EDH Pauper Deck Time: Vizkopa Guildmage

Last time we played Pauper, there was a Vizkopa Guildmage on the field. I had thought about using her as well, but didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so I didn’t. Still, this could be a truly repressive deck, so I thought I’d just design one, since this seems like an interesting choice for a general. However, this is Pauper and that means we don’t have that much room to maneuver.

One of the important things in pauper is the ability to use your resources other than cards effectively. You can’t really get massive card advantage you can get in normal EDH, and neither can you produce absurd amounts of mana, but if the game lingers on, you will be able to produce fair amount of mana each round and if you are able to use that effectively, you’ll get ahead as much as if you had card advantage. This is where all the guildmages shine.

First a note on the abilities, which many people will miss: Yes, double lifelink is redundant, since its a replacement effect. It just replaces the effect twice and therefore a creature with twice the lifelink doesn’t help any more than one instance. However, the second ability creates a delayed triggered ability. It can trigger more than once. It is an excellent mana dump, making even cards like Soulmender playable in the late game.

On the other hand, this deck will draw hate and you will have to be ready for it. This means putting up your defenses. At common, you have plenty of limitations on this, but you have some options. Playable defenders (meaning creatures with defender) include Angelic Wall, Corpse Blockade, Guardians of Akrasa, Hired Torturer, Wall of Light, Wall of Shadows, and of course a couple of standouts like Wall of Hope, Pride Guardian and Basilika Guards, which have lifegain and thus interact well with your commander. Quite a few of these are good just because they will make your opponent think twice about attacking you, unless they have fliers.

Also, you need creature removal. Gladly, black is best at this, even though red is better at sweepers at common, but back in the day, black did have cards like Pestilence, Crypt Rats and Evincar’s Justice, as well as Ashes to Ashes. Of course we also have the best spot removal available, including Doom Blade, Murder, Terror, Tragic Slip and Victim of Night. White can also help, especially with Recumbent Bliss, because lifegain is very good in this deck. Devour Flesh might also be a good choice. Also, Drain Life and its cousins might be hard to use, but would be really good in the late game. They probably mostly require way too much mana, but maybe Pharika’s Cure and others which are pretty much the same card, but the names of which I can’t remember right now.

Then we just need creatures to gain life. All the commons with extort are pretty much autoincludes, which means Basilica Screecher, Kingpin’s Pet, Syndic of Tithes, Syndicate Enforcer, and Tithe Drinker. The Drinker is especially good, as it already has lifelink. Other excellent creatures include Urborg Syphon-Mage and Suture Priest. Seraph of Dawn and Dawnstrike Paladin are good defensive choices, even if the latter is very expensive for its stats.

There aren’t actually that many usable lifelink creatures at common, but there are some. Hopeful Eidolon is very good. Daggerdome Imp and Vault Skirge are small, but they fly, and evasion is very good in this deck.

Also, you can help your creatures with Mark of the Vampire. There are some combat tricks that give lifelink, but it would be hard to convince me of their usefulness.

Some control elements in the form of artifact and enchantment destruction might be good. Not that these are as widely used as they are in normal EDH, but since white has plenty of cards which allow destroying those and lifegain on top of that, they will come in handy, even if they don’t have that many targets. These include Divine Offering, Solemn Offering and Ray of Revelation.

Although I said trying to get card advantage would be hard, its not impossible. Black has plenty of decent draw spells at common, including Sign in Blood, Read the Bones, and Syphon Mind, which is really good.

Would Syphon Soul be a card? Maybe. In a game of four, you can cause other players to lose eight life each. If that’s good, Blood Tithe is too. Congregate might outright kill a couple of players, as well as Crypt Incursion. Riot Control can keep you alive as well as be a huge blowout.

If you have roughly 40 lands and ten or so ramp artifacts, this leaves you with some room to put in some more removal, card draw, or maybe graveyard recursion. Then you’re set.

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