Pauper is a highly competitive tournament format in Magic the Gathering. It is a format of only common cards, with a relatively small ban list. For years, the format really shined on Magic Online, but now, it has become supported in Paper Magic, as well. What's great about Pauper is the sheer amount of competitive decks you can play. This particular deck, a Boros Affinity deck, once went 4-0 in a Daily Event. While this list we’re looking at today is from 2013, the archetype is still very viable.
The best part about this list, is that in MTGO terms, the deck only costs about 10 tix. As you'll discover though when we peruse the list, about 8 tix of that is for the 2 copies of Pyroblast in the sideboard! In paper, it's a mere $40 or so. This is a ridiculously cheap deck!
Affinity was always a strong archetype in Pauper, but wasn't getting 4-0 in Daily events until this list popped up. So, what makes this Pauper Affinity deck different? Let's take a look!
The Deck List!
4 Ardent Recruit
4 Vault Skirge
4 Court Homunculus
4 Porcelain Legionnaire
4 Glint Hawk
3 Auriok Sunchaser
4 Galvanic Blast
2 Prophetic Prism
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Flayer Husk
4 Great Furnace
4 Ancient Den
3 Boros Guildgate
1 Vault of Whispers
3 Stone Rain
2 Lone Missionary
2 Journey to Nowhere
2 Flame Slash
2 Smash to Smithereens
While this is not a typical Affinity deck, having Artifacts does indeed matter quite a bit here. Starting off with our Ardent Recruit, we have a 1/1 guy that has a Metalcraft ability that gives him +2/+2. Metalcraft is attained by having at least three artifacts on the battlefield. Since the artifact lands (Great Furnace, Ancient Den, and the lone Vault of Whispers) count towards activating this ability, you're most often going to be getting a 3/3 creature for 1 mana!
Vault Skirge is a Pauper stalwart. For 1 and a Phyrexian mana (black or 2 life) you have a 1/1 flyer with lifelink. With the one copy of Vault of Whispers in the deck, it's possible to cast it without paying the 2 life. But being an artifact itself, as well as having lifelink, it's worth paying the life just for the creature (especially if casting Skirge gives you Metalcraft!) Having four of these in the deck guarantees a pesky 1/1 flyer with lifelink that gets better with the equipment in the deck!
Next we have four Court Homunculus. The Court Homunculus is similar to Ardent Recruit, in that it costs a single white mana, except that it gains +1/+1 as long as you control any other artifact. What's especially interesting about him, though, is that he himself is an artifact. If you simply control another Court Homunculus, it becomes a 2/2.
If that wasn't enough, we have a full playset of another Pauper favorite, and one-time Tempered Steel stalwart, Porcelain Legionnaire! For two and a Phyrexian mana (White or two life), you get a 3/1 with first strike. Being able to play him on Turn Two is ridiculous, and he himself is also an artifact!
Glint Hawk is a fun little card which used to abuse Mox Opal when it was legal in Standard. But the Hawk became relatively forgotten outside of some Pauper Affinity builds. But in this deck, Glint Hawk works well with the several 0 drop artifacts in this deck. Also, if you would miss a land drop anyway, you can bounce an artifact land back to your hand in order to replay it. The Hawk is a 2/2 flyer, so this down-side really isn't too bad. You have a full playset of these, as well.
The last creature is a trio of Auriok Sunchaser. It's a 1/1 for 1W, but its Metalcraft ability gives it +2/+2 and flying! A 3/3 flyer for 2 mana is pretty silly.
As if the deck couldn't win with just its creature lineup alone, the non-creature spells are pretty interesting, too!
The first one is a zero drop, Bone Saw, an equipment that has an equip cost of 1, and gives the equipped creature +0/+1. Seriously, though, you're rarely going to care about equipping this. Mostly, it exists to more easily activate Metalcraft, and to give you something to bounce for Glint Hawk.
Next is a full playset of Bonesplitter. It's probably the best equipment in Pauper outside of perhaps Armadillo Cloak. It's a staple in White Weenie, which has been a very competitive strategy in Pauper over the years. Bonesplitter costs only 1 to play and only 1 to equip. It gives a creature +2/+0, and with the flyers in this deck, you can get in some cheap evasive damage very early on!
Galvanic Blast is an okay burn spell until you see that it deals 4 damage to target creature or player if you have Metalcraft! Without Metalcraft, it's just a Shoc. But with how often you’ll have Metalcraft, the 4 Galvanic Blasts can almost win you the game on their own! Paired with the 2 Lightning Bolt in the main board, you have plenty of both removal and direct damage.
Lastly, we have Prophetic Prism and Flayer Husk. Prophetic Prism is a two-drop artifact that draws you a card when it enters. It also allows you to filter your mana, which is very important in this deck!
The Flayer Husk is a Living Weapon equipment that comes into play with a 0/0 creature token attached to it. The Husk gives its equipped creature +1/+1, so it's a nice cheap creature. When the creature dies, or you find a better target for the Husk, it gives that creature +1/+1 for an equip cost of 2. It's not quite Bonesplitter, but it works well.
The mana base is 7 Plains and 1 Mountain, with 4 Great Furnace (the red artifact land), 4 Ancient Den (the white Artifact land), 3 Boros Guildgate (red/white), and a single Vault of Whispers (for help with casting the Vault Skirges).
As is the case with many Pauper decks, the majority of the cost of the deck comes from a single card in the sideboard. In this case it's Pyroblast. Basically, what Pyroblast does for a single red mana is counter any target blue spell or destroy any blue permanent. If you don't want to spend the $8 or so to acquire them, though, you could probably just switch them out for 2 more copies of Lightning Bolt.
The rest of the sideboard is typically Pauper staples. 3 Stone Rain lets you keep decks off of their most important lands or colors. 2 Lone Missionary can be boarded in against more aggressive decks or burn decks. Gaining that 4 life can certainly be a big deal in certain matchups, especially where this deck will need to race often.
For creature removal, we have 2 Journey to Nowhere, 2 Flame Slash (which deals 4 damage to target creature, but is at sorcery speed), and the aforementioned Pyroblasts. We also have Electrickery, which with its very cheap overload cost murders all 1 toughness creatures on your opponent's side of the board. Lastly we have Smash to Smithereens, which is played in many sideboards in other formats. It's excellent artifact removal that also deals 3 damage to that artifact's controller, all for 1R!
Impressions of the Deck
It's easy to see how this deck wins. It requires very little mana to get going and can survive land destruction and artifact destruction, since it plays plenty of copies of 1 and 2 drop cards. The most expensive card casting cost wise in the deck is technically Porcelain Legionnaire. That will be boarded out in certain match-ups anyway!
The best part about this deck's creatures is that they are bigger than their mana costs would lead you to believe. There are plenty of flyers in this deck, and the Bonesplitters alone can lead to some very quick damage. The creature line-up can hold down both the air and ground quite well!
Also, the deck has a nice burn package in it. The only thing I'm not crazy about in the deck is probably the lone Flayer Husk. I'd personally run a third Lightning Bolt, and I'm not sure the deck needs the Vault of Whispers or a fourth Legionnaire, either. If I removed these, I'd max out the Bolts. The main reason I feel this way is that 4 Blasts and 4 Bolts in some combination can kill a player outright. But the list, as is, should work fantastic, as it proved in that Daily Event.
Side-boarding doesn't look too hard with this deck, either. Honestly, the sideboard probably will only be relevant in mirror matches or against Delver decks. The deck is quick enough that it can win in a hurry. I can see card advantage perhaps becoming an issue, but each card you play delivers a ton of value. Also, the power of each card you can swing with makes up for that. You don't have to overextend yourself with this deck in order to win, which I really like.
This deck picks up where White Weenie really started failing. As long as you have that single red source and Metalcraft, this deck can beat you in the air, on the ground, and with pure burn spells. I still want to see 4 Bolts mainboard, and this is something I'll be playing around with myself.
If you're looking to get into competitive Pauper, this is the deck to try, I'd say! Minus the Pyroblasts, you're looking at a maximum $6 investment. Not much to lose here, especially since the artifact lands are the majority of that expense, and they're always good to have in Pauper! Plus, you may have the majority of the cards already if you've been playing online for awhile, if not all!
Congrats to twoduckcubed for authoring and piloting this 4-0 to victory! Here is the deck list!
If you’re looking for a newer, albeit more expensive (30+ tickets / $70), version of this Boros Metalcraft deck, check out this tournament winner piloted by Klybby in October 2017.