elcome to Common Week here on MagicTheGathering.com. Common Week seems like a good time to check in on the current Pauper format. Pauper is a powerful format, available on Magic Online, that allows you to play with cards from any set ever printed. There's a catch, though: you may only use commons when building your deck.
Pauper is constantly changing. The card pool is so vast that new and exciting decks are discovered on a regular basis. Today, I'm going to talk about the current boogieman of Pauper, Temporal Fissure Combo!
Here's how it works:
You play Nightscape Familiars, Sunscape Familiars, and card drawing spells until you're ready to go off. (This usually happens on the fourth turn.) You use cards like Cloud of Faeries, Frantic Search, and Snap to create a lot of mana (via Familiars and Ravnica bouncelands letting you get ahead on mana with your "free" spells) and increase storm count. You cast a bunch of card draw and find a copy of Temporal Fissure. You bounce every permanent your opponent has on the battlefield back to his or her hand. You still have a few creatures that can casually attack for the win. The deck refills its hand while it combos too, so it's not unreasonable to combo off multiple times in a single game.
Let's talk about the cards that make this deck tick.
Pauper is the only format wherein you can play a full four copies of Frantic Search. Legacy would be broken beyond repair if Frantic Search was legal. The card is so powerful that it has been restricted in Vintage. Frantic Search creates extra mana when used with Ravnica bounce lands, Nightscape Familiar, or Sunscape Familiar. This may be the most abusable card in Pauper, and I'm happy to have four copies.
The deck uses Cloud of Faeries and Snap as other untap effects to generate mana alongside the bouncelands and familiars. Cloud of Faeries is often a win condition. Snap can be used to make other powerful plays. For example, Snapping an evoked Mulldrifter and netting mana isn't uncommon. Normally, you want to use Snap to target your Cloud of Faeries to generate storm and mana.
Mnemonic Wall is a nice singleton that can often make otherwise underwhelming Snaps into huge plays. It's also a nice way to ensure that you're able to cast multiple Temporal Fissures at your leisure. Going infinite is important sometimes. Being able to bounce all your opponent's permanents, a Cloud of Faeries, and a Mnemonic Wall is a way to ensure that you can combo off every single turn.
Mulldrifter is incredible here. It functions very nicely as a card draw spell and it has the added bonus of working very well with Snap. It's also worth noting that Mulldrifter is probably the most common win condition when playing the deck.
Foresee is an absolute powerhouse in this type of strategy. I've always been a huge fan of the card selection and advantage granted by Foresee. When you can successfully cast a Foresee and still have enough mana for a Snap or Cloud of Faeries, then it's usually going to result in a one-sided Upheaval.
Deep Analysis is another classic card draw spell. Originally, I had four copies of Foresee and only one copy of Deep Analysis. Personally, I prefer the card selection to cost of Foresee over the increased number of card granted by Deep Analysis. However, we are a deck with six bounce lands, and there are going to be a lot of games where we're forced to discard on the draw after playing a bounce land on the second turn. There's nothing we'd rather discard than Deep Analysis.
Compulsive Research is the most efficiently costed real card-draw spell available in Pauper. Having enough card draw in this deck is very important to make sure you hit the cards you need to when you need to combo off in a tight spot.
Nightscape Familiar and Sunscape Familiar have powerful abilities that cheapen all your blue spells. A single Familiar on the battlefield is enough to power up all your Cloud of Faeries and Snaps and turn them into ritual effects. Cheapening card draw and the namesake Temporal Fissure is also a huge boon.
Temporal Fissure is this deck's top end. It's not difficult to bounce all your opponent's permanents as early as turn three and then again on turns four, five, and six. Usually, you want to wait a turn or two in between each Temporal Fissure to get some more value out of the storm.
Here's the final sixty:
Temporal Fissure Combo
In testing, I've found the only decks that pose a problem are aggressive red strategies and the mirror match. Occasionally, the Empty the Warrens deck can outrace you, but their draws aren't as consistent and they run the risk of playing against a lot of hate after sideboarding from most decks.
The mirror match is a tough cookie to crack. I've seen lists that play Envelop. It seems powerful, with a lot of applications, but it doesn't pack quite the punch we're looking for. Personally, I've found that Boomerang is an excellent sideboard option for the mirror here. Most Temporal Fissure players are very dependent on their bounce lands, and a timely Boomerang is almost always enough to ensure that you're going to go off first.
Red decks are a bit easier to tackle. A playset of Vedalken Outlanders, a few Galina's Knights, and a playset of Steel of the Godhead should be more than enough to put a nail into that coffin.
Here's the final sideboard:
1 Mnemonic Wall
3 Galina's Knight
4 Vedalken Outlander
4 Steel of the Godhead
I'd like to share a few of the matches I've played with the deck.
I won the roll and kept Island, Evolving Wilds, Nightscape Familiar, Foresee, Cloud of Faeries, and Compulsive Research. I played my Evolving Wilds and passed the turn. My opponent played a Swamp and passed the turn. I cracked my Evolving Wilds for a Swamp on the end step. I drew an Azorius Chancery, played my Island, cast Nightscape Familiar, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Ravenous Rats, I discarded my Compulsive Research, he passed the turn. I drew Snap, floated two mana, played my Azorius Chancery, returned my Swamp to my hand, cast Cloud of Faeries, untapped my Chancery and Island, tapped them both, cast Snap targeting the Cloud of Faeries, untapped both lands again, tapped both lands for mana, cast Foresee, put Compulsive Research and Snap on the top of my library, drew them, cast Cloud of Faeries, untapped both lands, tapped both lands again. Cast Compulsive Research and found a Mulldrifter, a Temporal Fissure, and a Mnemonic Wall, cast Snap on the Cloud of Faeries, untapped, cast Temporal Fissure, bouncing all three of my opponent's permanents, attacked for 1, and passed the turn.
My opponent played a Swamp and cast Duress, but whiffed. I drew an Island, played it, cast Mulldrifter, drew a Dimir Aqueduct and an Island, and passed the turn. My opponent played a second land and recast Ravenous Rats, and I discarded the Island. I drew a Frantic Search, attacked for 2 with Mulldrifter, tapped my lands for mana, played another bounce land, cast Frantic Search, drew Deep Analysis and Swamp, discarded the land I returned to my hand and the Deep Analysis, untapped and tapped both bounce lands and another land, used Cloud of Faeries to generate a little more. I cast Mnemonic Wall, returned my Temporal Fissure back to my hand, cast Deep Analysis for its flashback cost, and cast Temporal Fissure, which bounced all my opponent's permanents, my Mnemonic Wall, and my Cloud of Faeries. Now I had all the tools I needed to bounce all my opponent's permanents every turn, and that drew the concession.
I kept Evolving Wilds, Dimir Aqueduct, Sunscape Familiar, Plains, Nightscape Familiar, Frantic Search, and Compulsive Research. My opponent opened with a Duress and took my Frantic Research. I drew a Deep Analysis, played my Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Ravenous Rats, and I discarded Deep Analysis, then cracked my Evolving Wilds for an Island. I drew a Swamp, played my Plains, cast Sunscape Familiar, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Chittering Rats, and I put Nightscape Familiar on the top of my library. I drew the Nightscape Familiar, tapped both my lands for mana, played my bounce land, cast Compulsive Research, drew Foresee and 2 Cloud of Faeries, discarded my Swamp, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with both Rats, and I blocked the bigger of the two—but the smaller swapped out for Okiba-Gang Shinobi, and I discarded a Cloud of Faeries and a Nightscape Familiar.
I drew an Azorius Chancery, tapped both my lands for mana, played the Azorius Chancery, cast Cloud of Faeries, untapped both lands, and cast Deep Analysis for its flashback cost. I drew a Sunscape Familiar and a Snap and cast both, then cast Foresee, left a Temporal Fissure and a Mnemonic Wall on top of my library to draw, cast the Temporal Fissure, bounced all my opponent's permanents, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed. I drew Compulsive Research, cast it, drew Island, Island, Foresee, discarded an Island, cast Mnemonic Wall, returned Temporal Fissure to my hand, attacked for 1, and passed the turn. My opponent played a second land and recast Ravenous Rats, and I discarded a land. I drew Cloud of Faeries, attacked for 1, tapped all my lands, cast Cloud of Faeries, tapped the bounce lands again, cast Foresee, found a Snap, cast Snap on the Cloud of Faeries, and demonstrated my ability to bounce all my opponent's permanents on every subsequent turn again, which again got the concession.
The mirror is entirely about who combos first. Winning the roll is very important, as most draws win on the third or fourth turn. Once one player combos, it's almost impossible for the other player to get back into the game.
I lost the roll and kept 2 Island, Terramorphic Expanse, Sunscape Familiar, Foresee, Cloud of Faeries, and Mulldrifter. My opponent played an Evolving Wilds and passed the turn. I played my Terramorphic Expanse and passed back, my opponent popped his wilds for a Swamp. My opponent played an Island, cast Nightscape Familiar, and passed the turn. I popped my Expanse for a Plains. I drew Snap, cast Sunscape Familiar, and passed the turn. My opponent cast another Nightscape Familiar, played an Azorius Chancery, and passed the turn. I drew a Dimir Aqueduct and had to go for it. I tapped both lands for mana, played my bounce land, cast Cloud of Faeries, untapped both lands, tapped both for mana, cast Snap targeting the Cloud of Faeries, and untapped both lands, I tapped both again, recast Cloud of Faeries, and tapped both lands for mana again. I had eight mana in my pool, and I cast Foresee and went to five mana in my pool. I left a Compulsive Research and a Frantic Research on top. I cast Compulsive Research drew Temporal Fissure, Island, and Deep Analysis, I discarded my Plains, I cast Frantic Research, drew another Island, and another Snap, I discarded both Islands, I tapped my lands for mana, cast Snap on my Cloud of Faeries, and cast Temporal Fissure bouncing all my opponent's permanents. I stuck a Mulldrifter the next turn and was able to find Temporal Fissures as they were needed to keep my opponent off the combo while I dealt 20 with Elementals and Faeries.
Sideboarding: -2 Deep Analysis, -1 Snap, -1 Temporal Fissure, +3 Boomerang, +1 Mnemonic Wall.
I mulliganed and kept Island, Evolving Wilds, Azorius Chancery, Sunscape Familiar, Compulsive Research, and Boomerang. My opponent played an Island and passed the turn. I drew a Nightscape Familiar, played Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Dimir Aqueduct, and passed the turn. I popped the Evolving Wilds and got an Island on his endstep. I drew another Nightscape Familiar, played my island, cast Boomerang targeting my opponent's land, and passed the turn. My opponent replayed his land, discarded, and passed the turn. I drew a Cloud of Faeries, played Azorius Chancery, and passed the turn. My opponent played a bounce land, discarded again, and passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, cast Sunscape Familiar, played my land, cast Compulsive Research, drew Dimir Aqueduct, Mnemonic Wall, and the other Swamp, I discarded a Swamp. My opponent cast Nightscape Familiar, played his Island, and passed the turn. I drew Frantic Research, tapped all three lands for mana, played Dimir Aqueduct, cast Frantic Research, drew Snap and Mulldrifter, evoked Mulldrifter, Snapped it back to my hand, drew Temporal Fissure and Cloud of Faeries, cast Temporal Fissure bouncing all my opponent's permanents, and passed the turn. I was able to assemble a strong enough combo with the Mnemonic Wall, Cloud of Faeries, and Temporal Fissure to keep my opponent from ever having multiple permanents on the battlefield again.
If you're looking to do well in Pauper tournaments, then this is the deck for you. Pauper is one of the few formats where you can play a true combo deck that feels and acts like an old-school combo deck. If you're a Johnny, like me, then you should be sure to put this list together and play some games on Magic Online.
If you don't play online, you can start your own Pauper league. A number of my readers have started Pauper leagues at their schools or just amongst friends. Shoot me an email about your own Pauper league and tell me about some of the exciting decks.