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By: Copperfield, Colin Abele
Oct 11 2010 2:23am
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Welcome back, with apologies for the delay, to the third edition of Standard and Pauper. This is you (almost) biweekly report on what happens when you restrict yourself to only commons, only standard, and only competitive play.

Two Player Run Events make this happen each week. MPDC takes place on Mondays at 2:00 pm EST and the SPCD occurs on Thursdays at 8:30. Participating in one of these is much easier than you think. There are ten events in each series this season: nine regular season tournaments where you can accrue points for an invitation to a tenth season championship.

We’re currently past the mid-season and counting down to that final competition. Want to stay on top of all the latest developments? Read on…

Volume I, Issue 3 Standard and Pauper 08 October 2010

Top Story: Boros Makes Landfall

RW Gives Up Falconry, Gears Up For Adventure

Steppe Lynx Adventuring Gear Evolving Wilds Plated Geopede

Above: Some of the tools of Boros Aggro in the final weeks of ALA-ZEN Standard. Look, ma, no Squadron Hawk!

Ever since Magic 2011 dropped on MTGO, one thing has been more consistent in Standard Pauper than anything else: the presence of at least four copies of Squadron Hawk in the winning list. This finally ended in MPDC 10.06 when the gold-medal match pit an URG Tokens build against RW Boros Landfall. By the time to two weeks’ ended, Boros returned, this time without the Hawks to finally go gold and become our newest entry into the top tier of Standard Pauper decks.

So why the focus on Boros today? Well, URG Tokens has been consistently powerful and top tier for the entire RoE season; RW Landfall has never seen the success it saw these past two weeks, earning a Silver medal and then a Gold after only a few new entries. And while it’s beyond the scope of this article, we can "look into the future" and note than it won again earlier this week at MPDC 10.08.

The strategy uses the landfall critters Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede as their primary early beaters. Don’t let the 0/1 power and toughness of the Lynx fool you as this kitty can easily pounce for four damage on the second turn thanks to the seven total common fetchlands available to us. And don’t forget about the Geopede’s greatest asset: first strike. In red, no less! While Wizards continues to insist that this ability is assigned to red as part of it’s color pie, few fiery first strikers have proven as powerful as this plated bug.

For utility, one need look no further than Kor Skyfisher. Are you sick of this fellow yet? While other decks take their time bouncing their own creatures and then re-casting them for the enters the battlefield effect, Boros Landfall simply uses them four four extra landfall triggers beyond the mana base. How nice is it to get a 2/3 flyer out of this? It’s not nice…it’s sweet!

But wait! It gets sweeter. Equip an Adventuring Gear to the flying kor solider and suddenly that Evolving Wilds you bounced will return the favor and sent a whopping six damage into the air. Only so many Hawks can chump a Skyfisher at his normal strength; if you’ve got this kind of set up, you’re opponent had better find an answer fast or soon his chumps will be gone and his best bet may be to just scoop.

Don’t take this the wrong way, though. The Boros Landfall archetype is anything but standardized. There’s two routes once can take once the basics above have been taken care of.

Two Faces of Boros Take To The Skies

Kitesail Apprentice Kitesail Explorer's Scope Goblin Balloon Brigade

Above: Boros University now offers its Aviation major without regard to race or color!

The more traditional approach to Boros Landfall takes the Kor-Equipment theme further, often running a couple copies of (Explorer’s Scope) to trigger more landfall pumps as well as to give Kitesail Apprentice her full power. It’s likely these decks are gaining popularity thanks to the many tools they’ll receive in Scars of Mirrodin. This is the main reason we’re focusing on Boros today - it will likely be sticking around for many tomorrows to come.

Add even more Kor to your sideboard, and you’ve got plenty of ways to make sure you can survive the late game against a tough opponent. The Kor Sanctifiers are sure to remain a Standard staple after Alara rotates, and of course Lone Missionary provides an aggressive body with frustratingly defensive life gain.

Sometimes, mass pump effect is used in these builds for a quick finish. Boards can get cluttered and stalemated very quick in a Tokens heavy environment, and M11’s Inspired Charge has become the new back-up plan of choice for Boros Landfall…unless, of course, it’s taking the new  Goblins & Friends approach to the deck, which is just as happy to toss down a Goblin Bushwhacker, bounce him with a Skyfisher, lather, rinse, and repeat the beat down with a team of little red green skins.

The Goblins of choice are heavily influence by the mid-tier R Goblins list that continues it’s attempts to repeat it’s gold-medal success earlier this season. Four fellows stand out in particular: RoE’s Goblin Arsonist ends up functioning almost like Mogg Fanatic as he is a guaranteed point of damage in nearly every situation. Only Journey to Nowhere will halt him from picking off an opposing x/1 critter or doing that last point of damage to the opponent.

Were inevitability is the name of the game for the Arsonist, it’s the evasion of the classic Goblin Balloon Brigade that most often ends up breaking through to actually ping the opponent. This throwback to Alpha is now available to us at common level, and I’m not surprised that a format that allowed Stream Hopper to "dominate" during Lorwyn block is once again threatened by Goblins taking to the air. Which, by the way, is always hilarious.

The last two Goblins I’m speaking of? The two tokens generated by Shards of Alara’s Dragon Fodder. A personal favorite of mine, the card advantage granted by this unassuming sorcery can run for miles and miles. Why? Because for some inexplicable reason, many opponents still fail to recognize this cards power and actually let the tokens through! Turn after turn after turn until suddenly it’s too late. I swear by this even if used as a finisher in UR control decks; in Boros Landfall, this once card give you two dudes to equip your landfall gear to, as well as a way to win the token wars. Just do me a favor and board it out if you up against Soul Warden decks.

But Kor and Goblins isn’t where Landfall ends in Standard. Did somebody say "Antelope?"

Naya's Crying: "Hey, What About Me? I Was Here First!"

Harrow Naya Panorama Wild Nacatl Grazing Gladehart

Above: Adding Green to the Landfall deck used to be the way to go. Today? Not so much…

When Zendikar season began, one of the most powerful and popular deck lists turned out to be this Naya Landfall list. It remains high on PDC Magic’s most-entered list, and for good reason. If your (Grazing Gladeheart) life gain engine is protected "as if they were made of gold, dipped in platinum, and encrusted with diamonds" according to the deck’s creator, then you used to have the strongest buffer in the format.

But by the time Rise of the Eldrazi hit, cards like (Soul’s Attendant) and especially Lone Missionary proved much easier and consistent methods to stay out of reach. Other Landfall themed decks like WBR Ugly rose in favor at the same time Naya Landfall began to fall. But today, it’s making an attempt at a comeback. Only a few other decks were entered as many times as this one, and two even made the Top 8. As such, I’m upgrading Naya Landfall from "Low Tier" to "Mid Tier" in the Common Stock Index this week, and I won’t be surprised if it ends up being as powerful as the Boros version.

That said, there’s only a couple of weeks left for it to achieve this again. Two key pieces capable of dealing loads of damage will be leaving as Alara block rotates. On the creature end, Wild Nacatl, also known as the best Kird Ape ever printed, was perfect in this build. The chances of dropping a 3/3 for one mana are maximized in Naya Landfall, putting him out of range of common removal spells like Burst Lightning and Disfigure, as well as capable of surviving the common sweepers Shrivel and Seismic Shudder. He will be sorely missed upon rotation.

The other piece was a solid 2-of in the original build from Alara Reborn: Colossal Might. Able to both save your creatures from certain death as well as inflict it upon your opponent, this Gruul instant was Naya Landfalls first "win now" card. While other options still exist for pumping up your creatures for a quick kill post-rotation (Vines of Vastwood being your best option) it’s the trample that Colossal Might provides that is the most essential element to getting your last points of damage through.

Will the loss of these key elements leave Naya Landfall forever attempting to recapture it’s former glory? Only three more weeks left until we know for sure how powerful Landfall was. That goes for several deck types trying to break through to the top of the charts, and our side story examines one that has yet to achieve this glory itself.

Side Story: Allies Under Pressure

Various Color Iterations of Zendikar’s Premier Tribe Still Can’t Break Through

Ondu Cleric Umara Raptor Halimar Excavator Oran-Rief Survivalist

Above: Some of the more powerful Allies are looking for the right deck to dominate the format.

When Zendikar’s Allies were first previewed, some of us Johnnies couldn’t resist trying to find a way to make them work to our advantage. Early attempts weren’t very successful, yet we were still waiting for the rest of the block to give us the tools we needed.

Worldwake did double the number of Allies we could run. This allowed an Allies deck to make the Top 8 here and there. But when it was revealed that Rise of the Eldrazi would be a mechanical reboot and wouldn’t feature Allies, the arsenal of Allies was suddenly set in stone for the rest of Zendikar block’s life in Standard. This Pauper all but gave up on the idea, as did most others who saw Landfall, Tokens, and Control as a safer bet.

Not much has changed since then, but one of the more interesting pieces of metagame information shows that some Paupers are still trying to get the Alliance to win the day. I found it rather hard to keep track of these decks because so many of them are of different colors. The general "Allies" subcategory will make its debut in the Common Stock Index this week, to help keep track of how all the Allies are doing at a glance.

In the past two weeks, we’ve seen only one iteration,Blue White Allies make it through the Swiss. Unfortunately, the Allies stalled out in the Top 8. According to the pilot’s notes, the deck was tossed together quickly and still made the cut. Perhaps ‘tis time to reconsider the previously overlooked Stonework Puma, which plays a key role here.

This deck even decided against the Ally token generator Join the Ranks, which is often responsible for late game comebacks thanks to the surprising Ondu Cleric. And you thought the Missionary was the most annoying Kor in the format. Another surprisingly powerful Ally? Halimar Excavator can mill your answers away faster than your instincts may tell you, and he may be more important to remove than the Cleric. You can always continue dealing more damage to your opponent, but only if he hasn’t tossed all your (Lightning Bolts) into the graveyard. And if you only sweepers are milled away, you’ll be in for a tough time indeed.

Previously, only Bant Allies had similar success, and a couple of those decks were entered as well. But with Dimir, Selesnya, and even "Doran" style BGW being entered, it’s become one of the most diverse super-archetypes in the metagame, even though it may not be dominating. Does the future have anything in store for an evolved Allies deck to get there?

Scars of Mirrodin has little to offer the deck as well (unless bouncing a Puma with a Glint Hawk proves powerful). There are no more Allies, and no creatures with all creature types to help out as there were in Lorwyn block. Will Mirrodin Besieged or the as-yet unannounced finale to Scars block bring something? Or, at the risk of my speculation running too rampant, will Magic 2012 bring the Ally subtype into the core set with new cards? By the time we say goodbye to Zendikar, we’ll know.

Editorial Page: Saying Goodbye to the Shards

Only A Few More Weeks to Play Your Favorite Alara Cards in Standard!

Deft Duelist Agony Warp Blightning Qasali Pridemage

Above: Examples of some of the gold cards that will be leaving Standard shortly

But that’s jumping the gun, isn’t it? It’s the Alara block that’s in its final weeks of eligibility for Standard. With Scars of Mirrodin already released on paper, the last few weeks of these series often experience lower attendance as those who play both the online and paper formats toy with the new cardboard just released

I may be one of these folks experimenting with Infect and Metalcraft, but I still feel that Shards of Alara, Conflux, and Alara Reborn deserve a tip of the hat for being so good to Standard the past two years.

When Shards of Alara was first released, the gold theme that will forever define words like Bant and Esper was the perfect addition to the previously released mini-block, Shadowmoor and Eventide. By the time Alara Reborn arrived, and with it the return of hybrid mana symbols, Standard had become as heavily multicolored as it will ever be. The format was able to remain that way even as Shadowmoor hybrid rotated. And while Zendikar featured no multi-colored commons, the Landfall ability was a double-boon for the format: we were already fetching lands to fix three or more colors! Why not get some +2/+2 effects for free in the process? Considering this, it’s no surprise that as the Alara-Zendikar Standard comes to an end that multicolor landfall decks continue to define the format.

The pictured cards will probably be missed the most. Deft Duelist shook things up early, became an important piece in earlier RWU America Decks, fell out of favor for a bit, and has recently returned to the same archetype that now dominates the format. Shroud is a very important creature ability in Pauper as the only ways to destroy them are with sweepers like Shrivel or forced-sacrifice effects like Bone Splinters. Tossing first strike onto it revealed incredibly effective battlefield synergy that resulted in many a board stall, which would allow the Duelist deck to simply draw out removal until the only creature left standing was the Bant rogue herself. She’ll be sorely missed by many Paupers (and will likely receive a "good riddance" from the rest!).

Agony Warp was and still is one of the best removal two-for-ones ever printed, and was quickly picked up as key incremental-advantage piece of GUB The Rock for some time. It isn’t seen as much anymore, due to the drop in popularity of Esper Control, but I fully expect it to stick around in both Classic and Extended. If you see an untapped Swamp next to an untapped Island (or perhaps and untapped (Dimir Aquaduct), you might think twice before sending more than one creature into the red zone. The results could warp your game plan, and result in inevitable agony. Did I mention I think this card has the perfect name?

The same holds true for Blightning. One of the most powerful commons ever printed, this nasty-faced sorcery was the cornerstone of BR Blightning decks almost as soon as Shards of Alara hit. Older versions of the deck won the World championships in past seasons, as well as the Alara block series. The Mind Rot plus Lava Spike on one card effect is still being used in Standard today, though he tends to pop in post-sideboard to break control match-ups. It may not do much, but what Blightning does, it does very well.

In contrast, Qasali Pridemage is a card that does a lot. A Disenchant on a stick is one thing. A Disenchant on a stick that can attack for three on the third turn or sit back and pump up your lone attacker each turn is something we’ve never seen before, and likely won’t see again. He was the key piece that pushed GW Exalted to gold medal viability, providing more utility than can be measured. The Exalted mechanic leaves along with the Pridemage, but the Cat Wizard is showing up more often in four-colored control decks these days. It may be one of the most important cards exiting Standard, especially considering the influx of artifacts that Scars is bringing.

On that note, one last card to mention is Glassdust Hulk. A couple of the WU Control decks in the Common Stock Index are actually variants of colored-artifact heavy decks that seek to use this guy as a big unblockable finisher. These decks haven’t ever reached the top tier and still struggle with the middle, but I’m personally going to be checking out how he does in Extended once Scars drops.

But this is a Standard article, right? So how about that deck performance listing:

The Common Stock Index

The Top Decks of the Current Standard Pauper Metagame

Top Tier

Evolving Wilds Lightning Bolt Soul Warden Soul's Attendant Lightning Bolt Shared Discovery Preordain Lightning BoltRelic of Progenitus Lightning Bolt Disfigure Disentomb Lightning Bolt Might of the Masses Vines of Vastwood Lightning Bolt Terramorphic Expanse

RWU America
:1st: x3 :2nd: x2; :T4: x3; :T8: x5; :dot: x9 (+11 Entries; +6 Medals)
URG Tokens
:1st: x3; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x0; :dot: x3 (+4 Entries; +1 Medals)
GW Squadron Hawks & Soul Sisters
:1st: x2; :2nd: x1; :T4: x2; :T8: x0; Non-Placing x 0 (+0 Entries, +0 Medals)
GWU Bant Tokens
:1st: x1; :2nd: x0; :T4: x3; :T8: x3; :dot: x1 (+5 Entries: +5 Medals)
RW Boros Landfall
:1st: x1; :2nd: x1; :T4: x0; :T8: x2; :dot: x4 (+3 Entries; +2 Medals)
R Goblins
:1st: x1; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x1; :dot: x0 (+2 Entries; +1 Medals)
WUB New Face of Esper
:1st: x1; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x3; Non-Placing x14 (+4 Entries; +0 Medals)
GW Exalted Army
:1st: x1; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x5; :dot: x10 (+3 Entries; +0 Medals)
WBR Hawkeye
:1st: x1; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x0 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)

Mid Tier

Prophetic Prism Lone Missionary Journey to Nowhere Negate Essence Scatter Doom Blade Deft Duelist Agony Warp Colossal Might Terminate Qasali Pridemage Grim Discovery Kiln Fiend Plated Geopede Elvish Visionary Sylvan Ranger Armillary Sphere

WUBR New Face of America
:1st: x0; :2nd: x2; :T4: x1; :T8: x6; :dot: x4 (+6 Entries; +3 Medals)
WB Black White Control
:1st: x0; :2nd: x2; :T4: x0; :T8: x3; :dot: x4 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)
UR Izzet
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x3; :T8: x2; :dot: x3 (+3 Entries; +3 Medals)
WU Blue White Control
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x3; :T8: x2; :dot: x4 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)
GW Green White Aggro
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x2; :T8: x0; :dot: x2 (+0 Entries, +0 Medals)
RG Fling
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x1; :T8: x1; :dot: x3 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)
BRGW Aquaphobia
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x1; :T8: x2; :dot: x0 (+2 Entries; +2 Medals)
WUBRG Rioters/Good Stuff
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x1; Top 8 x3; :dot: x1 (+2 Entries; +1 Medals)
UB Blue Black Control
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x2; :dot: x7 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)

Low Tier

Stonework Puma Wildfield Borderpost Ondu Cleric Hindering Light Fieldmist Borderpost Spreading Seas Soul Manipulation Mistvein Borderpost Bloodthrone Vampire Blightning Veinfire Borderpost Raid Bombardment Branching Bolt Firewild Borderpost Nest Invader Sigil Blessing Pilgrim's Eye

BR Blightning
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x2; :dot: x7 (+1 Entries; +1 Medals)
BRG Jund
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x2; :dot: x5 (+1 Entries; +1 Medals)
Allies (Color Varies)
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x1; :dot: x7 (+5 Entries; +1 Medals)
B Mono Black Control
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x1 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)
RGW Naya Landfall
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x1; :T8: x1; :dot: x6 (+5 Entries; +2 Medals)
UBR Grixis
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x1; :dot: x1 (+3 Entries; +0 Medals)
GWU Aura Gnarlid
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x1; :dot: x1 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)
RG Tokens
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x1; :dot: x1 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)
WBR Ugly
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x4 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)
R Burn
:1st: x0; :2nd: x0; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x2 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)
G Mono Green Aggro
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x2 (+0 Entries; +0 Medals)
U Mono Blue Control
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x2 (+1 Entries; +0 Medals)
W Soldiers
:1st: x0; :2nd: x1; :T4: x0; :T8: x0; :dot: x2 (+2 Entries; +0 Medals)

Whew! There’s so much going on in Standard Pauper right now that if I go writing summaries for the Common Stock Index, I’ll have no time to tweak my own list for the tourney coming up. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!
Peace,
-C

4 Comments

Copperfield, I've always by Xaoslegend at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 05:29
Xaoslegend's picture

Copperfield,

I've always loved deft duelist and bone splinters is pretty cool but unless youre name gives you the ability to make shroud disappear I don't think it's gonna kill the defter. If I ever find the spare time to play another budget format I may consider standard pauper since at least it's fairly interactive and totally budget.

X-

You are absolutely right by Copperfield at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 07:44
Copperfield's picture

Can't believe I made that mistake. I mis-remembered Bone Splinters completely, thinking that you sacrifice a creature for a one-mana Diabolic Edict. Nope...doesn't work like that! Pretty much the only way to remove a Duelist is Shrivel, Seismic Shudder, and Suicidal Charge.

Regarding the insane cheapness of Standard Pauper, I think only Block Pauper could possibly be less expensive. Only a handful of cards rise above a dime, and the only cards I can think of that might "set you back" are Staggershock (0.25) and Evolving Wilds (0.20), the most heavily played "expensive" commons. I can't recall the price cutoff for Heirloom, but I'd guess that most Standard Pauper cards would be Heirloom legal.

You're reminding me that I had meant to include a Scrye-style price guide...I've kind of gotten caught up in the Great Designer Search 2. I figure with Alara rotating so soon, I'll just wait to include this feature until after Scars drops online.

Hey Copperfield, No biggie on by Xaoslegend at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 08:22
Xaoslegend's picture

Hey Copperfield,

No biggie on the bone splinters deal, just worth noting was all.

You're right, most standard pauper cards are Heirloom legal, certianly there are exceptions of course.

Price guides are certianly useful,

X-

By far one of the best by lenney at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:42
lenney's picture

By far one of the best article series' on this site. It's just too bad that it's focused on a format that isn't yet sanctioned. I would love to see Standard Pauper 2-mans in the future. You would think it would be a good way for Wizards to support their newer blocks too and increase sales. Here's for hoping.