Magic: the Gathering
Burning-Tree Emissary, leading Faeries decks to experiment with splashes to deal with their natural predator. As I explained in this article, the Pauper Metagame finds itself polarizing between two decks, and the same has been done by several players in an attempt to get a good winrate against Affinity and Storm. It is based on this idea that we have seen decks that tries to take advantage of the lack of interaction of these lists to succeed, as in the case of Burn, which obtained more expressive results in the last week, in addition to other archetypes that obtained results in the last month, such as Black Burn, Infect, Bogles, among others. Another tactic used on these occasions is to resort to using cards that are naturally great against the predominant acrhetype in the maindeck. Like, for example, using
Chalice of the Voidin a format dominated by low-cost threats or, in the case of Pauper, using
Duress, among other cards that work as great answers to deal with the predominant decks. One of these cards that has recently gained space is
Chatterstorman issue for the Storm player, as they will lose 1 life for each creature they put into play. Also, in a proactive game plan, Suture Priest and cards with similar effects like
Soul Wardenmake Storm's life even more difficult, as every creature you play or that enters the battlefield for the opponent will mean 1 more life that the opponent will need to remove with their tokens when closing the combo, often making it very difficult to perform a combo-kill in a single turn. However, these lifegain decks, known as Soul Sisters, were never very successful on Pauper because there weren't enough payoffs for this strategy to be viable, as other formats have
Heliod, the Sun-Crowned, among other cards, while the nature of the format of constantly interacting with creatures made this strategy irrelevant. But gradually, since the end of last year, Lifegain strategies has received some occasional support in almost every recently released set.
Marauding Blight-Priestgave some relevance and evidence to a deck that the content creator Caleb Gannon had been looking to build for some time, using
Epicure of Bloodas a payoff for the lifegain. But it was with
Celestial Unicornthat the deck gained prominence with its Mono-White version, even managing to get some results in the Challenges.
Celestial Unicorngave the deck the ability to attack from an angle it couldn't before, being able to bet on a single large creature against non-interactive decks, while still attacking from the air with
Battle Screechand using
Silverflame Ritualto make your creatures larger Obviously, it wouldn't take players long to look for a way to adapt Gannon's Abzan Sisters to a new version using
Celestial Unicornand the as-yet unused
Blood Researcher, making the list leave behind the lifedrain of
Marauding Blight-Priestto bet on a more agile, efficient and redundant game plan. And it was with this idea that the player _Against_, better known as the three-time Brazilian Pauper national champion, Alexandre Weber, reached the Top 8 of the Pauper Challenge last Saturday with the list of Abzan Sisters made by one of his followers, Carlos Júnior.
Celestial Unicornto win the game after turning them into giant creatures, while using
Lead the Stampedeto keep the creatures flowing and invalidate the opponent's 1-for-1 trades. As the deck generates mana of any color with creatures like
Jasper Sentinel, it can have a clean manabase of only forests and still use a splash for other colors on the Sideboard, to get good responses and cards against archetypes where normally the deck's colors lack more efficient things. Let's find out today how this deck works, and what we can expect from it in the future:
Essence Wardenworks more functionally than the rest of the cards in a deck that operates on a primarily green base, and therefore is top of the list, while
Soul Wardenacts as a complementary slot.
Suture Priestis not only another card that operates based on the deck's game plan, but as mentioned earlier, it also gives the list a very efficient means of responding to Storm's game plan, as it punishes the opponent for putting multiple creatures on the board in a single turn, dealing 1 damage for each one that enters, meaning that Storm can't wait many turns to try to win the game if you keep chipping its life total every turn.
Ajani Pridemates These cards have become the main reason this deck has resurfaced and is having some success in the current Metagame, as they give the archetype an important cumulative effect that puts a lot of pressure on the opponent's life total, allows the deck to trade favorably against the Affinity's 4/4s, and the inclusion of
Celestial Unicornwith the release of Forgotten Realms gave redundancy to this game plan. It's worth mentioning that these cards' ability triggers for every
instance of life gainyou get, not for
every life you gain. For example, if you gain two life at once, those cards' ability triggers once, and they gain a +1/+1 counter. But if you gain 1 life and then 1 more life, the ability will trigger twice, and they'll gain two +1/+1 counters And it's this point that makes the Soul Sisters' ability so relevant to these cards: they can grow very fast with any creature that enters the battlefield and get out of control quickly.
Jaspera Sentinelwas one of the best additions the format has received, as it's a dork with a relevant body that can block faeries or other small-bodied creatures with evasion like bird tokens very well.
Saruli Caretakerallows the archetype to hold the game on the ground, as it has a body that blocks a significant number of creatures very well.
Quirion Rangeris essential in this archetype, even though it's not exactly a mana dork, as it allows the deck to reuse the dorks above AND guarantee your land drops with a single card, which can be essential for an archetype that uses only twelve forests as its manabase, while using cards of other colors.
Avacyn's Pilgrimis the only literal mana dork on the list, and it does an impressive job as it adds white mana, an essential color for the deck to work, as it's the color that enables
Rift Soweris an interesting addition, like a dork with "delay", as you can't play it in the first turns at its full cost, but it makes up for it easily as it can be played in turn 2 with
Avacyn's Pilgrim, or turn 1 with its Suspend cost.
Benevolent Bodyguardessentially acts as protection for your main creatures, while also offering evasion for your large creatures against certain monocolored decks.
Duskshell Crawlermay look like a lost card on the list as a one-of, but it offers your aggressive game plan a consistent way, for a low cost and a good body, to give evasion for your creatures as it gives Trample to any creature with a +1/+1 counter, making it more efficient than other options, such as
Lead the Stampedeand
Winding Wayallow the deck to maintain the flow of creatures, gain a significant amount of card advantage, and a means to recover if the opponent handles your initial wave of threats.
Affinity shall not pass!If you need another example of how polarized the format is, imagine your deck has a good match against one of the main decks of the format, and you need to dedicate nine slots of your Sideboard against the other best deck of the format to attack it in the most diverse angles? This is a reflection of the current state of Pauper.
Gorilla Shamanhopefully attacks the artifact lands that enter untapped before the deck manages to explode with its threats
Dust to Dustare great 2-for-1 effects to deal with
Sojourner's Companion. Also,
Dust to Dust], along with [[Deglamerare good answers for dealing with the duals that Affinity runs, as they either exile them or put them back into the opponent's deck. Finally,
Masked Vandalis another way to deal with the creatures in the deck that can be revealed with
Lead the Stampedeor
Marauding Blight-Priestallows the deck to have reach and win games even when you're locked in combat, while also serving as yet another punishing effect against Storm when used with
Soul Warden, dealing one damage to the opponent for each Squirrel that enters the battlefield.
Mulldrifteris the best grind element that can be revealed with
Lead the Stampedeor
Winding Wayavailable in the format . It might look like the card is a little lost in the list (and maybe it is), but
Mulldrifteris a great piece to use against Dimir decks, as it blocks creatures like
Faerie Seervery well, while offering more cards in hand, and can commonly be played before turn five, given the amount of mana dorks the deck uses.
Celestial Unicornwas all that this archetype needed to be competitive within Pauper, and the answer depends on your perception of competitive. The reality is that Soul Sisters is a great meta-call in the current Pauper Metagame, where decks are more concerned with doing their own absurd thing rather than responding to what the opponent tries to do, making room for a deck like Soul Sisters to succeed because their game plan favors the lack of interaction of their opponents, since
Blood Researcherare two cards that can get out of control quickly and any gaps the opponent gives it could mean defeat.
Essence Wardenmakes the deck naturally good against the biggest threat to the format today:
Storm, making it difficult that the archetype can combo-kill you, while the deck also delays the combo-kill of Affinity's
Fling, even though this isn't specifically a good match in Game 1 . Another interesting point of the deck is its ease of splashing colors, even with a monocolored mana base. That way, you can use cards of other colors easily throughout the game, as seen with using
Mulldrifterin this list, thanks to the efficiency and redundancy that the list has to use creatures that add mana of any color. Also, because of the mana dorks and the interactions between them and
Quirion Ranger, this deck can create highly explosive turns with its low-cost cards, creating situations in the game where the opponent will have a lot of trouble to prolong the game if it doesn't interact well with your creatures or opts for a linear game plan. Looking at the downsides, the reality is that this and any other Soul Sisters variant will have a hard time staying in the Metagame when a banlist comes out. The first reason for this is that when Storm is no longer a threat and possibly Affinity is weakened, the format will revert to its 1-for-1 trade-in nature and Card Advantage buildup generated by mechanics like Monarch,
Bonder's Ornament, Cascade, among others. Which will bring back archetypes like Jund Cascade, Izzet Faeries, Orzhov Pestilence and other decks with a significant amount of board interactions that will have ready-made answers for cards like
Blood Researcher, while the rest of the list is extremely susceptible to sweepers like
Suffocating Fumes. This is not an exclusive point of this particular list, but I believe this variant is even more susceptible to 1-for-1 trades, as its main attack plan is the creatures that grow with lifegain, while Mono-White can still bet on a beatdown plan with
Battle Screechand other smaller creatures. Another relevant point is how much this list is dependent on its mana dorks to work, which makes it even more susceptible to taking turns where the deck essentially doesn't do anything at all because its
Jaspera Sentineltook a
Lightning Bolton turn 1 and all of its initial plays involved adding mana of other colors. On the other hand, it's possible that a future ban will make the deck to choose to migrate to other angles like using
Marauding Blight-Priestto gain other means of reach throughout the game. That said, the Abzan Sisters looks like a more explosive, interesting and fun version of the Mono-White variant, and a great Meta-Call for a format that is increasingly predominated by decks like Storm, while its sideboard allows it to have enough answers against Affinity.
Chatterstormno longer exists in the format, and in a less polarized Metagame and less focused on one or two archetypes. Thanks for reading!