I love all of Magic, and that includes the Pauper format! I haven’t played a ton it before recently, but I’ve been very into it over recent months. I have played a few times with Mono-Blue Delver decks, but being able to play with Force of Will and Ancestral Recall was the turning point to pull me in–U/B Delver was a powerhouse with Foil and Gush, and I enjoyed playing Accumulated Knowledge as well.
Then came Pauper Monday and the bans. So what has happened since, as we continue to incorporate Modern Horizons?
Faerie Seer is easy to fit into Mono-Blue, Defile in Mono-Black and Winding Way in Slivers and B/G Aristocrats. Ephemerate is a one-mana Ghostly Flicker and I expect it to be built around. Arcum’s Astrolabe also makes other decks adapt to include it: Snow Tron is now a thing thanks to it, and Snow Monarch was also brought to light and the latest results show it to be the deck to beat.
But where did blue control decks I love so much go? A thank you to Igor Coelho, who pointed me in the direction of U/R Flicker from janicestone:
Izzet Flicker in Pauper
2 Ash Barrens 3 Evolving Wilds 4 Izzet Boilerworks 2 Radiant Fountain 9 Snow-Covered Island 2 Snow-Covered Mountain 4 Augur of Bolas 3 Sea Gate Oracle 3 Archaeomancer 4 Mulldrifter 3 Brainstorm 1 Dispel 1 Electrickery 3 Flame Slash 3 Lightning Bolt 4 Preordain 4 Counterspell 2 Harvest Pyre 2 Ghostly Flicker 1 Deep Analysis Sideboard 2 Electrickery 2 Gorilla Shaman 4 Hydroblast 4 Pyroblast 2 Relic of Progenitus 1 Serrated Arrows
There were a few things I did not like about the list, so I started toying with it and got some great advice from Tiago Santos (thanks Tiago!)
The mana base seemed off since the deck is so mana-hungry, and I wanted some more red sources without losing blue ones. Some more lifegain to beat Burn would be interesting as well, so Swiftwater Cliffs replaced Evolving Wilds and Ash Barrens. The last Ash Barrens wasn’t doing much and having recurrent graveyard hate seemed nice, so I replaced it with Bojuka Bog–remember not only you can bounce it back, but also Flicker it if necessary. That also frees space in the sideboard, making the Relics unnecessary. You already know my love for Accumulated Knowledge, and this deck with the updated mana base wasn’t able to capitalize on Brainstorm. I didn’t like Electrickery main so I tried the fourth Flame Slash instead. Between AKs and Archaeomancers, I didn’t want to be too graveyard-dependent, so Harvest Pyre had to go. I wanted to try Jilt and Capsize in the deck and fit them in those spots.
I dislike Serrated Arrows in the sideboard–I can be wrong on this comboing with Flicker, but it seems a win-more card and too slow. I included Echoing Truth as a catchall answer, Curfew to fight Bogles and possibly Gurmags, and Annul to gain a few percentage points against Affinity and Tron.
Jonathan Melamed’s Izzet Flicker
1 Bojuka Bog 4 Izzet Boilerworks 2 Radiant Fountain 9 Snow-Covered Island 2 Snow-Covered Mountain 4 Swiftwater Cliffs 4 Augur of Bolas 3 Sea Gate Oracle 3 Archaeomancer 4 Mulldrifter 1 Dispel 4 Flame Slash 3 Lightning Bolt 4 Preordain 4 Accumulated Knowledge 4 Counterspell 1 Jilt 1 Capsize 2 Ghostly Flicker Sideboard 1 Annul 1 Curfew 2 Electrickery 2 Gorilla Shaman 4 Hydroblast 4 Pyroblast 1 Echoing Truth
I played two leagues on MTGO, going 3-2 and 4-1. Picking up a new deck in a new metagame in an unknown format can be hard, so I wasn’t playing optimally and wasn’t upset with the results as I kept improving. I had an important tournament coming up and happily sleeved this up for a Pauper Nationals Qualifier!
Let me introduce to you to an independent Brazilian circuit called Pauper Nationals that has been going on for more than 5 years in the hands of Luiz Turco. This is its sixth edition and last year attendance was 144 players with approximately a $2,000 prize pool.
This was our fourth qualifier, with the previous ones being won by Eduardo Bispo on Slivers, Matheus Cabral on Auras Hexproof and Leonardo Ribeiro with Mono-Black Land Destruction to show the diversity the format and our local community. We had 18 players participating in 5 rounds of Swiss with a cut to Top 8. I went undefeated, facing G/W Slivers, Burn and Boros Monarch and IDing the last two rounds to finish as the second seed.
This was our Top 8! Yes, look at that young 8 year old kid! He was playing Hexproof Auras and faced none other than his father Raphael Martinez on Burn in the Top 8–and crushed his old man!
It is a delight to see him play; he’s so young that can barely shuffle his own deck and usually asks his opponent to help him. He can be seen playing mainly Pauper with Bogles or Burn, or Legacy with Belcher or Burn.
The Top 8 Decks:
- Hexproof Auras
- Izzet Flicker
- Dimir Control
- Bant Walls
- Red Deck Wins
Unfortunately, for little Raphael, Pedro Helias on Affinity ended his dreams as well and move on to the finals.
As for myself, I faced José Luiz Coimbra’s Burn and beat him 2-1 to advance to the semifinals, while Luis Barbosa with Bant Walls dispatched Mario da Paz on Red Deck Wins to face me. Our games went smoothly (for me), and I defeated Pedro to win the tournament!
Pauper will continue to evolve with the addition of Core Set 2020, though nothing jumps out at me as a major shakeup. Regardless, card advantage will continue to be the most important aspect of the format. Snow Monarch will be the most dominant force, but I like where U/R Flicker is in the metagame and will continue to play it possibly with some tweaks.