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If you have been living under a rock, you might not have noticed the groundbreaking news of the first MCQ in the wonderful format of Pauper. Not only did the MCQ take place, but we even got to see the Top 8 featured with some excellent commentary.
What we saw in the Top 8 was a mix of new and old decks that came to life. This was interesting, given the somewhat different MTGO metagame. On Magic Online, decks are rather “specialized” to negate some of the variance that sometimes occurs.
Going into the final days left to qualify for the Pauper Playoff, I am still at a low point of 20 points. That means I need an additional 15 points if I want to make it to the format playoff.
Now that I’m qualified with 81 points in Vintage and have 33 points in Modern, which means I will get there as well, I need to focus on Legacy and Pauper. My goal is to get 5 points in Pauper on each day of this week. So, how will I accomplish that?

The online metagame has a lot of Burn running the streets, and while a lot of strategies are viable, I think that if you don’t have a good matchup against Burn, you will not collect trophies in the league. This takes me to a deck that I’d like to share which was on my mind recently. I played it in a few challenges, and I think it’s well suited to help me deal with my lack of points!

WB (Welcome Back) Pestilence

Pestilence from Urza's Saga

Pestilence from Urza’s Saga

WB Pestilence by Michael Bonde

Creatures (17)
Aven Riftwatcher
Guardian of the Guildpact
Kor Skyfisher
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Palace Sentinels
Phyrexian Rager
Thraben Inspector

Spells (20)
Castigate
Chainer’s Edict
Raven’s Crime
Doom Blade
Prismatic Strands
Tragic Slip
Unmake
Prophetic Prism
Pestilence
Lands (23)
Barren Moor
Bojuka Bog
Orzhov Basilica
Plains
Radiant Fountain
Scoured Barrens
Secluded Steppe
Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Castigate
Circle of Protection: Blue
Circle of Protection: Red
Leave No Trace
Relic of Progenitus
Standard Bearer
Stinkweed Imp
BUY DECK

This deck is a sweet mix of burn killer, grinding station, and synergy engine that beats a lot of the current metagame, if it starts rolling.

The primary engine of the deck consists of Guardian of the GuildpactGuardian of the Guildpact and PestilencePestilence. Since there aren’t many multicolored removal spells besides Dinrova HorrorDinrova Horror, we can keep our pestilence on the board and the Spirit becomes a poor man’s True-Name NemesisTrue-Name Nemesis.
This way, the deck establishes a broken synergy, that doubles as a removal spell for every card in the format, and as a win condition. Be it through beatdown or pinging one Swamp at a time, you will win.
This makes us address the problem of the symmetry of the life loss. Because of that, PestilencePestilence is not a reliable way of closing out games. Luckily we play white, and that gives us many ways to put lifegain into our deck, be it on the spells that we play or the lands that we need – which makes the deck a Burn killer.
With a mix of maindeck Scoured BarrensScoured Barrens, Aven RiftwatcherAven Riftwatcher, Arashin ClericArashin Cleric and Radiant FountainRadiant Fountain, which we may all replay thanks to Kor SkyfisherKor Skyfisher, we will usually be ahead on the life total. That makes PestilencePestilence great, but also negates enough burn spells from the mono red menace to get out of their reach and end the game.

Thraben Inspector from Shadows over Innistrad

Thraben Inspector from Shadows over Innistrad

Besides the lifegain and PestilencePestilence plan, the rest of the deck is a classic white-black midrange deck with value creatures. Thraben InspectorThraben Inspector, Phyrexian RagerPhyrexian Rager, Kor SkyfisherKor Skyfisher, Palace SentinelsPalace Sentinels and Okiba-Gang ShinobiOkiba-Gang Shinobi get you ahead on cards and Prophetic PrismProphetic Prism gives you some card draw while fixing your mana.

The rest of the deck is made up of Paupers best 1-for-1 removal spells and a mix of CastigateCastigate and Raven’s CrimeRaven’s Crime.

Now with the deck list known and understood, let’s talk about some matchups.

The Burn Matchup

Castigate from Guildpact

Castigate from Guildpact

Their entire plan is to just smoke us out with damage. Their best way of doing this is with cards like Thermo-AlchemistThermo-Alchemist, attacking creatures and recurring damage from Curse of the Pierced HeartCurse of the Pierced Heart. This forces us to leave in some removal spells for the creatures, but besides that, the game plan is simple. Gain as much life as possible and kill our opponent fast enough. Often, they can only board in a Flaring PainFlaring Pain for our Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands and Molten RainMolten Rain for our KarooKaroo lands. This means, what we see in game 1 is also going to be the determiner for games 2 and 3.

In:

Circle of Protection: Red
Castigate
Castigate
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Standard Bearer
Standard Bearer
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace

Out:

Phyrexian Rager
Phyrexian Rager
Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Pestilence
Pestilence
Pestilence

The Kuldotha Boros Matchup

Relic of Progenitus from Eternal Masters

Relic of Progenitus from Eternal Masters

This deck has an overall strategy that is somewhat similar to our own. It’s a grindy white-based midrange deck with the ability to deal a lot of damage quite fast, since they play red instead of black. I approach the matchup like any other grindy matchup. Just always keep in mind what they do given how many cards they have in hand. The reason you should do this, is that they often won’t fire off Lightning BoltLightning Bolts and Galvanic BlastGalvanic Blast but accumulate them. And if they draw a bunch, then try and go for the throat. This enables us to act accordingly. So, if they have 5 cards in hand, and haven’t done much for the last couple of turns, there is a chance that they hold 9 or more points of direct damage. This might seem like a stupid thing to do, but since it is a grindy matchup, it’s a big deal. You need to know what to play around and how “risky” we can be with cards like Palace SentinelsPalace Sentinels.
Since they play white, they have some tools of their own that we need to be aware of. Namely lifegain, Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands and enchantment removal in the form of Leave No TraceLeave No Trace.

In:

Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Castigate
Castigate
Circle of Protection: Red
Leave No Trace
Stinkweed Imp
Stinkweed Imp
Okiba-Gang Shinobi

Out:

Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Aven Riftwatcher
Aven Riftwatcher
Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Unmake
Unmake

The Blue-Black Delver Matchup

Stinkweed Imp from Ravnica City of Guilds

Stinkweed Imp from Ravnica City of Guilds

This deck is one of the trickier matchups since the lifegain sometimes matters, and the same goes for the PestilencePestilence plan and even the removal plan. Main deck they often have “only” 12 creatures, of which a flipped Delver and a fast Gurmag AnglerGurmag Angler are the only 8 that matter to us. The rest of the deck consists of draw spells, removal and counters. That makes it easy to fall behind quickly. What I often do is try to get to a point where I can double-spell, to get around their counters, and then prolong the game as much as I can. My rationale is that Raven’s CrimeRaven’s Crime can shred their hand in the late game, and even without PestilencePestilence we can kill 13 threats. That makes us a clear favorite, so long as we don’t get too far behind and manage to go long without too big of a lifeloss early on.
After board, they will have Stormbound GeistStormbound Geist and DispelDispels, which makes the early game about controlling their graveyard, so that we can kill off the flyers without losing too much tempo and cards.

In:

Circle of Protection: Blue
Circle of Protection: Blue
Stinkweed Imp
Stinkweed Imp
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Castigate
Castigate

Out:

Prismatic Strands
Prismatic Strands
Pestilence
Aven Riftwatcher
Aven Riftwatcher
Palace Sentinels
Palace Sentinels
Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Radiant Fountain

The Inside Out Combo Matchup

Standard Bearer from Apocalypse

Standard Bearer from Apocalypse

They try to kill us with the combo, so in case they have a Tireless TribeTireless Tribe, we should respect the combo immensely. They need two blue sources to combo through a blocker, so the more blue sources they have, the more DispelDispels we need to play around.

In:

Standard Bearer
Standard Bearer
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Castigate
Castigate

Out:

Guardian of the Guildpact
Guardian of the Guildpact
Palace Sentinels
Palace Sentinels
Aven Riftwatcher

The Tron Matchup

Okiba-Gang Shinobi from Planechase 2012

Okiba-Gang Shinobi from Planechase 2012

This matchup can be annoying, because sometimes they just have a bunch of fast mana, and then it’s an uphill battle. In the games where they have to assemble their fast mana first, we can have a setup that’s able to deal with their Mnemonic WallMnemonic Wall or we get to discard some of their threats. A PestilencePestilence on the board is how we should deal with some versions of the deck, but before we go to the sideboard, it is pretty hard to beat them. A card that shines, when put to good use, is our maindeck Bojuka BogBojuka Bog. Eating up their graveyard one Bog at a time is a good strategy in game 1. They often don’t have much to board in, so what we see from them in the first game is often what we can expect after sideboards as well.

In:

Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Castigate
Castigate
Okiba-Gang Shinobi

Out:

Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip
Prismatic Strands
Prismatic Strands
Aven Riftwatcher

One caveat for this sideboard plan: If they play red removal and Rolling ThunderRolling Thunder, you should keep in the Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands.

The Elves Matchup

Prismatic Strands from Judgment

Prismatic Strands from Judgment

Just like the Inside OutInside Out combo, the Elves deck is a straightforward Elfball deck, that just quickly puts as many small green people on the battlefield as it can. In this matchup, Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands shines, and allows us to establish a small lifetotal cushion before we need to take action. A resolved PestilencePestilence almost always means game over for Elves – but we need to get to a point in the game, where we can afford to do this.
Our 1 for 1 removal plan is solid against Elves. We should aim to kill token generators and mana accelerants because they can get out of hand quickly. If they get a Lys Alana HuntmasterLys Alana Huntmaster to stick and combine it with a Timberwatch ElfTimberwatch Elf or Elvish VanguardElvish Vanguard, that means trouble. Be careful to target the first and the best, because our removal can come in handy later in the game.
They often sideboard 2 or 3 enchantment removal and Harsh SustenanceHarsh Sustenance in some cases to try and cheese us.

In:

Standard Bearer
Standard Bearer

Out:

Raven’s Crime
Palace Sentinels

 

I hope my notes and sideboard guides for the different matchups can help you, my fellow grinders, to obtain the last few QPs or Format Points.
One thing I want to tell you before I say goodbye, is a Note on Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands. You often sit with it in hand and try to get as much value from it as possible. But when you play the card Palace SentinelsPalace Sentinels, it can be essential to cast it a bit earlier, so we can advance our board and maintain the ability to cast the Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands for free with an untapped creature. Loosing the monarch with this deck is often a losing move, since a lot of the decks have more creatures, or play Prismatic StrandsPrismatic Strands as well. When these decks can keep the monarchy through more creatures than us, they can get too far ahead on the board for us to ever get it back. Therefore, the opportunity to deploy blockers each turn with no obligation to keep up 3 mana for Prismatic Strands each turn, can be what tips the scales in our favor. It doesn’t come up often, but when it does, it’s important to understand that sometimes firing off Prismatic Strands for minimal value is a necessary evil to stay the monarch.

Can’t wait to see you all in the playoff or in the Pauper leagues!

Until next time

Michael Bonde // Lampalot

 

 

This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com