I’ve spent the past few weeks exercising my theory muscles. Most projects I’ve taken on have been theoretical in nature: This week’s Pauper Podcast dissected the who, what, where, when and why informing metagame speed. I’m participating in a chat with Eric Freytags and Dr. Shay called “Fastbond Fan Club” to break the recently unrestricted Vintage bomb, and these experiences led me to question common notions about relationships between skill and deck selection.

Whew, that is a lot of theorycraft… I feel like I’ve been studying for, and am now prepared to take, my O.W.L. exams.

Today, I wanted to step away from the Ivory Tower into the fresh air of a fun, interesting, and outside-the-box Pauper brew designed by a player from my LGS. Readers seemed to enjoy last month’s write-up of Thor Boyer’s “Asgardian Soldiers,” nearly as much as I enjoyed writing it, and so I’m running the concept back except this time with the spotlight on Benjamin Topping’s “RG Impact Bombardment.”

Ben is a L1 Judge in his eighth year of service in the Michigan region. He’s an asset of the community and is well-known for his dynamic and well-tuned Cube. Over the past six months, Ben has been enjoying playing weekly Pauper tournaments at the LGS.

As a content creator, player, and fan of the game, I love doing these articles because I appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears (of frustration) that goes into transforming an idea or concept into a deck that can be shuffled and played. There’s a lot to be learned from everyday innovations.

Brace for Impact, because I’m going to dive right into it:

Approved Brews: Pauper Bombardment

Benjamin Topping

2 Forest (347)
3 Forgotten Cave
4 Khalni Garden
10 Moutain
4 Rugged Highlands
4 Grim Initiate
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Nest Invader
2 Beetleback Chief
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Saproling Migration
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Impact Tremors
4 Raid Bombardment

Sideboard
3 Bonesplitter
2 Electrickery
3 Sparksmith
2 Flaring Pain
2 Return to Nature
3 Weather the Storm

Ben has been working on it for six months and tried a lot of things to reach this point. His inspiration was his favorite draft format, Rise of Eldrazi. He recognized the reason the archetype was format-defining hinged on the strength of synergistic commons, which makes it a natural potential Pauper port.

I love how affordable it is to build new Pauper decks. All 75 cards can be in your electronic MTGO deck box for 17 tickets or assembled in paper form for less than $40.

It’s been a long, hard road with many frustrating and underwhelming early results, the last round of bannings and constant tuning have led him to a point where he’s now getting consistently strong finishes in the weekly LGS events. In fact, he recently posted his first 4-0 finish, which is a lot more difficult to do than it sounds considering the high level of play and dedication from the weekly crowd.

The deck is a straightforward, aggressive, go-wide, token deck:

Nest InvaderMogg War MarshalSaproling MigrationHordeling OutburstBeetleback Chief

The downshift of two cards, Hordeling Outburst and Beetleback Chief, are nice additions as well.

The lynchpins are the enchantments:

Raid BombardmentImpact Tremors

These go a long way to enhance the natural strengths of a deck that is more interested in quantity over quality when it comes to bodies on the battlefield.

Kor SkyfisherMoment's Peace

1/1s being outclassed by blocker, or brickwalled by a Fog lock, are both nicely mitigated by the repeated triggers of the enchantments and increase our chances of crossing the finish line despite roadblocks.

Lightning BoltBurning-Tree EmissaryGrim Initiate

The final suite of main deck cards cements the direction of the deck firmly in aggression. Bolt is Bolt. BTE helps bring heavy pressure. And Grim Initiate is a card Ben went deep to find once he realized he wanted to bring the curve down. He wanted a card like Young Wolf that he could support with a 10-Mountain manabase. Initiate’s First Strike synergizes nicely with the sideboard Bone Splitters, which are in and of themselves a nice piece of tech against 2/2 blockers.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Rogue brews are hard to assess because we don’t have enough meaningful data to draw upon. The fact that Ben consistently does well in a competitive field tells me there is something here worth taking a closer look at. Since we can’t draw upon a bunch of data, let’s talk about what it does well and where it struggles.

Strength: Consistency

The biggest strength of the deck is that it is consistent. It isn’t likely to lose because it didn’t function or couldn’t find a specific combo piece in time. The curve is solid and the deck is redundant to the point where every keepable hand drawn is likely to produce a similar, effective play pattern.

Strength: Good Against Removal

It is hard to run the deck out of bodies with 1-for-1 removal. There are 21 cards that produce between two and three bodies each.

Strength: High-Impact, Hard-to-Answer Lynchpins

The enchantments are the heart and soul of the strategy. Not only do they generate a ton of damage in concert with the token package, by virtue of being enchantments they are difficult for most decks to answer once resolved, especially in Game 1. Outside of Counterspell, maindeck answers to enchantments are sparse and it’s always a delight to play match ups where your best cards are hard to get off the board.

Weakness: Vulnerable to Sweepers

Sweepers are the natural foil to token decks.

Crypt RatsPestilenceElectrickeryEvincar's Justice

The good news is black decks are not well-positioned at the moment. Electrickery is a commonly played card to beat Elves, but there are fewer than ever before. I’d expect to see exactly two copies in the sideboard of a deck that can play it.

Weakness: Stonehorn Dignitary Locks

Given the spectrum of beatdown decks in Pauper, I’d say Bombardment is average against various Fog Locks. It has Bolt, Bombardment, and Impact Tremors as ways to generate non-combat damage and thus bypass a Fog.

Fog of GnatsTangle AspStonehorn DignitaryMoment's Peace

The most relevant lock is Stonehorn, since it takes Raid Bombardment out of the equation. It is worth noting that access to Tremors and Bolt gives the deck considerably more outs to Ghostly Flicker/Stonehorn than Bogles, Stompy, or White Heroic.

The strengths and weaknesses of a deck define its matchups. It’s also worth noting that the types of things that are best against this deck, black sweepers and Stonehorn Tron, are about as poorly positioned as I’ve ever seen them in Pauper right now. If the table was ever set for a deck like this to overperform in a metagame, now is the time!

Moving Forward

One of the most fun parts about learning about a new deck is imagining how it might be improved. One person can only realistically do so much, and Ben has done a great job taking an idea to that point where he has a real deck.

I love the focus and consistency of his main deck card choices and his commitment to making it less clunky. In previous months, I would have listed “too clunky” as a weakness but he’s done a nice job of streamlining his choices with curve in mind. In fact, I think the deck now presents consistently fast and smooth draws to the point where what was once a weakness is now a strength.

Two angles Token fans might look to exploit to progress the deck are convoke and/or Goblin Bushwhacker since both nicely synergize with a bunch of cheap bodies.

Goblin BushwhackerSprout Swarm

Ben was up front about the fact that most of his tuning has been focused around playing in the weekly LGS metagame, which has informed his sideboard construction. So what might the sideboard look like if you’re taking it into the Magic Online queues?

Gorilla Shaman (Facing Left)TranquilityAncient GrudgeRelic of ProgenitusPyroblast

I tend to like these more direct and high-impact sideboard cards because they make sideboarding easy and obvious, especially when trying out a new deck. As is always the case, play a sideboard geared toward beating what you expect to play against!

Overall, Ben has done an extremely nice job taking an idea and making it into an impressive reality. I’d like to thank him for sharing his list and insights about building and tuning it up. If you enjoyed the article and deck, show him some love in the comment section.