GP DC Deck(s) Tech(s)

Day 1 Sealed Pool: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/gp-dc-day-1-sealed-pool/

Determining that I was going to be Black/Red was the easy part here. There wasn’t a whole lot of hemming and hawwing about what other colors or color combo I should play. There were playable cards in other colors, but I felt that no other color combination was as deep as Black/Red. Having the trio of Underworld Cerberus, Agent of the Fates, and King Macar was a create focus for my deck. The Akroan Conscripter and two Line Breakers made me lean more towards heroic. This caused me to play Cruel Feeding and Nyxborn Rollicker main deck when I would usually just take them out for a strong piece of removal (Spiteful Blow).

The most interesting decisions I had to make about the deck were which pieces of removal to play. I mained Sip of Hemlock over Spiteful Blow because I felt that getting the two extra damage in was more important than destroying the land. Magma Jet was an easy decision. Starfall was chosen because it is instant speed and the occasional upside of three damage to your opponent is great when I am trying to kill them fast. There were many games where I would take out Starfall for Spark Jolt (which has the side use of a heroic activator) or Nyx Infusion against the red/white/blue decks with early vulnerable creatures that I want dead before my fifth land. I think my biggest mistake with this deck was not maindecking Spireful Blow. By the end of the day I was usually taking out Bronze Sable for Spiteful blow and I think I should have had that since registration. At the very least I think taking out Starfall for Spiteful Blow maindeck would have been a good choice. I already had 5 drops to play and the hard removal (and occasional upside of screwing them out of a color)  would have been much appreciated.

All in all I was pretty happy with the deck. Underworld Cerebus is a rough creature to deal with, even more so when you can back it up with removal. I stole a couple games from multiple activations of Line Breaker in a single turn. Every game where I got to untap my King Macar I won.

 

Day 2, Draft 1: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/gp-dc-day-2-1st-draft/

This deck was easily my favorite deck of the tournament. The draft started and I look at my rare. Skyblind. I must resist all my terrible urges to pass it up for a Pin to the Earth. The pack was not particularly strong so I took a safe pick. Pick 2 was the Doomwake Giant and pick 3 was a second Pin to the Earth. Even though I was 3 cards in, I started seeing a deck come together. Pick 4 was the Sigiled Starfish. I have played against it plenty of times and have heard great things about it, but this was my first time actually getting to play with the Starfish and man was I impressed. I took a middle-to-late end of the pack Rise of the Eagles based on recommendations (mainly Jason’s) more than anything. The double constellation trigger was very relevant in my deck. The turn where I got to curve Doomwake Giant into Rise of the Eagles was pretty unbelievable. Coming out of Journey into Nyx I felt like I had a good start on a blue/black control deck and I was getting some good elements late enough that I felt I was in the right color for it.

Born of the Gods was a much rougher pack for me. Servant of Tymaret was the first pick, which I was happy to include. The late (6th or 7th) pick Siren of the Silent Song help reinforce my confidence in my color pair. The first Vortex Elemental was a second pick. As a one drop, I really love this card. If you play it turn one and don’t have a followup play for a turn or two, he provider early protection against ordeal starts or other early aggressive creatures. Later in the game he can be excellent removal. The second one (8th pick) was probably the best think to happen to me in the Born of the Gods pack. I was really hoping to get a Retraction Helix or Sudden Storm out of the pack, but the only time I saw either (in the same pack!) I picked the Siren of the Silent Song. Flitterstep Eidolon is not a card I like very much. As a 2 drop it is miserable. I maindecked it because it activated constellation and as a late draw it could bestow onto one of my fatties to get through a stalled board state. Having said that, I found myself taking it out in many games.

Theros, like in most of the THS block drafts I have done, was really the saving grace of my deck. My rare in the pack was Bident of Thassa, which was in contention for the pick until I saw the Shipwreck Singer. The entire draft all I am envisioning is a Shipwreck Singer in the Theros pack. That card is truly unbeatable in the late game. Pick 2 was a Shipbreaker Kraken. Shipbreaker Kraken filled the role of a strong finisher or stabilizer in the late game. Few cards can do it as good as him. About a third of the way through THS I realized that my deck was pretty light on removal. I proceeded to prioritize the Lash of the Whips. Not the ideal removal, but it was what I had at my disposal. When I got the second Shipwreck Singer 7th pick, I was feeling pretty good about my deck.

Round 1 was against a Red/White deck (probably the single most popular archetype all weekend). He had a Iroas, but his creatures were mostly 3 drop minotaurs instead of 2 drop humans, which gave me a much greater chance against his deck. The highlight of the match was Lashing his Iroas after attackers were declared to set up a very favorable combat.

Round 2 was against a Jund deck that never really took off against me. He seemed to be trying to build a Market Festival deck, but got lost along the way.

Round 3 was against B/W aggro, which I would normally be happy against. A couple poor mulligan choices on my part and a couple double Loyal Pegasus into Dictate of Heliod starts for my opponent cost me the round.

Day 2, Draft 2: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/day-2-gp-dc-draft-deck-2/

I started this draft off with a controversial choice. My rare was Launch the Fleets which was an immediate front runner for the pick. There was also an Oreskos Swiftclaw, Phalanx Formation, and Akroan Mastiff in the pack. This made me a bit apprehensive to take a white card and would rather have my opponents fight it out. I shifted my attention to the more reliable Ravenous Leucrocota. It was the only good green card in the pack and this card is just a work horse. It defends well, attacks well, and wears bestow like a boss. So after a bit of thinking my pick was the green card. Pick 2 was another controversial pick, the Swarmborn Giant. Sometimes he is unplayable, sometimes he is a 4 mana 6/6. Picking him up early allowed me to consider that in my later draft picks and built a deck better at keeping the giant alive. The most important pick of the pack was pick 5. I had the choice between Nyx Weaver or the Fleetfeather Cockatrice. Both are excellent cards and cards I could even splash for with my first four picks being in green. I took the Nyx Weaver because I felt that passing a Feast of Dreams 2nd may be interpreted as a signal to the player to my left. I also think that Green/Blue is the stronger deck and ultimately one I am much more comfortable in. Triton Cavalry is a card that I was very glad I picked. Like the Leucrocota it wears bestow nicely with the upside of possibly bouncing an opponent’s blocker the turn you bestow it. The 4 toughness means it wore my Spirespine really well and a Triton Cavalry into Spirespine curve occurred multiple times.

Born of the Gods was a really rough pack for me. A first pick Aerie Worshippers, a second pick Kiora’s Follower, and a third pick Graverobber Spider gave me high hopes for the pack. Little did I know that the player to my left changed colors into Blue/Green at this point, taking a Kiora and a second Kiora’s Follower that I would have loved to have had. Crypsis was a card that over performed for me in this deck. Again, a card frequently cast against me and rarely cast by me, I learn some valuable lessons much too late.

Going into Theros all I want are the trio of Green commons, Nessian Asp, Voyaging Satyr, and Leafcrown Dryad. My first pack has a Master of Waves which I briefly consider, before picking the Voyaging Satyr. The second pick is another Voyaging Satyr. The third pick is a Nessian Asp (which I picked over Leafcrown Dryad, start debate now). The other big pick-up for me was a sixth pick Sea God’s Revenge. Already a huge fan of this card, my deck is the type of deck that can take most advantage of bouncing my opponents creatures. Usually not as a defensive move, but as a way to remove all their blocks for a game winning attack. While not as confident in this deck as I was my first draft deck, I still felt like I had a good shot.

Round 1 was against Red/White. He played out strong cards (Wingsteed Rider, Dawnbringer Chariotiers, Supply Line Cranes) but my reach creatures and fliers of my own could tussle with them. Highlights of the game include 2-for-1ing him with a Savage Surge on an Aerie Worshippers and activating to kill an attacking Cyclops and Wingsteed Rider. Later in the game I killed his Dawnbringer Charioteers by flashing in the Cockatrice and Crypsising it when he tried to keep it from blocking with a Fearsome Temper activation. Game 2 I Sea God’s him for the win.

Round 2 was against another Red/White deck. Both of the R/W decks in this draft (that I saw) were too slow to deal with my fatties. My 2/4s on turn 3 held off his attacks and from there it was a matter of mopping them up.

Round 3 was against another Blue/Green deck. This was the player to my left who shifted into Blue/Green into Born of the Gods. Our decks played similar and he was a good player no doubt. The final game was determined by him being able to Retraction Helix away my asp and attacking in the air for the win. If I had drawn a land the turn before I could have Sea God’s for the win, so it was a nail-bitter all the way through.

 

I was happy with both of my draft decks. I had some performance anxiety going into the draft, fearing I would end up in some terrible three color gimmick or that I wouldn’t be able to overcome my urge to take the build-around-me-uncommon early. I was happy with my drafts, I should have valued removal a bit higher I think. Either way, let me know what you think.

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Card-by-card updates in the pP Cube

This weekend I made some card-by-card changes to the pP cube. This post will describe my thinking besides some of those changes.

Out: Ghoulcaller’s Bell
In: Relic of Progenitus

Ghoulcaller’s Bell was in the cube originally to provide reusable mill. It also provided the sometimes upside of milling yourself. It was mostly redundant with Jace’s Erasure. It is vulnerable to just about as much removal as Erasure. At the core, Erasure is a better fit in the decks that want it (since they will want to be drawing cards anyway, which could result it more than one mill in a turn) while there is virtually no deck that could capitalize on milling yourself and milling your opponent. Plus, there are many better artifacts to include. Relic of Progenitus is an excellent sideboard card. Reanimation effects can be very strong in the cube and this artifact can help keep them in check. The cube has a lot of flashback cards and self-mill strategies are relevant. Tortured Existence is being brought into the cube and Relic might be necessary to keep that card in check.

Out: Bladed Pinions
In: Viridian Longbow

Bladed Pinions suffers from not granting an increase to power. In the artifact deck, many of the strongest threats already have evasion. The 2 to cast and 2 to equip is too expensive to really fit into an aggressive U/W deck. Viridian Longbow is a much better piece of equipment. 1 to cast allows it to be a turn 1 play in decks that don’t have them. The three to equip is expensive, but the effect is pretty great. As I’ve mentioned before, there are many creatures with toughness 1 in the cube. After you have killed all toughness 1 creatures, your creature can start pinging players.

Out: Arcbound Wanderer
In: Sliver Construct

Arcbound Wanderer was originally included to help encourage domain decks. While 6 mana for a 5/5 might be a good deal, it would be very difficult for that deck to capitalize on the Modular. I doubt it could see play in any other deck and in other decks it could rarely hope to be more than a 6 mana 2/2. For this reason, I took it out in place of Sliver Construct. Like Arcbound Wanderer, Sliver Construct excels in a particular deck (Slivers), but is much more playable in decks beyond the Sliver deck. I chose Sliver Construct because it is a more reliable card than Metallic Sliver and fits into the Sliver curve better than Venser’s Sliver.

Out: Arcbound Bruiser
In: Scuttlemutt

As a 5 mana 3/3, Arcbound Bruiser is very unexciting in the cube. As said about Arcbound Wanderer, the artifact deck would find it difficult to capitalize on the modular of a such an expensive creature. Arcbound Worker and Stinger are much more aggressively costed. Scuttlemutt is a much more versatile card. It acts as somewhat of a mana-rock. A 2/2 is a fine body. Not to be overlooked is the ability to change a creature’s color. This helps protect your creatures from Doom Blade, Terror, Snuff Out, among other spells.

Out: Deathcult Rogue
In: Carnophage

Deathcult Rogue was taken out for a few reasons. As a hybrid card, it was taking up space in the U/B section of the cube that it had no place in. Most of the time it is a 2/2 unblockable, so as an evasive creature, it did its job well. However, finding evasion in U/B is not particularly difficult. Carnophage was included to encourage more aggressive black decks. The Zombie creature type is relevant. Black was also more lacking in playable one drops than black or blue in three drops.

Out: Spread the Sickness
In: Death Denied

Spread the Sickness was taken out for the reasons mentioned in the article about B/G Infect. There is already plenty of removal in the cube, so instead of replacing Spread the Sickness with removal, I opted for a return-from-graveyard spell which the cube did not have many of. The cube did have graveyard recursion, but that was mostly tacked onto creatures like Gravedigger, Ghoul Raiser, and Desecrator Hag. There was some Zombie graveyard recursion with Cruel Revival and Ghoulcaller’s Chant. As far as spells go, there are about four that are most commonly used in cubes. Death’s Duet is the most simple of them and the cheapest way to get its effect. Font of Return grabs more creatures, but costs more, usually over the course of two turns. Urborg Uprising was the most appealing of the spells I did not use. For five mana you get two creatures back and replace the card. While five mana is a lot, the card is nothing but value. The higher mana cost was fine by me, since the more aggressive decks already have creature based recursion. I wanted a graveyard recursion option for more controlling decks who use it to get back creatures it has traded off through the course of the game. This is why I decided on Death Denied. For the same cost of Urborg Uprising, you could return three creatures to your hand, at a smaller total mana expense then Font of Return. The upside of getting more creatures back later in the game helped Death Denied get included over Urborg Uprising.

Out: Quag Sickness
In: Liliana’s Specter

Both of these cards belong in the mono-black archetype. Quag Sickness, while decent removal in M14 limited, does not hold a candle to most of the removal in the cube, which is already plentiful. Liliana’s Specter provides some discard which black does not have in abundance in the current iteration of the cube. The two black mana symbols help get devotion up for Gray Merchant and the two power flying body makes for a good evasive attacker. The one toughness keeps the card from being too dominant, while the three CMC helps make it a great package deal.

Out: Shivan Zombie
In: Vengeful Dead

Agonizing Demise was moved to the Rakdos section of the cube, replacing Shivan Zombie. In the place that Agonizing Demise left I brought in Vengeful Dead. For a cube with a Zombie archetype, I don’t know why it took so long for me to include this in the deck. Vengeful Dead is exactly what the archetype is looking for. Much like Carnage Gladiator in Dragon’s Maze, this card deincentivizes what your opponent needs to do to survive an aggressive zombie assault. Combined with the graveyard recursion in zombies, Vengeul Dead can be a great asset to the deck. Shepherd of Rot is a creature that I am currently considering including. The only reason I am apprehensive is because of cards like Carnophage, Sangrophage, and Zombie Cutthroat that cost you life already and that make Shepherd of Rot a dicey inclusion.

Out: Jhessian Zombies
In: Viscera Dragger

Like Deathcult Rogue, Jhessian Zombies just did not cut it in the Blue/Black section of the cube. Viscera Dragger is a good replacement. It can cycle, if the creature is not relevant. It has a cheap Unearth cost, which can allow it to be part of a game winning attack or as a way to force some extra damage earlier. Zombie is a relevant creature type. All in all, a 4 mana for a 3/3 in black is not a terrible creature, even without all its benefits.

Out: Desecrator Hag
In: Llanowar Dead

Desecrator Hag was the worse of the gravedigger effects in the cube. The fact that it does not always allow you to choose the creature you want is a serious strike against it. Llanowar Dead fit well into the B/G midrange decks that are commonly drafted. As a 2 mana 2/2 it can be a beater early in the game or ramp as a mana producer. The bottom line is that the common B/G multicolor/off-color cards are not that spectacular and Llanowar Dead has a more unique ability than Desecrator Hag.

Out: Goblin Outlander
In: Strangling Soot

Goblin Outlander was mostly a difficult to cast goblin in a deck where not being able to cast two drops can quickly lose you the game. To replace the creature, I brought in another excellent R/B removal spell, Strangling Soot. It can kill virtually any creature in an aggressive deck and can do that twice. Strangling Soot can help remove blockers for an aggressive deck OR kill aggressive creatures in a R/B control deck.

Out: Soul Link
In: Purge the Profane

The B/W section of the cube was surprisingly hard to fill after the extort creatures and removal, there was not much else. Soul Link is not an impressive enchantment and suffers from all the problems that auras do. Purge the Profane fits much better into the B/W attrition deck. Having said that, the next time they print some B/W cards at common, I am going to be looking to replace this.

Out: Carrion Thrash
In: Jund Hackblade

Three color cards are always difficult to pull off in the cube. Each Shard only have four cards available to it, five if you consider the Resounding cycle eligible. The Sojourners cycle has cards of varying quality. The resounding cycle is mostly not cubable. The blade cycle is more appealing since it has hybrid costs and the cube already plays a certain amount of multi-colored creatures. Carrion Thrash was orignally included since it fit well into the Jund sac deck, being a good creature to sacrifice itself and allowing you to get another creature back in the process. For five mana, the 4/4 body is nothing to write home about and making it die can be difficult. Jund Hackblade helps replace some of the Red/Black creatures that I had moved out of the cube. It can be a second Goblin Deathraiders and Goblin is a great creature type to be.

Out: Birchlore Rangers
In: Elvish Aberration

Birchlore Rangers and Nettle Sentinels form a great combo in pauper Elves and their inclusion in the cube was help resemble that part of the deck. Unfortunately, a since Birchlore Rangers and a single Nettle Sentinel do not form a great combo. Elvish Aberration is a recent shift to common. Forestcycling makes the six drop relevant in the early game. Tapping for three can help boost the strength of X spells or power out expensive creatures like Ulamog’s Crusher. The 4/5 body is also much larger than most creatures and can help stop most ground assaults.

Out: Chatter of the Squirrel
In: Imperiosaur

Chatter of the Squirrel was part of the Naya army deck. I have decided to shift that type of deck more towards white. Of the three colors, Green has the least ability to capitalize on multiple creature tokens so I decided to shift some of the token generating cards into more traditional green beaters like Imperiosaur. While you can’t ramp it out with mana elves, a 5/5 for four is still a great deal. Many of the other green creatures around that point in the curve are only four power, so Imperiosaur truely reigns in its slot.

Out: Pistus Strike
In: Mutagenic Growth

In the B/G Infect post I mentioned why I will be removing Pistus Strike and why I will be adding Mutagenic Growth.

Out: Scatter the Seeds
In: Primal Huntbeast

Scatter the Seeds was another card that was part of the Naya army archetype. I replaced it here with Primal Huntbeast. The G/W auras deck could use a creature with more power and toughness that is not a bad draw later in the game. Outside of that archetype, a 3/3 Hexproof is a very durable creature.

Out: Treetop Scout
In: Quirion Ranger

Treetop Scout was included as an evasive early drop for the G/W Auras deck, but without hexproof it was mostly a vulnerable creature. The other deck it was considered for was Elves, as a good target for a big Timberwatch Elf. The fact of the matter is that if you have enough elves for a big Timberwatch pump, you can usually attach with enough elves to force through one that you can pump. In the elf deck, Quirion ranger can put in more work, with the idea untap targets being Priest of Titania or Timberwatch Elf. You can use its ability to activate the landfall on Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede indefinitely. You can also do the Kor Skyfisher trick of tapping the land for mana, returning the land, playing it again and tapping for mana. At the least, it can be used to give one of your creatures psuedo-vigilance.

Out: Vitalize
In: Wickerbough Elder

Vitalize is a card whose potential was never realized in the cube. Perhaps one day I may bring it in, since it fits the hard to fill slot of ‘Green spell that is not pump, ramp, or artifact/enchantment destruction.’ I brought in Wickerbough Elder for a few reasons. A) The cube needs more creatures in general, so bringing in a creature over a spell was a goal. B) It fills the roll of being a large creature while also destroying artifacts/enchantments. C) If its good enough for the MTGO Cube, it is good enough for the pP Cube.

Out: Leonin Armorguard
In: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi

Leonin Armorguard was another card that was supporting the Naya army archetype that was being removed in this iteration of the cube. I brought in Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. While at eight mana it is not the most efficiently costed creature, it is hard to argue with its stats. As a 4/7, it can block any creature in the cube on the ground besides Ulamog’s Crusher and Ruination Wurm. Most of the creatures it blocks it will kill. The thing that really distinguishes Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is its Vigilance, which allows it to use its 4 power body to great effect. Of course the downside is not being able to block fliers, but there are enough spiders in the cube that G/W has plenty of options for that. Another nice advantage of Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is that it blocks Guard of the Guildpact profitably.

Out: Rhox Bodyguard
In: Ray of Revelation

Rhox Bodyguard did a lot of things I liked. It had exalted, it gained some life when it came in. A 2/3 is a fine body for the cube. But at five mana across two colors, its casting cost did not warrant what you got from the card. Ray of Revelation was brought in because I love flashback.

Out: Thatcher Revolt
In: Assault Strobe

Thatcher Revolt is too expensive for its effect. Perhaps if you kept the tokens the card would be playable, but most decks would be able to block any damage Thatcher Revolt would do. To capitalize on the number of attacking creatures you would need to cast a Fortify or Trumpet Blast, which puts you at seven mana for the turn, well outside of a desirable situation for an aggressive red deck. Assault Strobe came in to help the Kiln Fiend deck and any other red deck with evasive creatures.

Out: Icefall
In: Dead // Gone

In many non-pauper cubes, land destruction is an important part of the aggressive red strategy. Unfortunately, the quality of land destruction at common is pretty terrible. I have decided to stop chasing that dragon and removed the mediocre LD from the cube. In its place I bought in the only common split card, Dead // Gone. Dead is a perfectly fine card on its own. Combined with the effect of Gone, which is an effect that red never gets, Dead // Gone is a versatile red card.

Out: Seismic Strike
In: Flaring Pain

Seismic Strike (while probably the best of the LD spells) is out for the same reasons that Icefall is out. Flaring Pain is in because it is an interesting sideboard card. Some of Flaring Pain’s uses in the cube include dealing damage to a Guardian of the Guildpact or negating the effects of Moment’s Peace or Haze Frog. It is also great against Prismatic Strands, which is currently on the cube’s shortlist.

Out: Caterwauling Boggart
In: Goblin Sledder

Caterwauling Boggart was simply too slow for the goblin deck. While the effect was quite nice, four mana for a 2/2 goblin was not good enough. Goblin Sledder on the other hand, it hyper aggressive.It makes good use of Dragon Fodder and Krenko’s Command tokens. A staple of pauper goblin decks, the only reason it is in the cube over Mogg raider is because I have a foil version of it. I may soon add Mogg Raider to the cube if the deck needs more redundancy.

Out: Spark Elemental
In: Rukh Egg

Spark Elemental is just not as good as I thought it was. Simple as that. Rukh Egg, on the other hand, is way awesome. It fits well into the Jund sac deck and is also a good finisher for a controlling red deck. A 4/4 flier is about as big a flier as one can get at common and as close to a dragon as red is going to get at common.

Out: Fire Elemental
In: Stingscourger

This was not a good update for elementals apparently. Fire Elemental is a fine five drop, but fine dosen’t cut it. For large red creatures, one can look to R/G. Five is a bit too much for an aggressive deck and a 5/4 is not big enough for the ramping red decks. Stingscourger fits nicely into the goblin deck. Its ETB effect can get a blocker out of the way and it can be sac’ed for various effects if you don’t plan on paying the echo cost.

Out: Arc Runner
In: Suq’ata Lancer

Arc Runner and Suq’ata Lancer fill similar roles, but excel in different situations. An Arc Runner onto a board with no blockers is a cheap lava axe, but as soon as your opponent has any block, it decreases in quality considerable. A Youthful Knight is an Arc Runner’s worst enemy. On the other hand, a Suq’ata Lancer onto an empty board does not do a whole bunch of damage. On the other hand, a Suq’ata Lancer can be very difficult to block, particularly in a cube filled with 1 toughness creatures. All in all, I felt that the Suq’ata Lancer was more useful in more situations and is a better inclusion.

Out: Colossal Might
In: Ancient Grudge

Colossal Might was included to add some variety and combat tricks to the cube. Since the first iteration of the cube, many more combat tricks have been added so Colossal Might does need to fill that void. The decks that would play Colossal Might usually don’t need help getting past opposing creatures anyway. Ancient Grudge is an excellent sideboard card in pretty much every format that it is legal. Red was lacking a simple shatter-esque effect and Ancient Grudge is a great way to help fill that void.

Out: Mindsculpt
In: Artful Dodge

Mindsculpt is not the type of milling card that the cube needs anymore, so it was a pretty easy cut. Artful Dodge is include since blue lack and evasion-granting spell. It also fits well into the R/U stormish decks.

Out: Induce Paranoia
In: Force Spike

Induce Paranoia is out following the adjustments to the U/B deck. I wanted to replace it with a counter-spell, but one that was not restricted in its target. Force Spike seemed like a fine counterspell to bring in.

Out: Drowner Initiate
In: Man-o-War

Drowner Initiate is out because of the adjustments to the U/B deck. Man-o-War is a card that I have been trying to find the space for for a while. Not much needs to be said for this cube staple.

Out: Merfolk Mesmerist
In: Spellstutter Sprite

Merfolk Mesmerist was too similar to Vedalken Entrancer, a card that does not need many copies in the cube. Spellstutter Sprite is a staple of the mono-blue Delver decks in Pauper. While not as strong in cube since it lacks the redundancy it has in constructed, there are still faeries in the cube, including Pestermite, Cloud of Faeries, Faerie Invaders, and Sentinels of Glen Elendra. Even a Spellstutter Sprite onto an empty board may nab a relevant spell (ideally a Lightning Bolt or another counterspell).

Out: Voyage’s End
In: Vapor Snag

This was a very easy swap. The Scry 1 that Voyage’s End has is not work the extra mana. The life loss is mostly an upside for Vapor Snag, even though there are some moments when you want to unsummon your own creature.

Out: Steel of the Godhead
In: Dismantling Blow

Steel of the Godhead was included for the Hexproof deck, where the deck would not be able to capitalize on the unblockable half of the aura. So where as Steel of the Godhead would rarely get the full effect of the spell, many people who bring Dismantling Blow in post-board will be impressed at how much this card rocks. It can help control and early artifact or enchantment that is dominating (Bonesplitter or Armadillo Cloak), while casting it late in the game can really shift the momentum, particularly if you can use it in combat to kill an opponent’s creature.

Out: Hindering Light
In: Glassdust Hulk

Hindering Light was rarely more than a difficult to cast and situational counterspell.  These two downsides spelled doom for Hindering Light. Glassdust Hulk works as a great finisher in the U/W artifact deck. With a critical mass of artifacts,  this guy can attack as a 4 power unblockable creature to finish out an opponents life total, that is ideally low thanks to an aggressive start. Perhaps you are playing Glassdust Hulk in a deck without many artifacts or you are searching for an early land, the 1 mana cycling helps make this card an allstar early and late in the game.

Out: Moment of Silence
In: Apostle’s Blessing

Fog effects by themselves are not very good. While Moment’s Peace has flashback and Haze Frog makes a creature, Moment of Silence is just a fog. Apostle’s Blessing is a much higher pick and will see play in more decks thanks to the Phyrexian mana cost. Traditionally in Pauper, Apostle’s Blessing is used in aggressive decks to provide evasion. Here it will serve that role in Infect and U/R.

Out: Congregate
In: Attended Knight

Life gain for the sake of life gain (even when it is as much as Congregate can be) is not a great use of a card. It made sense swapping out Congregate for a more aggressive creature, like Attended Knight. For 3 mana you get three power and toughness across two creatures. Even better, two of that power has first strike.

Out: Ronom Unicorn
In: Coalition Honor Guard

I was already running three versions of Kami of Ancient Law, so cutting back seemed fine. As this post has shown, I brought in plenty of enchantment removal in this update so cutting down on Kamis of Ancient Law is fine. Coalition Honor Guard is a card I had overlooked previously, but comes highly recommended by Pauper Cube enthusiasts. The more you look at the card the more you realize its potential. Casting one of these protects your creatures from almost all forms of Blue, White, and Red removal. Black and Green must use their previous removal spells to kill the honor guard before using a spell on the creature they wanted to kill in the first place. All this on a 2/4 body for 4 makes Coalition Honor Guard a card that I will be watching closely.

Out: Soul Warden
In: Custodi Squire

I talked about my eagerness to cut Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant in the post about White 1 drops. Finding another white 1 drop to replace it was difficult, so I instead went in the other direction and went with Custodi Squire, a new pauper cube staple. The 3/3 flying body is a great threat and the added upside of returning a creature/enchantment/artifact makes Custodi Squire one of the quality white finishers.

Out: Angelic Renewal
In: Empyrial Armor

Angelic Renewal is an interesting enchantment. It works like a flicker, but one you can only use on a creature as it dies. While creative deck builders would take advantage of this by using flicker effects, spending two mana to deploy an enchantment that could be destroyed before effecting the game is not an appealing prospect. Empyrial Armor is a heinous common. One of the few commons deemed so format warping that it had to become an uncommon in Vintage Masters, Empyrial Armor is a great way to give your hexproof auras deck some much needed power.

Out: Keening Apparition
In: Kor Sanctifiers

Keening Apparition was taken out for the same reason that Ronom Unicorn was taken out. Kor Sanctifiers was brought in because it fills the same role as a creature that can destroy an enchantment, but it also can destroy artifacts. Plus the 2/3 body is a much better blocker.

Out: Wall of Glare
In: Loyal Cathar

A defender without power (even one that can block any number of creatures) doesn’t do a whole lot to halt a dedicated attack. Loyal Cathar can block and if it dies will come back as a decent aggressive creature. The only deck that really wanted Wall of Glare was the B/W drain deck, but that deck already has plenty of early drops to help defend from aggressive decks. Loyal Cathar fits better into the aggressive decks that most white decks end up being.

Out: Soul’s Attendant
In: Troubled Healer

As mentioned in the White 1 drop post, I was eager to replace Soul’s Attendant. Troubled Healer is another card that comes highly recommended by the pauper cube community and one that is untested in my cube. Unlike Coalition Honor Guard, whose upside become apparent quickly, Troubled Healer is a card I still haven’t figured out yet. Perhaps I will need to play with it first to uncover how strong it is.

 

 

B/G Infect in the pP Cube

One of the newest additions to the cube is the B/G Infect deck. When I decided to add the archetype I took inspiration from the infect decks in Pauper. Most of the pauper decks were mono-green decks but I needed infect to fill the B/G void left by the madness deck. With many common options for the infect deck, black was the logical choice. Both Green and Black were lacking aggressive decks and infect lended itself to a very aggressive strategy.

Creatures
Glistener Elf: The be all end all of the infect. As a one drop, this one drop makes turn two kills possible, albeit with a very specific selection of spells. Glistener Elf was an obvious inclusion.
Blight Mamba: The second best thing to Glistener Elf. Its regeneration makes him a more appealing target for auras.
Cystbearer: To have the redundancy needed to be a viable deck in the cube, a certain level of creatures with infect is needed. As a 3 drop the creature is not ideal for an aggressive strategy, but it will do in a pinch. It also can block well against aggressive decks, even in non infect decks.
Contagious Nym: Mainly included as a way to increase the overall infect count in the cube, it is also a Zombie.
Plague Stinger: A 1/1 body is not impressive, but the built-in evasion immensely helps infect against green decks with large creatures on the ground but without anyway to block the air.
Blackcleave Goblin: Definitely the weakest of the infect creatures. The addition of haste is not irrelevant and may sometimes allow you to steal a poison win in a race.
Ichorclaw Myr: The one power may not seem like much, but its ability give it good pseudo-evasion. There are not many creatures that can block a 3/3 infect and remain relevant, let alone survive.
Llanowar Augur: While this creature does not have infect, I have seen many pauper decks run Llanowar Augur as another pump spell, but one that grants trample. I have no decided if I want to include the augur or not, but it is a card I have my eye on.

 

Pump Spells
Giant Growth: Giant Growth is the classic pump spells. One mana for +3/+3 is very efficient and goes in many decks beyond the infect deck.
Groundswell: If +3/+3 is good,  then how about +4/+4? In the infect deck, groundswell is ideally a turn three or four play, when you should still be hitting your lands, so getting to +4/+4 is not unreasonable.
Vines of Vastwood: VoV is a common card used in infect and green stompy decks. The +4/+4 for two mana is relevant, but the main use of this card is for the hexproof. It can be a nasty surprise for a deck that is hoping to kill your attacking creature.
Invigorate: In a non-infect deck, Invigorate is not an appealing card. While a free card, getting a net of one damage is not impressive. In Infect, the opponent’s life gain is irrelevant and the +4 power for free is HUGE. So huge, that this card is banned in constructed pauper.
Mutagenic Growth: I haven’t put Mutagenic growth into the cube yet. It is mostly a matter of finding a slot for it. A free +2/+2 is great in infect and pretty good in most other decks. In the next update I will probably bring this in. I am not sure what I will be replacing yet, but I will try to find a place.
Rancor: Already an auto-include in the cube for the G/W Auras deck, rancor does great work in the infect deck as well. The trample is very relevant here. The ability to get it back is also very important, since you may end up making some suicide attacks in the infect deck.
Consume Strength: While it doesn’t appear in many constructed decks, Consume strength works great in the cube archetype. It pumps for +2/+2 which is a lot when you are trying to get to 10. I think its biggest draw is the -2/-2 which can help get a blocker out of the way early in the game.

 

Other Cards to Consider
Scavenge creatures: Sluiceway Scorpoion, Sewer Shambler, and Drudge Beetle all become a bit better when they are scavenge onto a creature with infect (ideally one with evasion, like Plague Stringer). Cards like Grisly Salvage can help put them into the graveyard, or you can use an ability like Wild Mongrel’s to discard scavenge cards.

Equipment: Equipment like Leonin Scimitar and Bonesplitter are great in any infect based strategy.

 

Pistus Strike and Spread the Sickness: Originally I included these cards for the infect archetype. After some consideration, the slight boost these cards give is not enough to compensate for the considerable downside compared to similar cards when not used in the infect deck.

The Blue/Black deck in the pP Cube

When I first created the U/B archetype I focused on making a mill deck. U/B has become the color of milling and it seemed like an easy enough archetype that has plenty of support at common. I used many of the Dimir cards from Gatecrash as a foundation for the archetype. In the first few drafts of the cube, I did play some cards like Tome Scour and Dreadwaters which did nothing besides mill. These cards frequently went very late in the draft and even in the deck that wanted them, they were not impressive. The cards that had functions outside of pure mill (Grisly Spectacle, Psychic Strike, and Induce Paranoia) were more playable and may occasionally get use outside of a pure mill strategy, but they suffered as much worse versions of the cards they were emulating (Induce Paranoia vs Counterpsell, for example). This created poor draft experiences which I hoped to avoid. Mill also suffered from the classic problem that until you mill the last card, all of that effort was for naught. This is why repeatable draft abilities (like Vedalken Entrancer and Jace’s Erasure) were much better win cons.

To me, the really interested U/B decks that sprung up in the cube were more reanimator-ish decks that took advantage of cards like Makeshift Mauler, Stitched Drake, and Ghoulraiser. For this reason, I wanted to change the focus away from mill as a win condition to mill as a way to create resources, but I still wanted mill as a win condition to be an option for more controling decks. The obvious answer is to only have mill cards that allow you to mill yourself as well as your opponent. This allows cards like Vedalken Entrancer, Jace’s Erasure, and Merfolk Mesmerist to remain in the deck as win conditions for control decks or utility cards for self-mill decks. This also helps give Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall more of a home. In the new draft of the archetype I prioritized cards with Flashback. I already love Flashback as a mechanic and it helps provide more value for spells that are milled. Cards like Death’s Approach and Grisly Spectacle would have to go, to be replaced by better removal, or for black utility spells (since the cube already has plenty of premium removal spells).

To reflect these changes, I made the following changes:

Death’s Approach -> Removed for Tortured Existence. Tortured Existence comes highly recommended among those who Pauper Cube and exists in some fringe pauper decks. I currently don’t have any particular deck in mind for this card, but I am excited to see what is created from it.

Induce Paranoia -> Removed for Force Spike. I wanted to replace a counter spell with another counter spell that had the same range of targets, so I thought Force Spike would be a good inclusion.

Grisly Spectacle -> Eyeblight’s Ending. Both of these spells kill almost the same creatures. Eyeblight’s Ending costs one less black mana and can be tutored up with Wirewood Herald. Of all the replacements this is the most experimental.

Mind Sculpt -> Removed for Artful Dodge. I have been meaning to find a space for Artful Dodge in the cube to help the Storm-ish archetype. One with flashback only helps U/B.

Psychic Strike -> Removed for Forbidden Alchemy. Psychic Strike is removed for the aforementioned reasons. Forbidden Alchemy helps encourage the mill deck, can help dig for combo pieces in other decks, and has Flashblack.

Jhessian Zombies -> Removed for Viscera Dragger. I am a sucker for cards with many modes. I love the combination of Cycling and Unearth. Unearth plays well into the U/B self-mill.Viscera Dragger also comes highly recommended by the cube community.

Deathcult Rogue -> Removed for Carnophage. Unlike in Gatecrash, there weren’t may ways to take advantage of Deathcult Rogue’s virtual unblockability. Carnophage is a more relevant creature type and helps support a more aggressive black deck that I am trying to support.

White 1 drops in the pP Cube

White one drop creatures in the pP cube:

Akrasan Squire: Akrasan Squire has a lot of things going for it. The fact that it is a 1/1 is a bit deceptive, since it can attack as a 2/2 on turn two (or attack as a 2/2 by itself for the rest of the game, I suppose). It also remains relevant throughout the rest of the game, making your big solitary attackers even bigger. Human Soldier is a very beneficial creature type.

Hopeful Eidolon: Like the Akrasan Squire, Hopeful Eidolon is a deceptive 1/1. Except in the most dire circumstances, Hopeful Eidolon is not a one-drop. Its primary role is to provide the G/W hexproof deck with access to a Lifelinking aura (besides Armadillo cloak). The only other enchantment that can do that is Lifelink, which is downright unplayable. Having said that, Hopeful Eidolon is not a particularly strong card and could be replaced by a durable white creature with Lifelink

War Falcon: War Falcon is one of only 13 one mana 2/1s at common and one of only five that are cubeable. With 40% of White’s creatures being neither a Knight or Soldier,  it should not be too difficult to allow War Falcon to attack. The advantage that War Falcon has over Loyal Pegasus is that you can attack with War Falcon on turn two if you follow up a turn one falcon with a Knight or Soldier on the second turn. War Falcon can always block and trading your one drop for a majority of the fliers in the cube its not bad deal.

Deftblade Elite: Deftblade Elite is an odd creature. Provoke allows it to choose which creature blocks it. The most obvious implication of this is that it can target other one toughness creatures. Some good targets for this would be utility creatures like Priest of Titania (or other mana creatures), Merfolk Looter, and Prodigal Pyromancer. But what really makes this card shine is its activated ability. It can be a very expensive fog bank and be a tough blocker well into the late game, which many one drops cannot claim to be. Most interestingly, he can be part of an important attack by removing an important blocker (the opponent’s flier to let yours in, a large creature to keep one of your from being eaten, a death toucher, etc.). All of these things make Deftblade Elite of the most interesting one drops in the cube.

Gideon’s Lawkeeper: Gideon’s Lawkeeper fills the role of the tapper in the cube and a good tapper at that. For one whip mana it can keep most major threats at bay. Most of the players drafting the pP cube are fresh off the heels of Theros block limited where a card like this would be insane. A tapper plays a simple role and Gideon’s Lawkeeper does it so well that it is one of the few commons in the Magic Online cube.

Icatian Javelineers: Pinning once does not seem worth a card. After they have used their ability, Icatian Javelineers seems to be fated to chump blocking (or in a best world, assisting in a double block). The reality of the pP cube is that 40% of the creatures have toughness one and there are plenty of important creatures in those ranks (see Deftblade Elite). Against most decks, an early Icatian Javelineers can limit what your opponent plays and a late one can pick off a creature. Most of the time, Icatian Javelineers will be a two for one.

Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant: Soul Sisters is a budget modern deck and there are variation on that theme in Pauper. Unfortunately, cube is not a format that promotes the consistency that a deck like Soul Sisters thrives on. Squadron Hawk is a terrible card under the strict definition of cube rules (though I know some cubes that allow whoever drafts Squadron Hawk to have four copies). Ranger of Eos, Ajani’s Pridemate, and Serra Ascendant cannot be included in the cube. I think that the only reason I have the Soul Sisters in the cube is to remind everyone of the modern deck and because the Naya deck creatures many creature tokens. Regardless, the Soul Sisters are on the top of my to-replace list.

Sidewinder Sliver: As mentioned in the discussion of Icatian Javelineers, 40% of the creatures in the cube have 1 toughness. This one drop can almost always attack through opponent’s one (and two) drops and makes trading with your Slivers that much more difficult. There are currently no other creatures with Flanking in the cube, so the “creature without flanking” part of the reminder text is irrelevant.

Glint Hawk: In the U/W artifact deck, it should not be difficult to find an artifact to bounce. There are a handful of cards that really shine with Glint Hawk. Ancient Den and Seat of the Synod can work well with Glint Hawk. It can allow you to cast Glint Hawk for ‘free’ by replaying the Ancient Den you bounce and following it up with a two or three drop. Artifact creatures with ETB effects like Faerie Mechanist, Sanctum Gargoyle, or Ethersworn Shieldmage are good bounce targets for Glint Hawk, though by the time you have resolved one of those other cards, a 2/2 flier may not be the most relevant creature. Prophetic Prism and Serrated Arrows are create non-creature targets by either drawing another card or resetting your arrow counters.

Court Homunculus: Court Homunculus is another creature that shines in U/W artifact deck. As those who played Modern Masters know, a turn one Court Homunculus into a turn two Bonesplitter equipped means you are attacking for four, most likely before your opponent has cast a creature. Like Glint Hawk, Court Homunculus may plateau by the late game, but an early Court Homunculus can help make sure that the game never gets there.

Ardent Recruit: Ardent Recruit rounds out the U/W artifact deck’s trio of one drops. Like Court Homunculus, it can grow to a large size when a certain threshold of artifacts is met. Ardent Recruit can remain relevant longer than Court Homunculus. Similar aggressive starts are possible (using the artifact lands and cheap equipment).

Steppe Lynx: A turn 1 Steppe Lynx usually means that you will get in for four, six, or eight damage before you opponent can mount a defense. Its synergy with Kor Skyfisher is well known. The multiple land-drops are also possible with Glint Hawk and an artifact land or in green decks with rampant growth effects. Steppe Lynx, more than any of the other cards mentioned here, can be a poor draw later in the game.

Loyal Pegasus: Loyal Pegasus is another 2/1 for 1 with evasion in White. The Pegasus’s downside keeps it from attacking turn 2 most games, unlike War Falcon which can more reliably attack on turn 2. The Pegasus works better in non-white decks, that have much less access to Soldiers and Knights.

Doomed Traveler: Doomed Traveler does not fit into any particular archetype. Its main role is as a value creature. It may be able to attack for some damage early in an aggressive deck and may be able to continue attacking in the air later in the game. Human Soldier is an advantageous creature type, but the cube currently doesn’t take particular advantage of either type. Besides the Soul Sisters, Doomed Traveler is the creature I am most likely to replace on this list.

pP Cube Archetypes Part 5

Hello all,

This article is the fifth in a series where I discuss the different archetypes in my p(owerful) Pauper Cube.

The Cube:
The cube is designed to show off Magic: The Gathering’s strongest commons. The cube includes that are independently powerful (like Hymn to Tourach and Capsize) and cards that are strong because of synergies within particular decks (Spark Smith or Invigorate). Each two-color pair has a defined archetype (as do many Mono-Colors and multi-colors), many of which are based off of the strongest decks in Pauper. The pP Cube is currently a 540 card cube.

Slivers (5 Colors)
The first five-color archetype in the set is Slivers. As one might expect, the deck is all about playing as many slivers as possible. The slivers that pump power (Bonesplitter Sliver, Muscle Sliver, Predatory Sliver, Sinew Sliver) are the most important. Blue slivers help give evasion (Winged Sliver, Shadow Sliver) and Black Slivers help your slivers be more durable (Crypt Sliver, Clot Sliver). The more expensive slivers grant the team a combat related keyword (Battering Sliver, Spitting Sliver, Synchronous Sliver, Lymph Sliver). Non-sliver cards that help with this deck include fixing (Signets, Guildgates, Obelisks) and some more narrow cards (Aphetto Dredging).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Slivers:
1. Lymph Sliver
2. Homing Sliver
3. Bonesplitter Sliver

Domain (5 Colors)
The second five-color archetype in the set is Domain. The deck takes advantage of strong Domain cards (Tribal Flames, Drag Down, Worldly Counsel) and creatures who are strong depending on the diversity of lands you are playing (Wild Nacatl, Matca Riotiers). Like Slivers, fixing is very important but it tends to appear in the Domain deck as land fetching (Harrow, Rampant Growth) or as Nylea’s Presence.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Domain:
1. Nylea’s Presence
2. Tribal Flames
3. Matca Riotiers 

Mono-Black
The Mono-Black archetype in the cube is based off the mono-black deck in Pauper. It revolved around using Gray Merchant of Asphodel as a finisher. The deck requires you to prioritize your draft picks on permanents with many black mana symbols (Chittering Rats, Sangrophage, Pestilence). Focusing on black allows you to case some spells that are more black-mana intensive (Geth’s Verdict, Victim of Night, Hymn to Tourach, Sign on Blood). You can use the Chittering Rats or Pestilence to go for a more control-y deck or use cards like Sangrophage and other zombies to be more aggressive. Undying Evil allows you to re-sure your Gray Merchant and Unearth allows you to bring back some of your creatures (most annoyingly, Chittering Rats).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Mono-Black:
1. Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2. Hymn to Tourach
3. Pestilence

 

Mono-Green
The Mono-Green archetype in the cube is Elf tribal. The deck revolves around getting out as many Elves as you can into play, ideally those that can generate mana (Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Fyndhorn Elves). Lys Allana Huntmaster  is a great enabler in this deck, allowing each of your elves to bring a friend along. The two spotlight cards are Timberwatch Elf or Priest of Titania. Timberwatch allows you to create a huge creature to force in damage. Priest allows you to generate huge amounts of mana and put it into a strong finisher like Ulamog’s Crusher or Kaervek’s Torch.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Mono-Green:
1. Priest of Titania
2. Lys Allana Huntmaster
3. Timberwatch Elf

That is all for a brief overview of the archetypes. Future articles will drill down and focus on more specific parts of the cube.

pP Cube Archetypes Part 4

Hello all,

This article is the fourth in a series where I discuss the different archetypes in my p(owerful) Pauper Cube.

The Cube:
The cube is designed to show off Magic: The Gathering’s strongest commons. The cube includes that are independently powerful (like Hymn to Tourach and Capsize) and cards that are strong because of synergies within particular decks (Spark Smith or Invigorate). Each two-color pair has a defined archetype (as do many Mono-Colors and multi-colors), many of which are based off of the strongest decks in Pauper. The pP Cube is currently a 540 card cube.

Ramp (G/R):
The Red/Green archetype in the cube is a midrange ramp deck. The deck uses ramp creatures (Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic, Devoted Druid) and ramp spells (Harrow, Cultivate, Skyshroud Claim) to quickly cast some of the largest creatures in the cube (Ulamog’s Crusher, Ruination Wurm, Vulpine Goliath). The deck has access to versatile removal through red burn spells (Lightning Bolt, et all) and green artifact/enchantment destruction (Naturalize, Gleeful Sabotage, Mold Shambler), allowing it to assume a more controlling stance if necessary. Big red X spells (Kaervek’s Torch, Rolling Thunder) provide the deck with a non-creature way to win, by finish off an opponent with the large amount of mana the deck can produce.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Ramp:
1. Ulamog’s Crusher
2. Rolling Thunder
3. Devoted Druid

Bant (WUG):
The Bant deck in the cube is built around the Exalted mechanic (Akrasan Squire, Frontline Sage, Court Archers). The cube runs just about every common Exalted creature in Bant. Waveskimmer Aven is a particularly important card in this archetype. It is one of the very few exalted creatures with evasion built in. Of course, White and Blue have access to plenty of evasion creatures to benefit from your exalted creatures. Bant’s color combination allows it to have diverse answers to most threats, while exalted allows it to attack with large creatures.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Bant:
1. Qasali Pridgemage
2. Waveskimmer Aven
3. Frontline Sage

Esper (WUB)
The Esper deck in the cube is all about fliers. While not the most inspired of archetypes, the White/Blue/Black color combination has access to a huge amount of efficient fliers (Leonin Skyhunter, Esper Stormblade, Cloudfin Raptor) and removal to deal with any flying blockers that the opponent’s deck may put forward.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Esper:
1. Esper Stormblade
2. Nimbus Naiad
3. Blind Hunter

Grixis (UBR)
The Grixis deck in the cube is Zombie tribal. Black has access to many aggressive zombies (Highborn Ghoul, Sangrophage, Carrion Feeder) and ways to bring those zombies back (Ghoulraiser, Cruel Revival, Ghoulcaller’s Chant). If you are content with leaving those zombies in the graveyard, you will be able to play the larger, graveyard eating Blue zombies from Innistrad (Stitched Drake, Makeshift Mauler, Headless Skaab). Red gives the deck access to cheap damage-based removal, but also access to two good multi-colored zombies (Shivan Zombie, Lava Zombie). The best finishers for Zombies are all black (Twisted Abomination, Gempalm Polluter, Gray Merchant of Asphodel), which means you will want black to be the core of your Zombie deck.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Grixis:
1. Gempalm Polluter
2. Makeshift Mauler
3. Twisted Abomination

Jund (BRG)
The Jund deck in the cube is focused around a few different mechanics that reward you for your creatures dying or for sacrificing your creatures. Cards with the Morbid mechanic (Festerhide Boar, Brimstone Volley, Tragic Slip) become very well costed when you can sacrifice a creature or have one killed. If you cannot create a situation in combat where your creature dies, you can use black cards that require sacrifice to trigger morbid (Altar’s Reap, Carrion Feeder, Viscera Seer). With sacrifice outlets like this, red threaten effects (Act of Treason, Traitorous Blood) become removal spells. Another route to victory is through creatures made huge by devouring (Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Gorger Wurm) your token creatures (Krenko’s Command, Chatter of the Squirrel, etc).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Jund:
1. Hissing Iguanar
2. Thorn-Thrash Viashino
3. Festerhide Boar

Naya (WRG)
The Naya deck is about about the wide attack. The color combination sports many spells that create multiple creatures (Captain’s Call, Acorn Harvest, Dragon Fodder). To take full advantage of the swarm of tokens, you will want to use team pump spells (Trumpet Blast, Marshaling Cry, Leonon Armorguard).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Naya:
1. Sprout Swarm
2. Trumpet Blast / Fortify
3. Captain’s Call

That is all for tonight. The next entry will cover Five Color decks and Mono-Colored decks.

pP Cube Archetypes Part 3

Hello all,

This article is the third in a series where I discuss the different archetypes in my p(owerful) Pauper Cube.

The Cube:
The cube is designed to show off Magic: The Gathering’s strongest commons. The cube includes that are independently powerful (like Hymn to Tourach and Capsize) and cards that are strong because of synergies within particular decks (Spark Smith or Invigorate). Each two-color pair has a defined archetype (as do many Mono-Colors and multi-colors), many of which are based off of the strongest decks in Pauper. The pP Cube is currently a 540 card cube.

Flash (U/G):
The Blue/Green archetype in the cube is a control deck that focuses playing all their spells at instant speed. The deck combines traditional control elements from Blue, like excellent counter spells (Counterspell, Mana Leak, Miscalculation) and card draw (Inspiration, Compulsive Research, Gush) with creatures with flash (Faerie Invaders, Havenwood Wurm, Tangle Spider) to create a deck that never has to play cards on their own turn. Green’s creatures with flash are larger and more durable like the aforementioned Wurm and Spider. Blue’s creatures are evasive creatures (Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Crookclaw Transmuter, Pestermite) who can win in the air.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Flash:
1. Faerie Invaders
2. Havenwood Wurm
3. Crookclaw Transmuter

Goblins (B/R):
The Black/Red archetype in the cube is an aggro deck that revolves around attacking with many goblins and sacrificing them to force through damage. The deck uses cards that make multiple goblins (Dragon Fodder, Krenko’s Command, and Warren Weirding, Mogg War Marshal). In this deck the creatures are used as a resource to force through damage. Some cards sacrifice the goblins for damage (Facevaulter, Goblin Lookout, Goblin Grenade), others just count the number of goblins (Goblin War Strike, Sparksmith). This archetype also has access to some of the best removal in the block (Terminate, Agonizing Demise, Augur Spree).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Goblins:
1. Sparksmith
2. Caterwauling Boggart
3. Terminate

Infect (B/G):
The Black/Green archetype in the cube in Infect. The deck can have very aggressive, getting a turn 2 or turn 3 kill with cards like Glistener Elf, Blight Mamba, Giant Growth, Invigorate, and Groundswell. The deck can also be more midrange with larger creatures (Ichorclaw Myr, Scourge Servant, Cystbearer, Contagious Nym) and spells that help proliferate poison counters (Pistus Strike, Spread the Sickness). Combat tricks and spells that grant counters (Consume Strength, Hunger of the Howlpack) are particularly strong in this archetype.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Infect:
1. Invigorate
2. Glistener Elf
3. Blight Mamba

That is all for tonight. The next entry will cover R/G Ramp and the Wedge Decks.

pP Cube Archetypes Part 2

Hello all,

This article is the second in a series where I discuss the different archetypes in my p(owerful) Pauper Cube.

The Cube:
The cube is designed to show off Magic: The Gathering’s strongest commons. The cube includes that are independently powerful (like Hymn to Tourach and Capsize) and cards that are strong because of synergies within particular decks (Spark Smith or Invigorate). Each two-color pair has a defined archetype (as do many Mono-Colors and multi-colors), many of which are based off of the strongest decks in Pauper. The pP Cube is currently a 540 card cube.

Boros Aggro (W/R):
As the name implies, the Boros Aggro deck is focused on using aggressive red and white creatures to get in early damage before other decks and set up. Aggressive white evasive creatures (War Falcon, Loyal Pegasus, Daring Skyjek and Kor Skyfisher) combine with well-stated-with-a-downside red creatures on the ground (Jackal Familiar, Gore-House Chainwalker, Goblin Cohort, and Mogg Conscripts). The hasty creatures in red (Rakdos Shred-freak, Arc Runner, Ronin HoundmasterErdwal Ripper, etc) are joined by a trio of excellent R/W haste creatures (Skyknight Legionnaire  , Viashino Firstblade, and Cerodon Yearling). The landfall duo of Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede are perhaps best used in a deck like this (where bouncing a land with Kor Skyfisher has particular value).  This color combination has access to some of the best combat tricks in the cube (Martial Glory, Aerial Maneuver, Weapon Surge, and Swift Justice) and can use red’s impressive amount of burn (Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Burst Lightning, etc.) to finish the game.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Boros Aggro
Viashino Firstblade
Skyknight Legionnaire
Martial Glory

 

Hexproof Auras (G/W):
The Green / White deck in the cube is a Hexproof Auras deck that resembles constructed Hexproof Aura decks. It plays the typical hexproof creatures to target with your auras (Slippery Boggle, Silhana Ledge Walker, Gladecover Scout) as well as other creatures without hexproof but that are good targets themselves (Wingsteed Rider, Aura Gnarlid, Guardian of the Guildpact). The deck has access to a suite of totem-armor auras (Snake Umbra, Spider Umbra, Hyena Umbra), auras that care about the number of enchantments (Ancestral Mask, Ethereal Armor), auras that provide evasion (Rancor, Pentarch Ward), auras that provide some kind of creature back-up (Knightly Valor, Observant Alseid, Hopeful Eidolon), and three G/W auras that can quickly get out of hand (Shield of the Oversoul, Sigil of the Nayan Gods, Armadillo Cloak). It is worth noting that Shield of the Oversoul is the only way a creature can be indestructible in the pP Cube. This archetype particularly likes whites enchantment-based removal (Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere) because of the synergy with Ancestral Mask and Aura Gnarlid. The archetype is rounded out by two enchantment gravediggers (Auramancer and Griffin Dreamfinder).

Top 3 cards that would put me into Hexproof Auras
Armadillo Cloak
Ancestral Mask
Ethereal Armor

Storm-ish (U/R):
The Blue / Red archetype in the pP Cube is Storm-ish. While the archetype has access to the pauper storm finishers (Grapeshot, Empty the Warrens, and Temporal Fissure) and some great storm enablers (Goblin Electromancer, Grinning Ignus, Seething Song, Ideas Unbound, Hightide), the size of the cube and the last of redundancy among storm finishers and enablers makes killing an opponent thanks to a huge storm spell unlikely. To help deal additional damage, the archetype has access to a trio of creatures (Kiln Fiend, Wee Dragonnauts, Nivix Cyclops) who can get in for a large amount of damage by chaining cheap cantrips (Preordain, Ponder, Manamorphose), ‘free’ spells (Snap, Frantic Search), and red burn spells (Lightning BoltChain LightningBurst Lightning, etc). The archetype also has access to three instant/sorcery gravediggers (Archaeomancer, Izzet Chronarch, and Mnemonic Wall) to help step up a large turn or return high-impact spells.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Storm-ish
Empty the Warrens
Wee Dragonnauts
Goblin Electromancer

That is all for tonight. The next entry will discuss the Flash (U/G), Goblin (B/R), and Infect (B/G) archetypes.

pP Cube Archetypes Part 1

Hello all,

This article is the first in a series where I discuss the different archetypes in my p(owerful) Pauper Cube.

The Cube:
The cube is designed to show off Magic: The Gathering’s strongest commons. The cube includes that are independently powerful (like Hymn to Tourach and Capsize) and cards that are strong because of synergies within particular decks (Spark Smith or Invigorate). Each two-color pair has a defined archetype (as do many Mono-Colors and multi-colors), many of which are based off of the strongest decks in Pauper. The pP Cube is currently a 540 card cube.

 

Artifacts (White/Blue):
The White/Blue archetype in the cube is an aggressive artifact-based deck. The deck takes inspiration from the U/W Artifact archetype in Modern Masters. The archetype relies on cheap creatures that are augmented by artifacts or the number of artifacts you have (Court Homunculus, Ardent Recruit, Auriok Sunchaser, or Glint Hawk). Support Creatures (like Etherium Sculptor, Sanctum Gargoyle, Faerie Mechanist, and Ethersworn Shieldmate) help keep the deck running. The cube contains a suite of Affinity cards (Spire Golem, Razor Golem, Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, and Thoughtcast) which allow you to get big effects for a greatly reduced price. Arcbound creatures (Bruiser, Stinger, Worker, and Wanderer) give you the opportunity to go tall with a single large creature if your efficiently costed creatures can’t cut it. An interesting card in the archetype is Trinket Mage. Outside of a Powered Cube, Trinket Mage’s targets are limited. In this cube, Trinket Mage’s best targets are Ancient Den, Seat of the Synod, Leonin Scimitar, or Bonesplitter.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Artifacts
Cranial Plating
Bonesplitter
Etherium Sculptor

 

The Slow Drain (White/Black):
The White/Black deck in the pP Cube is designed to be a White/Black control deck. The deck wins by slowly draining the opponents life. The ways to do this include the Extort mechanic from Gatecrash (Syndic of Tithes, Basilica Guards, Basilica Screecher, Kingpin’s Pet, Syndicate Enforcer, Tithe Drinker) and two new additions from Theros block (Scholar of Atheros and Servant of Tymaret). Blind Hunter and Shrieking Grotesque provide some fliers as a second path to victory with some value along the way. The archetype also enjoys access to some of the best removal in the cube (Doom Blade and Oblivion Ring for example) as well as two very potent removal spells limited to this color pair (Unmake and Pillory of the Sleepless).

Top 3 cards that would put me into The Slow Drain
Unmake
Pillory of the Sleepless
Syndic of Tithes

 

Mill (Blue/Black):
The Blue/Black deck in the pP Cube is a Mill Control deck. The deck has access to Blue’s excellent counterspells (Counterspell, Mana Leak, Daze, etc) and Black’s removal (Doom Blade, Terror, and Ashes to Ashes) to neutralize the opponents strongest threats. The Mill deck also enjoys access to some black removal that other black decks may not priporitize (Death’s Approach and Grisly Spectacle). This deck may make the best use of Black’s psuedo-board wipes (Pestilence and Evincar’s Justice) of any deck in the cube. Blue and Black both have the best card draw in the cube (Read the Bones, Compulsive Research, Sign in Blood, Gush, etc) which helps keep the control deck running. The best ways to mill your opponent come from incidental mill attached to already decent cards (Pilfered Plans, Psychic Strike, Induce Paranoia, and Balustrade Spy) or repeatable mill effects (Jace’s Erasure, Vedalken Entrancer, Merfolk Mesmerist, or Drowner Initiate). Unlike other decks, the Blue/Black deck only needs a few repeatable mill effects and should fill itself out with more control elements. A Blue/Black deck may even want to turn its’ Mill on itself to enable certain creatures (Makeshift Mauler, Stitched Drakes, or Headless Skaab) or set up an Exhume.

Top 3 cards that would put me into Mill
Evincar’s Justice
Grisly Spectacle
Jace’s Erasure

 

That is all for tonight. The next entry will discuss the Aggro (W/R), Hexproof (W/G), and Stormish (U/R).