Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Control Magic in Standard Pauper

Last week, I wrote about whether or not the addition of the Gatekeeper cycle to the Standard Pauper pool is sufficient reason to ban Ghostly Flicker from the format. Since the release of Dragon's Maze, there have been only a handful of decks in the Top 8 taking advantage of this interaction, and even fewer that make full use of my favorite Gatekeeper to combine with Ghostly Flicker - Smelt Ward Gatekeeper.

Upon first glance, Smelt Ward Gatekeeper doesn't seem all that powerful. True, as long as you control two Gates, you get both a 2/4 Warrior and an Act of Treason for the very reasonable 3Red. However, Act of Treason has not seen much play in Standard Pauper, except as a Sideboard option for highly aggressive decks. However, there are two potent interactions that become possible once you gain control of that creature. Let's take a look at both of them:

First, if you have the means to blink the creature - that is, to exile the creature and then return it to the battlefield under your control - the second effect of Act of Treason is forgotten by the creature when it returns, and you get to keep the creature at the end of the turn. Currently, this can be accomplished using the aforementioned Ghostly Flicker or the less popular Cloudshift.

Second, you can instead sacrifice the creature, sending it to your opponent's Graveyard just as if you had destroyed it or killed it either in combat or through lethal damage. Currently, there are a total of 12 spells or creatures that allow you to sacrifice a creature. As far as creatures are concerned, your only options are Bloodflow Connoisseur, Bloodthrone Vampire, Corpse Blockade, Falkenrath Torturer, or Stitcher's Apprentice, none of which currently see much if any play. But when it comes to spells, you have at least four options worth considering - Altar's Reap, Bone Splinters, Devour Flesh, and Fling. Each of these not only acts as a removal spell for the creature you've 'borrowed,' but also gives you some incremental advantage - even if that's just a few points of Life, as is the case with Devour Flesh. Of these, Altar's Reap and Devour Flesh are my favorites, simply because the cards retain their usefulness even without the Gatekeeper and can be cast as Instants.

I would love to see a build based around these two powerful interactions. I personally have been testing my own version, which I intend to write about in the future. But for the moment, how would you take advantage of these combinations? Or are they even powerful enough to warrant building around? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. See my American Gatekeeper Control and the Artistocrats decks from last month.