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Playing Pauper: Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence (Pauper, Magic Online)

Playing Pauper is back! With the release of Modern Horizons, Arcum's Astrolabe has quickly become one of the most important and impactful cards in the Pauper format. As such, today we're trying a deck that takes the Arcum's Astrolabe plan to the extreme: Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence! While the main engine of the deck is bouncing Arcum's Astrolabe and Prophetic Prism repeatedly with Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher, what makes the deck unique is that it's play four colors worth of spells, but with an all black (and nearly all Swamp) manabase to support Defile. Is Arcum's Astrolabe really poweful enough to allow a deck with a single color of mana from its lands cast four colors with of spells with consistency? Let's get to the video and find out! Then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Playing Pauper: Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence


All in all we finished 2-3 with Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence, going splitting two matches against both Tron and Slivers, while losing to Bogles (which seems like an unwinnable matchup for the current build of Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence do to our complete lack of edicts or other removal to interact with hexproof creatures). Obviously, this isn't an ideal record, but the deck felt good enough to win outside of the Bogles matchup.

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The engine of the deck - the Kor Skyfisher / Glint Hawk to pick up and replay Arcum's Astrolabe and Propetic Prism is very strong. Pauper is a format that is primarlly about grinding out card adanvatage since there are really any game-ending combos or finishers, and the bounce fliers with cheap artifact card draw is a great way to keep your hand full of cards. 

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On the other hand, the biggest question for the deck is whether if its worth it to play the all-black manabase. The only real payoff is Defile, and while Defile is a solid enough removal spell, I'm not sure it's so much better than the other options that it's worth playing an extremely risky mono-colored manabase in a four color deck. Overall I think the deck would be better if it played the exact same non-land cards (replacing Defile with other removal), but play a more traditional Orzhov manabase with some dual lands and Snow-Covered Plains. We had to mulligan some very solid hands just because we didn't have a Prophetic Prism or Arcum's Astrolabe, and while our deck can make up the lost card over the course of the game, I'm just not sure Defile is a strong enough payoffs to make it worthwhile.

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The other option would be to include some more payoffs for playing the all-black manabase, with spells like Tendrils of Corruption or Corrupt itself, to make the risky mana more worthwhile. 

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Basically, Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence felt like a reasonable deck, but it also felt like it sort of hamstrung itself by playing the all-black manabase. While small changes (like Chainer's Edict somewhere in the 75 to deal with Bogles) could improve the bad matchups, the easiest way to improve the deck is likely to play more consistent mana. Four-Color Mono-Black Pestilence was basically a good deck, but a good deck that perhaps went a little bit too far down the Arcum's Astrolabe whole for its own good. 


Anyway, that's all for today. What do you think about Arcum's Astrolabe in Pauper? What's the best way to harness its power? What's the best way to fight against Pauper's new do-nothing menace? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at

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