Standard Pauper Weekly @CFB Game Center #1

Starting yesterday, Wed May 8th, the ChannelFireball Game Center will be hosting a standard pauper event every Wednesday.  Is this good news?  You betcha – it’s time to test out all the brews I’ve been concocting!  I have a few decks built and friends galore to pilot whatever deck he or she preferred to jam.

The metagame at the store consisted of Izzet, Boros, Orzhov, Dimir, Gruul, Azorious, RUG, and Grixis from what I saw.  Nothing I saw was super innovative or off the deep end.  I hope to create something competitive yet original through my brainstorming since the novelty of playing a competitive pauper deck wears off quickly.

The most interesting deck choice that I witnessed was the inclusion of Artful Dodge, Weapon’s Surge, Faithless Looting, and Spell Rupture as part of the Nivix Cyclops shell.  With two in play, one Artful Dodge represents 14 unblockable damage as early as turn 5.  Backed up with some burn and card draw and you have quite the combo kill assembled.  Obviously I chose not to use such incredibly narrow cards, because high variance cards aren’t my style.  If it requires something else to be good, or should I say, if it’s strictly unplayable without something else going exactly right, then I recommend shelving the idea entirely.

Here’s my updated Izzet list that I chose to battle with this week:

Izzet Tempo
Lands (23)
1 Haunted Fengraf
12 Island
3 Izzet Guildgate
7 Mountain

Creatures (11)
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Goblin Electromancer
3 Nivix Cyclops

Spells (26)
2 Syncopate
3 Amass the Components
3 Brimstone Volley
3 Negate
3 Searing Spear
4 Essence Scatter
4 Pillar of Flame
4 Think Twice

Sideboard (15)
1 Dispel
1 Unsummon
2 Electrickery
2 Ghostly Flicker
2 Thunderbolt
3 Curse of the Pierced Heart
4 Archaeomancer

The list receives a huge addition in Nivix Cyclops, which can dome the opponent for a ton in one fell swoop.  The first game I played I landed all 3 one-eyed monsters in play by turn 6.  One Amass the Components later and in they came crashing in for 12!  Frostburn Weird is a versatile card that unfortunately got the axe since Nivix Cyclops fills his role as an early defensive body that can beat so much harder with a less intense mana investment.  FBW is better in the late game when you are spell-less and have plenty of extra mana at your disposal, but if you’re in the late game you’re probably favored anyway.

The Cyclops actually rewards us for casting proactive spells in our first main phase so they can break free from their shackles, so I added 3 Searing Spears in place of 1 Negate, 1 Syncopate, and the last Frostburn Weird.  Nivix Cyclops did serious work in my deck but as I mentioned earlier, other decks built around him even more.  The strength of my deck doesn’t come from him, though, but rather through being able to protect my few threats while eliminating all of the opponents with a serious card and mana advantage engine in Goblin Electromancer and 26 spells.

Tournament Synopsis

Round 1:  Grixis Control (Eric Salveson playing his original build)

Grixis Control
Land (22)
1 Mountain
1 Haunted Fengraf
3 Rakdos Guildgate
2 Dimir Guildgate
3 Izzet Guildgate
4 Swamps
8 Islands

Creatures (14)
3 Frostburn Weird
3 Stormbound Geist
3 Balustrade Spy
2 Bloodhunter Bat
3 Archaeomancer

Spells (24)
1 Pilfered Plans
1 Syncopate
1 Rewind
1 Forbidden alchemy
2 Think twice
2 Negate
2 Essence  Scatter
2 Devour Flesh
2 Electrickery
3 Pillar of Flame
3 Ghostly Flicker
4 Prophetic Prism

Sideboard (unknown)

His deck suffered from having too many low-impact cards against me.  Pillar of Flame and Devour Flesh should be 4-ofs and Rewind and Prophetic Prism aren’t necessary.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a Mist Raven in there instead of Balustrade Spy – just something that actually impacts the board.

Game 1 I assembled all 3 Nivix Cyclops by turn 6 and hit for 12 after playing Amass the Components.  I unfortunately did not draw a non-creature spell for what felt like infinite turns, so he crashed down me down to 4 from 16 with a Stormbound Geist while holding my Goblin Electromancers back with a Frostburn Weird.  After said infinite turns I drew Brimstone Volley to finish the game with my Cyclopi (plural?).  This game made me think that FBW might be a good card to mix into the main with the Cyclops since I’m not comboing like a madman and FBW would create some situational versatility.

Game 2 I sided into Izzet Control: +4 Archaeomancer, +2 Ghostly Flicker, +2 Thunderbolt, +1 Dispel, +3 Curse of the Pierced Heart, taking out -4 Delver of Secrets, -3 Nivix Cyclops, -3 Searing Spear, and a few other counters or removal spells.  The plan was to kill him with CotPH since he can’t interact with it and just kill everything that he plays with the Archaeomancer + Ghostly Flicker combo to lock up the end game.  It worked as planned.

W 2-0 (1-0)

Round 2:  Orzhov Aggro (Daniel Vinson playing his original version)

I gave Daniel the cards to borrow since he forgot his at home.  His version was slightly different than mine, but he got what he needed together from my stash.  Here’s what he ran:

Orzhov Aggro
Land (21)
4 Orzhov Guildgate
8 Plains
9 Swamp

Creatures (21)
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Tithe Drinker
4 Syndic of Tithes
1 Daring Skyjek
4 Kingpin’s Pet
4 Bloodhunter Bat

Spells (18)
3 Dead Weight
2 Tragic Slip
4 Murder
2 Sign in Blood
2 Victim of Night
2 Stab Wound
3 Undying Evil

Sideboard (15)
4 Seraph of Dawn
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Undying Evil
2 Sign in Blood
2 Stab Wound
1 Dead Weight
1 Gravepurge
1 Tragic Slip

His analysis (to follow) is spot on and highlights exactly why I feel like some of the choices in my Orzhov build are superior to his.  His addition of Basilica Screecher is the only reservation that I have, since it does not interact well when it’s on the board with just about anything.  The fact that it can ping in the air and provide 2-drop extorters number 9-12 help merit an inclusion for now.

Daniel’s Analysis of our Games and His Deck

Round 2:  Played Baker.  I had the first game won except missed a Stab Wound trigger causing him to stabilize on 3 life, and my next draw was a Sign in Blood.  Naturally I drew 2 lands, for zero justice.  I boarded similar to round 1 (Stab Wounds, Angels, and Sign in Bloods for Tragic Slip, Skyjek, and Doomed Travelers). I boarded out the Doomed Travelers every round.  Don’t really remember game 2 except that I probably couldn’t have won no matter what line I took.

I would play this list if I was to play the deck again:

Orzhov Nation (Daniel Vinson’s version)

Land (21)
4 Orzhov Guildgate
9 Swamp
8 Plains

Creatures (24)
4 Syndic of Tithes
4 Tithe Drinker
4 Basilica Screecher
4 Kingpin’s Pet
4 Seraph of Dawn
4 Bloodhunter Bat

Spells (15)
4 Sign in Blood
3 Murder
2 Tragic Slip
2 Dead Weight
1 Victim of Night
3 Cloudshift

Basically, I want more threats main, and less removal.  Cloudshift is just better than Undying Evil because everyone is playing Pillar of Flame.  4 Sign in Blood in really important for the control matchup.  Seraph needs to be main since it is so good against Pillar/Spear decks.


W 2-0 (2-0)

Round 3: Boros Aggro (Charles Ferguson)

I helped Charles built a hybrid of my Boros Aggro deck and Boros Tokens Deck.  I know he added a few Gather the Townsfolk to make Dynacharge more beefy.  Something like this:

Boros Aggro
Lands (21)
11 Plains
4 Boros Guildgate
6 Mountain

Creatures (24)
4 Attended Knight
4 Daring Skyjek
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Skyknight Legionnaire
4 Viashino Firstblade
4 War Falcon

Spells (12)
2 Dynacharge
2 Searing Spear
3 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Brimstone Volley
4 Pillar of Flame

Sideboard (15)
Curse of the Pierced Heart
Keening Apparition
Oblivion Ring

He had just defeated someone playing an Izzet Control deck in round 2.  I felt like I could be in serious trouble.  Not much information can be gained from our match though because he flooded heavily both games and I was never on the back-foot, which I feel should be a common occurrence in this matchup.  Instead I just nuked all of his guys and won in painfully slow fashion.

W 2-0 (3-0)

Round 4:  Eric (unknown last name) playing Izzet Nivix Cyclops Combo

I met Eric once before when I dropped a bunch of cards and boxes in my hands like a klutz while trying to open the trunk to my car.  He kindly helped pick up my mess.  Good man.

His list is seemed similar to mine except he was running Artful Dodge and Faithless Looting instead of counterspells.  He even had Weapon’s Surge out of the board to “win” the Nivix Cyclops mirror should they ever combat each other.

Game 1 I have turn 1 Delver of Secrets to his mull to 6.  He is able to Pillar it away and dig for gas with Faithless Looting.  I’m able to stick a Goblin Electromancer and get tons of mana and card advantage with Think Twicing thrice times with flashback by turn 7 with an Amass the Components thrown in, too.  He blocks Electromancer with his Cyclops and I Pillar of Flame it away.  Not sure why he would risk that when he has little other options of beating me if his Cyclops dies.  I counter every relevant play he makes for the rest of the game and crash for 5 a turn with a flipped Delver and Electromancer.

Game 2 I side into Izzet Control.  He might have actually drawn more cards than me this game after he cast and flashed back all 4 Faithless Looting.  It helped him dig through superfluous land and other blanks, like Artful Dodge and Weapon’s Surge.  I countered his turn 3 Cyclops, and turn 4 FBW, so the only threat he had in play was a turn 2 FBW that landed before I had counters up.  He pinged me for a few points and even got a 4 point chunk in but I eventually brew a Brimstone volley to time walk him when he went for the 4/1 again on turn 6.  I landed a turn 7 Curse of the Pierced Heart and the Invisible Stalker clock began.  I drew a thick patch of lands and he beat me down to 6 with Delver and another FBW before I could Pillar and Volley them in the face.  At 6 life I remember stabilizing with one Archaeomancer in play (which brought back a Pillar to kill another Delver), and 2 Essence Scatters and 1 Negate in hand.  He had 2 cards in hand and decides to Spear me down to 3.  By now he is down to around 8 from the CotPH. He draws and Pillars me down to 1.  I draw a few Electromancers and speed up my clock while Scattering his top-decked creatures.  He never rips another burn spell, but I had saved the Negate for it anyway.

Pretty close game – barely survived at one life!  The amount of blanks in his deck when Cyclops wasn’t in play stifled his game against me too much in my opinion.  I really like the job that Faithless Looting did for him as an early, cheap way to see more cards that is cost-reduced on the flash back with Electromancer.  I just can’t see playing it over Think Twice and Amass the Components without getting serious value from the discarding into the graveyard.  When Wizards brings back ‘madness’ then let’s talk.

W 2-0 (4-0)

There you have it.  Didn’t drop a game!  The deck has a variable tipping point each game (sometimes turn 6, others turn 12) where if it survives until then, it feels like it can’t possibly lose.  Highly recommend this deck if you want to be competitive.  I also would like to know what deck destroys this so that I can mix it up next week.  If you’ve had success against it feel free to let me know how.

For reference, here’s my GoogleDoc with all the new lists I’ve worked on since Dragon’s Maze’s release.

I hope to cover a truly original brew in my next article.  I’m hoping to make a Gatekeeper deck like “Junk in the Trunk” or “The Aristocrats” competitive enough by next week to run it at the store.  No one needs to see my Izzet deck dominate some more – it’s just too good!  Naturally I will be working on decks that beat Izzet handily and hopefully one of you has some novel ideas to make taking it down even easier.

Thanks for reading.  Comments and further discussion is appreciated!

Dr. Chris Baker, D.C. | Sports Chiropractor
Twitter:  @DrChrisBakerDC
ChannelFireball Team Chiropractor

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