Creatures to Fear in Pauper
- Mark Pinder
WileCyote has got a list of scary staple creatures used in Pauper. You'll find the best creatures and what decks they tend to be featured in. Some come from way back, some from as recently as Amonkhet, but all of them will fill you with dread when they appear on the other side of the table.
Pauper generally revolves around creatures to win games. Even burn decks will have creatures that generate an advantage to synergise with their burn spells. Today I'll talk about some of the most powerful and influential creatures in the format with what support they require to work at their best. I am looking at the creatures that can win matches rather than play a supporting role.
So, in no particular order:
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Delver of Secrets and its alter-ego Insectile Aberration is one of the most potent cards in the format. A 1/1 for U is not all that strong but when it flips to a 3/2 flyer, it becomes the best one drop creature in the format. Getting the Delver to flip on turns 2-3 is relatively easy with Ponder, Brainstorm, and Preordain all in the format. You can then race the opponent with your unblocked flyer while killing or countering their threats. This is my favorite offensive card and the most annoying to play against. Delver appears in a wide variety of decks from mono-blue to Grixis.
This card looks innocuous until you see the combo with Inside Out, get through unblocked and then switch the power/toughness to destroy an opponent. It's one of the most feared decks in the meta and rightfully so.
A key card in Izzet aggro decks is a 1/4 defender that gets so much bigger when an instant or sorcery is cast it gains +3/0, usually something like Distortion Strike to make it unblockable and can kill on one turn with enough spells. Kiln Fiend does a similar job too.
The bogle is so iconic it has an archetype named after it in Bogles. A 1/1 with Hexproof usually wouldn't be much of a threat but once you start dropping enchantments, they become massive problems and the opponent has very few ways to deal with them even after sideboarding. Bogles was one my first Pauper decks and one I still have built up and update every few sets when a new useful enchantment enters the format. The best way to get rid of Bogles is a sacrifice outlet but Cartouche of Solidarity and Squire's Devotion both now see play to put a disposable creature on the field as well.
Glistener Elf has a home in most of the older formats and it is debatable whether this archetype is a hyper aggressive strategy or more of a combo deck for its explosiveness. The elf fits in the poison/Infect deck strategy of dealing 10 poison damage rather than conventional damage beefing up the creatures with pump spells, the key being to know when to pump and when to hold a spell back to save your creature from removal. However, it is quite a moment when your opponent hasn't seen the deck play out before and they let you through thinking one damage is fine. They suddenly are blown out in one turn with a combination of conventional pump spells and life loss from using phyrexian mana to cast multiple Mutagenic Growth's.
The body on the Gray Merchant has kept me alive in many formats over many years. The key to this card though is the life gain swing when it enters the battlefield you gain life which your opponent loses. Consecutive Gray Merchants are usually enough to swing a game if the first one lives. Even if one somehow dies, it's a black card. Reanimation is quite easy and good old Gary returns to create more mayhem.
The days of Gurmag Angler being draft chaff are long since gone, this is one of the most popular and powerful creatures in the game of Magic. We have a 5/5 zombie fish for 6B , which isn't great, but fortunately it doesn't actually cost 6B. It costs B, frequently, and a 5/5 for B is one of the most powerful cards in Magic. One of my favorite cards is my Russian foil Angler that I smile at whenever it hits the battlefield.
This is a solid creature with a decent body at 4/4. However, it'ss also, potentially, vindicate on a stick, as often when your 6-mana horror comes down, the returned permanent will be the only card in their hand. This card also works well with any flicker effects to lock out an opponent.
One of the biggest cards in the format at 8/8 with Annihilator 2, it's a massive game-ending threat. The rules text that it must attack each turn if able is hardly ever an issue as you want to be attacking with it anyway. Only really sees play in Tron ramp decks and if played early, the Annihilator allows the Crusher to dominate the board, leaving the opponent unable to recover in the brief 2-3 turns of remaining life they have left. There is debate in some quarters that the newer Eldrazi Devastator has better stats and trample, but I'd personally just go with one of each to see an opponent sigh when they deal with one and then his friend pops along to finish the job. It may not be the best tactical decision, but it kind of just seems fun.
10. Firebrand Archer
I wasn't originally going to include this guy as I thought it played a more supporting role, as it requires noncreature spells to deal its damage. However, it's quite impressive how much damage it can generate and with a couple of attacks from regular combat it gets even better. This is definitely a key build around rather than just a role player in burn decks. Thermo-Alchemist is also found in these decks.
I've always liked a good martial arts film and Ninjas are some of my favorite characters. Watching the James Bond film You Only Live Twice with Ninja's rappelling into Blofeld's volcano made a very early impression on me.
Ninja of the Deep Hours is a personal favorite, swing with an Augur of Bolas, sneak in the Ninja, draw a card and replay the Augur to get another card is one of my favorite combos. If you can keep the potential blockers heading to the graveyard, this card quickly takes over any game it's in.
12. Stormbound Geist
Well you wouldn't think a 2/2 flier would be able to do so much damage, but a 2/2 with persist is another matter entirely as you need multiple removal spells or a hard to come by exile effect.
A relatively new addition to the format from Kaladesh and is on the surface an expensive creature at UU5 with a relevant ability 5U to be made unblockable. The key though to this card is that it costs one less for each artifact you control. In an affinity build with artifact lands casting it for UU on the earlier turns of a game is a realistic prospect.
Atog is a wonderful little card that has been in many decks in many formats over the years. Atog only works in an affinity or artifact build as you need the food to feed the Atog. This can be a one shot kill if it isn't answered.
I hope you enjoyed looking at some of the best creatures in the format. The recent Holiday Pauper on event on MTG Arena with Standard only commons was very interesting and I'll be keeping an eye on the Pauper deck lists to see if any new gems for the format have been found.
I'm very interested to see what creatures you like as finishers that I may not have mentioned and your feedback.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.