Jason Moore is 25 years old, and a resident of Los Angeles
California. He began playing Magic seriously in 2010, and has developed a
strong interest in MTGO and the Pauper format. He is one of the hosts of the
podcast Pauper's Cage, and has covered Pauper on other
websites and his YouTube page. His other interests include acting,
writing and playing guitar.
Hello boys and girls, and Happy New Year! It’s great to be back for another episode of Common Ground. I want to thank all of you who read my first article (How to Win in Pauper), especially those who left me comments and feedback. Today we’re going to look at one of the most powerful decks in the Pauper format: Izzet Cloudpost. This deck is truly a behemoth, and sets the standard for all Pauper control decks in terms of power level and late game inevitability. After reviewing some inherent strengths and weaknesses of Izzet Cloudpost, we’ll analyze a winning decklist before piloting it in a Daily Event. From there, we’ll wrap up by discussing some changes that could be made for future events. Let’s get started!
What is Izzet Cloudpost?
Izzet Cloudpost is a deck that almost single-handedly monopolizes control’s share of the Pauper metagame. It utilizes the typical control elements of card draw, removal and countermagic along with a handful of powerful synergies to eventually dominate opponents during the later stages of the game. It also has a penchant for invalidating what the opponent is doing by simply doing things that are more powerful.
The rudimentary components of Izzet Cloudpost (or any Cloudpost deck for that matter) are the locus lands Cloudpost and Glimmerpost. These lands generate exponential amounts of value, and provide their controller with two distinct advantages: mana superiority and life total superiority. With larger amounts of mana, the Cloudpost player has access to more powerful spells (including X spells like Rolling Thunder and Condescend), and is able to do more in a single turn than most opponents are. With a higher life total, the Cloudpost player inhibits the relevance of opposing attacks, burn spells and board positions. The locus land synergies are further exploited through the use of tutors (Expedition Map), bounce effects (Capsize) and blink effects (Ghostly Flicker) for Glimmerpost.
Blue offers up a number of tools for the Izzet Cloudpost deck. Firstly, it allows the pilot to see most of their deck in attrition games. Preordain and Mulldrifter can assist in finding much needed color sources, removal spells or Glimmerposts. Tutoring is possible in blue thanks to Mystical Teachings, which grabs counters, bounce or removal if needed. A handful of blue win conditions are also available, most notably Capsize. This Boomerang with buyback can be reused multiple times to seriously hinder land-dependent strategies such as Storm and opposing Cloudpost decks. Another potent win condition lies within the Ghostly Flicker/Mnemonic Wall combo. This combo is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen in the format, though it has taken a while to garner popularity. With Mnemonic Wall and a second target, Ghostly Flicker has the potential to draw a bunch of cards, gain a bunch of life, or remove a bunch of creatures by resetting the counters on Serrated Arrows (and can be done every single turn).
Some may wonder why red is played instead of black (another prominent removal color), or if a second color is needed at all. What red does have to offer is Rolling Thunder, a devastating win condition that can end games seemingly from nowhere. It also doubles as a board sweeper when facing down overwhelming opposition. Red also has cheap, versatile removal like Flame Slash (which will hit a large number of creatures in the format), and matchup-defining sideboard cards such as Ancient Grudge, Earth Rift and Pyroblast.
Between its signature synergies, access to card advantage, removal and late game win conditions, Izzet Cloudpost has proven to be nearly bulletproof against a number of creature strategies and control mirrors.
Why You Should Play It:
The first and foremost reason to play this deck lies within the inherent power level of its cards. Mulldrifter, Preordain and Mnemonic Wall all make for relevant draws late, and Ghostly Flicker has the potential to gain us an insurmountable advantage (sometimes even soft-locking opponents out of the game). I cannot overstate how powerful Flicker really can be! Additionally, Rolling Thunder is a very unique effect at common that only gets better as the game progresses.
The second reason to play this deck is that certain matchups are very, very difficult to lose. Cloudpost is innately over prepared for creature-based offensives, particularly ones with limited reach or resiliency. White Weenie, Mono Black Control and Tortured Existence decks (among others) face considerably long odds when paired against locus-based control.
The third reason to play this deck is that it’s one of the absolute best options for control players. With a format as varied as Pauper, Izzet Cloudpost has managed to consistently remain top-tier, which is something most other control decks can‘t say.
Why You Shouldn’t Play It:
There are a few downsides to playing Izzet Cloudpost, the first being its methodical pace. With a number of tapped lands, five drops, and no reasonable means of winning a game quickly, Cloudpost has a tendency to fall prey to speedy combo decks (and sometimes even the game clock). Furthermore, this slow rate of play is also mentally taxing, and long matches can make Daily Events and other tournaments even more of a grind. If you’re somehow not convinced, I’ve got two words for you: mirror match.
The second downside to this deck is that it’s reactive in nature. While this is not a downside for everyone, for someone like me it can be both frustrating and unintuitive. In Pauper it’s almost impossible to account for all of the strategies you may face in a given tournament. Therefore having the “right” control build (or even making the optimal play in certain situations) can be quite arduous. This is compounded by the fact that you’ll have limited time and resources with which to do so, since your opponents will be proactively beating you down or trying to combo off.
How relevant are these downsides? It’s going to depend on you as a player and a critical thinker. I for one am conflicted, since the deck clearly delivers in terms of sheer power level, but hasn’t brought me much success when it’s really counted.
Analyzing a Cloudpost List:
The list I will be taking into a Pauper Daily Event has been piloted by abbadon55 on multiple occasions. It can be seen below:
It’s often correct to test with a tried and true list that someone else has come up with before implementing your own ideas. Have a little faith in the wisdom of other players, that way you won’t have to start from square one each time you build a new deck. I chose abbadon55’s for two reasons: it’s proven itself on more than one occasion, and the card choices seem sound. With that being said, let’s talk about some of abbadon55’s card choices.
This list has foregone playing Ulamog’s Crusher, instead opting to win by swinging with Mulldrifters or resolving a lethal Rolling Thunder in the late game. I find this to be perfectly reasonable, though there is nothing wrong with playing Crusher if you feel like you need an authoritative win condition.
There also appears to be a smaller amount of countermagic in this list, with only four slots dedicated to permission. Mystical Teachings acts as a virtual fifth and sixth copy, but the overall philosophy of this main deck is to favor spot removal over counters. Prohibit and Condescend are often seen in Cloudpost lists, with Negate standing out a little bit here. While Negate will usually have a target at some point, additional copies of Prohibit would probably prove more versatile, and capable of having more relevant targets.
In terms of removal, Flame Slash is a great option (since it kills most of the creatures in the format for cheap). Serrated Arrows is also effective because it deals with multiple creatures, creatures that get pumped temporarily and creatures with protection. Electrickery can hit multiple creatures, or save you from an Empty the Warrens combo. Abbadon55 has also included a Harvest Pyre, Lightning Bolt and a pair of Electrostatic Bolts. I think this much removal is overkill. Izzet Cloudpost is already set up to beat a majority of creature decks with its built-in life gain, card advantage and a modest amount of kill spells. I can understand playing Harvest Pyre as a late game answer to something abnormally large, but the aforementioned Bolts aren’t really adding much to the deck.
While four copies of Compulsive Research is probably too many, everything else in the main looks good (though I’ll be curious to see how the land count and pair of Izzet Guildgates work out). The sideboard is heavily geared towards Storm decks and other Post decks, with minimal consideration given to anybody else. This doesn’t seem like much of an issue, since having an edge in the mirror is a big deal, and so is finding a way to take two games away from Storm.
I hope you enjoy these gameplay videos! The Daily Event recap will be written out below.
Daily Event Review:
Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of information to be gained from this Daily Event in terms of the list’s effectiveness. Essentially we won the matchups we should have (White Weenie, the mirror), and lost the ones that should be troublesome (Storm, Mono Green Stompy).
I will say that sideboarding with this list was tough, because it is so lopsided in its composition. The sideboard could certainly be reassessed and adjusted. I also would recommend playing at least one more land (probably two). There are just so many benefits to playing a higher land count, especially in a control deck that always wants to hit land drops. You will not run out of things to do with your mana when your deck runs Capsize, Ghostly Flicker, Mystical Teachings, Mulldrifter and Rolling Thunder.
Well, that’s it for now. Please let me know what you thought of this article by commenting! I’d also like to know what you’d like to see in the future. Thanks for reading!
With most cards of the Battle for Zendikar follow-up already revealed to us, it's time to talk about some lands and spells that have Classic Pauper potential! Jason explores why or why not each of the Oath of the Gatewatch newbies interests him.
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