Black Lantern

"top-control" deck that focuses on locking down the game and controlling your opponents draw step. That idea is definitely not mine, or new for that matter, lantern control does it on a competitive level in modern and similar attempts have been done in Pauper before using many of the same cards I use. So big shout out to all the brewers who's been working on thoughtpicker decks in the past, I've propably looked at most of the published lists and got a lot of inspiration.

The difference here from most of the thoughtpicker decks I've seen is that they are trying to double down on the topdeck control, usually by bringing in blue and/or red to add more deck manipulation and filtering to find their combo, I find that approach leaves your too open to attacks from whatever comes down early game, and the combo itself too vulnerable to removal.

My approach to solve these problems is to use a mono black control and recursion shell that establishes perpetual recycling of creatures and can defend itself well with a combination of removal and destructive blockers, after which the thoughtpicker combo becomes a matter of inevitability, it will assemble sooner or later and once it does it will be hard to deal with.

Tortured Existence, Myr Servitor and Grave Scrabbler are the main recursion engine, used to recycle your blockers and sac fodder for the witch. Grave Scrabbler is especially powerful with Tortured Existence because you get both a body on the field and 2 creatures back from the grave, a 3 for 1 that can be repeated each turn once you have 3+ mana, all the while drawing more cards, can be very hard to outgrind for the enemy.

Tortured Existence is arguably the most essential and powerful card in the deck since once it's in play all the creatures in the deck adds inevitability from there on, making your topdecks and dredgers that much better, so it's definitely a high priority card you really want to see in your starting hand. It also provides the very powerful option of putting madness creatures in play instantly to surprise block or play around removal and counterspells.

Stinkweed Imp quickly fills your graveyard with the creatures you need, and together with Gorgon Recluse also functions as a wall to hide behind that destroys attackers. Crypt Rats is a powerful board wipe that can reset the board when it's out of control with tokens etc, usually giving us the advantage as we can quickly rebuild and pick our creatures back up.

The Thoughtpicker Witch lock functions similarily to Lantern Control in modern, you need some creatures recurring, ideally Myr Servitors but Rotting Rats, Grave Scrabblers and other chaff works fine too. Once established you can deny your opponent useful draws for the rest of the game, and the longer the game progresses the harder the lock becomes as you'll deploy a stronger wall of blockers and get more sac fodder for more activations per turn. Since thoughtpicker digs 2 deep it's usually enough with 1 or 2 activations to remove any outs they may have and find a card you can safely let them draw, the decision for which card to give them can vary a lot and be quite complex so it's easy to misplay. Shuffle effects and graveyard hate are often the most dangerous cards for example.

You win either by milling them out with the witch or by building up a superior board state and eventually start attacking with some dudes. On MTGO making your opponent time out is also a main wincon.

Playing very fast and managing time is a MAJOR skill needed to play this deck on MTGO, you want to be ahead on time because otherwise your opponent can potentially stall you out. This means some practice with the deck is required to remove timeouts as a negative factor to your winrate. Most good/competitive players will know their own deck and understand the thoughtpicker lock well enough to concede when they have no outs, but if they are ahead of time they won't.

Not everyone appreciates playing against a deck like this, so be prepared to shrug off some salty comments.


Updates Add

Didn't like the edicts main as this deck doesn't rely on keeping enemy creature count down, rather it makes attacking you unfavorable. That means the edicts usually hit some small dude and ends up being a bad topdeck. Added Sultai Emissary for card advantage instead, and it works much better. Shifted graveyard hate in main and side to Faerie Macabre which has turned out to be a major improvement in testing.

Currently contemplating adding 1 Thorn of the Black Rose and moving one lifestaff to the side, the price is holding me back as I'm not convinced it's an actual improvement and I have no other decks to use it in currently.

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Top Ranked
  • Achieved #28 position overall 2 years ago
Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 years

This deck is Pauper legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.33
Tokens Monarch
Folders Uncategorized, Pauper, cool stuff, ideas, An Unimaginatively Entitled Collection of Pauper Decks, Pauper, My Pauper Brews, Pauper, Gimmicky Control, Decks I Like, See all 16
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Revision 9 See all

2 years ago)

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