We're back with part two of my The Brothers' War Pauper review! Last week I covered the White, Blue, and Black cards, and this time I'm here to talk about the rest! With all the artifacts floating around and quite a bit of power in the set, there's a lot left to talk about. The great battle between Urza and Mishra is just getting started, and we've got a lot of ground to cover. So, let's not waste any time and simply dive right on into the fray headfirst!
Tormenting Voice never really gets to see play when Faithless Looting exists in the format, and it's gotten worse thanks to the instant speed Thrill of Possibility. The difference here is that this can stick around to give your creatures haste. In aggressive decks using Faithless Looting, you could use this haste ability to get in a quick attack to kill your opponents that much faster. You can also use it in Reanimator builds to reanimate a massive creature and then give it haste to attack right away. The uses are a bit niche for this, admittedly, but it has some serious potential for the relevant decks.
Blitz Automaton is neat. A three-mana 3/2 with haste isn't a bad deal, and if you can cast it for a higher cost, it's a real beating. You can also just play it as the 3/2 and then flicker it too to get the big beater down quickly instead if you want. I doubt this'll see too much play, but I think there's just enough going on it may creep up from time to time in various metas and brews.
An aggressive 3/1 body is bad even at two mana, but this costing three just isn't that exciting. Yes, it leaves behind a 1/1 creature, but that hardly feels worth the investment compared to other aggro options that already exist.
I had a lot of people pointing to this one as a cool card for Pauper. All this is, though, is a Sanguinary Mage with ward for two life. That does make it a little harder to kill, but if your opponents want to kill it, they'll just kill it. At that point you can treat it like a burn spell that's almost always going to do at least two damage, but it's still rough with no haste or anything when cards like Monastery Swiftspear and Ghitu Lavarunner already exist. You'll likely get more damage through to your opponent from something like Thermo-Alchemist or Kessig Flamebreather anyways than you will this. Even if those options are a little more fragile, the prowess goes straight to the face instead of a pump.
I expect you'll see some of this in the coming weeks (it's already shown up in five decks from the top 32s of the weekend challenges) and it might taper off a bit from there. Or maybe I'll be wrong, eat my words, and it'll turn out to be far better than it seemed like what happened with Voldaren Epicure. We'll just have to see.
There're a lot of ways to sacrifice things and turn this into a one-mana 3/2 in the format. The big issue I see here is that there aren't too many ways to get cheap sacrifice cards down quickly or at least ones you want to work with something like Blast-Runner here. If the right deck can come around, this card will be nothing short of an absolute house. Otherwise, it'll be a neat card that shows up once in a while but doesn't make much of a splash and there won't be a lot of middle ground between the two.
I'm not terribly excited for something like this because it's not like, say, Bonds of Faith where it's either a pump or removal. In this case, you get to buff more creatures in your average game if you put it on your own stuff. On the flip side, putting it on an opponent's creature means it simply can't block. That's only really good if you're looking to go in for an alpha strike. Otherwise, you're still going to be taking hits from the creature you put this on, so I'd rather just use something to actually remove it outright. A Lightning Bolt or Galvanic Blast can be both removal and damage, after all, and they're far better and more versatile than something like this.
Makeshift Munitions this is not, but it's still something that lets you sacrifice artifacts to pump it and ping your opponent. It's not cheap at three mana and doesn't pass the bolt test on its own, but it can really work well in something like Affinity to finish off opponents. I remember the days of Atog where opponents would tap down ten lands to go in for a kill but only use two of that total mana on their spells, so something like this definitely has at least some degree of potential when you add Flings and Temur Battle Rage into the mix. I'm not sure that's better than what we already have (probably not) but there's still some real potential here either way.
Raze to the Ground
Expensive Shatter just isn't great. You can blow up Mirrodin artifact lands and small artifacts to get a cantrip, but a lot of times it's not going to hit those and is going to go after a Myr Enforcer or something. It's too expensive - and thus too slow - for it to matter in those kinds of matches, even if it does replace itself in the process. Stay the course instead with whatever kinds of artifact removal you're already running.
This card's really cool. Cheap artifact creature, a bit of rummaging, and you can unearth it to do it all over again. A lot of good going on in such a small package. I'm not sure this has a home right out of the gate, but I definitely think this one has a good shot at being playable.
Here we come to another of the self-mill cards. This one's looking for artifacts, and honestly, nabbing an artifact and a 2/1 for only 3 mana isn't a bad deal. It gets a bit worse if you whiff on finding an artifact, but there's enough going on here it seems perfectly playable.
This card is extremely interesting to me. We've seen a lot of these power buff plus first strike effects in the past, but they're largely just variations of the same kind of card. We saw a slight riff on this kind of effect with Stolen Vitality which could give trample when attacking instead of first strike, leading to some potential blowouts that get in for decent damage. The card never really made a showing, but this one - while a bit weaker - gets a boost in power by virtue of providing both first strike and trample simultaneously. Unless I'm mistaken, we haven't really gotten something like that in Pauper before, so while I remain skeptical of this card, as combat tricks rarely make the cut, it's got a lot of potential. I'm curious to see if it ends up living up to that potential.
For Green, these stats are as middling as it gets. Getting a free powerstone token out of the deal is nice and all, but I think I'd much rather take any of the myriad of other options for Green Aggro decks.
If this had protection from artifacts or something like that, I'd like this a lot more. As it's currently written - obviously a nod to the classic Argothian Pixies - it's not terribly exciting. I guess if you want to have a creature in your Stompy deck that can plow through artifact creatures in an Affinity heavy meta, but it feels too weak on its own. You're realistically never using the pump ability either, and all that means is this card is going to be left on the sidelines where it belongs.
Satyr Wayfinder has seen on and off play for years, and this is pretty comparable. You go only three cards deep instead of four, which can be an issue at times as you want to see more cards to put in your graveyard. Thankfully, if you miss on getting a land, this comes in as a 2/2 instead of being a 1/1, meaning you get a decent size creature and get to fill your graveyard as well. Much like Wayfinder, I'd recommend limiting this kind of card exclusively to decks that want to use self-mill, but when you run into them, this has some real potential.
Ramp decks have been getting a lot of love with some solid payoffs lately. This isn't the most exciting option out there, but having the versatility to come down as a 3/3 and gain you three life for four mana isn't too bad if you can't pay for it in full. I'm not terribly high on this one, but I still think there's potential to be had here.
I've seen a tiny bit of discussion about the possible playability of this in Elves. I famously noted that I didn't care for Jaspera Sentinel given comparisons to Loam Dryad and the fact that the deck had Birchlore Rangers already. I'd much rather have multiple activations instead of a one-off effect, after all. Turns out, adding a couple Sentinels in helps smooth colors over, allows you to drop the Island - the worst card in the deck - and swapping the Sentinels for the Sylvan Ranger copies. The reach was also a huge boon against Faerie decks as it allowed you to block opposing creatures easily. Citanul Stalwart, unfortunately, lacks this benefit, and while some number of Jaspera Sentinel is good, you rarely want the full set of four and you certainly don't need copies 5-8. That means this one is, unfortunately, a pass, but it's nice to see some cool elves making their way into sets again.
Fog of War
Turbo Fog has been making rounds lately and offering up solid Fog options is always good. The problem is this won't always fog everything. Cards like Myr Enforcer, Boarding Party, Annoyed Altisaur, and more will get through no problem. The life gain on this is really nice, but it's an option I'd rather play out of the sideboard more than I would in the main deck for fear of running afoul of decks this won't stop. Respite will usually just be better anyways.
Wowza, that's a lot of buffs in one small package. This is a great way to make sure that for whatever attack you're trying to push through, your creature will both survive and deal plenty of damage. I'd expect this sort of thing for decks like Bogles (you don't need hexproof, but the other buffs are often relevant) or Infect. It might not be enough just because the power boost isn't quite enough and the big focus is the keywords, but there's a ton going on here that gives me a lot of hope for it to be playable.
This treefolk is large and makes other things really large too, but it's also very expensive and requires you to have a full graveyard to make good use of it. If this is anywhere, it might be something for Tortured Existence decks to use as a finisher to help close out games quicker, but I'm not terribly holding my breath.
A 3/3 for three mana is fine, and one that gets bigger when artifacts hit the board can make this downright massive. Unlike Phalanx Vanguard from last week, though, Green isn't exactly a color known for utilizing a lot of artifacts. Three mana over two is also a really big difference. Ultimately, I don't think this card is likely to make it as is. It may have a shot one day if the right set of cards pops up, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Now this is a Reanimator target. Cards like Ulamog's Crusher and Striped Riverwinder were always great, but they had the problem of lacking any kind of real evasion. Rust Goliath, on the other hand, is absolutely massive as a 10/10 - I believe the biggest common creature ever printed - and has trample as well. That means you get this down and your opponent is going to be facing an incredibly fast clock. I do think Pauper Reanimator decks need a bit more in actual cheap reanimation spells to really make it, but this is about as good of a target as you can hope for.
Tomakul Honor Guard
Two-mana 3/1s generally suck, but being in Green (Stompy colors!) and being harder to kill via removal thanks to ward are big pluses in my book. I still think the one toughness makes this just a bit too fragile to realistically utilize, but it's not a bad option either.
Commune with the Gods, Commune with Spirits, Grisly Harvest, etc. Lots of cheap options to reveal a bunch of cards and find something to put into your hand. Wasteful Harvest marks another in a long line of these sorts of cards, but this one actually outright mills. Unlike most of these other cards, this lets you get any kind of permanent and not just a specific card type. It's pricey, but offers a lot of flexibility. I think most decks will still prefer to stick with going after the relevant card types, but having the extra options here is nice and I'm sure will be useful now and then.
Tron is back on the menu! This is a sort of fixed Prophetic Prism and it's pretty awesome. No, it's not as efficient, but when you're playing a deck like Tron, you're generating so much mana it's less of a concern. It's arguably even better since you can generate multiple colored mana off of one Energy Refractor. It might even be good enough to show back up in Boros Skyfisher decks where the color fixing was more of a rare necessity and was more used for the card draw, but I can't see this making it in Affinity or something the way Prism did.
So does this break Tron again? While it's on the Pauper Format Panel's radar, the early consensus seems to be that while it makes Tron an actual deck again, it's not going to make Tron the deck to beat like it used to be. This is largely because of how much the format has sped up and that Refractor taking multiple mana to generate colored mana means the deck will be a little slower to answer the fast threats. Tron is better when the format is a little slower, so if things end up slowing down a little, as they have a tendency to do, that's when I'd look to Tron being the dominant force off of something like this once again.
Scour from Existence saw play in the past as colorless removal for Tron. This could too in a similar fashion, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Removal's gotten way better over the last few years, so use that instead.
Mine Worker, Power Plant Worker, Tower Worker
This is a really sweet nod to the original Urzatron lands in creature form without putting the actual problematic lands into the set. These cards, however, don't feel all that great. I know Heisen, one of my fellow Pauper Format Panel members and known Tron aficionado, has been messing with these in Tron builds lately, so maybe there's something I'm missing. When I look at them individually, though, I just can't help but feel like I should be doing something better than this.
Stone Retrieval Unit
Getting a double dose of artifacts is nice here, but four mana is a pretty steep cost. This one's gonna be a skip from me.
Getting the buff on this is really nice, and the fact that you can draw a card later is gravy. Unfortunately, the costs are high and the card draw being on the backend makes this a lot worse for your typical Skyfisher decks looking to do some shenanigans with ETB artifacts like this. As such, I really can't recommend this at all.
Tocasia's Dig Site
Repeated library selection that fits well into any deck? Hell yes, sign me up! I wouldn't go too crazy on this card or anything, but I can definitely see a number of decks that could stand to utilize one or two copies of this with ease.
And that wraps it up for The Brothers' War! There're a ton of great cards on display here and a lot of powerful tools entering the Pauper format. I'm extremely looking forward to seeing what some cards like Energy Refractor, Rust Goliath, and Goblin Blast-Runner end up doing in the format. Are you excited to play with something yourself? Let me know over on Twitter while it's still up and going!
For now, Jumpstart 2022 previews just finished wrapping up and the set is massive. As is, I still need a little bit to process what we're seeing, but so far the few new commons aren't looking too crazy powerful. If it feels not quite up to snuff, I may skip the full review for the set this time around just because there won't be much to discuss. With Dominaria Remastered and then Phyrexia: All Will Be One coming soon right around the corner, there's no doubt you'll see me back soon enough to talk about all manner of commons once more!