These are not building guidelines, rather a generalized description of the main, broad archtypes to define and expound future discussions.
Being Pauper Cube, there is not a lot of sweepers nor big flashy cards. Rather there is just good old, honest interactive play.
Aggro – This archtype is straightforward. You put down creatures, turn them sideways and race to lower your opponent’s life total. Typical of this playstyle/strategy is lower cost creatures en masse and preference of spells that worry about keeping the path clear, or finishing the job.
There is also a tendency to emphasis the ‘curve’ or mana cost of something. “Curving Out” is when you make consistent land drops, and consistent creature drops.
What mostly identifies this type is higher creature count at the lower cost area. Creatures before most spells is the mentality that steers this.
Keyword preferences include: Haste, Flying, Shadow
Spells include: Removal for blockers and burn for either blockers or opponents within range of dying to it
Control – This is one of the harder archtypes to draft purely as it is a more reactive ideology, and doesn’t worry about winning till after the game is under their influence. Most games, if played ideally, involve neutralizing the board state, regaining position, and then using the few finishers to end the game.
Creature selection is usually based off early game ‘speed bumps’/’roadblocks’, utility creature that can assist in neutralizing the board state or selecting a few ‘finishers’ (creatures you can lay down later on to execute the final stages of the game).
This playstyle puts the largest, of the four types, concern on card advantage (virtual or actual). You tend to ignore most creatures for removal, advantage spells, or even mana fixing as the deck fleshes out. Creatures are usually chosen when the player feels they have enough ‘control’ spells/permanents; or the rare occasion that one that is perfect for the deck shows up early.
2-for-1 (neutralize/interact with X of their resources with only 1 of yours)
Cantrip (draw a card off a spell in addition to its effect)
Midrange – This is a very broad term. It is the archtype that plays the most large creatures, and more impacting spells. If you don’t have a general purpose, or just pick ‘Good Stuff’, you are in this archtype. There aren’t really design constraints as this is a catch-all for when a draft strategy, or sealed strategy doesn’t have a lot of focus due to whatever reason.
The 4-6 casting cost of creatures/spells is used very frequently as that is where the forceful ones tend to lie in Pauper. Broad examples include Spined Wurm, Mass of Ghouls, and Fomori Nomad
It isn’t as much about efficiency as it is about presence, and turning the game in your favor one big play at a time.
Most ramping spells/permanents (Rampant Growth/Mind Stone)tend to end up here; as getting you to your game changers is very important.
Tempo – This is more of a playstyle than a draft ideology. Usually it is about landing a clock and keeping the path clear. That can involve disrupting the opponent, or simply playing evasive creatures that can end the game on their own.
This seems to be when aggro takes too many spells, or control takes too many creatures. But it does want virtual card advantage by keeping the opponent always a step or so behind.
Some strategies to this include:
Using bounce/discard to supplement an evasive creature
Using removal on a sliding scale, sometimes to kill potential blockers, sometimes to kill better attackers
Card selection is often more important than card advantage.
There seems to be more inclination of evasion in the 2-3 cost creatures and then using the rest of your resources to interrupt the opponent trying to deal with that.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Typical Color Combination Suggestions
Aggro – Not very hard to acquire, but it means sometimes giving up better 4-6 cost creatures for the evasive or cost efficient 1-3 cost ones. Uniquely there is the prime example of Putrid Leech which shines in this deck.
Midrange – This seems to be a more natural fit as the strength of G’s larger creatures supported by B's prominent removal. Regeneration usually lies in both these colors as well. Ramping into 4-5 casting cost, resilient, creatures is a sound strategy. EX Golgari Rot Wurm
Aggro – The only other natural fit for these two colors. It isn’t hard to select this strategy, but it does require competing over W’s effective/evasive 2-3 cost creatures, its cheaper removal, as well as G’s aggressively costed attackers. There is a tendency to ‘curve out’ easily provided the selection of cards it kept to only a single colored mana in their cost. EX Jungle Lion + Stormfront Pegasus
Midrange – This is another natural fit. W has Flying, resilient creatures. G has tough, resilient, efficent creatures that also bear Trample, Reach, or just better-than-average stats. W’s ‘removal’ keeps counterstrikes down, but it also allows G’s large clocks to plow quickly. Token strategies fall into this category as there is little way to leverage them into the other strategies. EX Guardian of Vhitu-Ghazi
Tempo – Neither color really disrupts very well sans W’s Pascifism-esque ‘removal’. This strategy is more than likely just a better selection of the stronger 2 cost W creatures, and G’s better-than-average creatures; but there is pump and W’s protection spells. EX Guardian of the Guildpact + Armadillo Cloak
Control – Impossible. G doesn’t possess this characteristic. And W’s ability to disrupt is lack-luster. Most likely just misguided Midrange
Aggro- Kind of a tough to accumulate enough aggressive creatures in both colors as U’s more intimidating early drops will be fought over by UW and UR. Trying to assemble this strategy will lead your more into Tempo. Zeyphr Sprite + Wild Dogs (Scryb Sprite)
Midrange – Not the worst use of these colors. It would act more like Tempo, but packing larger creatures from G and the card advantage of U. The use of ramp is probably one of the few ways of defining this strategy versus the other modes of this color configuration. See Living Airship or Vigean Hydropon + Sprout Swarm
Tempo – This where this guild shines. U fliers, bounce, card selection, light countermagic (to protect the clocks). G gives the pump, most of the muscle, and that is about all you need from it. Since many of U’s Tempo Clocks are 3cc, the strategy of grabbing accelerators like elves may push the archtype over the edge. EX Temporal Spring, Cloud Spirit, Gaea’s Skyfolk
Control – This would fall more into the Midrange section as G cannot aid much in controlling the game. But does give larger bodies for U to hide behind. If pushed, thre are a few walls that would help act as more accessible ‘speedbumps’, giving time for the U card advantage of Deep Analysis, or virtual card advantage (Capsize) to take root. The line of this style against Midrange would be more of how you intend to control the field. If you just use larger bodies and the occasional bounce spell, this is not Control. But, if there are bodies, card draw, countermagic, and more impacting spells with value IE Whiplash Trap, Mnemonic Wall, Scarwood Treefolk, and Arcane Denial; then that is Control.
Aggro- A very natural fit. Bloodthirst, Haste, and bodies. To define this against Tempo it is usually defined by the amount of creatures in the 1-2 cost (Aggro), and the density of removal (Tempo). R’s First Strike is used more as a form of evasion here. G’s pump can be used to upgrade 1-for-1 trades into 0 loss. Scab-Clan Mauler
Midrange – Ramping into the 4+ costed threats is a solid strategy. This tends to be where Aggro or Tempo falls when they can’t get enough removal or cheap creatures. If Rhox Brute isn’t at the top of your curve, then Midrange is where you are. Midrange is defined by the use of more Craw Wurms and Hill Giants than Grizzly Bears.
Tempo – Easily a sliding scale comparison to Aggro. R’s removal is a priority once a few clocks are found, or when there aren’t appropriate ones available yet. Arc Lightning + River Boa
Aggro- This is similar to GR’s basis. Except B has very efficient, evasive attackers in the 2 slot, see Fledgling Djinn
Midrange – As described above, this can be as simple as playing Pestilence next to Blood Ogre. But it can be one of the easier archtypes to fall into. If you grab removal, followed by removal, and then remember you need creatures and grab the many 4-6 cost tanks, then you’ll land here. It really isn’t somewhere many start in, but many land here when focus can’t be found. It is a very strong, recurring choice.
Tempo – Less creatures and more removal than aggro most of the time. But it may also involve things like Liliana’s Spectre. Discard besides cheap attackers would tend to trend into this category.
Control – Similar to Midrange, it uses larger bodies. But more consideration has been given to neutralizing the advances of the opponent; whether that is removal, discard, or just resilient attackers used as walls. There will seldom be use for creatures in the first few turns except to act as speed bumps. B’s Deathtouch (Giant Scorpion) and R’s First Strike (War-Spike Changeling) can mount quite the slowing field. The use of Fireball, Pestilence, and Strangling Soot defensively exemplify this variant.
Aggro- Skyknight Legionnaire, as well as using W’s fliers to assist R’s Haste, there is trying to save removal for just keeping blockers out of the way. Generally only the front half of a creature need be impressive here.
Midrange – Kranioceros is a prime example of where one can end up if you just look for beatsticks and game enders. It is a fine card in the context that it is threatening, somewhat resilient, and easy on the manabase.
Control – Nearly midrange, except the toughness of W shines more brightly. Look at the combination of Rockslide + Castle Raptors. Likely more roadblock creatures than Midrange, but competing with the same spells.
Aggro- Similar in difficulty to UG. R has better removal than creatures, and to rely on U to bring the creatures seems foolish. Tempo is more likely what this idea becomes
Midrange – This is a more aggressive form of Control. You still get draw, burn, counters (less than control), but you have better use of Snapping Drake or Pitchburn Devils. Likely there is a strong use of equipment to augment the less competitive, but more utility creatures.
Tempo – Removal to back up Flying; generally. R does have a few things like Haste (Arc Runner) that can fit well with Steamcore Weird. There isn’t anything that says there can’t be a Tempo/Midrange hybrid, and this color seems to have a very strong sliding scale in Pauper. Jilt sums up this strategy.
Control – This is a solid, but hard to assemble strategy. You need to keep an eye out for bargain bodies that provide advantage (Sky-Eel School) or dip into Artifact creatures to make sure you can stabilize (Neurok Replica). Like the UW or UB variants, getting stabilized is very important. There are many solid blockers that can turn aggressive in U. But hidden in the mix can be rogue cards in R; Cinder Wall or Ogre Sentry. Overall what keeps this from being midrange is taking more 2-for-1’s than hefty bodies sooner.
Aggro – As with the other U aggro strategies, it will likely be Tempo unless you got shorted on U’s superior advantage cards (Bounce/Card Selection). Changing gears from previous years, Innistrad block has added to this archtype with so many bodies. Stitched Drake coming in after you lose an early Vampire Interloper or using the other 'Remove a Creature' U bodies (Makeshift Mauler) to augment the shallow 1-2 costed drops (Tormented Soul) can very well give you the curve you want.
Tempo – See Recoil. Both colors, like UW, provide efficient attackers that may get there. Something as simple as Turn 2 Ravenous Rats followed by turn 3 Skywinder Drake signifies your intentions, and achieve them. There are too many cards to mention that fit this design effectively. But worth keeping in mind is that disruption is harder to come by than clocks for these colors, chose wisely early on.
Control – Half of the signature Control combinations, there is plenty to be said for the variety of options here. B gives discard and creature kill. U gives draw, bounce, and countermagic. For a one card strategy, see Probe. Neutralizing the board is easy for these colors, ending it may be harder if you forgot to pick up a finisher till late. There are plenty of serpents in U that can act as defense, but worth noting is Shoal Serpent. B gives the same heavy hitters as before, but here you want resilient ones over just strong ones. Remember to keep an eye out for Evincar’s Justice or Whisper of the Muse to gain virtual card advantage repeatedly.
Aggro – This would just be Tempo but with far too many bodies and not enough mid to late game action.
Midrange – Not really a specialty, but it is sometimes what happenes when card selection dries up. U’s fat bodies are few and far between, so this leaves most of the burden of strength on W. And W is better known for its higher toughness creatures. Using the pricier fliers like Plover Knights or Impaler Shrike and hiding behinds U’s ‘roadblocks’ seems solid enough. But if you ended up here that probably means you took too many bodies for appropriate spells in Control, or too many upper priced bodies for Tempo. Not the worst place, but in this combination of colors, you aren’t using them to their fullest.
Tempo – This uses the heavy saturation of fliers in both colors to take the advantage early. Using onboard tricks like Silkbind Faerie show off this pairing. Looking to the multicolor section, there is probably one of the better auras here, Steel of the Godhead. If you can manage to acquire an appropriate creature, this can end a gain quickly.
Control – Here is the other classic Control pair. What W gives is more solid creatures to defend with, and adds First Strike to some ground holders. W doesn’t kill as often, but rather neutralize with Auras. While Midrange can also use it, Control uses Totem-Guide Hartebeest more effectively because of the ability to be patient longer. Keep an eye out for W’s higher toughness bodies as taking a few more here is not the worst. Of all the control pairs, this one gets the most from their multicolor section with tap effects in all three sections (U, W and (U/W)); EX Minister of Impediments.
Aggro – Focus on the efficient 1-3 drop slot and you can easily dodge most defenses. This is lighter on spells than Tempo, but the creature quality in these colors is more than enough for a heavy saturation of evasion to triumph. Vampire Interloper + Soltari Trooper
Midrange – Interesingly enough, B has high power/low toughness creatures, and W has low power/high toughness creatures. It would seem that selecting some from the 3-6 casting cost won’t be hard. There are also 2 of the better landcylers here (Noble Templar + Twisted Abomination). Watch your high color requirement spells (WW + BB) as it is easy to be greedy and have you mana base leave you dead in the water.
Tempo – This is where this color combination shines brightest. Shrieking Grotesque, Chittering Rats, Whitemane Lion, and the list goes on. The premise is usually kill/neutralize creatures; use the many efficient, evasive clocks; and supplement with discard or protection.
Control – This would be when you want Midrange creatures, but also Tempo’s spells. There is plenty to be said for having more ‘destroy target creature’ effect than the other combinations; Pauper as a format showcases that. There is no permanent this duo can’t interact with. Terror + Disenchant, a combo to live on since the beginning. The only concern one might have is getting enough resilient creatures, and enough removal to let the game swing from being against you to being for you.
That is it for the 2 color pairings, there will be more material coming. In the mean time be sure to interact and ask questions of the community. There is a large amount of debate and knowledge to be shared for those wanting it HERE