If you missed the previous Pauper Cube updates over the past year or so, here are the last eight:
- 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
- Journey into Nyx Pauper Cube Update
- Conspiracy and Vintage Masters Pauper Cube Update
Listing these is getting out of hand, but it’s something that makes me smile. Documentation and history is important since it captures previously used cards (good to revisit every now and then) as well as the direction colors and decks have evolved in.
For Magic 2015, two colors particularly stood out: red and white. Fortunately, this was the color pair I wanted to work on the most. As you’ll see below, both colors got a shot in the arm for making their archetype happen.
A summary table is available at the end of the article as well as in the Change Log of the Pauper Cube GoogleDoc.
If you haven’t drafted Magic 2015, you may not understand just how good this card it. Creating a flying army on turn three or four is stupid-good, and I expect the go-wide reinforcement in this update to make Triplicate Spirits a deadly threat.
Making room is one of the weaker aggro options in Master of Diversion. It was almost cut before, so I doubt it will be missed.
So far, only red hosted pump spells for token armies. This update aims to fix that. I ordered a foil copy of nearly every red and white instant that could give multiple creatures a significant power bump until end of turn. In the end, these two struck me as the most efficient: One was recently promoted to uncommon (Righteous Charge), and another is a flexible spell that can fight Pestilence for a turn (Fortify).
Making room are two spells I love dearly but rarely saw play: Breath of Life and False Defeat. I’m going to miss seeing both in the Cube, but I hope these pump spells are drafted earlier than Zombify did in white.
I liked the idea of including three pump spells in every color. Sanctified Charge hits hard, is an instant, and isn’t kicker, but it comes with a solid bonus to white creatures. It seemed to be the right mix of things to try out. It replaces Ajani's Presence, requiring 2 more mana (but 1 fewer ), which isn’t as solid as granting protection from a color. (Which is why Ephemeral Shields didn’t make this update either.)
I’m still happy with blue, but I did give control decks a nice treat in colorless this update.
Buying time is fine, but rarely will Coral Barrier really help you win. A few flickers is cute, but other options are far more powerful to bounce. Blue can defend well with bouncing; blocking with Coral Barrier is just worse, though making a 2/4 for 3 mana is efficient. I’m not convinced yet, but I’m keeping my eyes on things.
There’s a white version of this card: Kor Hookmaster. I’ve moved away from these types of situational tempo creatures, but obviously, in a controlling deck, Frost Lynx would play out differently. Unfortunately for our new Cat, bounce usually works better than tapping a creature down for a turn.
Breaking stalemates is definitely one of the goals of my Cube. While Amphin Pathmage is one way to crack open a game, blue has plenty of evasion and bounce to get the job done. Pathmage isn’t just redundant—which can be a good thing when more is needed—but much slower.
There wasn’t that much exciting for black in Magic 2015, at least at common, and the only card that struck me isn’t a road I’m ready to flesh out just yet.
There’s one archetype that’s been receiving more and more support at common, and that is B/G self-mill. By filling the graveyard, decks turn on recursion and Lhurgoyf-type effects that care about cards in the graveyard. Necromancer's Assistant is both 3 power for 3 mana and a way to start piling up the graveyard.
I’ll be taking a closer look at giving B/G a different feel down the road. For now, I just take note.
Generator Servant scares the pants off opponents. I haven’t seen this much urgent respect for a 2-drop since Dark Confidant. The idea of casting a green fatty early with haste is good, but it can also fuel Rolling Thunder like nobody’s business. Sigiled Skink is an easy swap out.
Do you like Gore-House Chainwalker? How about one that can also block in a pinch? Borderland Marauder is a powerful common to be sure, and I think aggressive decks like it a lot more than they like Torch Slinger.
I wanted to add another Arcane spell to the Cube, and Path of Anger's Flame is it. It also has this benefit of duplicating Dynacharge and Trumpet Blast. With the focus on tokens, and with plenty of other single-target pump effects available, I pulled Titan's Strength out to make room
This is a total experiment, but I suspect that, in a Cube in which the critical toughness is 4 and the average is just around 2, Inferno Fist will put in some work. While I think Traitorous Instinct is the better card in a vacuum, I want to see how players react to the explosive damage potential of Inferno Fist.
If you run Skirk Shaman in your Cube and need another evasive red creature that isn’t haste-based, Krenko's Enforcer is for you. It puts in work in Magic 2015 Drafts, and I have fond memories of pounding in against opponents who forgot that “redfear” was a thing in Planar Chaos.
Green is in a good spot, with aggressive, midrange, and control support spread across the curve. Magic 2015 did have a few treats to consider though.
Living Totem has convoke and permanently pumps another creature. I don’t think it outstrips anything already in the Cube, but it’s a fun thought for decks that support G/W tokens instead of R/W.
Vineweft is a poor man’s Rancor. But Vineweft is a poor man’s Rancor! The ability to bring back anything over and over is worth considering, though Vineweft is a very hard sell for me in my Cube. I think it’s totally fine if you want to add wacky, yet value-driven elements to yours; it’s not for me.
Multicolored and Artifacts
Will-Forged Golem is big and bold and can come down fast. Solid colorless creatures are always a challenge to find, and I think Will-Forged Golem will be a much more welcome addition than Mana Prism. (It turns out even thematically helpful cards can be unexciting enough to skip.)
I didn’t find room for Tyrant's Machine, but it definitely has potential. Unlike Tumble Magnet that eventually runs out, Tyrant's Machine can keep things like Imperiosaur and Guardian of the Guildpact at bay forever. This is on my short list of artifacts to try someday.
Haunted Fengraf never saw play. With all ten bounce lands hanging around, I decided that a colorless life padding might be more interesting to players. The ability for a control deck with multiple bounce lands to gain life along the way is a frightening prospect.
It may not be the biggest or flashiest update, but I’m really excited to see how more token support works out: Ideally, it becomes a terrifying archetype players respect (and aim for).
Let me know what you thought—and if there’s anything in Magic 2015 you think I missed!