Ah, spring. A time of renewal. A time for UPDATES. Three new sets with tons of great commons came our way in The Pauper Cube NEO/VOW/MID update which means a fresh look at our packs. Our last update saw the inclusion of bounce lands to the Pauper Jumpstat Cube’s guildpacks to standardize 17 lands no matter what combination of packs you choose. This time around, in addition to the regular updates and card swaps we’re reworking two entire packs. Say goodbye to Black – Evasion and Red – Haste. What are we replacing them with? Read on to find out.
White – Weenie
First up, Search Party Captain makes a ton of sense in the Weenies pack. As such, we’re going to remove Priest of Ancient Lore as Captain feels like a straight contextual upgrade here.
For Warded Battlements’ departure we’re going to slot Unbounded Potential in its place. Sure the pack is losing a blocker with a global buff, but a combat trick able to buff two of your unblocked attackers permanently for an extra 4 damage with Entwine can win games. Additionally Unbounded Potential synergizes well with Phantom Nomad.
We’re not all that sad about the departure of Martyr of Dusk. It worked well in the pack but is easily replaced with Hunted Witness which helps bring the curve down a bit.
White – Equipment / White – Weenie
Speaking of dropping the curve, we’re going to make one other swap between White Equipment and White Weenie: Elite Vanguard is switching places with Topan Freeblade. The difference between a 1-drop and a 2-drop in a Weenie deck is huge since bodies often matter more than text. Freeblade’s Renown ability plus vigilance makes it a better fit in White – Equipment.
White – Prison
With Daybreak Chimera departing we’re losing a top end evasive threat to close out games. A straight swap with the newcomer, Sunblade Samurai seems fine here due to its versatility for ensuring you hit your land drops or coming down late in the game. Its lack of evasion is notable, but vigilance relevant here, especially due to the low creature count of the pack.
We’re also going to be removing Pacifism for Cathar Commando. Flash means you can easily eat an attacker, or if you’re planning on using it as artifact or enchantment removal, it can “chump” as well (assuming you have three mana up) since you can sack it after declaring it as a blocker. Additionally, Cathar Commando’s less apparent tech allows it to be spot removal for the update’s inclusion of Artifact and Enchantment Creatures.
Blue – Control
Control’s changes in the cube are interesting as it’s mostly card selection. Consider and Ponder are both amazing cards, though with Preordain already in the pack it feels a bit much to cram all of those in. So, we’ll start by replacing You Find The Villain’s Lair with Mirrorshell Crab. The fact that this is either a counterspell or a top-end threat makes this a no brainer for the pack.
Ponder in for Curate is an easy, one to one swap for obvious reasons.
Merfolk Looter coming in for Erratic Visionary makes a ton of sense. Sure, Looter’s … uh, looting is free, but Visionary’s toughness made it a great early game blocker for this pack with a low-creature-count. Rather than swapping in Looter for its namesake we’re pulling Omenspeaker back in to keep early game threats off your back. Plus, scrying 2, combined with either Preordain or Ponder will give you a ton of looks at exactly what you need.
As you’ll see in a just a moment, Control is also losing one of it’s late-gamer threats to another pack. Errant Ephemeron is heading to flying due to the loss of Wretched Gryff, though since Mirrorshell Crab also somewhat serves this purpose as a meaty threat, we’re able to have some wiggle room with what we can add. Sure, it might not be a win-con, but when you’re playing against control and they draw 3 with Treasure Cruise in the late game, you might as well concede.
Blue – Flying
Wretched Gryff is leaving which mean’s we’re in need of a top end thread for the Flying pack. Sure, Cruel Witness is coming in for Cloaked Siren which is a free agent for us, and it would make sense as it does have the pack’s namesake in its text. Though besides that its ability triggering on a non-creature spell doesn’t make a whole lot of sense here, especially since this pack is already crowded with 4-drops.
So, we’re going to replace Gryff by dipping into Control once again and snagging Errant Ephemeron which serves as a late game threat, as well as dropping the mid-range heavy curve down slightly since it can be suspended as early as turn 2.
Blue – Tempo
Easy one-to-one swap from the cube update here. I mean, the new 1-cost-draw a card, bounce a thing all-star from NEO… where else would it go? Ninja, meet ninja. Moon-Circuit Hacker in, Dreamtail Heron out.
Next up is a one-for-one swap from the Pauper Cube update. Scattered Thoughts is just Hieroglyphic Illumination with more looks, so this is a great inclusion, and a no-brainer, for this pack.
Black – Evasion > Black – Removal
Evasion felt like one of the weaker packs whose theme didn’t lend itself to a coherent gameplan. It felt decent with other evasive packs, though in the end those all felt like a “play creatures, turn them sideways” deck no matter what you chose. So, we’re scrapping the Evasion pack entirely and creating a new pack from scratch we’re calling “Removal”. Here’s what inside:
- Ruthless Ripper
- Feign Death
- Last Gasp
- Mire’s Grasp
- Crypt Rats
- Thorn of the Black Rose
- Eldrazi Devastator
- Eyeblight Massacre
- Night’s Whisper
- Read The Bones
- Guardian Idol
- 6 Swamps
- Thriving Moor
This pack is all about keeping the board clear with cards like Crypt Rats, Pestilence and Eyeblight Massacre. Early game defense with deathtouch allows you to ramp to your board wipes, then keep the board clear with removal combined with card advantage to close out the game with Eldrazi Devastator.
Become the Monarch with Thorn, then clear the board to keep it. Combine that with Night’s Whisper and Read the Bones to keep your hand full to maintain control over the board. Since this pack is very light on creatures Feign Death will be versatile here; protect your Devastator, keep your Pestilence around by returning that last creature, or use it to close out the game by doubling your damage with Crypt Rats after it hits itself. The inclusion of Guardian Idol helps ramp to our closer but also remains as a threat once you’ve cleared the board.
This pack should pair well in Dimir with Control, Rakdos with RDW, Golgari with Ramp, and Orzhov with Prison. Each of those guildpacks have some great cards that synergize well with this new pack.
Black – Aristocrats
Aristocrats isn’t losing any cards directly, though we did remove Eyeblight Massacre for the new pack above. This frees up a slot which we’re going to use for one of the new cards that’s a “free agent”, Nested Shambler.
With this inclusion we’re also going to make another swap. Toll of the Invasion ended up feeling like a 1/1 for 3, so we’re replacing it with Lash of Malice. Lash will net you three squirrels with Shambler, serve as instant speed removal for early creatures, or push Angler to a 7/3 to help close out games.
Black – Graveyard
Graveyard is losing Morgue Theft, and though are going to replace it with another spell to interact with the pack’s namesake, we’re going to replace it with another new free agent, Persistent Specimen. Right now the pack is a little light on stuff to sac so this will fit in nicely as it does what Morgue Theft and Unearth can do all on it’s own.
Another card that needs to go is Warren Pilferers. With only one goblin available to you this ends up as a 3/3 dork for five on most days. Sure, it technically draws a card, but for five mana we’d much rather draw three. Death Denied is a more expensive Morgue Theft for one creature, but scales in value as the game progresses.
Black – ETB
Three swaps here for ETB, one of which can just slot right in. Ecstatic Awakener for Tithebearer Giant is a nice addition since it’s going to help drag the curve down which has been very slow out of the gate. Though Awakener’s ability may be better suited for either the Yard or ‘Crats pack, Reaver’s amass token or Dusk Legion Zealot are better suited as demon-summoning fodder for a turn three 4/4 than waiting around as a chump blocker.
Diregraf Horde replacing Boneclad Necromancer makes a ton of sense for the cube, though maybe not so much in this pack. Decay tokens are decent in that they are a body, though we’re not convinced they’ll be much use by turn 5-7. Besides, having three 5 drops in a single pack is too much top-end. As such, we’re going to add in Blood Fountain here instead to give ETB more to do with it’s mana early. Being able to cycle away expensive creatures for use later on is great, not to mention the synergy with First-Sphere Gargantua.
Lastly, we’re taking out Liliana’s Specter. Its evasion is nice, but it’s too expensive to be so squishy and, more often than not is a dead draw late in the game. In its place we’re slotting in Dead Weight to further lower the curve and bolster interaction.
Red – RDW
Red Deck Wins is getting two new great cards from the Pauper Cube update. First up is Firebrand Archer. This is a no-brainer for the pack and will be taking the place of Vulshok Sorcerer which is far too expensive at 1RR.
Next up, Reckless Impulse being slotted in for the pack’s other 3-drop, Storm Caller. Lowering the curve of this deck is going to give players the chance to get more out of Impulse as drawing a three drop as one of the two exiled cards means you’re effectively drawing one.
Lastly, Orcish Hellraiser was, for the most part a 2 for 2 damage creature that took an extra turn to resolve, so we’re porting Fanatical Firebrand over since it now needs a home. More on this later.
Red – Go Wide
Ambitious Assault is a straight upgrade to Trumpet Blast so there’s not much to say here. It is a shame that the cantrip side will almost never see the light of day since I can’t imagine too many auras or equipment being added to a 1/1 token, but hey, better to have it and not need it, right?
Next up, Aether Chaser is on the chopping block. A one time 1/1 on attack with no way to gain more energy feels a lot slower than our other token generators. In it’s place, Wildfire Elemental is coming in to synergize with Raid Bombardment and Makeshift Munitions to close out games as a top-end threat.
Red – Sacrifice
Red-Sacrifice is a pack we’ve had our eye on for quite some time. It works, since there’s a decent amount of synergy with two of the black packs but the not much else, so it feels less versatile than we’d like. It can perform its namesake, but there just isn’t a whole lot of payoff. In the end it feels like the supporting act for Graveyard and Aristocrats as the payoffs are entirely on their end. For now, it’s going to stay put as it is a great supporting act, but may change in the future.
Sacrifice is losing two of its looters: Thrill of Possibility and Fissure Wizard. While it’s twice as pricey as the Wizard, Famished Foragers is a nice play when you’re able to trigger it’s ETB, allowing you to cast another spell or loot for free. The fact that this is repeatable looting on a decent body is relevant here, especially since the pack doesn’t have much of a top-end.
Thrill of Possibility is a decent card, but you’re really just drawing one and hoping to bin something useful for two mana. As such, we’re throwing Ardent Elementalist in to use the bin rather than just fill it.
However, with only two spells to target here we’re adding in pauper’s favorite thirst-quenching sweeper, Fiery Cannonade in place of Sparring Construct since it’s headed out the door anyway.
Lastly, we’d like to see if Skophos Reaver can work. We’re losing a couple discard outlets, but Faithless Looting and Insolent Neonate still give us room to cast it for its madness cost. Still, a 3 drop 4/3 attacker is still good. In its place we’re cutting Scorched Rusalka. Pinging the opponent for one at the cost of a body and a red mana isn’t how we should be spending our creatures and resources. Even with this cut we still have two sac outlets with Hobblefiend and Bogarden Dragonheart.
Red – Haste > Red – Buff
Admittedly the haste pack is really ‘meh’. It’s haste in that, yes, it has cards with that keyword, but felt largely like the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Rather, we’d like to see this pack be more about buffing creatures in general so we’re going to rework it. As such, Red – Haste is now Red – Buff.
Here’s what’s going in the pack:
- Frenzied Goblin
- Jackal Pup
- Burning Prophet
- Dueling Rapier
- Rimrock Knight
- Tuskeri Firewalker
- Arc Lightning
- Inner-Flame Acolyte
- Reckless Charge
- Flurry of Horns
- Fire Prophecy
- 6 Mountain
- Thriving Bluff
Combining creature buffs with instant speed removal means larger creatures will hesitate in making seemingly beneficial blocks, so bluff away. Frenzied Goblin will also help make those blocks a little more beneficial, while a good number of non-creature spells for Burning Profit do its thing. This is very much a pack that will benefit from Gruul and Boros as those guildpacks contain great buffing synergies
Green – Bogles
Green has some easy one for one swaps. Starting with Ranger’s Guile’s exit for Tamiyo’s Safekeeping. Not much to say here as both of these cards are effectively the same in this format.
Green – Tokens
We’re adding in Band Together to fill the gaping hole left by zero interaction, removing Yavimaya Elder – a card that made no sense in this pack’s context, that left us wondering how it ended up here in the first place.
Green – Ramp
Since we moved Guardian Idol over to our new Black – Removal pack, we’re replacing it with Wayfarer’s Bauble. Ramp.
Additionally we’re getting Greater Tanuki as it feels at home in Ramp. We’re going to kick Skyclave Sentinel to the curb to make room since it’s effectively a 7 drop if you want it to do anything other than sit around and look scary.
Green – Midrange
Epic Confrontation and Wildsize are getting upgraded with Master’s Rebuke (fight at instant speed) and Massive Might (Wildsize sans cantrip) respectively. Not much needs to be said since both are easy one-for-one swaps that merely upgrade the role each play.
We’re also pulling the curve down a bit with the next set of changes. Since we’re very heavy in the 4+ range, we’re going to be removing Urban Daggertooth for Sarulf’s Packmate. Foretell on Packmate means it can be a turn three play that replaces itself. Daggertooth’s proliferate rarely happened and when it did it felt like a “win more” situation.
Since we’re losing our Rampaging Hippo, we’re going to slot in another 2 drop. Three Visits slots in well as we often found ourselves cycling Hippo for a land to reach our threats. This way it’s guaranteed and allows for turn 3 four or five drops.
Lastly, we’re removing Serrated Arrows. Theoretically, we thought it gave our creatures an advantage over blockers, while getting rid of chump blockers. At 4 mana we’d much rather play more threats. As such, we’re throwing in a Snakeskin Veil to protect our large threats.