Burning-Tree Emissary in Pauper

With both the physical and digital release of Modern Masters 2017 now behind us, the Pauper format has been revived with a myriad of new toys to play with. There is one, however, that we believe has the best chance of having a great impact on the format: Burning-Tree Emissary.

So what makes this card so great? First, it has a very flexible casting cost. Mana fixing in Pauper isn’t great, so the ability to cast it for Red or Green mana helps it fit into more decks. Another one of its strong points is that even without its abilities, it is of average size for its casting cost, so after its effect is used up, it is still a decent vanilla creature. But you still may be thinking, Why should I favor this creature over others? Well, Burning-Tree Emissary can do a lot for a deck; it filters colors, combines with cards that care about multiple colors (like the blade cycle from Alara or Horned Kavu), and the Emissary is essentially free, as it replaces the mana spent on it.

What deck does Burning-Tree Emissary fit best in?

Although it could work well in stompy decks or possibly even mono-colored decks, we and many others feel that it works best in a Gruul Aggro deck, very similar to the Modern format’s very own Zoo strategy. As it lets you easily take advantage of Jund Hackblade and Naya Hushblade, it allows a player to essentially get a free 2/2. Emissary additionally lets a deck play less taplands, since it can filter for colors. All of these combined reasons can improve a deck considerably.

What would a deck playing Burning-Tree Emissary look like?

While this is nowhere near a final deck list and still needs loads of tweaking, here is what we have so far for the main board:

Pauper GR Aggro

Creatures (24)
Burning-Tree Emissary
Jund Hackblade
Naya Hushblade
Goblin Bushwhacker
Elvish Visionary
Kird Ape
Horned Kavu
Zhur-Taa Druid

Instants and Sorceries (9)
Lightning Bolt
Vines of Vastwood

Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
12 Mountain
Terramorphic Expanse

Let’s discuss why we made these choices.

Burning-Tree Emissary: this is the center of each deck; it might not be good enough to run four (or even to make this deck work at all), but we’re going to try.

Jund Hackblade and Naya Hushblade: thirteen multicolored creatures are in this deck, making them fairly easy to activate.

Goblin Bushwhacker: this card is only meant for a finisher, but +1 attack and haste can give you the final push to take out your opponent.

Elvish Visionary: this deck wants to empty its hand fairly often, so the card draw is nice. The body isn’t bad either, especially when used in conjunction with Rancor or Goblin Bushwhacker.

Kird Ape: this is one of the best Turn One plays – one mana for a 2/3 is great value.

Horned Kavu: 3/4 for two mana is great, and this deck takes advantage of the “drawback” by bouncing Burning-Tree Emissary, Goblin Bushwhacker, or Elvish Visionary for added value.

Zhur-Taa Druid: it’s both multicolored to activate Jund Hackblade and Naya Hushblade, and it helps produce mana so we can get ahead of our opponents. The damage it deals speeds up the game nicely, as well.

Lightning Bolt: this card is great for getting rid of roadblocks and ending the game faster.

Vines of Vastwood: great pump and protection for one of your creatures.

Manamorphose: filters your mana into the colors you need without costing anything and lets you draw a card. Great value in a deck like this.

Rancor: this card is a buff enchantment that is difficult to kill – it makes your good creatures great and lets you trade in your weaker ones to get some added value out of them.

Terramorphic Expanse: one of the few options for color fixing in Pauper; it lets you easily get a forest for Kird Ape and thins the deck a little.

So what do you think? Are you excited about Burning-Tree Emissary? Do you think it would fit better in another deck? If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to say something in the comments section below.



Sylvan Studies Team

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