Since almost 40% of the attendees of the first Amsterdam Pauper Series tournament was non-Dutch, the tournament report is presented in the English language.
by Max Meijer
We have a new series of events for the best eternal format, Pauper! Even though Pauper is an awesome format (commons only!) with a very diverse choice of Tier 1 decks, there hasn’t been any real support for it…until now!
The Amsterdam Pauper Series is filling that gap, and if you’re eager to win juicy prizes, including a limited winner’s playmat to show off your accomplishments, RSVP for the next event here on Untap.nl
My name is Max Meijer, and on the 23rd of February together with 23 other pauper enthusiasts, I participated in the first Amsterdam Pauper Series, where I took an Delver list to a first place finish.
I got into pauper about half a year ago, there was already a solid base of pauper players present in Amsterdam who got together once every month for some casual play. Alessandro pitched the idea of organizing a pauper tournament, which got a very positive response from the community.
On December the 30th, Alessandro organized a standalone pauper tournament, in which 10 players participated. The tournament was a success, the participants had a blast, and based on the players’ feedback, the idea of the Amsterdam Pauper Series was born.
For the first ever Amsterdam Pauper Series, which took place on the 23rd of February, Alessandro put a lot of effort into marketing it, and got it to be sanctioned through our local game store. He did an incredible job. Not only did he create a great looking flyer, but he also got The Professor himself from Tolarian Community to tweet about it!
— Tolarian Community College (@TolarianCollege) 17 januari 2019
After this, RSVP’s to the tournament skyrocketed, and in the end all spots that were available through Untap.nl were gone. There were people present from all Dutch provinces and we even had some people coming from abroad just to play paper pauper!
The tournament was a huge hit. Big smiles and happy players all around. The low entry fee encouraged all sorts of players to join, from Spikes to Timmys, and the atmosphere was what you would expect from a casual (but sanctioned) pauper tournament: relaxed and fun!
It is clear that the formula works: some players even started planning for local chapters of the Pauper Series in other cities, and the next Amsterdam tournament was pinned for May 11th (RSVP in time here on Untap.nl, before it sells out as well!).
In true pauper fashion, I don’t even have my own deck. Most of the pauper players in Amsterdam are more than happy to lend decks to others. I hadn’t decided which deck I wanted to build yet, so I wanted to try some stuff out first. This also meant that I had an abundance of choice on which deck I wanted to play at the tournament. The choice was easy enough, because I love playing with Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration. It might be my favorite card in all of Magic. Not just for it’s flavor, but also because it’s just incredibly strong.
I have had some practice playing Delver. I even took it to a first-place finish at the previous standalone tournament. The deck is strong but it doesn’t run Foil, and I think the lists that do run it are better. I then tried mono Delver, which I liked for its consistency, but the deck sometimes felt like it fizzled out before being able to close out the game. That left Delver.
Ever since WotC reprinted Foil at common, Delver has been putting up a lot of good tournament results and 5-0 finishes in online leagues. Luckily, Mark Coehoorn had a Delver deck that he wasn’t going to be playing at the tournament, so I could borrow it. Thanks a lot, Mark!
My preparation for this tournament consisted of a couple of dedicated practice sessions with local players. I got some time in against most of the tier 1 meta decks. This included Elves, Affinity, Boros Bully, Boros Bouncy, Burn, Tron, and other Delver decks. Overall, I think the deck is very well positioned. I believe that, when piloted correctly, Delver has game against all of the other tier 1 decks.
UB Delver - Max Meijer
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Augur of Bolas
1 Stormbound Geist
4 Gurmag Angler
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Echoing Decay
3 Snuff Out
1 Ash Barrens
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Curse of Chains
1 Echoing Decay
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Stormbound Geist
What I liked most about the deck during testing was the sheer momentum that it could generate. Some games start with flipping an early Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration or busting out an early Gurmag Angler. From there you keep up countermagic and removal for the rest of the game and your opponent can’t do anything to recover. In games where your opening hand isn’t great, or your opponent has a great start, you’re often spinning your wheels for the first couple of turns playing cantrips.
In the meantime, you’re getting behind on the board. To counteract this board disadvantage, the deck is filled to the brim with free spells like Snuff Out and the aforementioned Foil. Being able to remove a threat or counter a spell for free, and then following that up with a big ol’ 5/5 Zombie Fish, is a good way to swing a lot of games in your favor. Foil is especially great in this instance since it puts three cards into your graveyard which you can then use to power out the Angler.
I didn’t take any notes during the tournament, so I apologize in advance if I got some of the details wrong. Here’s a breakdown of the metagame:
Round 1: Leon on Elves, 2-1
I was on the draw in game 1 with a mediocre hand, and Leon opened with a Forest and a mana dork. I knew that I was already disadvantaged in the matchup, so I wasn’t feeling too optimistic. He got some creatures out while I was spinning my wheels. Leon played a Lead the Stampede which I was able to counter. I was not able to counter the second one, however, and he ran me down.
For sideboarding, I put in some extra removal for his smaller creatures, and I took out my Stormbound Geist because it’s too slow, and one Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration because it dies to Nausea. Also, he wasn’t playing any instants so Dispel was an easy cut.
I don’t remember exactly what happened in game 2, but I remember it was very close. We both deployed our threats, but eventually, my fliers and a Gurmag Angler, combined with some removal, proved too much for Leon’s elves.
Game 3 I was on the draw again, and my hand was amazing. I believe I had 2 Echoing Decay, a Nausea, and the lands to cast them in my opening hand. I kept the board clear of small creatures and drew a Snuff Out for the Elvish Vanguard that Leon was able to pump out of range of my other removal. I flipped some Delvers, deployed some Gurmags, and that was that.
Round 2: Saúl on Mono U Delver, 2-1
The (pseudo) mirror is actually very interesting. The games can get very grindy and difficult to navigate. I believe I was on the play in game 1 and played a Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration. It flipped early and from that point on I was able to keep the pressure up and counter/remove my opponent’s threats.
For sideboarding, I took out two Gurmag Angler because he was running Snap, and replaced them with Stormbound Geist. I replaced my Counterspell with the cheaper Dispel, and I put in removal for multiple smaller creatures while boarding out my Snuff Out.
It turned out that taking out all of my copies of Snuff Out was wrong. We battled around a bit, and my opponent resolved a Spire Golem, which my fliers couldn’t attack through. His Snap bounced my Gurmag Angler, after which I was stuck with two Anglers in hand and an empty graveyard. On to game 3.
Game 3 was exciting. I had a good start while my opponent was stumbling, but we only had 5 minutes at the start of the game before we would go into overtime. I managed to get enough power on the board early while keeping his side empty. We went into overtime but luckily I had enough damage on board to swing for lethal on the 5th turn, and the counters in hand to stop anything my opponent tried to do.
Round 3: Alessandro on Boros Bouncy, 2-0
In the third round, I had the honor to play against the tournament organizer himself. Game 1 started out with Alessandro getting a pretty big lead on the board, but unable to keep it. He had a string of bad draws and I got a 2-for-1 on one of my Echoing Decay’s, after which I resolved a Gurmag Angler. I then had the counters on hand to ride it out to victory.
For sideboarding, I added in Stormbound Geist to contest his fliers, and an Echoing Decay because it lines up well against his creatures. I took out a Daze and two Augur of Bolas, because the body is not very relevant in the matchup. Looking back, I think I should’ve also boarded in Hydroblast in this matchup, but I wasn’t sure at the time.
Game 2 was a bit more lopsided. I got a headstart while Alessandro was stumbling, and was able to beat him down in short order. Sorry Alessandro, looking forward to our next encounter!
Round 4: Stefan on Affinity, 2-0
I believe that Affinity has quite a good matchup against Delver decks. They are usually able to resolve a multitude of threats in the same turn, while we are constrained on mana and unable to counter/remove everything. This is not how it played out though. In game 1, my opponent had a very awkward hand and wasn’t able to put enough pressure on me. He was playing on his back foot the entire game, while I was getting in with my creatures.
For sideboarding, I boarded in two Annul and took out the more expensive Counterspell. I also added a Curse of Chains, because I felt like tapping down one of his creatures (especially Atog) would be quite good, and I took out my Stormbound Geist because it’s too slow for the matchup.
Game 2, unfortunately, played out the same as game 1. My opponent had taken a mulligan to six and his hand wasn’t fast enough. At a certain point in the game, I let him resolve an Atog while I had two counters on hand. I also had a Snuff Out. On the next turn, Stefan went for lethal. I let him sacrifice as many artifacts as he needed and then played my Snuff Out. He had a counter in hand, but I still had two in mine. On to the finals!
Round 5 (finals): Abe on Red Deck Wins, 2-1
In game 1 I had an amazing start. I was on the play and played a Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration turn 1. Abe then played a 2/2 creature on his turn. My Delver flipped turn 2, and I played an Augur of Bolas which I believe revealed an Echoing Decay. My Augur held down the ground versus his 2/2, while my Delver was doming him for 3 damage each turn. I was able to get a 2-for-1 on my Echoing Decay and I got a Gurmag Angler in somewhere, all of which my opponent couldn’t prevent.
For sideboarding, I put in Hydroblast because he was playing red cards only, and two Dispels to counter his burn. I also added an Echoing Decay and two Nauseas to keep the board clear. I took out everything that costs life to cast and a Stormbound Geist because it’s too slow. I also took out one Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration because I was expecting him to board in Electrickery.
Game 2, Abe got off to a very fast start. He deployed some creatures and beat me down to a low life total. At a certain point, I had somewhat stabilized the ground with a Gurmag Angler, but I had no counters left on hand. Abe then finished me off with a double Fireblast.
Game 3 was very interesting. I was on the play and my hand consisted of 1 Island, 2 Daze, 1 Hydroblast, 1 Gurmag Angler, 1 Echoing Decay and 1 Augur of Bolas. For the first few turns, neither of us drew any lands. Abe had two 1-mana creatures on hand which I was both able to Daze. Then, on turn 4, I ripped a Brainstorm off the top. I played it and drew a fetchland, an island, and another cantrip.
This was very lucky because I could then put my two worst cards back on top of my library and play the fetchland. I passed, cracked my fetch at the end of his turn, searched for a swamp, and untapped with a stacked hand, and all the mana I needed. I played an Augur of Bolas, which Abe bolted, and then a Gurmag Angler on the following turn while keeping up countermagic. Game over.
I had a lot of fun at the tournament. It was all very well organized, and we got a lot of positive responses from the attending players. I want to thank everyone that attended, my opponents for being genuinely nice and showing good sportsmanship, and Alessandro for organizing the tournament. Also, big shoutouts to Menno Kronenberg who helped Alessandro set it all up, and to Mark Coehoorn for lending me the deck.
My inaugural ceremony as the very first King of Pauper was short but satisfying. Alessandro even took the effort to create a custom playmat for the winner, one that I will proudly use in future tournaments. Honestly, I think I will never use any other playmat because this one’s simply too awesome.
With how much attention the Amsterdam Pauper Series got in the short span of two months, I’m very excited to what the future will bring. I already can’t wait for the next Amsterdam Pauper Series, which will be on May 11th at Spelletjescafé 2 Klaveren. Hope to see you all there!