strength of Kor Skyfisher; likewise, Terminate is not strictly necessary if your opponent is not relying upon either a preponderance of creatures or those with a Toughness of 4 or greater. Often I found myself siding out a few other creatures, typically reducing the set of Wild Nacatls and Matca Rioters by 1, to make room for more controlling elements. Even though conventional wisdom in Magic dictates that one combat Control with Aggro and vice-versa, sometimes fighting fire with fire can be equally effective.

III. The Match

 Nothing like starting the Finals with a Mulligan to 5! I was quite surprised to see an Exalted Weenie deck was also in the Finals, as generally speaking Exalted is not a strong mechanic in Standard Pauper. My most difficult decision here was whether to chump-block the Elvish Visionary after it was pumped up to a 7/7 through Exalted and Vines of Vastwood. Even in retrospect, I think I made the right decision simply to take the damage. With so few options in my hands, and my odds of getting good value out the Mysteries of the Deep not great, I was going to need both Creatures to even have a shot at winning.

 I was equally surprised to see the Aura Gnarlid, although afterwards I realized this is fairly clever play. Exalted pumps up the Gnarlid without having to resort to Enchantments (with the inherent risk of a painful 2-for-1), giving the deck more options and pretty good synergy with the Exalted Weenie theme. At the end, I would have needed to draw both a Mountain and another Burn spell to survive. Interestingly enough, I think I lost almost every Game 1 I played that day in MPDC.

 Definitely started out a little flooded, which can happen with this deck; the plus side of being flooded though is that you get access to all five colors very quickly, allowing you to play any spell you draw at the most opportune time. In retrospect, it might have been when my opponent double-blocked to use the Resounding Thunder to get a 2-for-1, but I was too focused on saving it to get full value out of it later, especially given the high number of Lands I had drawn. Of course, drawing the Gravedigger right as he tapped out for his Relic of Progenitus was quite lucky on my part.

 Having Wild Nacatl and Putrid Leech in your opener is great for this list, especially if you've got the right mix of lands to fully support both. Putrid Leech is great at dodging most Removal, and is fantastic on both offense and defense, provided you can avoid getting it flamed after you pay 2 Life to pump it. Seismic Shudder is also such a beating against his Weenie strategy, and since it and/or Shrivel are in almost every Standard Pauper Sideboard right now, the Weenie theme doesn't seem like a strong metagame choice to me. Later on, I still don't understand the block of the Leech with his Aura Gnarlid and after that attack I pretty much had the game won.

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. Also, feel free to join in the discussion regarding this series of articles over at http://pdcmagic.com. Let me also extend a special thanks to all my fellow Standard Pauper players who have taken the time to thank me for these articles. I truly believe that Standard Pauper is an important format, at least for Magic Online, and I also enjoy the opportunity to meet new Standard Pauper players and help them jump into this format. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts, watch the videos, and comment on my articles. See you next time!

V. Bonus Content

For those of you who follow what's happening in the world of Magic through Twitter, I have just created a new Twitter account for my own Magic activities, and I encourage anyone who enjoys these articles or is a fan of Standard Pauper to add me to the list of people you are following. My account name is gwyned42, and you can access all the latest from my account here. In the days and weeks ahead, I'll post updates, add links to additional videos, and share my thoughts during my weekly hosting of MPDC. Enjoy!

2 Comments

End of game 3 by OSUBeavBane at Mon, 07/26/2010 - 18:30
OSUBeavBane's picture

If I'm reading the situation correctly the Putrid Leech block is really smart, actually. Smarter than I dare say I would make in this situation.

I think you had him on it but just in case the final card in his hand must be Vines of Vastwood.

So, I imagine his line of thinking is somewhere along these lines:

You probably don't have removal because you would have played it already.

If he doesn't block or blocks a Nacatl then next turn he dies to any creature getting through so even if he draws a creature he still dies if you top deck any removal spell and probably dies eventually anyway as he would be in chump block mode.

His damage potential next turn if not blocking is Aura Gnarlid(2) + 2 exalted creatures(2) + Vines(4) = 8 Damage + the card he draws for the turn(?).

With only 3 forest his only out is Sigil Blessing. Another exalted creature pushes through 9 damage.

So instead, he proposes a gambit to you: Either, A) increase his outs by pumping your Leech or, B) don't pump and leave him at 7 life with only 6 on the board giving him an extra turn to draw out of it.

You chose A and put yourself at 8.

In his mind (no removal), by forcing you to take that 2 life you are now dead to Sigil Blessing or any exalted creature.

Vines(4) + 3 Exalted triggers(3) + 1/x creature(1) = 8 damage

He draws the exalted creature!

Now as long you don't kill the newly summoned creature pre-combat or have a way to kill 2 creatures he has you dead.

As it turns out you had the exact card you needed. Making Akrasan Squire a dead draw.

However, you still would have been dead to Court Archers, Aven Squire, Qasali Pridemage and Sigil Blessing.

I could be wrong in all this he might not have had the Vines at all but it looks 100% correct.

Nice analysis. by gwyned at Tue, 07/27/2010 - 06:55
gwyned's picture

Nice analysis.