Making The Magic Deck: Pauper Nightsky Mimic
The Making Of...
Whenever I am making a Pauper deck with a clear theme I like to gather all the available cards and systematically eliminate them one-by-one until I only have enough for a deck. There are always two primary factors that enter into my decision-making when it comes to eliminating potential cards. The first is that it must conform to a normal mana curve that one would expect to find in a deck of its type. For me, that's usually an aggro curve because I find I have a better understanding of aggro and just generally enjoy building and playing them more. The second thing however, is a little less quantifiable--it's the overall 'feel' of a card. Sometime I'll look at a card and just know I want to include it in my deck, even if I know it'll be competing against some other, generally better cards. These are my 'pet' cards though, that make the deck mine.
For this article, we're going to make an entire deck together, from the deck's inception to the finished product. I thought I'd start out with a Nightsky Mimic deck because back in the day I had a real nice B/W deck that I dismantled for unknown reasons. However, with the advent of the Return to Ravnica block we now we have even more multicolored toys to play with and revisiting my old deck sounds like a lot of fun. There's also a thought in the back of my head, that it would be fun to make five Pauper decks sometime, each built around a particular mimic, and then have a five-player free-for-all Pauper battle. Of course, the main problem with that is going to be ensuring that each deck is equal in power, which becomes tricky when you're comparing obvious powerhouse mimics like Nightsky and Riverfall to other less powerful mimics such as perhaps Woodlurker and Battlegate. But enough about all the other mimics out there! Let's focus on the mimic poster boy, Nightsky Mimic.
Right at the beginning, even before looking at the other cards, we know two staples that must be included: Nightsky Mimic and Edge of the Divinity. Since both of these cards need B/W cards to set them off, our first stop is going to be WotC's Gatherer where we can search the database for all cards that contain both black and white mana. There are only 21 entries--which doesn't sound like a lot, but will actually be plenty since we only need about 10 cards for the deck. However, before we start opening up 21 random card tabs in our web browser, it's important to eliminate the cards that obviously won't be included such as: Arsenal Thresher, Esper Sojourners, Esper Stormblade, and Windwright Mage, as these all contain blue mana as well. That leaves us with 17 cards to choose from. So I'll go through each one individually and write a brief comment on why we should or should not include them in this deck. Some will be auto-includes and others we'll have to save for later while we ponder the rest of the deck.
Beckon Apparition acts as a 1/1 flyer with flash for B/W that can trigger Nightsky as well as being a good Divinity target. That more than makes up for the times when it's a dead card. +4
Blind Hunter was in my previous Nightsky deck and I was usually happy when I drew it. I'm just wondering if it hasn't been outclassed by cheaper alternatives. Still, best-case scenario is a flyer and +4 life to you, -4 to your opponent, which is worth exploring.
Castigate is a good card in the right deck. However, this deck doesn't really want to concern itself with what your opponent has. This deck is just too aggressive to throw in a control/discard card when you could be casting another creature.
Edge of the Divinity.
As mentioned already, this is a staple for the Nightsky deck as it's going to usually be a +3/+3 for B/W. No one likes using auras, but this is one of the few times when it's more than worth getting 2-for-1'd, because if this sticks (especially to a Nightsky Mimic), to game's going to be over soon. +4
Executioner's Swing is an interesting card because it almost feels like it could replace Unmake. However, it has a pretty hefty downside that must be fulfilled before you can cast it. Generally the idea is that a two-color card ought to be better than a one-color card of the same cost. So with that in mind, what's to stop us from simply using Journey to Nowhere, a far superior card, instead? I'll take sorcery-speed over situational any day.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Harvest Gwyllion. Maybe because I want her to be as beloved as her younger sister, Nip. I don't know. Either way, I'm sorry Harvey, but a 2/4 for 4-mana isn't going to cut it in this deck.
Finally we get to a new card that has a chance of seeing play. Kingpin's Pet is the flyer that I'm considering switching out Blind Hunter with. I'm not entirely sold however, but it's possible extort could give this deck that little bit of longevity to push through the last few points of damage. I think this will need some testing.
Mourning Thrull is just a well-costed little flyer and I can't really see myself cutting it unless I really needed to. Alone he isn't terrible for getting in a couple points, but strap an Aura to him and he's deadly. +4
Well considering the deck is named after him, I think we'll keep him. Nightsky is a 2/1 for 2-mana which isn't terrible if you're hard-up for a creature. And you'll find it's very easy to cast him turn 2, then turn 3 attack with your now 4/4 flyer. And if you somehow get lucky enough to throw a Divinity on it, you've already won.
In any other deck Nip would get cut immediately simply because nowadays a 1/1 with lifelink isn't enough board presence. But in this deck, Nippy comes down turn 1 and waits for a turn 2 Divinity for a quick win. +4
Pillory of the Sleepless.
I love the Pillory. It isn't an instant like Unmake, and theoretically it can be removed (though it rarely is), but this is the ultimate insult to injury. You immobilize your opponent's creature and then tick away at their life in a way they have no way of preventing. I am torn, however, over whether this deck is too aggro to concern itself with creature removal. But I'll probably end up throwing four of these in anyhow simply because it's so good. +4
Purge the Profane.
Purge this card, please. Gaining 2 life is largely irrelevant at every stage in the game. And having your opponent discard what will amount to probably one land and one over-costed spell that's been in his hand since the game began, isn't exactly going to win you games.
I like Putrid Warriors. I like that it's a 2/2 for a 2-mana. I also like that your opponent loses life on any damage, not just combat. That all being said, in this deck it will probably feel more like a novelty than anything simply because it lacks evasion and isn't going to deal a whole lot of damage. For most, if not all purposes, you'll be a lot better off with Tithe Drinker.
Here we come to one of the best auras in the game. This would probably be more impressive if there weren't only about 10 playable auras though. Still, this has great versatility as it either completely immobilizes an opponent's creature or nets you a bunch of life when slapped on your own. I still prefer the Pillory because I like the damage ping. But this would not be a bad choice if you wanted to use it instead.
Yes! I knew there'd be a card worth playing from the new set. I love everything about Tithe Drinker from it's 2/1 body to the lifelink to the wonderful extort ability. This card packs a lot of value into a 2-mana cost and is definitely worth playing with. +4
Unmake has always been a staple in my Nightsky decks and there's never been a time when drawing it didn't make me smile. So why am I now considering cutting it? Because I feel a proper aggro deck needs to focus more on dealing damage and less about remaining defensive. That's why Pillory is so good, because it can continue dealing damage, so it doesn't entirely feel like you slowed yourself down a turn.
I hate to end on such a lackluster card but so be it. Vectis Dominator is bad because the times when you want to tap down a creature, your opponent will just take the life loss. And when you want to hurt him, he'll just tap his creature! And it can't even attack if it needed to. I think overall I'd just be much happier with playing a set of Blinding Mages than with this card.
Until Next Time..
Well, so I didn't entirely expect this article to be as long as it is. And I have much more to write, considering we haven't even gotten to the first draft of the deck. Therefore, I will wrap things up and next time we will finish our Nightsky Mimic deck after taking some time to reread the cards on our list. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!