Welcome back to the third and final week covering a basic introduction to Pauper Elves. The first week covered a general overview of the deck while the second week we talked a bit about different card choices the deck has to offer. Now we’re going to go over sideboard options and how to best utilize them against different matchups.

We have fantastic options at our disposal and a lot of ways to go about building your sideboard. To start with a frame of reference, I’ll once again use my current list.

Elves! (Pauper League 5-0)

Creatures (39)
Birchlore Rangers
Elvish Mystic
Essence Warden
Fyndhorn Elves
Llanowar Elves
Nettle Sentinel
Quirion Ranger
Elvish Vanguard
Priest of Titania
Sylvan Ranger
Timberwatch Elf
Lys Alana Huntmaster

Spells (8)
Viridian Longbow
Lead the Stampede
Spidersilk Armor
Distant Melody
Lands (13)
12 Forest

Sideboard (15)
Massive Raid
Scattershot Archer
Gleeful Sabotage
Moment's Peace
Wrap In Vigor
Luminescent Rain
Spidersilk Armor
Relic of Progenitus
Viridian Longbow

The reason we’ll use this list is to talk about not only why the sideboard cards are important but also what cards you might want to take out. Bear in mind not all lists look like this and it’s merely a basis which we can go off.

To start we have Massive Raid, a sweet option for battling Fog effects. This usually comes into play vs. Tron, which likes to loop Moment’s Peace and Stonehorn Dignitary effects; but also gets used against decks that run Prismatic Strands, such as Boros Monarch and Orzhov Pestilence. I often get asked the question why this card over Mob Justice or Gruesome Fate? To me, Mob Justice, while costing the least, is actually the worst of the set. If you’re looking to get in for the kill, odds are good you have more than enough creatures to cast the other spells instead and they’re almost always going to be better as a result. Massive Raid gives you the effect at instant speed to help get around Prismatic Strands’ flashback cost and Tron’s countermagic and even allows you to take down a creature in a pinch. The downside of this, however, is that if your opponent has a flagbearer like Standard Bearer or Coalition Honor Guard on the field, you must target them over the opponent. If you feel concerned about that in your metagame, you can sacrifice the instant-speed goodness for Gruesome Fate’s life loss as opposed to the others’ damage dealing. Given that the matches we usually bring in this effect we also usually keep our Viridian Longbow, I actually prefer Massive Raid personally.

Speaking of Longbow, we run one main deck here but a second is definitely great. It helps in the aforementioned matchups quite a bit while also crushing the mirror, Delver decks, and Inside Out Combo. It’s a cornerstone of the deck. In a metagame with less Burn, Affinity, and Dimir Control, it can even be right to have both in the maindeck as opposed to my split. Along with that sweet equipment we bring in our own sweeper-style effect: Scattershot Archer. This slot is often reserved for handling Delver decks and Boros decks, which often feature a number of small fliers. In some metagames, though, this card can be a bit weak to lots of removal, so it can be better to find an alternative. While I don’t like going too off-color, Electrickery is definitely an option and can certainly help in a variety of matchups without fliers. If you want to stick to hitting fliers while being on color and not being bound to a creature package, Aerial Volley is going to be your way to go. Given that Lead the Stampede fetches up Scattershot more easily, however, it’s best to stick with the Archer.

In the matchups you don’t want Longbow, you do often want some form of protection from the sweepers they’re likely to bring in. For this, I make sure to run two Spidersilk Armor, a Wrap In Vigor, and a Relic of Progenitus as super-secret Swirling Sandstorm tech against Izzet Delver, as well as other graveyard-based decks. There’s a number of other options to survive sweepers as well, such as Magnify and Lumithread Field. While these make great budget options, I think generally speaking Spidersilk is almost always the best option as it stays on the battlefield and grants you other benefits in the long term aspect of the game. The next best I often feel is Magnify as it can double as a win-con. However, with the current rise in Swirling Sandstorm, Evincar’s Justice, and Martyr of Ashes, using Wrap In Vigor as a one-of is definitely the way to go. The only sweepers you might struggle with despite these are Krark-Clan Shaman, Crypt Rats, and Pestilence. All of these can stack the effects after you put a pump effect into play, thus negating your spells and leaving you with an empty board. In the event of that happening, it’s best to hope for an epic Lead the Stampede hit or else just do your best to avoid overextending into them too hard.

Next we have Gleeful Sabotage. This effect should be obvious but it’s meant to primarily be used vs. decks like Affinity and Bogles, largely negating massive chunks of their game plan. It can also be utilized to a lesser extent against other decks that rely on artifacts and enchantments like Tron and Boros and even a little bit in the mirror to deal with opposing Longbows. If you struggle to find Gleefuls, there’s always a large swath of smaller effects like Naturalize and Natural State that you can use in its place, but there’s nothing quite like being able to 2-for-1 instead of going 1-for-1 like the other effects.

Last but not least we need to deal with those heavily aggressive decks. Moment’s Peace works as a way to stop attackers in their tracks with a way to be able to do it again should it prove necessary. You can use plenty of other great fog effects like Tangle or Respite but having the ability to flashback makes Peace give you more bang for your buck. If Fog effects won’t do the trick, then perhaps life gain will. Yes Wellwisher and Essence Warden often give you great options, but sometimes you need something with a bit more immediacy. For this reason, cards like Luminescent Rain, Toil to Renown, and Elvish Eulogist will give you massive amounts of life for a low cost. These can help greatly against Burn as well as Inside Out and Izzet Blitz.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a little table of ways to sideboard against some of the decks you’re most likely to see across the table at your next Pauper event:

Izzet Delver: +1 Relic of Progenitus, +2 Scattershot Archer, +1 Viridian Longbow, +1 Wrap in Vigor, +2 Spidersilk Armor, -2 Essence Warden, -1 Distant Melody, -1 Lys Alana Huntmaster, -2 Elvish Vanguard, -1 Nettle Sentinel
Affinity: +2 Spidersilk Armor, +3 Gleeful Sabotage, -1 Distant Melody, -1 Viridian Longbow, -1 Nettle Sentinel, -2 Essence Warden
(most versions)
+1 Spidersilk Armor, +1 Relic of Progenitus, +1 Viridian Longbow, +1 Massive Raid, -2 Essence Warden, -2 Elvish Vanguard
Inside Out Combo: +1 Viridian Longbow, +2 Moment’s Peace, +2 Luminescent Rain, -2 Elvish Vanguard, -1 Lys Alana Huntmaster, -1 Timberwatch Elf, -1 Spidersilk Armor
Boros Monarch: +1 Viridian Longbow, +1 Massive Raid, +2 Spidersilk Armor, -1 Distant Melody, -2 Essence Warden, -1 Lys Alana Huntmaster
Mirror: +1 Viridian Longbow, +2 Gleeful Sabotage, -2 Elvish Vanguard, -1 Spidersilk Armor
Stompy: +2 Luminescent Rain, -1 Spidersilk Armor, -1 Viridian Longbow
Dimir Alchemy: +2 Spidersilk Armor, +1 Relic of Progenitus, -2 Essence Warden, -1 Viridian Longbow
Burn: +1 Wrap In Vigor, +2 Spidersilk Armor, +2 Luminescent Rain, -1 Viridian Longbow, -1 Distant Melody, -1 Nettle Sentinel, -1 Timberwatch Elf, -1 Lys Alana Huntmaster

I hope you enjoyed these couple of articles about my favorite deck! If I didn’t cover the cards or decks you wanted to see, don’t worry. There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to potential options and it’s always great seeing off-color effects at play. If you want to know about any others I missed, let me know on Twitter. And while you’re at it, let me know what you’d like to see next week when I start to go over another Pauper deck! Until then, may your elvish army grow ever stronger on your path to victory!

Kendra has been playing Magic since Urza block and never looked back. Playing a variety of formats and being known for championing Pauper in particular, the Elf Queen can be found hanging out on Twitter as well as streaming on Twitch, always seeking to better the community at large.

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