Welcome to another episode of “Science of Pauper”! For this episode, I decided to introduce to you a deck I really enjoy playing. It is a three colored deck which kind of bases on the former Standard legal Mega Blender. I have to admit that this list does not originate from my mind, but it is rather (slightly) modified from an old article on the Wizards of the Coast hopmepage. The deck essentially tries to control the early- and mid-game with removal spells while building up card advantage grinding for the win. In a more control-ish match up, the deck can aim its burn directly to the oppoent’s life total.
1 Gruul Turf
2 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Looter il-Kor
1 Tin Street Hooligan
4 Wild Mongrel
2 Burst Lightning
1 Flame Jab
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Deep Analysis
Looter il-Kor. Even though this little Kor seems to be underwhelming on first sight, I consider it being the most important creature in our army. Admittedly, it usually is not the win condition and if you are really on your back foot, Looter il-Kor is the worst card you could possibly draw. However, most of the times, it will improve this deck’s performance by a huge amount. It is like a conventional Merfolk Looter with the upside of pinging the opponent. Considering the number of cards with one of those mechanics, the drawback of discarding a card turns out to be an advantage. Its triggered ability helps to find the right answers, recycles excess lands (maybe one that was returned by a Ravnica bounce land), and enables Threshold, Flashback, Madness, and Retrace.
Wild Mongrel. I still consider this one of the best creatures of the format. Being a 2/2 for two mana makes it almost playable in Pauper. Having an ability to pump basically without limit makes it exceptional good. It forces your opponent to reconsider their attacks and blocks. Furthermore, even the second part of the ability is not useless considering cards like Doom Blade and Coast Watcher.
Basking Rootwalla. Although the number of discard outlets is limited, its synergies with other cards for significant value. Even if it has to be hard-cast, it is a pump-able 1/1 for one single mana pressuring your opponents.
Werebear. Its mana producing ability allows to pump Basking Rootwalla consistently and playing a green creature. Moreover, it helps casting Mulldrifter a turn earlier. Its second ability, Threshold, renders this over-costly Llanowar Elves into a real threat. I kind of acts like Carapace Forger in an Affinity deck, as this deck fills its graveyard quite quickly.
Tin Street Hooligan. There quite some non-Affinity decks that play artifacts in the main deck. Possible targets are Razor Golem, Equipment, Prophetic Prism, or Spire Golem. If there are no artifacts on the opposite site, it is just an underwhelming Goblin Piker.
Exclude. Most of the opponent’s creatures can be answered by one of the many burn spells, but there are still a couple – let’s say – resisting ones. The pressure applied by Loyal Cathar does not cease when burned; Young Wolf is better left untouched until a permanent answer is within reach; and Lightning Bolting an enemy Mulldrifter somehow does not feel that satisfactory. Exclude fills up this gap just perfectly by preventing those pestering critters hitting the battlefield. If that does not already sound good enough, why do not in addition draw a card in the process? Well, that is what I call a deal.
Negate. The second counterspell available in the main deck complements Exclude perfectly, allowing this deck to – in principle – answer anything on the stack. It is primarily intended as a defensive spell against cards like Corrupt or Rolling Thunder. However, this deck plays only 18 creatures which sometimes makes it necessary to neuter a removal spell in order to keep a win option.
Flame Jab. This card essentially fulfills the tasks Deathspark does for Goblins. A reusable burn spell dealing one damage is more versatile than many may think of. Cards like Squadron Hawk, Goblin Sledder, or Phantasmal Bear are going to waste a lot of your resources otherwise. Having Flame Jab turning excess lands into removal spells helps keeping up. Unfortunately, it is a sorcery that lowers its effectiveness by a large degree, which however, does not render it subpar.
Firebolt. A Shock at sorcery speed is outclassed by many cards. Its Flashback option makes it to a powerful burn spell. It provides some reach during the mid/ late game or alternatively, it can be discarded for some other value without losing too much value.
Burst Lightning. This is one of my favorite burn spells ever printed due to its versatility. It can kill the majority of the creatures played in Pauper for only one mana or virtually all critters when kicked. It also functions very well to burn the last few points of life to seal the game.
Lightning Bolt. This is one of the most popular red spells ever printed, probably also thanks to its high power level. It deals with a lot of creatures in Pauper or can reduce your opponent’s life total by a significant amount. Since this card is played in basically all formats where it is legal, my only recommendation is to wait as long as possible before casting it to maximize the value. There is no hurry to target your opponent in turn three just because there are no creatures to kill.
Gruul Turf, Izzet Boilerworks, Simic Growth Chamber. These so-called Ravnica bounce lands serve multiple purposes: one, it helps having access to all of our three colors. Second, it increases the virtual number of land drops since it returns a land to our hand, thereby ensuring the land drop for the next turn. The amount of mana available next turn is the same if it was a basic land; so it neither ramps, nor has a drawback mana wise concerning the subsequent turn. Third, having an additional land in hand synergizes well with Wild Mongrel, Looter il-Kor, and Flame Jab. But since they are quite slow and only-Ravnica-bounce-lands openers are really bad, I decided to play four.
Deep Analysis. This spell is the most efficient draw spell Pauper has access to. Drawing four for one card is just insane card advantage. As a matter of its nature, it will help you finding lands, answers, and/or threats. Its flashback ability works very well with Looter il-Kor and Wild Mongrel. Especially when combined with the latter, it represents a blue pump spell. I occasionally found myself discarding Deep Analysis to Wild Mongrel on my first main phase, flash it back to draw to cards, and swing for lethal by discarding the fresh cards. However, the flashback cost of three points of life is limiting in some match ups like Goblins.
As always, I will discuss the sideboard in a future episode. Unlike the maindeck, my sideboard does differ quite a lot from the original list.
That’s it. Stay clean!