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Pauper Permutations: Life After the Ban

Alright, so we all have had our time to celebrate the banning of some of the most powerful cards in Pauper, and now that the dust has settled, are the decks that used them still viable? Let us see what we can come up with.

Let's start with Blue-Red Control. This deck ran three Gush.  While Gush is VERY strong, at the end of the day, it is just a card draw spell. With three slots, we have a few options. I decided to take advantage of this deck's removal and decided to double down on Ninja of the Deep Hours, going so far as to run copies five and six in Jhessian Thief. On the downside of this route, we actually need to play fair Magic and pay for our card draw now — shocking I know. The other issue is the fact that removal can easily stop us from drawing cards. That said, on the upside, we can theoretically get more cards from attacking over multiple turns, and it gives us a faster clock. Another benefit that I feel might get understated is the fact that without needing to bounce lands, we will actually get a bit more mana on the board so that we can interact more with our spells.

Alright, burn, in my opinion, was the deck least affected by this ban. It was running four Gitaxian Probe, so we replaced it with one extra Skewer the Critics, one more Curse of the Pierced Heart and two Gutshot to round out the spells. The logic is fairly straight forward with Curse being a consistent, persistent source of damage that adds up in a long game, Skewer is just another bolt which we will never say no to, and Gutshot is a free way to get Ghitu Lavarunner online, trigger Thermo-Alchemist, and allow us to cast Needle Drop whenever we need to.

Mono-Blue Delver and the UB variants of the deck got hit the hardest by this banning and took a bit more digging to fix. Most ran 2-4 Gush and 2-4 Daze as well. So, after comparing a few decklists and a bit of debate with other pauper fans, this was the best I was able to come up with. We added two more Foil to up our counter count, even if we will be losing some card advantage this way. On the upside, it doesn't care if the opponent still has mana up. To fill in the card draw we added some more on hit creatures. Specifically, we added Jhessian Thief and/or Tandem Lookout. The mix of these isn't too important as of right now and more playtesting will be needed to see which is better, but both have their advantages. Jhessian Thief has a bigger body on it and can grow, which is great for when our opponent runs sweepers and ping effects. Tandem Lookout gives us a bit of a more tricky option though. First, if we can get in with it and the bonded creature, it is drawing two instead of one. Between bounce effects, flyers, and being able to stack it up with ninjutsu from our ninja, it offers some explosive card draw if done right, but with one toughness it is very easy to kill and can't attack if the opponent has anything on the defense. From there, we added two Snap for a few reasons. With our added reliance on getting attacks in, we need a bit more removal, which this gives, but it also offers us a way to recycle our enter the battlefield or protect our creatures by returning them to our hand. All around, it's just a great card for what we are trying to do and effectively costs us no mana.

The Blue-Black Delver lists weren't quite as accommodating, but hopefully, these two options will serve you well. With option one, I tried to lean towards a more mid to late game build, relying on Accumulated Knowledge to refill our hand throughout the game and Prohibit as our replacement counterspell. I don't know if this will work since we are still only running eighteen lands, but I am optimistic as of now.

Option two, I went for a more creature focused gameplan. I changed up the removal and counter options a touch, focusing more on trying to keep the board clear so we can try to gain card advantage with our additional creatures, Ninja of the Deep Hours and Okiba-Gang Shinobi. My thought process for these changes was mostly along the line of, "So long as we have more cards, we're winning." So with that logic, I hope that we can keep the board clear for our ninjas to net us card advantage, even if it involves bouncing one of our bigger threats. Ideally, though, we will get to bounce our Auger of Bolas so we can just play it again for even more value!

That is all I have for now, but I will keep my ear to the ground for anything new and I would love to hear what you all think and what you're doing. If you ever wanna join me for pauper (or something else) feel free to watch me on my Twitch. If you wanna get a hold of me, feel free to find me in the MTGGoldfish Discord server under ArmchairGeneral. Until next time!

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