The most popular and successful aggro deck in format is Mono Green Stompy. Stompy uses cheap creatures and efficient pump spells to quickly reduce an opponent’s life total. The addition of Savage Swipe has provided the deck with a powerful option for clearing out blockers while also applying additional pressure.
Pauper Sample Stompy Deck List - Alex Ullman
This was not always the case. The earliest Stompy decks were less about brute force and instead leaned on cards like Gather Courage and Wild Mongrel to “counter” removal spells. As the card pool grew larger this strategy had started to falter and that’s when Burning-Tree Emissary was released. The Gatecrash downshift hit the scene with Modern Masters 2015 and changed the face of Pauper. Now, Stompy had access to draws where it could easily present six power on the second turn of the game. If you had access to multiple copies of Emissary, well, things could get gross.
The release of Burning-Tree Emissary shifted Stompy away from an aggressive pseudo-Fish deck to something that was firmly in the Sligh camp. A deck preoccupied with a low curve and dealing as much damage as possible. Nest Invader became a staple for two reasons: first, it was easy to cast off of Burning-Tree Emissary and second, it could enable Hunger of the Howlpack. Hunger is a fantastic pump spell where the benefits stick around. While it lacks the single turn damage output of say, Groundswell, it makes up for that in the ability to deal that damage turn after turn.
The combination of Burning-Tree Emissary and Hunger of the Howlpack subtly changed the creature composition of Stompy. Vault Skirge became a mainstay for its ability to be cast for a single red mana. Silhanna Ledgewalker – a sometimes staple – became a far more common inclusion since it could pick up counters with ease. These two creatures helped to push more decks towards Elephant Guide as a curve topper. While Stompy had often run a few copies of the aura, the two evasive threats made it a more attractive option.
Rancor is just a silly card. It can win games all on its own when placed on a sufficiently large (or evasive) creature. Whatever is wearing Rancor often acts as The Abyss, eating a single blocker each turn. The advantage of Rancor is that it keeps coming back. Depending on the matchup this aura can go on a smaller creature to help spread the field or something wearing +1/+1 counters to create one massive threat.
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk is one great target for Rancor. Since the vast majority of creatures in Pauper have one or two points of power, being able to make the Skulk a 4/2 makes it nigh unblockable. Sometimes it is correct to play this out on turn one just to get something on to the board and enable further copies.
Quirion Ranger is a key to making this deck run. Stompy really wants to hit its second land drop for Burning-Tree. However with 17 lands it is likely to miss a decent amount of the time. Quirion Ranger helps to offset this by creating an extra land drop each turn. The ability to also untap creatures into blockers matters in aggro mirror matches and should not be neglected.
Stompy occupies an interesting position in the Pauper metagame. It can be argued that it defines Pauper’s answers. The threat of a Burning-Tree Emissary heavy opening puts an intense amount of pressure of midrange and control decks. To compensate, decks have adopted more copies of Moment’s Peace and Prismatic Strands as a defensive mechanism. While removal is great, trading a single Lightning Bolt for a fraction of Stompy’s second turn is a losing proposition. The result is that Stompy can struggle after turn four once opponent’s have set up protection.
Stompy also has no natural prey at the moment. For the longest time, the green deck beat Mono-Blue Delver because it could go under and around Delver’s countersuite. Delver decks have adapted to include more removal but have also added Augur of Bolas (also from Modern Masters 2015) to absorb some damage and find removal.
None of this is to say that Stompy is a bad deck. It can beat decks simply on its collection of powerful cards. That being said Stompy has one angle of approach and it is currently one that is better served with other forms of reach. Getting an opponent to five life is great but Stompy lacks a Fireblast to close things out through a Fog. It can do some work with Viridian Longbow out of the sideboard but that is a pretty big ask in a world with Weather the Storm.
Let’s look at the top five matchups:
+3 Viridian Longbow
-2 Savage Swipe, -1 Elephant Guide
Game one leans towards Stompy if you have a good curve. The goal is to beat them before Tron is able to find a copy of Moment’s Peace or Stonehorn Dignitary. While it is not a sure thing, you want to keep hands that have the potential to win on the fourth turn. Things get harder in games two and three. You need Viridian Longbow as a way to deal those final few points of damage. Savage Swipe and Elephant Guide are a bit too slow unless you see copies of Lone Missionary game two. If you do, you want to bring in all your copies of Savage Swipe and cut Elephant Guide. And don’t forget you can use Vines of Vastwood on their creatures to “counter” an Ephemerate.
+3 Viridian Longbow, +1 Epic Confrontation
-2 Elephant Guide, -2 Silhana Ledgewalker
Another tough matchup. Kor Skyfisher is an excellent card against Stompy and Prismatic Strands can shut down multiple attacks. Your goal here is to apply enough pressure early so that they cannot effectively cycle their Prophetic Prisms. Leave up pump spells to counter their removal. In the second and third games you need Viridian Longbow to get around Prismatic Strands but to also pick off any copies of Standard Bearer they may have brought in. The Flagbearer will ruin your day and render your creature boosters useless.
+1 River Boa, +2 Gut Shot
-2 Silhana Ledgewalker, -1 Hunger of the Howlpack,
It’s easy to get out ahead of Izzet Faeries. While they have excellent removal they lean on Spellstutter Sprite for stack control. It can be relatively easy to maneuver around the Faerie to establish multiple threats at once. The big issue is in sideboard games where they will have access to Swirling Sandstorm. You do not want to overextend but you need to keep up enough pressure so they have to spend a sweeper early. If your opponent is spending a lot of cards early for minimal gain, they almost assuredly have the Swirling Sandstorm.
+1 River Boa, +1 Epic Confrontation
-1 Elephant Guide, -1 Nettle Sentinel
The Dimir build goes a little larger with access to Gurmag Angler and Thorn of the Black Rose. They also pack Agony Warp so you need to be prepared when they make blocks that look like a losing proposition. Be wary of Snuff Out but you do not have to worry about overextended the same way you would against Izzet Faeries as Dimir lacks a true sweeper outside of Suffocating Fumes.
+1 Epic Confrontation, +2 Viridian Longbow
-2 Elephant Guide, -1 Nettle Sentinel
I won’t lie – this is the sideboarding plan I am least comfortable presenting today. The matchup is very play/draw dependent, but also about who has the best opening Burning-Tree Emissary line. You want to curtail your opponent’s board but never want to get blown out by a counter-punch pump spell on a Savage Swipe. Look for openings to push through damage and be sure to have a plan for blocking.
Stompy is a staple in Pauper and while it may not be the perfect deck for the current moment, it can still win. The deck has access to high quality cards and occasionally can present an opening that makes the opponent want to right-click concede, shut down their computer, and walk away.