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Pulling Magic Cards Out Of A Hat: Bant Sureblade
Out Of A Hat?!
Well no, not a real hat. But out of the proverbial hat known as Gatherer, where all the world's Magic: The Gathering cards are stored in a comprehensive database for one to browse through at the click of a mouse. These series of articles will be about making random Pauper decks that you don't normally see played with. Decks that are fun, able to compete--sometimes even win--but just haven't been explored thoroughly by other deck builders yet. You could call this article 'New Tech for Pauper Decks'. Actually, I'm beginning to wish I had thought of that!
How this works is that I go to Gatherer and hit the 'Random Card' button at the top until I hit upon a common card and then I build a deck around it! That's it! It could be an amazing card, it could be utter trash. But one thing's for sure: we're gonna build a deck around it and it's going to be good!
Random Card: Bant Sureblade
First we need to examine our random card thoroughly, to try to get a better understanding of both how it plays and what other cards will play nicely with it. Out of sheer luck this is a card I've always wanted to build around, so I'm excited to work on a deck with it! Since the Sureblade is multicolored and needs other multicolored cards to work with it, we already know that our deck will have to almost entirely be comprised of cards that are White + either Green or Blue. We could conceivably go for a three-color deck, but before examining the available cards in each color combination (W/U and W/G) I think it's too early to make that kind of commitment. The problem with three-color deck in Pauper is that without proper dual lands and mana fixing you'll generally end up stretching yourself too thin on resources. So for now, let's just focus on the best W/U and the best W/G cards.
To get a better feel for mana curve and why I may have chosen some of these cards, please visit my previous article about the Nightsky Mimic deck in which I write a section about mana curving and card choice. Below are the cards chosen for possible inclusion in our W/U or W/G decks. It's not important to focus on all of them, merely the ones that end up in the deck itself. If you, later, want to tinker with this deck yourself though, these would be good choices to look at!
For W/U the best cards are:
Zealous Guardian, Crystallization, Curse of Chains, Deft Duelist, Deputy of Acquittals, Esper Stormblade, Ethercaste Knight, and Steel of the Godhead.
I won't go into detail right now about each one individually, but the standout cards are Esper Stormblade and Ethercaste Knight, the latter of whom coincidentally I just learned of a little while ago and have been doting on ever since.
For W/G the best cards are:
Armadillo Cloak, Elvish Hexhunter, Grizzled Leotau, Naya Hushblade, Qasali Pridemage, Safehold Elite, Safewright Quest, Shield of the Oversoul, Steward of Valeron, and Crystallization.
The standouts are Armadillo Cloak, Naya Hushblade, and Qasali Pridemage. And you probably noticed Crystallization on both those lists, which means it's definitely going into the final deck.
A Tale Of Two Blades
In a deck like this with so many very good choices it's important to try to focus on just one or two standouts and build around them, lest you try to pack your deck with too much and end up with a wonky mana curve and too many colors. Therefore, since we know we need Bant Sureblade, I decided to look at the other two 'blades' available to us: Naya Hushblade (W/G) and Esper Stormblade (W/U). The problem I came up with is that, while Naya Hushblade is very good, it has two problems preventing it from truly succeeding in this deck. Firstly, when you compare Shroud to Flying in an aggro deck, Flying wins hand's down every single time. And secondly, W/G begs to play with Armadillo Cloak, and if you can't even equip your own creatures due to Shroud, your deck is already working against itself. Make your cards work together, not in spite of themselves.
You can probably guess where I'm going with this deck then. That's right, our chosen color combination will be W/U so we can fully utilize two very well-costed, aggro-centric creatures. Ah, but what other cards should we include--and why?
So Many Choices!
Crystallization and Curse of Chains.
Both of these are great a dispatching an enemy while also doing something else very important. Since they remain on the board and under our control they count for the Blades' clause of needing another multicolor permanent.
Bant Sureblade and Esper Stormblade.
If we treat these as 3/2 creatures with first strike and/or flying respectively, they suddenly become very powerful and cost-effective. And our deck is built around ensuring they stay 3/2!
This creature is red but he's also white, which makes him perfect for triggering our Blades as well as getting one side of the Godhead bonus. I'm not happy to have him, but there aren't many good multicolored 1-drops to choose from.
Along the same lines as the Recruit, he's here because he's multicolored and a 1-drop. However, he does bring some utility which could come in handy. Hexhunter reminds me a lot of a baby Qasali Pridemage.
I'd like to write a whole article on this little guy sometime. I just love how by himself he's a 2/4 for 2-mana, and with another creature he very effectively both pumps and stays back as a decent blocker.
I'm always torn when I include this card. Sometimes it just sits in my hand, other times it's an amazing counterspell + draw spell. I would say since this deck relies on ensuring its few creatures stay alive that it will be worthwhile.
Steel of the Godhead.
If every other creature is W/U there usually aren't too many reasons not to use this card. It suffers the same problems of all other Auras in that it's easy to be 2-for-1'd. But when it sticks, it's devastating--which is just what you want in an Aura.
This creature is definitely lackluster, especially since a 1/1 with flash still isn't going to be too detrimental for your opponent. Still, he's a 1/1 in very relevant colors so he's in.
Blade Twins Deck
4 Bant Sureblade
4 Hindering Light
4 Boros Recruit
4 Elvish Hexhunter
4 Esper Stormblade
4 Ethercaste Knight
4 Curse of Chains
4 Zealous Guardian
4 Steel of the Godhead
So How Does It Play?
I think this deck could give our previous Nightsky Mimic deck a serious run for its money. If you hold onto your Hindering Lights for just the right moment it's very easy to ensure a quick victory assuming you have a good opening hand. I always like to try to play a 1-drop on turn one, followed up with one of the Blades on turn two, and finish off with an Ethercaste Knight or a Steel of the Godhead for maximum damage on turn three. Other than the removal and the counterspell, it's going to be pretty straight-forward when you should play your cards.
Now here's a thought for you: What would this deck have looked like if initially we had chosen W/G instead? What cards would be the same, what would be different, and most importantly--would it have been a better deck? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
And There You Have It!
Our deck has finally reached completion. From clicking a random card on Gatherer to creating a fully-fledged deck, hopefully this article has entertained you and perhaps even inspired you to make your own random card decks! And if you have any suggestions for the deck--perhaps you played it and realized there was a better card than I used--please tell me in the comments!