The Gauntlet (Round 5) Video Replay Analysis + Deck Techs and More

Did we survive round 5?  No Spoilers – just videos.  Click on the screenshot image to pop open the videos and find out.

Loyal Boros (for some reason this one is starting playback in the middle, so be sure to “rewind” to the beginning)

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.18.25 AM

Currently I do not play this deck much because it isn’t really fun or interesting.  If I did, I would run the same list, as it’s close to perfect for an undefined meta-game.  I might have to tune it more once we see what people are playing with at the MPDC events.

Dimir Mill

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I think this build is suboptimal.  I have made some changes with this deck, but I don’t really play this deck right now either because it’s not really a fun deck to play with (or against).  If Brennon reads this and is allowed to edit the deck then this is what I think would be optimal for the current meta.

Main:  -1 Scryfish, -1 Pharika’s Cure, +1 March of the Returned, +1 Voyage’s End

Side:  -1 March of the Returned, -1 Feast of Dreams, +1 Balustrade Spy +1 Pharika’s Cure

Scryfish #1 is insanely good, #2 is pretty average, and #3 is completely unnecessary.  You can’t put every spell on the bottom and you actually want a decent # of lands in play in the early game, so his real utility is in the mid/late game transition when you have 6+ lands already and don’t want to see any more.

March + End allows the main deck to compete with other grindy decks by going infinite with Archaeomancer recurring spells and March recurring creatures.

Cure gets boarded out a lot but it so good against heroic and red aggro that you want access to the 4th.  The Spy has been over-performing as a beater/win-con with added value of blocking Kingpin’s Pet and Deathcult Rogue and living to tell the tale.

Negate, Cancel, and Nullify are all itching to be included somewhere in the 75 but I can’t seem to fit them in right now.

What deck do I actually play for fun?  Well, I guess my next article will have all of my post-Journey into Nyx brews.  The following are what I have actually been entering games wielding:

(In Order of Fun-ness)

UWR Crouching Cipher Hidden Strings (Aggro/Combo)

Cyclops Combo (Combo/Control)

Bw (Control)

Simic Flash/Evolve (Aggro/Control)

Mono-Green (Ramp/Control)

Esper (Control)


Shards/RTR Block

That special event last week was a better format than current standard pauper by an exponential amount.  Trust me, if you enjoy standard pauper and want something even better, go brew a deck for it.  I enjoyed it so much mainly because it’s unexplored and that makes it more fun to brew, but second mainly because the combination of two multicolor sets is sweet.  Third mainly, I have some spicy decks for that format.  Please play me in that format sometime.  I might have to make it and other “throwback, made-up formats” part of my new standard pauper series.  ETA a few weeks before that will be ready.

Thanks for reading/watching – appreciate the support.

And I know the screaming background fan noise sucks.  Someone please tell me how make it better if you know how (I have a MacBook Pro).  I ordered a nice gaming headset w/ microphone that hopefully doesn’t pick up the fan noise as much.  The problem seems to be that it goes into hyper-drive anytime I open a video.  The real fix would be to have it not do that, but how?

Follow me on Twitter @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog



The Gauntlet (Round 4) Video Replay Analysis of My Decks

Welcome to my video analysis for Round 4 of the Standard Pauper Gauntlet.  Click on the links below to watch my commentary for matches played with my decks that I created.  These 3 videos represent the last remaining decks that I have alive in this grueling Gauntlet!

I watched Brennon play these matches when they first came out a few weeks ago and that was the only time I watched them before I did my commentary last night.  I did my best to give my thoughts on lines of play and things I agreed with and things I would have done differently.  Hopefully it’s educational and if you like learning from these let me know and I’ll be sure to do more in the future.  I greatly prefer communicating by video compared to writing articles, so there’s that, too!


Loyal Boros


Dimir Mill


Cyclops Combo

I hope to create more analysis with the next 2 matches for Dimir Mill and Loyal Boros in Round 5.  May they continue to prevail!  Best of luck to my man Brennon.  I have updated those 2 decks for Journey into Nyx inclusions, so hopefully those highlights are relevant and apparent in his future videos.

Thanks for watching – appreciate the support.

Follow me on Twitter @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog



MPDC 24 Worlds Recap, Shards/RTR Special Event, and Hosting Future Tournaments

Congrats to my main man Torreth on taking down MPDC Season 24 Worlds with his version of Crouching Cipher, Hidden Strings // Azorius Aggro!  His list can be found here.


His innovation was to add Azorius Arrester, which was top-notch.  I’ve been testing with ‘the law’ recently and I don’t know why I never included him.  He swings the race in your favor so effortlessly, evolves Cloudfin Raptor to 2/3, and can chump later or get in for 2-point chunks over and over again if you chain him.  Big ups and well done, sir.

I spectated the Top 8 of MPDC 24 Worlds after missing on breakers (9th that is).  I think Mono-Black is the best deck by a large margin but the 2 players wielding the black magic did not update their builds to handle white aggro.  I knew white-based aggro decks, especially ones with bestow creatures and Auramancer, can give the mono-black decks problems.  Why?  Well, the removal costs a lot (2, 3, or 4 mana) and can be countered for one mana with Gods Willing, Dispel, or Mizzium Skin.  Let’s say they do finally land a removal spell – the war ain’t over.  The enchantments just come right back with Auramancer.  Without Shrivel in the sideboard you can’t keep up with a good draw from Torreth’s deck.  Look at all the X/1s!  Mono-black is weak to flyers, too. Timely white removal like Pacifism or Last Breath can lead to their air defenses being broken up easily.

As you can glean from the Season Leaderboard – I have not had time to play MPDC in 5 weeks.  I was able to attend one week ago, but MTGO crashed and the event was cancelled. This was relevant because I missed out on the top 8 seed, which meant I did not receive a round 1 bye.  (Click the pic below to zoom in)

Season 24 MPDC Leaderboard

So going into the event I knew I would have to 3-1 or better to make Top8.  I expected a meta of Mono-White, Mono-Black, Azorius, and Mono-Red – in descending order of popularity.

I looked at all the decks I had built and didn’t like a single one.  Hence, Sunday night I came up with a brew.

Bw Control

Bw Control Pre Journey

My goal was to play something similar to the Mono-Black control deck, but I wanted more ways to deal with enchantments.  Thinking about Efro splasing red for mono-black in Standard to shore up his Esper matchup got me thinking about splashing in mono-black.  Red, green, and blue offered little help other than Naturalize and Annul, but white was a perfect fit. Four Keening Apparition main takes care of the weakness to Etheral Armor decks, which I played against twice in the swiss.

Kingpin’s Pet matches up well against Basilica Screecher and gives us incidental extorts over a long game, which gives us the edge if we are racing and doming with Merchants.

I don’t always have things to do with 3 extra mana lying around, but when I do, I prefer to extort with Scholar of Atheros – the most Civilized Scholar in the Multiverse.

Celestial Flare + Devour Flesh both dodge God’s Willing and Mizzium Skin.  Once you show the opponent the first Celestial Flare a good player will tend to play around another one if you represent it.  Running the bluff can buy some time to draw into Read the Bones or Gray Merchants to seal the game.

The sideboard lets us go up to 7 total enchantment removal spells with Revoke Existence.  I believe I diversified my removal with 2 Revoke and 1 Ray of Dissolution in the event but the list I included is my updated pre-journey build.   The point is, we do not want to lose to Ethereal Armor!

Pacifism is fantastic at dealing with Perilous Shadow, fast aggro decks that aren’t white, and other difficult to kill creatures.  I don’t like it against black devotion but it is pretty good against Servant of Tymaret and Deathgaze Cockatrice, too.

Tithe Drinker helps against the fast red/burn decks.

Now that Journey into Nyx is out – here is the updated Bw Control build I’ve been running.

Bw Control with Journey into Nyx

The only card I like from Journey into Nyx for this deck is Font of Return.  It provides more value that March from the Returned and Midnight Recovery – the extra mana cost is not super relevant since our deck is able to slow most games down to a snail’s pace.  We like it grindy.

My MPDC Season 24 Worlds Tournament Report

Round 1:  Opponent playing Mono-Red Aggro slams a strived Rouse the Mob on turn 5. I call a judge.  Opponent gets a match loss and is asked to replace all Journey into Nyx cards with basic lands.

I was typing out – “hey, wanna play it out for fun anyway,” when he decided to concede.  I was legitimately interested in playing with my deck since I had tested literal 0 games with it.  Instead, my opponent drops from the event, and my tiebreakers are destroyed.  Maybe if he was allowed to replace the Journey cards with any legal card, not just basic land, then he might have stuck it out.


Round 2:  I get what is likely my worst match-up in the whole event, Esper Control.  VGFactor88 is the only player on Esper.  His list can be found here.

My deck is so slow that it gives him all the time in the world to set up.  His deck is geared for the late game more than mine and he beats me in a close, but not really close, 3 games.


Round 3:  Another insanely fast Boros Aggro deck.  Boros Auras with Ethereal Armor to be precise.  Keening Apparition, heard of ’em?  aka MVP-sauce.  My mono-black build would have been run-over by the combination of any creature + Madcap Skills + Ethereal Armor without the Ghost that keenly hexes all the enchantments.


Round 4:  Classic Mono-Black Devotion.  He is favored in game 1 due to Pharika’s cure giving him the edge on life while none of my extorters can survive the early game to get extorty value.  I lose game 1 pretty easily.

Games 2 and 3 I drew more Read the Bones than him.  The pseudo-mirror feels like it comes down to that (and timing of Disciple of Phenax thoughtseizing key spells).  Despite getting luckier, I had an interesting spot in game 3 where I scryed mulitple good spells like Devour Flesh and Celestial Flare to the bottom because the only card I really wanted to hit was Gray Merchant of Asphodel to put the game away.  Three merchants later and we got there!  Time for dat top 8!


Swiss Standings

Dang nab it.  Aside from the same Esper deck that I was a dog to –  I was well positioned against the 4 white aggro decks, close to even against the 2 mono-black decks, and I have no idea about the BWR control deck.  I have only played against it once in the past when I was on BUG Defenders, and that was super easy.  The tiebreakers and lack of a round 1 bye got me.  Next time I guess.

Shards of Alara Block + Return to Ravnica Block

I have barely tested these decks, but I wanted to show as many people as possible to hopefully inspire some people to brew.  While I consider myself a purely limited player, there’s something about the simplicity of Pauper formats that inspires the deckbuilder in me.

I have no idea which one of these is the best because I don’t know what I’m going to be playing against.  But if I had to rank them, it would go:

1)  Jund


2) Rakdos


3) Esper


4) Azorius


5) Dimir


Don’t ask me to make a list with the “Gold Rule.”  Those decks are just asking to get stomped.  While it’s technically possible to make a playable list with only gold cards, I think it’s too restrictive for no benefit.  You can conclude then that I do not value a random pack of Journey into Nyx as an incentive for me to limit my cardpool when I don’t have to.

Hosting Standard Pauper Events

In a few weeks I will be moving into a condo that I just bought.  My roommate will be Chris Davis, an L2 Judge that works at the Channel Fireball Game Center in San Jose, CA.  He is an excellent player and he knows how to run tournaments.

My goal is to get him to teach me how to use the software to be like Gwyned and run my own tournaments.  I would like to get MTGOTraders and/or Channel Fireball to sponsor the weekly tournament series.

Stay tuned for more info on that.  I hope to run them at a family friendly time for myself and other Americans.  This basically means Sunday in the late morning or early afternoon (Noon +/- a few hours, PST).  Let me know if you have feedback on potential changes to the current system Gwyned has adopted or just new ideas on how you would like a player run event (PRE) to be run.  If people are happy with the current system then that is what I will emulate. Thanks!

Follow me on Twitter @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog