Last weekend on Magic Online, there were a series of large “Challenge” events. These premier events bring out the best of the best to battle for supremacy. In the Pauper Challenge, there was one deck that stood out among the rest. In the end, the finals was U/R Skred vs. U/R Skred, with another U/R Skred deck in 3rd place. Let’s take a closer look at the winning list.
This deck is low to the ground with an 18-land mana base, a number of which are snow-covered. These enable one of the strongest removal spells of all time in Skred. Skred scales as the game goes on, requiring you to have lands equal to the damage you’re looking to deal, and the tempo it provides is pivotal. Taking down a 1- or 2-toughness creature early on is great for 1 mana, as we see in Standard with Magma Spray. As the game goes on, being able to deal with 3- or 4-toughness creatures at the same rate means you can always keep your lands open for other instants or to add to the board.
Delver of Secrets enjoys having over 20 spells in your deck while only needing 18 lands to function. Your odds of hitting are merely okay without assistance, but you have plenty of ways to manipulate the top of your library. A 1/1 creature for 1 isn’t exciting, but a 3/2 flying creature is ridiculously powerful and should be worth closer to 4 mana.
Ninja of the Deep Hours means gives that unflipped Delver some use, and it’s one of the best ways to get ahead. You have lots of 1- and 2-mana creatures, many of which offer value, and Ninja makes sure that you can stay aggressive and ahead on cards. A 2-mana creature that draws additional cards plays well with tempo plays like Skred.
Faerie Miscreant gets on the board early, is tough to block, and provides value as you get deeper into the game. This is a fantastic creature to bounce with Ninja, and counts for your Faerie tribal cards.
Augur of Bolas, like Delver, thrives in a deck with more than 20 spells. Another nice card to bounce with Ninja and cash in for some cheap counters, card draw, or removal spells.
If Skred is going to be good and you have lots of aggressive creatures, it’s no surprise that Lightning Bolt is fantastic. It gives you some reach while being able to clear the way for Ninjas and Delvers to do their job.
There are a number of blue cards that are legal in Pauper that have either never had a chance in Modern or that have already been banned. Brainstorm, Gush, and Ponder are all restricted in Vintage, and yet you can play as many copies as you want here. Brainstorm and Ponder are excellent for setting up Delvers and allow you to play a really low land count. Preordain is also not Modern legal and is one of the best ways to tear through your library. Any card that Vintage Delver decks play 4 of is going to be a force in Pauper.
Counterspell is a card that many Modern players have clamored for. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re happy to get to play a playset in Pauper. A 2-mana answer to everything in the format gives you another effective tempo play.
Getting to play such a low land count with lots of ways to get deeper into your library is a great recipe for a powerful deck. Backing that up with Skreds and Lightning Bolts to force your creatures through is tough to beat, and that has now been proven in the Pauper Challenge. If you’re looking to get into Pauper, this has to be the deck to beat right now.