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Ravnica Allegiance Pauper Set Review

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All right guys, it’s time for another set review! This time we’ll be going over all the sweet new commons that are coming out this week in the fantastic new set Ravnica Allegiance. Unlike my Ultimate Masters review, I’ll be focusing largely on cards that might have some degree of potential to get there in the greater Pauper meta in some manner or another. This could include anything from a major player to a fringe outlier.

With that, let’s dive right in:

Arrester's Zeal

This is a card I feel has potential for White aggro decks as a way to push pinpoint bits of damage through. It’s effectively a cheaper Mighty Leap which allows you to play other creatures alongside it. I’m not fully convinced it’ll be worth playing, as Mighty Leap currently sees no play, nor do any other one mana White pump spells I can think of. As such, while this is worth looking at, is probably still best left to draft decks.

Bring to Trial

We haven’t really seen many outright exile effects for White in Pauper quite like this. While its uses are limited, it’s worth noting that when you exile the card, it’s exiled for good. As such, while Journey to Nowhere is both better in the sense that it hits all creatures and is cheaper, there may be odd corner cases in metas at local shops where you might want this.

Civic Stalwart

I imagine there will be some players who look at this and think it’s a cool body and effect, but really we’ve already seen this whole package in Shadows Over Innistrad’s Inspiring Captain. Since that sees zero play and it’s usually just better to use effects like Rally the Peasants or Ramosian Rally for your weenie aggro decks, I expect this to see no play whatsoever. If you were considering this, check out one of the other aforementioned options instead.

Impassioned Orator

Soul Warden this is not. While having a bigger body with this effect is really sweet, costing a whole extra mana is not really where we likely want to be with that style of deck. Still, it’s a totally new take on a classic mechanic, so it could yet see play somewhere all the same.

Justiciar's Portal

Flicker effects are always really sweet to have new versions of at our disposal. Most of the time, players will just be inclined to play cards like Ghostly Flicker or Momentary Blink instead due to hitting multiple creatures or else getting to use the card multiple times. While cards like Otherworldly Journey that flicker with upside don’t see play, granting First Strike could be a sweet little bonus that makes this worth checking out.

Summary Judgment

This is some real big damage given to White. The only real comparable cards we’ve seen are Sunlance, Puncturing Light, and Sandblast. Summary Judgment gives flexibility to be either a better version or both or just a worse Puncturing Light. While I think if you’re looking for creature damage, you’re best off going with Sunlance most of the time, the flexibility aspect of Summary Judgment is absolutely worth nothing and could show up in decks in the future.

Clear the Mind

Now here’s a really sweet effect. We haven’t really seen this kind of ability on a card in online Pauper (places that allow paper legalities as well have long had Feldon's Cane) so for many control players this is a huge boon. This is especially true for Teachings and Puzzle-based decks where you can loop to mill opponents out and/or refuel your library and options in general.

Faerie Duelist

In a world where Spellstutter Sprite exists, I can’t see this not seeing play in some form or fashion down the line. One very notable thing about this card is that it outright kills a Tireless Tribe that’s had Inside Out used on it, so in metas where that deck shows up more often, the Duelist might be that much more useful.

Persistent Petitioners

This card is the kind of thing that gets the minds of brewers everywhere pumping. Much like Relentless Rats and Rat Colony, I don’t think it does quite enough to warrant pushing the deck as an archetype. However, milling twelve cards every turn and ignoring summoning sickness in the process is a truly tempting prospect that I expect many to try. Even if only a few succeed, the ones who do will find their victories to be among the most satisfying they could hope for.

Prying Eyes

As far as I’m aware, we’ve never seen an effect that says “draw four cards” in Pauper. Discard or none, I think this is ultimately just too expensive. Even Tron decks don’t really want this as cards like Compulsive Research and Forbidden Alchemy give comparable amounts of card advantage for a significantly lower cost.

Shimmer of Possibility

Impulse is so good because you can use it at Instant speed. As this is a Sorcery version of the same card, I don’t think this will see crazy amounts of play, but do think it might show up once in awhile as an additional copy of this effect.

Thought Collapse

Most decks probably don’t want Cancel with upside when we have cards like Counterspell, Disperse, Daze, and Foil at our disposal. It could be the kind of thing that lower-tier Mill decks want to help aid their game plan, though

Blade Juggler

Now here’s some spice! In case it’s not immediately apparent, this card is Phyrexian Rager with upside when you have spectacle active. Despite being an arguably better version of a card we already have, the problem with it lies in its weaknesses. You see, the decks that run Rager are pretty much just Mono-Black Control, a deck that by and large isn’t dealing early damage unless you stick an early Cuombajj Witches.

Because of this, I don’t think it’ll see immediate play, as it’ll ultimately be harder to push out early. After all, that’s what makes Rager so good. Even still, I think there’s plenty of room for it in other places, like the Rakdos Monarch lists that do have a bit more focus on the damage dealing aspect.

Ill-Gotten Inheritance

This card is really strange, but is an effect I could see get used in slow-burn control decks like Dimir Teachings as a finisher. It’s quite possible Evincar's Justice is just better, as you wipe out creatures in the same breath, but it’s worth exploring as an option.

Undercity's Embrace

Since Foul-Tongue Invocation doesn’t really see much play, I’m not sure this effect will see much more play than other Edict effects already available. Unlike Invocation, however, this card’s secondary ability is far more easily achievable. In the right deck (namely one utilizing Angler as a finisher) I could see it having an odd use here and there, such as sideboard tech vs. Bogles, but it’s definitely going to be considerably more fringe than good old Chainer's Edict.

Burn Bright

I really like this one. Trumpet Blast was already an interesting card, but making it so the boost only comes when your creatures attack means you couldn’t use it defensively. If you were White, you often wanted to use other anthems and if you were in Boros, Rally the Peasants just seems so much better. For certain Mono-Red strategies like Red Deck Wins or Goblins, however, I could definitely see this being slipped in as a one or two-of.

Burning-Tree Vandal

Check it out, an all new playable card with the Burning-Tree name. Unlike its Emissary cousin, this card is all about swinging in hard and fast for damage while also allowing you to sift through your hand. Current aggro decks likely don’t want this, but this is a card just begging for a home and I expect it to find one sooner rather than later.

Goblin Gathering

This is a card that looks cool at first glance but really isn’t. Allow me to explain what I mean.

  • When casting just one of this, you’re getting the same amount of tokens for a higher cost. For a comparable cost in the decks that would want this effect (read: Goblins), Hordeling Outburst is just better.
  • By the time you cast a second one, you just get the same amount as a Hordeling Outburst but with the added drawback of having a smaller start. This also assumes your opponent doesn’t have any graveyard hate for whatever reason.
  • By the time you’ve cast your third one, you’ve generated nine total Goblin tokens, the same amount you would’ve gotten just casting three Hordeling Outburst on their own. That’s to say nothing of all the other token generating spells at your disposal as well.

With all the poor rates listed above, it’s hard to see this being even a little good, even if it looks enticing at first glance.

Skewer the Critics

This is easily the biggest slam dunk for Pauper in the entire set. Skewer slots super easy into Burn, helping add to the consistency of the counts to taking an opponent down. Burn has gotten lots of options over the last few years, however, so determining the ideal slot for this card is going to be somewhat difficult to pin down. Early discussions in Pauper circles, however, suggest that many Red mages have their sights set on swapping this for Curse of the Pierced Heart or Searing Blaze in some number.

Spear Spewer

While I don’t expect this card to make a gigantic impact, it should be worth noting that Goblin Fireslinger has been played in some Burn decks in the past. While this can’t attack for damage or take creatures down with it when it blocks, players rarely attack or blocked with the Fireslinger. This card blocks a little bit better, even if it doesn’t kill small creatures, so I think it will show up from time to time, even if it won’t be the most optimal option available.

Open the Gates

This card is pretty much a strict upgrade to Lay of the Land. While that card never really saw too much play outside of fringe decks like Domain Zoo to help get Domain online, I think it’s extremely notable that this card gives you the option to grab a dual land. Given that we don’t see this effect very much, if ever, I definitely expect this to make a splash in some decks. It seems like an especially good fit in something like Bogles or Slivers to try help getting all their colors.

Sagittars' Volley

Delver decks hate this, Boros decks hate this. What’s not to love? Hit a Spire Golem or Kor Skyfisher out of the air and hit any small-time stragglers in the process. I doubt it’ll see much more play than Scattershot Archer or Aerial Volley which Green decks already often run, but it’s a great tool for these kinds of decks to have in their arsenal all the same against problem decks.

Titanic Brawl

One mana Instant speed fight effects are always worth checking out. The deck that wants this most is easily Stompy as giving creatures +1/+1 counters is already very common thanks to the likes of Skarrgan Pit-Skulk and Hunger of the Howlpack. It has some very stiff competition with Epic Confrontation, however, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes out on top in the end. Ultimately, in traditional Stompy fashion, I expect the card to be used at times and Confrontation to show up more at others.

Wrecking Beast

This French Vanilla bad boy might not seem like too much, but ramp decks or creature-based Tron decks will love this as a finisher. Having versatility to go in immediately for heavy damage or waiting another turn for even more is a big deal, especially when you can always Pulse of Murasa it back in a pinch.

Applied Biomancy

This card has the kind of versatility that makes Agony Warp such a sweet card. It might not make the biggest waves right away, but I certainly expect this card to show up from time to time.

Final Payment

The first thing a lot of players said when this was spoiled is that Bone Splinters is just better. While largely true, giving you a range of options to pay the additional cost make this a really sweet effect in that you can choose from the one that’s of least consequence in a current on-going game. I expect Orzhov Pestilence decks especially to make great use of this card.

Growth Spiral

An Instant speed Explore simply can’t be ignored. Playing this at the end of your opponent’s turn and surprising them with an unexpected four-drop on turn three is always going to feel great. Right now there isn’t really a shell to utilize this ability, but I fully expect to see it somewhere down the line.

Lawmage's Binding

Arrest doesn’t see any play but maybe the added bonus of being able to Flash this in will lead to it seeing a bit more play. I personally doubt it, but it’s something to keep in mind all the same.

Sphinx's Insight

There’s better draw effects than this, but incidental lifegain isn’t something that should go unnoticed. Ultimately, the biggest strike against this is that it’s a bit too slow at four mana at Sorcery speed to really make a major impact, but it’s always cool to see something akin to a mini Sphinx's Revelation show up in a format of commons.


In the end, I think Ravnica Allegiance will have a rather minimal effect on the format as a whole. Skewer the Critics is the obvious one that will see tremendous amounts of play, but many of the others are cards that by and large have better options available instead. Nevertheless, they provide many excellent new tools to play with and I imagine one or two will surprise us as cards like Hypothesizzle did in Guilds of Ravnica.

What cards are you excited to play in this brave new world of Pauper? Let me know below! Hopefully I’ll catch you slinging some of these in March at the very first Mythic Championship Qualifier in Las Angeles!