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Pauper MUC Delver Updates

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I know, I know. We have a new Standard set and we're all very excited. I have nothing to report on that front. Thus far it seems pretty clear that Sire of Insanity is shaking things up but I imagine that for the next couple weeks things are going to be changing rapidly, and I personally have zero upcoming Standard events, so I don't really have anything prepared for Standard. Instead I've been jamming Pauper on MTGO.

Keeping up with Pauper is always an interesting exercise for me, because save for a brief stint with Saprazzan Skerry Storm I've always jammed some form of MUC. It hasn't always been the best choice, mind you, but it has always been viable. That's something that I find endearing about eternal formats. A person can be a "MUC player" or a "goblins player" and their deck serves as an extension of themselves. Standard and Modern decks are tools adapted for given weeks. Legacy and Pauper decks are more like old friends. They change with time, but there is always something familiar about them. Speaking of changes, let's go ahead and take a look at my current list:

What's Out?

Phantasmal Bear

After about a month's hiatus, when I picked up my last list again Phantasmal Bear just wasn't carrying his weight. I ran into a lot of mirrors right away and he was never able to block Ninja of the Deep Hours, which proved quite problematic. When that guy hits you twice it's pretty close to lights out. Bear also just wasn't that good at making me the aggressor. I'd rather find a way to play slower with more resilient cards than to force myself into races that I can't win.

Gitaxian Probe

After playing with Probe a good amount I saw two negative trends pushing me away from the card. The first was that the life loss and the mana were both proving prohibitive. There were games where I just couldn't pay either cost reasonably at sorcery speed. The other thing that I was noticing is that just by playing more Pauper again I didn't really have to care about what was in my opponent's hand. I knew my lines, I knew their decks, Probe had become just a crutch. I'd rather have something higher impact.

What's In?

Quicksand

It took me much longer to remember Quicksand than I would like to admit. I was sitting there, losing to Ninja after Ninja and pulling my hair out. I remembered boarding it out in the mirror because of how miserable it was in the pre-Delver days, but I just couldn't piece together what had changed. That thing was the presence of Quicksand. Let me tell you, this card outright destroys opponents on the Faerie-Ninja plan. Cloud of Faeries already just sucks because it's a 1/1 that does nothing and Ninja is supposed to be your card that makes wasting that slot worth your while. When you play a Quicksand suddenly their deck is filled with more dead cards. You have to be mindful of the fact that they can Ninja in a second copy if they have four mana and two Ninjas against your one Quicksand, but this will take some set up on their part and this should give you a window to slam a haymaker like Serrated Arrows or Spire Golem.

Quicksand also has the added bonus of being an actual removal spell against basically every aggressive deck. It kills most everything out of the mono-red decks and the mono-green decks and it does alright against Affinity. Typically against Affinity you'll need a Spire Golem to back up your Quicksands, but I'd much rather have them than not have them.

Think Twice

I imagine that many will at first glance believe the decision to play Think Twice over Accumulated Knowledge is of a budgetary nature. I may be wrong, but I actually see it as the right call. The way that MUC Delver plays out you don't end up spending a lot of mana at sorcery speed, so I don't see the extra mana tacked onto Think Twice as too dramatic of a flashback. I see it as more pertinent to weight cards drawn per number of TT/AK drawn.

Assuming that every copy of each card resolves, Accumulated Knowledge only draws ahead of Think Twice when the fourth copy resolves. Granted, you'll have spent less than half the mana on AKs, but we're trying to grind most of our opponents out so, again, I'm not giving a ton of weight to the difference in cost. The difference that I would like to give weight to is that in the matchups where we really want to draw a lot of cards, the particularly grindy ones, it's a lot hard to protect the third and fourth AK than it is to run either side of a Think Twice out. A singular Dispel is much more powerful against an AK deck than a TT deck. And don't even get me started on AK mirrors. I want no part of that.

Matchups

I think I did a pretty good job of going over matchups here, and while changes have been made to the list all of the deck's matchups have basically only gotten better. Not having Phantasmal Bear can make Temporal Fissure decks a little tougher sometimes, but they were already very good at blocking him and aggression was already something you had to factor into mulligan decisions.

The Aura matchup has gotten somewhat better with the addition of the second Echoing Truth, which in general migth look a bit strange in this post-Empty world. Bouncing Ethereal Armor or some other such Aura and making a good block is very solid game-plan against them, and the bounce supplements MUC's game plan in most matchups pretty well anyhow. I see a lot of Curfews in sideboards for dealing with the Aura deck but I typically run into the problem of them just playing two creatures.

One deck that I am a little concerned about is loucifer's UB control deck that has been popping up in some dailies, this being his most recent 4-0. I ran into the deck in a couple two-mans and the games I played all felt close but he 2-1'd me in both of our encounters. I believe with tighter play and more experience in the matchup it could be favorable. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that I was blowing Counterspells on Chittering Rats, which is usually fine against MBC but loucifer's deck has higher impact cards than they do. Saving them for Mulldrifters or something similar could possibly have tipped everything in my favor.

All things considered I'm of the belief that MUC is both very rewarding to play and well-positioned in the current Pauper metagame. The deck is very good at interacting relevantly with the aggressive decks ala bounce spells and Quicksands, and also does a great job of maintaining power into the long game. It takes quite a bit of patience to pilot, which can be frustrating for some, but if you like a good chess match then I couldn't recommend the deck enough.

Yesterday, when I was enjoying the lovely Spring weather and a beer I came up with a pretty interesting idea about limited decks and fundamental turns that I will hopefully have hashed out for next week. I know, I know, it's still not Standard, but I'm excited. I hope you are too.

Thanks for reading,
-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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