I’ve got a secret to share: Constructed scares me.

Every time that I try my hand at deckbuilding—be it brewing, netdecking, or somewhere in between—I get anxious. So much work goes into every deck. Deckbuilders painstakingly decide to use twenty-four lands rather than twenty-five, or that in this week’s metagame, Pillar of Flame needs to be maindecked, or that the ‘correct number’ of Snapcaster Mages in Deck X is two. You can hand me a deck and I’m confident that I’ll pilot it ably, but please don’t ask me to build or choose one.

As I try to settle on a deck, my heart rate quickens. “I don’t know as much as these deckbuilders! I don’t know all the Magic-math that they do! My numbers are going to be all wrong! If I use their decks, I won’t know why they chose what they did, and by next week, my deck won’t even be right for the metagame anymore!” Then I give up and draft (because drafting is awesome and a skill I’ve honed). I know how to work with limited resources, but I have no idea how to work the substantially larger pool of every card in Standard. I kept telling myself that ‘next rotation, I’ll play Constructed,’ but both Zendikar and Scars blocks rotated out of Standard and still I waffled.

Yuan Shao

I’ve a bunch of folks to thank for getting me into Constructed (most of all, Li, who got me into Modern, but also huge props to Luis for forcing me to play Standard and Dana and Hugh for being my Standard Pauper testing mates). While my anxieties persist, I’m delighted to be playing and brewing in Standard Pauper. The format has a robust community and detailed metagame analysis, though they’re smaller than those of Standard. The card pool consists of familiar friends that I see every draft and know the power levels of. When it comes to Standard Pauper, I’m not afraid of playing an imperfect deck—I’m eager to have fun playing with and tweaking my baby. So, I’d like to present to y’all my most recent brew: Gwub Hexproof.

Gwub Hexproof

Lands (20)
15 Forest
Island
Swamp
Plains

Creatures (20)
Arbor Elf
Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Gladecover Scout
Primal Huntbeast
Rubbleback Rhino

Spell (20)
Abundant Growth
Ethereal Armor
Verdant Haven
Amass the Components
Mark of the Vampire
Tricks of the Trade
Sideboard (15)
Dispel
Auramancer
Ray of Revelation
Shrivel
Fog
Tricks of the Trade
One-Eyed Scarecrow

 

I love playing this deck. You get to swing in with giant monsters and end the game with a 50 point life difference between you and your opponent. You can be losing horribly, suit up a creature with Mark of the Vampire, attack, and suddenly you’ve won the race. In the metagame, it seems to have an excellent matchup against BUGkeepers (which is the most popular decks in our tournament) and a good matchup against blue decks (Electrodelver and monoblue skies being the other two most popular decks).

Mark of the Vampire card

Mark of the Vampire is the MVP of the deck. If your opponent is trying to kill you with damage, this makes that impossible. Even if your opponent finds an answer, the five or ten life you’ve gained will buy you enough time to suit up another creature. It’s good in all matchups, except mill.

Ethereal Armor is the second best card in the deck. Combined with Abundant Growth and Verdant Haven (which this deck needs to cast its three splash colors and expensive spells, and which combo with Arbor Elf), it turns any creature, even a mana dork, into a serious threat (a 4/4 first strike is nigh-unkillable in combat). While Mark of the Vampire is the best card for winning races, Ethereal Armor is the best card for winning the game quickly. I will never side these out.

Tricks of the Trade has dwindled to a two-of. It’s the best card against BUGkeepers (where Ghostly Flicker can prevent your Voltroned creatures from ever dealing combat damage) but is mediocre in most other matchups. Mark of the Vampire and Ethereal Armor are so much better most of the time that you’d rather never draw more than one Tricks of the Trade.

Arbor Elf

This is a ramp/combo deck. Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim pull double duty by accelerating you into your threats while giving you resilience against Devour Flesh. Avacyn’s Pilgrim lets us skimp on white sources for Ethereal Armor (the deck rarely needs double green, so it’s just better than Elvish Mystic). Arbor Elf can do filthy, filthy things with Verdant Haven. These cards are essential because they allow the deck to play only twenty lands (which could be wrong for all I know).

Your mana dorks are key to beating Devour Flesh (most black decks play it and black is a popular color). Play them before you play your big creatures (which you want to, anyway, since they help you cast your most important spells) and suddenly Devour Flesh is terrible. I win the vast majority of games where Devour Flesh is the only way my opponent can interact with me.

Ray of Revelation, Celestial Flare, and counterspells are the real enemies of the deck. Fortunately, we have four Dispels in the board for the blue decks and white is the least popular color in the metagame. Playing around Celestial Flare requires patience; you need to wait until you can crack in with mana dorks or suit up a Gladecover Scout with Tricks of the Trade to protect your Voltroned up Primal Huntbeast. Waiting usually isn’t difficult since your opponent needs to keep up two white mana at all times while you can tap out every turn, summoning more creatures, amassing more components, and making an even better Voltron (or diversifying your threats).

Amass the Components

While hexproof seems like a solid metagame choice against a white-light field, the deck has an unfortunate tendency to lose to itself. It’s a combo deck that requires multiple colors of mana, at least one hexproof creature, multiple auras, and at least four mana. Amass the Components is the biggest draw spell in the format (and can often be cast on turn three) and is necessary to draw into gas if the deck stalls or the opponent has answers.

It’s worth mentioning that Primal Huntbeast and Rubbleback Rhino are enormous creatures for Standard Pauper and can block almost every ground creature. When you’re not smashing in with them (which they’re decent enough at even without pants/auras), they do an excellent job of protecting you.

To those who would play this deck, I stress you that you can usually afford to be patient (unless your opponent plays T1 Delver of Secrets and flips it immediately, then you need Mark of the Vampire immediately). You have excellent blockers and lifegain that can buy you lots of time. Eventually, you’ll have one big turn where you cast Mark of the Vampire, Ethereal Armor, and/or Tricks of the Trade and win the game—it might be as early as turn three or it may as late as turn thirty. If you’re patient enough to wait for the right time (and the deck cooperates), you can win almost every game.

Tournament Prizes

With round two behind us, there are prizes to be distributed!

  • MattP81 wins a booster of Rise of the Eldrazi just for playing!
  • Lacio wins a booster from gwyned just for playing!
  • The Hipsters of the Coast went undefeated in round two, so there are no bounty prizes for the round. Will we continue our reign of terror?

I’ll be leaving MODO on frequently this week, so if you’d like to claim your prize, please shoot me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Round 3 Pairings/Standings

Player One Points vs Player Two Points Results
Benito (6 pts) vs ratsby (6 pts) (2-0)
aceracerff (6 pts) vs Ahniwa Ferrari (6 pts) (2-0)
P. Dalton (6 pts) vs Brendan McNamara (6 pts) (2-0)
Monique Garraud (HotC) (6 pts) vs Steven (6 pts) (1-2)
Andrew (6 pts) vs Kyle S (6 pts) (1-1)
Chase (6 pts) vs Austin (6 pts) (0-2)
Zombii (6 pts) vs Scumbag Judge James (6 pts)  (2-0)
Hugh Kramer (6 pts) vs JL (6 pts) (2-1)
The_Sir (6 pts) vs Neil Anderson (6 pts) (2-0)
HurricaneWaves (6 pts) vs Ben H (6 pts) (0-2)
Andrzej "Onion" K (6 pts) vs Lollipop_Man (6 pts) (2-0)
David Nunez [drop] (6 pts) vs Mrdarby (6 pts) (0-2)
Justin Beckert (6 pts) vs snapponder (6 pts) (2-0)
Charlie S (6 pts) vs DoogieH [drop] (6 pts) (2-0)
Colin (6 pts) vs Danny DiPietro (6 pts) (2-0)
PurplePotato (6 pts) vs Jason Gray (6 pts) (0-2)
Edmilson (6 pts) vs Will (6 pts)  (2-1)
Conor Moran (6 pts) vs DL Martin (6 pts) (2-0)
puzzles [drop] (3 pts) vs Dana (3 pts) (1-2)
Nivius (3 pts) vs flapjack (3 pts) (0-2)
Kenny (3 pts) vs Kaziks (3 pts) (1-2)
joekewwl (3 pts) vs gwyned (3 pts) (2-1)
Grao (3 pts) vs David Wills (3 pts) (0-2)
Keith Richard Smerbeck (3 pts) vs Wolfmedic (3 pts) (2-1)
Brad (3 pts) vs Gibble (3 pts) (2-1)
d00n [drop] (3 pts) vs James J (3 pts) (0-2)
Grociu (3 pts) vs Kevin Roman (3 pts) (0-2)
James Bathurst (3 pts) vs J.S. Bangs (3 pts) (2-1)
King Xia (3 pts) vs Zachary Barash (HotC) (3 pts) (0-2)
Paul Green [drop] (3 pts) vs Vanhelsen [drop] (3 pts)  (0-0)
Daniel Gardner (3 pts) vs Zach W (3 pts) (1-2)
Sudo_Nym [drop] (3 pts) vs Alithinar [drop] (3 pts) (0-0)
Hans (3 pts) vs ElPolloLoco (3 pts) (2-1)
Paul Salerno (3 pts) vs togepi258 (3 pts) (2-1)
Sam Werbalowsky (3 pts) vs Jesse Lee [drop] (3 pts) (2-0)
Conexion [drop] (3 pts) vs Tom (3 pts) (0-2)
Ideocl4st1 (3 pts) vs mangol (3 pts) (0-2)
John Mason (3 pts) vs Nils Hjalmarsson (3 pts) (1-2)
Nico (3 pts) vs Lacio (3 pts) (1-2)
rbernardinello (3 pts) vs Wurst12 [drop] (3 pts) (2-0)
Kevin Downs (3 pts) vs bacon_music_love (3 pts) (2-1)
Edgar Magalhaes (3 pts) vs Marc DeLay (3 pts) (1-2)
Jesse S (3 pts) vs Maciej Chrzanowski (3 pts) (2-1)
Tim Akpinar (HotC) (3 pts) vs Marcin (3 pts) (1-2)
MattP81 (3 pts) vs Dave Barman (3 pts) (2-1)
Rich Stein (HotC) (3 pts) vs Collecter (3 pts) (2-0)
Hunter Slaton (HotC) (3 pts) vs Shea Strausman (3 pts) (0-2)
sixfirhy (3 pts) vs MattLaZer (3 pts) (1-2)
Luke Burnett (0 pts) vs Adam Bloom (3 pts) (1-2)
Pauper Mage [drop] (0 pts) vs Chris de Lacy (0 pts) (1-2)
Vincent Sippola (0 pts) vs MarkBGH [drop] (0 pts) (2-0)
Jamie B (0 pts) vs Zach G [drop] (0 pts) (2-1)
iAmQuantum (0 pts) vs Skyboss (0 pts) (2-1)
ShiratoKai (0 pts) vs Nick G (0 pts) (0-2)
DV8tor83 (0 pts) vs Chris Reid [drop] (0 pts) (2-0)
Eternal_Blue [drop] (0 pts) vs CJMoran [drop] (0 pts) (0-0)
Landon (0 pts) vs Matt Bobola (0 pts) (0-2)
Carl (0 pts) vs — Bye —

That’s all for this week. I hope you’ve been keeping up with Theros spoilers, because I have, and I’m IN LOVE. I’ll be shouting “Hundred Hand Slap” all year long, to my fellow drafters eternal sorrow/amusement. Thanks for tuning in!

—Zachary Barash

Join the livestream! twitch.tv/ZennithGP

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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