Hello again friends! Here at my Pauper Flophouse of fun I bring you a variety of sweet Pauper decks and give them some quick and dirty brawls in the leagues. Hopefully showing off what the decks can do, having some sweet games and making suggestions on how to make things even better. Let’s go!
Bogles. Hexproof. GW Auras. Jim. This week’s deck has many names, but they all refer to the same thing: a deck with a bunch of cheap creatures with the ability Hexproof, and a bunch of creature enchantments to make them better. The deck, whether in Modern or Pauper is often somewhat maligned as being a non-interactive and thoughtless deck. While quite often indeed the games with the deck do match that description, making the deck as effective as possible is somewhat of a challenge in itself.
This isn’t to say the deck is without decisions, claiming it is fully mindless would be incorrect. When things don’t go perfectly, (which is often) you have to make decisions in combat or sequencing Auras that decide the game long before you might realise they do. There may not be many flashy plays, but the decisions you’re able to make are typically impactful. Sometimes you get destroyed anyway, which means your decisions in that particular game didn’t matter, but there is *some* play to it.
Having said that, this deck more than any other I’ve played often simply doesn’t have agency over it wins or not. You can keep hands that are likely to win, just needing one of 12 cards, and then you never get there. Often the deck cannot entertain the fact that the opponent might have a brutal sideboard card against it. If you are completely averse to being unable to play around a Serene Heart out of Affinity, a Leave No Trace out of Soul Sisters or any number of things like that, this is not the deck for you. If you like to live on the edge though, you can have some fun.
I’m not going to lie, I did not have fun getting ready for this entry. I would describe my time testing the deck as ‘miserable’, and I actually *felt* my mood getting worse as I went. I felt like I was flipping coins and losing often, to maindeck Electrickery blow outs, a URx Drake deck that played a Mystical Teachings for Leave No Trace after Annuling me into no white mana, tons of 1 landers, just everything going wrong. It was a disaster!
The main problems I had were getting color screwed and getting choked on 1 or 2 mana. It is not uncommon at all for the stock lists to run a mana base with 13 green lands and 4 Blossoming Sands, relying heavily on drawing a mana enchantment like Utopia Sprawl to solve issues.
However, I kept ending up in scenarios like: Ethereal Armors in my hand, 1 Khalni Garden and desperately wanting to just draw a land, or 2 lands in play and multiple 3 mana cards like Ancestral Mask and Aura Gnarlid in my hand.
While once in a while the deck would come together perfectly, I found it far too inconsistent for my liking, so I made some changes. Here is the deck I put together for recording the league:
4 Blossoming Sands
2 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Khalni Garden
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
2 Sylvan Ranger
1 Heliod’s Pilgrim
4 Abundant Growth
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Ethereal Armor
2 Hyena Umbra
1 Spider Umbra
4 Ancestral Mask
4 Armadillo Cloak
3 Young Wolf
2 Aerial Volley
2 Gut Shot
2 Gleeful Sabotage
2 Disciple of Law
1 Ray of Revelation
1 Calming Verse
1 Coalition Honor Guard
Following in the tradition of the other decks I play, there are a few unusual choices for which I have *reasons*. I go into some detail in the video deck tech, but here are explanations for cards:
- Coalition Honor Guard: Standard Bearer kept failing to work in the place it was meant to be best (the mirror) because everyone kept Electrickery-ing me.
- Gut Shot: I – conversely – found it too hard to cast Green and White spells reliably so forget about red mana. Gut Shot lets me kill enemy Spellstutter Sprites, Standard Bearer, Quirion Ranger and so on in a timely manner.
- Sylvan Ranger: I wanted more mana but didn’t want to increase the land count too much. This seemed like the best compromise since it can also eat an Edict of some sort.
- Only one Heliod’s Pilgrim, no Aura Gnarlid: having 12 or more 3 drops seemed too ambitious for this deck. Obviously when things are going smoothly having a bunch of 3 drops can increase your powerful topdecks, but you also do well with the other cards assuming you’re not stumbling.
- Snow-Covered Plains: I just wanted to play with this art, no other reason. If the opponent plays a Thermokarst on me, that’s fine, I’ll deserve the punishment.
To prepare for this league, I brought a bottle of wine to the table to cheer me up whenever the deck made me feel miserable, which going by the prior 2 leagues, would have been *constantly*. Truly, I suffer for my art.
A winning record! My wine remained surprisingly safe, and I’m fairly sure I messed up here or there which proves you can’t just autopilot all the time!
I’m not Aura scientist, and despite several Leagues and many Tournament Practice matches for tweaking, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve broken the deck or anything. The deck is inherently very powerful in the right metagame, so many of ‘should I build this’ questions depend on the decks and sideboard cards that are currently popular. Right now, it doesn’t seem bad. Here are some thoughts on cards you can put in the deck:
- Manamorphose is a card you can play if you want to maximise the keepable 1 landers (i.e. 1 Forest, Land Aura hands, where Plains does nothing). It does increase the ceiling of your deck, giving you potentially better best-case scenario draws, but sometimes it doesn’t do anything useful. This is a valid choice if you don’t think ‘okay’ draws are good enough in the format, and *need* to have incredible draws to compete.
- I found Aura Gnarlid didn’t work on a regular basis, but if there are a lot of Stompy or mirror matches, this should be great.
- Journey to Nowhere: I like this card in other decks, just not this one. While it’s not an Aura and thus avoids *some* hate cards like Serene Heart, I loath sideboarding in a card that often plays directly into what my opponent is boarding against me. It is pretty good specifically against Gurmag Angler, but that’s not so ubiquitous at the moment that I wouldn’t want just more Young Wolf or similar cards that card good against the same black decks and more.
- Brindle Shoat: might actually be better than Young Wolf, since one of the issues with Wolf is that sometimes it eats an Edict then dies to Evincar’s Justice. The Bacon avoids this!
- Non-GW cards: No! I mean, you can, but needing to name ‘red’ with Utopia Sprawl is usually a nightmare (especially with no Plains in your deck) and if the plan is to cast Electrickery, we’re a deck that can’t afford to hold up 2 mana early very often. If you really want to play something off-colour, be ambitious. Play something really unexpected, like a Gurmag Angler. That’ll show them who the boss is.
- Snake Umbra: I tried this card for a long time. I really wanted it to work, but it never drew me a single card over 20 matches (though sometimes it did get sideboarded). Maybe you need to play 3 of them or something if you want to hit the opponent reliably? But it is expensive and slow. I can’t honestly recommend it.
Alright! That’s my look at Bogles. With Drake not going anywhere in the near future, it might well be time for Bogles to be more prominent in the metagame. The cards people need to adapt to Drake don’t usually overlap that much for the cards they need for Hexproof strategies, (looking at you, Chainer’s Edict) so game 1’s should be better than ever. If you are not planning to Bogle any minds yourself though, pack some hate cards for it.
What’s on the menu for next week? Come back and find out!
Stephen ‘Jecht’ Murray, over and out.