Welcome back folks! I’m back and I’m back on the brew train this week tackling something that I love to do (but rarely get a chance to play) and that’s Standard…PAUPER. With Standard costing about a Bajillion dollars with Jace, Fetchlands, and Hangarback Walkers in virtually every deck it is very difficult to get into a deck and have any sort of success with dumping your wallet on the counter of your LGS. Who can really afford a $700 deck for Standard? Not me. But I can still have tons of fun and do some pretty fun things with all those commons that I open in my drafts. So, today I’m going to dust off my boxes of commons and brew myself up a Standard Pauper deck or two.
There are lots of themes or deck ideas that I could use as the foundation for a deck, but one thing that struck me is the relative depth of Green in most of the previous sets. Yes, Battle for Zendikar has a bit of a bad wrap, but up until this set Green was quite deep at common and had lots of strong cards to use. On top of Green being a deep colour, White was also pretty deep with a number of very strong choices, particularly in Origins. So, while there are lots of viable options my starting point was to look at my Green and White cards first.
As I was flipping through the cards I made a point of ensuring that I had plenty of strong plays early on, much like I would in a draft. Many players make the mistake of assuming that pauper isn’t fast and aggressive because many commons are slow and clunky. However, when you remove those slow and clunky cards you are left with a very powerful and fast format and having an early answer to play is very important. Timberpack Wolf in multiples can be very powerful, and Cleric of the Forward Order can come down and really and change the landscape of the game by erasing early attacks with the very relevant life gain. I love Sandsteppe Outcast and getting a chance to jam that guy again is well worth the time. There are lots of early plays here and it can give me lots of options as I try to get into the game.
Next I made a point of selecting removal that I can use reliably very early or that can offer flexibility. Pacifism, Savage Punch, and Gideon’s Reproach fit the cheap requirement, but Sheer Drop can be good on turn three, but is very good when you can cast it for its Awaken cost.
My final consideration was a finisher or two and Elk Herd, Rhox Maulers, and the Beastmaster seem like strong options. They can all ensure that the deck has a way to bust up a board stall but punching through thanks to Trample, or pumping my team. There might be something to removing the Beastmasters and putting in another pump type spell like Inspired Charge, but I like the pump and a 5/5 body in a format where big bodies can really help settle things down.
This is a list I have put together and will be looking to jam the next time my friends and I get together next. That may not be for a while, but this list feels pretty powerful and a step in the right direction. I’ll report back to you guys when I get a chance to test this one a little.
The other list I’m playing a round with is a kind of like a G/R landfall deck but in Standard there is a bit of a lack of really scary Landfall creatures apart from Snapping Gnarlid, Makindi Sliderunner and Valakut Predator. That said, there are plenty of other good options. Let’s have a little look.
Atarka Beastbreaker is a very solid mana sink once you become Formidable…and with a Gnarlid and a Valakut Predator and one land trigger you are most of the way there. Invoker is the same sort of huge mana sink to let you really blow things up if you can’t seem to stick a bigger body to finish off your opponent. Gearcrafter is just good value. Heelcutter is a bit of sleeper, but repeatedly making it difficult for your opponent to block is a very powerful option.
The spells are pretty simple. Fiery Impulse is a way to clear the path for your dudes to get in, and the rest pump your team. I was honestly really relishing the idea of playing Gnarlid on turn 2, playing Predator on turn 3, and then playing my land on turn 4, attacking, and then Titanic Growth and Temur Battle Rage and crunching in for a huge pile of damage. However, that is probably somewhat optimistic but fun to imagine. Honestly, the deck is pretty self explanatory and feels like it could really lay down a wicked beating if unchecked.
Once again, this one will need a little testing to see if plays as well as it looks. It could be that I need to adjust some of the numbers but I’m very concerned about not hitting enough land drops to make the Landfall actually work out for me. I also considered more Temur Battle Rages, but the fact is that they could very often be dead cards and not really useful if I don’t have a strong target on board. I could also see taking out the Efreets and just running Hooting Mandrills, but I like the surprise of flipping up the Efreet and then getting your opponent for a bunch. The sideboard is also a work in progress and will need to be fleshed out as I go. Facing down decks with bounce effects is the biggest concern because having creatures get pumped and then bounced really sucks. Man I wish Pyroblast was legal in Standard! However, I will need to see what options are available and see what I can manage.
Well, there we have it for this week. Sure it is a little shorter this week than most, but we’ve got two new brews that you can take out for a spin if you are in to Pauper. I think the format is pretty sweet and even limiting ourselves to just Standard legal cards can still make for some very fun play experiences.
So, until next time have yourselves a great MTG day and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
As a fan of Aggro decks but also someone who likes to see diversity in the format I was happy to see that it wasn’t Mono-Black Devotion that took the cake this past weekend. While not exactly a new concept this is quite a powerful and spicy little number. With its very aggressive curve it is poised to burst out of the gates and lay the smack down immediately to dispatch any opponent swiftly.
This very heavily creature centric aggro build took down the SCG Standard Open this past weekend. With seven one-drops and 12 two-drop it starts out of the gate building up a critical mass of little guys then piles on pumps to grow them into significant threats. Using Rootborn Defenses to shrug off sweepers like Supreme Verdict or Anger of the Gods the deck is highly resilient and able to flow a constant barrage of threats. The clock it places on opponents is so fast they won’t have time to think.