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!

This week I’m bringing you something New ‘N’ Tasty. It’s a Blue-Green land denial strategy, and I’m going to show you the list right away so I can discuss card choices with you.

We’re all familiar with land destruction strategies in one form or another, and while land destruction is said to be good against Drake in some amount, dedicated LD decks haven’t been that popular. I wanted to know if an LD deck would actually be good in a drake metagame, since I’ve noticed a recent uptick in Drakes in Leagues and a downswing in the linear aggro decks that normally beat up land destruction.

Also, I’ve always enjoyed the card Temporal Spring and have wanted to build a deck around that for some time, so I did.

It is to Vindicate what Memory Lapse is to Counterspell. All good cards!

It is to Vindicate what Memory Lapse is to Counterspell. All good cards!

First, let’s talk about what this deck is not. It is not mono-green. Mono-green LD variants always seem to be popular when I’m trying out ambitious brews in tournament practice and I often hear from players that enjoy the deck. Mono-green versions tend to have more Wild Growth type effects and Arbor Elf to power out LD as soon as possible, while ramping into an Ulamog’s Crusher to end the game.

The mono-green variants are explosive, but inconsistent.  When they get a great draw, with turn 2 Acid-Moss into turn 3 entwined Reap and Sow into turn 4 Crusher you feel utterly unstoppable. Unfortunately, it rarely turns out like that. Elves get killed, leaving you with a hand full of 4 mana cards and only 2 mana. Hands get clogged with Crushers while you sit on 5 mana while the opponent pulls out of the screw inflicted upon them. You can only play 4 Thermokarsts so you often don’t do anything on turn 2 even if you ramp. All the mana enchantments are horrendous topdecks and leave you vulnerable to enchantment hate out of the sideboard.

I’m not saying mono-green LD can’t be good, but these were the problems when I tried/played against it myself.

All of these problems were present when I tried a Simic version featuring Arbor Elf too. Worse, needing to play enough Forests to play things on turn 1 every game was leaving me too light on blue. However, I did like the increased consistency of having Temporal Spring in the 3 drop slot and I liked having some Mulldrifters to refuel with later on.

Realising that living the turn 2 land destruction dream was a little too difficult for a 2 colour deck in Pauper to achieve reliably, (at least, without going all in on Sandstone Needle-type lands) I shifted focus to ensuring that I’d always be able to play one on turn 3, which led me back to a reliable friend.

Sylvan Ranger: When you absolutely need to hit your 3rd land drop.

Sylvan Ranger: When you absolutely need to hit your 3rd land drop.

I may have played the Ranger once or twice before, but it’s really invaluable in this deck. You really can’t afford to stumble on lands if your goal is to blow up theirs. You can certainly argue for Rampant Growth for ramping or Explore for ramp with upside, but I kept finding the 1/1 body to be surprisingly useful, whether it’s just absorbing removal spells or chump-blocking to gain 4. Post sideboard you even have a reasonable shot to conspire out some Gleeful Sabotage if you play the Ranger/Oracle package.

Moving up the creature curve leads me to Self-Assembler and Mulldrifter. Mulldrifter is great, no doubt there, but one thing it doesn’t do incredibly well is kick an opponent while they are down. Self-Assembler is like a cheaper Aurochs Herd, and lets you finish off the opponent real fast if they are stuck on 1 or 2 mana. They also make a decent defensive line against 2/2 creatures your opponent may have resolved in the earlier turns. Only playing 3 of each comes from curve concerns, but honestly you shouldn’t need all 4 Self-Assembler in most situations. If 3 4/4s aren’t getting the job done, it’s likely the 4th wouldn’t either and you are relying on drawing into a Crusher instead. Having a hand with multiple Assemblers in it also isn’t great.

Ulamog’s Crusher is also a tremendous finisher, but 8 mana is so much. While this deck is excellent at digging up lands, you really can’t play too many 8-drops or else your draws become slow and clunky. It’s a good problem solver though, if you aren’t able to get the job done with your motley crew of utility monsters.

"Lemme at 'em! I can take them!" - P. Spider

“Lemme at ’em! I can take them!”
– P. Spider

Speaking of, Mold Shambler is a card I love, but 6 mana kicked is a high amount. After a lot of games, I sadly had to cut them from 4, to 3, to 2, where I was happy. Playing one as a Hill Giant isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it doesn’t really contribute to the plan. Penumbra Spider is another card I was delighted to be able to put in a deck again. While a Giant Spider isn’t impressing too many people, it is an excellent defensive creature against many of Pauper’s best creatures and good value when opponents have to remove it through black, red or green means. These cards fulfil roles, often mediocre but rarely terrible, and occasionally wonderful.

As for the spells, there isn’t too much unusual there. The miser Pulse of Murasa helps against aggro decks and is pretty good late game when you get back Mulldrifter in attrition matches, and Capsize is just a super powerful card to draw after you’ve messed around with lands a bit. Only 1 Reap and Sow seems a bit sad, but I wanted an extra land destruction spell at the 4 mana slot, and the upside of kicker is actually pretty useful even though I’m not getting Cloudpost or anything broken like that.

The League

Well well! A decent record, facing Izzet Drake 3 times, RW value and RDW once each. Here are the further thoughts I have on the deck moving forward if you want to give it a try.

  • By the Dread Wolf! I wanted another copy of Capsize in here. The miser copy was great every time I drew it, and even if you draw both copies you can always fire one off early to set back the opponent’s land and that even helps the overall plan!
  • RDW seems basically unwinnable game one, and if you face a lot of that and Goblins where you live… well don’t play this deck. You might need more Nylea’s Disciple, sacrificing other match ups.
  • I still haven’t seen too many token strategies, but if you see many of those or the new and fashionable 14 land Dark Ritual aggro deck you likely want some Fade Away.
  • It’s possible that with additional Capsize, Crusher isn’t needed. Then you get to play some extra card draw, possibly a Foresee, or Archaeomancer/Mnemonic Wall
  • If you want extra style points, play a Churning Eddy. Getting to bounce a bounceland plus enemy creature – or even better, your own value creature – is startlingly fun and high value.
  • You sadly can’t sideboard for every bad match up. While the maindeck is broadly good against decks that want to cast cards that cost 3 and above on a regular basis, it’s real bad against Delver (nice LD against Daze) and other decks that only need one mana to operate. I elected to generally ignore mono-blue Delver, but if your area has tonnes of it, sideboard Aerial Volley and such accordingly.

Alright, so what do you think of this deck? Certainly a deck for a specific metagame, but it might just be the right time for it on Magic Online!

Join me next week for another sweet Pauper deck. Will I resist putting value 1/1 creatures in it? Will it contain any white creatures for a change? Who can say…

This is Stephen ‘Jecht’ Murray, over and out.