Slivers

Last week we looked at Tribal Goblins, a historically potent Pauper tribe that, while not currently occupying the top tier of the Pauper metagame, has recently received, and is due to receive more, major power upgrades.

Of course, there are a few other Pauper Tribal decks that see semi-regular play, and whether they occupy Tier One or Tier Fun is a matter of your priorities as a pilot. I happen to be of the attitude that Magic, first and foremost, ought to be a matter of recreation and, when you win big, that’s an added benefit. Make it a first priority to enjoy your Magic and then you’ll be glad for the experience, win or lose.

Let’s look at my favorite Pauper Tribal deck: Slivers!

Pauper Slivers is a full-powered Pauper tribe complete with 3 different Pauper-legal +1/+1 “lords”. Just in Green and White, Pauper Slivers has a full selection of potent 1- and 2-drops to flood the board with strength in numbers before your opponent is able to stabilize the board.

Muscle Sliver


The strategy of this deck is twofold: you are the default beatdown, but in general, you do not want to be trading creatures with your opponent. Your strength is in numbers and all of your creatures will be of higher quality than your opponent’s creatures proportional to the number of them that are on the battlefield. Use your creature synergies to leverage a board position so that you can overwhelm your opponent in one or two big turns rather than trying to chip away at them, letting bodies fall where they may. When your tiny 1/1s and 2/2 swell up to 4/4s and 5/5s, crashing in not only to win combats but to force lethal combat damage will be your goal.

No other tribe in Pauper gets to play twelve “lords”: four each of Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, and Predatory Sliver. These are the best cards in your deck by miles and you need to play out your hand in a way that allows you to protect them. Often it is wiser to wait than to rush them out on turn two, especially if you can’t protect them from a Chainer’s Edict by having another body on the board or from a Lightning Bolt with one of your five pump spells. With twelve true +1/+1 lords plus eight more pseudo-lords in your four Plated Slivers and four Sidewinder Slivers, your deck is closer to resembling a deck full of 40 Relentless Rats than you’d think.

Actually, the closest play pattern to Pauper Slivers is Modern Merfolk. Besides the inclusion of twelve lords, both decks are aggro / tempo that win the game not by card advantage but by successfully building up your board and manipulating combat so you always have a more powerful board position that your opponent . . .  at least for the 4-7 turns of the game that matter.

The flex slots in the deck usually consist of six to eight creatures and two to six pump or removal spells. The twenty four creatures that make up 4-ofs in our list as well as the four Lead the Stampedes tend to be consistent from list to list as well as twenty to twenty-one lands.

So what are some of the cards you might consider among your 9-10 “flex slots”?

Creatures

Metallic Sliver
Spinneret Sliver
Sentinel Sliver

Metallic Sliver — a purely parasitic Sliver that adds zero abilities to the horde but comes cheap! This is a great choice for those dump-your-hand aggressive starts. Can get outclassed quickly.

Spinneret Sliver — Reach is very relevant in a metagame full of Delver of Secrets and Faerie Miscreants. Don’t let them ninjitsu you into Ninja of the Deep Hours! At times, it is correct to run four, but remember that redundant keyword abilities don’t stack, so extra copies will just be 2/2s.

Sentinel Sliver — Your best choice for matches where both you and your opponent are set on attacking. Again, the ability doesn’t stack, but having a body that is a point of power and toughness larger than the rest and allow you to play double duty on combat can be invaluable.

Hive Stirrings
Quick Sliver
Talon Sliver

Hive Stirrings — Two bodies for one can be quite tempting in a world full of Chainer’s Edicts. This card has mostly fallen out of favor as decks have shifted towards Lead the Stampede.

Quick Sliver — Flash can be another valuable ability either against tap-out removal or against other tempo based decks. Occasionally, pilots run one or two copies in the 60 or the sideboard.

Talon Sliver — Usually a 1-of or 2-of, but first strike is a great complement to all our buff abilities.

Spells

Vines of Vastwood
Mutagenic Growth
Thrill of the Hunt

Vines of Vastwood is the usual default pump spell since the one mana ability to save one of your lords from targeted removal will be its base mode. Rarely will you need the +4/+4 except to connect on a lethal attack.

Mutagenic Growth can be your best choice in a metagame full of Lightning Bolts since the base rate on your best creatures is 2/2, and you can protect them on Turn-2 while tapping out.

Thrill of the Hunt is a neat one because your opponent will often be looking to make trades whenever possible. One card that can win a combat and save a future creature from combat or removal is stellar.

Sigil Blessing
Journey to Nowhere
Adventurous Impulse

Sigil Blessing is a bit expensive, but it uniquely doubles as an anthem and a pump spell for {G}{W}.

Journey to Nowhere is probably your most effective catch all removal spell, but it competes with your lords in the 2-mana slot and decreases your body count for Lead the Stampede. While you will probably run some number in your 75, metagame and your preference as a pilot can dictate whether they go in your 60 or your sideboard. Some decks also prefer to run an additional Oblivion Ring as a catch all, especially against nasty enchantments.

Adventurous Impulse is probably better suited for the Sliver deck than any other Pauper build since, early on, you are either trying to fix your mana or dig for lords. But it adds anti-synergy with Lead the Stampede so you may have to choose between quantity and quality.

Lands

Beyond your basics lands, you’re going to need some number of dual lands to have both your colors on-line as quickly as possible. But play too many tapped lands and you miss your curve.

Because you need both colors as quickly as possible rather than a quota of specific basics, Blossoming Sands is your best choice. If you want more fixing, you can run Selesnya Sanctuary, Selesnya Guildgate, or even Ash Barrens since it gives you the option to either fix for your missing color or comes into play untapped for generic mana.

The other utility lands some pilots choose to include include cycle lands like Tranquil Thicket or Secluded Steppe to mitigate flooding or occasionally one of the Zendikar lands with stapled spell effects like Khalni Garden or Sandstone Bridge.

Sideboard

Because of its internal synergies, Slivers is not a deck that wants to take more than 5 cards or so out of its maindeck for any particular matchup. So we are most interested in cards that either have a pinpoint effect against particular strategies that beat us or have a counter effect against other decks sideboard strategies against us. Usually the decks we’re most worried about are combo decks, Blue tempo fliers, and burn decks. Against fair aggro strategies like Stompy, our hope is to go bigger than them. And against control decks like Tron, our hope is to race and flood the board before they can stabilize.

Against combo, I prefer Standard Bearer since it shuts down both auras for decks like Bogles and also Temur Battle Rage against the Kiln Fiend and Atog decks. It also stops Inside Out from targeting their Tireless Tribe for the win. Other anti-combo cards to consider are Prismatic Strands, Kami of False Hope, Ray of Revelation, or even basic Fog.

Against Blue, I included a Gut Shot and two Holy Light, but other good options you could consider involve Scattershot Archer, Sunlance, Aerial Volley or Take Down.

Against both Red Burn and also decks that will be trying to pick off your Silvers either with Lightning Bolts or Electrickery, you can add Hallow, Armadillo Cloak, Circle of Protection: Red, Dawn Charm or even pure life gain spells like Feed the Clan or Life Goes On.

A few other sideboard toolbox cards to consider include: Mana Tithe, Young Wolf, Obsidian Acolyte and Crimson Acolyte, Relic of Progenitus for graveyard hate or Natural State, Fragmentize or Dust to Dust for Artifacts and Enchantments.


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