Modern Horizons 2 has hit the shelves and to say it had a profound impact on Pauper would be an understatement. The singular card, Chatterstorm, has put the storm archetype back on the map with a bullet.
Storm win conditions and payoffs have long been problematic in Pauper because of the plethora of cheap mana accelerants allowed in the format:
Is this a Legacy deck? Nope, I’m just jamming some Pauper!
The explosive “gas tank” of fast mana in Pauper is quite full, which is why powerful payoffs with the storm mechanic have traditionally quickly earned a banning from the format:
There’s a clear and direct correlation between win conditions with “storm” and cards that have been banned in Pauper in the past. To think that Chatterstorm, a particularly great storm payoff, wouldn’t turn Pauper on its head was wishful thinking (or lack of thinking). In fact, I believe it was fairly obvious to anybody who plays the format with regularity that Chatterstorm would immediately “break it.”
Pauper expert and ChannelFireball columnist, Alex Ullman, shared his thoughts on Chatterstorm during spoiler season:
I’m drawn to one particular quote from the article:
“I’m not going to tell you how many expletives I wanted to utter when I saw Chatterstorm. All I will say is they were many and quite a few were compound swears.” – Alex Ullman, “Squirreling Up A Chatterstorm.”
I felt the exact same way. In fact, as a veritable dinosaur of Magic content, I would describe my reaction to seeing Chatterstorm as:
But wait… It gets better…
A card from the actual, previous expansion combines with the insane storm win condition to create a tailormade, alpha-strike that can be easily executed on the second turn!? WHAT!? These two cards, coming back-to-back, feels very “first day of R&D” to me.
I don’t think Chatterstorm answers too many questions or teaches us anything we didn’t already know from past experience: is an incredible storm win condition still broken in Pauper? Yep.
What if the tokens were somehow… cuter than Goblins… like, Squirrels… would it still be broken? Yep, still broken.
The only question I’m having trouble answering is: why is storm in green’s color pie now?
My word count simply does not allow for all of my criticisms about releasing Chatterstorm as a common. It’s the best strategy in Pauper by a wide margin, it invalidates and outclasses entire chunks of he meta and it’s all so predictable.
For this week’s #mtgpauper article, should I write about:
— Brian DeMars (@BrianDeMars1) June 22, 2021
I’m going to check my criticisms of Chatterstorm at common here in the introduction. Regardless of how I or anybody else feels about the current iteration of Pauper, it’s the version of the format we have right now to play. Today’s article will unpack everything you need to know about playing Pauper in a Chatterstorm meta: building and knowing the lists, playing against the lists and the crucial counterplay in between the top strategies.
There is some amount of deviation to building “The Perfect Chatterstorm,” but for the most part there’s a ton of overlap between the key cards in the deck. We’re looking to be Jund color in order to harness the storm payoff, First Day of Class and Rituals.
Let’s start with the list that took second in the Pauper Challenge last weekend:
Pauper Chatterstorm by DJBMPWNS
Chatterstorm racked up a ton of Top 8’s last weekend in the Challenges. On Saturday, it placed third, fourth, sixth and eighth. On Sunday, it placed second, third and fourth. Not too shabby for a relatively new archetype out of the gate.
I also found a video by a streamer named “The Epic Storm” with a list I really liked:
Pauper Chatterstorm by THE EPIC STORM
The Epic Storm does a nice job of explaining his card choices and a playthrough with the list which can be found here.
In particular, I like the eight Invasion sacrifice lands and how they accelerate as well as color fix.
The strength of the deck is that it presents lethal with stunning consistency on the second turn and most of the time the biggest constraint is mana getting started. The Invasion sacrifice lands bump us up to two mana, and importantly give us mana of two colors to start the storm chain.
The drawback of a version, like The Epic Storm’s version from a few weeks ago, is that the cycling and pitch creatures does not synergize kindly with another busted storm card that I haven’t even mentioned yet.
The one innovation I like from the newer lists is the inclusion of Galvanic Relay in the main deck. I think this card sets up to give us a ton of gas when cast and I like the way it provides redundancy and insulation from hand disruption like Duress after sideboarding.
The list that took second in last week’s challenge is packing four Relays and I think another storm payoff that insulates the deck from fizzling is a great boon and well worth the inclusion.
Pauper Chatterstorm by CALEB GANNON MTG
I also love that the deck uses Land Grant so that even land drops will generate a storm count!
These three deck lists represent three different looks for the same archetype, but the overlap is still pretty profound:
4 First Day of Class 4 Chatterstorm 4 Dark Ritual 4 Chromatic Star 4 Rite of Flame 4 Manamorphose 4 Lotus Petal 2 Night's Whisper 1 Cabal Ritual
31 main deck cards overlap between all three lists, and of the cards that are different, eight to 10 are lands. So, there’s some deviation with regard to specific card choices but for the most part, the core of these decks is fairly consistent and straightforward. It’s also of note that none of these decks aim to interact with the opponent in Game 1 in any way, shape or form – it’s goldfish city and a race to the finish line.
One of the thing you’ll quickly realize when playing with or against the new Chatterstorm deck in Pauper is that the archetype pressures the opponent to “do something” that matters on turn two or else it threatens to win the game.
So, realistically what matters?
Well, a deck that cannot interact with anything outside of goldfishing an opponent to death is going to try and “go off” on turn two and present lethal… so, that kind of limits the types of interactions that will matter.
The first thing that’s sort of unique is that Chatterstorm doesn’t really use it’s graveyard too much outside of flashing back Faithless Looting or gaining threshold for Cabal Ritual and thus graveyard hate won’t help very much. The best way to interact with Chatterstorm is to directly attack their combo cards:
In general, there’s not much to interact with against the other 52 cards in the deck (as they are redundant Rituals and card draw designed to keep the wheels spinning). Obviously, we want to approach playing against Chatterstorm by respecting it for what it is: a very broken combo deck.
Duress is great against Chatterstorm decks. It can take away whatever resource the storm player is light on as well as the combo cards themselves.
These are big pillars of the matchup, but keep in mind that First Day of Class puts +1/+1 counters on the tokens and so the premium is on two-plus damage sweepers. Also, keep in mind that if a player is trying to slow-roll an Echoing Decay or Fiery Cannonade that the Chatterstorm player can play two First Day of Class so their tokens enter plays as 3/3s.
Opposing decks can also try and lock Chatterstorm out of combat via soft fog locks.
If we look at Chatterstorm’s go-to sideboard cards, especially the one’s that overlap, it’s pretty clear that Chatterstorm’s plan is simply to interact with the handful of cards that matter:
“To clear away Echoing Truth, Echoing Decay, and Fiery Cannonade.”
“To shoot down Krak Clan Shamans.”
Keep in mind that Affinity needs to play out their Shaman first and so it’s a sitting duck for a Gut Shot.
“To answer Fogs.”
The rest of the Chatterstorm sideboard is generally rounded out with a learn/Lesson package that always includes:
“To dig with.”
And, some combination of:
And, some Weather the Storm for Burn because the deck simply doesn’t have anything else it even needs to use it’s sideboard on.
The right cards at the right time are really important when playing against Chatterstorm. I know that sounds real lame and non specific, but playing against Pauper Storm (like any other storm deck in any other format) is about lining things up, getting the stop and turning the corner.
Of all the decks in the format that I’d want to play against Chatterstorm with, UB Delver and Affinity would be my top choices, specifically because they have the best access to the high impact cards that deal with the horde of tokens as well as an efficient clock.
The deck that took down the Challenge was well prepared for the Chatterstorm opponents.
Pauper UB Delver by OSCAR_FRANCO
I can’t imagine a deck being much more hateful against Chatterstorm than this! A nice call by Oscar_Franco last weekend. It has tons of interaction with the combo and becomes excessively hateful after sideboard. I love the build as a non-Storm option for a metagame where Storm is pushing the action. The list also seems quite strong against Affinity which has also emerged as a top tier choice based on Modern Horizon 2 upgrades and access to Krark-Clan Shaman against Storm.
I strongly suspect we’ll see a lot of convergence in the coming weeks around the interplay between Chatterstorm, Affinity, and Dimir as the emergent pillars of Pauper. Dimir seems like a nice choice, given this three-headed monster, but keep in mind that Chatterstorm absolutely obliterates a ton of other archetypes that would likely get pushed out of a more competitive meta. There’s not an upcoming Pauper Pro Tour, and Pauper fans tend to play what they have and what they enjoy, which makes Chatterstorm an ideal deck.