"We can be heroes, just for one day" ~ David Bowie
Welcome back to the final day of Pauper Week! Today we are taking a look at my original deck brew for the format. This deck was a real bear to put together and went through quite a bit of versioning. In addition to the obvious Pauper restrictions, I set myself a hard limit of $30.00 for the entire deck. I wanted a deck that someone could easily build to give the format a try without being a significant financial burden - and while thirty bucks is sill a lot of cash, I'd be willing to bet that if you have a medium sized Magic collection a lot of these are cards are already sitting unused in your commons box. Let's take a look!
Born of the Gods. There is a set that sends shivers down the spine of most Magic players. It is a release with few standout cards, resulting in it having one of the worst value propositions of any set in the secondary market. So its funny that the heart of this deck revolves around a fourteen cent common that everyone has forgotten about. The card is Setessan Oathsworn - and by bringing along his friends Staunch-hearted Warrior and Lagonna-Band Trailblazer he forms an army that takes this build all the way to value-town.
As Magic players become more experienced building decks, they better at analyzing the relative value of an individual card. One thing becomes clear very quickly - card disadvantage is "bad". Losing two cards to an opponents one can be a deal-breaker over the course of a game and just as devastating as your opponent drawing two cards every turn to your one. This is what makes the inclusion of a large number of aura enchantments or instants/sorceries in a deck "problematic". Auras are lost as the creature is killed setting your board back two cards, and in a similar vein, instants "leave no presence" after they resolve. Play too many of these cards and you can find yourself in the mid-game with one or two creatures to your opponents four or five - not a fun place to be. In most formats, players use card recursion as a tool to mitigate this liability - but recursion is hard to come by in a common only format like Pauper.
So we have to find another way to solve this problem if we want to build a deck around these cards. Enter the Heroic ability. This Theros block keyword highlights a triggered ability that is given when the creature is targeted. In the case of our three creatures, when they are targeted by a spell, our creatures are given one or even two permanent +1/+1 counters. By leaving behind a permanent presence on the board, we increase the quality of every one of our spells and make our board presence significantly more formidable. Yes... you may still have fewer creatures, but these are now threats they can not afford to let through. These folks get big very quick.
Of the three cards in our army, Setessan Oathsworn is in the "sweet spot" at a converted mana cost of three. He is perfect for our aggro based deck, and by getting two counters for each Heroic trigger, he becomes the workhorse of the deck. Staunch-hearted Warrior is our mid to late game play. It fills the same role as the Oathsworn while coming into play with bigger stats for an additional mana. I've chosen Lagonna-Band Trailblazer to round out our heroic team, because in the early game it is nice to have her defensive capability while you set up your board. She can also be targeted in a pinch if you need to build another attacker.
Rounding out our creatures is Avacyn's Pilgrim. While this guy has nothing to do with our combat or deck theme, he is crucial to our success. He provides ramp and an off-color mana source. With most of our man needs being green, this creature keeps us from investing too strongly in plains. He's a worthy "4 of" include.
Pump and protect.
Now that we have selected creatures that help us with the card disadvantage problem, we can include several instants that will pump our creatures during combat. Many of the instants simultaneously provide protection to our creatures, insuring that they make through the combat phase unscathed. The best example of this is Vines of Vastwood. Casting for one green mana plus one additional for its kicker cost, this card gives a creature +4/+4 and Hexproof until end of turn. A fantastic card that can be used as an offensive or defensive play, it becomes spectacular when it also gives the target a permanent +1/+1 counter. In am similar vein we have Ajani's Presence, a card that gives +1/+1 to a target creature as well as indestructible. By using the strive cost you can target multiple creatures - giving them all these benefits and +1/+1 counters all around. A great late game play that can become a well timed win condition.
The next two cards we include, bring us increased value by being able to use them more than once in a game. Artful Maneuver is an instant for one white and one colorless mana that gives a target creature +2/+2. This spell also has the Rebound ability which casts it again on your next turn for free. This mean over two turns you get two targeted abilities - and two +1/+1 counters. Pretty cool. Our only sorcery in the deck, Travel Preparations provides similar value. This card gives two +1/+1 counters to up to two target creatures. That's four counters for two mana - and it has Flashback so you can do it again. Crazy.
The rest of the story.
So there are a few additional cards in the deck to mention that don't really fit neatly into the build. Rancor is an aura, but its super broken at common. It grants a permanent power toughness boost, evasion through Trample and is also targeted, so we still get a counter. Snake Umbra is another aura I have included two copies of. You don't want this card early, but in a long game it can provide card draw to keep your hand full... and it also provides a counter. Evolution Charm is a "toolbox" card that has three modes. It can fix mana by fetching a basic, Recur a needed creature from your graveyard, or provide flying (and another counter) to a creature. Finally, Khalni Garden is an odd little land that in exchange for coming into play tapped (and hurting your tempo) gives you an 0/1 plant token. In this deck, and Pauper in general, this additional creature is super important. This deck doesn't run many creatures, and a lot of common creature destruction is in the form of "opponent chooses a creature to sacrifice". The plant token provides an easy target for those cards and mitigates an awful case of the "feel-bads" when your big beater goes to the graveyard.
Well that's it - thats the deck! As always you can get the full list over at TappedOut! I hope you enjoyed Pauper Week! I would love some feedback on theming weeks - it was a lot of extra work, but I would totally do it again if you all liked it. Feel free to also leave future theme suggestions in the comments below.
Join me next week when we take a look at what happens when Wizards breaks our pie....