Monday, August 20, 2012

Paper Pauper- guest post from Inkwell Looter

Twitter friend, Magic cartoonist and token artist, and all around good man Inkwell Looter played in a Paper Pauper tournament this weekend. Here is his write up (posted with permission):

Here's a quick report from the Pauper tournament I played in this past weekend, at a game shop called Eudemonia in Berkeley, California.

The deck construction rules for this tournament required cards to have common printings in paper sets. The banned list was Cranial Plating, Frantic Search and Hymn to Tourach. The paper stipulation meant that the card pool was mildly different than the pool available to the vibrant Magic Online Pauper scene. Certain paper commons haven't appeared at common online while certain paper non-commons have been printed at common in the online-only Masters Edition sets. A prominent example is Sinkhole, which appeared at common in the first paper core sets but has only appeared at rare online (in a Masters Edition). Despite its legality, I didn't see any Sinkholes in attendance.

Twenty players entered the event. Given that the minimal event promotion and unusual format, having that many players come out of the woodwork and pay an entry fee seems like a success. The crowd had good enthusiasm for their rare opportunity to leave rares on the bench.

Unfortunately there was some severe Pauper Shock too. Players fresh to the format (and to competitive Magic altogether) were thrust against the blood-encrusted spikes of MTGO Pauper machines. I suspect that half the players in the room had no idea that there's a Pauper meta-game or that there are known good decks. My estimate is that a third of the decks were upper-tier, well-tested Pauper staples, another third were functional (but not particularly powerful) and another third were hastily chucked-together piles of whatever commons were on hand.

I played an unoriginal mono-blue list:

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Spellstutter Sprites
4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Phantasmal Bear
3 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Spire Golem
4 Counterspell
4 Preordain
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Brainstorm
3 Snap
2 Daze
1 Echoing Truth
1 Gush
17 Island

3 Hydroblast
3 Steel Sabotage
2 Curse of Chains
2 Viridian Longbow
2 Dispel
2 Echoing Truth
1 Weatherseed Faeries

My summary: 4-1 in rounds, beating W/R landfall, W/B Pestilence, W/B Nightsky Mimic shenanigans, Mono-R aggro (heavy on AVR humans), and losing to Mono-W aggro. Won a tense Delver mirror in the quarterfinals then lost in the semis to a sturdy Tortured Existence deck with an extremely capable MTGO pauper vet at the helm.

My first-round opponent received a frustrating game loss for having Death Spark in his deck. Death Spark is an Alliances uncommon that was released as a common online in a Masters Edition. This guy had checked his rarities on Gatherer, was not aware of the online-only nature of Masters Editions and figured, hey, it's common. He was surprised and embarrassed when someone watching our game pointed this out (thankfully he was able to continue in the tournament with basic lands instead of the Death Sparks). If you are planning a pauper tournament I suggest you be particularly conscious of this issue and do all that you can to alert your players about it and/or reduce the discrepancy between the online/paper pools.

The Pauper Shock is a thornier issue. How do you gently warn the bright-eyed and uninitiated that "common" does not necessarily mean "chill" and that they might just get poisoned/Grapeshot to death by turn 3? Is it better to pre-crush their souls rather than let them play War Mammoth and be crushed on the battlefield? I'd at least provide links on my event info page to some basic Pauper resources.

But beyond those issues the day had a positive feel. New Pauper players were dazzled at this format with both deep history and easy entry and several Pauper vets expressed gratitude to be able to play their favored format in an event. Another nearby game store was having a pauper tournament the next day and many of the players at this event said they were going to that one as well. Representatives from both stores told me that they plan to continue having regular Pauper tournaments.  

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