Pauper Tortured Existence V9

by TheSwarmer on 29 November 2023

Main Deck (60 cards)

Sideboard (15 cards)

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Deck Description

UPDATE: This shit no longer works at all xD Either play Dread Return dredge and commit fully to that gameplan or play Rakdos as that way you're able to play without a tortured existence while not getting tempo-ed out. Nowadays you cannot play a deck like this with negative tempo plays abound.

For the past 5 or so years the only viable way of building a TE deck was to lean on Crypt Rats and to a lesser extent Spore Frog. The deck was forced into a very controlling role because the only way to put up a fight on the ground was to dedicate so many deck slots to well-statted creatures that the consistency of the deck as a whole suffered a lot.

This is, I believe, no longer the case as a critical mass of new useful tools has been reached.

Mire Triton is extremely good at facilitating a smooth early game whether we are the defending player or not.

Writhing Necromass, unlike Gurmag Angler, can be run in high numbers and is a cheap high-threat creature that also makes for a great blocker, giving the deck a viable clock (Horror of the Broken Lands, Krosan Tusker, etc. were only ever good in games that were as good as won already) meaning the deck no longer needs to rely on Crypt Rats to finish the game.

In that same vein, Basilisk Gate means that any old 1/1 can be a 5/5 or larger no problem, furthering the deck's ability to turn a corner and close the game out in 3-5 turns instead of 5-10. Though running a playset seems slightly too greedy to me.

Lastly, Dread Return & Lotleth Giant, as well as the fact that 2 of our 22 lands are creatures provides an entirely new dimension to the deck. It also gives the deck an out if a TE is not found even after 7 or so turns. This plus Writing Necromass allows us to lean heavily into self-mill creatures as a way of hitting land drops. Though the whole dread return package is still quite experimental and may be sub-optimal the inclusion of creature interaction, silver bullets, or more discard outlets and Kitchen Imps.

Lastly, Cabal Initiate plugs a lot of holes. It enables Grave Scrabbler in the absence of a TE, it gets Dread Returns out of our hand, it comes down early, and is fantastic late with Basilisk Gate (it rhymes so it must be good!).

How to Play

The toolbox days are gone (?) and the idea is instead to develop a board presence while hitting land drops whether you found a TE or not. The lack of Fume Spitters and Crypt Rats, or any interaction for that matter means that tempo and chip damage actually matter and winning is achieved either by thwarting any opposing aggression with 5/5s and deathtouch and lifegain, only to then use Basilisk Gate, Dread Return, or those same 5/5s to win in just a couple turns.

Auramancer in the sideboard for when TE gets blown up in games 2&3. Gnaw to the Bone may not be very useful in this version anymore, and perhaps Augur of Skulls or something the like would work better.

PS: Someone please do the math on optimal Dread Return counts, I can only stare at a hypergeometric calculator for so long before my bottles of scotch beckon.

Deck Tags

  • Pauper
  • Golgari
  • Graveyard
  • Tortured Existence

Deck at a Glance

Social Stats


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Mana Curve

Mana Symbol Occurrence


Card Legality

  • Not Legal in Standard
  • Not Legal in Modern
  • Legal in Vintage
  • Legal in Legacy

Deck discussion for Pauper Tortured Existence V9

The advantage of tortured existence is of Course the recursion Theme,
But in case of graveyard hatred, the deck Will have to rely on board presence.

Adding a dread return gameplan is basically to increase upon the One major weakness of the deck.

In a few cases in the past, increasing upon the weakness can sometimes be an advantage, and this decktype is One of those That might benefit.

To abuse dread return, you need a fast board presence, so I'm thinking that boarding the frogs is a wrong approach.

Thraben inspector would likely be a A way to Play this safer, and considering That "murder at the manor" gives us inspector 5-8 some might go that way, and auramancer could yield Space for this.

Adding viscera seer can also build towards a fastpaced dread return approach

Another approach might be tukatongue zubera.

Dont be affald to add more basilisk gate, but treat the card as a creature slot rather than a land, as it is tied to the creature theme. That way you will be able to design a more versatile manacurve.

I would recommend a try at throwing in tilling tree or scaretiller to ensure That gates Don 't get lost.

Posted 07 December 2023 at 15:07


Dread Return is likely to get boarded out in games 2&3 in almost all cases where heavy graveyard hate is to be expected. Furthermore, it's not like we are racing towards reanimating a Lotleth Giant nor do we lack dudes to sack due to running 3 Grave Scrabblers and an abundance of 1/1s.

Generally, Abzan colors stress the mana base too much with TE requiring lots of black and green being as good as necessary on turn 2. You can go Abzan if you cut Grave Scrabblers but that is downright asinine as it makes your lategame worse than that of mono red aggro.

My previous version: is much more in line with some of your suggestions as a slower, more traditional version.

Tilling Treefolk in addition to Eccentric Farmer does seem like a relatively good idea, though the card is rather slow being a 3 mana 1/3 and I am not entirely sure what to cut for it. Any suggestions? I'm thinking either a Dread Return or Mire Triton.

Posted 07 December 2023 at 16:20


I Think tilling treefolk and excentric farmer offers up Some Very different options in style And they probably shouldn't be mixed, but should have their own designs of the deck.

Tilling treefolk would allow for a more landfocussed design, while the farmer belongs more to a dredge/reanimation style that can go with lands. The farmer is also more aggressive.

Cabal initiale is also a putrid imp at 2 mana.

Posted 07 December 2023 at 18:21


I'll have to actually test this, but I agree, farmer is probably better than treefolk in this build.

Oh and how is initiate in any way similar to the imp? Lifelink is a huge deal in the current metagame and a huge deal in this deck with Basilisk Gate. Cabal Initiate has twice as much power as Putrid Imp, which makes it actually relevant in the early game when we're on the offensive, and it ends up a 3/3 not a 2/2, also a big deal with Experimental Synthesizer samurai, Kor Skyfishers, and Glint Hawks running around.

Posted 07 December 2023 at 21:00


Cabal initiate discards for a growth bonus.
Going dread return means you can drop a 1/1 turn One, then two 1/1 's on turn 2 for a turn 2 reanimation.
Putrid imp enables such a Play through discard.

Seen That way, cabal initiate is a Much slower putrid imp.

This is also why I advocate for thraben inspector and spore frog in the build.
If the build is heavily focussed on creatures reanimating lotleth suddenly makes much more sense ;)

It's also why I talked viscera seer.

Posted 08 December 2023 at 10:15


Hmm, I think that would all work better in a dedicated Dread Return build, here it's more of an additive or a plan B or the two in the one-two-punch that occurs late enough in the game to where 1/1s for one don't really matter as mana is abundant and the board already either has dudes on it or the game is lost.

Once again though, this would all require testing as I have no idea:
How quickly the deck can mill itself on average.
How many cards in the graveyard translate to on average how much Giant damage.
How often the deck wants to sack 3 creatures to reanimate a giant.
What is the earliest turn ^ is likely to be worth it on average.

Posted 11 December 2023 at 19:00


One of the worst parts with testning is when there are a Lot of cool interactions that you want to cram into the build.
It May be why decks like this develope slower than others.

The 1/1's Will matter due to basilisk gate.

I am refining my mutation methods at the moment.

One Easy way to playtest mutations is to have a deck with 60 paperstrips That contain the Classical
Deck on the strips, however, during games any card can be Played as multiple other cards, in which case you add a point to that card on the strip.

Doing this Will perform 2 functions.

1: scoring cards on their actual usefulness in the deck when they are played as the original.

2: showing which future mutations have the Best synergy with the deck as they Will score more points.

One rule to Remember during this, is to Only have
4 copies of any card active on the paperstrips.

Posted 12 December 2023 at 03:26