I saved all the fluff for part 1 of my post, so let’s get straight down to business.
Instead of just throwing a list out there, I’ll just talk about each card individually and help you tailor your own WW for your own meta.
The core of WW is:
4 Squadron Hawk
2 Guardian of the Guildpact (GotG)
These 31 cards represent %70 of the games you win. Rest of the deck is literally composed of annoyances for opponent and getting in enough damage for Hawks and GotG to finish it up.
When I picked up the deck, there were lists without Squadron Hawks. I’d like to think that it’s my biggest contribution to proove that Squadron Hawk is the real deal. Really -in an aggro deck, it’s a straight up Ancestral Recall. There’s no discussion.
There are people who run less than 4 Bonesplitters. You don’t want to be one of them. For once, it’s what keeps you racing in the mirror and in affinity. Second, it turns the dorkiest of the dorks into threats that MUC and Cloud has to deal with.
Guardian is what keeps Infect’s dudes at bay forever, it’s what makes Atog look like a sad Squire, it’s what makes MBC want to cast Geth’s Verdict to get rid of your Squadron Hawks, etc, etc. I believe 2 is mandatory, and 3rd one is up to debate. I think 4 is too much, because as much as he’s a Progenitus, he still costs 4 mana which is a lot in a deck that probably plays 4 Kor Skyfishers, and all said and done, without an equipment, he doesn’t really beat that hard.
The simple bear that flies does a lot of legwork in this deck. He’s the card you want to see against Affinity, an efficient, flying beater that races their ground 4/4s. He’s in an awkward situation in the mirror, because he looks bad once your opponent’s Hawks carry some equipment. Still, all said and done, he’s just the basic card that represents everything your deck does.
4-of? I believe so. There are no matchups that you don’t want to see this guy.
Depending on the matchup, sometimes it’s a worse Skyhunter (Against Storm, Cloud etc) or a much, much better one. There are 2 pitfalls to this guy:
1. Vulnerable to removal. Agaisnt Cloud and MBC, this is a real drawback. Basically, everything from MBC or Cloud kills this guy (Barring Firebolt and Staggershock) and then it becomes an awful 2v1.
2. It hurts your mana development. This might be crucial against, again, MBC and Cloud. Against both decks, you really wanna just slam a GotG as soon as possible. Casting an early Kor Skyfisher prevents you from doing that.
Against both decks, I’ve found myself siding out 2-3 copies of Skyfisher for the reasons above.
4-of? It’s tough. When it’s good, it’s awesome, and you don’t want to get caught without a full suit in the mirror, and the matchups where it’s weakest at are either good matchups anyway (Cloud and MBC) or are straight up terrible (Storm, Familiar Storm). I’ve enjoyed running a full suit but 3 Skyfishers wouldn’t raise an eyebrow from me, given the meta is WW light.
This is one of the most efficient beaters you have access to. Casting it for free / almost free is very relevant in permission matchups, which allows you to deploy a suspended Shade, Razor Golem into GotG, hopefully the last one resolving.
It’s weak against Affinity because Disciple gets outclassed by anything anyway and Razor only trumps Frogmites. Sure, Razor Golem with an axe kills other 4/4s, then again, a ham sandwhich with an axe kills 4/4s. I generally side them out in Affinity, because your plan agaisnt them is to fly over their fatties and race them with life gain effects from Divine Offering, Lone Missionary and Aven Riftwatcher.
It’s one of the very few tools you have against opposing GotGs as well.
4-of? Resoundingly yes. It’s only mediocre in Affinity and it’s golden just about anywhere else.
One of the best cards in the deck. It will serve to protect your best beater against control decks and mess up the combat math in WW mirror.
In WW, it’s often very awkward to attack, because it usually means you’ll be trading your best offensive creature against their worst creature at best. Bodyguard lets your Razor Golem with his axe to just slam without fear, either providing a fast clock or giving you some sweet 2v1 action (Remember, mirror is pure CA and attrition).
It also serves to protect your Suture Priests and Benevolent Unicorns against combo decks, which is very relevant. Combo decks often can deal with 1 hate from WW, but once you start having multiple Bodyguards around with Prismatic Strands to add insult to injury, you can turn an awful matchup into something hopeful.
4-of? Eh. I’m erring on the side of value, being able to take full benefit of Bodyguard whenever you end up drawing one. Alone, it doesn’t really do much, and drawing multiples of it is not always beneficial. Unlike Bonesplitter + Random creature, Bodyguard + Random Creature is not necessarily a faster clock and thus doesn’t win games by its own. But the effect is too good to cut it down to 2. 3 I think is the best number, but I can see arguments for 4.
This card was a resounding 4-of when I first picked up WW. Honestly, this card doesn’t quite kill a lot of things. What it does kill is often negligable (Crypt Rats, for example. Rats is on a suicide mission anyway, and Javelineers will only delay its summoning). Nightscape Familiar has regeneration. Goblin Shredder can sac anything else to save its butt.
What it does do is give the deck another 1 drop, that is very relevant in most aggro matchups due to how it messes with combat math. Even letting your Squadron Hawks attack into Mulldrifters is a job done for 1 mana.
It’s also very relevant in WW mirrors due to shooting down caws with blades and/or getting rid of opposing Bodyguards that are saving that Razor Golem from your Journey to Nowhere.
It’s final application is countering Spellstutter Sprites. The more reason to play your spells before combat.
4-of? Again, like Bodyguard, alone, it doesn’t quite do a lot by itself. I’m erring on the side of “get full value once you draw” rather than drawing it reliably, because it’s not crucial to my game plan most of the time, but it always complements it well when it comes in small numbers.
Lone Missionary / Aven Riftwatcher
Surprisingly, one of the reasons that WW is so good is its life gain. Pauper games are often decided on attrition and a bear with incidental life gain is just very good.
Lone Missionary is often the better of the life gainers, because it costs one less mana, it sticks around, the 4 life gain happens instantly and is easier to replay with Kor Skyfisher. It trades with Frogmites, chumps Atogs, trades with everything when you slap an axe on it. It’s very easy to get value on Lone Missionary if you’re looking for ways to do it.
I’ve played Aven Riftwatcher for a while, and my first ever list had a 3/3 split. But it’s very, very hard to get value out of Avenriftwatcher, and it’s often just a Sunspring Expedition most of the time. Life gain is good, but pure, dump life gain is NOT that good.
4-of? This is one of the few value cards that I think can be correct to play 4 of in a specific meta, one with a lot of Burn and/or Storm. Otherwise, having 3 in the MD is never a waste.
Order of Leitbur
I like mana sinks a lot in aggro decks. However, the problems I’ve had with Order is that, often the ground is clogged anyway so even your Razor Golems can’t get through profitably, or, if your opponent just really wants to get rid of it, he can simmply double block, forcing you to spend your entire mana to just to make that trade a 1v1.
I also found it rather irrelevant against MBC. MBC is one of your best matchups anyway, and even though it’s a cheaper GotG with better highs, do you want to spend precious MD/SB slots to just to spit on one of your best matchups? If so, you might wanna play 2 in the sideboard, though even against MBC, I’d rather have Obsidian Acolytes.
4-of? More like none-of.
Suspend Creatures (Shade of Trokair, Knight of Sursi)
When evaluating suspend creatures, you have to ask yourself “Would I be content to spend 4 mana for this creature anyway?” There will be times you may not be able to play these on T1, and since WW runs light on lands and has a rigid curve, you’ll often have other stuff to do with your mana that immediately impact the board, so you will often end up having to pay full 4 mana for these creatures and you have to ask if it’s worth it.
For Shade of Trokair, the answer is yes for the matchups where you need it the most -permission. Against MUC, it slips under the radar and it’s a gound creature that doesn’t die to Quicksand easily. Against Cloud, it’s a creature that can play around their removal while beating face for lots of damages. There are few things as good as trading resources with your opponent, going to topdeck mode, and ripping a Shade. Right then, it’s all worth its premium cost.
Knight is a different story. It can’t ever be killed by Squadron Hawks, which is a nice bonus for it. But past that, it’s just a Skyhunter. Paying 4 mana for a Skyhunter is not exactly a great deal and isn’t an impressive topdeck. When you don’t want to play it T1 (Because you might wannna play Javelineers to get it online for example) its value rapidly diminishes.
I like Shade in small numbers in MD and some in SB, and I’ve played a 1/3 split before as well. I think this card is really that good in a permission heavy meta, because honestly, there isn’t much else for you to bring. Knight however is a card I’ve really wanted to like but never had our stars aligned.
The bane of Infect, Cloak and Stompy decks alike. Alright, who am I kidding -this is a strict Infect hate that just makes those two other matchups a joke as well.
A few notes about it: Please don’t side it against Grixis Storm decks. We all know that copied Grapeshots can be redirected to face. When I’m facing a Ww deck and they play this, I feel slightly humiliated. Really -you can side in all sorts of stuff, and yes, Storm deck does sometimes lose to WW, so you just better maximize your chances rather than maybe your opponent thinking he can’t win? Yeah.
I’ve had 4 Standard Bearers in my SB for infect all the time I played WW, but that was when Infect was the second most popular deck that I was facing, so full 4 sb slots for such a strong deck was justifiable. Right now, a lot of good infect players like Nerney9 and Tetris23 are away from the game, which in turn results in less finishes by them which in turn results in decrease in popularity. You’d still want at least 2 in SB I think, and 3 if you think you can make room for it.
Obsidian / Crimson Acolyte
The lovely duo. I love Crimson Acolyte a lot more because unlike Obsidian Acolyte, it’s useful in two matchups (Goblins and UR Cloud) and Obsidian Acolyte is not entirely unmanagable by MBC decks (Geth’s Verdict and Diabolic Edicts, etc).
The problem with these two is again, the Bodyguard problem -alone, they kind of suck. Crimson Acolyte still can just punch goblins when he’s on the defense, but against MBC, you’ll rarely if ever be on defense.
Also note that Crimson Acolyte can always die to Steamcore Weird from Cloud so use your Bodyguards smartly.
Removal (Journey to Nowhere, Unmake, Serrated Arrows)
4 Journeys’ve been the staple in my listst for a while. I don’t like the card, it’s sorcery, it can be bounced back, your opponent can bounce back its sole creature when you cast it -all said and done, it’s still the only card that can deal both with Twisted Abomination and Ulamog’s Crusher.
I never really liked Unmake. It only gets rid of GotG as a bonus, and it costs one more mana. Mirror is not solely about GotG, and there are a ton of ways to stop a GotG before you choose to run a 3 CMC removal that you don’t really want to see anywhere else. Such options include protecting your own Razor Golem, getting rid of Bonesplitters that make GotG the threat he is, destroying the Journeys that trap your Golems, and so on.
Serrated Arrows is a strictly mirror / infect tech, though I was testing it against MUC lately and it gives me funny results. Arrows lets you “counter” Spellstutter Sprites in MUC which is very nice. Its application should be obvious in the mirror – Javelineers is good, Javelineers on a stick is awesome. So let’s talk about Infect. Against infect, there are two stages of game:
Stage 1, “OMG I hope he doesn’t kill me t2 OMG he attacks I block PLEASE GOD NO TRAMPLE YES YES THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU!!!!”.
Stage 2: “Whoa, I’ve a Standard Bearer, I HOPE I CAN WIN BEFORE HE DRAWS HIS HORNET STING OH GOD PLEASE JUST ONE MORE ATTACK YES YES TYTYTY”
Serrated Arrows let’s you wrap up the game in Stage 2 and make a hornet sting less of a beating, if you manage to wipe their board anyway.
If you’re looking to deal with Infect, first make sure you’ve enough resources in your deck to provide you a passage from stage 1 to stage 2 -otherwise, you may never live long enough to cast Serrated Arrows in the first place.
Artifact Removal (Dust to Dust, Disenchant, Divine Offering, Kor Sanctifiers)
I could’ve said “Artifact/Enchantment Removal” but honestly, outside of fringe applications for Disenchant in the mirror (which I’ll mention now), there aren’t any enchantments you want to deal with in Pauper -and for those that you do want to deal with, Standard Bearer works better.
There are 2 decks that you want to side in Artifact Removal – Affinity and WW.
Now, Dust to Dust’s been a staple for as long as I’ve been following Pauper winning lists. I obviously tried it because “TROLLL 2v1!!!”. And everytime I played it, it felt… awkward.
You spend 3 mana to 2v1 them. They spend 1 mana to 2v1. Obviously, there’s something wrong about it.
I will say that this part about Dust to Dust is the most subjective part of this primer -I never reall used it well, or maybe I never learned how to use it properly. Everytime I had one in my hand, it felt like it was going to impact the board minimally and that I was about to get my face smashed by Atog / Carapace Forger / etc.
Divine Offering is one of my favorite cards in NMS limited because what it does is so unfair. It’s already a premium removal, costing agressively, instant, but the life swing is just so huge. Affinity is a matchup where you’re attacking with 2/2 fliers and they’re attacking with 4/4 fatties. With no life gain involved, it’s obvious who’s going to win. Divine Offering breaks this parity, kills one of their best attackers, and nullifies one of their attack phases, maybe even more. This is how you win against Affinity.
The same could be said of the mirror. Mirror is a swingy business, you and your opponent each taking the lead at one point of the game. Divine Offering on a Razor Golem can mean 1/2 additional turns for you to draw a gamebreaking card, such as GotG, another Divine Offering / Journey, Squaron Hawk, Serrated Arrows or Bonesplitter.
Disenchant however fills another nice niche. Odds are, if your opponent bothered to use one of his 4 journeys on a creature of your’s, it’s worth the trouble to get it back. It will never really be a dead card. On the other hand, it will always be a good card. Hey, sometimes you just want a “good card”. But the game can evolve in a wayh that, when it was previously about skies and Kor Skyfishers / Squadron Hawks, after a lot of trades, now it’s come to GotG race, in which case, sure Disenchant bringing your Skyfisher back is good, but might not be enough.
Kor Sanctifier is a card I should like, because I like value, I strive for value, and I go out of my way to get value out of everything I play. Turns out, a 2/3 body in the mirror or against Affinity is hardly worth the extra two mana. In both matchups, it gets outclassed by just about anything, and it costs as much as a GotG does. Sure, slap a Bonesplitter on it and it trades with Myr Enforcers, but again -even your mother trades with a Myr Enforcer once you slap her with a Bonesplitter. Two more mana, sorcery speed -is this worth for a 2/3 body in these matchups? I never really thought to. You might wanna play 1 / 1 split with this and Disenchant, because if you try hard enough, you can find a use for a 2/3 body, but I’d shy away from the second copy.
In best of cases it double fogs your opponent while you beat faces in the air and you know what -that’s absolutely broken. So much that, if I were to play a green aggro, I’d really consider Moment’s Peace in the SB, I don’t know why Infect decks don’t run any but choose Fog instead.
It has fringe applications against Cloud, MBC and it’s one of the few ways to deal with Grixis Storm. It’s not a card that you can throw 4-of in and get good value out of it, but if you play a few here and there, odds are, it’ll be absolutely broken everytime you draw one.
Storm Hate (Holy Light, Suture Priest, Benevolent Unicorn)
I’ll also discuss Prismatic Strands here.
All these card do something broken against your opponent’s plan. Suture Priest nullifies Empty the Warrens, Benevolent Unicorn nullifies Grapeshot, and Holy Light just kills the tokens. None of them are all that exciting against anything else so we’ll just discuss the Storm matchup.
Of all these, Prismatic Strands is the best option and Holy Light is the worst one. Whatever they do, be it goblin tokens or Grapeshot to head, Prismatic Strands answers it. You can side in Holy Day to find out your opponent has removed all the Warrens from his deck. And even if he does have them, odds are he also has Goblin Bushwhacker, so what are you going to do, leave up three mana every turn, while attacking for 3? That doesn’t sound like a winning proposition.
Benevolent Unicorn and Suture Priest are both strongest options against one specific strategy, because they can be protected by Benevolent Bodyguard (And in some cases I’ve found, by Standard Bearers. That’s a LOT of hate, boy). The problem is, do you really want to spend 6 SB slots for a matchup that’s still not going to chance it in your favor?
Against Storm, predicting what your opponents are doing before you register your deck is crucial. You absolutely have to know what they’re doing. Watch their replays, see for yourself.
I still think WW is one of the better decks in this format because it can be built to handle anything in the hands of a good pilot. A lot of the work that goes with WW is having a plan, having a good SB, and predicting the meta. You’re not really heavily favored against anything but you can give your money’s worth of fight (A total of 4,32 tix) against everything.
So the videos are getting delayed, because AVI is a retarded format and it takes 2 gigs for a 20 minute material. I’m trying to figure it out and what I can do -I can show my replays and offer commentary on the game, if you think that’s worth watching.
Also, please let me know what you think of these first two posts. I want to bring quality & entertaining blog action to this pauper community, and to expose my awesomeness, you have to tell me where I suck.
Nighthavk_ on MODO