I’ve been deep in the think tank for Mythic Championship IV at Barcelona and Pauper Premier League over the past few weeks (not to mention I had to learn Core Set 2020 Limited for GP Detroit!). It’s been several months since I’ve tested for a big event and so taking on three at the same time was a challenge, to say the least.

I went undefeated at the Friday Pauper Constructed Side Event. I opened a Sealed Pool at the GP not even a mother could love and dropped at 3-3.

One thing I promised myself a couple of years ago was that I didn’t want to lose sight of playing for fun and recreation, and keeping the stress, anxiety, and obsessive worry out of my game. I’m going to learn as much as I can about each format, build the best decks I can with the information I have, make each play to the best of my ability, and, win or lose, appreciate and enjoy the experience without taking the outcomes personally. I’ve reprogrammed myself to treat Magic like what I want it to be, something I do for enjoyment rather than as something I do to prove something to myself or anybody else.

All of which is a preamble to say I’ve learned to stop and smell the roses, and by roses I mean, decks and ideas I find fun, creative and unique. Today I have a meme deck to share that hits all three of those criteria in spades: “Pridemates! Pridemates EVERYWHERE!”

Ajani's Pridemate

It’s Raining Cats and More Cats

I stopped by my LGS earlier this week to play Modern and was delighted my friend Jon Wilkerson was quick to ask, “Want to see a wild deck?”

“Yes, obviously!”

I’ve known and played Magic with Jon since the early 2000s. You might know him from “The Jono Special” Mono-Black Pauper list that was popular a few months ago. If you’re from Michigan, you probably know him as a central figure in the Michigan Pauper scene who helped grow the format from nothing into a vibrant scene.

He started running weekly Pauper, built a bunch of decks to loan out to anybody who wanted to play, and from nothing has created a weekly scene that gets 30 players and a monthly event that has gotten upwards of 75-150 players. The LGS where I play has a long tradition of keeping some extra decks on hand to give newer players options to try out formats. Jon is also the individual who introduced me to Pauper.

He’s been doing the kind of things that make the community better and more fun, which I appreciate, and so I’m glad to feature a fun deck he’s been playing on MTG Arena.

Standard lifegain

Pridemates! Pridemates, EVERYWHERE!

Jon Wilkerson

20 Plains
2 Cryptic Caves
4 Healer’s Hawk
4 Leonin Vanguard
4 Soulmender
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
2 Impassioned Orator
4 Angel of Vitality
2 Resplendent Angel
3 Pride of Conquerors
3 Prison Realm
1 Gideon Blackblade
3 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
4 Ajani's Welcome

I couldn’t help but laugh and appreciate what I was looking at. You’ll notice that it has no sideboard, because he’s just been playing it as a best-of-one deck.

The deck is a weird flavor of mono-white aggro rooted in the redundancy of Pridemate and Ajani, Strength of the Pride (which makes Ajani’s Pridemate Tokens). He also mentioned that he’d like to add Legion’s Landing to the deck, but he ran out of wildcards crafting an “Oops, All Chandras!” deck.

If that isn’t ‘good old Magic,’ then I don’t know what is! “Gotta save up to get more rares for the next experiment,” takes me back to my middle school days. It’s worth noting that there are few rares and mythics in the list, which makes it fairly cheap to build on Arena. The redundancy of Pridemate is one of the many payoffs for gaining copious amounts of life. The deck is adept at generating multiple triggers per turn, which makes the Cat grow large quickly.

Ajani, Strength of the Pride

I became intimately familiar with Ajani, Strength of the Pride at Detroit, as I had the displeasure of playing against it (getting squashed by it) twice in five rounds! The powerful mythic has three great abilities as well as relatively high starting loyalty for a four-drop. Jon said he started with 4 Ajani, Strength of the Pride and then cut down because it was a little bit clunky on the curve.

In a deck full of life gain synergies, the card basically does everything we could possibly ask for:

  1. It pluses to gain large amounts of life.
  2. It minuses to create a card that rewards us for gaining life.
  3. It has a huge and immediate ultimate that rewards having lots of life.

The deck also makes great use of another interesting Core Set 2020 printing:

Angel of Vitality

If you can get to 25 life (which is reasonable in a deck with so much life gain) a 4/4 flier that helps gain extra life over the course of the game is a nice deal.

Overall, I wouldn’t consider the Pridemate deck to be a competitive deck, but it’s certainly a fun concept and flavorful execution. It’s cheap to build and fun to run through leagues with.

This deck would be really fun to put into a Learn to Play gauntlet. For instance, five Standard decks with one of each color that really highlights the flavor and playstyle of each individual color. As far as white goes, life gain and weenie creatures are defining elements of that color.

With that in mind, it’s got me thinking about what would be the coolest, most flavorful, meme deck that one could build for each of the remaining four colors to round out the gauntlet? What would the mono black, blue, red, and green equivalent Meme Decks look like?

If you have any cool ideas or concepts for the remaining four colors of “Learn to Play” meme decks, I’d love to hear them in the comments below! Keep in mind, the list doesn’t need to be competitive (I can easily balance the decks out so they interplay nicely and fairly with one another), but rather have great flavor and would be engaging and exciting for new players to try and get a sense of the different options each color have to offer.