Sugar and Splice

Posted in Building on a Budget on April 29, 2009

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

I've got a really exciting and Johnny-riffic Pauper deck to share with you this week. Before I get to that, though, I want to start by apologizing for last week's article. I had good intentions. I thought the deck was a budget alternative in Standard. One comment really rang through in the forums for me. A reader brought it to my attention that the deck is significantly weaker than a nearly identical list that runs Cryptic Command. I didn't know the addition of Cryptic Command would change the deck so dramatically. I played a few games with the deck after adding Cryptic Command and the deck was astronomically better.

My biggest goal when I took over this column was to create fun, original, and powerful decks without spending too much. You (the reader) deserve much better than a budget version of a popular pet deck. It's one thing to replace Cryptic Commands with other Counterspells in a control deck that plans to use it as a Counterspell 90% of the time. In the Grinding deck, the Command is an extremely important survival tool against the midrange decks. I don't want this column to provide bad deck lists of known decks.

This week I'd like to talk to you about my new favorite deck.

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader that contained a Pauper deck list. The deck has a number of Arcane spells with Psychic Puppetry. The deck plays Ravnica bounce lands in conjunction with Fertile Ground and Dawn's Reflection. The plan is to enchant a land with multiple enchantments and begin cycling through your deck with card draw spells. While you sift through your deck you splice Psychic Puppetry onto your Arcane spells and generate enough mana to play an absurd amount of card draw. Once you draw a Grapeshot you cast spells until your storm count gets to 20 and then you fire a 20-point Grapeshot at your opponent. You can even use your Psychic Puppetry to tap down your opponent and prevent shenanigans like Prismatic Strands.

Psychic Puppetry

I'll start by explaining my card choices.

Fertile Ground and Dawn's Reflection: I want to enchant one land with as many of these as I can. Once I start "going off" I will be tapping the land for a lot of mana and untapping it repeatedly with a spliced Psychic Puppetry.

Psychic Puppetry: This allows me to generate enough mana to play all my spells.

Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, and Ideas Unbound: The Arcane draw engine is very important. All of these cards get me through my deck, increase my storm count, and net me mana. Peer Through Depths and Ideas Unbound are especially strong because they get me deeper into my deck.

Deep Analysis: Additional card draw is important. Deep Analysis is one of the best card-draw spells available in the format. It's especially strong because it can be discarded on the draw when you play a turn two Karoo.

Ponder and Brainstorm: The cantrips are pretty necessary if you want to go off consistently. I'm not sure if Brainstorm is better than Compulsive Research. I decided on Brainstorm because of its flexibility, but in time I may discover that Compulsive Research is a better card for the slot.

Moment's Peace: Who likes surviving long enough to actually win? I do! I do!

Grapeshot: The deck plays enough spells on its key turn to sling Grapeshots for 30 plus damage on a somewhat regular basis.

Simic Growth Chamber: Karoo lands are always great, but they're especially strong in this deck. It's like a land that comes with a free Fertile Ground.

Terramorphic Expanse: Probably the best fixer in the format. Expanse is incredibly strong with Brainstorm because it can shuffle away two unnecessary cards.

The deck is pretty elegant on paper.


Download Arena Decklist

For testing purposes I'm going to make a quick sideboard:

2 Echoing Truth
1 Flaring Pain
4 Gigadrowse
1 Moment's Peace
4 Muddle the Mixture
1 Eye of Nowhere
2 Counterspell

This sideboard is a bit rough, but it solves most of our problems.

The deck looks like it would be very strong against aggressive decks like Green-White Slivers and White Weenie. It looks like it would struggle with the more dedicated Grapeshot decks when they drew well. This deck is capable of turn-four kills, the selling point of this kind of strategy over normal storm is its resistance to hate and its consistency. The deck will rarely fizzle if you wait until the right moment.

I played in some Pauper tournaments on Magic Online to test the deck out.

Round 1 vs. White Weenie

Game 1

I lose the roll and keep Deep Analysis, Island, Simic Growth Chamber, Reach Through Mists, Ideas Unbound, Ponder, and Ponder on the draw. My opponent plays a Secluded Steppe and passes. I draw a Forest, play my Island, and Ponder. I see three lands and choose to shuffle my library. I draw Dawn's Reflection. My opponent plays a pump Knight and passes. I draw another Deep Analysis, play my Simic Growth Chamber and pass, discarding a Deep Analysis. My opponent attacks for 2 and plays another two-drop. I draw a Fertile Ground, play my Island, and enchant my Simic Growth Chamber with Fertile Ground. My opponent attacks me and plays yet another two-drop. I draw a Terramorphic Expanse, play it, enchant my Simic Growth Chamber with Dawn's Reflection, and pass. My opponent attacks with his team, plays a third land, and passes with three mana open. I draw a Psychic Puppetry.

I can easily go off here, but I'd be asking to have Prismatic Strands blow me out. Instead I play a land and cast a Deep Analysis, find a Moment's Peace, and pass the turn. I Moment's Peace during my opponent's combat step, and he passes back. I draw a Peer Through Depths and pass. I cast Moment's Peace during his combat step again and use my Peer Through Depths to splice the Psychic Puppetry and tap one of his lands. I use it again and tap another land and prevent him from having three mana open on my turn. On my turn I draw another Fertile Ground. I play it on my Simic Growth Chamber, cast Ideas Unbound and splice my Puppetry to untap the Growth Chamber. I start generating huge amounts of mana by untapping the land and tapping it for mana again. I draw through the majority of my library with my card draw spells and I find a pair of Grapeshots to safely finish the game.

Sideboarding: I take out one Reach Through Mists and one Dawn's Reflection to bring in one Flaring Pain and one Echoing Truth. When I was testing the deck earlier I was caught with my pants down against a White Weenie deck that had Benevolent Unicorn. I want the one Echoing Truth. The Flaring Pain is obviously and answer to Prismatic Strands.

Game 2

I keep Island, Terramorphic Expanse, Fertile Ground, Dawn's Reflection, Ideas Unbound, Ponder, and Reach Through Mists. My opponent plays a land and a Soltari Foot Soldier. I draw an Island, play my Expanse and pass. My opponent plays a two drop and attacks. I get a forest, draw a Moment's Peace for my turn, play my Fertile Ground on my Island and pass. My opponent attacks and plays another creature before passing. On my turn I draw a Psychic Puppetry and tap out again for my Dawn's Reflection on the Island. My opponent attacks and passes with three lands open. I draw a Reach Through Mists and start going through my library, my opponent plays a Prismatic Strands naming red. I continue to sift through my library and add mana to my mana pool. Eventually I draw Flaring Pain and a Grapeshot. I play the Flaring Pain and Grapeshot my opponent for a huge amount of damage.

Match Overview: This seems to be the easiest match now that I've worked out the kinks. Even if my opponent had a Benevolent Unicorn in play I could have just continued to draw cards until I found my Echoing Truth. There's little a white weenie opponent can do against this deck, especially post sideboard.


Round 2: Green-White Slivers

Game 1

I win the roll and keep Terramorphic Expanse, Simic Growth Chamber, Brainstorm, Fertile Ground, Peer Through Depths, Peer Through Depths, and Moment's Peace. I play my Expanse and pass. My opponent plays a Virulent Sliver and passes. I pop my Expanse and grab an island. I draw a Reach Through Mists, play my Simic Growth Chamber and pass. My opponent plays a Muscle Sliver and attacks for two. I draw another island, play a land, play fertile ground on my Simic Growth Chamber, and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Sinew Sliver and attacks me for six. I draw another Moment's Peace, play a land, and pass. My opponent plays another Sinew Sliver and attacks, I play Moment's Peace off my Simic Growth Chamber and use the extra mana to Brainstorm. I find a Psychic Puppetry and two Simic Growth Chamber, I use Peer Through Depths to put those lands on the bottom and find an Ideas Unbound. I draw another Fertile ground on my turn. I play it on my Growth Chamber and pass. I fog again. I draw a Dawn's Reflection and it's clear I can go off. I go off and my opponent takes 12 damage from a Grapeshot and 13 damage from a second Grapeshot.

Sideboarding: I take out one Dawn's Reflection and one Reach Through Mists and bring in the Flaring Pain to deal with Prismatic Strands and the fourth Moment's Peace.

Game 2

I mulligan down to five and keep Island, Island, Fertile Ground, Moment's Peace, Ponder. He plays a Sidewinder Sliver and passes. I draw another Island, play my Ponder, I don't see a land that makes green mana so I shuffle, I draw another Moment's Peace. My opponent plays a pair of Plate Slivers and attacks for one. I draw another Island, play it, and pass. My opponent plays a forest and a Muscle Sliver and attacks me for six. I draw a Dawn's Reflection, play an Island and pass. My opponent plays another Muscle Sliver and attacks me down to one. I draw another Fertile Ground and concede.

I keep the same sideboard plan for Game 3.

Game 3

I mulligan down to six and keep Forest, Island, Fertile Ground, Moment's Peace, Peer Through Depths, Reach Through Mists, Ponder. I ponder on my first turn and keep another Moment's Peace and Fertile Ground on top and put an Island into my hand. My opponent plays a Tranquil Thicket and passes. I draw the second Fertile Ground and enchant my Island. My opponent plays a Virulent Sliver and a Sidewinder Sliver and passes. I draw the extra Moment's Peace and double up the Island with enchantments. My opponent plays a Sinew Sliver and attacks. I draw a Deep Analysis, play it, and draw a Psychic Puppetry and a land. I play the land and pass. My opponent plays a Muscle Sliver and attacks. I draw a land, play it, and pass. At this point in the game I am basically stalling with my Moment's Peace while I sculpt my hand. I fog my opponent four turns in a row and decide to go off. At this point my hand it pretty much perfect and going off with Flaring Pain is quite simple.


Match Overview: Slivers is very fast. It's important that we draw a Moment's Peace here. A single copy of our double fog will usually give us enough time to win the game. Don't be afraid to aggressively find a copy of Moment's Peace with Peer Through Depths, Ponder, or Brainstorm.

Round 3 vs. Momentary Blink

Game 1

I keep Forest, Simic Growth Chamber, Island, Deep Analysis, Deep Analysis, Dawn's Reflection, Psychic Puppetry on the draw. My opponent plays a land and passes. I draw a Fertile Ground and follow suit. My opponent plays a Karoo and passes. Again, I follow suit. I discard a Deep Analysis. My opponent plays a Trinket Mage and fetches up his Executioner's Capsule. He probably assumes I'm playing Blue/Green Threshhold or Madness. I draw a Reach Through Mists, enchant my Karoo, play a land, and pass. My opponent plays an Aven Riftwatcher and attacks me for two. I draw another Reach Through Mists, Enchant my land with the Dawn's Reflection and pass. My opponent plays a Ravenous Rats and I discard a Deep Analysis, he blinks it and I discard a Reach Through Mists. On my turn I draw an Ideas unbound. I tap my Karoo for one green and four blue and play Ideas Unbound Splicing my Puppetry. I draw a Peer Through Depths and two lands. I tap the Growth Chamber again and play the Peer Through Depths splicing the Puppetry. I find another Ideas Unbound. From this point going off is fairly basic. By the time I draw a Grapeshot my Storm Count is well above twenty-two.

Sideboarding: I take out three Moment's Peace and Bring in two Echoing Truth and the Flaring Pain.

Game 2

I keep Island, Island, Forest, Fertile Ground, Deep Analysis, Psychic Puppetry, Ideas Unbound. He just plays a land on the first two turns. I draw into another Deep Analysis and a Peer Through Depths and enchant my Island with the Fertile Ground. My opponent plays Aven Riftwatcher on his third turn. I draw Dawn's Reflection and Enchant my Island. My opponent plays a Blind Hunter. I draw what seems to be the best card possible in the form of another Ideas Unbound. I play Ideas Unbound and splice the Puppetry. I draw into another Fertile Ground, which I play on my Island. I draw through the majority of my deck and play a pair of Grapeshots for the win.


This deck is extremely exciting and very powerful. It cost less than 10 tickets to build on Magic Online and is very capable of winning tournaments. I hope all of you are willing to give this one a try. It's worth the time and effort.

Happy brewing!

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