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Pauper Brewing for the Modern Mage (Part Two)


Hello boys and girls!

We're back at it again.

Time for us to finish what we started last time, wouldn't you say?

In case you're not sure what this is all about, Modern Masters 2017 is coming to Magic Online soon, and a number of cards will be legal in Classic Pauper for the very first time!

Let's look at some of those very cards right now.

Big Bad Beetle Beats

It's not often that a creature is shifted all the way from its golden position of rare down to the lowly status of common. Every so often, however, Classic Pauper does benefit from such a drastic and significant downgrade. Mortician Beetle entering our format is the result, and in the right deck it manages to get very big very quickly.

In my opinion, this is the most sensible shell for anyone looking to battle with big beetles:

Jason Moore Golgari Aristocrats 03/22/2017

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As I talked about when I first covered this strategy, there are only a few strategic components at work here, which makes the overall composition of the deck nice and streamlined. My Aristocrats list can be broken down into the following sections: Sacrifice enablers (that subsequently also get larger when a creature is sacked), sacrifice fodder, blocker circumvention and card draw (to find more of the aforementioned pieces).

Mortician Beetle slots into this deck very well because it amplifies the effect produced by the respective activated abilities of Bloodthrone Vampire and Carrion Feeder. It also retains a permanent buff, while fitting in well with the deck's overall approach of laying down a swarm of one mana threats. So far in my (very limited) testing, oversized Beetles have accounted for the majority of my decisive wins.

I'm actually looking to add one more piece to the Aristocrats puzzle, and that's inevitability. I want a spell that will have something of an Immortal Servitude (with a power level divided by five or so) effect on the game. The frontrunners for me in this department are Grim Harvest, since my sacrifice outlets can conveniently let me choose when to trigger recover, and Death Denied. There are even more options out there, and they include Disturbed Burial, Font of Return, Reaping the Graves, etc.

There are other directions to take Aristocrats that don't involve Golgari colors. I'm currently toying with a Rakdos version, and I've heard some whispers of Orzhov being possible. It's probably not worth putting three colors together, but I'll still be interested to see what people do with the various two-color pairings.

Gift Ungiven

I think it's important to take a look at Gift of Orzhova for a minute due to a few of its compelling applications and interactions.

From my point of view, one of the most promising functions for Gift of Orzhova will be as a sideboard weapon in Mono Black Control against Mono Red Burn and potentially other hyper-aggressive decks. Gift adds two pips for devotion, and turns the deck's bigger creatures into near-Baneslayer Angels.

It's been seemingly difficult for MBC to access reliable life gain for the Burn matchup, which has lead some pilots in the past to utilize cards like Bottle Gnomes in order to try and catch a break. One downside to playing Gift against burn lies within MBC's tendency to load up on 2/2s. This creature size gets removed by a burn spell even when buffed by Gift. Perhaps a slight change in the deck's creature assortment can account for this?

Gift of Orzhova, like Armadillo Cloak, counts as a multicolored permanent, which is pretty much only relevant because it's therefore able to enchant the sometimes hard to kill Guardian of the Guildpact. If a Guardian deck ever becomes viable again, then this will be an interaction to look at further (note that Gift doesn't even require the splashing of a secondary color).

This card doesn't seem necessary in Hexproof, since that deck is not lacking in terms of three mana enchantments. Armadillo Cloak remains the better option as far as granting size and lifelink are concerned.

Horror Show

Dinrova Horror is Recoil on a dude, and while I don't think that's particularly mind-blowing, I do want to discuss the card for just a little while here.

The biggest knock against this card is the price tag (in this case 4UB) and its relation to what we're actually getting for our troubles. I can't overemphasize how much it will unequivocally suck to spend six mana on this thing only to have our opponent tap R and Flame Slash it. This alone is potentially reason enough to keep this out of every Pauper deck list forever.

With that being said, there are a handful of permanent types that the Dimir color combination struggles to deal with once they've actually hit the table. Of course I'm referring to artifacts and enchantments, and to a lesser degree lands. Dimir decks have always navigated this awkward tightrope of needing to have a Duress effect or permission spell at the perfect time to stop a Curse of the Bloody Tome/Pierced Heart, Ethereal Armor, Tortured Existence etc., lest they play from behind all game long or outright lose on the spot.

Dinrova Horror offers mages the opportunity to come back from positions where things didn't work out perfectly for them in the early game. Black decks often find themselves in “topdeck wars” because of their ability to trade resources and disrupt the opponent's game plan. In these scenarios Dinrova Horror is a 4/4 plus a Vindicate. Need to get your opponent off of Tron? Off of metalcraft? Off of anything? And if we need to do so multiple times, there is certainly the prospect of pairing this 4/4 with Ghostly Flicker as Alex Ullman suggested earlier this month.

It is extremely debatable whether or not there is merit to playing Dinrova Horror over a card like Capsize, Echoing Truth, Repeal or even just Recoil itself.

A Quick Look at Tandem Lookout

A fair amount of people online have been discussing the prospect of pairing upcoming common Tandem Lookout with Eldritch Moon's Thermo-Alchemist (by way of the former's soulbond ability). The general idea here is a straightforward one: ping the opponent with Alchemist, draw a card, play an instant or sorcery to untap Alchemist, repeat.

I have just one issue with these aspirations, though I think it's a significant one. The scenario being painted by players, one that makes Lookout-plus-Alchemist good, is what Magic players refer to as a “win-more” scenario. Another way of phrasing this is: if we have a both a Tandem Lookout and a non-summoning sick Thermo-Alchemist in play, with mana available and cards in hand to grant us multiple Alchemist pings, chances are good that we are already winning the game.

It's not clear to me that Tandem Lookout can be consistently Pauper-relevant in scenarios where we aren't already ahead. Additionally, the three mana creatures of our format tend to have immediate “enters the battlefield” effects that don't require other creatures to be present. Chittering Rats, Heliod's Pilgrim and Sea Gate Oracle all prove my point. The other three-drops seeing play in Pauper tend to be packing on a hefty amount of size (Aura Gnarlid and Myr Enforcer), which leads me to believe that Lookout will stand even less of a chance.

While the possibility of a “Thermo Lookout” deck seeing success in Pauper is not nonexistent, I struggle to see how a strategy like this could make a more fitting “Alchemist home” than the current Mono Red Burn decks do. In Burn, Alchemist is already “drawing” the deck into more action by piling on additional damage to every one of its damage-dealing spells. Within just a single turn, Alchemist has produced an effect that is virtually identical to drawing an extra burn spell or two. Furthermore, it does this without needing a “buddy card” around to get things up and running.

The Miscellaneous Modernities

Ah, Magma Jet. I have a feeling that many will be eager to play you, but sadly I do not share their enthusiasm.

Perhaps you will be useful in Burn, where the ability to scry two excess lands to the bottom is game-saving enough to warrant your inclusion (because two excess lands for Burn is effectively poison). At the same time, Burn doesn't want to be taking time scrying in order to set up their future turns. Burn wants to kill the opponent on their current turn. They don't want to spend two mana in order to achieve two damage. They want to spend two mana casting two burn spells, each of which will deal three damage for a grand total of six.

Others are looking to Magma Jet to help set up the top of their library for Thunderous Wrath. I still am not seeing that being worthwhile, especially when Jet will be trading down with a lot of one mana creatures in Pauper swarm decks. Keep in mind that Burning-Tree Emissary will potentially be shifting Classic Pauper's speed paradigm, and in my opinion Magma Jet will not be able to thrive in such a sped up environment.

The other miscellaneous card I'd like to mention is actually not from Modern Masters 2017. However, I've been told that it will be seeing legality in Pauper all too soon. It's name is Thorn of the Black Rose, and I highly suggest you take a look at it!

Thorn's ability to turn Pauper mages into the monarch is likely to have a planeswalker-level of impact on the game! This card could seriously be a game-changer for common kids everywhere. Unfortunately there's no room left in this article to talk about it, so maybe next time.

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

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.

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