I'm Adam, and I love commons.
Whether you're a fan of Commander (I've written a few articles about it), remember me as the guy making the "Oooooo" face during victory at last year's Community Cup, or someone following me in my adventure over here to TCGplayer, the project that's stuck with me the most throughout Magic is my pauper cube.
@the_stybs any chance we are getting the cube update this week ? :)— MTG Overload (@Mtg Overload) March 7, 2016
Hey @the_stybs when you write about the Pauper Cube, will that be on TCGPlayer or Wizards?— Cyrulean (@cyruleansayshi) March 7, 2016
@the_stybs When can we expect the update? I'm dying here!— kaloyan petkov (@kaloyan_petkov) February 29, 2016
@the_stybs Hey Adam, so hope that your day is going well.— Ellak (@ellak96) February 26, 2016
Any chance of a Pauper Cube update this weekend? I'd love to try the revisions.
Some of you like it too.
With seven years of updates and work, the Pauper cube I carry today is different from the typical cubes you already know. While it started out packed with impressive and powerful commons—Aaron Forsythe once fanned through my cube and aptly quipped, "these are just all the cards we shouldn't have printed at common"—these days it's an archetype-driven draft experience meant to encourage interesting and fun gameplay.
Also, there are cards that shouldn't have been printed at common.
These are the archetypes you can expect:
Wrinkles, such as Conspiracy Constructs Cogwork Librarian and Lurking Automaton, are in there too but the push of recent years has traded explicit power ( Rolling Thunder ) for archetype tools ( Flurry of Horns ) and flexible utility ( Sphere of the Suns ).
A few other notes:
I guess all that helps explain getting harangued about updating it over Twitter.
With the introduction over, this is the warp-speed rundown of the changes and considerations for the cube thanks to Oath of the Gatewatch. Check the summary table at the end or the Change Log in my spreadsheet for the swaps.
Isolation Zone (replacing Feat of Resistance)
Isolation Zone is universal removal and it replaces Feat of Resistance, which is one of the many protection-granting effects. The removal should see a little more play than the fifth version of Shelter.
If equipment was a theme, a 1/4 vigilance would looks great. Yotian Soldier is nearly as good without any color commitment, and already just fills in holes in decks.
The attacking 3 power first strike of Kor Scythemaster is scary, but there's enough first strike without an attacking-required rider that this just doesn't find the space.
Expedition Raptor and Shoulder to Shoulder
Support is a natural complement to token strategies, but the other five-drop flying options are stronger than Expedition Raptor. Similarly, Shoulder to Shoulder just doesn't feel exciting even with the cantrip effect at work.
Umara Entangler (replacing Omenspeaker)
Blue's evolved since it's pure control days, and with plenty of bounce spells empowering it to play proactively it was time to support it a bit more. Umara Entangler will hit hard and trade up, while Omenspeaker's speed bump impersonation won't be missed too much given the other, better card selection in blue from recent updates.
Jwar Isle Avenger (replacing Skywinder Drake)
Turning on surge for Jwar Isle Avenger isn't hard in blue, and the toughness boost gives the Sphinx the nod over the second copy of Rishadan Airship in the cube.
Sweep Away (replacing Eye of Nowhere)
There's plenty for blue to do off a double Island start, but encouraging a mana denial strategy was not among the intended consequences. Sweep Away is an instant, and flexible to push tempo gain against an aggressive start. Eye of Nowhere isn't bad, but Sweep Away will play similarly and in more interesting ways.
Comparative Analysis (replacing Enhanced Awareness)
Again, surge matters for Comparative Analysis as the flat one mana less in cost when compared to Enhanced Awareness adds up to tip the Inspiration update into the mix.
Sometimes you just want to block, and Ancient Crab looks great for that. Maybe someday opponents will learn to fear the seafood, but it's not today.
Slip Through Space
The Distortion Strike update looks solid but I'm not convinced Distortion Strike gets to stay. I need a little more time and feedback on how turning things unblockable feels. So far it's been warm to mediocre in effect.
Giving blue diversity of removal is something on my radar, and Tightening Coils both answers fatties and pulls flying blockers out of the way. It's a useful card that's on my radar to consider down the road.
Vampire Envoy and Mire's Malice (replacing Vampire Lacerator and Carnophage)
Black one-drops had their chance to shine. Without a plethora of one-drops to swarm with, most games come down to the rest of the curve mattering more. Swapping the underplayed and weaker one-drops for control tools are a great way to beef up what blue-black can do against faster decks.
Corpse Churn (replacing Vendetta)
There's too much unconditional, cheap removal in black. Vendetta is great and even has a drawback, but the self-mill into Raise Dead effect of Corpse Churn should delight green-black players and find room in decks going for delve.
I really like this creature, although it feels similar to the more-threatening Skirge Familiar. The high toughness and ability to ramp if needed would be an asset to slower decks. We'll see what happens in the future.
"Better gameplay through more expensive unconditional removal" is a fair summary of the past several years of Magic expansions. Cards like Oblivion Strike are waiting in the wings to adjust how easy it is to just kill everything, if it's time to make that change for the cube.
Goblin Freerunner (replacing Sparksmith)
Sparksmith, unanswered, would take over games. Goblin Freerunner provides evasion and combines well with the cheap burn and bodies in red. This should be more interesting than the "Did the opponent draw removal?" question Sparksmith poses.
Zada's Commando (replacing Makindi Sliderunner)
First strike matters, and Zada's Commando is a surprisingly efficient body for red: it's even "strictly better" than Youthful Knight hanging out in white. Makindi Sliderunner is cute but the first strike is just better.
Brute Strength (replacing Fireblast)
Fireblast has been hanging on the cube since its earliest days. The card functions less like an efficient burn spell than a combo piece that ends games out of nowhere more than it does anything interesting. For the same reasons Rolling Thunder was cut, Fireblast leads to unsatisfying gameplay. Brute Strength isn't as exciting, but serves a similar purpose and turns random haste creatures into unbelievable threats. (See trample and Reckless Charge.)
Red five drops are full, and the bonus Shock to the opponent is just ok. If it dropped a Shock onto anything in addition to providing a 4/4 with trample we'd be having a different conversation.
It's Twin Bolt that can't target players. That makes me sad.
Saddleback Lagac (replacing Young Wolf)
The color full of creatures is making their creatures even bigger? Saddleback Lagac should be more interesting than the little Young Wolf that often couldn't.
Tajuru Pathwarden (replacing Stampeding Elk Herd)
Easy come, easy go. Tajuru Pathwarden is a powerful way to take over the battlefield, and should play along nicer than Stampeding Elk Herd (which was only the most threatening when you were significantly ahead on the battlefield anyway).
Scion Summoner (replacing Kozilek's Predator)
Same great total power over two bodies, now in a helpful and cheaper package! Thanks Scion Summoner!
Pulse of Murasa (replacing Reclaim)
Reclaim was always clunky and was never a great payoff. With Pulse of Murasa, instead of a card disadvantage trap we get the payoff of both six life (which matters) and the card we tutor from the graveyard into our hand, all at the convenience of instant speed. Nice.
Swell of Growth
Swell of Growth is a nice mix of potential ramp and combat shenanigans that I keep looking closely at. I can't decide if it will pay off the way I'd like it to or if the drawbacks outweigh how cute the plays look.
Kozilek's Channeler (replacing Veteran's Sidearm)
Veteran's Sidearm was serviceable, just as Riot Gear was for its trip through the cube, but a great body that turns on the top end of blue-green ramp will be interesting. 4/4 is big enough to stymie aggressive decks, and landing Ulamog's Crusher or a kicked Citanul Woodreaders on the following turn are obvious benefits.
Hedron Crawler, Warden of Geometries, Seer's Lantern, and Kozilek's Pathfinder
I considered pushing a "colorless matters" theme for blue-red, as that's one of the archetypes with the weakest synergy and identity, but the card selection felt weak. The offshoot of colorless mana matters looked okay on the surface but it didn't seem to add much depth: just a theme with tiny synergy without true payoff.
While Kozilek's Channeler made the final cut, Hedron Crawler was next in line as one of the few cheap "mana rocks" I'd consider safe enough to include in the cube. Warden of Geometries just lights up the mathematician in me.
Wastes, Crumbling Vestige and Holdout Settlement
With the lack of colorless mana matters, the need for more lands that produce colorless mana wasn't there. Holdout Settlement is interesting given the multiple color combinations that have access to tokens, but I'm hesitant to believe that more conditional mana fixing will really result in better gameplay.
|Isolation Zone||Feat of Resistance|
|Jwar Isle Avenger||Skywinder Drake|
|Sweep Away||Eye of Nowhere|
|Comparative Analysis||Enhanced Awareness|
|Vampire Envoy||Vampire Lacerator|
|Zada's Commando||Makindi Sliderunner|
|Saddleback Lagac||Young Wolf|
|Tajuru Pathwarden||Stampeding Elk Herd|
|Scion Summoner||Kozilek's Predator|
|Pulse of Murasa||Reclaim|
|Kozilek's Channeler||Veteran's Sidearm|
I'm looking forward to the feedback and thoughts that the Pauper—proper Pauper format with a capital "P" and a competitive spirit—crew here at TCGplayer offers, as well as what cube fans like you have to say.
Check back after Shadows over Innistrad hits to see the horrors that update includes. I bet it'll be pretty warped. See you then!