I found out about this from Gwyned’s tweet/article a few days ago: Standard Pauper Gauntlet
I have an obvious deck submission choice, despite the fact that I think Mono-Black Devotion is the default best deck in the format. I got 2nd place with in my first-time every playing a Standard Pauper tournament online a few months ago and it’s routinely Top 8’ing PDC events. I would continue to play it but it simple became too mundane.
The deck must have 60 cards main, 15 sideboard.
- 2x Axebane Guardian
- 4x Doorkeeper
- 2x Gatecreeper Vine
- 4x Mnemonic Wall
- 4x Saruli Gatekeepers
- 1x Trestle Troll
- 2x Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
- 1x Cremate
- 2x Essence Scatter
- 1x Keymaster Rogue
- 2x Naturalize
- 4x Psychic Strike
- 2x Shrivel
- 1x Trestle Troll
- 2x Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
An explanation of how your deck works is needed.
BUG Defenders is simultaneously the most fun and most skill-intensive deck that I have found in the current Standard Pauper metagame. A plethora of mid-range decks (Mono-White, Selesnya/Bant Hexproof) and aggro decks (Mono-Red, Boros) emerged to deal with the dominant Dimir Mill Control deck a few months ago. These creature-based decks are what we are designed to beat.
Our deck plays out like a control deck.
1) Early-game: Fix mana, take some damage, stop the first attacking threats, develop a board presence.
2) Mid-game: Draw cards, neutralize the board with removal spells, gain life, and gum up the board with numerous blockers
3) Late-game: Recur card-drawing spells or necessary removal spells with Mnemonic Wall. Win the game by milling the opponent out of their library or by swinging with multiple 2-power creatures while the opposition has a blank board. Gain absurd amounts of life with Crypt Incursion if necessary to put the game out of reach to damage based creature decks.
Doorkeeper is the primary win-con for the deck, which serves as a dual role as a key blocker that can save a lot of life throughout the course of a game. The deck is very mana-intensive so you don’t want to activate Doorkeeper’s ability unless you have absolutely nothing else to do with your mana.
We are a tap-out control deck for the most part, so counterspells in the main deck are really bad because we can rarely afford to hold mana open for them. They play an important role in the sideboard against other control decks, though.
Grisly Spectacle is the best removal spell in the format. There are no good artifacts worth killing, so it’s basically Murder with the upside of milling them. It shines as an instant – sorcery speed removal is weak against flash creatures and combat tricks, hence cards like Liturgy in Blood don’t make the cut.
The defender package is not extreme – we don’t need every creature in the deck to have defender to have a necessary amount of synergy. The Gatekeepers, for example, have such powerful enters the battlefield effects that their presence is well worth it. Killing creatures and leaving behind a blocker makes our Devour Flesh better and Saruli is often just GG against aggro decks, especially when we start looping Mnemonic Wall, March of the Returned, and Voyage’s End.
I recommend giving the deck a lot of practice against various decks to get the hang of it before taking it to tournaments. The timing of when to play guildgates, how to manage your mana, and mulliganing are the toughest aspects of the deck. Most spells cost a lot and you can usually only cast one or two spells per turn, so how you order them is critical. Every game is different so you have to practice situational awareness and think “what is the worst that could happen if I make this play?” and compare different lines of play and choose the best scenario.
Some spells are do nothings and some spells are action – so the consistency cards like Pilfered Plans and Thassa’s Bounty should be cast as soon as possible unless you need to deal with a significant threat first. That allows you to hit land drops more consistently and then “go-off” by being able to play card draw spells in addition to things that effect the board in the same turn. Axebane Guardian is an insane enabler of this, but without action spells he is a do nothing, so you never really need more than 2 of him in play ever.
We are already set up in the main to take advantage of a field full of aggro and mid-range decks. Hence, a lot of the sideboard is dedicated to dealing with other control decks.
A sideboard plan is also needed. (I am terrible at sideboard choices so it is in your best interest to come up with something to lead this old man down the right path).
I will comment on when the cards in the sideboard are good, but it’s really tough to know when some of the cards in the main-deck are bad. I end up shaving a few cards here and there to include all the powerful sideboard slots. For example, while Thassa’s Bounty seems awful against a Mono-Red aggro deck, you need to have something to do once you get stabilized. Against that deck I think it’s ok to cut 2 of them, but if you cut them all you risk having no velocity to put the game away when it’s close.
Against control decks in general it can be tough to fix all the cards in because we have so many we want to bring in. If they are a mill deck, then remember it’s legal to go above 60 cards, which I routinely do. Do nothings like Gatecreeper Vine and Axebane Guardian are usually pivotal against creature decks because they can block and fix your mana quickly so you don’t fall behind, but against control they will just ignore them and wait for you to play significant spells and counter those. So plan on boarding out those low-impact cards in the control mirror.
Another thing to realize is that some decks bring in Beckon Apparition against us (Mono-White and similar decks). Against them it can be best to cut all the Mnemonic Walls and strand their sideboard tech until they eventually realize they can’t get value from it and have to play a 1/1 Flying Man.
Other control decks have a similar value/recursion plan as us and you want to be able to break it up. We support Cremate’s ability to break up their combos with Crypt Incursion to exile creatures and with counterspells to stop Archaeomancer, Auramancer, and Mnemonic Wall from triggering when entering the battlefield. Sometimes a deck uses scavenge for value on Hexproof creatures and Cremate is not really necessary against them – just focus on killing all their creatures.
Creatures with ETB effects can be so powerful that we want outs to them. Disciple of Phenax is insanely good against us since we often play out our hand and then refill with Thassa’s Bounty, which can only happen if it doesn’t get Thoughtseized from our hand. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is another key offender, in addition to the Mancers and Wall of Recusion mentioned in regards to Cremate.
Aggro decks will often play Pacifism, Stab Wound, or Claustrophobia against our defenders in order to push damage through. I usually reset a Gatekeeper with Keymaster for a 2nd helping of value and then have a 3 chunk unblockable clock for them to deal with that serves as a secondary win-con to milling.
While Razor-tip Whip is not at its best against us since we have Saruli Gatekeepers to pad our life total, it is still important to manage the threats and dispose of it. In addition to that, creatures with bestow, Ethereal Armor, and Aqueous form in particular can cause our deck trouble. Being able to snipe an aura or sometimes even a bestow creature carrying multiple auras mid-combat can save us in a mill vs damage race.
I used to have more Essence Scatters in the board but other control decks with more counters than me would just refill their hand with draw spells or start their own recursion engine with March of the Returned. Psychic Strike is the catch-all answer we need that can stop the insane ETB creatures as well as the late-game game-breakers.
Some decks like to diversify their threats instead of building up one big Voltron creature. Akroan Crusader is the primary concern, but any deck that plays multiple X/1s is fair game for Shrivel. Hexproof decks will often run out a Hopeful Eidolon on turn 1 just to protect their Gladecover Scout from Devour Flesh. Sometimes you get lucky and Shrivel slices through the Scout before it even gets a chance to put on some pants. You get to save the Devour Flesh for the next Hexproof creature yay.
Flyers and really big green creatures like Nessian Asp or Benthic Giant can coast past most of our 0/4 defenders. The troll shields us no matter how many Etheral Armors get put on the Wingsteed Rider. There’s a chance that Aerial Predation should be in this slot but the fact that the Troll helps our devotion to Defenders and can interact with non-flyers as well gives it the nod.
The really fast aggro decks that like to put Madcap Skills on their X/1 or X/2 creatures require a few more removal spells that double as blockers. A lot of decks play only value creatures or none that would die to -2/-2 so Ubul Sar has gone from a 4-of six weeks ago to a 2-of now.
Must be Standard Pauper legal (Duh, I know, but just want to make sure it is universally known).
Please name the deck something reasonable. It is your choice, but if I have to type out “5 Color Enchantment Super Shenanigan Inspiring Devotion” over and over, I may get so tired I don’t play very well with that deck… You wouldn’t want that now, would you?
This is my 3rd version of this deck since making it a few months ago. It only changes by a few cards over time and there is not a single card in Born of the Gods that is good enough to see play in this deck. If this deck can dodge some of the heavy counterspell decks like Izzet Razor-Burn and Dimir Mill I think it has a good shot at winning the title.
Thanks for running the contest Brennon. If you haven’t checked out his page be sure to visit it and scope out the meta to see what other people have submitted:
Thanks for reading. Now go make a deck submission of your own and please refrain from metagaming against my sweet deck 😛