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Vehicular Manslaughter


Jason Moore
Jason Moore

About Jason Moore

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.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Hello boys and girls!

Could this be the new face of White Weenie in Pauper?

Jason Moore Vehicular Manslaughter (10/19/2016)

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Sky Skiff
Kaladesh (Foil)

The once prevalent archetype has fallen behind over the past few years. While cards like Battle Screech and Thraben Inspector have provided white aggro with a boost, and a handful of pilots have even managed to 5-0 some recent Leagues, White Weenie has still struggled to compete with the degenerate strategies and powerhouse cards of the format.

Getting back to my question, the answer is “maybe.” What concerns me even more, however, is the question “how good are the new cards from Kaladesh?” I just figured that in the case of [Renegade Freighter[/card] and Sky Skiff Mono White would serve as a logical testing ground.

And boy does it!

White has been friendly with artifacts for quite some time now. The original Mirrodin block ushered in Bonesplitter and Razor Golem, both of which saw significant play in the more traditional White Weenie archetype.

The cheap equip cost of the former played quite well with the deck's many evasive fliers and value ground attackers. Squadron Hawks became legitimate threats, capable of trading with Insectile Aberration and Mulldrifter. Kor Skyfishers virtually became the biggest creatures in the sky, and could even punch trough Spire Golem. Loyal Cathars threatened to trade with Myr Enforcer on either offense or defense, all the while promising to return from the grave and... well you get the point.

Years later the Scars of Mirrodin block introduced metalcraft and the subsequent notion that white Pauper decks could have access to Wild Nacatl and Serra Avenger (in the form of Ardent Recruit and Auriok Sunchaser, respectively). For those not altogether interested in running 4 or 5-color Affinity lists, Mono White and Boros Metalcraft decks became a second string option. Sometimes called “Cyborgs” or “Mono White Metal” (by me at least), these decks were never christened with an official name as far as I can tell.

The new vehicles from Kaladesh might finally be able to change that.

It's all very simple really. Vehicles want creatures. The metalcraft creatures want vehicles. Opponents don't want to be attacked by vehicles or metalcraft creatures. Ah, the wonderful world of Magic!

“Vehicular Manslaughter” comes complete with a whopping 37 artifacts, so long as you count the clue artifact-producing Thraben Inspector. Clearly these are here to power up the creatures Ardent Recruit, Auriok Sunchaser and Court Homunculus.

A Turn 1 threat with 2 power is essentially a Classic Pauper given for most level-headed aggressive decks. Foundry Street Denizen, Goblin Cohort, Mogg Conscripts, Nettle Sentinel, Phantasmal Bear, Vampire Lacerator, War Falcon and many others can attest to this. The ability to jump up to 3 power with a Turn 1 creature, however, is far more unusual.

Aside from Delver of Secrets (which is a threat so powerful that it not only occupies 4 slots in multiple Tier 1 and Tier 2 Pauper decks, but also remains relevant in Legacy, Modern, etc.) there is pretty much just Wild Nacatl. Keep in mind that Nacatl was herself a definitive attacking creature within the Modern format at the very least.

I said all of that to emphasize the point that 3 power for 1 mana is very powerful because it dominates combat in the early turns, and often continues to do so for a length of time after. 3/3 bodies crash through everything in Delver besides Insectile Aberration and Spire Golem. They crash through Mulldrifters, Peregrine Drakes and Sea Gate Oracles. Sure they die to removal, but a number of high-level contenders like Stompy, Hexproof and Elves aren't even running removal. Everyone is racing for the kill right now, so casting Doom Blade is not always on the agenda. And in a world where everyone is racing for the kill, you can do worse than play 3/3 human soldiers for 1.

One thing that sets Ardent Recruit apart as a threat, and at times certainly detracts from its appeal, is the fact that it won't always be coming down as a 3/3 creature. This has been a big part of why the card hasn't seen huge amounts of play up to this point, and consequently this is why cards like Cogworker's Puzzleknot are in my deck.

Cogworker's Puzzleknot
Kaladesh (Foil)

Many have overlooked Cogworker's Puzzleknot due to it being an overly expensive means of getting two 1/1s onto the battlefield. This is understandable, but the card itself has quite a degree of play to it. With any artifact land, Puzzleknot achieves metalcraft on Turn 2, which is exactly what this deck wants to have happen.

It also provides us with two built-in crew members, thereby allowing our other (bigger) creatures to attack rather than get inside of a vehicle themselves. Half of Puzzleknot dodges sorcery speed removal, which is likely more relevant than you think. A scenario that comes up some amount of the time is this: we present our opponents with a board state that can only be solved by a sweeper effect like Evincar's Justice or Pestilence. This means we can hold back on activating Puzzleknot until the opponent's end step and still have the ability to either equip its token and attack, or crew up a vehicle. Either way, we'll be dodging the sweeper and hitting hard on the following turn.

Paths to Victory

As a deck Vehicular Manslaughter has a few key paths to victory. The first path is a quick win occurring around Turn 5, which comes by way of swarming the board and/or resolving creatures that are simply too big to deal with. More than a dozen fliers in the deck along with eight pieces of equipment go a long way towards ensuring these kinds of victories.

Next up we have the slower victory that comes through a gradual overwhelming of the enemy. He often has some of the answers, but not enough. Additionally he won't always have the right kinds of answers to stop what we're doing. Edicts, for instance, are pretty soft against us for most of the game.It's also easier to play around permission with this deck than it is with some of the other linear beatdown strategies. This is because we have a lot of things we can do with our mana besides try to resolve a creature. We can move equipment around, cycle clues and activate Puzzleknots while at the same time making our opponents waste mana (sorry Counterspell, maybe next turn).

There's also the non-interactive fly-over. This is basically where we ignore what the opponent is trying to do on the ground and finish him with equipped Sky Skiffs and Squadron Hawks. I suppose we can also include the “run-over” as a part of this subcategory, since a Renegade Freighter with two equipments on it is very annoying to block.

Lastly there is the sideboard hate route. This is where we use high impact sideboard cards like Patrician's Scorn and Prismatic Strands to steal games from people who are hoping to lean on one primary game plan against us. Relic of Progenitus also falls into this sideboard card category, though there are less decks out there that it's capable of hosing.

Other Notes

While I've played this deck a fair amount, I do not have enough sample data to make many definitive statements about it and its matchups. I think the deck is almost there, meaning it is currently just shy of being a Tier 1 or Tier 2 strategy. I'm optimistic that with a bit of tweaking it can potentially cross the threshold.

Delver decks seem soft to Vehicular Manslaughter, since their board management is not great and we do a good job of flooding the board quickly. We also fight in the skies rather well with Sky Skiffs and Hawks plus equipment. Skiff really holds them back by constantly threatening to be activated as a blocker. We also can usually play around permission by first tempting them to fire off a Spellstutter Sprite against our less significant threat, then resolving our more significant threat immediately after. I've played Delver more than any other deck and have been very happy with the results.

Izzet Drake and Elves both feel like a big problem. If Elves can get Wellwisher down on any respectable board we are pretty much done. Drake has the perfect tool against vehicles in Lightning Bolt and I heard somewhere that they also have some kinda combo kill available to them.

Dimir Teachings seems quite winnable, if my first and only match against the deck is any indication. Again, their edicts and sweepers are less than ideal against a solid number of our board states. A list with Anglers and Mulldrifters could be another story, though.

Be sure not to sideboard out many artifacts. This may seem like common sense, but I have a feeling that many of you will be quick to board out your Puzzleknots and let me just say that I have never done that. If you're in a creature mirror where you need removal, consider cutting some of the non-artifact metalcraft guys and leaving in your two-for-one cards like Puzzleknot, Hawk, Inspector, etc.

Slaughter Games

I hope the video portion is entertaining at the very least. Let the games begin!

As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the videos!

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