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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Aug 18 2007 4:37pm
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online.  It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards.  Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards.  For more information please visit paupermagic.com

    I have to say it is nice to be writing again- it means I actually have some down time to think about Magic which is always a Good Thing. This has also allowed me to take another look at the decks I have been building recently, and realize how little focus they have. Take for example SpliceRock from last week. While it is a solid deck and netted me a Top 4 at a Mini-PDC event, it lacks focus- the Wild Mongrels (River Boas in my tourney build) scream aggro, while the Citanul Woodreaders tell me I am more controlling. This is no good- instead of attacking specific targets, I was leaving myself open for options in a deck with no real silver bullets and no tutoring. Without tutoring, leaving yourself open to the options of a game, letting your deck evolve during the match, is risky, as you will have no plan to execute. Initially, I was going to discard SpliceRock for the time being and focus on AggroRock but running into someone playing the Kamigawa inspired deck changed my mind. So where does this leave me? With two functioning Golgari decks.

Golgari Signet
Okiba-Gang Shinobi

    After the mediocre performance, I started chatting with Tom about the deck. He told me to chuck the slower elements of the deck and go for a more aggressive build. On his advice, I cut the Splice engine entirely and went back to a Mongrel build. I also dropped the more defensive Woodreaders for the surprisingly effective Civic Wayfinder. Terror makes a rare appearance as a mana efficient removal spell, and so far has been pulling its weight admirably (although that may change with the proliferation of MBC in Classic currently). Cry of Contrition is also good in this package, as he compliments Mesmeric Fiend for a potent discard attack, as do the two Okiba-Gang Shinobi.
    An aside on Shinobi- this card is insane against control. Many control decks are not blocking on turns four and five, and when the Shinobi strikes it can often be devastating. Suddenly a well-crafted plan may be ripped apart or at the very worst, stunted. The misconception that you need a large amount of “comes-into-play” or “187” creatures in your deck to make this ninja worth it is flat out wrong. Please, the Shinobi is savage all on its own.

The deck came together rather nicely as a tight aggro-control package. It has solid beaters backed up with discard. In the limited testing I have done with it, it has good matchups against both control and aggro-control decks, while having problems with Black based aggro as well as mid-range decks. I feel that the deck will have issues with all-out aggro decks like Burn Range, but might be able to hold its own against decks like RG. I present the raw version of AggroRock:

2 Barren Moor
3 Civic Wayfinder
3 Cry of Contrition
7 Forest
2 Golgari Rot Farm
2 Krosan Tusker
4 Last Gasp
4 Mesmeric Fiend
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
3 Shambling Shell
7 Swamp
4 Terror
1 Tranquil Thicket
4 Werebear
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Pit Keeper
4 Terramorphic Expanse

    AggroRock plays threats early, backing them up with discard and removal. The Pit Keepers help keep the pressure up late while Werebears beat down. Occasionally, Tusker will have to finish the job. When in topdeck (as in empty handed) mode, unless there is something you absolutely need to topdeck, Dredge a Shambling Shell. More often than not, having a 3/1 threat on the table is better than that land you are about to rip. This is by no means the best build, but it is what I am working with right now.
    At the other end of the spectrum, there is the more mid-range version of the deck that did not abandon the Splice engine at all. After running AggroRock helplessly into the wall of SpliceRock, I decided to give the progenitor another look. First, I stripped away the aggressive elements, which meant good bye to the Kodama's Mights and River Boas. I then added the misers Horobi's Whisper and upped the Woodreaders count to four. To add to the anti-aggro package, I decided to try out four Augur of Skulls and they have done their job thus far. I also swapped out the Keepers for the more reliable (in such a creature light build) Gravediggers. I ended a stronger endgame and this is the resulting deck:

1 Barren Moor
1 Death of a Thousand Stings
8 Forest
3 Golgari Rot Farm
3 Gravedigger
1 Horobi's Whisper
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Last Gasp
4 Rend Flesh
3 Soulless Revival
7 Swamp
2 Twisted Abomination
4 Werebear
4 Augur of Skulls
4 Citanul Woodreaders
3 Evolution Charm
4 Terramorphic Expanse


    This deck wants to stall the early beats with either Augur or Woodreaders and then lay a far man and slowly grind out a win. Splice here acts as incremental card advantage, as do the Gravediggers- the zombie really helps set up a late game. The deck has shown itself to be good against control, aggro-control, and other mid-range decks. There is still quite a bit of work to be done against aggro, however.
    These two decks are by no means finished, but I feel they are both good starting points for mages seeking to battle with Green and Black. Just remember to run them out in the right field as both of them have their strengths and weaknesses.

    But wait, there's more! Recently, I have been working more and more on PDC Standard. This format is fun and more dynamic than Classic, meaning new decks are popping up all the time. In Classic, most of the time there are just slight variations on known archetype. Standard was recently dominated by decks that abused of all things, Saprolings. These decks would just pump out token after token and then play one of the gajillion (okay, half-dozen) instant Crusade effects available, and swing for the win. Backed up with Essence Warden, these decks had to be hated out of the metagame. And hated they were...or maybe people just got tired of playing them, I am not entirely sure. Regardless, I have been messing around in Standard and have found an aggro-control deck (gasp, another one) that I find to be not only fun to play, but rather good in the current batch of decks.

6 Snow-Covered Forest
9 Snow-Covered Island
4 Unsummon
4 Assault Zeppelid
4 Coiling Oracle
4 Evolution Charm
4 Infiltrator il-Kor
4 Logic Knot
3 Looter il-Kor
4 Martyr of Frost
4 Mire Boa
3 Shaper Parasite
3 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Logic Knot

    The deck is solid. It likes to play down early chumps and sometimes a counter threat in Martyr of Frost. Slowly, it plays out evasive beats and just takes control of the game with Unsummon and Logic Knot. Speaking of which, the Knot is absolutely insane- it almost always counters a turn two or three spell thanks to this sequence: Turn one Expanse, end of opponents turn fetch an Island, turn two Island, then Knot their Logic at your pleasure. So good. Shaper Parasite is also a very nice touch in this deck, as he wrecks combat math along side bounce. This build is slightly more refined, but not tournament tested. It does well against slower decks, and since Saprolings have left the format, this deck looks to do quite nicely. Play this one while you still can, as the Lorwyn rotation will effectively neuter it.
    Now for something different: where are all the writers for PDC? I know there are the Princes of Pauper who do a fine job reporting on PDC Standard, and a core of dedicated forum posters, and even the occasional amazing tournament report- we need more of these people in the community. This will only help to grow PDC and make the players in it better, and lifting us all up is a Good Thing (tm).
    First, with the tournament reports, we need more. I know sometimes they are a pain to write, as we often set aside hours to play and sometimes just want to get away from the computer after our win/loss/whatever. However, this reports are usually entertaining and help other players learn exactly how to improve. It also gives insight into what it is like to play in PDC. Having a few dedicated people who can write good tournament reports of some depth will, in my opinion, help us as a community.
    We need coverage dudes/dudettes. PDC has numerous people who collect data about events, giving us lovely metagame charts and demographics for what is being played. It would be great to have a bystander report on events and build up a corp of coverage writers. This would further expose our format and also just be entertaining. 
    Finally, we just need more writers. Currently, I feel that I have no one to argue with and discuss great ideas with in a public forum. Yes, I often take on all discussion in the PDC room, but that rarely reaches the masses. I need my anti-thesis... the Batman to my Joker. Right now there is only one voice, and that is not a good thing. Without argument, there is no true discussion- with out discussion, there is no growth.
    So consider this me calling all of you out to become the biggest part of the PDC community that you can be.
    And keep slingin' commons-




by SpikeBoyM at Fri, 08/24/2007 - 19:10
SpikeBoyM's picture

You are right, I do not know very much about how Saps wins.  However, I believe Pallid Mycoderm's ability to pump creatures counts as an instant Crusade. 

I am really excited to see the deck perform so well, considering that I basically scrapped this version for a much more controlling build (with Foresees, Cancels, and Ghor-Clan Savage[?]).  However, this recent result may prove that my first instint was a good one.


by eegag (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/24/2007 - 09:57
eegag (Unregistered)'s picture

Looks like you get two drafts of the same post.  Weird :).

Few comments by Kehm (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/24/2007 - 11:30
Kehm (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi Spike, that was a nice article.  It's the first time I read you, I'll have to make sure to do it again in the future.

There are a couple mistakes with your assessment of Saps, though.  Like Poly mentionned, they were neither hated out nor have dissapeared.  Some tournaments see less of them, some see more.

Also, although the "instant crusade" effects are decent alternate win condition, saproling decks revolve around Sprout Swarm and Pallid Mycoderm as their main victory conditions.  The deck is not "simply making a bunch of tokens and casting warcry".  That's simply not strong enough.


That UGAC deck was crazy.  I don't know why or how (yet), but it was.  Nice design.

UGAC by eegag (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/24/2007 - 09:50
eegag (Unregistered)'s picture

Good read Spike, as always.  I hope to see more on Standard PDC in your future articles.

Last night I piloted your version of UGAC to 2nd at SPDC 3.12, losing to Suicide Pact (4-color Martyrs) in the Finals.  The deck handles Orzhov and Uber Teachings very well (and those decks accounted for 5 of my 7 matches last night).  I lost to Burnt Fish and, of course, Suicide Pact, so red-based decks seem to be a bit of a problem.  But, overall, it is a fine list that could use a bit of tuning.  I'd be glad to answer any questions you have about the deck's tournament performance.

UGAC by eegag (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/24/2007 - 09:56
eegag (Unregistered)'s picture

Good read Spike, as always.  I hope to see more Standard PDC content in your future articles.

I piloted your version of UGAC to 2nd at SPDC 3.12 last night.  The deck performed very well against Orzhov and Teachings, which accounted for 5 of my 7 matches.  My losses came to Burnt Fish in the Swiss and Suicide Pact (4-color Martyrs) in the Finals.  I think red-based decks can pos a bit of a problem for this build, whether that comes in the form of Incinerate and Skred or Martyr of Ashes.  Without Errant Epehemeron, the Martyr is pretty destructive to your offense.  I understand the choice of Infiltrator over Ephemeron, and it helped me to win the games that I did win (it just puts more pressure on earlier in the game), but that choice hinders the deck's performance against mass removal.

Overall, however, the deck performed well and was fun to play.  I'd be more than willing to answer any questions you have about the deck's tournament debut.

by Lythand at Sun, 08/19/2007 - 17:14
Lythand's picture

I am planning on writing some PDC articles, but I won't focus much on the tournament scene. I am looking more at a casual stance, since I don't know much about the PDC tournament scene. Go easy on me Alex, I know your critical on the PDC subject :)

Saprolings in Standard by Polyjak (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 08/18/2007 - 17:16
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Thanks for the article, Spike!

I have to say, though, Saprolings are anything but gone from the Standard PDC metagame. You're right, people did get sick of playing them -- except a few. A Saprolings deck piloted by hokusai22 came in 2nd place at the most recent Thursday night Standard PDC event. Saprolings would be registering even more wins if not for the recent dominance of Mr Slippery 39, piloting a Blue Beats deck to 3 consecutive Standard PDC victories.

Typically speaking, GU hasn't fared well in the current Pauper Standard metagame, but perhaps the influence of Xth Edition has turned over a new leaf for the color pair!

Looking forward to seeing you at UPDC or SPDC, Spike!