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The Power of Pauper: Fixing Up Some Breakfast

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of The Power of Pauper! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into some of the things we can do with new cards from Commander Masters and how we might begin to experiment with some new takes on decks. I'm going to be compounding upon something I saw last week from Card Market's Deck of the Week and talking about how we might look at Cephalid Breakfast through the lens of Pauper! In addition to that we've got two Challenge events to talk about.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

A Healthy Helping of Breakfast - Squid Style

Last week I shared in our Around the Web section a Card Market article on the concept of utilizing Nomads en-Kor in Pauper, and one of the lists in that article was far more akin to the concepts of Cephalid Breakfast, a long time Extended and Legacy strategy. Before I jump into the list I've been working on, let's talk a little bit about Breakfast in general.

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The original Extended combo decks related to Cephalid Breakfast utilized a combination of Nomads en-Kor and Cephalid Illusionist to self-mill and then cast Reanimate on a creature to give it the effect of Dragon Breath (usually this was Sutured Ghoul) to attack and kill the opponent.

Flash forward to 2023 however, and formats such as Legacy have this deck around due to the fact that cards like Thassa's Oracle and Dread Return exist. But wait, Dread Return was just downshifted to Common! Can this deck work in Pauper?

Turns out the answer is, yes. While the deck is missing Cephalid Illusionist and of course Thassa's Oracle or even Narcomoeba, but it does gain access to Cephalid Aristocrat and Lotleth Giant (and quite frankly you don't need Narcomoeba because there are other low-cost creatures that work for this).

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The other caveat to this strategy though is how deep to actually go on the game plan of trying to kill the opponent with a lethal Lotleth Giant? The issue here is that you need enough creatures to self-mill to offset any you might have drawn and any that are still in play after casting Dread Return for flashback. The answer was well within one of the lists from the Card Market article, and that was to situate the combo in a shell where you can also have a fair backup game plan. Much like how Legacy Cephalid Breakfast has had game plans of cards like Stoneforge Mystic and Urza's Saga, one of the most interesting ways to develop this in Pauper is to place it in a "Gates" shell.

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After a few iterations and a determination that main deck counterspells felt extremely awkward with the manabase and the game plan of the deck, I leaned more on card draw, gaining effects like Street Wraith to cycle and effects like The Modern Age to filter cards I didn't need to the graveyard. Prismatic Strands is a true all-star here, since it can hold off opposing decks damage-wise to delay until the opponent can be killed.

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The Gates plan here is actually sort of Plan A for this deck. It's really easy to get into play (simply by playing the relevant lands) and start attacking the opponent with evasive threats. The deck has the interesting notion that it can turn a corner very quickly if the opponent has been dealt some damage by playing out the combo and then winning off the Lotleth Giant for whatever life total they are at. I also opted for Generous Gift, another downshift from Commander Masters due to its flexibility in being able to deal with any permanent, as more often than not you don't actually care about the 3/3 it gives the opponent.

I heavily intended to have a video ready of this deck this week for the article, but alas things got in the way and I wasn't able to get it. However, I'm definitely going to keep iterating on this, because I do think there is something here. From my limited amount of testing, the deck feels fairly strong and its backup plan is resilient against graveyard interaction unlike many decks utilizing Dread Return where you get to just attack with creatures instead.

I'm certainly excited to see where this archetype could go. It seems fun and very interesting.

Pauper Challenge 8/19

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the Saturday event. This event had 50 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Castle of Commons Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Dimir Terror and Mono Blue Terror were both combined to be super popular, with Gruul in between them. Dimir did middling while Mono Blue did very well. Burn however, had a really solid event here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Mono Blue Terror 1st discoverN
Burn 2nd medvedev
Burn 3rd ejk
Familiars 4th Gn42
Mono White Heroic 5th JogandoPelado
Boros Synthesizer 6th Lollopollo2001
Boros Synthesizer 7th FerMTG
Gruul Ponza 8th MagicTonga

Wildly interesting spread of decks here. A good number of Burn and Boros, but in the end, it was Mono Blue Terror that won.

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This deck now having multiple dense threats outside of Tolarian Terror has really pushed it. Delver of Secrets being great again in the format is definitely intriguing. A lot of the big power here too is in Lorien Revealed since that card is just so incredibly strong, and only playing Islands makes the manabase super clean.

In Second Place we had Burn.

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Very clean and straightforward list here. No frills, and none are needed to close games out with this deck.

Further down the Top 8 we had Familiars.

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It's interesting enough how many different little sub-variants of this deck exist within its flex spots, as the deck has tried just about everything here or there that's new to the format. Lorien Revealed seems to be the one that truly stuck for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had Mono White Heroic.

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The evolution of this deck is quite interesting since it's more focused on auras and All That Glitters now. Makes for a really interesting build for sure.

Pauper Challenge 8/20

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the Sunday event.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here. There was no data sheet for this event, so let's look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Affinity 1st pepeteam
Burn 2nd Schiaveto
Burn 3rd bolov0
Jeskai Gates 4th Klokannebeha
Mono Blue Terror 5th GALL
Dimir Terror 6th ScreenwriterNY
Mono Blue Terror 7th SeawardObject9
Boros Synthesizer 8th Misplacedginger

Lot of Terror decks, lot of Burn. At the end of the event however, it was the newer version of Azorius Affinity that won.

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This is definitely much more of an Aggro deck than the typical Affinity lists we've been used to seeing before the downshift of All That Glitters.

In Second Place we had Burn.

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Very much like the other list in Second from the other Challenge. This deck is fast, lean, and mean.

Further down the Top 8 we had Jeskai Gates.

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I really love this deck quite a bit. It's a strong deck and super fun to play.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Boros Synethesizer.

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This list looks quite strong. Lembas really did a solid number on improving this list as a card to be bounced by Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Paige Smith has a great article on the overall impact of Commander Masters on Pauper. Check it out here.
  • Paige ALSO published a great comprehensive guide to Pauper Playables in 2023. Check that out here.
  • Bryant Cook is doing some Reanimating! Check it out here.
  • The Card Market deck of the week is All That Glitters Affinity! Check it out here.
  • Tempted By the Ring!

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Crawling Infestation!!!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Pauper!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGPauper Discord Server.

Until next time!

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