Explorations in Ramp

Growth Spiral was a card I initially wrote off. I figured that if the effect was good enough that Explore would see more play. Combine this with the lack of powerful utility lands in Pauper, the prevalence of Tron, and the lack of anything good to do at the top end and I set the card on the back burner.

Enter Standard. Specifically Throne of Eldraine Standard after the most recent wave of bans. I watched a number of Simic Flash/Ramp decks perform well and wondered if something similar could work in Pauper. There is a ton of power in leaving up mana in a blue deck, so much so that Pro Tour Champion Mike Hron never cast a creature into 2U for fear of Exclude even though the card didn’t exist in Time Spiral Limited.

So I put together this list and it performed adequately. A 3-2 finish is enough to keep me interested in a concept for a few league runs. The next time through I ran into Stompy twice and quickly entered the three loss bracket. I went back to the drawing board and added Moment’s Peace to the main.

Of course thinking about the deck today I realize that it’s probably just correct to add a Mountain, move to Brainstorm and Ash Barrens, and go in on Swirling Sandstorm. Which, to be honest, sounds sweet.

The goal of this deck is to operate on your opponent’s end-step and exhaust them of resources a la the old Snow-Go deck. Unlike that deck, I do not want to lean too heavily on one-for-one removal. As Tron has shown, trying to remove threats individually is not as good as simply buying time. With endgame threats like Havenwood Wurm, Ulamog’s Crusher, and potentially Skittering Crustacean, I am interested to see how Temur Ramp performs moving forward.

December 1st Pauper Playoff

The final Pauper Playoff for 2019 took place on December 1st and Elves won the day. C_is_fore_cookie is a master of the archetype and went through Izzet Faeries, Azorius Familairs, and Flicker Tron on their way to the winner’s circle.

There are some notable omissions in this list – Nettle Sentinel for one – as well as relying on Viridian Longbow rather than Harsh Sustenance to get the job done against Moment’s Peace and Stonehorn Dignitary. Cookie also upped the land count to a whopping 14 and came prepared to defend their army with Hydroblast for sweepers, Spidersilk Armor for sweepers, and Wrap in Vigor for Sweepers. Cookie also opted to eschew Winding Way in favor of four Lead the Stampede and four Distant Melody, possibly in deference to their creature-less sideboard.

The rest of the Top 16 broke down along fairly standard lines. Tron was the most popular archetype, while it was slightly less successful than Boros Monarch (which had the lone 7-0 record). That Boros Monarch list also omitted Alchemist’s Vial entirely for other artifacts and added a copy of Gurmag Angler as a way to close out games.

After a week with almost no Tron in the Top 32, four copies made it to the Top 16, split between Top 8 and Top 16. Clearly the deck is still good, as when the stakes were higher it came out of hiding. And while Elves did win the day it remains a vulnerable strategy.

Moving into this weekend, I would be looking to beat both Boros Monarch and Tron. Considering that Affinity has a fine matchup with both I would also be looking for a way to combat the machine. No questions asked removal like Doom Blade look good at the moment if and only if you can back it up with a reasonable clock.