Walls! (UH! Good God Y’all!)
What are the gooooood for? (Absolutely Nothing!)
Say it again!
I’ve got to stop you right there, Edwin Starr, Walls are good for powering up the Freed from the Real combo decks like the one that I’ll be sharing today:
Yes, the deck is wacky, and even a little bit gimmicky, but it is also powerful and more than capable of winning games. Let’s start by getting on the same page and looking at the list I’ve been tuning:
The objective is to enchant Oasis Ritualist or Axebane Guardian with Freed From the Real to make infinite mana. The Guardian needs a second defender in play in order for the combo to work, which is why I’m playing a supporting cast of “value Walls” in the form of:
The good news is that the the support Walls are actually passable in this deck. They are cheap and provide value as the game goes on via blocking, generating mana, tutoring, or generating cards. Each card helps push you toward your victory endgame with mana efficient plays along the way.
Obviously, you would never play these cards unless there was a payoff—and you have one—a redundant infinite mana endgame engine. You don’t play these cards because they are insane on their own—you play them because they provide a useful synergy engine that allows you to do something that wins the game.
Last week I wrote an article about the most impactful Guilds of Ravnica cards in various casual, or non-sanctioned, formats. At the top of my list of cards I was most excited about for Pauper was an itty-bitty Wall that looked like a great fit for a Wall-based combo deck.
First of all, Portcullis Vine is a good Magic card as far as stats are concerned. It’s Wall of Wood, with the ability to sacrifice any Wall (including itself) to draw card. In the deck I’m going to be writing about, it helps the deck work in three ways.
One of my favorite aspects of the Wall deck is that it is truly a combo deck, and a decent one at that! Pauper is no longer a domain ruled by combo since most of the cards with storm have been banned. If you want to combo, you’ve got to work for it, and this is a working man or woman’s combo deck!
Keep in mind that a lot of decks are simply not well suited to defeat a true combo deck like this in a game of rock, scissors, paper, which is another draw to play a combo deck, even if it isn’t an established tier 1 deck.
There are actually multiple avenues that a “Freed Walls” deck can take.
Soft lock Walls.
Mnemonic Wall and Ghostly Flicker are powerful value engines that are already utilized by many control deck end games. My vision for my version of Turbo Wall was that I wanted to end the game once I had assembled my combo and maximize consistency.
I don’t think it’s right or wrong, as much as it boils down to, “How do you want to position your build?” I didn’t go this route, yet, but I’d be willing to consider it moving forward. I love the potential of being able to have a hard Fog lock built into the list.
I see the value in prolonging the game, since my combo can be expensive to execute all in one turn. Speaking of Fog locks:
Let’s be honest. Nearly every deck in Pauper wins with combat. Even the control decks win with combat most of the time. If you deny your opponent the combat step it will give you an extra turn in most cases. For a combo deck, an extra turn is a huge game.
I’m using the deck slots that others would be using for the Ghostly Flicker package for redundancy of combo pieces and tutors:
The kill condition is Valakut Invoker. Once you have infinite mana you can simply play the creature and activate it as many times as you please to win the game. You are also maxed out on Drift of Phantasms and have access to Train of Thought to ensure that you can find it once you have infinite mana.
I haven’t gotten to play many matches with the deck yet, but it is pretty fun to goldfish. I have a sleeved copy in my laptop bag that I’ve been working on getting to draw smoother and more consistently over the course of the past week. I’ll admit that the sideboard is a little bit generic, which comes from not having played a ton of matches yet.
Crusher is a huge problem for this deck, since Fog doesn’t help you against the annihilator Eldrazi. With that in mind, I have four Faerie Macabres in the board for reanimator. I am a fan of the Moment’s Peace in the main deck against aggressive decks and being able to board them out against more controlling decks.
Is this deck as good as U/R Delver? No. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a deck worth trying out at the LGS or in a Pauper League. My favorite aspect of Pauper is getting to play strange decks full of weird cards, much more so than just playing the spiky Gush decks. I do think the deck is a viable fringe choice and that Portcullis Vine is certainly an upgrade to the archetype.
We’ve got Walls. We’ve got Fogs. We win with an infinite combo. Truly, this Pauper combo deck is rich in theme and flavor, if nothing else!