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By: gwyned, gwyned
Dec 10 2013 8:08am
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I. Introduction

Like many American boys of the late 80s and early 90s, I was a fan of the hit TV cartoon series The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I watched the show, I learned all about their different weapons, learned how to draw the figures when I should have been paying attention in class, and even spent a surprising amount of quarters on the hit arcade game of the same name. There's just something that appeals to most kids about an unattractive and unathletic creature like a turtle being transformed into a wise-cracking, butt-kicking, pizza-eating ninja.

Perhaps that childhood appeal is part of the reason I have also been drawn to the cycle of so-called 'turtles' in Magic the Gatherling, harkening all the way back to Tempest's Horned Turtle, the classic Blue common 1/4 creature. Since then, there have been a surprising number of such creatures, many of which include some decent-to-good abilities. While arguable the best such creature is Worldwake's Calcite Snapper, the current Standard cardpool includes several notable instances, such as Frostburn Weird, Nivix Cyclops, Voidwielder, and Wavecrash Triton.

What makes these creatures desirable is their ability to form a strong defense thanks to their high Toughness and low casting cost, and then, at the right time, change their role from defense to offense. While obviously not good in an aggressive archetype, they are well suited to Control. And since Blue is the primary color of Control, this seems an easy pairing.

Which brings me to the decklist I chose for the recent Monday Pauper Deck Challenge 23.07. MPDC, as it is more commonly referred to, 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. 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 EST / 7:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room. You can also check out any of my previous articles by clicking here.

Anyway, as I covered in my previous article, the current Standard Pauper metagame has been dominated by Dimir Mill, an archetype that locks down the board, mills an opponent out with its removal and control spells, and protects itself against aggression using the powerful Crypt Incursion to protect its Life Total. For me, the best solution to defeat this archetype was to create a Control deck of my own that paired the ability to control the board with the ability to deal a large amount of damage with as few creatures as possible, thus sidestepping the power of Crypt Incursion. And thus the deck I have dubbed Turtle Power! was born.

II. The Decklist

Turtle Power
2nd place in MPDC 23.07 by gwyned
4 Minotaur Skullcleaver
4 Nivix Cyclops
8 cards

Other Spells
4 Annihilating Fire
4 Cancel
4 Essence Scatter
4 Inspiration
4 Lightning Strike
4 Razortip Whip
4 Shock
28 cards
9 Island
9 Mountain
4 Izzet Guildgate
2 Unknown Shores
24 cards

4 Dispel
3 Negate
3 Lava Axe
3 Frostburn Weird
2 Voyage's End
15 cards
Nivix Cyclops

As I mentioned above, the big idea for this deck was essentially to build a Control-Burn archetype, that relied upon Control elements to hold an opponent at bay long enough to defeat him or her using primarily burn spells rather than creature damage. Even in the current Standard Pauper cardpool (which is in its smallest state including only 5 blocks), there are plenty of good options for permission, card-draw, and burn spells. The perfect complement to such a strategy is Nivix Cyclops, which acts as the perfect turtle - strong on defense, yet able to swing for a massive amount of damage when the time is right. Minotaur Skullcleaver also got the nod thanks to its ability to act as a Common Ball Lightning, swinging into an unprotected virtual battlefield to deal 4 damage to an opponent. Another recent innovation in the metagame is Razortip Whip, which gives the deck a reliable way to close-out games once its burn spells have done most of the work.

In the Sideboard, I included options to specifically combat Dimir Mill but would also be useful against aggressive or controlling builds. The additional permission spells are invaluable against Dimir Mill, allowing one to fight through their counterspells to connect when it matters. Frostburn Weird and Voyage's End are quite useful against Aggro, giving the deck the ability to survive the initial wave of aggression. And Lava Axe is useful in a variety of situations, giving the deck another avenue to finish off games unexpectedly.

Since this deck was designed to specifically beat Dimir Mill, I thought it would be useful to show how it paired up against that decklist, which I faced in Round 3 of this event, piloted by the excellent FabioS.

III. Turtle Power vs. Dimir Mill


IV. Turtle Power in the Top 8

Overall the deck performed quite well, with a 3-1 finish in Swiss that earned me a spot in the Top 8. Here's how the deck performed during the Top 8 and Top 4 rounds of MPDC 23.07.


Sadly, the finals did not go well. I faced Grociu's MonoBlack decklist, which is probably one of the toughest matchups for this deck. Worse, after a quick win Game 1, I had to mull down to 4 and 5 respectively in Games 2 and 3, and had too many lands Game 2 and too few Game 3. After such a great run, this was definitely a disappointing finish.

V. Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this look at this decklist. It's a ton of fun to play, seems to be positioned well in the metagame, and certainly rewards good play. Of course, like any fairly new list, there are improvements to be made, which I am currently working on for the next tournament. In conclusion, let me remind you that 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. You can also now follow me on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Let me also extend a special thanks to all my fellow Standard Pauper players. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts, watch the videos, and comment on my articles. See you next time!


Awesome Brew by Modin at Fri, 12/13/2013 - 04:43
Modin's picture

Awesome deck! So there is an answer to Dimir Mill! :D Very well done, I was taking a break of Standard Pauper because of the oppression of dimir mill ;)