One of the reasons I love working with my cube is how exciting every set is. While powerful rares and splashy mythics are a sure thing to expect, commons come in different strides. New mechanics appear en masse at common, and when Eternal "Flavor of the Year" sets roll in it's the downshifted-to-common uncommons and rares that delight me the most.
It's not every day you get to find out Emperor Crocodile is now a card you use in Pauper.
My Pauper cube isn't exactly Pauper—stretching to include every possible common from every definition of a common in Magic—but thanks to that flexibility it's evolved into something that has a life of its own. Adhering to stricter rarity guidelines is possible, and a common tack others take with it.
My cube, however, is where they all start.
If you missed the Shadows over Innistrad Pauper cube update I suggest taking a quick look to see what changed recently. You can follow the latest updates, as some eagle-eyed folks discovered over the weekend, on the official Pauper cube Google Sheet.
Now onto the Eternal Masters show.
Thraben Inspector replacing Daru Lancer
Okay. So. I made a mistake: I underestimated Thraben Inspector. My initial impression of "a three mana cantrip that makes a 1/2 token" was underwhelming. Now, having played with it, I understand how powerful it is as a one-drop. Later, as a chump blocker that cycles, it's still fine.
Daru Lancer is cute but I've rarely seen it used in any surprise mode. It's value as a morph is minimal as there aren't enough morphs to use it to bluff. Replacing it with a card more likely to be put into a main deck makes sense.
Elite Vanguard Replacing Blade of the Sixth Pride
I love the look of the full art vanilla creatures from Future Sight. I wish they'd make it a standard feature for all sets as vanilla creatures have nothing else exciting available. Elite Vanguard is vanilla, and a slightly smaller body, but downsizing to a 2/1 and one mana makes it stand out in a sea of mostly forgettable white one-drops.
Blade of the Sixth Pride still looks good, but lost out to the battalion-for-flying Daring Skyjek.
Mistral Charger replacing Misthoof Kirin
Mistral Charger, like Elite Vanguard, compares favorably to many other creatures at the same mana cost. Replacing a more expensive, albeit interesting thanks to megamorph, flier in Misthoof Kirin was easy.
I never thought megamorph could be interesting but here we are.
Humble replacing Gideon's Reproach
Aside from a few corner cases, such as when you don't have any creatures on the battlefield yourself, Humble does far more than Gideon's Reproach for the same mana cost.
Warden of Evos Isle replacing Umara Entangler
Umara Entangler hasn't been appealing. Warden of Evos Isle is the best Wind Drake ever for a cube filled with flying creatures. White-Blue Fliers never looked better to draft.
Cephalid Sage replacing Comparative Analysis
Comparative Analysis has some corner cases of utility in a spell-heavy deck, but setting up Cephalid Sage to dig even deeper is reasonable in a blue deck. Getting to see three cards is powerful, and getting a fair body for doing it is even better. Blue needs a few more creatures.
Peregrine Drake replacing Jwar Isle Avenger
You knew Peregrine Drake was making the cut, right? A "free" 2/3 with flying is nothing to scoff at, making the conditional 3/3 for three mana "bargain" of Jwar Isle Avenger look poor.
And, most of the time, you were just casting a five mana 3/3 with flying anyway. Here you get all that sweet mana back!
Oona's Grace replacing Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront Bouncer generally converted extra lands or dead cards into Unsummon. There's so many bounce effects in the cube that losing one seemed fine given adding another way to draw extra cards was the tradeoff. Oona's Grace is something I've looked at for a long time and revisiting it (as part of Eternal Masters) pushed me over the edge.
Obviously I picked up the foil version from its Eventide printing.
Last year, when I added Phantom Monster to my cube thanks to Vintage Masters, I got grief to choosing a card that's coolest version was a copy from either Alpha or Beta. Now there's an easy-to-find foil version too. You're welcome.
Night's Whisper replacing Cadaver Imp
Cadaver Imp wasn't that thrilling, but digging two cards deeper for an even easier to cast two mana is great. Night's Whisper will definitely make plenty of decks.
I want to like Prowling Pangolin, but it's a trap just like the other "punisher" cards. If your opponent is fine sacrificing two creatures for the Pangolin it's not working out for you anyway. If the opponent doesn't, and obvious can, you know removal is coming. Prowling Pangolin only looks great if you're already ahead or the opponent otherwise can't afford its punisher cost. In any scenario, a 6/5 for five mana—requiring double black mana to boot—isn't worth the obvious downsides for the times it's not going to work out for you.
Undying Rage replacing Twin Bolt
Twin Bolt is a great card. Undying Rage does a fair Rancor impression, and it's rare for red to have that sort of value engine. Twin Bolt is sometimes a two-for-one, but I think Undying Rage will find its fair share of opponents reeling at an endless stream of beefed-up creatures. (See Rancor, Moldervine Cloak, et al.)
Orcish Oriflamme replacing Trumpet Blast
Trumpet Blast, believe it or not, is the worst of the "three mana, pump your creatures by +2/+0" instants in the cube. Orcish Oriflamme is a permanent boost for attacking creatures, just as Trumpet Blast is a temporary one for only your attacking creatures, and should make anything with haste (many of red's creatures) even more dangerous to try and face down.
Another nifty feature is that it's a four-drop, a slot that's lacking on both the creature and spell sides of the color. (Also, spoiler alert: Rally the Peasants made the cut this update too.)
Dragon Egg suffers the same problem as Rukh Egg: You need to get it dead. With plenty of flying and other ways to dance around a small defender, getting your payoff creature isn't as easy as it looks. I want to have both in the cube, and I sincerely hope the exploit mechanic comes back soon to help out.
20 years ago, Wildfire Emissary was a potent card. Hosing aggressive white strategies as well as providing a mana sink while attacking, the Emissary was a fun nod to Magic's yesteryears as part of the Time Spiral reprint set. It's still fun today but it just didn't find room now.
Emperor Crocodile replacing Saddleback Lagac
I'm almost certain Emperor Crocodile will come back out but for now it's an impressive form at the four-drop slot. Saddleback Lagac is also only good what you have at least two other creatures already in play, and it even costs the same amount of mana!
It'll be fun while it lasts.
Sylvan Might replacing Natural Connection
The three-drop slot for ramp spells is already crowded for my cube. Now, instead of a mostly redundant Natural Connection you can cast a cheaper pump spell in Sylvan Might. Then you get a flashback option in your graveyard. Not too shabby.
Whenever a rare moves down to common I look closely. I don't run an Elf theme in my cube, but some other Pauper/commons cubes might. If I ever go down the road of adding an Elf theme you can count on Elvish Vanguard to make an appearance.
Nimble Mongoose carries its Legacy pedigree well, casting a shadow into Pauper proper and getting the Constructed attention it deserves. Thanks to shroud, not hexproof, and a difficult to quickly set up requirement of threshold (at least for an all-commons Limited format) it's not clear if the Mongoose is good enough for my cube. A 3/3 for one mana is attractive, but a static 3/3 that takes a ton of work to get to turned me off.
Remember when white-green had a hexproof and auras theme? I do, and Yavimaya Enchantress makes me smile recalling how powerful, and painful, that deck could be.
Rally the Peasants replacing Martial Glory
I'm not sure the last time I recall Martial Glory being cast. Rally the Peasants is a nice nod to white-based tokens decks as well as a best-case use in white-red. Getting to six mana for the double cast of Fortify's +2/+0 mode is something I can attest to stealing games outright. (It was I who stole them, and it was great.)
Blue-red decks could use some love, but the random discard clause on Desperate Ravings made it a difficult-at-its-best card to use in Constructed. Without any reanimator or combo payoff in the cube, Desperate Ravings would stand out as an intentionally worse way to draw cards that other options.
|Thraben Inspector||Daru Lancer|
|Elite Vanguard||Blade of the Sixth Pride|
|Mistral Charger||Misthoof Kirin|
|Warden of Evos Isle||Umara Entangler|
|Cephalid Sage||Comparative Analysis|
|Oona's Grace||Waterfront Bouncer|
|Peregrine Drake||Jwar Isle Avenger|
|Night's Whisper||Cadaver Imp|
|Undying Rage||Twin Bolt|
|Orcish Oriflamme||Trumpet Blast|
|Emperor Crocodile||Saddleback Lagac|
|Sylvan Might||Natural Connection|
|Rally the Peasants||Martial Glory|
Eldritch Moon is just around the corner, and I'm looking forward to finding out what the secret of the set symbol is and solving the mystery of the plane—assuming, of course, it means I get sweet new commons to use in my cube.
See you then!