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.
Crashing the Party
Hello boys and girls! We’ve got a brand new set on the horizon, complete with
new dual lands and a staggering five new guild mechanics. As a fan of the Boros
color combination, I had high hopes for this set and its relevance to the Pauper
format. As it turns out, Gatecrash leaves me more perplexed than anything. I say
this because I’ve found that many of the Gatecrash commons are particularly
difficult to rate. Ultimately, a lot of the cards I am going to talk about may
prove to be duds, while others could become sleeper hits.
We are going to start with the cream of the crop. Is it really surprising
that blue would end up with the best (Pauper) card of the set? Not at all. Nor
is the continuing trend of cheap aggressive beaters showing up in blue (a trend
that began with Phantasmal Bear and Delver of
Secrets). The next stage of evolution is here, and it’s called
Cloudfin Raptor. I don’t think a 0/1 dork has looked this fierce
since Steppe Lynx. Similarly to the Zendikar mainstay, this bird
mutant does require some building around. With that being said, let’s look at Cloudfin Raptor’s selling points:
Has two beneficial abilities
May already have a home (in Delver Blue aka Mono U Fae)
Could be the catalyst for a new deck (Mono U Beatdown)
Can outclass many fliers in the format
There is no doubt that this card is meant to fill an aggressive role. First
of all, it’s cheap and evasive. Secondly, the evolve mechanic works well in
creature heavy decks. Finally, it can get big. I think Raptor is a fine excuse
for crafting an aggressive, creature-dense blue deck. However, I can also see
the merits of placing this in preexisting Faeries lists, but I’m concerned about
the clashing synergies between Raptor and Delver of Secrets (one card requires a
high creature count, the other a high instant and sorcery count). While Faeries
have proven to be a top contender in Pauper Daily Events, I’m not writing off
the possibility of yet another mono blue incarnation to begin its first stage of
If you are interested in throwing Cloudfin Raptor into the Faeries deck, this
is where I would start:
I don’t have a sideboard yet, but a main deck like this could show up in
Pauper Dailies soon after Gatecrash becomes available on MTGO. I can already see
some pretty legitimate problems with putting Raptor and Delver in the same deck,
though. For instance: with only 18 instants or sorceries, Delver is not going to
flip as frequently as we’d like it to. We also have less room to play cards like
Accumulated Knowledge (which I think should be utilized in most
Faeries decks to begin with). Knowledge helps us refill later in the game when
we aren’t dominating with tempo plays early.
On the Raptor end of things, playing 12 1/1 creatures in our deck could lead
to draws where Raptor remains a ½ for a number of turns. I’ve tried to mitigate
this by playing only three copies of Raptor, and by playing Steamcore
Weird and Spire Golem (which can continue to pump Raptor up
to a ¾). We’re also down to an anemic 16 lands because we need room to
accommodate both of our 1-drop creatures. The low land count makes Weird and
Golem worse, but doesn’t affect the rest of the deck too negatively.
I’m looking forward to testing Cloudfin Raptor. It just might be the key to
letting me play blue while staying true to my aggressive roots.
Order in the Court
There are a few cards in white that are worthy of discussion, namely
Syndic of Tithes. The extort bear in particular has already seen
consideration from both In Contention’s Reuben Bresler and myself. For that
reason, I’m going to talk about another interesting white common. This one is
called Court Street Denizen. While the Grey Ogre stats
are far from exciting, its triggered ability is what really catches my eye.
A traditional White Weenie build will get only one or two creatures to hit
the battlefield per turn, but a dedicated tokens list can produce creatures much
more frequently. With a Denizen on the table, this nets you free Feeling
of Dreads and welcomed swings in tempo. Her ability allows you to alpha
strike through otherwise antagonistic boards, or force opponents to make bad
blocks with their remaining untapped creatures.
I am actually pretty excited about testing this out. I didn’t consider at
first how effective multiple Denizens are going to be in this strategy.
Cenn's Enlistment is one of the best cards to synergize with
Denizen, and fits the tokens theme quite well. The retrace mechanic is actually
one of my favorites, since it turns late game land draws into party time! No
more blanks. Ever.
So let’s talk about the core tenets of the deck. Essentially we have small
creatures and token producers, toughness boosters and repeatable pump effects.
While you could go the mono white route with a deck like this, I definitely
prefer having more protection against sweepers. Spidersilk Armor provides that protection, and keeps fliers away from our life total. I
figure that if I’m going to splash green, there’s no reason I can’t throw a set
of Rancors in to give the deck some teeth. The last green component
is Travel Preparations, which also gets us out of sweeper range,
but is just solid with tokens to begin with.
I’m not sure how the matchups will be, but I think creature decks in general
are what we want to see. The clock isn’t consistently fast enough to outrace
Storm, but white and green have plenty of sideboard options for that matchup.
Control may actually struggle against a strategy like this, since Cenn's
Enlistment is resilient to removal and countermagic. Rancor, Squadron Hawk and token producers are also able to generate card advantage in the wake of
enemy spot removal.
Let’s move on and see if we can find some other cards to work with.
It’s certainly been a while since the Pauper Goblins deck added a new recruit
to its ranks. The most recent conscription was probably Goblin
Arsonist, which only sometimes sees play (and as a one-of at that).
Foundry Street Denizen may be the addition thirsty Goblins pilots
have been waiting for.
While the Goblins deck has no short supply of 1-drops, none of them can hit
as hard early as this Gatecrash-ing 1/1. Barring countermagic, he will always be
able to bash for 2 in the early turns. On turns when you play a Mogg War
Marshall or a pair of 1-drops, he will then clock them for 3.
Goblin Matrons also chain well to pump him, so he ends up doing a
serviceable Goblin Cohort impression for most of the early game.
The primary downside is the 1 toughness body, but at the end of the day, we’re
playing Goblins and 1 toughness is practically all we’ve got.
While not nearly as good as Mogg Conscripts or Goblin Cohort on
average, Denizen could still be bludgeoning his way into Pauper Daily Events in
the near future. Here is a Goblins list that utilizes him:
Unfortunately we’ve had to cut some burn to make room for the Denizen. This
means that our creatures are going to be even that more integral to reducing the
opponent’s life total. I can’t say for sure if Denizen will make the Goblins
strategy better or worse, but it can help give the deck a few more explosive
starts on average.
The last card I’m going to talk about is called Frilled Oculus.
I think the card has potential, but I’m not sure what kind of shell to try
fitting it into. At first glance a Simic beatdown strategy could work. Primarily
blue for Delver of Secrets, but also playing Rancor and, of course, the Oculus.
Alternately, some sort of Simic madness deck with Basking Rootwalla
and Wild Mongrel may be worth trying out. With all that
being said, let’s talk about the card specifically.
First of all, it has the baseline stats of Maritime Guard, which
is actually pretty annoying for some decks (Mono Black variants come to mind).
Next, its activated ability (identical to Rootwalla’s) makes it into a 3/5.
This body survives almost all of the creatures and damage-based removal in the
format. It has the versatility of creating a fast clock, holding off an enemy
attack and detracting the opponent from playing their burn spell. I’ve heard
very little talk about the card overall, which I find a bit surprising.
There are obviously some downsides to playing Frilled Oculus. It puts you in
Simic colors, which you may not want in the first place. It also ties up your
mana. A lot. The cost may prove to be too high, especially when the result is
merely bashing for 3.
At the end of the day, I will try brewing with Oculus, but I doubt that many
At the Gates
Gatecrash is fast approaching the realm of MTGO, so make sure that you are
prepared! Here are some questions I'd like to know about from you awesome
How do you think Gatecrash will affect the Pauper format?
Which cards from Gatecrash are you most excited about for Pauper?
What kind of decks and topics would you like me to cover in the future?
Until next time, thanks for reading! Please enjoy the videos below. They
feature the GW Tokens list described above, with one basic change (at least
until Gatecrash is released on MTGO).
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