PAUPER. The Wild Wild West of Magic: the Gathering.
All commons huh? Well, if you aren’t careful, you’re getting killed on turn 2. That’s right. No Bonfire of the Damned here. But good, old-fashioned, all common fueled turn 2 kills from multiple popular decks. Jeez. This is a scary land. Today, I will be your guide.
First, the laws of the land:
1. You must play spells on the first and/or second turns of the game.
“Turn one. Draw for my turn. Comes into play tapped land, your turn.”
“You heard that right. YOU’RE DEAD!!!”
You don’t want to get killed on the second turn, do you? Me neither. To prevent that from happening, we need to start playing spells from the get-go. It could be a discard spell, a removal spell, a counterspell, or a blocker. It could be anything, but it has to be SOMETHING.
2. You must have a plan for storm combo decks.
Yes, storm combo has a home in pauper. This is one of the (potential) turn 2 decks. This deck is crazy fast and resilient. Your options are to be faster or to have a critical mass of disruption. That could be discard or counterspells. Having a one-card answer for 40 Empty the Warrens Goblin tokens plus a Goblin Bushwhacker is going to help out too. Be wary.
3. You must have a plan for Cloudpost control decks.
This is the slowest deck in the format, but it has the scariest endgame. If the game goes long, those Cloudposts and Glimmerposts are going to be fueling a stream of Mulldrifters, Mystical Teachings, Ulamog’s Crushers, and (BAM!) Rolling Thunder. YOU’RE DEAD! These decks play a lot of counterspells and removal too. You have to put enough pressure on them early to close the game, or try to match their end game.
4. You must have a plan for creature decks.
Most of the creature decks are mono-colored and play 18-ish basics. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of them will kill you turn 2 (KAPOW), some of them will counter and tempo you out, and some of them will bury you in creatures. You have to have lots of ways to interact from the get go. These decks have 42 1-2 mana spells and 18 lands. How can you match this speed and consistency?
Today I have a new deck for you. A deck that starts playing from turn 1. A deck that can disrupt and shut down storm combo decks. A deck that can out tempo and outlast Cloudpost control decks. A deck that can make creature deck pilots want to QUIT Magic.
I have been playing this deck for about three weeks now. I started with just the deck and 10 tickets. Roughly 100 matches later and I still have those 10 tickets, plus a little. This is solely 2-man pauper queues that pay out a 3.5 ticket M13 pack. You can figure out my win % from that. The results aren’t insane—but rather what you can expect from me: SOLID, good results, sustained over a significant time period.
Here she is:
Here is a cost sorted view of the deck from Magic Online:
Stinkweed Zombies Deck Breakdown
Stinkweed Imp is the name of the game. This card gives creature decks fits. I WILL trade one-for-one with whatever they’re playing. There aren’t many ways around that. The question is, do they attack into it? If they attack into it, we are drawing it every turn for the rest of the game. EVERY TURN. While they draw lands and more 1- and 2-mana spells. They can’t keep pace. They WILL flood. There is no way around that.
What if they don’t attack into it? Our deck is full of 2- and 3-mana plays. Our curve is higher. They want to make this a topdeck game? Fine by me!
Stinkweed Imp is also solid against the control decks. They can try to ignore it forever. Sometimes they can. But when they can’t, the game becomes a nightmare for them. Can they afford to kill this every turn? Or even once?
Games with this deck can go long. Real long. I’m talking 22 turns long. If I’m playing a 22 turn game, I want to be the guy with the Stinkweed Imp. Late game land topdecks? No thanks please!
The best part of this card is the intangibles it brings to the table. Examine this picture-
Why is my opponent doing this? I don’t get it. But it happens all the time. For whatever reason, I play Stinkweed Imp, my opponent tilts off, attacks once, and then concedes when I dredge. This happens ALL THE TIME. People just don’t figure it out. This makes for a lot of free wins. Also, it is hilarious.
So you want to Counterspell my turn 2 play? What about when I play this? Dregscape Zombie is not flashy, but it has a job. It trades with most 1-drops in the format and some of the 2-drops. It is aggressive. It can be defensive. It is also insurance in a Stinkweed game. If you uncover 40 cards off of Stinkweed Imp, having unearth creatures in your deck represents a LOT of damage. Dregscape Zombie is the man.
Dregscape Zombie’s big, bad brother. Four mana for a 3/3 is not a very good deal, but none of the other creature decks are even playing 4-mana spells. In the late game their lands are wasted, and a 3/3 trumps most 1- and 2-drops. 3 damage is also a LOT for unearth. We are starting to get a critical mass of angry hasty zombies coming in from the bin.
Carrion Feeder is the ideal turn 1 play. If left unchecked, this guy often grows to a 6/6 or bigger by the end game. Our deck has 33 creatures in the main. 11 of those have unearth. That is a LOT of bodies for Carrion Feeder.
This guy is guaranteed to eat a removal spell, assuming they can remove a huge creature, which is often not realistic for them. He makes all their removal spells on the rest of our creatures almost unplayable.
Fume Spitter is a flexible little guy. He trades with every 1-drop creature our opponent can throw at us. Trading in the early game is very, very good if we want to get to the late game. Mutual low resources games are the absolute best. How about we both mulligan and skip our first turn and I cast Stinkweed Imp turn 3 while at 20 life? How about that? Is that okay?
Fume Spitter is also a beater against control decks. 1/1 is small, but it’s better than nothing. A lot of the time those control decks have few or no blockers, and they are going to have to eventually spend mana and a card to deal with this guy. Fume Spitter is the hot sauce.
Take a look at this picture:
This is not uncommon. For 1 mana we can get two cards out of their hand. That’s a pretty sick deal against any deck. Mutual mulligans plus some please!
We can easily get this card online with Fume Spitter and Carrion Feeder. It’s actually not a horrible late game topdeck either, because we can haunt a useless creature, and trigger the haunt during their draw step to lock out any non-instant draws. This card is efficient and insane value.
First, why this over Ravenous Rats? I’m glad you asked. Yes, discarding a card ourselves sucks. I would prefer not to do that. But it is two bodies for Carrion Feeder, which is a big deal. It is also two cards from their hand, which is an even bigger deal. We can also uncover this card to Stinkweed Imp. More damage and more cards from their hand. Four please!
So, long games huh? This is a card that gives us something to do on turn 15 if we can’t dredge Stinkweed every turn. This guy gets huge and pointy really fast. He is hard to block, and can be a brick wall defender when we need him to. He’s a little fragile and situational, but that is why we only play two. In games when you flood out, you are going to LOVE this guy. Also, don’t forget about the protection from white. That can come in handy.
About a fourth of the time this card reads 1BB 2/2 Time Walk. The next turn our opponent embarrassingly plays the land they topdecked last turn. People don’t like to play their last land. Well, let’s strip them bare then.
At 2/2 the card isn’t an unreasonable beater either. The disruption is awesome, and when we get a 2-power attacker, or another card from them via combat, we are looking at some sweet, efficient value. Chittering Rats is sometimes unbelievably good.
We’re starting to get a critical mass of discard. All of the discard works out as decent late game topdecks too, which is a usual problem that we have fixed. Liliana’s Specter is especially good. It is a card from their hand, and it is a 2-power flyer. Having a 2-power evasive creature is nice, but even better is something to snap-throw in front of Delver of Secrets or Silhana Ledgewalker.
Don’t let it fool you, this card is good. I actually don’t think I have ever boarded all four of them out in around 100 matches.
Yes, good old fashioned Swamp! We aren’t playing Barren Moor. Why not? Yes, it is nice to cycle a land, but we are often set up to use our mana from extra lands anyways. We have Stinkweed dredges, we have 3- and 4-mana plays, we have unearth, and so on. It’s awesome, but not needed.
The real problem is the drawback. Comes into play tapped is BRUTAL when we are trying to get it going on the very first turn of the game. None of that please. Untapped lands only! I <3 Swamp.
Stinkweed Zombies Sideboard
Duress does two things. It strips important combo pieces from the vile storm combo player’s hand, and it also brings our curve way down. This card is a must-have 4-of between main and board.
This card is brutal. It puts a four-turn limit on our Storm opponents. If they mess around and wait they will get Okiba-Ganged. If you haven’t Okiba-Ganged someone, you don’t know what it means to stick the fork in someone. It is incredibly vicious.
The card is also awesome against control decks. They can’t get everything we have off the table, and eventually they will tap out and expose themselves to this. This card matches, if not goes beyond, Mulldrifter. It also lets us pick up Chittering Rats or Liliana’s Specter for another go. In any sort of matchup where discard is good, this card is unreal.
Echoing Decay is an all star. It sweeps Empty the Warrens Goblin tokens. Yes! It is also an early game removal spell that can occasoinally get sick value on an unlucky opponent. I would never go below 4 of these. This card is just insane in pauper.
These are extra removal spells that attack the opponent’s creatures in different ways. Doom Blade just kills everything. Tendrils of Corruption at 4 damage is great at picking off Spire Golems and Myr Enforcers while refueling the life total. Then there are some decks that just can’t beat Cuombajj Witches.
Mulliganing with Stinkweed Zombies
Flooding is the bane of this deck. I would never ever keep a 5-land hand, and 4-land hands are generally stinkers too. 2 to 3 lands is the ideal, and I actually like 1 land hands quite a bit. I don’t mulligan based on how many lands the hand has though—I mulligan based on how much mana I can use, how much pressure I can apply, and how much disruption I can use. If you evaluate hands like this you will see that a lot of 1-land hands can actually operate pretty well with even a late second and/or third land.
Stinkweed Zombies’ Matchups and Sideboarding
Our 75 is very well-positioned against them. We have Duress, Cry of Contrition, Rotting Rats, Liliana’s Specter, Chittering Rats, Okiba-Gang Shinobi, and Echoing Decay. This is going to make it tough for them.
Our 60 is actually not that well positioned against them though. We do have discard, but not always enough. If you find yourself losing the first game, which will happen sometimes, that is okay. If you are careful you should win most sideboarded games.
When in doubt, play Duress. They need to be impatient after board and you can’t afford to give them any time. I learned this lesson the hard way.
All in all, this is a sweet matchup. Sideboarded games you can usually prevent them from doing anything at all.
Sideboarding vs. Storm
Most Cloudpost variants play blue/red. LSV actually helped popularize this deck. If he plays with it, a lot of people are going to, so you are going to have to beat it.
Games average around 12 turns, and I have won a majority of them. The key is really to apply as much damage as possible. They are usually behind because they are limited on colored mana. Even if they have extra mana they are often spending it on cards like Prophetic Prism and Preordain.
If you can empty their hand out, they topdeck horribly. They have some bombs and card draw, but they also have a ton of useless mana. In long games they can really out mana us in play, but we can functionally out mana them by casting spells and unearthing.
Capsize and Ghostly Flicker usually aren’t realistic against us because of our discard guys. In order for them to win they need to take absolute control of the game and hit us for 20 with their one Rolling Thunder. This isn’t actually that unlikely so you need to play tight.
Sideboarding vs. Cloudpost Control
Maxing creatures is important so that we can apply the most pressure possible, and be ready to slip in an Okiba-Gang when the time comes. This matchup is an absolute grind, which ends up being a lot of fun for the winner and completely miserable for the loser. I have been on the winning side of this battle more often than not.
Mono Green infect is much faster than even it’s standard counterpart. Yes, that is correct. It kills on turn 2 regularly, with combinations of Invigorate, Groundswell, Vines of the Vastwood, and Mutagenic Growth.
The key to this matchup is to trade as often as possible. We want to block their creature in play while knocking cards from their hand. Our deck is really set up to do this. The two main cards to be careful of are Rancor and Apostle’s Blessing. Sometimes we need to depend on a blocker, and BAM, we are dead.
We have a lot of cards that interact well against them. Fume Spitter makes their Blight Mamba look stupid. Stinkweed Imp makes their, well, everything look stupid. Their deck topdecks horribly because they often can’t put their pump spells to use right away, which means our discard spells are live 24/7.
All-in-all, I like the matchup a lot, but you need to be very careful. One wrong move in the early turns of the game and we are dead.
Sideboarding vs. Mono Green Infect
Their deck is threat light and fast, so our sideboard is set up to take advantage of that. We can kill most of their guys, and we can also bring our curve way down. I like this matchup quite a bit after sideboarding. In general our deck sideboards very well, and this matchup really showcases that.
Delver of Secrets is just as popular in Pauper as it is in Standard. It is a nuisance. The deck can get tempo wins off of Delver of Secrets, and grind out longer games with Spire Golems and Serrated Arrows.
Sometimes games are races, and sometimes they can go very long. We can potentially match them on both. The key is to really try to get in front of Delver of Secrets as fast as possible. Sometimes you can leave it in play, but most of the time you can’t afford to. This means no value off of Cry of Contrition. Just go for the Delver, because you may never get another chance.
Sideboarding vs. Mono-Blue Delver
After sideboard Delver usually isn’t a problem because we have so much removal. The main way to lose sideboarded games is combinations of Spire Golem and Serrated Arrows. This is why we leave in all of the Viscera Draggers. We might dredge Stinkweed Imp 10 turns in a row, and with multiple Serrated Arrows on their side of the field, it needs to lead somewhere.
Overall, this is a pretty close match. It is probably the most fun matchup to play as well, because all of the games tend to be interactive.
Goblins is the matchup I probably want to face the least. They topdeck well. With Goblin Sledder, any draw is good later in the game—especially burn spells. We often fall behind really quickly because our creatures can’t always trade with theirs, and we don’t have enough time to take over.
The match comes down to how they treat Stinkweed Imp. Sometimes Stinkweed Imp can drain them of cards, but a lot of times they can power through it. Sometimes it is hard for them to tell, and it falls on them to win or lose the match.
Sideboarding vs. Goblins
Drawing Carrion Feeder can really make or break the matchup. If we are trading and trying to stabilize, it often ends with death for us—unless we are simultaneously beating them down and growing a Carrion Feeder.
This matchup is winnable, but I wouldn’t call it a breeze like some of the other matchups. If they play a Mountain, the match is not over, but you are going to have to play tight to win. If you really want to stick it to them I recommend putting some Sylvok Lifestaffs in the board. It will get you results in this matchup, but overall I don’t think it’s worth it.
I don’t know how, but I haven’t played this match once in around 100 online matches. I’ve played against it a lot with other decks, so I think that is just luck of the draw. I am trying a different brewing strategy for Pauper because it is so cheap and fun to play against real opponents.
The white deck has some scary cards like Oblivion Ring, Guardian of the Guildpact, and a -1/-1 sweeper. We have Order of the Ebon Hand, Stinkweed Imp, Carrion Feeder, and a mass of discard, so it seems pretty reasonable either way.
I am not going to give a recommended sideboarding strategy for this matchup because I haven’t tested it.
The key to the matchup from our side is trying to keep them off of a big Rush of Knowledge. This means going after the last card in their hand or the highest-costed creature they have aggressively. Keep them from doing that, and we should win.
Stinkweed Imp is incredibly hard for them to beat. Sometimes they just start throwing guys into it and lose on the spot, but I don’t really blame them. In the long term, Stinkweed is going to make it impossible for them.
Sideboarding vs. Affinity
The matchup doesn’t change too much after sideboard. The main difference is that we have extra removal for their Myr Enforcers which makes it even harder for them to draw 7.
Mono-Green Beatdown No Infect
This deck is not as efficient as Infect, but is more resilient. It has guys like Skarrgan Pit Skulk and Silhana Ledgewalker. We have various ways to block these. Stinkweed Imp makes their deck bad most of the time, and Order of the Ebon Hand is important for jumping in front of the Skulk.
Flying is our best ability here. They can really clog the ground sometimes, which makes it hard to finish with Carrion Feeder if it becomes a race. The match is a race quite a bit more than Infect, which we can win, but the ideal is to drag it out into a long game where they are in topdeck mode. Usually there is no coming back for them from that.
Sideboarding vs. Mono-Green Beatdown No Infect
We have more time than against the Infect deck so we can afford to keep our curve high. We aren’t in danger of dying on the second turn so we don’t need to go for Duress on turn 1.
Fume Spitter doesn’t actually kill anything they have, so I usually cut all of them.
This is the list, and those are the major matchups. The deck is extremely tested, and it has been performing. The deck is extremely hard to play. If you lose a close game, try to figure out something you could have done differently. There is usually something. Happy battling!
Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I’m missing? Let me know!