If you missed the previous Pauper Cube updates last year, here are the last six:
- Gatecrash Pauper Cube Update
- Dragon's Maze Pauper Cube Update
- Modern Masters Pauper Cube Update
- Magic 2014 Pauper Cube Update
- Theros Pauper Cube Update
- Born of the Gods Pauper Cube Update
Of course, if you like to hang around on Twitter, you also had a chance to see it before today:
It’s also a larger update, as I have some explaining to do:
@brute_steamer Masters Edition. (One of the MEs for Fellwar Stone, the Companions, Ironhoof Ox too.)— Adam Styborski (@the_stybs) April 23, 2014
I won’t waste our time.
A summary table is available at the end of the article as well as in the Change Log of the Pauper Cube GoogleDoc.
Let's talk about bestow again. The performance of the bestow creatures has been overwhelmingly positive, and the idea of adding a potential 1-drop that also packs bestow looks right, particularly now that the “Soul Sisters” of Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant haven’t panned out as I had hoped: The life-gain is good, but they don’t win games alone.
Alongside the new bestow addition is the almost-functional reprint in Oreskos Swiftclaw. A 3/1 for 2 mana is still a great deal as a vanilla creature.
Changing cards to help keep stalemates from happening is one way I work at making games brisk. While red, and to a lesser extent black, have ways to closing games outside of combat, most game wins are acquired through attacks. Veteran Swordsmith is an offensive lord that buffs many creatures and tokens in white; Shu Elite Companions is nigh unblockable.
Combat tricks make combat more exciting. Knowing your larger or “stronger” creature will always win is boring, so scaling tricks like Ajani's Presence makes me happy. Surviving any combat, and extracting value from safe blocks, are things I like to see, so I just added the strive instant. Black, red, and green, and white all had their “colorless” options moved out to colorless, so here, Porcelain Legionnaire made room.
Oppressive Rays looks like a great card. Paying 1 mana for more-or-less Arrest sounds like a great deal. However, one of the issues I’ve found across many games is that they don’t end immediately. It’s often easy for decks to hit 5, 6, or more mana to play with, especially aggressive decks that curve out and don’t have an abundance of mana sinks. I definitely have my eye on it, but I suspect it will perform less powerfully than the array of Pacifism effects already in the Cube.
Is Phantom Monster a common? It’s a question I’ve seriously asked myself before, and I’d wavered on the answer for some time. While physical print runs may not include commons, ignoring the “reclassification” of cards through Magic Online leaves out an angle for drawing potential choices. Phantom Monster isn’t an exciting, overpowered creature: It’s a curve-aligned, efficient, flying body.
Consider Cloaked Siren in Journey into Nyx. Trading 1 point of toughness to gain flash makes it clear Phantom Monster isn’t overbearing. Replacing both Echo Tracer (see spell changes below) and Spire Monitor smooths the curve for blue and gives it more tempo options to work with. (And don't worry: I have a foil copy of Crookclaw Transumter sitting on deck if blue really needs another flash flier.)
Crypsis has been “cool,” but Hands of Binding did more work. With an uptick in evasion across all the colors in the Cube, the value of Hands of Binding goes up even more. I apologize to everyone who disagreed with my Crypsis change last update: You were right.
“Brainstorm is the worst card in blue. It’s awful.” It’s a statement I’ve heard repeatedly across months of Drafts. The power of blue’s 1-drops and counterspells has been called into repeated question as well: The value of cards like Force Spike and Daze drop off far too quickly thanks to the efficiency of every color, as an extra mana is often trivial by turn four or five. Bringing in more “hard” counters and bounce spells makes mechanical sense.
Sigiled Starfish. However, when I investigated whether it would fit into my Cube, the question came down to this: “Will Sigiled Starfish be more valuable than Omenspeaker?” My answer was an unfortunate “No.” With it having the same cost but 1 less power and the fact you need three turns just to have the same amount of scry that you have just for playing Omenspeaker left the Starfish on the sidelines.
Black remained stable with this update. Blind Zealot is fairly dull with all of black’s removal, so a more aggressive creature (easier to cast, too!) made sense. Similarly, Pith Driller was usually just a Wall of sorts, and a more aggressive option shifts the value of going aggressive in black higher.
Imperiosaur and haste-fueled fatties. An almost functional duplicate of Typhoid Rats is welcome. Making room is Vault Skirge moving to colorless.
Disturbed Burial, Grim Harvest, and Death Denied. Font of Return feels very close to the power of Death Denied, instead being an onboard trick but pulling in an absurd number of creatures in one go. However, the surprise and scaling of Death Denied are hard to top, and both Disturbed Burial and Grim Harvest can “go infinite” with recursion. Font of Return is a find substitute for any of these cards, but I am happy without Morgue Theft and other options.
Sigiled Skink is a 2-drop you want to attack with, and thanks to scry, even if it’s a suicide or trade, you’ll probably come out ahead while digging to a fatty or burn spell. Somberwald Vigilante hasn’t stood out, even with its ability to hit above its weight class.
Haste does not make waste in this Cube. The archetypical red deck applies nonstop pressure to the opponent, and more haste was what the doctor ordered. Unlike Blood Ogre, a conditional 3/3 for 3, and Ashmouth Hound—see Somberwald Vigilante above—both of these creatures will hit the table running and make every burn spell even scarier.
Slash Panther has me very excited to see what red can do against the slower blue-value and multicolored decks.
Crushing Vines has almost never seen play, even against the decks with flying and Equipment. I’m hopeful a tricky way to counter bounce and other removal will prove more valuable, particularly at just 1 mana.
Thundering Tanadon moved to colorless, leaving room to try this flavor of evasion. Unlike smaller (Wolf) options, a 4/4 will be practically suicide for another creature to block. This is evasion that should provide value in either mode when attacking.
Centaur's Herald, particularly in the B/G recursion decks. Making multiple 3/3 Centaurs is solid, so the possibility to replicate its success with a similar card is appealing. However, 1/3 Spiders aren’t as threatening as 3/3s despite all the defense they may provide. I may come back to this as a way to evolve the B/G deck a step further, but I’m happy with how it’s playing out today.
Multicolored and Artifacts
Cavern Harpy can attack and block well and recycle enters-the-battlefield creatures, but it requires commitment to both colors and creatures to make happen. Forbidden Alchemy was often used as just a blue spell, so I’m hopeful this will tip the scales into more colorful use.
Tin Street Hooligan has rarely had a target to work with. Instead, I decided to bring back an old favorite that may function as a two-for-one more often. While I wish it was a 4/4 for 5 with its anti-flying trigger, a 3/4 is still a respectable body to have in play (and it works well with both red and green’s pump spells).
Rampant Growth effects for true fixing, but control strategies generally want just an extra colorless anyway. I feel comfortable seeing one more colorless way to push control decks along.
|Nyxborn Shieldmate||Soul's Attendant|
|Oreskos Swiftclaw||Soul Warden|
|Veteran Swordsmith||Benalish Knight|
|Shu Elite Companions||Silverclaw Griffin|
|Ajani's Presence||—||Replaces Porcelain Legionnaire|
|Phantom Monster||Echo Tracer|
|Cloaked Siren||Spire Monitor|
|Hands of Binding||Crypsis||I was wrong, guys. My bad.|
|Eye of Nowhere||Ponder|
|Foul Spirit||Blind Zealot|
|Wei Elite Companions||Pith Driller|
|Pharika's Chosen||—||Replaces Vault Skirge|
|Sigiled Skink||Somberwald Vigilante|
|Inner-Flame Acolyte||Blood Ogre|
|Crusher Zendikon||Ashmouth Hound|
|Flurry of Horns||—||Replaces Slash Panther|
|Ranger's Guile||Crushing Vines|
|Ironhoof Ox||—||Replaces Thundering Tanadon|
|Cavern Harpy||Forbidden Alchemy|
|Deadshot Minotaur||Tin Street Hooligan|
|Porcelain Legionnaire||—||Moved from white|
|Spined Thopter||—||Cube increase|
|Vault Skirge||—||Moved from black|
|Slash Panther||—||Moved from red|
|Thundering Tanadon||—||Moved from green|
|Fellwar Stone||—||Cube increase|
While I’m sad there wasn’t a pile of bestow creatures to consider, the major shift in blue and slight fixes across the rest of the colors leaves me excited for what the next several Drafts will look like.
The next set is Conspiracy, and I for one can’t wait to see what other wacky cards are coming. With any luck, a few Modern Masters–style rarity downshifts will add even more powerful cards to the queue. Catch you in about a month!