Standard UWR Control – An Update to EFro’s #GPABQ *28th* Deck

winner

2-times

 

While Owen Turtenwald was busy hogging all the attention after winning back-to-back GPs with UWR Delver and Mono-Black, I feel like a gem was missed.  A lone UWR Control Deck that had the tools to win every control mirror and was prepared for devotion and aggro alike made the top tables.  Piloted by Poker pro, future hall of fame inductee, and CFB landlord in Las Vegas –  EFro piloted UWR to a 28th place finish at GP Albuquerque.  Since then I haven’t seen the deck at the top tables anywhere.  Was it even good?  Why hasn’t it had repeat success in the last 4 weeks?  Is it because EFro himself hasn’t played in the other events? (probably).  But I want to know why pros like the UW or Esper decks more than UWR in the current meta.

Froehlich

Nice Lands – Per Usual

 

EFro did a sweet deck tech with Marshall Suitcliffe.  It starts at 5:26:18.

Rewind to 4 weeks ago.  I haven’t played Standard in my life.  I wanted to hit 750 PWPs to get 2 byes at #GPSAC in January – so I needed to get 60 PWPs to hit 750 in less than 2 weeks.  With only one Standard GPT (3x multiplier) in the area, I figured 4 round Standard events at ChannelFireball Game Center would be better at generating points compared to 3 round drafts.  My friend Chris Davis had a serviceable UW control deck I could borrow, and that is where my journey in standard began.

I quickly realized I’m awful at constructed and maybe should have just stuck with what I’m good (better) at.  That is, until I saw the list posted by Eric Froehlich that incorporated red in order to gain access to a plethora of key gold Izzet/Boros spells that helped against decks I had trouble beating.

@EfroPoker’s List

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I played with his list for a week and was impressed with my improvement in the Mono-Black and Esper match-ups.  I was still having problems against Mono-Blue, Mono-Red Aggro, Boros Aggro, Rakdos Aggro and Gruul Devotion.  Surely I could make some tweeks to shore up those match-ups.

Stanislav Cifka’s list from GP Vienna turned me on to a few cards.  I tuned the EFro list and last weekend I played in my first ever SCG Open Series with the following list:

Lands (26)

4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Azorius Guildgate
1 Izzet Guildgate
5 Island
2 Plains

Creatures (0)

Spells (28)

4 Azorius Charm
4 Detention Sphere
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Counterflux
2 Warleader’s Helix
2 Turn // Burn
2 Last Breath
2 Assemble the Legion

Planeswalkers (6)

2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Jace, Architect of Thought

Sideboard (15)

3 Izzet Staticaster
2 Last Breath
1 Pithing Needle
2 Negate
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Aetherling
2 Wear // Tear
3 Gainsay

The deck was amazing against the field I was paired against.

4 Mono-Black (3-0-1) (forgot to play Sphin’x Rev in response to Erebos – died because of it – game went to a draw)
1 Mono-White Devotion (1-0)
1 Boros Aggro – Nathan McWilliams who top 8’d (0-1) – didn’t play around g2 Brave the Elements, played around Boros Charm and got punished for making Elspeth tokens instead of casting Supreme Verdict
1 Junk (0-1) – let him dig 6 spells deep with Reaper of the Wilds (Verdict all my Assemble tokens), cast Azorius charm on the next Reaper, then attacked all 12 of my Assemble tokens leaving back no blockers against a Reaper + 8/8 Mistcutter Hydra for exactsies.
1 Mono-Blue (0-1) failed to scry a Sphinx’s Rev to bottom when I already had one in hand on turn 1.  The Supreme Verdict I needed was the top card in library the turn before I died to 5 creatures + Thassa

1 Orzhov Control (1-0)
1 Golgari Aggro (1-0)

All those costly play mistakes landed me at 6-3-1, good for 65th and a big kick in the junk.  A proficient pilot would have 8-2’d at worst had they been in my shoes for the day.  I attribute that to my 4 hours of sleep, a full-week of work at the clinic, and a lack of physical/mental preparation for 10 rounds of a constructed tournament with a control deck of all things.

From exclusively playing limited for as long as I can remember, I’m not accustomed to the mental energy expenditure it takes to play constructed level control games.  For example, I lost game 1 against Golgari aggro and had to play like I was on crack to win two games in under 25 minutes.  My APMs were certifiably insane to get that one completed.  I never knew I had that gear in me until I was stressed enough.  It was really fun to get in the flow but that amount of energy output really fatigued me as the day chugged along.

Anyway, the deck was the greatest.  I felt like I couldn’t lose if I could survive until turn 7 against so many decks, and only then could I lose due to the previous described punts you would expect from someone who has never played Standard before.

The deck only had mana issues in one match (Mono-Blue, game 1 no red source, game 2 kept a 2 land/1-scry land on the play and never drew a second land).  The main selling point was that it stomped on black decks all day long.  I didn’t face a single control mirror while friends of mine played against 4+ matches of UW or Esper.  I only saw 2 other copies of UWR in the room throughout the whole day.  That has got to be a mistake.

Here’s my update to the deck, with changes highlighted:

Lands (26)

4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Azorius Guildgate

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2 Izzet Guildgate:  +1 Red source for Anger of the Gods in the SB

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1 Boros Guilgate:  +1 Red source for Anger of the Gods in the SB
4 Island:  – 1, Still need some basics for Burning Earth, untapped mana is a treat
1 Plains:  -1, Still need some basics for Burning Earth, untapped mana is a delicacy

Creatures (0)

Spells (28)

3 Azorius Charm:  -1, Fine card but we helped our early game with other spells so we can rely on this less.  It missing on the Protection from White/Blue creatures that exists is annoying, but cycling is always a good option.  Lifelink is definitely a relevant option since we often stabilize on less than 10 life, so pounding in with 10 tokens from a t5 Assemble the Legion on turn 8 to gain 10 life can really help us with buy time before the next
Revelation gets fired off.

4 Detention Sphere
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Sphinx’s Revelation

Don’t mess with the Azorius golden core – they are bossy.

4 Counterflux:  +1, The Control Mirror Breaker.  Had to add the last one – I can’t live without this card.  Sometimes Dissolve would have been better, since this is can’t help protecting your spells if they have 2 counterspells, but it is the Last Word at stopping their win-conditions from resolving.  If I didn’t think control mirrors would be all over the place I would switch to Dissolve, but UW and Esper and the mirror will happen – so I wanted to be fully prepared.

0 Warleader’s Helix:  -2, Cut entirely because Planeswalkers that are problematic all tick up to 5 immediately except for Domri Rade.  The life gain again is nice but the 4 mana-cost is a huge draw back – I’d rather deal with problematic creatures/planeswalkers before they hit play, hence the switch to Essence Scatter/Syncopate.

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1 Essence Scatter:  +1, gets Thassa on the draw, all the Gods, Desecration Demon, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Pack Rat, Strombreath Dragon, Aetherling – all the things trying to kill us.  A blank against some other control decks so want no more than 1 main.

1 Turn // Burn:  – 1 because it didn’t feel needed very often.  Great card for blowouts, taking care of the classic t2 or t3 Mutavault attack into UR mana, and a devoted God.

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2 Last Breath:  +2, Inclusion over Divination since we desperately need to interact in the early game.  Kills Mutavault, Nightviel Specter, Grey Merchant of Asphodel, Ash Zealot, Master of Waves, Tidebinder Mage, Solider of Pantheon etc, etc, etc.  Taking a turn off to spend 3 mana to get ahead on cards is not something I have found to be very rewarding – most times I get punished for tapping out too early in the game.  The ability to gain life from targeting your own Solider token is quite handy when facing the awkward stage of the game against Boros Charm/Lightning Strike/Magma Jet decks – you know, when they can kill you if you in response to any life gain effect you have.  Last breath a solider to go up to 8 from 4, , in response Boros Charm you (no cards in hand), in response Sphinx’s Revelation for 3 – felt real nice to have that buffer in game 1.

2 Assemble the Legion:  Owning Mono-Black until they plan for it with the green splash for Golgari Charm // Abrupt Decay for Detention Sphere

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1 Elixir of Immortality:  +1, Without this card I do not know how we can beat the UW Control decks that do run this card.  Either we counter it or it slips past us.  If they shuffle their whole graveyard when we can’t then our Counterflux’s won’t be able to keep up with their redeployments.

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2 Syncopate:  +2, Another great catch-all that can stop the dreaded t3 Underworld Connections or Thassa, God of the Sea alike.  Definitely don’t want more than two since it has diminishing returns as the game drags on.  Randomly exiling is great against the Elixir decks since it’s one less threat to deal with – can lead to some early concessions if you hit their Elspeth or Aetherling.

Planeswalkers (6)

2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion:  +1, Aetherling was awful in most situations when I first tested the deck.  He is there to beat the decks with Jace, Architect of Thought that can also keep Elspeth from hitting her ultimate.  Overall the flexibility of destroying 4+ power monsters + creating multiple chump blockers against aggro has proven its merit.

4 Jace, Architect of Thought:  Super versatile against control and aggro, not sure why you would cut to 3 unless you ran some number of Divination.

Sideboard (15)

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3 Anger of the Gods:  +3, Izzet Staticaster did not pull it’s weight, especially against the Devotion decks.  Against them you need to clear their board, and up to three toughness takes care of every creature in Mono-White (even when they have Spear of Heliod save Frontline Medic), Tidebinder Mage, Evloved Cloud-Fin Raptor, Nightveil Specter, 3 Pack Rats, Sylvan Caratid, Boros Reckoner (at a cost of 3 life), Ash Zealot, and Burning-Tree Emissary.  Our deck needed to up its red source count by 2 to help yield a turn 3 double red draw.  The Guildgates may prove to be a liability, but one that helps us more than hurts I hope.  Key against Xantrid Necromancer in the new CFB Orzhov aggro deck since the exile clause is relevant.

1 Last Breath:  Access to all 4 may be the way to go. You simply cannot be bullied by early aggro/devotion strategies with these and Mutavault, the only aggro creature that evades our Wrath, is struck with the splash damage.  Xantrid Necromancer, Chandra’s Phoenix, and Voice of Resurgence all require an exile clause to maximize value, which complimented by Anger of the Gods, keeps our board safe and clear of riff-raff.

1 Pithing Needle:  Didn’t even realize this could name Mutavault at first.  Card keeps getting better.  Turning off Jace, Architect of Thought it important when we are trying to win with a bunch of 1/1 soldier tokens.

1 Aetherling:  Necessary evil against the control mirrors.  Killing with 1/1 tokens is challenging against Jace, Architect of Thought, so we need a plan other than Elsepth Emblem to win in timely fashion against them.

2 Negate:  Planeswalkers, Underworld Connections, sometimes protects last card Sphinx’s Revelation from Thoughtseize/Duress in the mid/late game to devastating effect.

1 Jace, Memory Adept:  Alternate win-con against control decks.  Card advantage engine if you can’t logically win in a few turns of milling.

1 Wear // Tear:  -1, Don’t need more than 1 against most decks.  Burning Earth, Detention Sphere, Pithing Needle, Underworld Connections, Bident of Thassa, Whip of Erebos, Hammer of Purphoros, Ratchet Bomb, and Assemble the Legion are all good targets.

3 Gainsay:  Mono-Blue, 2 mana answers, so good so good.  Countering Revelation, Aetherling, and even Prosnostic Sphinx in some control lists.

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1 Debtor’s Pulpit:  +1, Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Stormbreath Dragon both dodge Azorius Charm, Detention Sphere, and Warleader’s Helix (part of why we cut it).  They don’t die to anything but Turn // Burn and Supreme Verdict.  This allows us to circumvent the pro-white clause since the land has the ability.  It allso stops a late Mistcutter Hydra and most importantly Aetherling, without which we would be completely cold should he ever resolve.  I’ve been on the fence with this slot between Celestial Flare because it can do a lot of the same work for less mana, helps against the Gladecover Scout/Ethereal Armor deck, and as a spell it recycles with Elixir.  In the end I think the Pulpit taking care of an Aetherling for good is it’s primary Allure

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1 Glare of Heresy:  Problem permanents in Mono-White like Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Spear of Heliod, but mainly to break the game wide open against the Control mirror for Detention Sphere and Elspeth.

If I had planned properly then I would have made travel arrangements for the SCG Open in Las Vegas this weekend.  Normally it would be because I want to do work at a Draft Open, but all that I see available for limited is a Sealed Open (not the same).  I would be more excited to play this deck at the Standard Open.

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If you want to beat all the other control decks then this deck looks pretty sick to me.  The only consideration, say if you knew you would play against only other control decks all day, would be to put some number of Divination main.  Most likely for the Essence Scatter and Syncopate(s), but I love having access to more things to do with 2 open mana on turn 2 or turn 3 with a comes into play tapped land against the majority of the field.

I hope some good players bring UWR. I think it is poised to take down the SCG Invitational.

@DrChrisBakerDC

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Izzet Razor-Burn

I have been trying to find a creatureless or nearly creatureless control deck to neutralize Crypt Incursion decks (Dimir Mill) completely.  The natural win condition without creatures is currently Razortip Whip since it is a repeatable source of damage.  Outside of countering it, there are no main-deck answers to it amongst popular decks.  Thus, the race will be on!

razortip whip

A Rakdos creatureless control deck joined my queue a few weeks ago and it seemed sweet, but without access to counterspells I was able to overrun him with creatures and card advantages spells eventually.  Once Gywned’s showed that Izzet was able to compete, I knew I just had to make a few changes and it would crush.

Gwyned got 2nd in the MPDC 23.07 event with a pretty rogue deck.  His list can be found here.

The following is my version of an Izzet Control deck.

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Izzet Razor-Burn

Lands (22)

10 Mountain
8 Island
4 Izzet Guildgate
Creatures (4)
4 Archaeomancer

Spells (34)

4 Annihilating Fire
4 Lightning Strike
4 Cancel
4 Essence Scatter
4 Razortip Whip
4 Chandra’s Outrage
4 Shock
4 Divination
2 Explosive Impact

Sideboard (15)
4 Frostburn Weird
2 Electrickery
1 Smelt
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Essence Backlash
2 Negate
2 Dispel
1 Disperse
1 Thassa’s Bounty

Niv-Mizzet New Art - Izzet vs Golgari Duel Decks

Mono-Black has been the most difficult match-up for me ever since I got 2nd place in MPDC 23.03.  My list (or a similar variation) has been featured by many players in subsequent Top 8s every single week for the last 5-6 weeks.  My build wasn’t earth-shattering but it has been pretty consistent.

I haven’t played Mono-Black since that week in an effort to be creative, which is what the formats needs in order to grow.   I saw someone’s attempt to break the Mono-Black mirror while also controlling graveyard recursion like March of the Returned and Midnight Recovery was to include 2 Crypt Incursion in the main.  This furthered my resolve to find a creatureless control deck.

For reference again – Gwyned’s Izzet Turtle-Power

DECK DIFFERENCES

Subtractions

4 Nivix Cyclops and 4 Minotaur Skullcleaver:

While these creatures can pack a hasty and huge punch, they are awful in the deck.  Most decks you face will have plenty of removal to deal with these.  With so few other creatures in the deck you are essentially turning on your opponents removal spells.  Eight creatures is also a lot when it comes to gaining life from Crypt Incursion (24 max) and that is something my deck wants to minimize.

4 Inspiration:

Two cards is not worth four mana, even if it’s flexible to play it at the opponents end of turn.  I can see this card going into the Dimir Mill deck since you can target the opponent at the end of the game to put them down two more cards, but even then, just play Tome Scour and your own draw spells like Plifered Plans and Thassa’s Bounty should cover it.

2 Unknown Shores:

I like 24 land decks when you have access to Read the Bones.  I find it easier to lose a game in Standard Pauper from flooding that from mana screw, so I tend to error on a lower land count and hope the card draw with help you hit the gas pedal while finding the additional land drops.

Side note – I do not believe Unknown Shores is a playable card.  I never want to Sphere of Resistance myself and it is awful in any opening hand of 1 or 2 lands where you need both colors.  Most other situations it is moot, but my deck has so many double color requirements that I can’t risk a colorless one ruining the ability to cast spells on time.

Additions

archaeomancer

4 Archaeomancer:

You might notice that the Dimir Mill deck runs this as its only creature.  That’s because he is perfect in an all spell deck.  He gets you back whatever fits the situation you are currently in and the 1/2 Squire body is incredibly relevant.  He can trade with many early creatures like Rakdos Shred-Freak and Foundry Street Denizen.  Chump blocking for a turn is sometimes all you need to win the race.  All I know that if Read the Bones isn’t going to be in my deck then I need to cast Divination more times than my Mono-Black opponent to get up on cards.  Read the Bones is a virtual card advantage machine of a 4 for 1 at best, so we have to keep up somehow.  Aggro would also be pretty tough for us game 1 with Frost-Burn Weird on the sidelines but an opening of Shock in the first 4 turns followed by a turn 4 Archaeomancer + Shock can grind their assault to a halt quickly.

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4 Divination:

The “strictly better” Inspiration for our deck.  We have two less lands, so we often need to cast this on turn 3 in order to hit lands.  This is usually not a critical turn for our opponents, since we can likely kill whatever they resolve with a red burn spell the following turn.  When digging this back with Archaeomancer we enjoy the fact that our draw two only costs 3 mana, since that allows us to hold open Essence Scatter or Cancel more easily.

explosive impact

2 Explosive Impact:

The card name tells you exactly what it does – BOOM.  Not many see this coming in the main and it is a beating.  The flexibility to hit their face or the likes of Nessian Asp or an Omenspeaker bestowed with Nimbus Naiad gives it the nod over Lava Axe.

Sideboard Explained

4 Frostburn Weird:  Most decks will side out their removal.  FBW can brick tons of 3-power attackers and doesn’t concede to Stab Wound

2 Electrickery: Potential card advantage, X/1 removal

1 Smelt:  Razortip Whip, and you can get it back with Archaeomancer for killing more Whips

1 Wild Celebrants:  More Razortip Whip hate.  Huge creatures on most boards

1 Essence Backlash:  Additional Essence Scatter than can hit for some damage to edge a race in our favor.

2 Negate:  Against other counterspells, Bestow creatures, and card-advantage spells like Read the Bones or Divination

2 Dispel:  Against other counterspells and Gods Willing/Ranger’s Guile

1 Disperse:  Bounces a problem permanent that can hopefully be countered on it’s way back down.  We can’t deal with a resolved artifact or enchantment any other way

1 Thassa’s Bounty:  Control decks, when we know we have time to get to a late, grindy card-advantage game-state

DECK UPDATE

The deck performed quite well in the SPDC 19.37 event tonight – good enough for a 2nd place finish.  If I were to play the deck again I would run the main the same but trim the fat in the sideboard.

Essence Backlash is a win-more and isn’t worth its cost.  Disperse was meant for Ethereal Armor/Bestow decks but I just scoop to those Hexproof decks anyway.  Stalling it for one turn could make the difference in a race with multiple Razortip Whip cracking at them, but it’s just too weak.

To replace these two cards I would add 2 Nephalia Seakite.  It’s removal for 2/2s that can’t be hit with Dispel or Negate.  Most removal is boarded out so bringing in creatures that act as removal spells and speed up the clock seems perfect.

Congrats to GodZo for the win @ SPDC 19.37 – his UW aggro deck seems not very well positioned IMO against many popular decks, so I gotta give it up to him for that superior play-skill, because I think I would have gotten crushed had I played that deck.  Maybe he has good match-ups that I don’t know about.

I was able to save my Game IDs from the SPDC event so that I can review the replays.  I’ll see if I can figure that out this weekend and do a recap/analysis of the SPDC 19.37 tournament.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay classy.
Thx fr stppng by.
But mainly, stay classy.

ronburgundy

@DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog

will-ferrell-ron-burgundy-dreamworks

Can’t wait for Anchorman 2…

The Dimir Antidote

While I claim in my previous article “10 Reasons to Play Standard Pauper” that the format currently has a diverse metagame, some have called me out on that fact (without any data other than that there are a lot of Dimir 1st place trophies).   Sure, Dimir Mill has won 4 of 7 MPDC tournaments since Theros was added to the rotation.  However, each time only one or two Dimir decks even made it into the top 8.  The deck has been gaining in popularity as it has gained recognition, but I still find it odd that so few Dimir Mill decks were making it to the top 8.  Sometimes they draw poorly, and sometimes the aggro decks are too fast.  But overall, Dimir is the current powerhouse to deal with.  So much card advantage coupled with efficient counterspells and removal for the best threats in the format have led it to be the most annoying deck to combat.  I want to change that.  I want to play a deck that rarely, if ever, loses to it.  It was actually pretty easy task.  As for making the list competitive against the rest of the field – it’s a work in progress.

ImageDimir Antidote // Selesnya Population

Lands (22)

4 Selesnya Guildgate
10 Plains
8 Forest

Creatures (16)

4 Centaur’s Herald
4 Keening Apparition
4 Leafcrown Dryad
4 Seller of Songbirds

Spells (22)

4 Hive Stirrings
4 Eyes in the Skies
4 Knight Watch
4 Gods Willing
4 Rootborn Defenses
2 Fortify

Sideboard (15)

2 Sundering Growth
2 Coursers’ Accord
2 Druid’s Deliverance
4 Celestial Flare
3 Last Breath
2 Hopeful Eidolon

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While the list only contains 16 creatures, it has 16 spells that produce creatures, as well.  This helps us keep our threat density high without giving them too much life from Crypt Incursion.  Of the 32 total spells that create power and toughness, half them spawn 2 for price of one.  When you are fighting against all one-for-one removal spells, anything that can make 2 bodies is highly valued.  Without it, there’s no way to keep up with the additional 2 for 1s and 3 for 1s they have through Pilfered Plans and Thassa’s Bounty.

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Once you land a few threats in play the game plan is to force them to be answered.  This means, don’t play into counterspells until after they are forced to use removal on your team.  There are 8 main deck answers to targeted removal such as Pharika’s Cure and Grisly Spectacle in Gods Willing and Rootborn Defenses.  While Fortify can be used offensively, the utility to save a creature from Pharika’s Cure is a bonus.

We have no way to prevent a Devour Flesh from killing one of our creatures but that should be fine by us since we should have plenty of sacrificial lambs to pay tribute.

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Eyes in the Skies is definitely the best card against them because it can force them to spend mana on their turn when we attempt to resolve it on their end step.  If they counter, then we are free to resolve anything the following turn, and if they don’t, then we can protect them and ride the over-costed Midnight Haunting to victory.

Post-board they could have access to Shrivel, which helps them recoup card advantage against our multiple threats per spell.  For this reason I like having access to Fortify to boost toughness, so that our threats survive and provide a continuous source of damage.

Keening Apparition and Leafcrown Dryad were originally Predatory Sliver and Sentinel Sliver.  I found the tribal synergy to be marginal – the upside of growing some Hive Stirrings tokens pales in comparison to having outs to Stab Wound, bestow creatures, Ethereal Armor, flying creatures, and growing a creature with bestow can get 2 power creatures past 4 toughness blockers.

Sideboard (15)

2 Sundering Growth – More enchantment removal that can provide a value creature as well as answering Razortip Whip or Fleetfeather Sandals.

2 Courser’s Accord – Go big or go home.  Slow at 6 mana, won’t come down early often but can provide a huge late game threat against Gatekeeper Control decks.  We have a lot of X/2s and X/1s so added some X/3s should help if the game goes late.  Just another threat that can’t be hit with Essence Scatter.

2 Druid’s Deliverance – Aggressive creature decks, especially those pumping Two-Heading Cerebrus with Titan’s Strength and decks finishing with Act of Treason and Portent of Betrayal.

4 Celestial Flare – We absolutely cannot beat Gladecover Scout into 2x Ethereal Armor with this card.  With it we have 4 outs.

3 Last Breath – There are cards we need to proactively kill.  Deathcult Rogue, anything with extort, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Gatekeepers, things that can block our attackers profitably.  The lifegain drawback is an unfortunate consequence but can sometimes benefit us if we need to target our own creature to avoid getting burned out.

2 Hopeful Eidolon – We need some consistent life-gain against R/x aggro, extort, Razortip Whip, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

At heart we are a value-based mid-range creature deck.  We play threats in droves and do our best to protect them.  We poke through for a few points of damage here and there and hope to create some blowouts with our combat tricks.  Our nemesis is Gatekeeper Control (Esper/Jund).  Ubul Sar Gatekeepers can kill off our flyers and stand the ground against our ground attackers. Fortunately the Gatekeeper decks are awful against Dimir Mill, so it’s unlikely that you will run into many of them.  The problem is that they do well against fast aggro decks, which are prevalent, so we’re bound to run into a healthy mix.

The entire metagame is not Dimir vs Dimir Antidote.  It is very much Rock/Paper/Scissors where match-ups between aggro, mid-range, and control vary wildly based on the deck’s card choices.  Try the antidote, and if it doesn’t cure you of your Dimir Mill sickness, maybe this formula will suffice.

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Selesnya Aggro Auras

Lands (22)

4 Selesnya Guildgate
9 Plains
9 Forest

Creatures (28)

4 Hopeful Eidolon
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Keening Apparition
4 Leafcrown Dryad
4 Wingsteed Rider
4 Auramancer
4 Observant Alseid

Spells (10)

2 Pacifism
4 Gods Willing
4 Ethereal Armor

Sideboard (15)

2 Pacifism:  Pumps our Ethereal Armors while stopping a Voltron or aggressive threat.  Probably doesn’t come in against white in fear of Gods Willing, black with Altar’s Reap,  blue with Voyage’s End or Dramatic Rescue

2 Knightly Valor:  Not sure if Knight Watch is better.  Requires a creature to already be in play and not die, but if it lands it creates 2 blockers and a huge threat.  Works better than Observant Alseid sometimes.

4 Centaur Healer:  Life gain and relevant body to road-block aggro.

3 Last Breath:  Interacts proactively against problematic creatures.

4 Celestial Flare:   Need outs to Hexproof monstrosities, big bodied threats, and aggro decks with Madcap Skills.

@DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Blog

10 Reasons to Play Standard Pauper

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Many of you do not play Standard Pauper.  Many of you are doing it WRONG!  As a format, it boasts an incredibly diverse metagame with decks ranging in tiers of competitiveness.  During the MTGO downtime, the support for Daily Events, PTQs, and the MOCS has been eliminated.  What a perfect opportunity to explore a new format!  I’ve been wanting to articulate these thoughts for a while, so let’s see why you should be playing standard pauper if you aren’t already…

1) Consistent Games

If you are addicted to limited – this format will feel like draft in how the games play out.  The swingyness of games pales in comparison to the consistency of them.  This makes it feel like skill is rewarded, both for gameplay choices and, most importantly, for deck construction decisions.

2) You Would Have It All

Also, if you are a limited specialist, you likely own the entire relevant cardpool for the format.  The current legal sets are Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon’s Maze, M14, and Theros.  Only commons are allowed.  Cards that were previously printed as common but are now uncommon (Doom Blade) are NOT allowed.  Previous cards printed at uncommon but are now common (Savage Surge) ARE allowed.

3) Easy Access

If you do not own the entire cardpool – you can very easily.  First, hit up your friends that like to draft.  They will likely have 20+ of most of the commons.  They should not mind if you take 4 of each.  The great part about MTGO for deckbuilding is that you can own only 4 of a card but you can still put all 4 into multiple decks.  If you have no friends, make friends with some Bots.  They can hook you up with the cards you need for your deck in exchange for pennies.

4)  Something For Everyone

No matter what deck style preference you have, it exists.  Aggro has lightning fast Mono Red, Boros, Mono-White.  Control has card advantage machines like Dimir, Azorius, Izzet, Esper, and other 3+ color variants with Gatekeepers.  Aggro-Control has Mono-Black, and U/x variants of creatures + counterspells to protect them.  Mid-range has Selesnya Populate, Orzhov Extort, and Gruul Ramp.  Combo has – oops, I lied.  Combo does not exist, unless you want to count Grey Merchant of Asphodel + black mana symbols.  The point is that you have options to fit your play-style preferences.  You can always create a brew that no one has seen yet, too!

5)  Foot-In-The-Door to Other Constructed Formats

If you are interested in trying Constructed but you classically prefer Limited, then this is the best low-pressure format to join.  You don’t get punished for exploring new archetypes because cards are cheap and their aren’t any substantial tournament entry fees.  All the same skills for deck-building and reading metagames are present, it’s just simplified.  Master Standard Pauper, then move on to other Constructed formats that interest you.

If you are already a Constructed specialist, then your skills will shine.  I find that the game-play decisions are rather easy, so people win largely on how good their match-up is and partly how well they draw.  That said, the actual cards drawn have to be in your deck.  If you can build a deck with the best threats while prepared to answer the best threats in the format, you will crush.  This will change over time, so your evaluations need to ebb and flow with what others are bringing to the table.

6) I Can Take You Anytime, Anywhere!

While it may be difficult to find a person at your LGS with a standard pauper deck on them, you can easily find one on Magic Online in the Casual Room (Just for Fun or Anything Goes) at almost any time of day or night.  It doesn’t matter where you live, just get online to find a game!

7)  Pure Gravy/Value Tournaments

Free tournaments exist that give prizes to Top 8 (store credit at MTGOTraders).  MPDC events start at 11am in the Pacific Standard Time Zone.  Check out PDCMagic.com for more info.  Follow @Gwyned on Twitter for more info – he is the awesome host for the tournaments.  Hopefully with added interest we can get them to host tournaments at other times, too (I would love to see a 7pm PST start time or a weekend tournament sometime).

8) Free Fun Without the Risk of Contracting an STD

Magic can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can incinerate money by competing for highest number of drafts completed in one day (rumored to be 18 from Tom Martell and co. from his Training Grounds in NYC), or you can play Standard Pauper – easily one of the least expensive formats to get into.  Decks are practically free, and information about current decks that are performing well is also free.  Visit the Standard Pauper Players MTGO Clan blog for the latest info on the format.

9)  Friends Don’t Like Being Left-Out

Teaching someone how to play Magic is not easy.  It’s such a complicated game in and of itself – learning the rules, actions that happen each turn, how cards interact, when the best time to play spells is, etc. that we often don’t even factor in that the new player has to read every single card and memorize those, too.  It’s information overload, and one way to simplify it is to limit the cardpool to only recently printed commons.  The interactions are clean and simple compared to the entire Standard cardpool.  If you have someone in mind that you want to teach how to play, start with Standard Pauper.  They will learn faster and ask pertinent questions sooner which will hasten their growth and development as a critical thinker for the game.

I’ve found that the biggest turn off from a new player’s perspective is that they are scared to play with their friends because we are “good/experienced” players, which makes them feel inferior, such that they don’t think they could ever win.  It makes sense to feel that way at first, but the skill gap will close the quickest in Standard Pauper because it’s relatively easy to learn (compared to other Constructed formats).  Show him or her a good deck, how it works, and help them with game-play and soon enough they will be beating you!

10)  Unsolved Mysteries

The metagame is always changing because there’s a fantastic community always trying to break the format.  Some decks perform better than others (Tier 1 right now is Dimir Mill, Mono-Black Devotion, and Mono-Red/Boros Aggro) but they usually have a Kryptonite match-up.  It’s diverse enough that it is easy to switch between decks and never be bored.  This means you will likely find fun – just gotta hunt for it.

If you feel like you have Standard Pauper mastered, then I suggest you take the leap to Standard, Modern, or Legacy and put your constructed talents to even more competitive use.  If not, come join me and the countless others involved at Standard Pauper Players for a game or tournament sometime.

Thanks.

Twitter:  @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players MTGO Clan Blog