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Standard Pauper – Red/Black Blightening Deck Discussion

Much of Power 9 Pro’s focus in our articles is on tournament-level play but we also play casually when we can find the time. One of our teammate’s Zak participates in a “Standard Pauper” tournament from time to time. Zak thought he would bring up the decklist with our team to see if we couldn’t help with tweaks. Here’s the discussion that ensued.

Please remember that standard pauper means cards that are type 2 legal, and are common.  No uncommons, rares, or mythics allowed.

Here’s the list that I’ve played thus far.

Pauper Blightning: 60 Cards (Pre-M10)

Now, post M10, I need to make some changes, but I want some input from the team.  

note: An abundance of Borderposts makes smash to smithereens an absolute beating, especially on decks that are 3 colors, Flame Jab is absolutely amazing, my favorite card in the list. Goblin Deathraiders[provides] simply amazing pressure.

Problem # 1 – Shock Rotates Out
Solution – Add Lightning Bolt (This is obvious)

Problem # 2 – Incinerate Rotates Out
Solution – I’ve temporarily added Sparkmage Apprentice, but this is definitely able to be changed.  Definitely want some input here, because this deck really wants as many burn spells as possible, and the bigger the better.  

Problem # 3 – Duergar Assailant becomes worse without damage on the stack
Solution – I think the right move might be to just leave it in here, but his slot could be open to something else.


First thought: if you love flame jab, are you certain 2 is the right number? 

The only card I am skeptical of is terminate… seems like even that might be better as a burn spell… spot removal is traditionally avoided in burn decks.  I’d recommend at least re-evaluating terminate with skepticism, and if you come to the same conclusion about it, so be it.

If you’re set on removal, there are other more greedy options out there too… soul reap for example… easier to cast, slightly more narrow, but with the chance of incinerate on top… just saying, there’s other stuff out there.  Personally I’d avoid terminate and similar spells entirely… burn all the way.  I’d experiment with using no creatures whatsoever.  You can gain subtle edges with that… using sweepers and such.

Card Brainstorm:


Maybe Give it a Try?:


As fireball variants, breath of malfegor, giant’s ire, lava axe, and quenchable fire all do bargain damage, but can’t double as removal.

Joe had similar feedback to what I was thinking. Absorb Vis was also on my list. Swamp cycle or 8 life swing. I would personally keep removal to SB. Tendrils would be good.  

Quench fire seems good. If you can throw a fattie or two in, maybe soul’s fire?  I would definitely consider/focus on that a burn deck doesn’t run much spot removal. Basically, if you’re focused on spot removal, you’re probably losing.  Lava axe may actually work. Seems like flame jab works against shard volley. It’s also very under powered in my opinion. Raven’s crime is one up on power and reinforces your partial control theme through blightening.

Bloodspyre Elemental and Resounding Thunder come to mind. Flame Jab is a card I have always thought could break standard at one point.
Balefire Liege and that seem pretty good together.

The spark mage can kill Llanowar elves and Nip Gwyllions, [two cards] I think would be good in pauper. Mosquito Guard would be really good in pauper too.

1. Bloodpyre Elemental is too slow.  Not only does it cost 5 in a deck that curves out at 3, it only hits creatures at sorcery speed, and seems extremely fragile as a 1 toughness dude.

2. Resounding Thunder seems good as another burn spell.  The only problem that I have with using Jund Panorama’s instead with a forest or two is that it decreases the effectiveness of Flame Jab.  I only want 3 lands, maybe 4, but the rest I want to either sacrifice to Shard Volley or use to retrace Flame Jab.  If I cycle the thunder, I’m going to have a lot of mostly wasted land sitting on the board.  This is the same with cards like absorb vis, they just don’t help me speed up the kill.  If I have 2 lands to cycle Vis, I’ve got 2/3rds of my mana set, and most likely am pretty well off.  

3. Breath of Malfegor is nice, but again the cost factor comes up.  This deck needs to be as fast as it possibly can, which it is.  If I start casting 5 mana spells, I’ll need to increase the land count, which will decrease the overall burn count.  

4. A HUGE (read 80% of the meta) part of Type 2 Pauper is the Mimics from Eventide.  These are often fueled by cards like Nyp Gwyllion and Steam Hopper, and I see the Sparkmages being a kill spell over 60% of the time based on experience.

5. I believe that Flame Jab will lose potential if I start drawing multiples.  Sure, they’re amazing in the late game and get rid of so many things, but I only want to get 1 in the graveyard, and then I can machine-gun my opponent.  Think about this situation:

I have a Flame Jab in the graveyard, with a few cards in hand.  This situation is relatively common in the late game.  The worst-case scenario is that I draw a land, which, thanks to Jab will become 1 damage, and my odds of drawing superior burn increase.  The best case scenario is that I draw a piece of burn, which is exclusively better than a Jab.  However, with any more jabs you run the risk of a third option.  That is, drawing a spell, which turns out to be a Jab.  You get the same effect as if you had a land, yet your odds of drawing superior burn have actually decreased, as you have the same amount of lands in your library with a smaller amount of spells.

6. Tendrils is not good in a deck that really only wants one swamp out.  It’s like 4 mana for 1 damage and one life most of the time, and if terminate doesn’t belong (which I’m starting to think it doesn’t), than neither does Tendrils.

7. Raven’s Crime and Duress both have a minimal effect on the game as far as my plans are concerned.  Duress could go in the board though against any decks packing lifegain.  I;d much rather get a threat/burn spell on turn one than taking away something that probably wouldn’t have hurt me all that much in the first place.  

8. The mana in this deck takes a fair bit of practice to get right.  The only reason I can get away with both Shard Volley and Flame Jab is because I need so few lands for my plans to work properly.  

9. I considered Soul’s Fire, but the combination of so few creatures and the abundance of highly played spot removal, I don’t see it pulling its weight.

10. Regarding Lava Axe + Breath of Malfegor again.  I think that maybe a 1 or 2 of could help me pull some games out of my ass.  Will consider it.

11.  One of the things I like about having creatures in the deck is it doubles the efficiency of burn spells.  If I have a goblin deathraiders on the battlefield, a burn spell that kills my opponent’s only dude might as well also deal 3 damage to them.  Thus, the decreased burn rate that comes with using burn on creatures is mitigated.  Again, Goblin Deathraiders is the cheap, high-power card that allows this to work with maximum effectiveness.

Good analysis.  I think you’re right about keeping the curve low.  This is historically the pattern for winning burn decks.

I figured it out, and the answer is a card nobody actually mentioned.  Dragon Fodder has always given me trouble, as it provides pressure, but it also makes your opponents reluctant to use their removal spells.  I just cut the sparkmages entirely, thinking that the Vithian Stingers and Hurly-Burlys in the board can do their job better.  Also, I kept Terminates in, because they are my only out to anything with toughness greater than 4.  However, I often will board them out.

why terminate over doomblade? you can cast doomblade with a panorama and a swamp. seems like that is pretty important. also the sparkmage has to be better. direct damage as well as killing something or perhaps finishing off a creature post-combat. i think a white weenie deck would be good in pauper with no viable board sweeper.

Terminate kills Putrid Leech

Here’s The Final List:

Pauper Blightning: 60 Cards (Post-M10)

$5k Standard Tourney — G/W Tokens Report and 3 Lessons

August 7th through August 9th, Superstars Game Center hosted a $5k Standard event. Friday the 7th was an early bird, main flights on Saturday and then the official day 2 on Sunday.

(If you’re looking for my 3 main take-aways, those are at the very bottom of this report).

I played in the Early Bird flight on Friday as well as the main flight Saturday morning.

My Friday decklist consisted of the following:


You’ll notice a few differences first off:
Lack of Sable Stags and a Sunpetal Grove. This was simply a matter of accessibility.

Generally speaking, the difference between a number of G/W decks I’ve seen, there are no mana producers included in the deck. The turn 3 w-w-w for Spectral Procession is great but after careful consideration, I considered the mana producers a dead card after turn 3. This deck archetype really needs to focus on putting out the beats and in a big way. So far as the Nobel Heirarch, the exalted ability is not that great of a factor since I’ll typically be attacking with more than one creature–in fact, as the name tokens implies, I want a bunch of them out there. :)

The turn 3 slot lightens up a bit with Glorious Anthem dropping from standard with the release of M-10. Honor of the Pure easily takes Anthem’s place in this deck.

The G/W tokens builds presented here also have a pretty big curve, from 1 to “7″–counting Martial Coup as a 7cc spell. However, mana-cost for mana-cost, the creatures and threats presented by this deck are extremely efficient. Rather than just one creature that demands spot removal (Cloudgoat Ranger), G/W Tokens can run Captain of the Watch. Even with the removal of the “main creature” (Ranger & Captain), the board still has a bunch of token creatures. With 4x Honor of the Pure, I’m hard pressed to find a game in my notes where it wasn’t a deciding factor–meaning, I had it in play.

The deck also runs 4 planeswalkers, 2x Ajani Goldmane and 2x Elspeth, Knight Errant. If I were to play in the tournament again tomorrow, I would switch it to 4x Ajani. From all the matches played, Elspeth’s ability is slightly under-powered & anti-synergistic for this particular build, whereas Ajani’s ability to give all my creatures vigilance and +1/+1 is ridiculously powerful.

Day 1 I ran 2x Knight of the Meadowgrain, and on Day 2 I ran 2x [card]Gaddock Teeg[card]. There was quite a bit of discussion over these two cards Saturday morning. Despite finally deciding to run Teeg main and K.o.t.M. SB, I do think that the Knight is better for game one’s. Essentially my rational for this comes down to the fact that if I need Teeg against an opponent, I want 4x which I can do at SB anyway. Contrast that to “blindfolded,” I’d rather have a 2/2 first strike, lifelink–which can easily become a 3/3.

There’s also the 2x Harm’s Way with an additional 1x in SB; I believe this card is extremely important. It seems like such a simple spell but the flexibility in it’s execution cannot go under-stated.

I’d like to thank Pedro for helping me come to the realization of how important and how much I need to run Harm’s way and Knight of the Meadowgrain. :)

With all the deck details out of the way, here’s a quick review of all the matches, etc.

Rnd 1: Fairies
Game one he wins on the back of a Bitterblossom, Spellstutter Sprite, Broken Ambitions, Vendillion Clique, and[card]Mistblind Clique[card]. Surprise surprise! ;-)
In came the Stags and Gaddock Teeg, out went Martial Coups and Elspeth.
Not much in my notes but I won the next two games. :) Game 2 handidly with him taking huge hits and me ending at 20. Game 3 there was a minor race but I had the faster/bigger beats with him going from 12 to zero.
Rnd 2: R/B Aggro Can Win
His start was a bit slow this game and was fairly uneventful ending with me at 22 and him going from 6 to 0. Game 2 I make a critical mistake and mistap my land (Sunpetal Grove into Windbrisk Heigtts–Sunpetal was my only white source and I had 3 or 4 forests in play!!). Had I had the white open, I could have used a Harm’s Way to take my opponent from 3 to 1 and then had the open alpha on the backswing. Dang! Game 3 he wins with me having a slower start and taking fast early beats from mounting in intensity to my demise.
The loss here is a bit sad because it resulted in me being randomly paired with LSV next match. doh!
Rnd 3: vs. LSV piloting 5cc (list here)
His build features Baneslayer Angel at 3x. Game 2 I was able to use Path on one, but he proceeded to drop another two and then add in the Cruel Ultimatum just for the heck of it. lol. Good times playing with Luis and getting to chat with him a bit. It’s not easy to get attention or one-on-one time with a pro. Funny highlights: Game 1 his lifetotal ending at 46–that includes a bunch of beats from a Baneslayer and a Cruel Ultimatum. Game 2, he “only” got to 24 life. Fun times!
Rnd 4: Jund Agrro
Game 1 I established an early Honor of the Pure and a Finks. He did drop an early Putrid Leech which after two activations was Exiled via the Path. I dropped token generating creatures and smashed face. Game 2 I dropped an early Finks again matched by a Leech. The life swing was too much, especially after I dropped a second Finks. With an Honor out, I was hitting for 8 per turn. Ouch.

With my record at 2-2, I was already out of the contention for the 8 slots open for Day 2 (Sunday, top-32 single elim). I decided to drop from the tournament. I wanted to discuss decks with a friend who just qualified by going 4-0 (and could Intentionally Draw the next two rounds). I also wanted to watch another round of LSV playing and then head home a bit earlier (11:30pm) to hit the sack for an early start Saturday morning.

Day 2: (entering this Sable Stag less. :( )
Rnd 1: Like the day before, Rnd 1 is matched against a Fairies deck
I lose game 1. Game 2, I drop beats quickly and sweep. Game 3 a similar occurrence. Gaddock Teeg was a champ both games.

Rnd 2: G/W Little Kid (not tokens)
First off, I start the round with a game loss. Because I was sitting around yammering and debating away about my build (ie Gaddock Teeg vs Knight of the Meadowgrain as 2x MD), I was rushing when I filled out my deck registration. What’s funny is that the decklist started off with full names, such as Ajani Goldmade and Elspeth, Knight Errant but the judges announced they were taking lists as I was filling it out. Apparently when I reached Windbrisk Heights, I was so pre-occupied with finishing the list, I only wrote “Windbrisk.” Oops.
Anyway, I take the loss in stride and win the next two games in a row.
One was pretty close with me only at 6, and I taking him down to 0 from 12 (Game 2).

Rnd 3: Jund Aggro
Game 1, I mulled to 6 on the Play. He quickly goes from 20 to 14 to 5 to 0. I ended at 13. Game 2, he establishes an early board position and smashes me down from 15 to 8 to 4 to zero. In Game 3, unfortunately, the high land count (25) came to haunt me as a drew 6 lands in a row. Any card other than Honor of the Pure or a land would have won me the match as he was only beating in with a lone Putrid Leech.

Rnd 4: Merfolk
On the Play I have a fairly good 7. The game is extremely close but Wake Thrasher proved superior to my army taking me from 9 to zero. Game 2, he has an extremely good draw with a number of counters and the right merfolk to quickly end the match.
2-2-0 doh. i have to undefeated from here out to q’ for the next day

Rnd 5: Merfolk
This round I start off with a game loss for being a bit late. (Was grabbing a bite to eat and ended up being about 30 seconds late–enough for a game loss. doh!!!)
Despite the handicap, I won both games quickly. There was a bit of a Cryptic Command action game 2 (officially game 3) that was doing a good job of stalling the ground forces of a casted honor of the pure into a sepectral procession into a Captain of the Watch. He simply didn’t have enough outs and I had great, great draws both games.

Rnd 6: Fairies
The only really intersting event occured in game three. Unfortunately for my opponent he had to mulligan to 5. He drops a turn 2 Bitterblossom so I was prepared for an uphill battle. He drops a second Bitterblossom on turn 4 or 5. By this point though, I’ve been able to captialize on his hand-size disadvantage, including the lack of counters that could have potentially stopped an onslaught from a Knight of the Meadowgrain. In the end, I’m pretty sure the double Bitterblossom is what killed him.
4-2-0 (Just one more round to go for qualification!)

Rnd 7: R/B Aggro (with Demigod of Revenge)
First game I was able to get 9 pnts of damage in one swing but he was able to keep the beats coming faster, including the casting of his Demigod.
Game 2 featured my second blunder of the day. I dropped a turn 2 Knight of the Meadowgrain. On my turn 3 (eot actually) he casts Lightening Bold targeting my Knight. I not only had mana open but I had the Harm’s Way in hand (would have targeted him). As the match played out, I’m convinced this mistake cost me the match, somewhat reinforced by the fact that he ended the match at 1 life and me drawing 3 lands in a row. :(
End of my chances at the $5k Superstars had open.

Three Simple Take-aways

  • Play Harm’s Way carefully.
  • Pay attention to board position, mana accessibility and deck registration.
  • Last but certainly not least: Be on time.

Grand Prix LA — Tournament Report — James — Three lessons to take to every tournament

before getting into the details of the tournament and a brief outline of the decks and opponents, some quick updates.
first, power 9 pro will be shipping the Dragon’s Egg to local vendors starting tomorrow and we’ll be opening the online store to consumers by friday.
second, we did get a great interview with volkan baga on saturday while we were at the grand prix. the plan is divide the 20 min interview into three parts to make for better online viewing. those videos will be released over the course of this week so do keep an eye out.

on to the tournament report, james’ perspective:
deck played: red burn, or lightening bolt. you can see a good example (and breakdown) of the deck here on the wizard’s site. we diverged a little from the decklist finkel ran at worlds. here’s our list:
Lands: 21
2 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
12 Mountain

Creatures: 12
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Spark Elemental
4 Keldon Marauder

Spells: 27
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
1 Shard Volley
3 Shrapnel Blast
4 Sudden Shock
4 Magma Jet
3 Flames of the Blood Hand
4 Sulfuric Vortex

4 Martyr of Ashes
4 Dragon’s Claw (this ended up being the worst of the sb choices as nobody on the team faced any mirrors–oh, well.)
3 Smash to Smithereens
3 Pyrostatic Pillar
1 Shattering Spree

Round 1:
Match up: Elves Variation, featuring no combo kill. SB Tech: Glorious Anthem
Game one: Elves + Jitte = tough clock. Notes indicate I was able to get him to 5 but no shrapnel blast. :(
Game two: Glorious Anthem hits on turn 3 with a fast clock. Get him to 1, top deck a land, he swings for the win.
Record: 0-1-0

Round 2:
Match up: Gifts-Tron.
Opponent was a bit drunk(?) still from the night before…or so i guess from his play. Looks like he stays in on hands he should have mulliganed (play tolaria west for U mana = sucky as hell). He never goes off. Crushing defeat games one and two.
Record: 1-1-0

Round 3:
Match up: Mono-Blue Fae-Wizards variant featuring Teferi.
Game one I race a spell-stutter wearing a jitte for the win. Sudden Shock as a MD element worked well, hitting the last two points of damage.
Game Two features Teferi (pulled from SB) insuring that I have to play eot instants on my turn rather than his, further insuring he’s always ready to counter anything I play.
Game Three ends in time, giving me the draw.
Record: 1-1-1

Round 4:
Matchup: Elves…looks combo-standard but I never see a finisher. Pilot looked uncomfortable with playing elves.
Example: Game one features me risking a triple sulfuric vortex on the table putting a pertty serious clock on the table for both people. he has 4 damage on the table if he swings (i’m tapped out, having played the third vortex…) + the 6 from the triple vortex = gg w/ me as the loser. Instead he conceded! wtf? Just had to count the board but he was SOOO focused on “going off” that he never looked at how easily and quickly he could have ended the game.
Games two and three feature me trying to keep up but he just attacks with a horde of elves–maybe he realized that was his mistake in game one. Not sure. Either way, from my notes it looks like I wans’t hitting to many good burns because he was at 11 and 9 when the games ended.
Record: 1-2-1

Round 5:
Matchup: Fae-Wizards.
Game One I just needed to squeeze an extra burn spell in but he stablized the board before I could get him from 3 to 0. :|
Game two I draw 14 of the 21 lands :(
Record: 1-3-1

Round 6: (final round)
Matchup: opponent doesn’t show.
I’m starving by this point and drop at a pretty dismal finish of 2-3-1.

In addition to some mental preparedness–that isconfidence in your ability to succeed–there are a few things I learned that I think every player should keep in mind [because the pros and 'almost-pros' are doing this].

  1. Playtest with the deck you plan to run.  Don’t worry about the “best deck”–just know how to play the deck you wnat to play against the entire feild.  This requires committment.  Early committment.  Even though your match up may not be favorable (statiscally speaking), you will be far better off knowing the in’s and out’s of your chosen deck than simply selecting the percieved best-deck.  I learned this pretty quickly as the day progressed.  I had spent about two weeks preparing with a Gifts.dec only to change the deck to a Red Burn in the last two days prior to the tournament.  And it was during THAT time frame that I had a whole ZERO games of play testing.  Many of the friends I had at GP LA were up late testing testing testing, trying to figure out which deck to play the night before the tournament.  They should have spent the time testing one deck.
  2. Know your sideboard.  Though this didn’t affect me too much because according to my teammate Roberto, I was sideboarding correctly.  This did affect my teammate Joe who took out his sulfric vortex’s against a fae matchup–which according to Joe was his big mistake (he needed the extra clock).  (The ony way to konw your sidboard is to follow point 1 and to playtest matches–not just “first round, pre-sideboard matches” as is most frequently done.)
  3. Playtest matches, not just first round, pre-sideboard matchups.  It takes a bit longer in the testing but the “real life” practice is worth it.  Most of the crew I was testing with were not sideboading against the test-group.  Just pre-sideboard over and over.  This wasn’t a “rule”, it was just something that people did without discussion.  It prevents us from accomplishing 1 & 2 of this list though!  It will help shape your strategy for gauging the actual sideboard you’ll use at the tournament.  Even 1-of’s may become uber-valuable if you’ve done the correct testing.  Well worth the time to test one deck strategy and ask good questions about the matchups–this helps with the “meta game” (i.e. running martyrs of ash over firespouts).

GP LA: Event Coverage and Player Interviews

just a quick note to let our readers konw that we’ll be attending GP – LA (Wizards’ site) not only as competitors (team power 9 pro) but we’ll also be on the scout to get you the best footage possible, including event break downs, discussions about meta-game, player impressions and hopefully an interview with volkan bolga!
(he did Angel of Mercy, Doomed Necromancer, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Ranger of Eos, Seaside Citadel, and Stoic Angel)

so, if you couldn’t make it GP LA (sunmesa’s site) but you want to see what you missed, we’ll be showing! we’ll start posting the vids on monday next week. have a good one!

Team Power 9 Pro 2009

in our further commitment to be a force of reckoning in the magic the gathering community, we’ve formed an official tournament team.  there are currently three players who will be attending ptq’s, grand prix and anything in between that we can get to.  (we’ll be posting exact schedules as they’re established–for now we are attending the grand prix in los angeles, ca on the weekend of jan 17th).  rather than steal their thunder we’ll let them intorduce themselves over the next few days (i’m one of them but i’ll put down a blurb-bio for y’all too).

also to give back to the community which we love, our team will be posting thoughts on decks, cards, shards + conflux, and more.