The Less Explored Side of Magic Online (A Magic Online Pauper and Legacy Primer)

Posted in Top Decks on August 29, 2013

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

Hello and welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG's exclusive Magic Online column. We're just one week away from Theros previews, and the suspense is killing me. Today, we're going to examine the state of Pauper and Legacy on Magic Online. Pauper is one of the most popular Constructed formats on Magic Online; the decks are, for the most part, easy to acquire and the game play is Legacy-esque complex. Legacy is widely considered the most skill-intensive Constructed format at the moment. Live Legacy tournaments are greatly affected by local metagames and the whim of the moment. On Magic Online, we get a clear picture of the most competitive decks the format has to offer in an unadulterated state.


We'll start by examining Pauper. Storm has become less of a metagame-defining deck and more of a fringe strategy since the bannings. At this moment in time, Cloudpost/Glimmerpost seems to be the most powerful thing we can be doing in the format. That being said, there are a number of aggressive monocolored decks and even a Hexproof strategy that are all vying to be the format's most successful archetype. Let's take a look at some the best Pauper archetypes on Magic Online.


EightSixEightSix's Mono-Blue Cloudpost

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The Mono-Blue version of the Cloudpost deck has been a force to be reckoned with in Pauper since before the last wave of bannings. The deck uses Cloudpost and Glimmerpost to churn out huge amounts of mana in the early turns of the game. The deck plans to combo its opponent with Temporal Fissure in the midgame by using Mnemonic Wall and Snap in conjunction with one another to create infinite storm and bounce all the opponents' permanents back to their hands. Afterward, the deck can leave itself with a Mnemonic Wall in hand so it can bounce all of the opponent's permanents every turn thereafter. This is a hard lock against most decks in the format, but some strategies can start lobbing Lightning Bolt effects at the dome every turn they replay a land. Storm is still a real strategy in Pauper, but it's not as fast as it used to be. On the contrary, the Blue Cloudpost deck is far more resilient to hate than its red-based predecessors.

Temporal Fissure
Mnemonic Wall

jsiri84's Stompy

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There's something nostalgic about crushing people with a Mono-Green aggro deck. Scattershot Archer makes a main-deck appearance thanks to its strength against Cloud of Faeries, Vault Skirge, and artifact-based aggressive decks. The deck has the ability to win very fast when given the opportunity; the game often ends on the fourth turn, even through a removal spell and a blocker. Shinen of Life's Roar is extremely strong against the red-based creature decks that want to flood the board with small creatures. Stompy decks have been a big part of the Pauper metagame for years and there's no reason to think they'll be going anywhere.

Scattershot Archer
Shinen of Life's Roar

Mezzel's Mono-Blue Tempo

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Blue gets some really nice commons over the entirety of Magic's history. The Mono-Blue Tempo strategies do an excellent job applying pressure and staying ahead on the board. Other aggressive decks can often outclass the Mono-Blue Tempo deck if it doesn't have a turn-one Delver of Secrets, but playing a threat on the first turn and protecting it/yourself with some of the best countermagic ever printed is going to be a very good strategy in a format where Delver of Secrets and Counterspell can be played side-by-side.

Delver of Secrets

mjanous's Goblin Sligh

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The Goblin Sligh deck looks a lot like something I would have played in Standard seventeen years ago. (I'm old!) It's difficult to argue with a compilation of some of the best aggressively costed red creatures and burn spells throughout the game's history. This deck seems like it will become the aggressive deck of choice in the coming months if Cloudpost storm strategies continue to grow in popularity.

Goblin Sledder
Lightning Bolt

deluxeicoff's Hexproof

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Hexproof is a force to be reckoned with in every format but Legacy, where Liliana of the Veil is going to see extensive main-deck play alongside Brainstorm even if Hexproof doesn't exist. Pauper gives players access to some strong Hexproof bodies and an excellent suite of enchantments that make the deck incredibly difficult to race for anyone. This sideboard is suspect, but the main deck looks terrifying.

Pauper's popularity continues to grow, and it remains the only format that's almost exclusive to Magic Online. The metagame for Pauper evolves much slowly than other formats because the power level/interaction of newly printed commons is rarely going to exceed that of the cards that already exist. Pauper is a great Magic Online Constructed format to get involved in if we want to build a deck and keep it for years, occasionally playing in a Daily Event. We'll be sure to keep my finger on the pulse of the format in coming months.


Legacy has become extremely popular despite the card availability issues that might exist. In recent weeks, Green-Blue-Black (BUG) Control strategies and White-Blue Miracle decks have proven themselves to exhibit the highest win percentage out of all the widely played strategies. Combo strategies like Omniscience and interactive aggro decks like Maverick are still strong contenders that have the ability to defeat any foe with reasonable percentages. Let's take a look at some of the decks that have been doing well in Legacy on Magic Online:

ISHIN_Yamaguchi's BUG Control

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Black-Blue-Green Control decks have gone from fringe to first over the last month and a half on Magic Online. The deck has been a known entity for some time, but it became the control deck of choice because it generates card advantage better than any other deck in the format. Other control strategies are weak to decks like Jund that tear apart their hand and end up crashing through with random bodies. BUG simply has Ancestral Visions ticking down while they're firing off Hymn to Tourachs of their own. I like to think of this deck as the newest iteration of Legacy Jund: it wins the same way, plays similarly, but is a lot better against the fast combo strategies than Jund could ever hope to be.

Ancestral Vision
Hymn to Tourach

shufflerpwned's Red-White-Blue Miracles

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Sensei's Divining Top combos very nicely with miracles. You can set up and draw Entreat the Angels or Terminus on a whim while controlling the other relevant parts of the game with countermagic. Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top has been a powerful combination in legacy for the better part of the last decade, but it works especially well in a deck that's able to further abuse the power of Sensei's Divining Top. This deck is weak to BUG Control, but it's stronger than BUG control against most aggro decks and storm-based combo strategies. It can be difficult to find a Vendilion Clique to leave on top with Counterbalance against Show and Tell decks, but this usually makes the game nearly impossible for them to win. Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top will oscillate in and out of the limelight in Legacy for the foreseeable future; the combo and the decks it fits in are too powerful to ignore.

Sensei's Divining Top
Entreat the Angels

ayedub's Show and Tell Omniscience

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It's pretty impressive when someone casts Show and Tell, drops Omniscience into play, and proceeds to Burning Wish for Petals of Insight to loop through the entirety of the deck while creating infinite storm to fire off a lethal Grapeshot. The Show and TellOmniscience deck has the ability to do this as early as the second turn of the game. This version seems stronger and more consistent than the version that has access to a turn-one win with Lotus Petal; I'll take consistency over power when the power I'm getting is relative in a format where I'm not expecting my opponent to win on the first or second turn.

Show and Tell

die butsu's Retainers Maverick

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Maverick is a surprisingly disruptive aggressive strategy that uses cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; Gaddock Teeg; and many others to disrupt the blue decks while it beats someone to death with creatures. The deck is reasonably complex and features multiple combos. Loyal Retainers; Fauna Shaman; and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite can be used in conjunction with one another to cheat a very impressive/disruptive threat onto the table. Karakas can be used to bounce Emrakul, the Aeons Torn back to a player's hand after that player does a ton of work trying to get it into play. This may seem like something you're trying to get lucky with, but Knight of the Reliquary can search up Karakas in a pinch. Knight can also be used to punish land-light decks by searching up Wastelands to choke the opponent's resources while attacking with whatever it has in play. Other interactive creature decks and some control strategies are given fits by Mother of Runes.

Mother of Runes

Hopefully reading this column has broadened our understanding of the state of Pauper and Legacy. Next week, we'll finally get a glimpse of what Theros has to offer. We're closing in on the inaugural set in the newest block. Big changes are coming for Standard and we'll all need each other's help if we're going to be ready for impending battle.

Knowledge is power!

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