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By: Cl3m, Cl3m
Jul 28 2010 10:29pm
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As I was browsing through TPDC 13.19 results (a player run event sponsored by mtgotraders, see here), I noticed this Blink list from SoftPillow:



I've always had a thing for blink decks, and this list does seem very interesting. It reminded me of an article from Doctor Anime (see here). Both decks revolve around come into play effects on creatures, Momentary Blink and a Trinket Mage toolbox. So I decided to sleeve it up (well, virtually...) and see how it played.
This is the thing I love about pauper: let's say you are tired of your old deck for whatever raison. In every other format, switching decks (for a competitive one) means having to spend a lot on new cards. In pauper, with just a few tix you can discover a whole new archetype, test cards, try new things...
First, let's discuss how this version of the deck works, and what are the ideas behind Trinket/Blink/Grand Entrance Decks in general.
1. Creatures with come into play effects.
This is the core of this deck and the core of a lot of control decks that run creatures. The idea is that even if the creature eats removal, you still get something from it arriving on the battlefield (drawing a card, gaining some life, making your opponent discard, etc...). There are plenty of creatures with such an effect in the pauper card pool, so let's talk about the most popular ones in white or blue.
First, the king of them all, the infamous:
Mulldrifter is arguably the best creature in blue for pauper. It's a 3 for 1 at 5 mana, a divination at 3, and is a perfect fit for this deck. It's amazing with Momentary Blink, giving you 2 more cards each time you use it. Even more impressive, when you are at 5 mana with a Mulldrifter and Momentary Blink in hand, you can evoke the elemental and cast Blink on it while the sacrifice trigger is on the stack. Then Mulldrifter won't go to the graveyard (since it's a new one), and you will draw 4 cards !
Mulldrifter's little brother:
Sea Gate Oracle
Sea Gate Oracle is a recent card and is already a staple in many blue control decks. The fact that it goes 2 cards deep makes it much better than his black buddy Phyrexian Rager. His body is also a nice fit in a controlling strategy (3 toughness is great obviously).
The anti red cards:
Aven Riftwatcher
Aven Riftwatcher might be the best anti-agro pauper card. The fact that it vanishes makes him card disadvantage but it's worth it, particularly with Momentary Blink: you can, right after the last counter is gone, blink it and you'll have your whole new bird for three more turns.
Lone Missionary
Lone Missionary is the new Aven Riftwatcher. Smaller body but it sticks, no flying, but the "gain 4 life" effect happens in one strike.
Artifact hate:
Kor Sanctifiers
At first I wasn't sure about why he was running Kor Sanctifiers main, but then i started thinking about the current meta. Sure there's still a lot of goblins, but even against these little dudes it's still a 2/3 body for 3. Then there's the plethora of affinity decks which obviously have a lot of good targets, faeries and white weenie too with their golems, BW Pestilence and dead dog for their pesky enchantments. Even storm has targets ! So I think 2 maindeck is definitely a good choice.
The enablers:
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Ninja of the Deep hours is sick in this deck ! It allows you to bounce a creature in a deck where most of them do something when they come into play, and draws you a card by doing so ! Of course there are drawbacks: you need to attack and not be blocked which can be impossible in some match ups, and bouncing your own dudes can be disastrous tempo-wise. But, while in other decks the ninja, once into play, is just a bear who will just trade for another random creature, in SoftPillow's list you can see the weird Leonin Bola. This is the reason I noticed this list in the first place. Basically, this equipment act as a removal spell, tapping their best guy before their combat step. But on the offense, it can remove several blockers and allow the ninja to do his job.
There is another great synergy with the ninja, and it is with this bad boy:
Kor Skyfisher
Kor Skyfisher is obviously good in this deck for the same reasons that ninja is, and has a nice synergy with the ninja himself. You can attack with Kor Skyfisher, bounce it with the ninja to draw a card and cast it post combat to bounce back the ninja. Rinse and repeat the next turn. It effectively gives the ninja flying for 4 mana a turn, which is expensive but is a great draw engine for late game.
2. The Trinket Toolbox.
Trinket MageSeat of the SynodCourt HomunculusViridian LongbowLeonin BolaBonesplitter
Trinket Mage should have appeared in the previous section since he does have a come into play effect, but I think he deserve his own since he does so much in this archetype. He can fetch, depending on the situation and the equipment you are running:
- An artifact land, acting as a blue Civic Wayfinder. Very useful early game, since this is a control deck and so it is quite mana intensive.
- A Court homunculus, which is a 2/2 most of the time because of the number of artifacts you can run. Trinket Mage then acts as a mini Ranger of Eos.
- Viridian Longbow, the all star equipment for this deck, as it can ping 1 toughness creature early game, or give 1 more power to a blocking Sea Gate Oracle for example. Late game, when you have several creatures in play and lots of mana it becomes a machine gun, capable of taking down 2+ toughness creatures.
- I already talked about Leonin Bola and its synergy with the mighty ninja, but this equipment is good overall at messing with combat phases.
- You can also try Bonesplitter, which has 2 main uses: it can help blocking creatures with big buts and speed up the clock you have on your opponent.
- Other options include walls, such as Steel Wall or Shield Sphere, mainly for sideboard tech against agro deck, Relic of Progenitus for graveyard hate, etc...
3. Decklist, Sideboard and final thoughts.
So, after some theorycrafting, tweaking and testing in the tournament practice room, I've ended up with this build:
The main deck looks a lot like the one from SoftPillow, with a few numbers changed here and there. I'm not pretending that my list is better or anything, it's just the way I feel the more comfortable with it. I replaced Oblivion Ring with Journey to Nowhere because it fits the curve better, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Kor Skyfisher and Momentary Blink are "only" 3-of because it's bad to draw to many of those when you don't have other creatures at your disposal, and there's only 2 Counterspell as late game permission. The sideboard, however is quite different, but pretty straightforward:
-Benevolent Unicorn is there for storm but comes in against burn too
-Deep Analysis is good in control match up, faeries in particular
-Kor Sanctifiers comes in against affinity obviously
-Lone Missionary is good against storm and agro match ups
-Holy Light is for storm and has its use as a 1 or 2 of against goblins and faeries
I don't know if UW Trinket Blink can be considered tier 1, but it's definitely playable, and if you like drawing tons of cards as much as I do, it's a blast to play. About how this deck could evolve, I wonder how Squadron Hawk (from m11) would fit in it. Maybe in a more aggressive form, with multiple Bonesplitters...

Thanks for reading !


This looks slower than the by JMason at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 04:58
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This looks slower than the original version to me, without a 1 drop flyer it's impossible to pull off a turn 2 ninja. You also have lost the bonesplitters leaving yourself with rather underwhelming hitters. I wonder if this deck is fated to lose on time in many situations.

You're right it is a bit by Cl3m at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 11:48
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You're right it is a bit slower than the original version (not that much thought), but agro match ups are already good thanks to all the life gaining cards so that's not that big of a deal: the deck is very consistant at developping a board, finding land drops etc...

Bonesplitter is a good card in this deck and I can totally see a case beeing made for wanting to include it.

As for your comment about the 1 drop flyer, I don't understand what you mean, there are no 1 drop flyer in any list that I know of (heck even MUC fearies doesn't run any 1 drop flyer). Am I missing something here?

And you're supposed to win on time, not loose on time :-)

Excellent by Sexy_Commando at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 10:08
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Good job! Really interesting article. What I do love in the publications - card analysis and talking about sideboard choices - all is here.

As for the deck - well, only more of the queues-proven results can verify or deny the very idea of the build.

I always liked Roterothopter by lenney at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 16:17
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I always liked Roterothopter as the turn 2 Ninja enabler, and Flying helps win games sometimes.

Oh sorry, i thought you'd by JMason at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 16:51
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Oh sorry, i thought you'd know Grand entrance has been around for a few years. Heres a link:, and a list (although not the list I run)

4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
4 Phyrexian Walker
3 Aven Riftwatcher
3 Cloud Sprite
3 Trinket Mage
2 Leonin Squire
2 Thought Nibbler
1 Silver Drake
1 Wormfang Drake
23 cards

Other Spells
4 Momentary Blink
3 Bonesplitter
3 Memory Lapse
2 Aether Spellbomb
1 Viridian Longbow
13 cards
11 Snow-Covered Island
7 Snow-Covered Plains
2 Lonely Sandbar
2 Secluded Steppe
1 Ancient Den
1 Seat of the Synod
24 cards

4 Grayscaled Gharial
3 Cloudchaser Kestrel
3 Divine Offering
3 Temporal Isolation
1 Aven Riftwatcher
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb
15 cards

Oh, and there was this by JMason at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 16:58
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Oh, and there was this awesome strategy article on how to play grand entrance which was what got me into the deck:

Nice article, good analysis by Doctor Anime at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 17:32
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Nice article, good analysis on pros and cons of cards.

UW Blink is probably my favorite deck to pilot but I couldn't get a strong list to combat MUC. That's the unfortunate reason why I put the deck down for now. It's a very strong achetype though.

I'm not a fan of ninja in decks that aren't loaded with removal but hey, 2cc for a bounce + draw + bear isn't terrible and you've got the bola to help out a bit. Skyfisher + ninja is cool too. You justified your choices and that's what is important to me.

Thanks for all the feedback by Cl3m at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 20:35
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Thanks for all the feedback !

I actually didn't know that the name "grand entrance" came from those lists, thanks for telling me. Now that I think of it, it almost makes no sense calling this deck grand entrance seeing how different it is from these old lists (and I can see the point about bonespliter since he is mandatory in these).

It's the name of the by lenney at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 20:44
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It's the name of the archetype, so it's fitting. It does almost the same exact things

Orzhov Blink came before by Doctor Anime at Thu, 07/29/2010 - 21:20
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Orzhov Blink came before "Grand Entrance" and it too does the same thing. O-blink, Stars n Cogs, Cogs n Strips, Grand Entrance... Can't we just call it Blink? (Color Combination) Blink to be more specific if you want. They all do the same thing. Nobody calls UBw Teachings something different than Teachings.

Grand Entrance is originally by JMason at Fri, 07/30/2010 - 04:06
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Grand Entrance is originally a white/blue deck. Stars and X adds red. OBlink adds black and possibly loses blue. Seems quite simple to me.

underwhelming is the best way by negative_optimist at Sat, 07/31/2010 - 09:17
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i guess for me blink decks just feel so underwhelming. Like nothing i am doin feels like anything more than a cute trick. i know when i play vs blink even when i see them do the evoke mulldrifter blink for four cards thing everyone loves. i just think to myself oh thats cute knowing that nothing in the deck is really gonna beat me. Not to say i haven't lost to blink i actually lost to softpillow at that tpdc you got the list from i was playin MUC and he kept my EE tapped down one game and the other i was stuck on one island and a quicksand forever. Anyway i digress to me blink feels like it needs a better wincon or just somethin better to do. well thats my piece liked the article thanks for writin it.

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