Last Friday, I attended the local Pauper League in my area. A very large group of dedicated Pauper players helped me dive deeper into the format, and now I’m hooked.

I have played a handful of Pauper events in my life. I started with Tireless Tribe Combo after watching Luis Scott-Vargas’ video about the deck, and then moved on to Izzet Delver once a friend of mine won a 60-player tournament with the deck.

I loved Izzet Delver the few times I played it. It really felt like I was playing Legacy and that my opponents weren’t.

Gurmag Angler

I have heard rumors that U/B Delver is now much better than Izzet Delver because of how good Gurmag Angler is, but I love the Ninja of the Deep Hours engine too much and find it difficult to leave Izzet Delver behind.

Izzet Delver

Andrea Mengucci, 3rd place at LPM Spring Season

10 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Mountain
3 Ash Barrens
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Faerie Miscreant
4 Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration
4 Augur of Bolas
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Fire/Ice
3 Gush
4 Counterspell
1 Brainstorm
4 Preordain
4 Skred
3 Ponder

Sideboard
2 Electrickery
2 Gorilla Shaman
3 Hydroblast
3 Stormbound Geist
2 Swirling Sandstorm
3 Pyroblast

When I say “I play Legacy and my opponents don’t,” I mean that I am able to play premium cantrips, powerful spells, and get a mixture of card selection/advantage and interaction that only exists in Legacy.

I played a bunch of games against Boros Monarch and Orzhov Pestilence, and while everyone keeps saying how bad those matchups are, I truly don’t think they are.

The nature of a blue deck is that it’s less likely to flood/screw, and more likely to draw its key cards.

Pestilence

Sure, if your opponent resolves Pestilence, a Guardian of the Guildpact (what I like to call True-Name Nemesis) or a Battle Screech, they gain enough value that you’re more likely to lose, but they have no control over their draw steps, and if you counter Glint Hawk/Kor Skyfisher to stop their engine you can easily outdraw them.

Tron is another weird matchup where you can counter their Ancient Stirrings, Crop Rotation, or Expedition Map to keep them off of Tron and then easily overpower them.

Curse of the Pierced Heart

I did play against Burn and lost badly when they cast Curse of the Pierced Heart on turn 2, but without the Arena starting hand algorithm, an 18-land deck is prone to fizzle, and fizzle they did on game 2 and 3. I still think that the matchup is awful and needs to be improved. I will definitely add a 4th Hydroblast in my sideboard going forward, and I’ll look around for life gain spells. If you have any suggestions, hit me up in the comments!

Elves is another close matchup, but sideboarding helps immensely. You use your cheap removal to keep them honest and counter their Lead the Stampede and Distant Melody. After sideboard, make sure to play around their Wrap in Vigor by casting your sweepers with a back-up counter. I think that access to 1-mana removal and Fire // Ice make this matchup much better than U/B Delver.

I was very underwhelmed by Delver of Secrets. All of my opponents killed it right away and it was the only creature in the deck that didn’t create value immediately. The few times it stuck around, it never flipped, and Preordain wasn’t good enough to flip it.

Moving forward, I want to try a version of Izzet Skred that doesn’t involve Delver of Secrets. I thought about Mist-Cloaked Herald, but it’s probably better to go more midrange by adding more lands and more Stormbound Geist.

Izzet Skred

Andrea Mengucci

11 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Mountain
3 Ash Barrens
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Faerie Miscreant
2 Stormbound Geist
4 Augur of Bolas
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Fire/Ice
3 Gush
4 Counterspell
1 Brainstorm
4 Preordain
4 Skred
4 Ponder

Sideboard
2 Electrickery
2 Gorilla Shaman
4 Hydroblast
1 Stormbound Geist
2 Swirling Sandstorm
3 Pyroblast
1 Dispel

I found 18 lands too few, and my cantrips were basically looking only for lands every single time.

Ponder

So I would increase the Island count and add a 4th Ponder to the mix. More spells for Augur of Bolas wouldn’t hurt.

Stormbound Geist

I’m not sure if Stormbound Geist is better than Mulldrifter or Sea Gate Oracle, but I want to attack at some point in the game, since some decks have excellent late games. Fire // Ice has been good, and I liked it over the third Lightning Bolt. There are a bunch of X/1s out there, and in a deck with this many cantrips, it’s good to have a silver bullet.

Being able to slow down Gurmag Angler one turn so that you can hit your 5th land drop to kill it with Skred is also nice.

Overall I’m thrilled to be playing Pauper again and trying my new creation. I know that I’m a n00b in the format and I have a lot to learn, but that’s the great thing about Magic—it doesn’t matter how many Mythic Championship Top 8s you have or if you are in the MPL. There will still be formats you’ll be clueless about and that you are excited to learn!

This weekend I’ll be battling it out at MagicFest Bilbao. The format will be Modern. My last Modern tournament was roughly three months ago. A lot of things have changed and I’m excited to see how powerful the new Ravnica Allegiance cards are. I know I should be playtesting for Mythic Invitational Boston, but I love Magic too much, and I can’t pass on a rare occasion—a MagicFest in Europe!

See you there!