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Playing Pauper: Mono-Black Land Destruction (Pauper, Magic Online)

Playing Pauper is back! A couple of weeks ago, we had a deck tech for Mono-Black Land Destruction in Pauper, and since there's nothing I enjoy more than making opponents unable to play Magic, we're going to give the deck a shot this week for Playing Pauper! The basic idea of the deck is that we blow up land after land—maybe starting on Turn 1 with the help of Dark Ritual—then draw some extra cards to make sure the land destruction keeps flowing and eventually finish the game with Gurmag Angler or random small creatures like Dusk Legion Zealot. Is blowing up all of the opponent's lands a legitimate plan in Pauper? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Playing Pauper: Mono-Black Land Destruction


  • The record this week is weird. You're seeing parts of two leagues because the Magic gods decided that we should play against Burn three times in a row (and we lost each time). Technically, we finished our video matches 2-3, but the overall record was worse thanks to the endless losses to Burn.
  • On one hand, I think we got fairly unlucky. Mono-Black Land Destruction feels like the sort of deck that has some really good and really bad matchups. Aggro decks and especially Burn are the worst, while control decks and especially Tron are the best. Unfortunately, we played exclusively against Delver, Burn, and Aggro in our matches and didn't run into the good matchups a single time. 
  • On the other hand, Mono-Black Land Destruction can be pretty inconsistent. Pauper decks are surprisingly efficient, so if we don't start blowing up lands until Turn 3, we can already be buried behind Delver of Secrets, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and friends, at which point our opponent doesn't really need lands to beat us. 
  • Another weird quirk of playing land destruction in Pauper is that a reasonable number of decks have cards that basically hard counter our land destruction. For example, Delver decks play Gush, so our opponent can simply pick up the land we are trying to destroy, while Burn can sacrifice their own lands for value to Shard Volley and Fireblast
  • For our deck to function well, we really need to not have not only land destruction and often ramp but also card draw. We had some games where we blew up a bunch of lands but couldn't find a way to draw more cards, which gave our opponent time to draw out of their mana problems and eventually kill us before we did anything relevant. 
  • The good news is that Mono-Black Land Destruction is a blast when everything comes together. With a good draw (and in the right matchup), it's possible that we can literally keep our opponent from making a relevant play the entire game and possibly even get the flawless victory.
  • Gurmag Angler is a solid finisher, and I'm impressed every time I play a Monarch card in Pauper, although our deck is worse than some at keeping the crown, since we don't have that many creatures or removal spells. It can work if we can keep our opponent on very few lands, but even one small flying creature can make playing Thorn of the Black Rose risky, giving our opponent an extra card each turn rather than us.
  • All in all, as much as it pains me to say, Mono-Black Land Destruction didn't feel all that competitive. While this is probably—at least, in part—a product of running into some really, really bad matchups (I could see the deck going 5-0 if you ran into a string of UB Control and Tron decks), the Delver matchup is only 50 / 50, and there are a lot of aggro decks in the Pauper format, so it might be that the most popular matchups in Pauper just aren't great for the deck. While the deck is reasonably fun to play and amazing when it all comes together, I'd consider it more of a secondary for-fun deck than my primary deck for trying to win matches in Pauper. The combination of tough matchups and inconsistency makes it a tough sell at the moment, and things will likely only get worse as Foil enters the format and even more people start to play Gush decks.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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