Breaking In: A Beginner’s Guide to Pauper – Top Pauper Decks by Andrew Quinn

Breaking In: A Beginner’s Guide to Pauper – Top Pauper Decks by Andrew Quinn


In this, part 2 of my Beginner’s Guide to Pauper, I’m going to round off the guide with a look at some more pauper decklists. Enjoy.

U/R Cloudpost Control

So, along the same sorts of lines as Ninja Faeries, we have U/R Control, another of my favourites. Luis-Scott Vargas posted a video tech of this deck along with some matches in a Pauper daily event only about a month ago. The deck revolves around pure control, again using the combo of Cloudpost and Glimmerpost to set up end game Capsizes and other little gems. The general concensus with the deck is that the red half handles removal and the blue half handles counterspells and draw spells. So, here’s my personal list for the deck:

Creatures (6):
2 Mulldrifter
3 Steamcore Weird
1 Spire Monitor

Spells (31):
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Flame Slash
1 Shattering Pulse
1 Staggershock
1 Rolling Thunder
4 Preordain
4 Compulsive Research
1 Mysteries of the Deep
3 Mana Leak
3 Condescend
1 Negate
1 Capsize
2 Mystical Teachings
3 Prophetic Prism

Lands (23):
4 Cloudpost
4 Glimmerpost
7 Island
6 Mountain
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Evolving Wilds

Sideboard (15):
4 Stone Rain
4 Earth Rift
3 Ancient Grudge
1 Hydroblast
3 Pyroblast

So, the idea of this deck is PURE control. We can’t run any Planeswalkers or man lands, so our win conditions become Spire Monitor (the strongest creature with Flash to search with Mystical Teachings) and a single Rolling Thunder acting as a Fireball effect to win with all of your Cloudpost mana. The deck is fairly straight forward. By generating loads of mana with Cloudposts, you can often cast multiple spells each turn and then restock your hand using Compulsive Research and Mulldrifter.

Later in the game, you can win the game by stalling for as long as you like by bouncing all of their guys with Capsize (with the buyback cost of course) and eventually their lands and other such permanents too. A nice little trick with Capsize too, against particularly aggressive decks, is to bounce your own Glimmerposts each turn and replay them to gain 4-5 life each turn. In the sideboard, we bring in a very heavy load of land destruction, due to the fragile nature of most dual colour mana bases in the format (imagine using a turn 3 Stone Rain to destroy an opponent’s turn 2 Golgari Rot Farm). Ancient Grudge is just a super sweet anti-Affinity card, especially seeing as this deck can cast the Flashback cost, due to the Prophetic Prisms. The Pyroblasts and Hydroblasts speak for themselves of course :D.


G/W Auras

Like… seriously? What the hell is going on? A deck that plays Auras? Seriously? WHAT?!?!?!

Yeah, seriously. G/W Auras is a viable deck in Pauper and I’ve seen a couple of lists placing 4-0 in various daily events. This is a deck with a simple idea. Cast the best Aura spells that Green and White have to offer, enchanting some dude that for whatever reason won’t be dying any time soon. This is basically, various Hexproof guys and guys with relevant protections. As for the auras, Armadillo Cloak and Shield of the Oversoul are the usual suspects. Even without the Auras, it’s a pretty tough G/W Weenie deck with all sorts of tricks it can call on. Here’s a decklist that recently went 3-1 in a Daily event.

Creatures (24):
4 Bant Sureblade
3 Guardian of the Guildpact
2 Lone Missionary
3 Naya Hushblade
4 Qasali Pridemage
2 Sacred Wolf
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
2 Valeron Outlander

Spells (16):
4 Armadillo Cloak
4 Journey to Nowhere
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
3 Wildfield Borderpost

Lands (20):
9 Forest
9 Plains
2 Terramorphic Expanse

Sideboard (15):
2 Circle of Protection: Black
2 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Guardian of the Guildpact
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Prismatic Strands
4 Sandstorm

I’m not sure to explain how to play the deck. Seems pretty obvious really. Play dudes, make them bigger, kill their dudes, swing? Playing against it is horrible though. It’s pretty difficult to swing into a Bant Sureblade and having any guy with Armadillo Cloak strapped on just makes your attacks a load less effective. Be sure to look out for this deck and any forms of it. Also note, M12 brings with it two awesome cards that I believe will end up being auto includes. Gladecover Scout and Trollhide. They both add a load more power to the deck and unfortunately, I think will make it more popular. However, the next deck I’m going to show you is my personal deck. I’ve been playing this deck the most and have just loved it. It cost be a grand total less than $3 and just seems to have an insane matchup against EVERYTHING I’ve played against with it. Even against this Aura deck, I have answers to near enough anything they use against me. This, is my mono-black deck.

Mono-Black Control

So, mono-black control then. 17 dudes, 4 draw spells and 15 spells that kill stuff, including 7 that gain you loads of life back. Sound good? Here’s the list, along with prices (in $) taken from MTGO Traders…

Creatures (17):
4 Chittering Rats (0.08 x 4) = 0.32
4 Liliana’s Specter (0.05 x 4) = 0.20
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi (0.08 x 1) = 0.08
4 Phyrexian Rager (0.03 x 4) = 0.12
4 Ravenous Rats (0.02 x 4) = 0.08

Spells (19):
3 Corrupt (0.05 x 3) = 0.15
1 Doom Blade (0.03 x 1) = 0.03
3 Geth’s Verdict (0.08 x 3) = 0.24
4 Grasp of Darkness (0.05 x 4) = 0.20
4 Sign in Blood (0.04 x 4) = 0.16
4 Tendrils of Corruption (0.03 x 4) = 0.12

Lands (24):
4 Barren Moor (0.08 x 4) = 0.32
20 Swamp

Sideboard (15):
1 Corrupt (0.05 x 1) = 0.05
2 Disfigure (0.03 x 2) = 0.06
2 Distress (0.03 x 2) = 0.06
2 Doom Blade (0.03 x 2) = 0.06
2 Dry Spell (0.02 x 2) = 0.04
3 Duress (0.03 x 3) = 0.09
3 Wrench Mind (0.03 x 3) = 0.09

Main Deck Total = $2.02
Sideboard Total = $0.45
Total Deck Cost = $2.47

This deck is one of the biggest reasons for why I started Pauper. It’s just so simple and I’ve yet to come up against an unwinnable matchup. I have of course loft some matches with it but normally I lose to bad draws or having mediocre draws playing against an opponent’s nut draw. Despite this, I’ve played in 6 2-man queues so far and have achieved a 6-0 win record. I have yet to play in a daily event, but as soon as I am around when one starts I shall do so and report back on that.

The deck’s best matchup is of course aggro decks. My strategy is usually to let them do their own thing for a couple of turns and sometimes Grasp or Doom Blade a guy, but when you get to Tendrils mana, they nearly always lose instantly. Tendrils of Corruption kills a guy and gains you back a load of life, often resetting all the last 2-3 turn’s hard work by the opposing deck. It’s even better when you follow up with a turn 5 Tendrils too :). As such, my record against various aggro strategies (Zoo, Mono-Red, Affinity, GW Auras, White Weenie, etc…) is somewhere in the region of 9-2, which is pretty good to say the least.

Control decks as a whole are a very strange matchup for this deck to deal with. Take U/R Cloudpost for example. I’ve found that with a decent enough draw, it’s almost impossible for the Cloudpost deck to actually win. Not saying that you will necessarily win the games, but due to the lack of win conditions in a typical Cloudpost deck, games will often be very long and arduous and a lot of them will end up with you winning after the opponent runs out of time. Considering that they win via damage, the Tendrils of Corruptions and Corrupts become very important, more often than not to simply gain life and put you well out of reach of the Rolling Thunder.

After sideboarding however, against all control decks, we can do our best to disrupt them considering that our main deck currently has very little to actually deal with their game plan. We bring every piece of discard we have at our disposal and depending on the matchup in question, most of our removal comes out. We also bring in the 4th Corrupt against the aforementioned U/R deck. The matchups then become a lot more balanced in our favour. Wrench Mind is a real beating if it resolves, although remember that the U/R decks play Prophetic Prism to pitch to it. Generally speaking, this is an unpredictable matchup that is very winnable, although not hugely stacked in the favour of Mono-Black like the aggro matchup appears to be. I would expect it to be more of a 60:40 or 55:45 matchup.

Finally, we have the worst possible matchups. The combo decks. Like it or not, Storm Combo is actually a deck in this format, as are a few other combo decks. Against Storm Combo, just hope for the best really. It could be that if you get a nuts draw with a lot of Ravenous Rats and Liliana’s Specters then you may have enough disruption to win the game. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a lost cause. After sideboarding however, we again bring in all of our discard and probably the 2 Dry Spell s to deal with a resolved Empty the Warrens. We then go ahead and win the games pretty easily, provided that the hand you keep has enough of the 16 discard spells we have post-board.

One other major combo deck that is around is a Green/Black graveyard-centric deck that combines Tortured Existence with a host of annoying Dredge creatures and Madness creatures. Normally it likes to gain a load of life by recurring Golgari Brownscale and Brindle Boar and then beatdown with a swarm of Grave Scramblers, Basking Rootwallas and big Vampire Hounds. This is so far the hardest matchup that can be thrown against the deck and I really dislike playing against it. As harsh as it may sound, I’ve found that the best way to combat the deck is to let it kill itself. If you can use Tendrils of Corruption and Corrupt to gain as much life as possible whilst also killing key creatures, then you stand a chance at just making the game very difficult for them to win. Due to the complex nature of the interactions that the pilot has to be able to master, they will always take more time over decisions than you do. I very much dislike winning in such a way, but against a deck like this is seems almost necessary. Without an insanely fast opener against a pretty bad draw on their end, there is very little a deck full of weenies can do. So, in any other game of MTGO, I would greatly discourage the use of such a strategy.

And that closes out my discussion on Pauper. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. There are a number of equally valid decktypes that I have not listed here, so I’m going to give a list of different decktypes that I’ve come across in the past week or so:

Mono-Black Control
Mono-Green Infect

White Weenie
G/W Auras
Ninja Faeries
U/R Cloudpost
Esper Storm Control
Mono-Red Burn
Mono-Red Goblins
Storm Combo
B/G Dredge Madness
Mono-Green Cloudpost + Crop Rotation

and probably a couple more…

If any of these interest you and you would like to hear my thoughts on any of them, then by all means, leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I see it. I have played against every one of these decks at least once and I find them all to be just as good as each other. Alternatively, I don’t mind if you add me on Facebook (just tell me beforehand so I know who you are) or if you e-mail me at Obviously, you can also find me on MTGO. My username is Landstar, so hit me up for a game of Pauper if you decide to start.

Until next time!



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