G/W Slivers: A Premier Event Report

After missing the first few pauper Premium Events due to work commitments, I found myself with a Saturday off and 6 tix. I believe last Saturdays event pulled in 94 people, all gunning for the top 8. The biggest threat? Mono black control. Thanks to cards like Warren Pilferers, Tendrils of Corruption, Corrupt, Chittering Rats and Okiba-Gang Shinobi the deck has been performing well for the last several months. I believe that this is the deck you absolutely must be able to beat when choosing your deck.


The other big decks are Storm and Affinity. These decks have both a fast clock and the ability stay in the game for both the early, mid and long range. Storm decks go one of a few different routes. They either shoot to put between 6-10 goblins in play on turn 1 or 2, or play slowly and combo on turn 5-7 for a big Empty the Warrens or Grapeshot. The Affinity builds dump their hand onto the table early thanks to help from Springleaf Drum and Lotus Petal, then aim to play Myr Enforcer and refill their hand via Rush of Knowledge. You must also have a game against these decks if you with to make top 8.

With this knowledge in mind, I set to the task of building a deck that could handle these decks and also have a plan against the numerous other decks in the format, such as Blink, Slivers, Teachings, Esper, Cloak, Threshold, Burn and whatever else the pauper community was brewing up for Saturday. With my budget limited and goals set, I decided on this:

G/W Slivers
Designed by Patrick Becerra

4 Virulent Sliver
4 Sidewinder Sliver
4 Plated Sliver
4 Muscle Sliver
4 Sinew Sliver
4 Spinneret Sliver
4 Woodland Changeling

2 Prismatic Strands
4 Thrill of the Hunt

4 Temporal Isolation

2 Naya Panorama
2 Tranquil Thicket
1 Secluded Steppe
9 Forest
8 Plains

Sideboard:
3 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Circle of Protection: Black
3 Obsidian Acolyte
2 Prismatic Strands
2 Naturalize
2 Seal of Primordiam

In the maindeck I have Woodland Changeling over Avian Changeling. I didn't realize the Avian was around, and it's strictly a worse card. It didn't come into play too often, but I'd run Avian Changeling in the future. Since I expected to see a lot of mono black I decided to pick up some Obsidian Acolytes and run 3 in addition to the CoP's. The additional Prismatic Strands were to come in against storm and the Naturalize/Seals were for Affinity. Registration ended and round 1 began.

Round 1: yannielsen with Mono Black Control

I feel good as I see my opponent play more and more basic swamps. I remember having an outstanding hand that curved well to turn 4. He was dead before Tendrils of Corruption could save him.

Game 2: - 4 Thrill of the Hunt -2 Prismatic Strands, +3 CoP: Black +3 Obsidian Acolyte

I keep a hand with CoP and 3 lands. I land the CoP and draw lands to match his creatures. Very late in the game I find the first Acolyte and beat for the win.

Round 2: Rychu_PL with Mono Black Control

I get excited as I see his play of Swamp, pass. Another quick hand is given to me and his single Crypt Rats can't save him.

Game 2: - 4 Thrill of the Hunt -2 Prismatic Strands, +3 CoP: Black +3 Obsidian Acolyte

For the second time I land CoP on turn 2 and lock him out of the game. He manages to gain a lot of life with Tendrils and I end up winning game 2 on time, but I had the match won either way.

Round 3: SARCASTO with Affinity

Game 1 he gets a nuts draw of double Enforcer, 3 Disciples, Frogmites and Pyrite Spellbomb. I'm dead before I'm even in the game.

Game 2: -2 Prismatic Strands -2 Thrill of the Hunt, +2 Naturalize +2 Seal of Primordium

I get some early beats on and he fails to draw enough blockers to save himself.

The third game I mulligan to 5 and curve out nicely, I have him with his back against the wall, defending with a single Myr Enforcer. He's in topdeck mode and with only a few turns left he draws Rush of Knowledge and draws 7 cards. I lose quickly after. While waiting for the next round to start I complain about how unbalanced Affinity is in the chat.

Round 4: RisingSun000 with G/W Slivers

He wins the die roll and lead with Sinew Sliver. I type "Oh great", then make my play of Virulent Sliver. He understands and we proceed to lock up the ground with creatures. At the end of one of his turns, I realize that Avian Changeling flies and flash an Isolation on it. He Oblivion Rings the enchantment away and passes the turn. I then realize there are 3 Spinneret Slivers in play, and continue to draw and play creatures. At the beginning of his turn I am ahead by 2 creatures. On his combat steps he attacks with 2 slivers, both 5/10. I think for a moment, then block each with half of my guys. He types "Awesome, I get to kill as many as I want." Then I type "no". He says "Oh, they all have flanking." and I type "Yeah man". His 2 guys go to the graveyard and the crackback kills him.

Game 2: -4 Thrill of the Hunt, +2 Prismatic Strands, +2 Seal of Primordium

I've read that Thrill of the Hunt is the most important card in the mirror. However, since all slivers benefit other slivers they toughness gets so high that Thrill doesn't do anything. I want a more relevant card, so I bring in Strands and something to kill his O-Rings. I realize that my board in the mirror is sub par. I decide to rely on my playskill.

Game 2 I keep a sub par hand with 1 land. I don't draw another for a few turns, and when I do it's a Panorama. He beats me to death before I can put up some resistance.

Sudden Death! I quickly mulligan to 6 cards, then think. My had has 1 Forest, Virulent Sliver and a bunch of white guys. Going to 5 is suicide, but so is keeping this hand. My 5 cards are about as good as they can be. Forest, Plains, guys. Thankfully he has a slower start and we get into a creature lock again. Late into the game when we both have 14 or so guys I have 2 Prismatic Strands in hand. I decide to attack, and he plays Prismatic Strands, blocking as to keep his in the graveyard. None of my guys die. He counter attacks and I play then flashback Strands to survive. I stop attacking at this point. The game goes on forever and I'm ahead on cards because of my mulligan. This match either went to time or he conceded.

Round 5: Jernhoeg with Mono Black

To my delight I see more swamps. Game 1 ends in a loss, as I can't get enough pressure down and he gets to recur Crypt Rats.

Game 2: - 4 Thrill of the Hunt -2 Prismatic Strands, +3 CoP: Black +3 Obsidian Acolyte

Game 2 I get the CoP and Acolyte in a timely manner and win with the game locked. Oddly, I play this matchup as the control deck. I feel this is correct, as I can't hope to race the black deck and stay alive. The CoP requires too much mana, and I can't be spending that mana on creatures that get Tendrils'd.

Game 3 I get the CoP again, but Dross Golem shows up. It's not black, and it has fear. I lose the match.

Round 6: StiLLiRise with Parlor Tricks

Parlor Tricks was the first pauper deck I played, and I recognize the plays of Terramorphic Expanse, Snow Lands, Probe, Ravenous Rats etc. I get the early beats game 1 through 2 Skreds and we move to the next game.

Game 2: I don't board. I have nothing relevant.

Seeing how none of his damage cards are red or black, I stay with the main deck. This time between Skred, Steamcore Weird, Izzet Chronarch and Death Denied I lose the game.

Game 3 I get the beats on fast again, and he has a really slow start. I believe this is the game where I poisoned him to death. I know it happened once all day.

Round 7: Kobold Overlord with Mono Black Control

For the 4th time in 7 rounds, I see basic swamps. The first game goes to me again.

Game 2: - 4 Thrill of the Hunt -2 Prismatic Strands, +3 CoP: Black +3 Obsidian Acolyte

Game 2 he wins on Dross Golem. Bullshit.

Game 3: -1 Obsidian Acolyte, - Other stuff, +2 Seal of Primordium

This game I wanted more than 4 answers to Golem. I see the CoP and match his Golems with Isolations. There's only so many ways I can describe me sitting around for 48 turns (seriously, down to single digit decks) before having enough mana to use Acolyte to give some Slivers pro back.

At the end of the round I see myself in 14th place and decide to have dinner with my girl. The top 8 was 1 undefeated player, four 6-1's and three 5-2's. I missed out on breakers, with only 1 of my losses making top 8. Being that there are no draws I don't understand the MTGO tiebreaker system at all. My efforts earned me 5 boosters and about 50 points in rating.

My decision to board heavily towards mono black was well rewarded. Playing it 4 times and losing only once says something about the power of the deck. The games are going to be drawn out, and the key to winning is to play quickly and not fetch with Panorama or cycle. The black player will be forced to play Phyrexian Rager at least 3 times in the match, putting him down on cards. This ensures you win a stalemate.

I was also surprised to see how slow people played. Towards the end of my rounds I was consistently 3-6 minutes ahead of my opponent on the chess clock. In matches where you expect the game to take all round it is essential that you play fast. Do most of your tactical thinking while your opponent has priority. The adjust your strategy to their play. Anticipate their moves so you can react faster than they can. Devise mini-stratigies for each play they could make, then adapt to the play they did make.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for playing Saturday and showing Wizards that we enjoy the pauper format and to encourage them to continue to support us with Premier Events, queues, prizes and coverage on magicthegathering.com. Hopefully I'll see you all June 21st for the next PE!

-Patrick


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