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Modern Horizons 2 Pauper Review

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Modern Horizons 2 is on our doorstep and is bringing with it several cards that are bound to have a massive impact on several formats. The first Modern Horizons set warped several thanks to cards like Hogaak, Wrenn and Six, and Arcum's Astrolabe. The Astrolabe alone completely homogenized Pauper for a few months until it was ultimately banned.

Now with the second set coming, I'm here to cover every single common in the set, just like I did the first time around. There's a ton of cards to cover so let's get right to it, starting with a pair of cycles!

Artifacts Duals

Silverbluff Bridge
Slagwoods Bridge
Tanglepool Bridge

Did Wizards really make a cycle of artifact dual lands? They sure did! But are they truly that good for the format? I think the answer is both yes and no. Obviously Affinity and Metalcraft decks are going to want some number of copies, but given how aggressive those strategies are, you want to be going off as quickly as possible. As such, those decks are still going to want to rely on the original Mirrodin and Darksteel artifact lands primarily, but will likely run a handful of these as well to help smooth out mana a bit.

There's also a small chance that Boros Monarch (and no, I'm not talking about Bully which gets listed a lot as Monarch these days) wants this to help turn on Galvanic Blast. That deck usually wants to try playing somewhat of a long game, though, and so it makes it really tough to justify running Rustvale Bridge over Wind-Scarred Crag. After all, Pauper is a very aggressive format, and every point of life can be the difference between a win and a loss with a deck like Boros.

Basic Landcyclers

Battle Plan
Landscaper Colos

Mental Journey
Orchard Strider
World-Weary

The Conflux basic landcycling cards never really saw any play, so it's generally unlikely most of these will see play. Battle Plan and Landscaper Colos are extremely mediocre on their face, and it's unlikely you'll need to search up basics for the other three. Mental Journey being able to draw three cards and at instant speed means it's probably the most playable of the bunch, but even then it probably just isn't at six mana when there's tons of better draw options.

Abundant Harvest

When this card showed up in the Strixhaven Mystical Archives I definitely didn't expect this to hit Modern Horizons 2 at common. Given the kinds of card draw and filtration we already have in the format, it's somewhat tough to evaluate this one. I don't think most Green-based decks really want this, but perhaps it could be a reasonable option for certain decks that need to ensure they hit a land or something besides a land. Still, you can get a lot of that value out of something like Adventurous Impulse, and often times you'll only go as deep into your deck as that card but without the selection that card - and other similar options - gives. That said, it's a cool option that may have possibilities that are hard to come up with based on how the meta looks right in the here and now.

Aeromoeba

This card only wishes it was Aquamoeba, a card that hasn't seen play in years, meaning this doesn't stand a chance in the format.

Arcbound Mouser

This card is really awesome but struggles from not really having a clear home. Affinity and Metalcraft decks might want this, but they already don't play the similar Arcbound Worker so would they really? I don't think the lifelink is good enough, and certainly not to justify a colored mana cost over a generic one. Heroic would probably much rather have Sacred Cat than this, especially since one of its biggest appeals is being able to embalm it to help fight against edict effects. In non-artifact weenies decks, too, this is just medium. I definitely think the card is well rounded enough to have a home somewhere at some point, I'm just not sure that it has something right now.

Arcbound Prototype

This feels like a very solid attacker for the metalcraft aggro decks of the format. A Grizzly Bear alone is kind of boring, but when you can move the counters around on death, it feels a lot more impactful. I'm not entirely sure where it'll end up in the long run, but I think it's a fairly reasonable option and will at least be tested at some point in the future.

Arcbound Slasher

This is way too expensive to see any kind of play in Pauper. Hard pass.

Arcbound Tracker

This seems extremely powerful. Even in an Affinity type shell, you often spit out spells at a pretty rapid-fire pace, allowing this to grow massive quickly. Then, if it's killed, you can simply move the counters to one of your other creatures you almost certainly have on the board already. Three mana is often a big ask, but this seems like a ton of power for the cost. It's not going to replace Atog or anything anytime soon, but I could see Affinity lists running this as a one or two-of toward their top end.

Bannerhide Krushok

Mark Rosewater said in his preview article from this week that one of the key things they wanted to do a lot in the set was to mix and match mechanics onto cards. This one is a pretty clear-cut example, and it's remarkable how well they work with one another. Normally I'd have brushed off reinforce as a mechanic as it was extremely mediocre when it first dropped in the Lorwyn block. When paired with scavenge, though, it feels really synergistic. The problem is it's still far too mana intensive for Pauper proper, but I think Pauper Cubes are going to love this card for a long time.

Blacksmith's Skill

This is kind of like the artifact version of Karametra's Blessing, but not quite as good. It's a bit the reverse as the creature gets the hexproof and indestructible up front instead of the Blessing's +2/+2 into those two abilities. That said, I still think the primary deck that would want this - Heroic - will want to stick more with the cards it already has. This might be good enough to help the Metalcraft decks, but I'm still hesitant to believe that given those decks rely on several non-artifact creatures. Expect to see this one every so often, because there's no doubt going to be at least one game where it blows you out, even if it doesn't become a format staple anytime soon.

Bone Shards

This card sadly really struggles to be as good as it wants to be in Pauper. Sorcery speed is tough and it fights for the space that Lightning Axe already fills. Given how the overwhelming majority of Pauper creatures can be killed by the Axe and they both slot into the main deck where this would go, I expect Bone Shards to see little play in the format. That said, it's a really powerful card and wouldn't be shocked to see it sometimes in specific situations or new decks, but beyond that it's more likely for other formats and cubes.

Bottle Golems

I played with a lot of Bottle Gnomes as a kid and loved them desperately, so seeing these little rascals get previewed filled me with so much joy. That said, I'm not here to reminisce about old times so much as I am reviewing from a competitive standpoint, and Bottle Golems simply doesn't have the kind of rate that can make it in Pauper.

Break Ties

A three-mana Return to Nature in White isn't fantastic on rate, but having the flexibility between those cards and the reinforcement ability seems solid enough. It's worth noting that because reinforce is a triggered ability rather than a spell, targeting a creature with it won't trigger heroic abilities. Because of this, I doubt it's a card that will see too much play over other similar effects at a cheaper rate, but it's a fine addition to throw into the mix all the same.

Breathless Knight

This feels like a card made more for Limited and Modern than it does a card made for Pauper. We struggle a lot to reanimate creatures and Modern Horizons 2 sadly didn't give us much extra by way of support. We're not out here chaining Bloodghast effects and the like, after all, so I'm gonna go ahead and give this a pretty firm pass. Might be fine in select Cubes, but even there I think it's pretty mediocre.

Burdened Aerialist

This is a cute card that feels like it's trying to do too much to get off the ground. Most of the time it's only going to gain flying once, and even then let's be real, Pauper is a format overrun by tiny fliers. 1/1 faeries and birds are all over, and they'll happily chump block this for days.

Cabal Initiate

This card feels like it's tailor made for a Dimir Tempo style deck much like the old Dimir Delver (aka Blue-Black 1- and 2-Drops). It's incredibly easy to fill up your graveyard enough to get the threshold for this card turned on that I'd be shocked if this doesn't see play somewhere. After all, a two-mana 3/3 is simply no joke. It does have one drawback in that it doesn't play too well with Gurmag Angler, but perhaps there's a new brew in Pauper's future that'll help mitigate that issue.

Captured by Lagacs

L A G A C

I love this little callback to the silly old Oath of the Gatewatch marvel that was Saddleback Lagac having played with that card a lot. Unfortunately for us, it doesn't feel like it's all that great of a card to play in Pauper. The best I could see is possibly in Bogles as sideboard tech to take out nuisance creatures while simultaneously pumping your creature at the same time. Three mana is a lot, though, and I'd rather be spending that on a Cartouche of Strength most of the time instead if we're going the removal route. In Cubes, though? This card is excellent.

Chatterstorm

Sigh.

Okay, look, I'm not going to go too deep on this one because there really isn't a need to. This card is busted on its face. Empty the Warrens is already banned and this is like a small version of that. Or is it? Just cast a First Day of Class and you're not only swinging with the same general firepower, but all of your creatures get haste at the same time. Its only saving grace is that it's a tiny, tiiiiny bit more difficult to cast due to being Green when most of your rituals are either Red or Black. With cards like Manamorphose, Burning-Tree Emissary, Lotus Petal, and Chromatic Star at our disposal, though, that can be very easily remedied. I've seen hands from players testing lists that are capable of dishing out 14 damage on turn one on the play and it's not hard to see a potential turn one kill with the right hand if you're on the draw. This is an absolute powerhouse and I wouldn't be surprised to see this banned very quickly. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Chrome Courier

The stats for the mana cost feel pretty mediocre, but the card selection and potential life gain can be really big in the right deck. I think given how most artifact decks play currently, this probably won't make it, but there may be a home for it yet. Once again, like many of the multicolored commons, this does seem excellent for Cubes.

Crack Open

Ah yes, another Naturalize variant. Even if you get the treasure token for later, this still feels like it's little more than a sorcery speed Naturalize, and an expensive one at that. A pretty easy pass from me in favor of the many better versions out there.

Deepwood Denizen

Boy if there was ever a card for Elves, it was probably this one. It takes quite a bit to get it to stick around and get it going off, but Elves really wants repeatable card draw like this. If you manage to get an Elvish Vanguard on the field with a couple counters, then this gets very affordable. Even without Vanguard, Priest of Titania can make this a walk in the park to activate. It gets even better with Quirion Ranger at our disposal. With lots of lists cutting down on Sylvan Rangers and Nettle Sentinels and the like, perhaps this will find a home in Elves yet.

Dihada's Ploy

On one hand, this feels a little too gimmicky for Pauper, but on the other hand maybe it has a home in Dimir Teachings. Using this card, you're able to sift through your deck a bunch for the gas you need while also gaining life to stay in the game. A Cube card if nothing else, but I'd expect to see this now and again in actual Pauper, if rarely.

Discerning Taste

There's probably some solid playability here for the likes of Tortured Existence and any other decks that might want to fill their graveyard with creatures. It might even be reasonable for Reanimator strategies to get a big creature in the bin, grab a reanimation spell, and gain a ton of life to prolong the game all in one package. Generally, it's going to be too expensive for most decks wanting to minimize the amount of mana spent per spell, but there's enough happening that the decks that do want it are going to love it.

Disciple of the Sun

Given the mana cost and the mana value it brings back to your hand, this one feels like it's far too pricey to do anything meaningful. If it could get you higher mana value cards back, then perhaps it could be playable in something like Tron, but as is, it's a no-go from me.

Drey Keeper

Squirrels coming back is great, but they're definitely not anywhere near good enough to make this suddenly into a solid card.

Duskshell Crawler

We've really been getting a lot of these "creatures you control with +1/+1 counters get trample" effects recently, haven't we? I feel like this is something like the fourth one in two years roughly now. Seeing as how none of those see any play, I wouldn't expect much of this one either, but there's also a lot more +1/+1 counter support in this set so never say never.

Echoing Return

I'm really not sure how to feel about this card. We already have a couple Raise Dead kind of effects that get back two creatures at once, which makes the playability of this feel weird. Couple that with the fact that you have to even get two or three creatures with the same name in your graveyard at once for this to be worth it and I feel like it's going to be a stretch to make it good. There're always those madmen who try to play decks using Rat Colony, Relentless Rats, and Persistent Petitioners, though, so at least it has an outside shot somewhere.

Etherium Spinner

Affinity runs a lot of high mana cost spells, as does Tron, so I could definitely see this finding a home somewhere. Its very frail body means it'll die a lot, but swarming the board with 1/1 fliers is quite possibly worth the risk there.

Fairgrounds Patrol

These types of effects are always cute and well-meaning but never end up making it. The only reason I feel this one might possibly be different is because the token it makes flies, so it can be a better fit for more aggressive decks. If White Weenies ever manages a comeback, I wouldn't be surprised to see this in the mix.

Faithless Salvaging

This card was clearly made for Modern as a way to still sort of have access to a Faithless Looting style effect. In Pauper, we have actual Faithless Looting, so we can leave "Faithless Looting at home" in that format where it belongs - as well as the occasional Cube.

Floodhound

Thraben Inspector this is not, and at paying five mana and tapping it to draw a card, I doubt this card will ever make it in Pauper. I could see it in Cubes and Pauper Commander decks for the people that want some extra draw fuel, but in the primary format it's not all that great.

Flourishing Strike

On their own, the individual effects of this card are quite medium. Getting the choice between two very relevant effects can be pretty good, however, so it's possible there's a bit of sideboard play to this somewhere. Still, we've been seeing a lot of these modal type effects lately that look good but ultimately do nothing, and that's where I think this will largely end up.

Fodder Tosser

I absolutely adore the old Fodder Cannon reference here, but really this card's just not even close to good for Pauper. Generally, it's going to feel way too slow, like it does very little, and given the aggressive leanings of the card the discarding will likely feel more like an actual drawback than a benefit most of the time. Skip this one.

Foul Watcher

Two mana for a 2/2 flier that helps sift through your deck on ETB is quite solid. The big problem is how you're getting delirium active. Even in a lot of the tempo style decks that would like a card like this, it's likely you'll only get two or three card types most of the time (instant, sorcery, and either land or creature but likely not both). Surveil helps there, but it's still probably too dicey for this card to get there most of the time. Even Bone Picker, which had more power than this and a much easier way to get it down for cheaper, didn't see that much play ultimately. If that one missed the mark, then this one probably does as well.

Foundry Helix

I see a lot of potential with this one in decks like Boros, Metalcraft, and Affinity. Three mana is a big ask, but an 8-point life swing is real. You can even sacrifice things like Chromatic Star or Ichor Wellspring to make the sacrificial part of the effect beneficial. It fits right in with the old Kuldotha style of Boros, so who knows, perhaps we're due to see that deck come back a bit!

Funnel-Web Recluse

Even if you can get the morbid trigger, this still feels like way too much mana for an effectively French vanilla card.

Galvanic Relay

When I first read this card, I totally misread the second line and got very excited for a moment. Being able to cast cards off your deck equal to your storm count is strong enough it could easily put the deck back on the map, if at a lower tier. Waiting a whole turn makes things significantly more difficult, though, and as such I don't see this making a huge splash. Being able to draw into and chain a bunch of burn spells does feel a little enticing, though, so if someone can actually make this work, it'll really go off.

Gargadon

This is a cute in-between to Lesser Gargadon and Greater Gargadon, but for the purposes of Pauper it's too all over the place to be relevant in the format. If you hard cast it, you're likely not casting it until turn five or six in even the rampiest of decks. If you suspend it, it doesn't come out until turn six without additional support - all of which are bad cards not individually worth running on their own merit. As such, this card comes down way too late to be worthwhile at any time in the game.

Gilt-Blade Prowler

You have to put in a lot of work to make this work, and it's really just not worth it. Most decks don't self-discard and the ones that do don't want anything to do with something as durdly as this.

Glimmer Bairn

I see quite a bit of potential with this card in a Sprout Swarm style deck, as those pop up now and again. Those decks frequently play Scion of the Wilds which might be better since you don't need to sacrifice your tokens for the extra power, but playing this on turn one helps get your saprolings online faster. Not entirely sure that it's good enough to warrant playing it, but if this is going to see any play anywhere, it'll be there. What an odd little card.

Goblin Anarchomancer

This seems like it can pair quite nicely with the new Chatterstorm decks, since all your rituals and First Day of Class are in Red already as is. Yes, Goblin Electromancer is better if you want to play Blue, but a lot of the old storm decks from the Grapeshot days didn't play much Blue in them to make it worth it. As such, I feel like this card does quite well there. Even beyond that deck, there's enough Gruul-leaning decks between Jund, Cascade Ponza, and Cascade Aggro that this deck probably has a home somewhere.

Gouged Zealot

Four mana is a really tall ask for something that's usually going to do so little damage. Next!

Guardian Kirin

This is a pretty solid payoff for someone looking to build a new type of Aristocrats strategy. It's obviously a new take on something like Unruly Mob, but this one has evasion, making it a more powerful force to get damage in. Still, I think a four mana, most of those strategies would rather play Falkenrath Aristocrat, but more options is always good.

Hard Evidence

Now this is a lot more like a Thraben Inspector to me! I've seen a lot of takes about how this is just "Thraben Inspector at home," but I disagree. I think it puts in some serious work making by giving your spell-based control decks quick blockers to handle aggro strategies while still being able to draw later. Given how many of these decks have also run cards like Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall too, it's not hard to get an engine and have a powerful wall of crabs to deal with your opponents. It's worth noting too that since you make creatures with 3 toughness, these tokens also survive Evincar's Justice, so it can really help on that front in a pinch.

Hell Mongrel

This cute reference to Wild Mongrel is probably too expensive even with the Madness to be playable enough, but it's a real beating to be on the receiving end of this card.

Jade Avenger

Chub Toad really had a fantastic glow-up after 26 years! It's actually quite playable too, and is likely a solid tool for Stompy decks. As a 2/2 for two mana, it turns on Savage Swipe and hits for big damage, but also gets beefier on its own and can block very effectively. The biggest problem is that Stompy's already saturated with various tools and swaps them around depending on the meta at the time. I definitely feel like this one will see play from time to time, and it'll be a ribbiting good time when it does.

Jewel-Eyed Cobra

Lotus Cobra this is not, and most of the time it'll trade for a 1/1 your opponent throws at it uncaringly. The deathtouch ability might as not well even be there most of the time, if we're being honest.

Kitchen Imp

It's not hard to cast this for its madness cost at all and as such is quite an easy card to get onto the battlefield. Tortured Existence casts this card with ease while still managing to get a good card out of your graveyard and the new Bone Shards can let you get this creature out and destroy an opponent's for just two mana. I'd expect to see this card show up in some number of aggressive Black strategies from time to time, even if it doesn't have a necessarily clear home right now.

Knighted Myr

This is really expensive for what you're getting out of it. If you can come up with a cheap way to put +1/+1 counters on it, then maybe it's fine, but at a base level it's just not that great for Pauper. Now Cubes, on the other hand...

Late to Dinner

Breath of Life and False Defeat have shown that White Reanimator strategies aren't quite as good as one would hope they'd be. Because this is the same card with a very minor upside (creating a food token) I don't think it'll be enough to push it in that direction. That said, this sort of thing could fuel a new type of deck involving the Cauldron Familiar and Bartered Cow type of strategy the people were toying with when Jumpstart came out last year. I don't think it'll be enough on its own, but it has at least a small amount of possibility.

Lens Flare

Generally speaking, these kinds of effects don't really make it in Pauper, but getting this down to one mana to deal five damage is quite solid. It's hard to justify over Galvanic Blast, but it's definitely very worth it in the right list.

Lightning Spear

In general, I think the card is too expensive to realistically make it in Pauper, but there's enough going on here that I can't help wonder if it's not worth it for the whole package. The stats it gives aren't great, but it puts a lot of hard pressure on your opponents at a reasonable price, even if you could arguably be doing better things with the mana. Then, when you come to the right time in the game, you can sacrifice it to its ability to bolt something and let you win the game. In a pinch, you could even pitch it to something like Atog, which wouldn't be unhappy to have one of these attached to it either I might add. On its face, it seems rather middling, but I do think when you look at the whole package, there's some very good potential to this one.

Loathsome Curator

Even at five mana, this card is putting in a lot of work for us. Even taking that into account, though, this still costs five mana in a format dominated by cheap and efficient spells. Cubes will love this all day, though.

Lose Focus

Mana Leak hasn't seen a lot of play in Pauper in, well, ever, and certainly not Quench. That said, the replicate here is real, and it can put in a lot of work for control players, allowing them to scale this up depending on what point in the game you're at. It works great when dealing with Cascade as well as Storm cards (provided you have the mana). It also works great with Quandrix Pledgemage, a card that has surprisingly shown up a decent amount in the last few weeks. Yes, there's arguably better countermagic in the format, but I do still think this card has a place somewhere.

Marble Gargoyle

This is about as medium as creatures get and is clearly nothing more than both Limited fodder and to be a reference to the Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar flavor text of Granite Gargoyle.

Mine Collapse

So? Mine collapse too!

This card not being able to damage players is frustrating, but there's still some power moves that can be made by running this in the sideboard. In the case of Pauper, that's largely to get rid of cards like Gurmag Angler, Mnemonic Wall, and Stonehorn Dignitary that you might not otherwise be able to take out with Burn's usual spell suite.

Mount Velus Manticore

Repeatable damage is seriously enticing if you can find a way to make the equally repeatable discard worth it. That said, there's a couple further issues with this. For one, it costs four mana, making it tough to justify in a format like Pauper. For another, it's an enchantment creature, opening it up to removal much more easily. Lastly, given the restrictions on the damage dealt by your discarded card, you're at most only going to hit any given target for two damage, since creature types don't count here.

Myr Scrapling

Well, between this, Arcbound Worker, and Arcbound Mouser, we're up to three artifact 1-drops that can put counters on other creatures. Only difference with this is it can die to give a counter on demand and doesn't need to give the counter to an artifact creature. I don't think there's a dedicated strategy for this given how there's so many tiny creatures in the mix, but it's still notable the variety of comparable options Pauper has now. It's possible this becomes playable in some sacrifice-based decks, but I also feel like those aren't exactly looking for a creature like this.

Nested Shambler

Nested Shambler would be way cooler if there were meaningful ways to reliably power up creatures. There aren't all that much in the format and certainly not worth making it into some kind of dedicated strategy around the card. We've seen plenty of cards like this already at the one token level (Hunted Witness, Doomed Traveler) that don't do anything in the format. Still, it's got some great flavor points going for it and

Ornithopter of Paradise

Hey now, this is a solid mana rock creature for certain decks. Elves rocks enough off-color cards to warrant something like this, but not being an elf is a real trade-off. The only two other real creature decks that would want color fixing like this (Wonderwalls and Slivers) both already have tons of great mana fixing options as is, so I doubt they'll want this either. Most other decks that would want ramp and fixing in one card would probably prefer something like Bonder's Ornament instead.

Phantasmal Dreadmaw

There's so many targeted spells and abilities in the format that without a way to give this shroud or hexproof, it's just stone unplayable. It's still a great little card, though, with great stats if you can get it to stick around, so maybe it'll have a home one day. For now, perhaps Cube?

Piercing Rays

We've gotten a lot of these effects before in the past and they haven't done anything, but having the forecast ability to repeatedly tap down creatures is nice. If you really need something dead, too, you can just take it out in a pinch. There's enough flexibility that I'd love to see this card show up somewhere, yet despite that, I don't think it's good enough for Pauper.

Recalibrate

This just doesn't feel anywhere near good enough compared to the many other Unsummon effects out there. The discard aspect feels so conditional most games as well that I'd personally rather just have Into the Roil or Blink of an Eye myself and those are already unplayable in Pauper.

Revolutionist

Hey look, an Anarchist that lets you get back an instant and not just a sorcery! At face cost, this card's pretty rough, but it's probably not hard to play a control game, cast a Faithless Looting or similar, and then cast this for its madness cost. I doubt it'll overtake the already popular versions of this effect on Mnemonic Wall and Archaeomancer, but it's certainly a good alternative if you want something different.

Rift Sower

Given how there's generally just better ramp spells and fixing in the format, it's really unlikely this shows up just about anywhere, especially with Ornithopter of Paradise being in the set. In fact, the only place I think this might fit in Pauper is Elves and there those lists are super tight as is, plus this really just won't get suspended on turn one. When it does come into play off of a suspension, though, it does come in with haste, which is quite relevant. The deck plays enough off-color cards that having a creature that can tap for any color is really good, but I don't think the cost is going to be enough to justify it. In fact, I'd usually just rather play the Ornithopter if I really wanted to make sure I was getting that off-color mana, and I'm not sure that it's worth it even then. Definitely well worth it for Cube and commander, though.

Shattered Ego

This is a really cool card that I expect to not do a whole lot in Pauper. Power down auras never really saw a whole ton of play in the format given how powerful our removal suite already is. It's also quite unlikely we want to be spending five mana to put a creature back in an opponent's deck given how good Pauper's card draw is too. Imagine putting it into the deck only to have the opponent cast a Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, or Impulse to immediately get it back. Even then, the format is one more defined by its spell quality than its creature quality and as such there isn't really very many creatures you want to be doing this to.

Sinister Starfish

Patrick this is not, but it is a good way to give Black decks a way to go through their decks a little easier. It's hard to say if this will make an impact, though, because most Dimir decks don't want this and Mono-Black Control lists are generally pretty tight. That said, MBC does tend to run out of gas quickly so one or two of this can really make a world of difference, as well as filling your graveyard for when you finally draw your Gurmag Angler.

Skophos Reaver

At three mana, this isn't too special. Casting it for two mana off of a Faithless Looting? Now that's great! It still won't be coming in until turn three and won't attack until turn four, so it's not nearly as aggressive as it wants to be, but getting a 4/3 for basically two mana feels like a dream. I doubt we'll ever see a full playset of this anywhere, but I definitely think it'll show up in small numbers from time to time.

Smell Fear

There's an outside shot of something like Stompy wanting this given the amount of counters the deck makes. I think I'd still rather have Epic Confrontation over this, though, if anything to compliment the usual suite of Savage Swipes.

So Shiny

This effect is pretty pricey when we have Winter's Rest in the format, but scrying 2 on entry while you have a token is solid value. Three mana is a lot for Pauper, though, so unless it were Fall From Favor which generated constant repeated value, I think this shiny trinket can be left in the dust.

Sojourner's Companion

I never thought I'd see the day when they would print a strictly better version of Myr Enforcer, but here we are. The only times you'd want Enforcer is if you cared about the Myr creature type for some reason, but we simply don't in Pauper. Enforcer has been an absolute house since the original release of Mirrodin and was strong enough that it even saw plenty of Legacy play for a number of years until it was eventually power crept out. Now we can play up to eight copies - four of which find exactly whatever kind of land our deck needs!

Steelfin Whale

I think this card, unfortunately, just isn't good enough when compared to the myriad of other powerful creatures Affinity has. That said, a 3/4 for one mana that also can untap after attacking is no joke, so perhaps the deck has room yet for a big ol' whale.

Step Through

Looking at this card, I feel like it has an outside shot at being played in a Delver type of deck where you have Delver of Secrets, Augur of Bolas, and Spellstutter Sprite - all of which are wizards. The non-wizardcycling side of the card is tremendously underwhelming, though, and as such I can't see this making it in the format.

Storm God's Oracle

Normally I'd find a card with stats like this to be really unappealing, but the fact that it casts Lightning Bolt for free on death makes it a lot better. If your opponent lets this through, they'll take a lot of damage, and if they don't then you can usually take out a creature and then Bolt either another one or the opponent directly. Worst case your opponent kills it but then you get a Lightning Bolt and made them lose a card in the process. Not a bad trade I feel. The biggest problem the card faces is that it doesn't really have a home, but it's solid enough that I'd love to see it find one eventually.

Tavern Scoundrel

Readers of mine probably know that I thoroughly enjoy coin flip strategies in Commander and so I love this card to pieces, but Pauper isn't a good home for it. It's meant more to fuel the coin flipping subset of cards including the new to Modern Chance Encounter, as well as give coin flipping Commander decks more to work with. Pass on this one for Pauper.

Terminal Agony

Terminate this is not, and there's not a ton of symmetrical discard that currently sees play to make it worth it. That said, perhaps with all the new discarding fuel this can join the ranks of Terminate and if not, there's always Cube and Commander, which always welcome powerful removal such as this.

Tizerus Charger

Unfortunately, this pegasus, like many of the ones that already exist in the format, just isn't going to make the cut. A vanilla 3/2 for three mana on the base level is dull, boring, and not doing anything, and the escape cost is just too much for a fairly meager creature. Leave this one in draft where it belongs.

Tormod's Cryptkeeper

This is a pretty bad creature. Being a largely french vanilla creature with no ETB effects seems rough. That said, this does provide decks like Elves and Slivers a way to find hard graveyard hate effects off a Lead the Stampede or Winding Way, so it's possible this could pop up in certain builds of those lists for the effect. I don't think it's likely, but the possibility remains.

Tourach's Canticle

This card is in such a tricky place. On one hand, you can take any card (note that the card doesn't specify nonland) and then get a random hit. On the other hand, however, four mana is a lot for Pauper. When it comes to fighting against a lot of decks, you'd almost be better casting Mind Rot. It's understandable why this couldn't be three mana or god forbid two, but I wish it could've been something like triple Black mana. As is, I think some people will run it in certain control-heavy metas, but even then, I can't help but feel it's unlikely to really make a mark.

Tragic Fall

Between the two mana and the -13/-13 requirement being hellbent, I don't see this making the cut in the land of Pauper. In Pauper Cubes, though, this is some great premium removal.

Unbounded Potential

This seems like a fairly reasonable option for Heroic decks. Putting two counters on two creatures that have heroic instead of just one is great, and if you're really flooded you can even entwine to maximize your value. This might still be a bit too little for that deck compared to the other options it plays already, but this is certainly a good one for the arsenal.

Unholy Heat

Even the ferocity of the fires of Hell itself couldn't make this a playable card in the format. Skred and Mine Collapse - never mind Lightning Bolt, Galvanic Blast, and Chain Lightning - just do this so much better. Even if the delirium can kill just about anything, you still have to meet the criteria for it, which just isn't as likely as most people would like.

Urban Daggertooth

There has to be something cool that can be done with this, but I think it's more for Commander and Cubes than it is for Pauper proper. Repeatable proliferate is great and the stats are solid as well. It just happens that, unfortunately, four mana is a little too much for Pauper in general.

Vermin Gorger

There's always someone out there trying to make a sacrifice deck happen, and this is a pretty good way to dish out some incremental damage in that kind of deck. It won't be a quick win, but it'll get you there eventually.

Viashino Lashclaw

This is the third mass haste spell to enter the format after Crashing Drawbridge and Tuktuk Rubblefort and for my money it's also the worst. Being cheaper isn't always a good thing and having to discard is really going to make you feel it. Skip this and just play one of the others instead.

Wavesifter

Hey look, it's Mulldrifter at home! Actually, even if it's just Mulldrifter at home, it's still quite good! It's quite mana intensive, but I can definitely imagine a world where someone manages to evoke this into an Ephemerate on turn three. Even if you can't draw off of them all right away, getting 4-6 artifacts can be big game with the right cards and you still get a 3/2 flier out of the deal. I'd expect to see this going hand-in-hand with many a Mulldrifter in the future.


And that wraps it up! As you can tell, there's tons of fantastic commons in the set and I can't wait to see what comes of them all. Barring a handful of cards (looking at you Chatterstorm) the impact also feels like it's going to do positive and healthy things for several decks and will probably inspire some new ones as well. Decks like Affinity, Elves, Heroic, Boros, and more get plenty of neat tools and toys. I'm looking forward to what we see happen in the next few weeks. I'll cover some of those decks as they come to the forefront, but in the meantime, what cards are you looking forward to playing with as the set releases?

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

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